Songs for Sunday: Who You Say I Am

I love this song!

I have to tell you that it’s one of those that makes me want to throw my hands in the air, in praise and thanksgiving, every time I hear it. Yes, I restrain myself if I’m driving.

My oldest son (who is in prison, but part of the worship team there), told me they are learning it too.  Think about that for a minute as you read the lyrics.


Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost, but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me


Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God Yes I am


Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me Yes
He died for me


Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am who You say I am


Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Can you imagine physical prisoners singing about being “free indeed”?  I just pray for all of them that the message takes permanent root in their hearts!

Who You Say I Am was written by Hillsong worship pastors, Ben Fielding, and Reuben Morgan. They have written several worship songs, including Mighty to Save and God Is Able. 

Who You Say I Am is based on John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

and John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who You Say I Am was released on the Hillsong Worship album There Is More in 2018

Here is a live video, uploaded to Youtube, by Hillsong Worship.

See you in church!




There have been many discussions about gifts and ministries within the church. We all know great preachers, Sunday school teachers, elders, deacons, worship leaders, singers and musicians, and we know people who say that they really don’t have anything special to bring to the church. If that’s you, I want you to know that God says you do, and He will always have something for you to do; something only you can do. Ephesians 2:10 says that “we are God’s handiwork, in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”That’s all of us.

However, I want to spend a few minutes talking about someone we all know. If you go to church on a regular basis, you know this person. You will probably know them even if you attend sporadically because they will come looking for you. They have different names, different, genders, different ages, and nationalities, but we can call them all by the same name: Encourager.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

I bet you just thought of someone, didn’t you? That one person who always seems to go out of his or her way to tell you they are glad to see you, or that they appreciate something you did (even if it’s something that seems small and unimportant).

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas(which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)

The man referred to as “Barnabas” throughout the rest of the New Testament, was, in fact, a man named Joseph. Barnabas was a nickname meaning “son of encouragement”. I wonder how he managed to earn that name? What did he do? How did he behave? What else do we know about him?

He was the one who sought Paul out and brought him to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27). He gave Mark another chance after he had deserted Barnabas and Paul on their first journey (Acts 15:37-40). Perhaps it was that encouragement that turned Mark into someone who Paul would later call useful (Phil 1:11).

I think we would have enjoyed spending time with Barnabas, don’t you?

Here is the thing. When we look in God’s Word, it is full of encouragement for us, so it shouldn’t be that difficult for us all to become encouragers. Yes, I know, some people just seem to be gifted with it, and that’s ok. We want to keep them doing just what they do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part too.

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another (Heb 10:25)

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Part of our reason for going to church is to encourage one another, so look around you. Catch a kid doing something right, and tell them about it. Then tell their parents. Tell that elderly person you’re happy to see them. That young single mom may be in serious need of a hug. Do you know who cleans the bathrooms in your church, or who fills the communion trays? Tell them you appreciate what they do. Oh, and don’t forget about the Preacher, and especially the Preacher’s wife.

The point is that everyone needs encouragement at one time or another. You never know. Your words may be just what they need to keep going.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Be a Barnabus!


Songs for Sunday: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This is one of my favorite hymns. I love the music (especially the harmony), and I love the message. If you read my last post, you probably noticed that parts of this song come directly from some of the scriptures I shared with you then. Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960), who wrote the words, felt he should include “as much scripture as possible” in his songs (

Chisholm was born in Kentucky and raised on a farm. He came to the Lord when he was 26 years old. He became a Methodist minister, but his health prevented him from keeping up with those demands.

He wrote 1200 poems and songs, including Great is Thy Faithfulness, which he wrote in 1923. He sent it to his friend and fellow minister William Runyan (1870-1957), who set it to music. The song was published that year. An interesting side note is that according to, it became popular for Christian weddings. That is not one I would think of as a wedding song, would you?

William Runyan, the man who wrote that beautiful music, was born in New York, but graduated high school in Kansas. As I already said, he was also a Methodist minister, and served in that capacity in Kansas for about 20 years. Eventually, he went to Chicago, working with the Moody Bible institute as well as Hope Publishing Company, which is the company that published Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Runyan retired from Hope in 1948. He spent some time as a professor at Baker University in Baldwin City Kansas, and his family endowed a scholarship at the university in his name with the royalties from Great is Thy Faithfulness. ( Of the song, Runyan said “This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry over its message in a worthy way.”( think God granted that request.

