Life is all about stories, and Delores credits her Native American heritage with her gift of storytelling.
The curiosity of a toddler, the energy of a teen and the goal from the title of Gordon Mote’s song – Don’t Let Me Miss the Glory equals one hyper-grandma. “Too blessed to be depressed” is a signature response that is also a self-reminder to daily count those blessings. Among those blessings are a treasure of a husband, Ken, three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
When she is not at the computer writing you might find her in the study reading a few of the books stacked there, or in the living room, reading a few of the books stacked there, or just before falling asleep, reading a few of the books stacked… well you get the picture. She is also caregiver for an elderly parent, and active at their church (First Evangelical Free Church) http://www.firstfreeracine.org
Delores had a column in Prime Magazine (21st Century Grandma), and another (Life Tales) in a senior newspaper in northern WI.
Other articles and stories have been published in many books and magazines including:
Alcohol, Drugs, Arson, Incest, Beatings, Depression, Attempted Suicide, Murder.
Those things and more were all part of my early childhood and teen years.
Life was truly a puzzle for me, and I began an early search for meaning in the various pieces that framed the picture of my life. Programmed by my abusers to believe that I was a bad seed, I was filled with fear and felt responsible for every bad thing that happened around me – even the death of the dentist (whom I’d bitten two days before I saw his death notice in the paper!)
My spiritual upbringing consisted of being sent to catechism classes and church. I enjoyed the brief freedom from home but I was frequently in trouble for challenging the priest and nuns with too many questions. On the way to church one Sunday at 9 years of age, I heard happy singing coming from the Methodist church and slipped in there instead, thinking no one would find out. I heard that God loved everyone (even a bad seed?) and that I could read about it in the Bible. My uncle was driving past the church as I left and told my mother. They were waiting for me when I got home. I was punished and taken to the priest who ordered my mother to guard me and swear on the Bible she would not allow me to enter another church as long as I lived with her.
I was also instructed to contact my “God parent” (a sponsor at my infant baptism who pledged to encourage me spiritually). My Godparent was a young candidate for priesthood and I eagerly took up the correspondence, thinking he would know the answers to my questions. Instead he said, “You write hard questions,” and both of us grew more puzzled because the things we had been taught often did not match with the scriptures. His letters showed this was troubling him and then we lost connection. I began to be depressed in my search, deciding that if no one could answer my questions and I was going to be accused of being a bad seed I was going to have the “fun” of living the accusations.
First, I tried to join a local gang, but failed the first initiation – I couldn’t inhale and got sick! Next I tried to run away to get married. I say tried because the “groom-to-be” was a 14-year-old despondent over a bad case of acne. He took his father’s car and drove us 7 miles to the next town where we passed a theater. He decided to go to the movies instead. Another run-away plan failed when my girlfriend jumped on a moving train, but I froze, and was left standing in the brush by the tracks to face an angry mother. I attempted suicide several times by taking pills and now find it ironic that it was one of my abusers who “rescued me” by pouring melted butter down my throat. I hate that smell to this day, but trust me, it was very effective.
Several other risky behaviors followed and I now see I survived only because God protected me from their potential consequences. I eagerly left home the morning after graduation and came to Racine to live with my sister, thinking I was free, but I came heavily packed – I brought my sin, my fears and my insecurities along.
That September I met Ken and we became engaged in December. We wondered together if we had children what we would teach them, for we were both seeking a way to find God’s direction in our lives, but without “man’s” intervention. Since we agreed the Bible was God’s word, we began reading from page 1 – Genesis. Soon, I was having nightmares of demons dragging me out of the upstairs window. Ken shared this with a fellow he worked with at American Motors. Charlie told Ken it was a spiritual battle, and pointed him to the book of John suggesting he underline all the words “believe.” Ken did as Charlie suggested and “believed” all that he had read. I was upset because I thought Ken listened to a man and broke our agreement. I actually dared to challenge God – show ME if this is from you. God took me up on that request two weeks later – July 4, when I stood on the upstairs porch watching the fireworks. Our new baby was sleeping downstairs and as I thought of all the mothers who gave their sons so I could have the freedoms that America offers, God spoke to my heart “You accept their gifts – I also gave my son that you could have eternal freedom – why won’t you accept my gift?” Overwhelmed by God’s love and forgiveness for me, the pieces came together in sudden understanding. I fell to my knees, confessed my sinfulness and accepted his love and freedom. It was SO awesome to realize that God nailed my sins to that cross with His Son – and I did not have to live in guilt or fear anymore.
When I awoke the next morning, everything looked cleaner – brighter. I was filled with wonder to think that I was totally cleansed and fit, in God’s sight, to enter his heaven and to be called HIS CHILD. I had found my true heritage, and the pieces of the puzzle now showed the hope of a heavenly outcome. With that thought, I began walking the few blocks to the corner store, when a neighbor I’d met a few weeks before, called out, “Delores, come here a minute.” I was stunned as I approached her for she asked me “What happened to you since yesterday?” I shared my experience with her and she stated she could tell because previously I walked as though I carried a great burden and that day I had a new spring in my step and looked “radiant.” What a beautiful confirmation that was for me.
I realized that I had been looking at myself through the picture that people, Satan and the world had formed. Now I knew from Psalm 139:4 “ I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I’d been ashamed of my heritage and my family, but now realized that my destiny began long before my earthly childhood. I had been looking at the picture of death as my friend, but Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that you might have life, and might have it abundantly.” I had a picture of God as the judge out to get me, but Psalm 72:14 says He rescued me from my life of oppression and violence, and I am precious in His sight! I could see the true picture now – I had been trying to build the puzzle myself with only the dark pieces and while looking at the wrong picture! God alone has all the pieces of my life, and He is the only one who can put them all together and even change the picture into something beautiful – something good!
When you are convinced that God cares for you, you are also convinced He is able to bring you through any trial you may face, and life takes on new meaning. To rightly see myself as God sees me is not an ego-boost, or to build up my self-esteem, but a reality check to realize and admit my weakness and inadequacy; and to accept that God truly knows all about me but loves me just as I am.
Following my decision to accept Christ’s gift, the world was and is still the same – all the nasty things are still there, but I see now that they are characteristics of living under the power of the sinful nature, and I do not fear them any more. They do not control me. I have been resurrected with Christ and I can trust God with my future. If I can trust Him in the future I can trust him in the present, and I can also trust him to bring good from the past, because His power does not change. That is why the truth of Christ’s resurrection is not a once-a-year event for me at Easter. It’s an everyday way of life.
God through Christ has forgiven me for eternity — how can I not forgive those on earth who can only do temporal things to me? God through Christ loves me extravagantly– how can I not look for something to love in each person He places in my life?
Now instead of Why am I here?…Life has become Wow, God, is this why I am here? I long for everyone to know this resurrection life, and God continues to hand me the pieces one at a time… Richard who planned to commit suicide, Cindy who had been abused, Becky who was depressed, Pam who was frightened and so many more that I could never have understood or helped had my earthly heritage been different.
If your life is also filled with pain, God has a message for you in Jeremiah 29:11, “I have a plan for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity – to give you a future and a hope.”
You can trust His heart…He has a beautiful plan for you too.