Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Captive Trilogy: Part 1 - The Hunted

Author Personal Note: This is an unedited portion of my memoir, which has sprinkles of fiction and such. Sometimes a written picture is more powerful to me than trying to explain my heart or the place I find it in.  This was written  in January 2010 from a place of brokenness and despair about the goodness of God, His intentions for me and the lies surrounding my core identity.  I intentionally wrote it the way I did, in third person and in an allegory form so that anyone could plug themselves in the storyline.

There she was, crouching behind the largest tree in the grove, breath heaving while trying frantically to fill her lungs with air and attempting to not give her position away. She knew if he or one of his men were to come within a few feet of her, the petrified gasps of air would betray her. A small squeak escaped her lips as a sob tried to force itself from the depths of her being.  “No,” she willed herself and demanded her soul to turn to steel once more. She privately chastised herself that the need to cry had been vowed away many years ago. Her own soul was a traitor though and she cursed her soft nature; and she hated it. She always had been so prone to tears.

Raw fear wrapped itself around her spine as the still distant sounds of hounds grew louder. They had found her scent. If, and “when” she said to herself, she were caught again she knew there would be hell to pay … literally. The wrath of her capturer was great and that she knew full well. She’d lost count at how many times she had tried to flee her enemy and wondered why she had ever attempted such a foolhardy venture. It was inevitable. He was the greatest hunter in the land and it seemed the scent of her blood and her blood alone was what he craved. He would never give up. She knew she would pay heavily this time. Each time she came back into his clutches his retribution seemed worse. He, the great enemy of her soul, was a true sadist in every sense.

Questions she knew she may never have an answer for permeated her mind. Why did he hate her so? What was it that brought such vengeance racing through his veins at the mere mention of her name or her Lover’s or the sight of her once lovely face? Her breathing calmed slightly and the cramp in her side was subdued and she knew that this was her last chance … her last attempt at fleeing. How well she knew that she could not physically take his wrath any longer but even more so mentally and emotionally. She knew that she’d come to the end of her reserve; her vault of inner strength and sheer determination bankrupt.This was it and she vowed to give it her all.

Fleeing westward toward her home, she ran with all of her might. The baying of hounds grew louder, the very drums of hell clanging in her ears. Each one a mock … a taunt. 

“Your enemy draws near, weak one,” each bark rang out as a flaming arrow of battle landing true each time it sailed forth. 

With the baying of the hounds of hell, which now drew near, came the merciless beating of horse’s hooves and the snarling calls of the men who sat atop them. Now: a war cry in their mouths, as they hunted human flesh. It would almost sound like a joyous shout to the untrained ear, but alas she knew these men well. No, their cries were desperate and laced slightly with fear of the one who drove them, for if she escaped it would be their flesh that paid.

“Do not look back and do not fall,” she repeated as a mantra as she grew more desperate. 

A shock of terror rang through her when she looked ahead and noticed the raging river. She’d never gotten this far before but the realization was not a sweet one.  She knew of the waters, the final icy barrier to her enemy’s realm; deep and wide as Hades itself. Then the jingling of reins, and not just any reins … his.  Only he could cause every hair on her body to stand to attention. But that was not the tell-tale sign that it was he. Bile rose in her throat as wave after wave of nausea rode over her body at the stench he gave off. It was he who led the charge. She turned to face him and saw the legions he brought with him.

Realization rocked through her … he knew.  Why else would he bring hundreds when just a few would do? Her mortal and ageless enemy knew how close she’d come to her freedom. Fear glazed his eyes for a heartbeat as she straightened her back, lifted her shoulders and slightly angled her chin at the distant remembrance of her regal nature and how she’d once been a lady of the court, a true lady with titles and inheritance and worth.  Just that heartbeat and his icy glaze of hatred flitted back into place. This was a gaze she hadn’t the ability to meet and her eyes fell once more towards her tattered, once fine clothing and bare, bloodied feet.

She could feel the adrenaline receding from her body and the inevitable exhaustion and weakness that was left in its place. Surrender … furious and weak surrender was her only option.  Tears threatened again. The scrapping of metal against metal resounded through the glen; that of eager hooks and nets his men had brought was the prominent noise as the hounds were once again leashed and quieted.

 “Hooks and nets my lord?” called his lead henchmen and with it the remembrance of searing pain caused her body to heave an involuntary shudder.

 “No, I have a better plan. We shall need to take the fight out of this one once and for all,”  snarled her ancient foe.

Grabbing her once fine hair and wrenching her around to face the river, he barked out, “Spread out and line the river. She’s going to take a little swim.” 