As for Chisholm, in 1941 he said,

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.” (

The song has been recorded many times, by many different artists including Michael W. Smith and Josh Turner. Billy Graham used to include it in his crusades. In 2015 Jordan Smith performed it on “The Voice”.

For me, I just love to hear a choir, or even better, a congregation of believers singing this hymn of praise. Here is a video of something like that uploaded by Dutchforward. I’m not sure who the singers are, but I liked their performance.


See you in church!



In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

I love early morning! Even though I usually have to force myself to get up, I still love it.  I love the quiet when everyone else in the house is asleep, and I can just sit with my coffee and enjoy the stillness of it. It’s also the time I miss having a front porch, where I could go out and watch God’s amazing sunrise, although I wouldn’t have done it today. It’s a little chilly.

Still, morning gives me the feeling of starting over; of starting fresh.

Mornings, as they relate to scripture, have been on my mind for a few weeks, ever since Ed shared the verse above with me. Then it appeared the next day in something else I was reading. Usually that means God wants me to pay attention. That verse reminded me of another one that I had committed to memory some time ago.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

In the NIV, the word “morning” is used 211 times. The first six times refer to the “evening and the morning” that were the first days of creation (Genesis 1). There are many references of “morning” in commands from God, such as not letting the manna sit till morning (Exodus 16:19), or a certain sacrifice was to take place morning and evening (Exodus 29:39). Other references deal with things that happened early in the morning, such as,

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

which was a very important morning for us.

But there is another use of the word morning which indicates a time of renewal, or starting over.  David refers to morning often in the Psalms as it pertains to his relationship with God as in the two verses I already mentioned. Let’s look at a few more from David and Isaiah.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress (Is 33:2)

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. (Is 50:4)

And my favorite from Jeremiah:

Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations: 3:22-23)

I love this because when Jeremiah wrote these words, his whole world was in chaos. His prophecies were met with scorn and anger, often putting his life in danger. Then his prophecies came true and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. Even with all that, Jeremiah had infinite trust in God and that is what sustained him

Photo by Kyle Cottrell on Unsplash


So whether we are a “morning person” or not, we can still wake every morning knowing that God is faithful, compassionate and merciful. He loves us, provides for us, listens to us, and holds on to us. What a great way to start the day!


Songs for Sunday: Joy to the World

Today, the Sunday for before Christmas, this song will be sung in many churches. It is an extremely popular “Christmas Song”, but if you look at the lyrics, they seem to more closely depict the second coming of Christ rather than the first.

Joy to the Word

Joy to the world, the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love, and wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love

The lyrics, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), were  mostly based on Psalm 98.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
    and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
    and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.

Isaac Watts wrote over 800 hymns as well as many other works.  Many of his hymns are still found in hymnals today, including of course, Joy to the World. You can read more about him here. 

The tune used for Joy to the World  here in the United States is called  Antioch and while it was arranged by Lowell Mason (1792-1882), it includes at least some parts of George Frideric Handel’s (1685-1769) Messiah. You can read more about that here.

My YouTube search for videos of this song told me that just about everyone seems to have recorded it at one time or another.  However, I wanted to find a choral version. This is a nice one by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers. It was uploaded by Kate Price in 2009.

See you in church!

Merry Christmas!


Great Joy

“Shepherds Being Told of the Holy Birth” Walter Crane 1895

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)

According to Bible the word “joy” is used in the Bible 242 times (in the NIV). Additionally, the word “rejoice” is used 154 times, and “joyful” 28 times. In Galatians, Paul lists “joy” as part of the fruit of the spirit, naming it second, after “love”.

So what does joy mean? defines joy as
“the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation”

The word translated as joy in Luke 2 is the Greek word, chara, which basically means gladness, but according to the Revell Bible Dictionary (p.590) “connotes an inner feeling of pleasure, satisfaction of well being.”

Here is the thing about the joy that would come from the birth (and later death, burial and resurrection) of the Christ child. For those who accept the gift, joy is an internal state that isn’t dependent on circumstances or feelings. You can be unhappy about a situation, but still remain in the “joy of the Lord”. As a matter of fact Nehemiah says …”the joy of the Lord is your strength. ” (Neh 8:10 b).

