One Person’s Trash is another Person’s Treasure


I’ll never forget my first winter in Chicago and the time I tried to give a homeless person my coat. My boss stopped me and made me get on the train. I did not understand why he stopped me and I cried the whole way back to the office.  He was protecting me. My kind heart over-rode common sense. 

I moved to Tulsa seven years later and worked in the Bank of Oklahoma building on the 27th floor. They had an ice rink back in the 90’s and I’d go down there for coffee and breakfast. Every morning I’d see the same man with ragged clothes and I’d buy him breakfast. At lunch I’d sit by myself in the square and share my lunch and cigarettes with a few of the homeless men that hung around. My boss found out about it and made me stop. He said it wasn’t safe for a nice girl like me to be alone with these men. He thought I was putting myself in danger.

I shared that story recently with the wrong person and their response surprised me.

“Your boss was wrong. I mean you smoked. Obviously you weren’t a nice girl.”

They were so proud of their comment that they laughed. This wasn’t a heckler, I wasn’t even on stage when he said this. We were sitting at a kitchen table sharing dinner with friends. A heckler I can handle, this — I just smiled and changed the subject before getting really quiet and letting other people control the conversation. It’s an old survival skill from childhood, if you let them know they got to you they come back for more. I’ve learned how to hide crumbling.

Just because I can hide it doesn’t mean I don’t crumble sometimes.

Knowing what this man said is a lie doesn’t change the impact of his words. The committee in my brain is now in high gear, passing those words around like a cheap bottle of wine. “You’ll never fit in.”, “You can’t trust people.”, “He’s right you know. You are trash.”, “I’m never coming back here again.”

Every fiber of my being now wants to show this man how “not nice” I’m capable of being. Oh you think smoking is bad, wait until I tell you about the time I did thus and such! The committee is also offering up questions on his mother’s marital status when he was born as well as her emotional temperament. In 24 hours I ruminate every possible come back. They are wonderful come backs by the way, I’m always brilliant after the fact. The problem is those comebacks do nothing for my heart and just keep the hurt feelings going while Mr Idiot has no idea that I’m even wounded.

At this point, I’m the one wounding myself by repeatedly hitting the replay button on the DVD in my brain.

I want to stop the spiral. I try to read. I pray. I stare at my phone to call a friend, but it’s too heavy and then an amazing thing happens, I receive a Christmas card from a friend. Inside the card is a puzzle piece with these words:

“YOU GLOW and you do more than light up a room — you light up the hearts of all who are in it.”

Her card is postmarked several days earlier, and arrives just in time to soothe my heart and my brain.  She doesn’t even know about the incident yet.  I now have a choice, I can hit the replay button on the remarks that hurt me OR I can choose to believe my friend and her words of encouragement. So what if one man thinks I’m trash. He’s an idiot.  I have a wealth of friends who think otherwise and their voices are loud enough to put the committee to rest.

It is said that silence equals approval. I neither agreed with nor approved of his comment and yet I remained silent.  I don’t have to be quiet just to prove I’m nice. There is nothing to be gained by staying silent when someone lies about my value to my face. There are a number of acceptable responses that I could have used. My therapist says when someone throws a prickly pear at us (an insult), we don’t have to catch it nor do we need to throw it back. We can simply say things like “ouch” or calmly speak truth, “that’s not true about me.” Simple phrases like that stop most people in their tracks and give them the chance to clean it up.

I’ll try and remember that next time. In the mean time, I’m taking my puzzle piece from my friend and posting on my bathroom mirror. I glow, not only do I light up a room, I light up the hearts of all who are in it. — And so do you.

Question: How do you respond to thoughtless (or maybe not so thoughtless) comments? I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s Talk About it: Guarding Your Heart

“I’m tired of trusting men I should be able to trust.”

I actually said that to a friend last week. I hate being lied to and yet, I allow it in certain people over and over again until I just can’t stand it anymore and I blow up. I continue at times to open my heart because it feels like I should. My friend proved to be a wonderful ear and full of wisdom. “Guard your heart.”

He didn’t say build a wall around it so that I’ll never get hurt again. It simply said to guard it. That’s a different animal completely.

