My journey of healing includes 12 steps…

HAMMOND STAIRS

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 and 11

 

My dad was a drinker.

A violent alcoholic born into a line of violent alcoholics where one more drink intoxicated to the third and fourth generations.

And it wasn’t only the ones that picked up the bottle themselves.

It’s the ones like me who can look good on the outside, but inside there’s a thousand inebriated pieces piercing my heart.

I grew up with fear as my constant companion and lots of screaming and cursing and running out of the house to get away from all the craziness. And I grew up a bit twisted, and it can be a journey of 12 steps for many miles.

HAMMOND ARCH

Jesus saved me. Jesus heals me. And thank you, Jesus, I don’t know where I would be today without You, my precious Lord.

But please, dear Christian, don’t just hand me a scripture verse when I say that I am struggling.

Allow that God may work differently in me than He does in you. And that He is a big God who has it all under His control.

Please don’t tell me “just forget the past” and everything will be fine.

Yes, there is a time to forget, for God tells us He makes all things new.

There is also a time to remember. And in remembering comes releasing and moving on, unhindered by the ghosts of the past.

HAMMOND POOL

To be fair, perhaps only someone who grew up with the chaos and dysfunction of an alcoholic or mentally ill, abusive or extremely controlling parent gets it.

For me healing has come in many ways: private prayer times, and during sermons; Christian counseling sessions and the practice of journaling.

It arises from Sola scriptura or a Christian self-help book.

And it also comes during a solitary walk in the woods or from listening to an evocative piece of music.

And I am not ashamed to say that I have also received healing from a 12 step program for Adult Children.

Someone recently told me that the Red Book, the Adult Children of Alcoholics fellowship book, is untrue.

I did not feel the need to reply for I know the Truth.

I also know the truth I lived as a child and how it has affected me into adulthood. I see my story printed in Red Book testimonials and realize that I am not alone. And I am not insane, even if my childhood was.

Reading someone else’s story helps me unravel my own and in so doing, let it go. I may not agree with every word in the Red Book, but by God’s grace and direction I can take what I need and discard what I don’t.

I know that I am a child of God, set free eternally. And I am secure in this.

But I’m also an adult child of an alcoholic who sometimes struggles with my past.  

Dysfunctional patterns of thought and behaviors that arise from that kind of childhood can trip me up in the present day.

Yet I am not blaming my past for any choice to sin in the present. Rather, this realization is an opportunity to grow more Christ-like.

I share my story because maybe your dad drank, too, or your mom was mentally ill and emotionally unavailable or maybe your uncle sexually abused you or there was some other awful messy secret in your family home.

Reading my words may perhaps shed light and help you take a further step on your own healing path.

HAMMOND WINDOW

And didn’t Jesus heal in varied and unique ways, as different as the one-of-a-kind people He was making whole?

In many instances, God called the person seeking healing to do something that may have seemed unusual like Naaman washing in a dirty river.

Earlier this year during prayer, God whispered in my ear to Google the characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics.

And when I did I saw a number of my own struggles clearly listed. So I found a local group that’s a good fit.

Sitting round the table in a safe and confidential venue and sharing my story with fellow sojourners who want to improve their adult lives and relationship with God and others, is an incredibly healing process the simplicity of which can almost be confounding.

And as the candles on the table cast flickering shadows, the stories in the group help chase away the shadows of my soul.

Like working out my sanctification in fear and trembling, I walk out my healing by doing that which can be a little uncomfortable or unfamiliar at first but is the very thing that Abba, our Great Physician, prescribes for me.

There is love and acceptance in this group where no one tries to fix me, blame me, shame me or tell me to get over it already.

When it is my turn to listen, my heart is touched through recognition, expanded upon through community and healed by stories, many of which are worse than my own.

I feel the Lord with me in the rooms.

And my heart, holding hard to hurts from a long time ago, softens as it realizes that the behaviors I adopted as a method of survival don’t serve me well anymore. As an adult they have caused problems in past marriages that failed. And can even create a rumble in my good marriage today.

