This book is not just something you read and put away. It’s true value is that you can pick it up at any day or time, flip to any page and find the encouragement you need to get through the situation of the day. For those who have suffered abuse and the low self esteem that comes with it…it will help you recognize your value in the eyes of the God who created you and , if you let it, it will help you take the small steps (one at a time) to rise above and go beyond to a much better place. Abuse can come in many forms…spousal, parental, sibling, friend…it can be physical, sexual or purely emotional. While the book seems to arise out of spousal abuse, the principles can be applied to any abuse situation. It is interesting that the author chose not to tell a personal story but offered those things that helped her come out of her own difficult situation. It is a true sharing of the heart. –Sharon Loomis 5/25/14
When a Routine Mammogram Isn’t
By Linda Irene on March 3, 2014
Words: 1035 Categories: Midlife Medical
Before my COBRA health insurance terminated, an inner urging propelled me to get a mammogram. It was supposed to be routine. But before I could leave the outpatient department that day, a breast care coordinator asked to speak with me. She introduced herself and explained her job was to see patients with abnormal mammograms to coordinate services between the patient, doctor and the hospital.
My head was spinning. What was she talking about? Why do I need coordinated care? I just had a mammogram? The radiologist hasn’t made his report yet. My doctor hasn’t notified me. What is she talking about? What is she saying? Why is she standing between me and the door? What is she inferring? When her lips stopped moving, I realized she had stopped talking and was awaiting a response. What was the question?
“I really don’t know what you are referring to,” I blurted.
She continued with a long string of explanations, which were just clumps of words bouncing off my brain, floating midair, words I could not wrap around my mind. Every cell in my body screamed to be free of her and to run out of the room as quickly as possible, to the safety of my home.
Days later the mammogram report came, “further studies recommended.” The next step, an ultrasound. I weaved my way through the hospital lobby and climbed the steps to the radiology department where I waited my turn.
I glanced at the television on the wall, but could not concentrate. The magazines displayed on the table beside me did not hold my interest either. One by one the waiting area cleared until I was the last one left. Then the door opened and a woman dressed in scrubs with a stethoscope draped around her neck, stood in the doorway scanning a chart, which seemed to fascinate her. She looked up and with a big smile asked, “Are you ready to get this over with?”
“Ready as I will ever be.”
She led me to a tiny cubicle where I was instructed to remove my blouse and bra and slip the gown on, open in the front. I followed her to an examination room where I lay on a table while the technician squirted cold gel on my chest and began the investigative process with the ultrasound probe. The machine whirred and clicked as she continued to go over and over the same area.
My thoughts raced. What is she finding? What does it look like? Can she tell if it’s benign or malignant? Should I ask? I thought about making conversation, but the sternness of her face advised me to be quiet and still.
“Okay, that’s it,” she said when it was all over.
That’s it? Isn’t she going to tell me anything? I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and blurted, “How does everything look?”
She remained stoic. “Your doctor will receive the report in a couple days. He will notify you of the results,” she said matter-of-factly.
The days seemed to drag by, the unknown weighing heavy on my mind and body. I took long walks in the park to pray and clear my head. I fought to remain positive. I repeated comforting Bible verses to myself daily. Finally, the ultrasound results came, “inconclusive; a surgical consultation and biopsy are highly recommended.”
It had been one year ago that I had major surgery for endometrial cancer, now this. I’d been struggling for two years trying to control my raging estrogen. Did that have anything to do with my current situation? My mother had had a mastectomy five years ago. Was I going to be next? Fear reared its ugly head. One thing I knew for sure, I did not want a mastectomy.
“Not having a breast does not define who you are,” a friend said.
But she doesn’t get it, I thought. It’s easy for her to say. She is not faced with the possibility of losing a part of her body. She hasn’t seen the challenges Mom had to overcome long after the surgery or the feelings of inferiority she suffered. Never again could she look at herself in the mirror.
What would I do? I couldn’t allow my thoughts to stray any further. Except for a handful of friends I knew would pray for me, I kept the news to myself. I could not risk hearing discouraging stories or seeing the looks of pity, fear or dismay on people’s faces. I needed to surround myself with positive-thinking people. I had recently read that our body believes every word we say and responds accordingly. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, there was no better time to start believing and speaking to heal myself than now. It was all I had, all I could do.
“We’ll do an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy,” the surgeon said. “It’s an easy procedure. You will walk in, have the biopsy and walk out with a Band-Aid, no stitches,” he assured me.
I was stunned when he showed me the X-ray taken after the procedure. “Do you see the nodule?”
I stepped closer for a better look. “No. I don’t see it,” I said cautiously.
By now he was grinning ear to ear. “Well, that’s because I removed it completely. All that is there now is a metal clip to identify the spot for future X-rays,” he explained.
To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. Dazed, I went into the dressing room where the attending technician applied the liquid bandage to the incision. When she left the room, I bent forward to gather my clothes and shoes. I tried to straighten up, but my breast had become “glued” to my abdomen. I began laughing hysterically, trying to free myself. A technician, who was cleaning up in the outer area, heard me and peeked in to see if everything was okay. By then we both were in stitches. She helped me get unglued and dressed.
