A Contemplative Night


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1396744041183Lots of thoughts and feelings tonight.  Seemed like every demon in Hell was ready and waiting before I even swung my feet over the edge of the bed this morning. I had to distract myself all morning to keep from sinking into sadness; spent some time in the Word, with a cup pot of coffee, and then some time getting group notes and files in order, and eventually I felt better.

And then, in a notebook, in the middle of notes on European history, I found several journal pages from the beginning of the end of my marriage.  (When I say the beginning of the end, I mean long after it actually ended;  it just took a few years for the reality to hit.  Shock does that to a person.)

Notes on how my husband, after having been gone for a couple of years, verbally attacked me in a pet store of all places, in front of the salespeople and our daughters, who were little at the time.  How I began to realize that I had outgrown him while he was gone, not just spiritually, but emotionally, and that there really was no marriage left, and hadn’t been for sometime.  How the manager had come to confront him, and help me.  How completely and utterly humiliating it all was.

More notes.

He had pushed me one day, quite hard, in our bedroom, and then, after staring at me and hesitating for a moment, pushed me again, and I flew all the way across the room and hit the dresser.  (This ended up being a hospital visit, with one of the discs in the center of my back protruding visibly through my t-shirt) and how, somehow, that particular day, it finally occurred to me that he wasn’t ‘out of control’ he was in fact very much in control.  Something about the way he hesitated before pushing me the second time.  That day – that very day, I realized that abusive people are not ‘mentally ill’.  They are masters of not only self-control, but of deception.  That it is easier for them to charm the oil out of a snake than it is for them to tell the truth.  For so many years I had made excuses for him:  I had made him angry, he was mentally ill, he had childhood issues (who doesn’t?) but I never called it what it was.  I never saw it for what it was, until that exact moment, on that exact day.  All because he stopped to think about it. Truly mentally ill people don’t do that.  Abusive people do.  If he hadn’t hesitated, I wouldn’t have seen it.

The nice thing about getting older is that you get (hopefully) more clear-headed.  You become more firm in your convictions, right or wrong, so watch yourself, but you get stronger.  You become free.  I know that I do not want any more abusive people in my life, and certainly not in my heart.  I do not want any more ‘friends’ who get angry if I don’t do what they feel I should do, never mind the fact that I am more than capable of hearing from God for myself, thank you, and I also do not want any more people who wear their psychiatric labels like a suit of armor, protecting and absolving them from any moral responsibility in the wars they wage against other people.  It’s not that they can’t control their anger, it’s that they choose not to.

Why so transparent tonight, about such personal issues?  Because the walls of my heart are all trampled down tonight, and in this brief space of time, before they go up again tomorrow, I need to put all of this somewhere before I go to sleep.  Somewhere where maybe it can help someone, who is tonight where I was all those few years ago.  And all I can tell you is, God Himself delivered me.  That if you trust Him, He will make a way out;  He surrounds us with His legions of angels, He goes both before and behind us, and leads us through, and out the other side.  I am not completely through yet, but can definitely see sunlight somewhere up ahead.

So, I am sad and worn out tonight, but oh, so thankful for all that God has delivered me from.  So very thankful.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28

 If we remain in His love, God will redeem every circumstance for His glory.

Worried Sick


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Coming down with pneumonia was not in my plans for this week.  My immune system has tanked again;  it seems that stress is bad for your health, financial stress in particular.  I had to make a choice between paying the rent and paying my daughter’s spring tuition; they are roughly the same amount of money.  If I don’t pay her tuition, she can’t go online and see her grades, and there is a hold on her account, meaning she can’t register for her fall classes next week.  If I pay the tuition, but not the rent, she won’t have a place to come home to at the end of the month.

Running away is not an option, and appears to be the realm of ex-husbands, ex-fathers and irritated pastoral counselors.  But not mothers.  We don’t bail, jump ship, or disappear.  Mothers get a cup of coffee, a Bible, and get alone with God to see what He has to say about the situation.  About us, in our situation.  And what He has to say is “Persevere … remain steadfast … trust, and see the salvation of your God.”  In other words, don’t jump.

So, I paid the rent.  Not all of it, but at least enough to cover April.  I haven’t said anything to my daughter, because I want her to be able to concentrate on her grades, and studying for final exams.  I don’t have a clue what to do next, or what is going to happen now.  The money is gone, and there’s no getting it back.  I’m not even sure I did the right thing;  paying bills lately is akin to shooting arrows at a target while wearing a blindfold.

