In her memoir, she traces the events of her life, beginning with her birth during the Great Depression and continuing through her childhood growing up in a Colorado coal-mining family, in which money was scarce and hardship came often. Through her story, it is evident that traumatic events would have crushed her spirit without help from the Lord. Stripped of her innocence at an early age, Mona shares how she embarked on a path lined with insecurity, guilt, and a fear of speaking up for herself-only to realize much later the true reward of God's love.
Flowers Bloom in Arid Soil offers one woman's authentic story of her spiritual walk with God as she slowly finds peace in her heart and learns to trust the Holy Spirit to guide her through the remainder of her days.
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Flowers Bloom in Arid Soil
JESUS IS THE GARDNER
By Mona Knox Blandford
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Mona Knox Blandford
All rights reserved.
Setting Up My Box of Pain
In her book Gold in Your Memories, Macrina Wiederkehr quotes Nancy Wood's poem, The Beads of Life, telling us the space between events is where most of life is lived. The events, good and bad, stand out in our memories more vividly than the day to day living out of our lives. We all have bad memories as well as wonderful ones, some too overwhelming to recall. I have very good memory recall and can remember too well some really ugly things that happened. I say total memory except for dates which I have trouble calling up for this story so it is not in chronological order. This thing about remembering dates has always been a problem so now I just write any date of importance on calendars and don't worry about that. Old age does have some benefits as we do as we please a lot of the time.
I can remember early childhood things that would be better forgotten. I have talked to people who suffered a lot of abuse in life and suffered a complete memory loss of events until later in life. Something would bring it back to give them great mental and emotional pain and harm. Some hardly survived this memory recall, coming back from what they call a split personality. In some ways I envy them their forgetfulness. Instead of forgetting I merely stuffed everything I couldn't deal with into what I called my box of pain. When something bad would occur I would mentally open it just enough to slip that incident in and quickly slam the lid down so no pain or anger could escape.
This I found in later years to be very unhealthy. It caused behavior that could have landed me in prison. As I look back I remember a gospel song which says, pull back the curtain Lord, show me where you brought me from, where I might have been. The truth of that hit me squarely in the face. When that happened I then had to deal with all the events that I had so carefully sequestered that made me a shy, fearful, miserable child. As an adult I was so eager to get along I would never argue with anyone but agree with one that the sky was blue and then agree with the next person that it was black. Without knowing what was causing this eagerness to please, I went along with people's statements just to avoid arguments or unpleasantness. I didn't feel my opinion mattered to anyone.
Going back into that box of pain was hard to do. As I looked at each event I had to relive it to grow past it. Some things took a long time to deal with but I came through that valley of despair and hatred. I found that by holding each event up to the Lord and sharing with Him it became easier to forgive and put it aside. By doing this I came to know that I was a victim of someone else's behavior. It brought me to a place where I could forgive each person who had harmed me. Some people say we should also forget but that is not in the Bible, just that we must forgive. In Matthew Peter asks the Lord how many times he should forgive someone up to seventy times. Jesus told Peter not seventy times but seventy times seven times.
I also found that I had learned a lot about people, their problems and pain. That made me better able in later years to help them find peace by praying with them to find the Lord in the heartaches they had suffered.
Healing of the emotions and spirit takes the courage to look inside and come to grips with knowing what happened. Things were bad. They hurt me in so many ways and I was angry and full of hate because of it. What a false face we present to the world when we deny our pain. We smile, act happy and try to be kind to those around us, ignoring what we really feel. Being civilized people we are required to act in certain ways that polite society requires for a person to be accepted. Most of us want to be liked by others.
The old idea that little children feel no damage from things done to them is so wrong. When a baby is born it is without knowledge of anything other than the instinctive ways to survive, eating and sleeping mostly. Being completely dependent on the adults who care for them, their minds are new. Minds that are a clean slate can be written on with dirty chalk that leaves ugly, scarring ideas that color their view of life.
I'm going to tell you what happened to me, when it happened and maybe why it happened to let you know that all the mean, ugly things that visit themselves upon us can be overcome. My relationship with God began at such an early age I can't remember, but I know that He was with me from the beginning of life and has been with me through one means or another until the day I say the last amen in my life. (Amen means so be it.)
I will try not to preach, I'm not a preacher. I'm hoping to teach although I am not trained as a teacher. I will try to teach through this witness, as it is called, that I am going to share with you. There are some really ugly times but also more wonderful times.
I will start with my being born smack dab during the Great Depression of the l930's. I am the youngest of five children but only three of the older ones survived. A sister, Frankie Jean who would have been eight years older than me, died in a diphtheria epidemic when only an infant. All the family except my father had this disease that swept through Polk City, Iowa and probably in many other places. My sister Norma survived because our mother never slept and kept clearing Norma's throat so she didn't suffocate. The family was quarantined which meant they could not leave the house and other people could not come in. Food was brought in by my grandparents, who passed it in through a window in the pantry off the kitchen.
