Month: March 2014

Out from the Shadows Book Excerpt

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Today we celebrate the release of Out from the Shadows by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Many thanks to my publisher, associate editor, agent, and my friends and family. I’m so grateful to God for His inspiration, leading, and encouragement throughout the long two years it took for it to come to birth.  In celebration of the launch, I just had to share an excerpt from the book with you. This one is very special to me.

Jimmy’s Hunger

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth. Proverbs 22:1

He was just a little boy when he was abused for the first time. His dad raged at his mother again over some imagined offense—the rough German carpenter never needed a reason to be angry. The tiny house rattled with the sounds of the man’s raving.

Jimmy was afraid.

Suddenly his father turned on him. The man hit the child broadside, striking him so hard he slammed backward against a wall and soiled his pants. Jimmy never knew what he had done to deserve a beating.

But that was just the beginning. He grew to manhood under the constant shadow of a father given to adultery and violent, drunken rages. The entire family suffered, but the boy was the favorite target of his father’s wrath.

When the man wasn’t beating them, he was often gone. Jimmy helped his mother support the family with his meager earnings from odd jobs. Their food supply was scanty, and their threadbare clothing offered little protection from the brutal Wisconsin winters. Jimmy owned no underwear. He slept naked in order to save his one set of clothes for school. His father loved to shame him by yanking him out of his bed in the middle of the night and beating him in front of his mother and sisters.

The physical abuse stopped the night Jimmy was big enough to sit in the dark, fully dressed, to initiate the fight when his dad first walked through the door. He learned, too, how to stop the mocking boys at school with his fists.

Fighting gave him a feeling of power for the first time in his life. People said he would grow up to be just like his dad. He had learned all the wrong ways to live. He had every excuse to victimize others as he had been victimized.

But he didn’t. Jimmy grew up to be like his mother, gentle and kind. He finished his schooling in the Navy, married a lovely young woman, and started a family. He adored his children and worked hard to give them the stability he never enjoyed as a child. He became a musician, a newsman, a broadcaster, a businessman, a county commissioner, a caregiver, and a pastor.

Jimmy is my father.

If anyone ever had an excuse to give up, he did. He had nothing going for him in life, except a mother who loved him and the desire to be different from his father and his grandfather. Instead of continuing the family line of shame, he taught my brother and me an important lesson: It’s not where you come from, but where you’re headed, that matters.

When my father was growing up, children shouted our surname at other kids when they wanted to insult them. My father was determined to have a name his own children would never be ashamed to wear. He not only redeemed the family name, but he also has lived with such integrity that we are proud to be known by it.

Today, his adult grandchildren love to tell people who their grandpa is. He is a well-known local personality and beloved icon in our community. As a pastor, he tells others of the Father God who took him out of a life of poverty and abuse and gave him a real daddy’s love.

My dad’s hunger for God inspired my own search for life’s meaning. His determination to break free has challenged me to wear my heavenly Father’s name with integrity and leave a legacy my family can be proud to claim.


Father God,

I understand my perception of You
has been shaped by my earthly father.
I ask You to reveal to me the ways
in which I have misunderstood who You are.
Help me break free from wrong pathways
and understand the depth of Your unconditional love.
Amen.

Reflections on “Jimmy’s Hunger”

1. Do you know anyone who has a similar story of abuse?

2. Have you experienced this kind of abuse yourself? Have you been able to break free?

3. List the qualities of a father you think are the most important.

4. In what ways has God displayed these qualities in your life?

5. How can you use these qualities in your role as a caregiver?

Pam Thorson/copyright 2014

Find Out from the Shadows here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/194110312X/

The Nurse Who Remembered

 

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This post is part of the #Blog4Care blog carnival being hosted by Caring Across Generations. We’re hoping that by sharing our caregiving stories, we can begin to come up with solutions to the care crisis that is affecting millions of Americans. 

Nursing carries heavy responsibilities. It requires long days, longer nights, and impossible schedules. In celebration of one of my favorite nurses, I’ve reprinted an except of our story from my first book, Song in the Night. The nurse’s name has been changed, but everything else is as it happened in the summer of 1997.

More than just a nurse…

One nurse in particular that we loved was named Mandy. She was slender and petite, with lovely dark hair and makeup that was always perfect. She had an exotic air and a husband who was a businessman in Africa. She always seemed to know what to do and did it expertly. Kevin said that she did the best job of suctioning the secretions out of his lungs of anyone on the floor, so I watched her carefully and had her teach us her own technique.

One day in particular, things were very trying. Kevin was still stick, and I just had to go run a quick errand. There was no other family member to stay with Kevin while I was gone, and Kevin kept begging me not to leave him. Mandy saw my dilemma and offered to sit with Kevin until I came back.

Thankfully, I took her offer and rushed out. I knew she was busy, and Kevin wasn’t the only patient that needed her. So I hurried as fast I could and breathlessly returned to find her sitting peacefully at his bedside, chatting amiably with Kevin as she gave him a manicure.

A warm rush of gratitude flowed over me. She could not have realized how little of our human dignity was left after these long weeks. The harsh environment of living in the world of the near-dead had ground us far into the dust. Although people around us had been so good to us, and most of the medical people tried, the very nature of the situation was immensely dehumanizing. We existed on little food, sleep, or comfort. Rehab schedules did not allow time for living. Whoever was staying with Kevin slept on a big chair that folded out into a small bed that was in his room. We often slept and lived in the same clothes. Our world revolved around learning a myriad of medical procedures, basic caregiving, and getting Kevin through another day.

There wasn’t time to truly grieve, to hurt, to process what was happening, or even to feel. We were often treated like machines, pushed and prodded and educated in things we neither envisioned nor wanted to learn. There were days Aaron and I didn’t know who was taking care of our youngest daughter or even where she was. That haunted me, and it caused recurring nightmares in which I had lost her. For a while, she bounced between friends and family. At fifteen, Daniel was learning physical therapy techniques and sitting long hours with his brother. Erik worked full-time down in Lewiston and drove the 100 miles to Spokane every weekend to be with us.

More than “the C2” in Room 210…

I understand that by necessity, the medical world is run by schedules and operates under financial limitations. Faced with the politics of medicine, it’s easy to reduce a patient to “the C2” in Room 210 or “the gallbladder” on the fourth floor.

But Mandy had remembered that we were more. She remembered that we were people – hurting, frightened, and overwhelmed. And she cared enough to stop and give us the help we really needed.

~ Pam Thorson

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