Shandra Lee. With Heart Wide Open. A Miracle In The Making.

Spending a lot of time lately in my Home Town has been a mixed bag. Spending a lot of time lately in my Child Hood home has been even more so.

This morning, a beautiful blustery on again off again mixed media of  wind, rainbows, sunshine & bright swirling early November leaves.


Walking on. Memories.

Past the Fine Arts building . Memories. The Golden Lab Greeter. On an evening run off leash  she sensed ‘miles away’ a gathering of well dressed after hours attendees . That. moment. Choosing To Greet. running in their midst. Muddy paws, jumping on black suits & silk gowns. Oh. The shame of it.  Sweaty & flushing as I entered their now slightly disheveled mostly still glamorous midst  to retrieve my smiling-sohappytomakeyouracquaintance- dancing rain-soaked, muddy Blonde Lab. Retriever.

Walking on. Memories.

“Welcome to Western ” the sign in brightly hand-printed tiles. Roses in bloom. Fragrant. Sweet. The back door of the building where for many hours over many months we studied for our Teacher Tests. Life long dreams…resting on a few hours exams. Thank you Math tutors who never gave up…but might have finally given in 😉 .


Walking on. Memories.

The Apartments. You gals in this era may not understand. or. You might.

A high school party. Friends. Suddenly. Waking up. Fully clothed, thankfully, with Someone watching protectively over me. someone else laying nearby . Me…Drugged? Probably. Gossiped about? Definitely. Highly Favored? Absolutely.

Walking on. Memories.

My first college apartment. My first party. Warm summer breeze. My girlfriends  & I returning from party supply shopping.  Across the parking lot. He called. Ran towards me. Jumping, in slow motion-he took my breath away. Both boots full force catching the soft spot in my still teen-ish tummy. Both. Feet. Full force. I’d turned him down for a date. He sent me to the ER. They were all expelled from the apt complex but…at every turn…where were they? Was he near? Watching? Waiting?

Walking on. Memories.

“She’s so late!” As the only over 21 year old Server on shift I had to stay. Fuming . Grumbling .  She was being so inconsiderate! My young adult (self-centered) self thought. Part of another shift worked into the warm summer evening until my sub. replacement arrived. Where was she ?


The knock on my door by the uniform . At his questions I blanched. Teetered. Nearly. Fainted. Nearly. Ill. He caught me before I hit the table. Stinging tears fighting for space with reason-swirling in mid air-like opponents in the ring. Her parents , arriving from a Southern state , had whisked her away. No goodbye. No forwarding address. We’d become friends. Wary of one another at first. Each with something held back. While I was grumbling about her tardiness. Her assailant had found her front door open to the lovely summer sun, locked the door behind & carved a word deep into her chest. He’d followed her from her Home Town. Stalking her and her friends.

When the uniform returned days later, he made it clear the general idea was she had done it herself. I. Nearly Ill. Teetered. Herself? For a moment I grasped at that fleeting, flimsy faint straw. It meant that I was safe. It meant my World was intact. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder or question what I thought I knew.

No. No one. NO ONE would do that to themselves. It might have fit in their box & minds to make a neat little package. No. Never have Never will believe that She took a knife & carved that blood soaked obscenity into her own lovely skin.

Walking on. Memories.

The former home of a now passed best friend. We’d not started out well. Apologizing one night for the rumors she had spread.  Sitting in the front seat of that old  VW Bug. Sobbing in my arms after she’d gotten to know me.

She’d been jealous she explained. Everything always went right for me she said. When she saw the chance , she’d agreed to stories, left out details & embellished parts which had branded me as a promiscuous young adult. Pregnant? Yes. Unwed? Yes. Certain of paternity? Yes.

The damage was done though.  All around. Funny. In spite of. Or because of. We became best Friends. The Country Gal & The City Girl. First, party & walking buddies. Escaping. Then. She was different. She was changing.  What was it? She knew I couldn’t stand the non ending alcohol & chaos with shady ‘friends’ who arrived only for a party & infuse chaos.  She said it was me. That God had Blessed Me. That I changed her.

It’s true. Walking on. Memories.

Why has God Blessed & protected me so? I asked HIM just that today. Let’s be honest. My Life has given me numerous reasons & opportunities to escape. & I have. Escaping briefly with pot & amphetamines. Didn’t like them. Escaping with alcohol. Escaping with food. Realizing the addictive potential & turning away.  ‘Escaping’ with 2 unwise  unhealthy monogamous, l-o-n-g-t-e-r-m- romances. Realizing the hurtful natures & turning away. “Escaping”. But not really. Escaping from a Life where no one seemed to listen. Tumultuous eras & Cultures, where Women were of little value. Fought for every mention & questioned at every move.

“Over time, our voices can fade to insignificance. The nothingness permeates our lives with low self-esteem and threatens to steal our very identities.”

I’ve since ‘escaped’ , totally. Escaped into the arms of Christ. The Holy Spirit. I’ve escaped to Reality. Where strength comes from vulnerability. Identity. In Christ. My friend? The rumor monger 🙂 she led me straight into HIS arms. We ‘escaped’ together she & I. She’s now really & truly in His arms. & I’m the jealous one. Why has HE continued to bless me? I’ve pressed in & pressed on. I’ve stood up, shown up, stood my ground, stepped aside or sat down when it was difficult & inconvenient. I SEEK Him. HE SEES me. I’ve found The Voice He’s Given Me, It is good. & He Is Enough.

It’s a great privilege to be publishing the 400th With Heart Wide Open Ministry Post as a very transparent link up w/ some amazing Women~Until Next time~ In Him~ Shandra

Link Up. Share Your Voice.
Link Up. Share Your Voice.

We are in week 8 of our link-up for When a Woman Finds Her Voice . I am honored to once again be linking up with Jo Ann as we discover what can happen When A Woman Finds Her Voice!  It is launch week and there are so many amazing things going on. Join us for the Facebook partyget some freebies, join in theonline study and please go to the link up.  Read some posts, share your own, and use that wonderful voice God blessed you with!


Life happens. Change is good. Healing. Hope. Courage. Growth.

now in 2015 linking often with these lovely folks as well: The Social Scene

13 Replies to “There But for The Grace of God”

  1. I’ve been thinking of you Shandra. Wondering where did you go? I see you have been spending time with your amazing voice, the one that brought tears to my eyes & warmth to my heart. Your post is Beautiful. Powerful. Purposeful. Your voice is courageous and strong. Mighty strong. Thank you.


  2. XoX Thank you, Karen, for noting my absence and return. Bless you, Friend. I’ve missed you as well. I see by your latest blog post you’ve been finding your own story and your own Voice.Well done. XoX


  3. Linking up from FMF. May God’s grace continue to cover all of those places and spaces and memories. I know that feeling of returning to a hometown….and those old places…It’s hard, but good to see how God has entered it all when we look back.


  4. Yes, thinking back, we are amazed how many times we were protected and kept as angels watched over us. Even with the lies and false accusations, God surrounds us with His truth. Memories and both sad and happy, and it is good at times to revisit an old home place. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.


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