And as I listen and learn, I let go of control.

God sobers my heart and makes it more mature, and I am better able to follow Him more closely with increasing acceptance, patience, and grace for myself and others. Not for one moment do I forget that my healing is from Him.

With just enough light for the next step, I follow the 12 steps for a season as God directs and He holds my hand along the way.

The God Man of the gospels that hung on a cross and bled out empty makes it possible for me to be filled with love’s freedom.

The One who was divinity and humanity left the tomb empty as a symbol of the fullness of His eternal power and love.

And this love of His intoxicates me with healing and joy as I journey to wholeness for a thousand generations to come…

~sheila

Adult Children of Alcoholics

With praise to God, ten years before my dad — deeply wounded in his youth — died he quit drinking cold turkey and became a much kinder, gentler person and a blessing and great help to me and my boys. God’s grace allowed for me to forgive him and I love him. I share the story of the secret I grew up with so that others may find healing from their darkness. Thank you.

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Are you a control freak? Or do you love one? {Plus a checklist of questions to help you evaluate controlling behavior}

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There is chaos in control.

And there was a time in my life when all I knew was chaos because to live meant to control.

Just about everything. Just about always.

No matter if the issue was big or small the dysfunctional dance of fear and control was always the same. What mattered was that I felt I knew best and I wanted my way, rarely allowing for noble discourse to discuss opposing sides of an issue.

And forget about respecting a husband’s headship.

I controlled because I was afraid, but I didn’t learn that till much later. I just knew that for me to feel okay about life, I needed to micro-manage everything.

Fear is the mother of control, and she births a squabbling baby that wrecks havoc and hurts hearts.

And fear, I began to realize after entering into a relationship with God and reading His word, is not from Him. Fear is from the dark side.

But as a little girl growing up in a home ruled by the darkness of alcohol, violence and fear, I learned to control what I could such as keeping my room neat as a pin, getting straight A’s in school, being super helpful and always trying to look pretty. Having control over some things helped that little girl survive the chaos and drama of those early years.

Unfortunately, little children grow into adult children who carry their survival skills with them into grown up relationships not realizing that it is safe to lay down their arms and relax into His.

For only God is in control and without Him all that exists is chaos.

But instead of looking to God when I was afraid, I played god and tried to fix and manipulate outcomes all with a highly self-interested motive of which I wasn’t even aware.

When I was a twenty-something and even into my early thirties — as are so many of us regardless of age — life was pretty much all about me.

And what I had to prove.

And if I didn’t get my way, watch out!

I would like to say this is when Jesus entered my life and everything instantly got better. But that’s not what happened. I would need a series of very difficult situations before I became willing to relinquish control.

My Elder Brother Jesus watched and waited while I spun one dizzying circle around myself after another, allowing the natural consequences of unwise choices and bad behavior to wear me out until I was ready to wave the white flag.

But not without a great amount of collateral damage along the way, the scars of which remain to to this day.

CONTROLLING WOMAN

Are you a controlling person?

  • Do you need to have all the answers right away or can you wait and see how things will turn out in a given situation?
  • Are you able to make a suggestion or share your point of view and then let it lie, or do you brow beat another until they acquiesce and do it your way?
  • As a spouse do you value give and take in your marital relationship or is it “my way or the highway”?
  • As a parent of young children do you love them unconditionally providing godly discipline, or do your precious babes need to perform for you according to a rigid criteria or a highly controlled schedule where nothing is ever good enough?
  • As a parent of young adult children living outside your home, do you believe you have the right to tell them what they should do with their lives, believing that you know what’s best and often demanding that they do as you say?
  • Can you trust God or others to take care of the details, or to take care of another person who needs help but may not want it, or do you have to handle everything yourself so it’s done “right”?
  • Can you take instruction well, or do you rebel against authority preferring to do it your way since your way is faster or “better”?
  • Do you behave in a domineering manner? Are you short tempered? Impatient? Easily irritable?
  • Is you home, work or social environment full of chaos and drama and discord? Is there lots of screaming and cursing and crying?
  • At the end of the day, do you feel peaceful or continually keyed up?