That and hundreds of rounds of raucous laughter was the last she remembered as she was flung like a rag doll into the depths of her demise.

Already weak and exhausted, she broke the surface of the water startled to realize that the human body can indeed sustain and bring forth the needed surge to fight once again. Arms flailing and legs kicking, she struggled to keep if nothing else, her mouth and nose above the surface.  The weight of her dress dragged her down and spat her into the current which had its way with her as though she were merely a blade of grass that found itself in its grips.  The reality that there were rocks and downed trees scattered in the depths of the water was brought to her attention when she slammed against them time and time again as she was dragged forth at the mercy of the current.

Her head hit something hard and she once again went down swirling about and reaching the bottom only to be dragged along it effortlessly as though even the river did his evil bidding. With her last bit of effort she kicked from the bottom of the river bed and felt the jolt of air fill her lungs.  Reminders from her youth that ‘If you went under the water a third time, it would be your final’ echoed in her ears, as she fought bravely, giving every ounce of her fortitude to her survival.

Dark thoughts began to prevail.  “You won’t make it,”  “There is nothing on the other side worth living for,”  “Who will take you back now that you’ve been compromised?” 

With a shudder she realized that these taunts were being shouted out from the banks of the river by her pursuers. Each verbal jab landing true, she felt the fight being taken out of her. Her arms grew weary as she paddled to stay afloat. A few vague desires for her Lover to come and rescue her floated lazily through her mind. She’d pictured her rescue at His hands hundreds of times before hoping and willing her mind to stamp out the words her capturer had hurled at her on many occasion.  “He’s powerless to save you,”  “He’s given up His search,”  “He couldn’t find you even if He wanted to,” “He never loved you in the first place,”  “Who would want you now?”

And the stone cold facts battered her body like none delivered by her enemy. “It is true. He hasn’t come and He isn’t ever going to.” 

Aligning herself with the words of her foe took the last bit of fight out of her and she succumbed to the icy elements and let her body become its own hang man’s noose. Emptying her lungs of air she submerged her face giving herself over to death … sweet blissful death. At least she would no longer be captive in a palace of living death.

Just as quickly, a large icy fist clamped down at the nape of her neck jerking her body from the depths. A spiteful laugh cascaded over her.

“Did you think I’d make it that easy my little sweet?” mocked her faux rescuer. “No, death would be too easy for you. I’ve not had my fill of your flesh yet.”

 ~Thanks for reading
Part 2:  Return to Captivity and Part 3: The Rescue will be the next two posts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Captive Trilogy on AuthorStand

Hi friends,

I wanted to drop a quick line and let you all know that I've uploaded a short story I wrote entitled, The Captive Trilogy, on AuthorStand.  You can download it for FREE and give it a read.  I'd love some feedback on it and especially a 5STAR rating on The Captive Trilogy on the AuthorStand site.

Thanks so much.

Much love,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fifth Annual Mountains of Authors Event Features Jerry B. Jenkins (and me)

I am excited to announce that I will get to be a part of the following:

Featured books by Rebecca
Jerry B. Jenkins
The fifth annual Mountains of Authors event, on Saturday April 2, 2011, will highlight authors of the Pikes Peak region. Mountains of Authors is hosted by the Pikes Peak Library District (ppld.org) and will feature Jerry B. Jenkins, bestselling writer of the Left Behind book series, and author of 175 others as the key-note speaker.
The program is free and open to the public with no reservations necessary.  The doors to East Library (5550 N. Union Boulevard) will open at noon, with the program starting at 12:30 p.m. and ending at 6.  In addition to presentations about publishing and writing, 15 local authors and their books will be showcased.  The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District will also be presenting the Golden Quill Award.
The Real-Life Princess will also be featured
Writers and book fans alike will be inspired, while having an opportunity to meet established authors in the community.
Showcased authors include:
Lisa Tawn Bergren
Tim Blevins
Margaret Brettschneider
Jim Ciletti
LeAnna DeAngelo
Evangeline Denmark
Laura DiSilverio
Rebecca Dunning
Kirk Farber
Richard Gibson
Stewart M. Green
Beth Groundwater
Mike Hamel
Barry James Hickey
Carol Hightshoe
Karin “K.D.” Huxman
Terry Odell
Donita K. Paul
Bev Sninchak
Rod Summitt
Gaylyn Williams
Mary Zalmanek
Doors open at noon
Panel 1: Paranormal Fiction – 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
  • Mario Acevedo, author
  • Parker Blue (Pam McCutcheon), author
  • Jeanne Stein, author
Author Showcase Spotlight and Golden Quill Award – 1:30 - 2 p.m.
Break – 2 - 2:30 p.m.
Panel 2: Publishing – 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
  • Doris Baker, Filter Press
  • Teresa Funke, Teresa Funke & Company
  • Nancy Mills, CIPA President
Break – 3:30 - 4 p.m.
Keynote Speaker: Jerry B. Jenkins – 4 - 5 p.m.
Book Signing and Reception – 5 - 6 p.m.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Success and Failure Through a New Lense: The Life of Abe Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln:  Failing Success
I’ve been taken lately with two different historical figures, in regards to my life and the legacy I long to leave. I plan on writing on William Wilberforce (the subject of the movie, Amazing Grace) at a later time but for today I bring thoughts on Abraham Lincoln. Both men, had major failures in life, but by the grace of God, a will to persevere and people around them who loved them regardless, they left a mark on the rights and dignity of all people regardless of color of skin or social position.  Maybe that is why I relate to them so thoroughly ... I am weak.
Abraham Lincoln has won a place in my heart because of the overwhelming loss and suffering in his life, yet his inability to quit. It is like he knew he was called to something great, perhaps not knowing quite what it was, but nonetheless, he did not stop until his life was literally snuffed out by another. We all know him as the sixteenth president of the United States, the one who kept the union together in the midst of the civil war, who after the war did all he could to bring the south back into the fold, but do you know the full story of this man.
His failures and sufferings make him my hero