Every time the phone rings, or I see that there is a phone message, I think it’s the landlords saying we have to go, or National Grid saying they’re shutting off the utilities, or the school, demanding payment.  I try not to answer phone calls unless I’m sure of who it is.  I have a hard time looking at my bank accounts without feeling sick, nervous, or nauseated.  I have so much apprehension about going to the mailbox that some days I just don’t.  There is rarely anything good in there. Most of it is anxiety-provoking demands for money that I don’t have.

I am the queen of avoidance.

When my daughter came home for Easter last week, her acceptance for nursing school came in the mail, and she was so excited.  I am so proud of her, and didn’t say a word about the fact that I don’t know how we’re going to pay even for this semester that hasn’t ended yet.  She can’t just suddenly stop in the middle of her junior year of college. Those who are unfamiliar with the dynamics of domestic violence say that I should just ‘make’ her father pay for her schooling.  Well, wouldn’t that be lovely.

So here we stand.  I don’t know how it will all work out, I just have to believe that it will.  Pneumonia isn’t fun, but it will clear up.  I have a modicum of faith.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.  James 1:4

When the Crisis Doesn’t End


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This was a heart-broken day.  It was my youngest daughter’s twentieth birthday, but I didn’t get to spend it with her.  Her father picked her up at school and took her to Ohio, and she won’t be home until tomorrow night.  She went to a basketball game and out to dinner, and will stay at a hotel tonight.  She is having the time of her life, and I wouldn’t take it from her for the world.  He can more than afford it, and I can’t compete with NBA games, and Universal studios, or condos on the beach.  I, however, am having a hard time buying her a card and a gift.  I knew this was going to happen, but I had set my mind to be okay, and I was (kind of) until someone reminded me this afternoon that the girlfriend went along with them.

And, I confess, I think I have hate in my heart tonight, Lord.  A bag of candy and a lot of tears later, I believe there’s some intense dislike and resentment there.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who hates, or dislikes anyone.  I usually don’t, but this one is hard.  Always.  So please, God, guard my heart against bitterness.  And hopelessness.  Hopeless is a horrible feeling, but it can be so hard to fight it, and some days I just don’t feel like fighting.

Sometimes I feel that there is no corner of my life untouched by sadness.

I have not heard from my landlord yet regarding the house;  I owe them money, and am not sure [again] if we’re coming or going.  I am so very tired of moving.  If I had a million dollars, I would buy a place of rest and refuge.  (With roses.)  Somewhere peaceful, private, quiet and safe.  It would be nice to be able to go to sleep for one night and not have to worry about money, or bills, or being homeless, or having the utilities shut off.  It’s not that I’m not grateful for what I have (and I have a lot) but the financial and emotional fallout from divorce and domestic violence is huge.

I had written last time about I book I had found, about False Memory Syndrome.  The book has been enormously helpful, but healing from misguided therapy has taken a backseat to all of the financial worries and health problems.  I will write more about it, because writing helps, but not tonight.

Tonight all I will do is trust God, and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.

(And try to beat my daughter at Trivia Crack.  Or maybe I will let her win, just for tonight.  After all, it is her birthday.)


Buying Grace


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On March 28, 1997, someone in Syracuse, N.Y. went into a Media Play store in Shoppingtown Mall and bought a book.  I know, because a few weeks ago, I went into a thrift store in North Syracuse and picked it up for a dollar.  It is in like-new condition, and inside the front cover is a light blue post-it note filled with hand-written notes and page numbers. Whoever bought it had also left the receipt in it.  I have been trying to picture who this person could be, and what compelled them to buy it in the first place, and then get rid of it?  Client or clinician?  Someone I’ve sat next to in church, or worked with?

The book is Understanding the False Memory Crisis and How It Could Affect You, by Dr. Paul Simpson.  To someone who has lost a large piece of my life to False Memory Syndrome, this book was a God-send. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s impossible to describe, much less explain, leaving virtually no one to talk to who can understand or help.  In fact, until I bought the book, I had felt completely alone with all of this.  I have no idea how many other people in Syracuse have been through anything similar, or who have had a problem after going to counseling, either to the church or to a professional in the community.

What I like about the book is that Dr. Simpson writes with both humility and grace, towards both counselor and client.  He also used to be one of those who not only helped people recover from ‘memories’ that they had ‘repressed’ but trained others how to do it, too. Until, like I did, he noticed things just didn’t seem right, and the stories weren’t lining up with reality.  This is the beginning of the way out.

And, as he states in the book, once he realized that he was unintentionally contributing to the problem, he called his former clients and invited them to come back at no expense to them in order to unravel and clear up the mess, and help them heal.  This, to me, is the epitome of professionalism.  It takes a great deal of humility to do this, not to mention compassion.  It takes grace.