I learned more than one lesson that day: wait for your stitches to dry and miracles do happen.
Mysterious Ways: Divine Dialing
A brother and sister are reunited via telephone—but who called whom?
(As appeared in Guidepost Magazine Feb. 2013 issue)
The telephone jolted me awake. It took me a few seconds to gather my wits. I’d been sitting at my computer, watching an episode of my favorite show, CSI, but I must’ve dozed off.
I glanced at the clock. Midnight. Who would be calling me at this hour? I wondered.
I grabbed the phone. “Hello?” I said. Too late. The caller had hung up.
According to the caller ID, it was a Pennsylvania cell phone, one I didn’t recognize. Probably a misdial.
I sat back down in my chair to shut off my computer, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that call. Should I call back? I wondered.
I decided to look in my address book to see if the number belonged to anyone I knew.
Finally, I found a match—my brother, Pete.
Pete and I hadn’t spoken in almost a year. Not since our mother’s funeral.
There hadn’t been any falling out between us, but we’d never been that close, and our lives were so different.
My brother was a long-haul truck driver, and loved being on the road, traveling all throughout the Northeast. I was more of a homebody, living in Jacksonville and pursuing a journalism degree.
“Call your brother,” Mom always urged me. “Keep in touch. You know he’s the only brother you have.”
“Well, what about him?” I’d respond. “He can call me too.”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” was Mom’s retort.
Mom had died exactly one year ago, I realized. Maybe that’s why my brother was calling? Tentatively, I dialed the number.
My brother picked up right away. “Oh, I was just going to call you back,” he said.
“Call me back?” I asked. “But I didn’t call you, you called me!”
“That’s impossible,” Pete insisted. “I stepped away from the truck for a moment and left the phone on my seat. When I came back, I had a missed call from you.”
We had a lot of catching up to do. We talked for a long time… so long that Pete’s arm fell asleep holding the phone to his ear. “I have to go,” he said, “but I’m glad we spoke.”
“So am I,” I said. “You’re the only brother I’ve got. Let’s talk more often.”
And we have. It’s what Mom would have called for.
A wonderful book of hope, inspiration and empowerment for all who have experienced the devastation of abuse. Within its pages are empowering statements and beautiful promises from God’s mouth to your ear–promises that uplift, heal wounded souls and bring hope for the future. Used daily, this book reminds us of the power that lies within and the power of God to heal.
Also available in paperback & audio book
Dinner club closes after 66 years
by Linda Irene
Nov. 2013 issue
It’s no secret that the nation faced economic hardship during The Great Depression and World War II. Gasoline rationing, victory gardens and scrap metal drives were commonplace. It was an era when a gallon of gas cost 15 cents, a loaf of bread 13 cents, and a postage stamp less than a nickel. A new house could be purchased for about $7,000, while $1,300 would buy a new car. Despite the tight purse strings of the time, a group of prominent Jax residents saw the need to organize a formal, members-only, dinner club, as a way of “boosting morale.” Surprisingly, the plan worked. In fact, the dinner club went on to not only thrive, but eventually boast a membership wait-list.
In 1947, the Ribault Dinner Club was born with 98 charter members. The club’s inaugural meeting was held May 28. In April 1962, the group was incorporated as the St. Johns Dinner Club. There are no early records indicating membership or dinner costs, but by 1955 annual dues were $15 and elegant dinners, including entertainment, were $3 per plate.
David Gowan, past president of the club, joined the group in 2005 after attending just one event. “It was a very social, relaxed setting,” says Gowan. “Sometimes the dinners featured speakers, presentations from the historical society; sometimes it was a band or a member of the symphony. It was just different from anything else we’d done in Jacksonville.”
The club hosted many special guests and celebrities over the years, including The Amazing Kreskin, a magician who wowed members at the Thunderbird Motel in October 1975, with his knowledge of extra sensory perception—a thrilling subject in an age when smart phones were just a figment of the imagination.
Olivia de Havilland, best known for her performance in Gone with the Wind and a two- time Academy Award-winner, entertained the club in March 1976 at the Hilton Hotel. Other notable dinner club guests included ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Academy Award-winning actor David Niven.
During its formative years, club events took place at various venues throughout the River City, such as Hotel Roosevelt, Jacksonville University, the Hilton Hotel and the Hotel George Washington. In the late ’90s, the group found a permanent home at the San Jose Country Club.
The club had its heyday in the late 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when it boasted upwards of 550 members. But times changed, and formal black-tie dinners fell out of vogue. As a result, membership dwindled. By the late ’90s, numbers had dropped significantly—to a mere 191 members. Despite attempts at bringing in First Coast artists and celebrity guests, membership eventually dipped below charter numbers. “Over the years, the culture has changed,” says Gowan. “There’s more competition for the entertainment dollar. People aren’t as interested in dressing up, or having a long dinner. When I joined the club about eight years ago, there were 150 members. It was still a viable organization. But times change.”