It’s not that I don’t trust men. Somewhere along the line, I stopped trusting my gut. While wandering through the world completely unafraid is  naive and dangerous, fearing everything and everyone is not a viable solution. I need to learn how to listen to my gut and trust it again.

I’ve had many jobs in my life; waitress, machine shop worker, female telecom technician to name a few. I’ve worked with great men and not so great men. Basically, I’ve been felt up every way but Tuesday. While a lot of things may have changed for women since my Mother’s generation, a lot of things haven’t. When I was younger, I just considered it the price I had to pay. When I got older, I got wiser.

I had the miss-fortunate experience of working in a Not For Profit organization that was less than scrupulous. Short version, the laws that are in place to protect women do not apply to non profits and I found myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually raped by a man I should have been able to trust. He blamed me for his actions and for a while, I believed him. That will mess a woman up.

I responded to said circumstance by crumbling into myself and giving up on ever trusting men again. Fortunately for me I meet some of the most wonderful, trustworthy and patient people who grab me from my own emotional pit and pull me back into the land of the living. I don’t believe him anymore and while this is not been an easy climb, it’s a worthwhile climb.

I tend to shake sometimes and act like I have PTSD. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. I don’t know. I do know I’m willing to shake until I stop shaking. I’m willing to be neurotic and I’m willing to set boundaries when I need to. I’m willing to walk through whatever it is I need to walk through in order to trust myself again.

Yes, I do make men prove I can trust them today. I set strange boundaries like you can’t be my friend on Facebook unless your wife knows I exist and do not touch me without my permission.

I’m also learning to stop being responsible for other people’s choices.

My misplaced sense of personal responsibility is what caused last week’s lament.

Yes, there are people I should be able to trust and yet because of their own brokenness I can’t. That’s not my fault. I can learn how to guard my heart.

I don’t have answers right now on how to guard our hearts, I’m afraid I’m still learning. I do however want to introduce you to one of the people I get learn from in this area. His name is Michael Hyatt. I’ve seen him with his wife and daughters. He’s a good man.



You can read these two articles if you want: Also I’d love to hear from you. Has anyone ever hurt your heart so badly you thought you’d never recover? How did you over come it? How do you guard your heart?

The Queen of Whine

“Acceptance is not submission to a degrading situation; rather is it acknowledging reality and deciding what to do about it.” – One Day at a Time, AFG

I can be whiney.

Insert the hushed whisper by those who know me well here. “Whiney? You? No! Really?”

It’s true. I whine.

I ask why. A lot. Granted I do have the voice of reason (or schizophrenia, whichever) to quickly follow with either a snarky remark or wisdom.

Why did the laundry hose spray all over the laundry room today? At least the room smells Springtime fresh now. Not helping!

Why did the computer break right before Christmas? (Don’t feel too sorry for me, I do still have my laptop.)

Why can’t I be thin? (uhm.. maybe it’s the food you put in your mouth when you stuff your feelings?)

Why can’t people behave the way I want them to? — okay I really do wish they would here, but now do you always behave the way people wish you would? – Oh shut up.

Why didn’t anyone read my life script? – Because everyone has their own script to follow. But they are ad-libbing! I’m an introvert, I need my script. I can’t plan my brilliant responses if they ad lib! – Silence

Why doesn’t he ever pick ME?- Because he isn’t going to. Instead of getting your feelings hurt every year, face reality and move on. Do not try to control the situation by constantly reminding him how much you really want to do this — obviously he does not believe you are the right person for the job. It’s not personal, and even it if is, you can’t do anything about that.

Whaa whaa whaaa

Reality of life is simply this — like it or not we have absolutely no power of people, places, or things. The only power we have in choosing how to respond.

Rather than focus on what I cannot control today, equipment failures, dishonest and manipulative people, and rejection (I really hate that one), I can focus getting exercise and eating well, and celebrating the fact that our riding club (Stay in the Saddle) is going to be in the Christmas Parade.

I’m not being Pollyanna. I’m just choosing happiness.

What about you? Are you going to spend this day focusing on the things you cannot control? Or are you going to spend it focusing on the things you can control – yourself.

