The Light that Was Dark – A Prayer Request

My old friend and colleague, Warren Smith, had a heart attack yesterday. I’ve known him for over 25 years. I came across his first book, The Light that Was Dark (first printing in the early1990’s) where he described his coming out of the Rajneesh cult and heavy duty occult/New Age teachings into the light of Jesus Christ. His books went from there. Every so many months, I would hear his articulate voice on the phone. “Ingrid, I’ve been writing this new book…”, and we would strategize for the next radio interview.

Warren’s eloquent first hand description of the “light” he encountered in the New Age movement and his discovery that it was a counterfeit light sums up spiritual deception better than any I have heard. He hasn’t wavered in his message of warning. There are counterfeits, because the real thing exists spiritually. Please remember Warren in prayer.

For those interested in his books, here is Lighthouse Trails’ page. for more information. (The books are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other outlets.)  I wish I could share the many interviews we did on Crosstalk Radio through the years. So many times, I felt the Lord’s direction and help in those programs which were a wake-up call to many. If you would like to send well wishes to Warren Smith, here is the contact information.

Different March, Different Women

You’re going to see a very different crowd of women and very different speakers today at the March for Life. After catching the video collection this morning of obscene, vulgar, violence promoting women on the march last weekend, this march will be a stark contrast. Those who love and want to protect all life, beginning at its most vulnerable, are marching today. I don’t care about numbers – it’s irrelevant. If there were 12, these would be the women I would march with, if only I could. But there aren’t just 12, there are millions of us who know that each child is precious, that no child deserves to be torn limb from limb and discarded with the trash, or its body parts sold for profit. (There is an actual established price on the skin of the Downs babies now routinely aborted.)

God bless all the women who stand for life today and always, who know that children are no burden when you love them. Adoption is the loving option, not murder. Vice-President Pence has my deepest respect for his promised presence there today. The harpies shrieking about men shutting up because they don’t have wombs are totally wrong. It takes two to make a child, and the voices of fathers have been totally shut out of the abortion discussion. Thank God for real men who take responsibility for the children they father. And thank God for a Vice-President with the moral character to stand for life and not further the bloody death culture of the last Administration.

“Open your mouth for the voiceless, in the cause for all who are appointed to destruction.” ~ Proverbs 31:8

(This is our little daughter, Emily, at 8 weeks. She’s the one the perinatologist suggested I should abort due to risk factors for me. I never saw that hard-faced woman again. All life deserves protection. )

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Don’t Feed the Beast – Understanding Fuel and Malignant Narcissists

Hope comes with understanding in bad situations. Deep confusion leads to despair. I have received many messages of appreciation for the series I have published in the last few years on the topic of narcissistic abuse and toxic people/relationships. A search on my home page (search window is just under comments in the right hand column)  under those terms will locate them. It is eye-opening and tragic  to hear from so many dealing with these issues.

Holidays can bring up a great deal of turmoil, both for those living in the midst of a malignant narcissist’s emotional, spiritual  (or other) abuse or, those who are attempting to recover from it, even years later. The grief over a shattered ideal of a love that never was, wasted time, and often, failure to properly see things earlier is real. A time of year rife with sentiment and memories can open these wounds afresh.

One of the most painful things to watch are the enablers of malignant narcissists. These people serve to provide  fuel for the perpetrator in harming a target. Their intentions, however pious, and their (willful) ignorance are beside the point. No malignant narc can operate without gas in his or her tank to run the engine of emotional and spiritual abuse.  It’s important to understand the fuel and who is providing it in these situations. This is the subject of my latest article, linked here.

Additionally, a good  article by another (and the comments below it) linked here, describes the difference between unconditional love and the toxic variety in these situations. It is crucial to understand this.  It is easy to miss it when your heart and soul are involved with someone.

The latest article I have written  is relevant to all, because even if you have not faced this situation personally, others around you have and are. You don’t want to be one of those operating the fuel pump for evil.  Nobody should want to be a tool in the destruction of others.