Why should we need joy to be our strength? Living a life in obedience to God through Jesus Christ makes us an enemy of the world, and subject to persecution on both the physical and spiritual level.

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

Revell Bible Dictionary says

“In the NT (New Testament), joy often wells up in the most painful and desperate of situations. Such joy, known by those who are obedient to Jesus, is supernaturally produced as we look ahead with confidence, to reaffirm our faith in the goodness, and ultimate triumph of our God.” (p.590)

When we know who we are in Christ, and that our eternal home is with Him in heaven, we can have joy even when we are dealing with heartache and pain in this life. It’s the joy that comes from knowing that regardless of what happens, God is in control and is working it all out for our good and His glory.  I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of joy I want to have. I find it more and more, as I learn to lean on Him.

God is still offering the gift.

Have you accepted it?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15)


Songs for Sunday: Where He Leads Me

This hymn has been running around in my head for a couple of weeks now, and I catch myself humming the melody. We often sang it as an “Invitation Hymn” at church when I was a kid.

Where He Leads Me

  1. I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    I can hear my Savior calling,
    “Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”

    • Refrain:
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      Where He leads me I will follow,
      I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  2. I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him through the waters,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  3. I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him through the garden,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  4. I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calv’ry,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  5. I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him to the judgment,
    I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
  6. He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    He will give me grace and glory,
    And go with me, with me all the way.

My usual hymn research sites didn’t offer much information about E. W. Blandy (also spelled “Blandly” ) other than a brief statement in, saying  he was a Salvation Army officer and had written the lyrics after given the choice between “a comfortable post at an established church, and an alternate assignment to the New York City waterfront and slum called Hell’s Kitchen.” He went to Hell’s Kitchen.

John S. Norris (1844-1907) composed the beautiful melody.  He was a Methodist pastor who changed to the Congregationalist denomination, and continued ministering there. He pastored several churches over about a thirty year timespan. According to Hymn Time, he wrote several hymns,

Hymn Time also says that the hymn was written in 1890, but gave no information how the two men might have collaborated.

When I started surfing YouTube looking for recordings of this song, I really didn’t find much that I wanted to use. I wanted to find something that was arranged as closely to the original as I could get. At first I thought the only one what was really close was a recording by Willie Nelson. If you know anything about Willie’s style, particularly his musical phrasing, you know why that is strange. However, Willie does a great job with this one. If you want to (I know Ed will), you can hear it here.

Finally, I found this really nice recording by Lynda Randle.  It was “provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America”.

What about you?
Are you following Him?
See you in church!


Guest Post: Defining the Problem

Hi! My name is Ed Hall, Connie’s husband. We blog together at Old Folks At Homestead. I think I get the honor of being her first guest blogger on This Little Light of Mine.

Besides being married, and both being veterans and writers, we share one more thing. We were both sexually abused as children. No, today I am not going to tell my story of abuse. That probably will come later, but today I want to take another direction with you.

My intent today is to try to help you understand the scope and implications of child sexual abuse in the physical world and, more importantly, the spiritual world. So how do I get folks to see the extent of the problem? Let’s try this.

You and I are going to the Mall. Its a nice mall with a second level. We might look for some lunch later, but all we want to do now is browse. Me being me, I need a cup of coffee. So we go to the second floor, find the coffee shop and I get a cup of their strongest, black.

Then we go to the rail and stand looking at the big crowds on the first floor because people watching is always fun. Has Connie ever mentioned what a klutz I am? Well I am. So we are talking and suddenly my coffee cup slips through my fingers and falls straight down.

Before the coffee cup hits anyone, we know that the odds are 1 in 10 it will hit a victim of child sexual assault. If our crowd is a thousand people that means a 100 of them have likely been abused sexually as a child.

Once it hits and we can identify gender, the odds say that 1 in every 7 females have been victims of child sexual abuse. If the crowd is half men and women that would be about 72 women.

If it hits a guy he stands about a 1 in 25 chance of being sexually abused which would mean about 20 of them would be guys. The final 8 represent reports where gender is unknown.

So a hundred people out of a thousand with over seventy girls and about twenty boys. How many kids go to school with your kids? How many people attend your church? With how many people do you work?

Have I got your attention yet? That is a lot of people and a lot of damage. Here is the hard fact. Even with the emphasis on the problem, it is still greatly under reported. So how bad is it really?