I hope you go out there and have a wonderful and happy day. And don’t forget to laugh.






Let’s Talk About It. Fear

Carnival of Souls
Image via Wikipedia

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another. ~Katherine Paterson

October is a great month to look at fear. Of what are we afraid? Why Are we afraid? What does being afraid look like? I know what it looks like on me; blushing, shaking, eyes to the floor, chest flutters. Fear is messy and painful to watch.

My youngest will watch scary movies all month on purpose because he loves being afraid. He’s crazy and 18 and male so.. go figure. Me? Even though I face a lot of my fears by going onstage or submitting a piece of writing, I’d rather not deal with fear most of the time. I would rather run away and sleep, paint, write or even drink (sometimes more than I should) than honestly face my fears. I’m learning though that if I do not face my fears, they will as Katherine Paterson says, “grab me by the tail.”

Some seasons just suck. My summer this year is no exception.  Between putting my beloved collie of 16 years down in June and two months of other people in my life behaving badly all I wanted to do by September is run away to my cabin at the lake to paint and write. I did not get to do that and yet I survived.

I am much better now thank you.

Fear can really grab me by the tail when I’m hurting. That might sound strange to you, but it’s the truth. When that happens I remind myself to be gentle with my expectations and take things as they come.

One good sign that fear has grabbed me by the tail is I start taking people’s emotional temperatures before I speak. It’s manipulative really and I justify that behavior by telling myself I do not have the emotional energy to deal with someone else’s emotions so I better play it safe and watch what I say. I wind up exhausted and my feet hurt from all those egg shells I make myself walk on and yet I continue.

Do you know what I discovered this month? I’m afraid of letting people see me hurting.

To fear is one thing, don’t be it’s bitch.

Ain’t that a kick in my egotistical behind?

I like answers more than I like revelation. Knowing this about myself is one thing and it’s a big thing, now I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with this new knowledge.

Writing prompt: Would you share with us the last time fear grabbed you by the tail? What did it look like and how did you deal with it?

Sometimes it’s just not funny.

Have you ever been through one of those times where things just don’t seem funny? You know what I mean. The normal things that used to make you laugh just make you raise an eyebrow instead. I’m kind of in that mood. It’s not hormones (got that fixed last year) I’ve just been in this funk for a couple of weeks now and I’m not sure how to pull out.

Please don’t go sending me your left over Prozac, I’m not depressed. A little snow blind maybe, but nothing more.

I was giddy just a few weeks ago. I mean I hired Taylor Mason to perform at our church. Jim Belushi told me to add him on my Facebook (Holy Cannolis Batman, Jim Belushi knows who I am — ) and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I should be stinking ecstatic. And those are all really cool wonderful things — and I am happy about them.

What I haven’t figured out though is how to handle the unhappiness that surrounds us. One friend is having painful family issues, a friend has a child who is sick, others (plural) are going through divorce friends unfairly fired, another friend fell pretty painfully, and now I’ve learned about someone dealing with aggressive breast cancer and my poor heart just couldn’t take it anymore. Her’s was the last bad news I could stand before bursting into tears – on the spot- in church in front of God, my pastor and the whole congregation. It’s like the whole world has gone mad.

I know it hasn’t, but wow it can feel that way some times.

So, what do you guys do when the news of the world seems to press in on all sides? How do we keep our hearts open, and receptive to others without drowning?


Let’s Talk About it: Things that Make our Hair Stand on End.

My brain, and heart have been running circles around my need to have it all planned out center since New Year’s Eve and I’m really not sure what I think about it much less how I feel. Someone created a stir in me that took a few days to settle into.  The question is simple – Can you remain a stay home wife even after the kids are gone – do comedy sure, but still be a home maker? The thought had never crossed my mind.