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A Little Note for Readers

In July, I passed the nine year mark for my small Hope Blog. Before that, I had a Blogger.com site called Front Porch Chats (long deleted.) After moving from South Carolina back to Wisconsin 10 years ago, I changed the name and started over. Somehow having chats on a front porch in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin seemed unlikely!

As noted before, I never started this blog to be a success by blogging standards. It was a simple antidote to writing about the toxic state of the evangelical church and American culture that I nearly killed myself doing on the once busy news and comment site  I published as an adjunct to the talk radio show I co-hosted and produced. My heart has always been first at home anyway, and so I have enjoyed writing about my family and the good things there are in this world—good things that are often obscured by the ugly.

I haven’t written on here for a while. After getting really sick in June of this year, I ended up in the hospital where they diagnosed diabetes. The summer has been spent adjusting to an entirely new eating plan and medications. Because I did not fit the typical Type II profile of being overweight, it was somehow missed. It would be an entirely separate post to write about how crucial it is to protect your health as much as possible and be vigilant about it. No emotional stress, no other  person or their agenda can be allowed to dominate you and take your health away. We are not here to be the emotional punching bags for others.  Walk away and stay away.  Lesson learned. Stress, over time, kills. It’s that simple.

emilysecondgradeOur little girl, our surprise baby (was it just yesterday she was born?), just started second grade today. I debated once again about killing the Hope Blog once and for all. I have other outlets on social media that are more gratifying for sharing ideas and thoughts and allow me to have a little tighter control over who can contact me. There are some sad people in this world who enjoy drive-by insults and inflicting pain for the joy of…inflicting pain. But there are a whole lot of others through the years who have contacted me with appreciation for covering some subjects that have helped them. Spiritual abuse, family emotional abuse and the destructive effects of narcissism are just a couple of those topics. It is a sadly high number I have heard from who are living in near despair in family systems or churches where  these emotional and spiritual vampires are destroying them, and they are at a loss as to understand how to deal with the situation.

My own and my family’s horrific experiences in the last few years in particular have given me a lot of painful insight, and all I can do is share what I have learned in hopes that somebody else may benefit. It is tempting to see God as having abandoned you in these situations. That is the worst effect toxic people can have on others – the sense of God also having turned his back. But in spite of damage done, we need to trust that His hand is there, guiding us in the dark, leading us and sending encouragement through others to help us through.  And then, we can be a light to others.

So, in my small way here, I am back, Lord willing. I have always loved to write, and I hope that if God allows me strength, that I can share here in some way that encourages others. All topics are not good, but what is good in them is when we can point to hope in God, our refuge and strength in this life. No matter how much hatred is leveled at us, sometimes inexplicably.

Fall is around the corner. Like it is for many, it’s my favorite time of year. I’m looking forward to leaves falling and making pumpkin pie. I can’t enjoy it anymore thanks to my new low carb diet, but Emmy and Tom still can!

I hope anyone reading this has a beautiful day. God made it, so it’s good!

 

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He Gathered the Pieces

Twenty-one years ago, I was getting ready to marry Tom (on the 30th!) . Our lives have taken many twists and turns with six children, many joys and some big losses. The simplest way to express what my husband has meant to me is found in these words below. For some reason I will never understand, Tom valued my “scattered pieces”, and he picked them up, more than once, and glued them back together. I owe the man my life.  I carry a photo of Tom in my wallet and every time I buy groceries or need ID, I see his face, and I am thankful for him. Every day that goes by, I see God’s kindness to me in providing this man, who loved me when other people in my life that I loved  just walked away. Thank you, Tom, for loving the broken pieces like Jesus.

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Meet Our Newest Family Member!

The arrival of our beautiful little granddaughter this morning,  born to our son, Samuel and his wife, Laura, is a lovely gift to all of us from the Lord. No matter how many children are born into the world and into our families, the miracle is ever new.

Welcome, Gianna Maria! You have fallen into a nest of love.

Gianna3

Call Back, if You Get Ahead

I read this post today from “Streams in the Desert.” Have you ever had someone “call back” and encourage you in your life?