My mother couldn't bear the thought of her little baby being buried in the common grave that was being dug to handle all the deaths. She prepared the baby by bathing her, dressing her in her best clothes and then handed her out the pantry window to my grandparents. My grandma and grandpa Williams took her to a private cemetery in the middle of the night and buried her there. I have seen the place where her body lies but I won't tell because someone might decide she doesn't belong there and attempt to move her. Even though that happened in the year 1924 there may be people who would do such a thing. It really doesn't matter I guess. I believe that when we die our soul survives and goes to be with the Lord no matter our age.
Sometime after that my family of five moved to Colorado where I was born. My father worked in the coal mines in Routt County. Times were hard and what money was available he spent on gambling, alcohol and other things to satisfy his needs. He had been badly abused as a child and his father, my grandfather, had abandoned his family when my father was only four or five years old. I think it is because of this that he was so harsh and abused his own children so badly.
In the book of Exodus we are told that the sons of the fathers will be punished for generations. However, later in the book of Deuteronomy we are told that each person will only be judged (punished in those days) for what they have done, not what their parents have done before. I don't believe we pay for our parents' wrong doing, the sins are handed down from one generation to another by acting in the same way we are raised until someone breaks that chain and overcomes the tendency of abuse we live through as children. If the word sin bothers you I will discuss it in a later chapter and that may relieve your mind about what sin might be.
My siblings were eleven, thirteen and fifteen when I was born. I am sure I was spoiled by them and dearly loved too. We were poor but poor is relative when love is present and overcomes the lack of things. However all their love and care could not protect me from the abuse which I was to suffer.
As I write this first part I tell you only one member of my family ever knew from me what happened. When I was around age sixty five I told my sister Norma about two incidents. My father knew part of it but I am not sure if he told my mother. I don't recall ever being talked to about any of it.
Small children in those days were thought to just be playing until they grew up and gained some sense through schooling, or so it was in my family. They were to be seen and not heard. In other words when adults were around you sat still and kept quiet. This was true in most families.
As I write this part of the story for the first time ever it causes me to become very uncomfortable and sweaty even now. Although I, through the cleansing power of forgiveness have forgiven them with the Lords help, I still remember much too vividly those days and the days that followed.
I was between the age of three and four, probably the only small child and especially the only small girl in the immediate neighborhood. Other children lived close by and were seven to ten years old. Our little group of homes was on the edge of town and consisted of close to twenty houses. Some sheltered families and others were lived in by single men who worked in the mines.
One day I was invited to go with a group of boys who offered me a pretty something that appealed to me but I had to go with them to get it. The picture of that day is clear in my memory. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and I cheerfully went along with them into a vacant house. I had no idea what was ahead for me. When they told me what to do I just did it, not knowing anything was wrong. Little children are so trusting of those older than themselves, even though they too are children.
I don't know how or when my father found where we were and saw what was happening. Those boys were raping me taking turns. I am not sure if penetration took place as I don't know when young boys are old enough to do this. I don't remember pain at all so I question if actual rape took place. Perhaps they were acting like they were capable of doing this. I also don't know what my father did to those boys when he found us, as they scattered. I only know that my father whipped me on my bare legs with a willow switch which is almost like a leather whip. He hit me only when he could catch me, as after the first few blows I ran as fast as my legs could go to get home.
Neither father nor my mother ever said anything to me about what was wrong with this scenario, never explained what sex was. I only knew that I had done something really bad and was guilty of something. I didn't know what. We didn't get punished unless we had done something wrong.
Thus began years of feeling guilty about anything that happened to me or anyone else I knew. If a friend or family member was hurt in some way I felt it was my fault for not preventing it from happening. Kids' minds only go along with what they have been taught when young, even though that teaching might be very subtle.
I don't understand why people didn't watch their children better but I guess they were so worried about making a living in this depressed area they didn't give much thought that kids would do such things. This happening to me may have made adults in my world more aware of what was possible.
Not too long after this occurred my mother and I were visiting a friend of hers. While they drank coffee and talked I went outside to play. The old bachelor who lived next door offered me candy and of course not having many sweets I took it, but only after he said I would have to come in his house for it. I can remember him carrying me and laying me on his bed and getting next to me. As young as I was I noticed how really dirty his house and the sheets were. Everything was an ugly gray color. Our house though cheap and poor was always clean.
He had only started to molest me when my mother called my name. I remember what went on as if it has just happened, from the time he laid me on the bed until he lift ed me off and pushed me out the door. I am sure Mother saw where I had been and told me to stay away from him. I don't remember knowing I had been in danger. Apparently someone had a talk with this old guy as he never came near me again.