Had we an exact number, it still would not fully explain how bad the problem is, because it does not address what the outcomes of early sexualization of children are. The jury is still out on that, but we know that child sexual abuse has been linked to:

Changes in brain chemistry. Similar conditions to Combat related PTSD are seen in survivors.

Emotional and mental problems which include, but are not limited to, failure to mature along set lines, suicidal thoughts and intentions, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and a plethora of other related problems.

Physical illness ,which include a higher incidence of every disease that relates to high stress.

So we know that we have a great problem here in this physical world, but how does it effect the spiritual world? I think we have the question backwards brothers and sisters. The problem stems from the spiritual world, and we are just seeing the bleed over in the physical. When you see confusion, lies, pain, and people turning away from God, then the devil is at work.

Nowhere in the Prince of this World’s work is confusion, pain, lies, shame, and people turning away from the true God more evident than in child sexual abuse.

The people of earth are engaged in a Spiritual War that has raged since before time, and whose ultimate end will come as time ends. There are no Conscientious Objectors to this war. You are either a Combatant or a victim. There is no middle ground.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14


“Christ blessing the Children” Bernhard Plockhorst  Public Domain

Jesus had a special place in his heart for children, and he makes us understand that there is something about children that is an absolute necessity if any of us, children or hoary old men like me, want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What could these attributes that God values above all others be?

May I suggest, innocence, trust, boundless love, a surpassing joy, honesty and faith in Him above all else? Does that seem like what you see when you are overjoyed by a baby’s laugh and the sparkle in their eyes?

The betrayal of child sexual abuse and violence destroys all these traits that God, and us by the way, cherish in children. Satan could not have invented a better tool to destroy a child’s ability to relate to and trust God than sexual abuse.

Most abusers are male and sometimes this male is the step-father or father. In all cases of child sexual abuse the victim loses trust in the adults who are supposed to protect them. Its all up to them now to protect themselves and survive this trauma.

So how do you think that effects a person’s relationship with Father God? Father is the one who should have protected me or, worse yet, father is the one who harmed me. I can tell you from personal experience it took me awhile to see father as anything other than a Christmas Check, a monthly letter and the guy who showed up from time to time smelling of after shave. So what was Father God to me? Where was His relevance?

We must, as a church, quit sitting on the sidelines in a war between the Great Deceiver and our children. The Seducing Spirit, Oppressor, Anti-Christ, or whatever else you what to call him, is after our children. Now, what are we going to do about it?

When we attack child sexual abuse, we are attacking the crowning jewel of the kingdom of hell, but that is why the Church of God is still here on this earth. We have  an enemy to oppose, in a war that God has already won. For Connie and I, our part in the battle includes protecting children, and showing those already taken captive the way to freedom.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

“Hold the Fort” (Popular Graphic Arts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Ephesians 6:12-13

All statistics and other information about the effects of child sexual abuse were found here.


Songs for Sunday: Clean

The first time I heard this song, I bawled like a baby.  I knew exactly what it was about before I ever heard Natalie Grant explain that she had written this song after a friend had spoken to her about being sexually molested as a child.  God really spoke through Natalie with this one, and it is a powerful reminder to anyone who has experienced His supernatural cleansing.


I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You’re helping me
To believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean

What was dead now
Lives again
My heart’s beating
Beating inside my chest
Oh I’m coming alive with joy and destiny
Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece

There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.
There’s nothing too dirty that You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean.

Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I am clean, I’m clean
Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I’m clean
Oh I’m clean
I’m clean
Oh you make me
You wash me

The song was released on Natalie’s album entitled “Be One” in  2015.

Isn’t that beautiful?

See you in church!


My Story

First, let me apologize for being so late with this post. Ed and I were having to deal with a very sick geriatric dog, and she took up most of our time for a few weeks. She’s better now, but she’s still requires more attention than she used to.

Then, I really struggled with writing this post. I struggled with how much to tell you, not because I’m hiding anything, but because I didn’t want to overwhelm you. I’m praying for the Lord’s guidance for what to say now, and what to save for another time. I also struggled because there are going to be some people who don’t want to hear what I have to say.

Anyway, in a recent post,I started talking about sisters in Christ, and how we should behave toward each other, because the church is full of hurting people. I said that I would tell you my story, and I will, but please understand that the last line won’t be written until the Lord comes back, or He calls me home. Like all of you, I am still a work in progress, and always will be as long as I’m here.