Life is a steep climb, and it does the heart good to have somebody “call back” and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill. We are all climbers together, and we must help one another. This mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious. It takes strength and steady step to find the summits. The outlook widens with the altitude. If anyone among us has found anything worthwhile, we ought to “call back.”

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back—
’Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn;
That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.

Oh, friend, call back, and tell me for I cannot see your your face,
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky
If you have gone a little way ahead, oh, friend, call back—
’Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.
—Selected

From “Streams in the Desert”

This song says it all.

A Thank You from the Schlueters

compassionThere are a precious few in this world who are capable of understanding how to respond in times of loss. This thank you is to those who get it.

Thank you to those who are able to look beyond public image and big works and see hurting people in crisis and reach out.

Thank you to those who refuse to pile on with  judgments based on ignorance and hate at a time already fraught with complexity and anxiety.

Thank you to those who came to this small blog this last week, because you see our family and the Russ Turner family as people worthy of kindness and respect, and with an intent to pray for us or offer to help, rather than satisfy your idle curiosity for purposes of gossip. Your decency is worth more than gold. And just as rare.

My father, Vic Eliason, died last Saturday in the hospital. We were there, as we had been earlier in the week. Life is not a Hallmark movie. It would be nice if we could write the endings, wouldn’t it? But on this broken planet, life doesn’t always work out the way we hope and pray. All of us can only do what we can do. We are not in control. We are not in charge.

One thing my sister’s family and mine have seen often in the past years, is that every piece of the shattered glass of our lives can be part of a new mosaic. But it only happens if we give the pieces to God for arranging. What seems like unbelievable destruction really can be beautiful. Those in the middle of their own struggle can look up at God’s lovely design, see the light of His presence through the glass and say, “You can do that for me, too, God. Give me faith and courage.”

A blessed and Christ-filled Christmas to all who have stopped by.

 

October Fireside Notes

The smoke ascends to heaven as lightly
From a cottage hearth as from the haughty
Palace. He whose soul ponders this true
Equality may wall the fields of earth
With gratitude and hope.

~ Wordsworth, The Excursion

Oh, happy hearthstone! Oh, hour
thrice blest
Where peace is the handmaid, and
love is the guest.

~ Rose Elliot Smith

It was such a lovely weekend. The best weekends of all, for me, are spent pottering around the house, folding baskets of warm clothes  from the dryer, ironing Emmy’s school uniform blouses, shopping for groceries and spending evenings with Tom. Especially the evenings, talking with my husband.

Tom has a gap in music jobs right now, and the plus side is that he is able to do his own pottering around without the tyranny of an evening schedule. He painted the front hall this weekend. Only a couple  more rooms to go, and painting will be done. He takes his time, but when he is done, it is beautiful to see. He has an eye for the smallest detail.

It was a beautiful day yesterday. I took the longest walk yet all by myself when Tom and Emmy were gone for a while.  I ended up in the little German cemetery again. The play of light on the old stones and the seasonal changes to the trees make it the most peaceful place to wander around. Farther down the street there is a separate church cemetery with a black wrought iron fence surrounding it. The border of red Maple trees on the south end is so breathtakingly beautiful when the sun shines on them that it nearly takes my breath away. Em and I were driving home from school the other day, and the sun made the trees just glorious. “Praise you, God!” was all I could say. Em heard me, and now when she sees the trees, (they are losing the leaves but still have some of the beauties left hanging on them), she says the same thing from the back seat. “Praise you, God!” How wonderful that God left us so much beauty in a world that sin has so badly damaged.

My daughter-in-law, Laura, has been such a blessing and in many different ways. She is expecting our third grandbaby early next year, but took time to help alter Emmy’s frontier girl costume for school. The post office sorting machine ruined the first one we ordered, and the only one left was two sizes too big. Laura got out her sewing machine and in no time, she had it altered down to Emmy’s size. Emmy is looking forward to the Harvest Hoedown at school with a Davy Crockett theme. I’m grateful for Laura’s skill with sewing and willingness to help.