The time came to end the club’s 66-year run in 2013. The last dinner, a Polynesian affair, was served on May 15, and the board donated the club’s remaining funds to various local charities. Though the members of the group no longer meet in formal attire, Gowan says they haven’t quite given up on the cause just yet. “We don’t meet at one specific place at one specific time but many past members of the the group have formed a social dinner club. Earlier this month, 37 of us took a dinner cruise and reminisced about the group. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it helps to fill the void a little bit.”
Recovering The Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing (Vol. IV, No. 1) –Focus on Abuse Recovery
By Linda Irene
Jan. 8, 2012
Lying is pervasive. There are many forms of lies—little white lies, fibs, tall tales, and bold faced lies. Some lies are told “to spare feelings”; others because it’s a game of cunning.
In the end, they are all the same. They are all deceitful; they are all dishonest; and they all hurt.
He told lies just because he could. For him it was a sport—a game he played—to win, to be right, without regard for the person being lied to or the effects of the lies. He was a master at it. His lies weren’t occasional—they were continual—an art form he’d perfected. He could look you squarely in the eye without blinking or straying left or right and weave stories that could twist you first this way and then that, because you’d want to believe—to hold on to any little shred of trust you could muster, to have faith in the relationship; but deep down you’d know. And when you knew and questioned him further he’d become violent—a scare tactic he used to avoid answering the questions. When you were afraid and backed down—he won.
When you believed his lies, he’d call you gullible without admitting he’d lied to you. He resented you for being gullible—it was weakness to him. It wasn’t gullible really—it was self defense. Acting gullible was a way to stop the wars and the violence. It was a way to make what he said okay—for another day.
It would always make you wonder how a person who professed to love you so much, could be so deceitful and so filled with contempt. Was the contempt for himself—turned outward? Could he not see the pain it caused? Could he not see the devastation swirling around him? Could he not see the hopelessness and despair his lies brought? Could he not see that his lies ripped apart every fiber of decent communication left? Could he not see?
He seemed to find pleasure in these games he played. He could tell you the sky was green and when he finished his story, you’d have to go outside to see the beauty of the green sky he’d described. But when you got there—it had vanished. You were too late. He seemed to find pleasure gaining victory. He found amusement in it—like a cat toying with a mouse before he devours it.
He could spin stories about why he was late getting home, or where he was, or who he was with. It didn’t matter the topic—there was a tale for each one—all freshly spun day after day. Sometimes it was just easier not to ask.
He seemed to find pleasure building walls instead of bridges. He could tell you stories with such intensity that they had to be true, right? I mean, how could someone make up a story without missing any of the details of the plot? He could ad-lib better than the best. But in the end, he’d built himself a house without doors—he couldn’t escape. But I was set free—free from the master deceiver, and free from his clutches. Free because I was outside of the house with no doors.
Changes In Life Magazine, Becoming the woman you were meant to Be
By: Linda Irene, 1/15/2012 3:17:01 PM
Married twenty-five years to an abusive man brought many challenges. At any given moment he could be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. My challenges began on my honeymoon.
Over the years rage and violence became more frequent. Simple things would trigger him- like the day we came home from church to find the wood stove had gone out and the house cold. Our breath was a visible white mist as we spoke. Huddled around the butcher block with our winter coats still on, we fixed ours hot dogs while waiting for a nice bed of embers to form. When I reached across in front of him for the ketchup, he threw the bottle across the room and slammed his plate down so hard that everything- hot dogs, onions and relish- flew everywhere.
Over time his verbal abuse stripped me of any sense of well-being, stole my spirit, and depleted me of self-confidence and self-esteem. I always felt inferior- not just t him, but everyone- so much so that I could never give my opinion about anything, it was too risky. I would nod in agreement about everything. My inner power was reduced to a dying ember about to be extinguished. His lies were incessant. He would look you squarely in the eye without blinking and weave stories that would make Ernest Hemingway look like an amateur.
He wasn’t always so indifferent and cruel. He had his warm and fuzzy side too- which is part of what kept me trapped. He’d often come home from work with a bouquet of flowers for me for no apparent reason. In public, he would shower me with affection. All of those “warm and fuzzy” moments, though few and far between, were the nicest part of the marriage. Now that I look back, it really wasn’t much to go on.
His abuse was never just verbal- the physical abuse had escalated as well. There were many occasions when I feared for my life. On one occasion he had me by the throat, squeezing and yelling two inches from my face, the veins in his neck enlarged, exposing the beating of his heart. His nostrils flared like a bull ready to charge, he towered over me snorting and ranting. When I heard crunching in my neck I thought it was all over. He just let go as I slumped to the floor.
On that last occasion, something inside me clicked and I knew that was going to be the very last time he would ever physically or verbally abuse me. From that moment I began to plot my escape. I saved money, applied for schooling out of state, and was accepted to the school and the work-study program. I lived with my mother, which meant an hour’s drive each way, but I didn’t care- it was my road to freedom.
Some changes are a long time coming- but just as sweet. Since then I’ve become stronger, more self-assured and free to be me.
from: Changes in Life