I’m telling you my story, because you might have one like it, or know someone who does. This is the story of how not to do it. Please don’t think I got by with anything, because I didn’t. The only reason I’m even here to tell you about it, is through the work of God through Jesus Christ, and all the glory goes to Him.

So, how to begin? Sometimes its hard to tell your own story without telling stories that aren’t yours to tell, so out of respect for those other stories, I’m leaving out a few details, but you’ll get the idea.

My Mom’s dad was a preacher (I’ve written about him a little before), a real “hell fire and brimstone” evangelist. My dad’s father was a Pennsylvania coal miner who had moved to the Midwest looking for work. They were from the “wrong side of the tracks” if you know what I mean. I don’t even know how my parents managed to get together at all, but they did, and then they had to get married. I was born in October of 1963.

Mom and Dad got divorced when I was four, and for the next couple years, I spent most of my time with my mom’s maternal grandmother. She loved me and I loved her right back. It was probably the one place that was “normal” and I always felt safe with her. I also have some vivid memories of being with my dad in his shoe repair shop during that time. I don’t remember spending a lot of time with Mom then, but I know she was working nights, and was probably sleeping when I was awake.

Grandma was Lutheran and my mom’s parents were non-denominational, so there was always some contention there, but Grandma was the one who read me Bible stories, taught me prayers, sang me songs, and taught me her favorite scripture:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3 KJV)

me and grandma
Me and my great grandma Marie

Most of the things I’ve written about before on this blog, occurred during the same time as the following paragraphs. It just shows what a contradictory, conflicted world I lived in.

In 1970, my dad left Missouri, and went to Georgia. I don’t remember anything about that at all, other than he was gone. Mom met and married her second husband in 1971. My half sister was born in December of that year. My step father was unlike anyone I had ever known before, and I didn’t like him at all. He was loud and scary. He used bad words. He was verbally and emotionally abusive to my mother, and he was mean to animals. He was also a drunk; a mean drunk. He screamed, cursed, and threw and broke things.

He was also very intelligent; both an Army and Air Force veteran. He was a fireman paramedic. He was a gourmet cook and could sew beautifully. It some point he took charge of my school work. I remember walking home from school and seeing his car at home and feeling nauseous. It was a feeling with which I would become all too familiar. My mom was his third wife, but apparently wife number two had the most perfect children. They cleaned, they did dishes, they were everything I was not. I would later figure out that was part of a pattern.

I wasn’t a bad student, but my work was never good enough. Later, when I was in high school, he would insist that I take a math and a science every year. I really wasn’t very good at math, and I hated it. I could do the science OK, as long I didn’t have to do much math with it. My gifts however, were with music and language. When I was grown, someone told me that he often bragged on how smart I was. That was also part of a pattern.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Although there were years of mental and emotional abuse, the core of the trauma occurred when I was ten. That was when he informed me that he was going to teach me about boys, so I would know how to behave around them. The lessons were “hands on”. It probably only went on for a few months, but it seems a lot longer. I knew it was wrong, but he told me if I told anyone that he would have to go away, and we wouldn’t have any money. I did tell though. I told a babysitter, who told her mother, who made a phone call to family services.

Things were different in those days. They made him move out. Yes, there was an investigation, and there was no doubt he had done what I said he had done. However, they felt that taking it to trial would be too traumatic for me. They told my mom that it would probably be best to ask me if he could come back home. Well, now, what do you think I said?

I said, “I don’t have my dad and it wouldn’t be fair for my sister not to have hers.”

For years, I didn’t even remember saying it. I also didn’t remember him asking me why I told. My response to him was, “God wanted me to.” to which he replied, “Well, God and your big mouth got me in a lot of trouble.” and with that, after three months, he moved back in. He lived with us for five more years, and even though he never touched me again, the damage was done.

I had counseling for awhile, but the real issues were never addressed, and we didn’t talk about it at home. Although my maternal grandparents knew about it, I was not allowed to tell my great grandma, because my mom was afraid the shock might kill her. She was a smart woman, though, and figured it out herself. I know she did because of a conversation she had with my step dad shortly before he left. She told him that she knew what kind of man he was and if he wanted to know what kind of man he was, he could call them down at 26th and Cherry. That was the location of the family services. So she knew, but she never talked to me about it.