Thanksgiving is coming quickly. I heard about a looming pumpkin shortage, so I went and got some canned pumpkin just to make sure we won’t be without pie making material. Will is our biggest pumpkin pie fan, and he will be hoping for some. Speaking of Will, here he is on the organ with the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club at their homecoming concert a few days ago. Jubilate Deo means, “Be joyful (jubilant) in the Lord!” (Psalm 100)

The Greatest Fear

“The greatest fear in the world is the opinion of others, and the moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep. You become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart. The roar of freedom.”

A friend who is older than I am told me a few months ago that one of the advantages of growing older as a woman was a loss of the crippling fear of the opinion of others. “I don’t know exactly why it is,” she said, “But I used to walk into a room of people and worry about whether they liked me. Now, I ask myself if I like them, and why I am in the room in the first place!”

It’s true. Fundamentalist Christian culture, in a very special way, is infected with the disease of image consciousness. There is no gossip heaven like the “born-agains” (mocking the frauds here, not the real deal.)  A few hairs out of place, baby, and you’ve just earned a place on a black list somewhere! Some even read this blog out of some ungodly need to stalk me and find something that can be used as dirt. I am laughing as I type. (Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war. With our latest targets, bleeding on the floor!)

I saw this meme today, and it nails the problem down.

opinion-meme

Those who form negative opinions about our lives, lives that don’t have anything to do with theirs in any way whatsoever, are sad people without adequate productive work to busy themselves. As someone who once was terrorized at the thought of people having false impressions or forming bad opinions of me based on lies, it now has the whiff of comedy about it. Dark comedy, but worthy of a laugh track. Who are these people who have never had the slightest love or concern for me or my family or ever had a personal interaction with us? Who cares what they think?! They are less than nobody to me and my dear loved ones.

What a freeing thing it is when you get out of a closed environment and breathe clean air, and with the clean air, find a surge of strength to speak the truth on your heart. What a freeing thing it is to shut the door on those who taught you how to judge others ruthlessly, to see things with narrow, loveless little eyes. It is true freedom to walk away from those who devalued and discarded you when you were no longer useful to their cause. It is a good thing to see this clearly and understand the cold, hard truth, and then proceed all the wiser.

Some Good News

Everybody has seen the horror on TV of wildfires that clear out entire forests, destroying everything in their path. After the fires are put out, there is a short period of time where all looks wiped out. Completely burned over and dead. But beneath the ruined forest there is life. It takes time, but slowly and surely, nature replaces the dead and the burned over with new life, ironically, fostered in the rich soil created by the fire. This article puts it this way:

But ecologically, fire has its place, and it’s not one of complete destruction. In fact, in ecosystems, fires initiate a process of growth. They destroy and they leave a space, a space that is soon filled with new growth. After the fires, the forest reawakens.

In Colorado Springs, there’s an ecological flip side to the fire. The forests were full of White and Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Aspen trees.  This ecology is adapted to the changes that fire brings. It knows what to do.

After a fire, aspen trees grow. Even if the tree itself has been decimated by fire, this fast-growing tree can easily sprout from the roots that have been left behind. The sunny spaces left behind by the fire give life to the new aspen trees. In turn, the trees’ roots hold the soil in place, and their leaves slow down the rainfall, reducing the danger of flash floods.

With the return of the aspen, comes the revival of the slower-growing Ponderosa Pine. This tree loves the sunshine. Its thick bark can protect the tree from small fires, allowing it to thrive in the more open ecology after a fire moves through. If the tree did not survive, new trees will grow in amongst the baby aspens, rebuilding the local ecology from the ground up. (Read more here.)

What is true of forest fires can also be true for people. The consuming fires in our lives seem to destroy everything worthwhile. But God, in his mercy, often allows the fires to remove what needs removing from our lives that something new and healthy can grow. It’s not all destruction. What’s been consumed is what needed consuming. A lot of what we considered good, is sometimes very bad for us, including some people who have harmed us terribly. The beautiful regrowth of things begins, and you realize that much dead wood, much that was unhealthy is now gone. That’s a beautiful thing for those who can see it.

If you’re seeing the flames at the moment, hang on. If you’re patient and don’t give up, God will show you new growth soon, and it will be something new and healthy and vibrant. Don’t give up!

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