To be fair I’ve learned that I am also gifted at creating stirs among women. It’s easy to do, just say things like:

  • “It’s a lie to believe you must have a career outside of your home to feel fulfilled.” – (Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free. – Nancy Leigh DeMoss.) I stepped into a nest that night without meaning to.
  • “If you knew the truth about submission you’d see that submitting to your husband isn’t a curse, it’s liberating.” (Liberated Through Submission P. Bunny Wilson) – I call this the no competition clause. He competes at work all day long, and he really doesn’t want to come home and compete with us. Now, under no circumstances does this mean if he want’s to burn the house down and claim the insurance money we blindly go along – there are limits. _ this subject is wildly misunderstood and goes far deeper than I am going to today.

And my most recent stir:

  • “I live in my husband’s house. I like the safety in that. You have to be married to a good man in order to say that, and thankfully I am. I have also learned that if you are a woman married to a good man and you still say ‘this is my house and he’s lucky to live here.’ what you are really communicating is that you are afraid to allow yourself to be fully loved.”  – Deana O’Hara

The men all clicked “like.” Several women responded to ask if I’d been drinking. And when I stated that I was working on a series of article regarding “Whose house is it anyway?”, my husband jokingly asked if I was writing fiction. I can still remember the time a friend of mine taught a women’s study at church on The Submitted Wife and the Committed Husband – That created a stir; not among the younger women but by the older. What a hoot. Still, they said the same thing I am — you must have a GOOD man in order for this to work. Without that? It’s a moot point.

There was a time when I would have laughed out loud at all of those statements myself. And that’s why I avoid writing or speaking about this kind of stuff. I’ve dated emotionally void and abusive men and it was horrible.  I don’t know what kind of man anyone is married to, and I don’t ever want to lead someone down the wrong path. Time and again, I hear stories of women married to abusers, alcoholics, addicts and who hear this type of advice and think they are called to submit to that – and no they aren’t. 

Those women aside, where does that leave the rest of us? Let’s face it – there is a reason all of these things create stirs. They get under our skin and it feels like someone is trying to take one more thing away from us. Sometimes I believe that is true. Personally, I disagree with Concordia College’s stand that a women shall not be president. Not only does it violate Ephesians 22, in its fullest context, I believe in equality in the workplace and if you are going to employ women then they should have the same career opportunities as men. That’s actually federal law – unless you are a private university, which Concordia is. They are welcome to have those rules so long as they understand that as a woman, I am welcome to spend my money elsewhere.

Mostly though I don’t believe society is out to take anything away from women even if some individuals might try.  I don’t believe that women are as historically victimized as we’d like to believe either. We’re empowered in many ways today. Ask any man who has ever tried to win an argument with us, it can’t be done.

The feminist movement did great things for women I’m not denying that. One of the things it did do is give women choices. We can choose to pursue careers and be successful, and we can choose to stay home and manage the house and family and be just as successful.

I shared with a friend on New Years that I was planning on going back to work as a nurse once my youngest graduates. She looked at me very shocked and asked “why on earth do you want to do something like that?”  I told her it was because I was bored out of my mind. Which I can be. She then went on to paint a picture that I had temporarily forgotten. I get to stay home and raise my family, play in my gardens, travel, see friends, cook real meals that aren’t hurry up and go, make a difference in the community, do stand up, and be loved. I’m blessed beyond measure when I remember that. Not a bad choice.

I was not raised to be a stay home wife. I was raised to have a career and support myself and trust no man to take care of me. Making different choices was hard and fearful. Even so, I’m glad I followed my heart. What I haven’t figured out is how to write about these things that I’ve learned without sounding pious, or smug and without being codependant and sexist because these things – when properly thought through are none of those.

So, that is where my mind has been at since New Years. Is it okay to say I live in my husband’s house and I’m happy with that for me? Can I even begin to write about this and adequately cover all of the facets involved, because there are many to consider.

I’m curious – what statements have you heard over your life time that made your hair stand up? Did you change your mind about them? Let’s Talk About it.

Behold, I make all things new

2011 has already been off to a wonderful start. We began by celebrating a 50th birthday with friends on Friday and on Sunday we celebrated another friend’s 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a year of Jubilee — what a gift. Leviticus 25 proclaims the 50th year as a year of holiness and rest.

Three things jump out at me when I read this chapter of Leviticus. The Bible speaks of the Year of Jubilee as  a year of  redemption of things lost or sold because of poverty. It also speaks of kindness to others and freedom from bondage.