I was still in touch with my dad , but I couldn’t tell him either. When I was 12, I got to go visit him in the summer, but I never told him. I eventually told my step mom, and she told him. He and I talk every week, but I’ve never really talked to him about it. Not really. Strangely, I think there is still some shame and embarrassment attached to it for me.

Me and Dad Queen City
Me and my dad

We had gone to church off and on my whole life, but we didn’t start going regularly until we moved back to Sibley, when I was a young teenager. I was involved in youth group, and like most of the kids in the group, I knew all the right answers, but my life at home had little resemblance to what it should have been.

Although I never got in any trouble at school, I started smoking when I was 13, and drinking when I was about 15. My step dad wasn’t crazy about my smoking, but he often provided the booze. He and I developed a strange sort of relationship, I suppose. I think he may have been picking up on something that I didn’t realize myself for many years: I was angry. It didn’t really show because anger wasn’t allowed, at least not for me. (I could spend a lot of time on that). Oh, I had the same “fits” that all teenagers have, but that deep boiling rage was well below the conscious surface.

Like I said before, he never touched me again, but he did ask me once. I said no. Not too long before they split, I was once again awakened in the middle of the night by cursing, screaming and crying. The next morning, my mother was gone somewhere, and my step dad was obviously hung over. I told him that he needed to remember that he had taught me to use “that shotgun in there” and if I ever heard him speak to my mother that way again, I’d used it on him.

He and Mom split when I was 15 (there we get into someone else’s story, so I’ll leave it at that). Mom remarried the following year. I graduated at 17, my great grandma died, and I joined the Army, taking with me my combination of rage and shame, an addiction to tobacco, and a taste for booze.

Skinny Me
About a year before I got out of the Army.  I was all booze and tobacco and not much food.

For the next 28 years or so, my life was a series of poor, often abusive relationships, extra marital affairs, two failed marriages, desperate times of reaching out for God and trying to “do it right”, and then falling back into the pit. Times of trying to get counseling, and times of trying to figure it out myself. Times of complete sobriety and times when I lived in a bottle.

During that time, I gave birth to three children, and lost two others through miscarriage. I did my best to be a good mom, but like most of us, I could have done better. Let me stop here and say that all these things were the result of choices I made. Other people get molested and don’t make those choices, and some make worse ones. Everyone reacts differently to trauma, but I know for certain that had I not been exposed to certain things when I was, some choices would have been very different.

me and kids
My kids and I

I quit smoking in 2001 because the doctor told me that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t live to see my baby girl grow up. In about 2004 or 2005, I got a diagnosis of Bi Polar disorder. In 2006, I stopped drinking completely, and in 2007 or 2008, I got a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes (when I quit smoking, I started eating). My marriage of nearly 25 years was a marriage in name only, and when my husband was home (he was an over the road truck driver), we slept in different rooms. In 2009, I made a phone call that changed my life, although I couldn’t see it at the time.

God never condones sin, and he certainly didn’t condone mine, but he used the place my sin brought me to not only bring me back to him, but bring someone else too.

I met Ed when I was stationed in Korea in 1982. He was an older, married man, and my friend. He was like the big brother I never had, and I absolutely adored him. We tried to keep in touch after we left Korea, but things got in the way, and I lost track of him. Along with a few other Army friends I lost track of, when I got a computer and the internet, I started looking for him.

I found him in January of 2009. He was no longer married, his children were grown, and he had entered a hedonistic lifestyle. He told me that he loved me, and that he had always loved me. I went to see him that April. In the following weeks after I came back home, he had a decision to make. Would he kill himself, or would he get on a bus and come to me? He sat in his barn with the rope in his hand, before deciding to live. He came to me in May. By August my husband had moved out, and Ed moved in. By June of the next year, I lost my rental house and we had to move. I had been still going to church that whole time acting like everything was normal! Was I in the dark or what?

Oh, Ed had become a full blown alcoholic (a “raging drunk” as he calls it) before he came out to Missouri. The day he arrived, he asked if he could pick up a six pack. I told him that I’d rather he didn’t. He hasn’t had a drink since. This coming May, it will be ten years.