His mother died when he was twenty-one, his sister died in childbirth and the woman he wanted to marry also perished of typhoid fever.  Not only did he suffer these losses but when he finally did marry, two of his children died before the age of eleven. He was largely self-educated and had a poor relationship with his father, whom he often had to loan money to. In addition to the before mentioned, Lincoln struggled with what we would now call clinical depression, but was then referred to as “chronic melancholy.”
In business he was considered a failure, having declared bankruptcy. In fact, chew on this: When he was 22, his business failed. When he was 23, he lost a bid for U.S. Congress. When he was 24, he failed in business again. The following year, he was elected to the state legislature. When he was 26, his sweetheart died. At age 27, he had a nervous breakdown. When he was 29, he was defeated for the post of Speaker of the House in the state legislature. When he was 31, he was defeated as Elector. When he was 34, he ran for Congress again and lost. At the age of 37, he ran for Congress yet again and finally won, but two years later he lost his re-election campaign. At the age of 46, he ran for a U.S. Senate seat and lost. The following year he ran for Vice President and lost. Finally, at the age of 51, he was elected President of the United States.
But despite this, God had a plan for his life which could not be defeated.  Ten states in the south didn’t even have his name on the ballot for the presidential election, but still he won.  In fact, he won only two of 996 counties in the south.  This is mind boggling.
There is so much more that can be said about this imperfect man. What I draw from it is that none of us are disqualified … none beaten … none detoured long from our course in life and the mark we are to leave on it, if we will keep on keeping on, in the strength given by our Father.

I think Proverbs 24:16a (NIV) says it best- for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.

Last thought:  dream, rest, fail, but rise again to dream.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Bucket List of One, Rebecca Dunning

For weeks I’ve been thinking, “I need to update my bucket list.”  For one, I’ve done several things that were on the list and needed to “x” those mothers off, but I also couldn’t find my old list so have had to start from scratch.  I have also changed so much in the last couple of years that what used to be important to me has changed. So here I am … writing it down … again … because it’s fun.  I had a list for a husband (yes, I suppose I was that girl) and I got everyone of them (including shoe size lol) so I guess I’m a list maker. 
Me climbing Pikes Peak 2010
I also think it is so fun to see other people’s list, for instance skinny dipping, is something that seems so natural to me having been raised with bikers and hippies and being from Michigan (everyone does it) but it’s a big deal for someone who hasn’t experienced this rather “important” rite of passage.
The trail into Peru's Machu Picchu
So I’m sitting here with my friend Stef and we’re dreaming a bit and laughing even more as we talk about what we’ve done and want to do.  I’m also plotting on how I can help fulfill my husband’s life goals.  He loves insane things like bungee jumping and sky diving, so I’ve often given these things for gifts to try to put some X’s on his list. I hope it inspires you to think up a few things that you want to do as well. 
Here’s mine in no particular order:
X- Means Done!!!!!!
1.        Hot Air Balloon Ride- X
2.       Ride A Motor Cycle by myself (been on em’ with others more than I can count)
3.       Go snorkeling- X
4.       Go white water rafting
5.       Helicopter Ride- X
6.       Live without hot water or electricity for 10 days- X (Hills of Guatemala)
7.       Fly in a small plane and land in a field with no run way- X (Guat. again)
The Ruins of Pompeii, Italy
8.       Hike Arches National Park in Utah
9.       Publish a Children’s Book- X
10.   Publish a Fictional Novel and/or Series
11.   Publish my Memoir
12.   Explore Roman Ruins in Italy (Pompeii and more)
13.   Visit Africa
14.   Adopt two little boys from either Haiti or Africa
15.   Visit England, New Zealand, St. Lucia, Guatemala, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, India, Japan, Puerto Pico, and Scotland  - X
16.   Run a 10K Race- (have done it without official time chip)
17.   Run a ½ Marathon
18.   Run a Marathon
19.   Do the Ascent (run- 13 miles up Pikes Peak)
Barr Trail up Pikes Peak.