If you can answer yes to these questions then perhaps you need to ask yourself if you have an issue with control. Perhaps you need to seek help.

I have seen in my own life that when I struggle with control it is because I fear, pridefully believing that I know best. This  reveals my lack of trust in the Lord, a sinful heart condition.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

And when we control out of fear and our lives keep spinning out of control it is ultimately because we do not understand how much we are loved by God.

For in His perfect love there is no fear and where there is no fear there is no need to control everything.

In our ignorance or willfulness we act like god, yet only He is sovereign over all aspects of our lives. Only the Lord above truly has all the bases covered. Only He knows the end from the beginning.

So fellow dust bunnies, that means we can relax and surrender to Him who created the cosmos out of chaos and us out of dust, breathing His spirit into us. And I don’t know about you, but being a control freak is an exhausting occupation.

PEACEFUL TREE

How can you overcome the tendency to control and regain serenity?

Admit that you are powerless and hand your life over to God. When you feel yourself start to quake inside and begin to act out in a controlling manner, stop and pray.

Ask God to help you. Ask God to heal you. Let the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ free you from all that holds you back.

And then let go and trust that in His way and His time it will all work out. He will not drop the ball.

Begin each day with the Lord and speak to Him in heart prayers all through the hours. The more you know Him, the more you will trust Him. And that makes letting go easier over time, so keep up the practice of sitting at His feet as Christ sits on His throne.

And one day soon you will feel the freedom that He died to give you.

You will feel lighter, happier and life will be less difficult and frustrating.

Plus, as you relinquish control your relationships usually improve.

We often cannot see ourselves as others see us.

This is especially true for the controlling person who may control in an effort to win love or not be abandoned. This only pushes the other person away because control is suffocating. And then the controlling person may demand to know why others “don’t love me” or want to be around them.

Lay down your need to control and lock the door on your difficult, manipulative personality.

Open your heart to Him and let Him lead your life.

Stop all the breathless running and fighting. You don’t have to anymore. Jesus loves you and you are safe and those controlling coping mechanisms you developed during a stormy childhood or somewhere along your path don’t serve a purpose anymore.

So please let them go and let your loved ones off the hook of always needing to please you.

The time has come to stop being scared.

The time has come to let God…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

~sheila

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ABC’s for dads…26 ways to love your kids on Father’s Day and everyday

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In a home where alcohol rocks the cradle it’s hard to have a carefree childhood.

There are no paternal hugs, sweet I Love You’s or bedtime stories when you’re living a loaded nightmare.

So you run real fast to grow up quick and escape the madness. Along the way you disappear into books — your absence is hardly noticed — and the stories soothe and the words make you wonder if there isn’t something better.

And you bookworm your way to the dean’s list, and one day realize that Daddy never taught you an alphabet that spelled love…

While I wish Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere, not everyone wants to celebrate this day.

Fathers have a profound effect on our hearts and the power to impact our future for good or for bad. And for those who have been wronged, the fallout may still be felt decades later, but may we mercifully remember they also may have suffered as children with dads who did bad.

Whether our biological father was wonderful or dysfunctional, we have one Father in heaven who draws us to His heart every moment of every day because we are His.

And I thank my Abba for rescuing me and filling the cracks in my psyche from a wounded childhood by pouring a new foundation of unconditional love.

And to my own dad in heaven and my late grandfather, Poppy, who was even more of a daddy to me, I love you both, very much.

I am who I am today because the Great I Am chose them to be mine.

And to the many wonderful dads who are sacrificially loving their wives and kids day in and day out, laying down their lives, I salute you from the bottom of my heart!

 

FudgieWhaleDad

 

I don’t remember Father’s Day being full of celebration aside from my mom buying a Carvel ice cream cake, but I do recall the emptiness of growing up without an emotionally healthy relationship with dad.

So for all dads and the pivotal role you play in a child’s life — and for the men who will someday become dads — I gift you with an Alphabet of the Heart.