Well after we moved, we changed churches and Ed started going with me. We were married in that church in 2013, and we seriously committed ourselves to the Lord. Ed admitted that when he was younger, he had wanted to preach, but was told that he didn’t have “the calling”. He also admitted that he also had been sexually abused as a child.

ed connie cake
Our wedding, September 2013

As for my stepfather, he died in 1985 at the age of 47. I eventually learned that I was not his only victim, that there were at least three more. I’ll be talking about that more in up coming posts, or as much as I can. I will tell you that to the later victims, I was painted as that perfect child. Now I wonder what really happened to those kids he told me were so perfect.

My second husband (the father of my two younger children) died in 2016 from a massive heart attack.

My oldest son is serving a nine year sentence in prison for robbery. He has a diagnosis of Bi Polar as well as an addiction to alcohol and meth. At this point, he’s spent half of his life incarcerated in one way or another, but it looks like God is dealing with him as well, and we will leave him in God’s hands.

My middle son is living with us after going through some serious financial difficulties. He struggles with some addictions too, but he has also committed his life to the Lord.

My baby girl is 18, and is learning voice acting. We daily pray that she too will answer the Lord’s call.

God started dealing with both Ed and I to take all the head knowledge we had about His word, and let Him turn it to heart knowledge. Thanks to a couple of opportunities to go to Women of Faith conferences, I was introduced to the writings of Christine Caine and Sheila Walsh, two lovely women who understand about deep wounds.

God used those women to show me that I had to open up and let Him show me all my broken places, so that I can give them to Him for healing. They also showed me how to take God at His word; to trust His Word because it is TRUTH! That hasn’t been easy, and it is still a work in progress, but every day I wake knowing I have a heavenly father who loves me, and works all things together for my good.

God is leading Ed through his own journey of healing, and like me, he takes baby steps.

Abused children have trust issues and I was no different. Although intellectually I always believed in Jesus, and knew what the Bible said was true, I thought maybe it wasn’t true for me because I had screwed up so badly. That maybe I had blown it. In my 20’s and early 30’s, I used to have horrible nightmares about demons chasing me. In the dream when I would try to call out to Jesus, the demons would laugh and say that he wouldn’t help someone like me. I had horrible anxiety and if I was alone, I had to sleep with all the lights on. Then something happened that, in a matter of seconds, let me know the truth, and it has made me free indeed.

Four years ago this last August, we were moving to our current house, which as a little over an hour away from where we lived before. Using Ed’s truck, my son Kyle’s car and a car I had borrowed from a friend, we had packed up another load to take to the new house, and were ready to head out. As I started down the driveway to my car, I had an odd sensation of something hitting me from behind. When it hit me again, it knew what it was and then everything slowed way down as I felt myself falling under Kyle’s car (he hadn’t seen me and was backing down the driveway). Automatically, I cried out to Jesus to help me. It was all I could say, and I don’t even know if I was saying it out loud. I felt a tire start over my hip and stomach and as I vomited, the car stopped, and I heard Ed say “Your mother! Don’t move until I tell you!”

I would find out later that poor Ed had seen the whole thing, and as he fought to get out of his truck time slowed for him too. He yelled at Kyle to stop and Kyle asked what he had hit, hence the response “Your mother!”

When Ed found me, I told him to “get it off me”, and he had Kyle pull forward. After a trip to the ER, I was released with no broken bones or other internal injuries. We would find out later that I had some really deep tissue bruising, which took about six months to heal. A few weeks later, I would go see my regular doctor who kept telling me I was really lucky. I told him it wasn’t luck; it was the Lord. He saved my life that day, and He told me that I am His!

my accident
God is so good!

I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

So why am I telling you all this?

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen 50:19-20)

I believe that child sexual abuse is one of satan’s biggest weapons. He uses it to destroy the faith and trust that is so inherent in children, which then leads to broken adults (even the one’s who act like everything is fine).

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt 18:6)

So, I can bury it and pretend it didn’t happen or say that it “doesn’t define me” or that “I don’t think about it”, or a couple million other things that I’ve heard people say, and let it keep right on happening to other children, or I can say, “Yes! This happened to me! Yes! It’s terrible! Yes, it damaged my trust and filled me with shame, but you know what? God is bigger, and He can use all those terrible things that happened to me to work together for my good and for His glory! He can use my story to reach other people for Him. He can use my story to open other eyes to the very real epidemic of child sexual abuse. He can use my story to reach out to other hurting women (and men) in His church to bring true healing.”

So why would I be quiet?