These are three great thoughts as we face the new year together.

Some things to think about:

1. REDEMPTION: What things, ideas, values, et all have we sold off over the years because of our own spiritual poverty? Relationships, truth/honesty, health, self-respect? How can we return to those right, meet, and salutary things this year. How can God help us restore those broken places?

2. KINDNESS: Can you think of a way to extend kindness to others this year? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a smile, a warm hello, or maybe even volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. – what random act of kindness can you share?

3. FREEDOM: In this passage, we are talking about bond servants or slaves who are set free — is there anything holding you back from experiencing all that God has in store for you? Are there places of bondage that you need to be released from? Is there forgiveness, hurt, anger, or fears that you are hanging onto? Now would be a good time to let go of those things. Can you write out a prayer asking God help to break those chains?

Let us make this a Jubilee Year all the way around and celebrate the gifts of God.

Am I Jaded or Compassionate? I’m Not Always Sure

I’m sorry, but the post you are looking for is no longer here.  Please note that I write most of my posts 1 – 2 weeks in advance and schedule them for future publication. While this particular post dealt with my own eating issues and abuse of over the counter diet pills, as well as revelations I’ve received from my present Bible Study, I’m afraid that it published on the cusp of another very important announcement. The two have nothing to do with eachother, but out of respect for a friend and a family grieving, I’m taking my post down.

Please pray for those you mentor as well as those who mentor others. I’ve heard it said that the minute we step into public ministry, Satan points a loaded gun at the backs of our heads. That is so true. May God fill you to overflowing with his Grace, his Mercy and His Peace.

Thank you for reading my blog.



Why do you Want to Lose Weight?

Note: My stats are showing more and more people searching for bulimia — I don’t have the answers. That’s why I’m posting this tonight. I am receive a dozen or more hits every day now wanting to know about bulimic prayers, hope, healing, etc.  I’m just now coming face to face with the damages I caused my body when I was younger. While I no longer physically purge food — I was released from that captivity several years ago –  I do still at times over eat, over exercise,  and starve for the wrong reasons. — if any of this is an issue for you, please please PLEASE check out the page my friend gave me.  Setting Captives Free.  I’ve committed to it myself, starting today. It’s a wonderful sight. Thanks.

The first question I see in every weightloss program I’ve ever tried is “Why do you want to lose weight?”

That’s a loaded question, don’t you think? Why do any of us want to lose weight?


  • Fit in that new dress / bathing suit.
  • Look good for vacation / wedding / class reunion.
  • Find a Mate. (Already have one)
  • Build my self-esteem
  • Be healthy and live longer.
  • Get my blood pressure and sugar back down to reasonable levels.
  • Be more successful as a worker / performer / speaker
  • Finally wear skinny jeans again.
  • Receive positive attention from others.

Lots of choices to that question, but something tells me (other than looking ahead) all of my answers are incorrect.

I ran into an old friend this weekend. Someone I hadn’t seen in ages. She looked great. What I noticed first though, was her eyes. They had this light that I feel like I’ve lost.  I wanted to know what she was doing differently. I mean I’m reading the Bible. I’m praying, I’m studying healthy eating habit and I’m exercising.







Then she said something really great – eating disorders cover false idols.

I had never until that very moment thought of the idol of being thin.

It was a total “aha” moment for me.

It was immediately obvious that I’m doing something very different from what she is doing. She’s living to honor God, I’m living to get thin again. No wonder my eyes look tired and her’s don’t.  If I’m is a contraction of I am. Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong I AM?

I wonder.

Think about it.

An idol is a false god — something that replaces the real God we have in Christ.

CONFESSION: Every single reason I have ever – in my life – had, for wanting to lose weight — is an idol. Approval, self-esteem, respect, personal health, success, control. None of my choices had anything to do with God. No wonder I continue to  fail. I’ve made it all about me.

What about you?

What is your reason for wanting to lose weight?  


This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All rights reserved. No goods or services were given in exchange for the endorsement of Setting Captives Free. I am only sharing a resource that I myself find to be very useful.