Today we tell our sons and daughters of the dangers that exist but in those days I wasn't told what the danger was or what could have happened. Once again I knew I had done something wrong and I was guilty. It was my fault because I wanted the candy.
This set me on a pathway of fear, guilt, shyness and being afraid to speak up on my own behalf. Somehow word must have gotten out about all of this because in later years I was teased about not being a nice girl. I was called ugly names by some and treated by some as being less than a nice person.
At this same time I was dealing with the death of a cat which I talk about in another chapter, witnessing the battles between my parents and their divorce. Add another layer of guilt because I had to have done something to cause this.
I was in contact with my father at times until he died. We didn't have a close relationship as he remarried and had another family to care for. My mother taught me that I didn't have to love him but must respect him as he was my father. She believed in the commandment that says to honor your mother and father. So I tried to be at least friendly with him. Had she not told me this I may not have maintained contact with him.
I soon came to realize there are really mean, nasty people in the world. They will hurt you physically, emotionally or mentally just to satisfy something within them or to see you cry. I learned at an early age to never let anyone see me cry as I knew it would tell them they could hurt me. Then they would just hurt me again. I also learned to hate!
With a deeply buried hatred that I would not let surface in action but nurtured closely within myself, I set up my mental box of pain and sorrow. As more sad things and events occurred I learned to stuff them into that mental box, slipping the lid off long enough to shove the newest pain into it and closing the lid again. In this way I shut out all the ugliness in my life. Not a very healthy way to live I can assure you. By doing this to my emotions I also almost killed any ability to fully enjoy happiness and good times. I would laugh and act happy but pictures of me show I am not fully into it.
I had a secret place to keep shut down. In my middle thirties that lid came off and all the pain, anger, even rage came pouring out into an action that I still find hard to believe I could consider doing. But for the grace of God I could have spent time in prison for killing someone. There were many more items in that box that had to be taken out, prayed over and finally released to get past the point of wanting someone dead.
I say this most firmly. No one has the right to take away the innocence of a child. I don't care that they claim they are unable to control their drives or whatever lame excuse they offer. The people who hurt children in these sick ways should be incapacitated so they can never harm a child again! I have heard others' stories that make mine not so bad. I don't know if counseling today helps heal these wounds to the soul of a child but counseling wasn't available then. Scars to the heart and soul never totally heal and will continue to impact one's life forever, or so it is with me.
As I grew older I managed to tell myself I was safe and to relax, no one knew what had happened to me. If they did know no one was mentioning it. Only in middle age was I able to deal with this and figure out that I was a victim and wasn't guilty of anything. This came about from finally finding Jesus in my life and knowing that if He loved me nothing or what anyone thought mattered. He accepted me just as I was, guilt, sin or whatever else I had carried all these years. That in itself was freeing but I still didn't want to have people know my dark history. After all these things are not for conversation over a cup of tea and cookies!
Kids are so cruel to each other and some never outgrow that cruel streak, perhaps because they too are carrying such deep pain and sorrows they can't deal with. The old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me has it backwards. Bones heal but names leave scars on the heart and mind. The cuts may heal but the scars can leave us wounded, timid and afraid. They cripple us emotionally and mentally so we can't recognize the gift s God has given us. We grow into very sad adults.
If you are carrying such thoughts and fears please know you too were a victim. You don't have to live with guilt you may have buried deep in your mind. You are as dear and precious to Jesus as anyone else and are just as good as any person on this earth in His eyes. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.
When a woman in a Bible study said she didn't feel good enough to be forgiven the priest told her, if you aren't forgiven, no one in this room or anywhere else is forgiven.
Excerpted from Flowers Bloom in Arid Soil by Mona Knox Blandford. Copyright © 2012 by Mona Knox Blandford. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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Welcome coldfeather this does not belong to a clan so all cats are allod to roam freely, this is a great place for herbs (we have a spot at our own clan but these are fresher) . First you see those big green and blue ferns over there. They are called fernflight, they: sooth the wings and clears your throat. And you see those other berrys the small ones with thorns, they are called thornstock berrys. They dont do anything unless you mix them with fernflight. Then it fixes broken bones, but the cat will have to stay in my den until they heal completly ( about 1/4 of a moon ). Last thing you see those red berrys with spikes NEVER give them to a cat, they can kill in a second. Remember those, most cats have those. Not the red berrys they, are called forestground berrys, very dangoris. And Coldfeather ( is it that or Coldpaw???) Take tomaro off, its alot to remember but I know youcan handdle it. Big and green are called fernflight sooths wings, if you mix thornstock berrys with fernflight you can heal a broken bone keep in den for 1/4 of a moon, last forestground berrys can kill in a second. You did well Coldfeather, you will be a great medd cat