Here are 26 ways to model for those youngsters entrusted to your care the Father’s heart.

A — Affirmation and attention. Affirm your son or daughter’s preciousness by paying attention to them every day. You are busy and tired from work, but they need you more.

B — Begin again. If you mess up, God and children are very forgiving. And if you’ve not been a good dad so far, reach out to a male friend who is and buddy up. Everyone needs support and mentors along the way.

C — Come to Christ. Surrender yourself to Him if you haven’t already. Study His holy life in the gospels to learn what love is and then choose to become like Him.

D — Discipline, but always in love and not in anger. Discipline yourself first. Discipline for the purpose of training up your child in the way he or she should go. It is not punishment. Fathers, don’t over-correct your children, or they will grow up feeling inferior and frustrated. Colossians 3:21 Phillips

E — Every night let there be time for tickles and tucking in, bedtime stories and prayers, and always good night kisses.

F — Fun is good so let the kid inside you come out to play with your kiddos. They will never forget those moments. And when you are old, these moments will warm your heart.

G — Grace.  Abundant, extravagant grace. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 Corinthians 9:8

H — There’s no place like Home, so make yours a safe haven as you make your heart His home and let Him guide you in all ways. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4: 31-32

I — Is the last person you should be thinking of…

J — Juggle your schedule to show your kids that they are a priority.

K — Keep your husband-heart and eyes only for your children’s mother. I once read that the best way a parent can love their child is by loving the other parent really well. Protect your marriage provides your children with security.

L — LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE! Love others the Jesus way. Love others with 1 Corinthians 13 love.

M — Make memories not money. I hear ya, dad. Those bills do need to be paid and in all things there must be balance, but store up treasures of the heart more than building a bank balance. No matter how rich you are, money can’t buy love.

N — is for the umpteen Number of times you’re gonna blow it, dad. And when you do, humble yourself and ask God and your children’s forgiveness.

O — You are only given so many Opportunities to make a difference in your child’s life while they are growing up so that you leave a lasting legacy which can make a holy difference to future generations. Please don’t miss this. But if you have, and something’s gone amiss with your children then keep on …

P — PRAYING without ceasing. Prayer changes everything. And God is so faithfully for you and for peaceful reconciliation.

Q — Be Quick to listen to your children. They want to share with you the activities of their days, their little and big dreams, their fears, their sadness. Be there for them when they want to talk — for teens that often means 2 a.m.! A day will come when they will be grown and gone, or when they no longer want to talk to you. Remember the cat’s in the cradle for a very short season.

R — Read aloud to your children. Let them read to you. Readers are leaders. Read bible stories and bedtime stories and silly stories to make you all laugh. And laugh a lot!

S — Sadness and loss are a part of life and children are not immune. You can mitigate the effects of loss through your loving leadership, and by modeling a living, growing relationship with God who loved us so much He did not spare His own son.

T — Another way to spell love is TIME. Don’t spend time unwisely, but rather invest time in what matters most — your family.

U — Unforgiveness is ugly and creates bitterness that defiles many. If you are unforgiving, the trickle down effect can be children who hold grudges.

V — Never Violate your wife’s or your children’s trust. They are counting on you, dad, and they are looking to you for healthy, loving leadership and protection. You are an ambassador for Christ and you are their hero on the home front!

W — Words have the power of life and death. Please don’t kill your kids with unkind or harsh words. Let wisdom and self-control dictate a flow of loving words instead.

X — Examine your heart often and keep it clean so that your prayers may be unhindered. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

Y — The years will slip away more swiftly than you realize. One day you are bringing home a baby and the next day you are unloading him or her at their college dorm or walking your little girl down the aisle. Hold onto each moment and live every day on purpose. Have a game plan for your life and by God’s grace, put it into practice. Begin with the end in sight.

Z — Some days life with kids will seem like a herd of wild animals have bolted from their cages and are running a muck. Well, dad, you’re the Zoo keeper. So keep your head and your heart focused on Father in heaven and no matter how hard it all may seem, you will find yourself more than a conqueror through Christ.