20.   Bring Zoe(11) to France (Louvre for sure)
21.   Bring Zeke(10) to Hawaii
22.   Visit Scottish Highlands
23.   Visit Ireland
24.   Climb into Machu Picchu
25.   Go on some type of a pilgrimage of a Celtic Variety
26.   Scuba Dive- X
27.   Introduce my children to my half siblings and step mother and visit my Father’s grave for the first time
28.   Learn the Guitar- In process
29.   Learn French (since my two oldest are fluent)
30.   Live in a Foreign Country (England will do)
31.   Be an instrumental force in ending human trafficking/restoration of victims
32.   Karaoke – X (hey big fear to overcome people)I got to scuba with my hubby in St. Lucia
33.   Climb a 14er- X (Have done 11 thus far)
34.   Be a guest on a popular talk show (Arrogant I know, but ya gotta dream)
35.   Drambuie Pursuit (Takes Place in Scotland.  9 stages of Racing. 1)archery 2)boating 3)Mountain Bike Hill Climb 4)Another Mountain Bike Hill Climb 5) White Water Rafting 6)Mountain Bike Race 7)Race Buggies 8)Canoe Race and  9)City Run
36.   Visit all 50 states (So far:  Michigan, California, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Vermont, Arkansas, Iowa and Pennsylvania.
Can't believe I've never Rafted
37.   Get a 4th Tattoo (Tree with Roots)
38.   Ride a Camel
39.   Ride an Elephant
40.   Attend an Olympic Event
41.   Visit Mount Rushmore
42.   Publish an article in a well-known magazine
43.   Travel through the Chunnel to France
44. Kayaking- X

                          To be continued … Until I get to 100!

Each year, I try to do a few which is super exciting to me.
This year: I hope to visit Mt. Rushmore (also giving me the Dakotas on my visit 50 states goal), publish the novel I just finished (hope), finish my memoir, run a 10K race, run a ½ Marathon and do the Ascent up Pikes Peak, I also plan to do at least 1 more 14er this summer, begin French in Rosetta Stone and plug into playing the guitar more.
Let me hear some or all of yours. Thanks for reading ~ Rebecca
Also to see my books and check out my other adventure visit:  www.rebeccadunning.com 

A Stay-at-Home Moms Guide to Not Going Crazy During Spring Break

Us at the 1/2 way point on the Manitou Incline
While I enjoy my children being home over break, as a mom of three between the ages of 7 and 11, I have to put a plan into action so that we all still like each other by the time it’s over. I am sure my children hear my two Spring Break mantras in their sleep:

“Do something active or creative. “

and …

“I am not in charge of your fun.”

Our family takes our vacations in the summer, so I have to get creative with making their time off both productive and fun. I’ve found that a routine keeps everyone in the rhythm of life and in better moods. For instance, the kids may get up an hour later, but still get ready for the day first thing.

Instead of parking themselves in front of the PS3 or television, I make them “earn” a bit of time doing these activities by doing some chores. I figure if they are going to be around more, thus creating more work, than they can help out. Doing some housework with a happy attitude gets them 30 minutes of free time.

We then move on to the general calendar that I have planned in advance. One of our family values is fitness, so I try to get a couple of hikes in, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate we might go ice or roller skating.Mercy and I on a hike on the Glen Eyrie
Campus I also plan a lunch or two out with friends as well as at least one play date for each child at our house and one at their friends’ for some variety. At night, I try to incorporate board games and an occasional movie or invite friends for dinner.

With these guidelines, I find that staying in town can be just as fun, less stressful and incredible memory makers. What’s better than that?

~  Thanks for reading! To check out more about me and my books, check them out on Amazon or visit my personal site.

