13 June 2024


I've been cleaning out my email for a couple of weeks now; it's amazing how much saved correspondence can pile up in 30 years! Who would have thought any server had enough space to hold all my (then) important letters!!!

I was asked to speak in church last weekend. Things at home got so busy, I had to temporarily pause my old email review. Now I see that time crunch was a huge blessing. On Monday I reached the old saved email year when the guy who murdered my sister came up for parole. My family had asked me to write a formal Family Impact Statement to be read at the hearing. My email for about two months back then centered on a lot of unresolved feelings on behalf of my family members, Christian as well as non-Christian. I have tender feelings, too, even now, nearly 10 years after that parole hearing. Reading those old emails again really did a number on me. I am SO thankful I wasn't burdened by those memories as I prepared what I would say in church on Sunday.

Re-reading those emails this week is still as painful for me as it was back then. Back then, it brought up so many buried memories I had done so well not re-living. I think family members had the same experience, with the exception of two in particular who still harbor anger and vengeance to this day. I wonder sometimes if those two will ever heal.

Digging up all those painfuil triggers probably was not a good idea, but it is necessary because the email vault I'm clearing out is going away permanently. I was so messed up emotionally after scanning through the bulk of the horrible memories, I think it got to me physically, too. The severe arthritis in my hips tends to complain loudly when the skies turn gray and when life becomes stressful.

All I could do was lay down in my bed and weep. Then pray. I asked God if I had not truly forgiven. I thought that's why I hurt so much. I thought I still had not fully forgiven.

Suddenly, the words of my bishop a couple of years ago washed away all the negative feelings and emotions. We had talked about forgiveness. I had confided in him about extremely painful memories from my youth and the flashbacks I was experiencing following the death of a cruel person. I asked then if my flashbacks were because I had not forgiven.

My bishop was thoughtful for a few moments, then shared something that helped me get past that painful experience and has now helped me again to wade through feelings I did not understand. He said I have scars, and sometimes, scars can be painful. Scars do not mean forgiveness has not been granted. They are just reminders of the pain. He said I am in good company, that there is Someone Else who has scars. Our Savior bears the scars of extreme cruelty. As fast as the thought came into my head, the pain was gone, and I felt honored to share scars with Jesus Christ.

I was able to return to my email task, where I came upon a lengthy email my brother sent explaining why he was asking not to be included in the Family Impact Statement or follow-ups. He had forgiven, moved on and no longer had any vengeful feelings. I'm SO thankful I'd saved his email! I've now saved a copy of it in my journal so I can refer to it often. I then re-read the email I sent to my family members after the initial Family Impact Statement conference call, and Lizard's response to my whole family, both of which I'm including below because they are another step in the healing process.

My Email to My Family: I thought everyone might need something to smile about today. Yesterday morning we were enjoying watching two mating tree sparrows flirting in, above and around the birdhouse in our backyard when a neighbor cat climbed all the way to the top and stuck its paw into the nesting hole!!! Unsuccessfully, I might add. We, being the cat lovers we truly are, chased the hungry predator away. He can eat the mice, but no birds!!!

Lizard spent the day yesterday building a sheet metal sleeve (with protruding screws) below the birdhouse to protect the hopefully new family while mommy bird and daddy bird sat on the fence scolding him the entire time. They returned to the birdhouse when he was done, so we think we may have a new generation in a couple of weeks.

However, last night, Lizard saw what he thinks might be either a raccoon or a bobcat walking our fence, and this morning he found fresh bear scat in our backyard!!!

Lizard's Cheerful Response to My Whole Family: Yes, it's amazing the wildlife we get in our yard considering how close our country community is to suburban sprawl. I'm pretty sure the intruder was a bobcat. If it was a house cat, it's one for the record books.

I saw an unusual silhouette on the fence and hit it with 120 lumens from about 50 feet. It didn't like that too much and immediately jumped down about seven feet. I think a large raccoon would have scurried and/or down-climbed versus jumping that far. According to the fish-squeezers, we have a healthy mountain lion population here. However, I've seen only one while mountain biking close to home.

Bears are very normal here. Although, not too much in our yard. In fact, the powers-to-be place signs throughout the community and constantly warn people to keep a clean camp.

My biggest concern, however, is stepping on a rattlesnake (prairie rattler). It's been about two years since we've had one in the yard. I don't mind the other visitors, but the rattlers can just keep off our property!

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