Keep holding onto Him and hold onto your wife and children. Do all things well by His grace. Live your life without regrets, for the glory of God, so that the thousand generations that follow you may follow Him…

Blessings and Happy Father’s Day to dads and dads-yet-to-be across the planet. Fatherhood may be tougher than the Marines, but you can be victorious so never give up being a great dad!

~sheila

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In which a heart feels abandoned…

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He left me.

He drove off into a dark, cold morning. And I remained without him.

Alone.

And in those few moments of sleepy wakefulness my heart, triggered by an innocuous event in the present, felt uncomfortable.

It felt abandoned…

And feelings can feel so real sometimes, can’t they?

Yet I knew I wasn’t abandoned.

My Michael had only left for the day and would return in time to kiss me goodnight.

KISS GOODNIGHT

He was attending a birthday luncheon with several of his blood brothers. Friends that share the love of Christ, good men whose company he has sorely missed since moving four and a half hours away to live here with me in the Hudson Valley.

And I was happy for him for I know how important these men are to him.

FOUR GUYS

Yet that little girl inside me stirred unsettled. And this is where I can get into trouble if I do not proceed with caution.

ME at 3

So I keep moving forward with every baby step no matter what triggers me, pressing on towards the prize which is the excellency of knowing Christ better and becoming more like Him, becoming more spiritually and emotionally healthy.

And the grown up intellectual, faith-filled wife that is me purposed to stay cool that day he was gone several months ago, and like any good internal parent, I calmed my little girl heart by reaching up for Father.

Clinging to Abba who never leaves me or forsakes me.

Path of life

Michael and I both struggle with abandonment issues from time to time which reach back to childhood. Initial scenarios from our families of origin were later replayed in broken marriages and relationships as we both searched for love along the broken road, adding infection to the original wounds.

And I read in a book for adult children from alcoholic or dysfunctional families that the fear of losing our spouse or partner is just that broken little child inside reliving the fear of being unloved or unwanted by his or her family.

We talk for hours about how certain things in the present can make us feel those old feelings of the past, as God allows hurts to throb hot so that He can apply the cooling balm of His Grace.

And I wonder, will it ever end?

Will triggers that jump out at us unexpected stop some day? Does a person ever get to the place where all the pain is gone?

The answer, I believe with all my heart, is a resounding yes! Yet, it probably won’t fully occur until we are with God in Heaven.

And each day of our lives on earth He sanctifies and heals us a little bit more and we grow stronger, becoming more real and loving much better than before.

And the pains and the triggers they do start to fade, just like stretch marks mostly disappear over time. Yet the stretching of a woman’s belly as the baby swells big inside her leaves marks that are a badge of honor.

She survived nine months of carrying another person inside herself. She endured countless hours of labor {a total of 59 for my three sons!} and then at last, precious new life was birthed from the pain and discomfort.

And the process is bloody and messy and it can really hurt!

As me and Michael labor through several past issues that sometimes still affect us in the present, we hurt and grow tired and even grouchy at moments. But we keep pushing through the pain for Abba is birthing new life in us. Life without the chains that bind. Life beyond the prison bars, outside in the sunshine where all the little boys and girls freely run and play and laugh.

MK and sisters

POOL

So we ask God to heal what yet needs healing in our hearts. And we hold onto each other and to Him, thankful for the safety of this blessed union we share. For in this loving crucible of our one flesh bond, God cauterizes the wounds of our past. Sometimes more than once, for wounds can go deep, and the Great Physician kisses away our boo boos.

TIED the KNOT

And Abba holds us to His heart and makes it all better, filling us with new joy, until that day when we will shine with Him and there will be no more tears…

~sheila

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When it hurts to be happy…{Or the gift of the family secret}

ROCKPORT SUNRISE 2012 Copyright Sheila Kimball

Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:8

Today would have been my daddy’s 78th birthday. And in the last week he has been on my mind, close to my heart where mixed emotions swirl.