It’s a very well written book, and I’m grateful to have found it.  I truly believe God led me to it, as part of my own healing, which has been a slow and solitary journey, due to the fact that we seem to have quite a few counselors in Onondaga county who still practice some type of ‘recovered memory’ therapy.  Most people don’t know what I’m talking about, and can’t help.  Some of our local Christian therapists and counselors still believe in repressed memories, dissociative disorders, and/or Satanic Ritual Abuse. Quite a few of the churches and para-church ministries in the area practice ‘deliverance’ counseling, or Theophostics, and some still use books and practices found in Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker.

I don’t believe anyone intentionally caused harm, including my pastoral counselor.  All she did – unintentionally, and sincerely (I believe) – was to build on a foundation that had already been laid.  My own confusion and exhaustion at the time didn’t help.

So, we’ll see where it leads.  All I know is that on a recent snowy day in Syracuse, I walked into a store and bought grace.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers:  the snare is broken, and we are escaped.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  ~ Psalm 124:7-8

A Grief of Mind


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Heavy-hearted tonight.  This has been a not-so-very-good day.  Opportunities for hurt feelings were multitudinous, for some reason, all the way to the end.  There are days I would rather I had not got out of bed, and this was one of them.

This is the farthest I have ever gone into the month without being able to pay my rent, and it feels surreal.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re short.  Inundated with medical bills, out-of-pocket prescription payments and a host of other things, and it is just not going to happen.  We never get to settle anywhere and feel safe.  I feel like I never get to breathe, or have five minutes of relief from the pressure of it all.  It is mind-bending.  And unending.  Like trying to dig your way out of a pit with a dessert spoon.

So, today didn’t help.  I don’t know what I would, or could have done differently,  I only know that it hurts.  Like hell.

One thing I am sure of:  I refuse to be bitter.  If we can’t walk in love, and grace, and mercy and forgiveness, then we have no right claiming the name of Christ for our own, or pretending to be His disciples.

My heart is both heavy, and hopeful.  It’s a whole new year;  anything can happen.  Good can happen.  All I know is, I refuse to quit.

Wait on the Lord:  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.  Psalm 27:14


Stacey L. Lacik

Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible ...

“And there shall be stability in your times, and abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the reverent fear and worship of the Lord is your treasure and His.”              Isaiah 33:6

What is stability?  It is defined as “the strength to stand or endure”.  To be stable is to be “fixed, steadfast, and firmly established, steady in purpose; firm in resolution.”

One of the definitions I like is “designed so as to develop forces that restore the original condition when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion.”  (Webster’s)

No matter what happens in our lives, the Word assures us that we can be restored to a place of stability; that we can have an unshakable peace in the midst of any storm or trial, and that everything will work out for our good.  God is in control.  It helps if we have already developed a habit of reading, studying…

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Fret Not


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I think I killed our tree.  Last year was not my fault (the apartment was too hot) but this year I did it.  I don’t know what’s wrong;  I went to put the lights on it, and it sounds like it’s raining.  Needles everywhere.

It is the week before Christmas, and there is no money for gifts.  It’s the most horrible, nauseating, dead-in-the-very-bottom-of-your-gut type of feeling a single mom can have.  Most of the time, I feel sick.  No matter where I am, or what I am doing, I can’t fully enjoy it.  We are in pretty much the same boat we were in last year, and I haven’t yet recovered from last year.  Same scenario, different location.

Constant worry.   

So many bills are unpaid;  there are piles of medical bills, utilities, my daughter’s tuition for spring.  Everything is past due, so late fees keep piling up.  The car needs repairs, or it won’t pass inspection next week.  If I buy gifts for my daughters, or for anyone else for Christmas, even a few, there will be no way to pay the rent next month.  I’m preparing myself now for the annual January shut-off:  no internet, television, or phone.  It seems to be a new and unwanted tradition – dead silence.  Not good for those already struggling with depression.  I know my girls have bought gifts for me already;  we went to the mall yesterday.  Walking along behind them, I thought, they are so beautiful.  I don’t know if they realize that they themselves are my gifts.  Probably not, because they aren’t parents themselves yet (thank God) but like most parents, I want to be able to give them something to open on Christmas morning.  There is a little girl in all of us, no matter how old we are, who wants to come down to a sparkling tree with beautiful packages, and bows, and pretty things picked out by people we love.  People who love us.

I don’t feel merry, I feel grim.  The kind of grim determination you need when you have to head out into a storm, and there’s no getting around it, so you set your face like flint and go forward.  But it is definitely not fun.

We don’t need a small miracle, we need a large one.  Maybe several.  I have mustard-seed-sized faith.  You can see it with a magnifying glass, but it’s there.