I love my dad. I have forgiven him. In the last ten years of his life {he died in 2001} me and my sons enjoyed a closeness and a peace with him that was not experienced in my growing up years where his alcohol addiction ruled our family.

And in this year at Longings End with our one word from God being BREAKOUT, I must confess I had no idea where God was leading on the ever continuing journey of sanctification and healing. When God “tells” me something,  I can second guess wondering if it is just my own thoughts and desires. But He has confirmed time and time again since January that He is BREAKing us OUT of what remains that keeps us bound.

And BREAKingOUT is hard work, even though it is by His grace, even though He holds me through the process.

In families where alcohol or some other dysfunction plays a part there is often such secrecy and shame that any shedding of light on the subject is seen as disloyalty. So herewith I state a disclaimer:

I LOVE MY DADDY…the one God chose for me. I understand how broken my dad was and his dad and his dad before him in a long line of generational dysfunction. Quite frankly, there is alcoholism on both sides of my family tree.

And God tells us to forget the past because all things are new. YES and AMEN!

Yet an appropriateness remains in working through the past as the Lord directs so that we can release it and move forward, unhindered, into all the mighty blessings He has waiting for us, his beloved babies.

So while I may struggle with some characteristic traits related to being an adult child of an alcoholic {and the same characteristics seem to hold true for adult children raised by mentally ill parents or adult children who have been emotionally or sexually abused or suffered some other childhood trauma} and not do everything perfectly, I keep pressing onward in my recovery, my sanctification, holding onto Christ with both hands especially when the road is a little rocky.

Because I am who I am in Christ Jesus!

And even though I passed on this family dysfunction to my precious children, I also passed on Jesus to them the best I could. And the God that sets me free-er each day, is there for them as well.

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For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Tender mercies…
How kind is my Lord to lead me to Isaiah this morning and a verse which even includes the word BREAKOUT! A gift for me on my daddy’s birthday!

God is good and for me no matter what with a LOVE I purpose to comprehend and receive more each day. Loving me so much that it overwhelms me. And He is there for you too, and for all of us!

No matter what the legacy of our family line, we all can grow up in the Lord, having our inner child hearts healed of all their wounds and we can walk forward to live the life he created us for. So in looking forward, here are my humble thoughts and my wishes for my dad…

DADDY

Happy Birthday, my dearest daddy.

I love you and look forward to seeing you again one day when we will hold each other tenderly as never before and all will be made right. The legacy you left, the one that was left to you, is a hard one, but without it perhaps I never would have sought the Lord. I may never have found the gift of forgiveness in Christ. And I have no doubt that the God who chose your parents for you and chose mine for me did so out of Love and in an effort to draw us to Himself.

And today on your birthday, Daddy,  I choose to recall the good memories I have of you…

How you would tiptoe past my bedroom predawn on your way to work and pull the covers over me. Always a light sleeper, I knew you were there but pretended to be asleep. That small token was a huge gift of your love for me.

I recall with delight you taking me out for ice cream at that roadside stand right off the Saw Mill Parkway on Yonkers Avenue. Yum!

I remember you singing “my song” to me.

Or bringing home live lobsters or shrimp chow mein from Moon’s Chinese Food for dinner. {All you ever ordered was shrimp chow mein and I grew up believing that was the extent of the Chinese take out menu!! It would be years before I recovered from this and learned the truth! :)}

Thank you for working like a bull in a blue collar job no matter if you were sick or the weather was bad. You always got up and went to work to provide for us. And even later, you were generous with money and acts of service for me and the boys.

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And God gave me a treasure trove of sweet memories of you once your heart had changed in those last ten years. You became such a loving, wonderful granddad, dad and friend. And you always told me how much you loved Mommy and that she would always be your wife in your heart. And in a tangled up way that didn’t make much sense to me as a kid, that blessed my heart because I know you did.

You did the best you could with all that life had handed you, with the awful pain and terrible fear you yourself grew up with.

I am not sure if you ever realized how much Christ loves you, but He does, then and now. Me, too, and while I am first His Daughter, I will alway be …
~your sheila

The song my dad always sang to me.

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