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, … nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20

Of Mice and Money


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Shortly after signing the lease for this house, and when I had only made a dent in the sea of boxes in the garage, all of my money was stolen.  By a stranger;  someone standing at an ATM in Atlanta, Georgia.  They just helped themselves to everything, and added fees along the way on top of it.

I had gone to Home Depot to buy mouse traps (of all things) a couple of days before, and I believe it was there that my account was compromised.  Not quite sure, as I also went to Target right after, but I believe it’s one of the two.  I got a call from the card company saying that there had been some ‘unusual activity’ on my account, and that someone had just changed my pin number and withdrawn everything I had set aside for bills.  Several hundred dollars, all of which is needed by Saturday in order to pay the rent for November.

The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  Indeed.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

Nothing like a good, old-fashioned attack of the enemy to make you wake up and put your armor on.  That, and the quiet observation of a nineteen year-old passenger that you sound more like a nihilist lately than a Christian.  (These are long car rides.)  I have already been through so much that I’m determined not to let this one get to me.  God has been faithful, always, and has helped me and strengthened me through everything.  I know God brought us here.  I believe we’re supposed to be here.  I believe He has a plan and a purpose for us in this place. He is who He says He is, and will do what He has promised to do.  I am not going to let depression and fear win this time.

With God’s help.

 Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.  Never yield to force;  never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.  – Sir Winston Churchill

The Shadow Side of Truth


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3600329089432I spent most of this summer looking for a place to live.  For some reason, I also spent it re-reading a book by Robert M. Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; a book that was assigned in an English class my husband and I took years ago, before we were married.  This is one of my all-time favorite books, not just because of the memories of my relationship with my husband, before everything went so horribly wrong, but because it’s probably one of the best philosophy books I’ve ever read.  It was around that same time, that first semester of college, that I dug a used copy of Francis A. Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There out of a bin in the college bookstore.  Although Pirsig circles spiritual truths and poignant realities without ever coming to actually know God in a personal way, and Schaeffer’s book argues from the other side, both books shaped much of my young-adult thinking.  Anyway, I thought I was so desperately searching for Zen because I missed my husband, but I think I was really just looking for me.  (The old pink copy from Mr. Baldwin’s English class was buried somewhere deep in a storage unit, so I finally went to Barnes and Noble and bought myself a new copy, which I liked much better anyway.)

I wandered pretty far off the path this summer in my thinking.  Stress does this to me;  I can think myself into a hole so deep only God can find me.  He always does, but not without considerable grief on my part, usually ending in some kind of confused fog that no amount of therapy or medication can dissipate. I went all the way to Is there really a God, and do we even exist, and if we don’t, then what’s the point of it all anyway? full circle back to There is a God, and these are real tears, so I must exist, and therefore, there must be a point out there somewhere.  The real value of a book like Pirsig’s is that while truth is approached but never arrived at, it gives you something to measure truth by.  A theoretical plumb line.  As in, okay, if I do not believe this to be truth, then what is?  Or, more accurately, what exactly do I believe?  “Truth is arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue.” And while the Lord was more than patient with all of my midsummer wanderings, now it’s time to put things back in order and get back to work.


An irritatingly re-occurring, and always traumatic reality in my life, they seem to have moved in to this place sometime before we did, and I can’t quite wrap my head around how to deal with them.  I don’t want to;  I want them gone.  Can’t get a cat, either, because I’m as allergic to them as I am afraid of mice.  Besides, a sign saying “This house is guarded by a kitten” is something only a real blond would put in the window.  I had just been thinking, too, that I don’t actually meet the DSM criteria for PTSD anymore (said criteria having been obliterated by all of the ones required for a major depressive disorder) and haven’t for some time, but no, no such luck.  Back with a vengeance, which is so humiliating, because this house was supposed to be both a blessing and a place of refuge.  And so many, many people bent over backwards trying to help me, and are now so happy and relieved that my summer of homelessness is over, that I don’t have the heart to tell them how upset I am with where I am.

The proper response to “Blessed and highly favored;  how are you?”  is not “Stressed and suicidal, thank you.” (“Blessed and highly medicated” doesn’t go over so well, either, unless you actually like being obviously and hyper-actively avoided by other well-dressed, seemingly healthy, adults.)  At least, not at our church.  Our poor staff is just not prepared to deal with such disturbingly raw honesty, so out of kindness and consideration for them, from the goodness of my heart, I give the appropriate response, knowing full well that I’m lying through my teeth the whole time.  God forgive me.

I really am grateful.  Grateful for a place to think, to write, to sleep and study.  I missed my bed.  And my coffee maker.

It’s good to be back.