Butter on the Fridge: A Modern-Day Tale of Rescue

I have been asked many a time, "Why do you call your book, Butter on the Fridge?"  This should answer it... This is an unedited excerpt from my book, Butter on the Fridge:  A Modern-Day Tale of Rescue.  (Note:  I have had permission to post this from my mother, as in no way do I want to dishonor her.  She is a very different person than who I am describing below.) (c) 2010 Rebecca Dunning
When my mom called us we all needed to  say “yes mom”, come running and line up.  We needed to have an attentive look on our face and never look angry or upset as we were yelled at, which we always were when we were all called to attention like that.

One such instance of this involves the “butter on the fridge” incident.  I mention it because it was a decisive moment in my little almost five year old spirit.

At the call of our names, we all did our duty and fell into line.  My mom was furious and we knew that something dastardly must have happened.  As it happened someone had left butter on the handle of the fridge.  Now, I was the one who ate butter by the handful so it very well might have been me who committed this heinous crime.  Again, though I must say I don’t remember.  I don’t think any of us did. We were just kids who did stuff and didn’t think.  It really could have been any of us.

When we were lined up facing the frothingly angry mom yelling at us to admit who left butter on the fridge, I just wanted to get out of there and have it be over.  My mom dismissed my middle sister saying,

“I know it wasn’t you.  You would never do anything like that.”
Before my very eyes my oldest sister began to be beaten as my mother yelled,
“I know it was you.” 
over and over.  I stood there like a lump of cement unable to move as I hadn’t been excused yet and watching my sister take another beating.  She got the worst of the punishment though noone really had it that easy.  I remember making a decision in my mind that I just couldn’t stand her going through it one more time.  Something in my little four year old heart became an "adult" that day and stepped forward as the "hero".  Now I don’t think that this was a wise decision.  It isn’t one that I should have even have had to make but here it was.

I cried out,

“It was me.  I did it.” 
Like a storm changing course my mother turned on me with force and tore into my body with her words and fists yelling,
“You let me hit her.  You let her take the blame.” 
I really got quite a 'licking' that day but something in me felt a little bigger.  I had chosen a beating on my own and lessoned someone else’s burden.  Not healthy.  Oh, no.  Not healthy at all.  Butter.  It was all about butter.  But the message was much bigger.  No matter what you do you aren’t safe.  You might as well buck up and take it and choose it if you can.  Take the power away from your abuser and become the martyr.

Years later at 34, I went to a Jesus orientated retreat.  Now I hadn’t forgotten the event, but I didn’t live in that moment either.  What I didn’t know is that it was a retreat focused on healing our wounds through the wounds that Jesus received.  In the course of the weekend, we spent a lot of time in solitude. 

During a time of reflection I had an encounter with the Lord that brought me spontaneously back to this memory as though I was living it again.  In this vision the doorbell suddenly rang and my mother answered it.  I was there, 30 years later as me looking upon the three girls and their mom so furious over the dairy product that had been left on the handle of the fridge.

What ensued was a profound moment that I watched like a movie being played out.  With tender fierceness I as an adult, not as a child forced to be an adult, faced my mother and simply said,

 I then went to my three sisters an told them,
“You are safe.” 
Then the scene changed and it was just me with me.

In this "vision", I walked over and knelt beside myself.  It was an overwhelming experience to look at myself through an adults eyes and knowing how much of life was yet to happen. I wanted to pick up the little girl and run off to protect her but knew I couldn‘t.  I knew she would need to walk her life out.  I wrapped my arms around her and rocked her and told her about how Jesus had come for her and would save her.  I told her everything was going to be alright and that she didn’t have to take care of herself anymore that Jesus had come to do that.

I know that sounds like a strange thing to have happen.  I wouldn’t have ever thought an experience like that possible, nor would I have sought it out, but I do know that it was intensely healing to allow the part of me that needed to know I wasn’t alone and had someone that was taking care of me.  It was also powerful to see how innocent I was.  When you are small and always in trouble you just know something is wrong with you, not the vastness of the injustice.  I was able to forgive myself for not being more powerful or more perfect to avoid the punishment in the first place.  Mostly I was able to experience God’s grief over my childhood and see that He had been there hurting over my pain and angry over the mistreatment.  I also saw my mother and she wasn’t so powerful anymore, just a broken woman, needing Jesus.  Through the blood of Jesus the power of death loses its sting and the broken places in our souls are mended.

I wrote a two-part response to this experience. 


Butter on the fridge
Oh, the rampage starts again
A frantic search within
Did I do it?  Was it me?
Don’t remember if I did.
How’s this going to end?

only 4-the little one, the funny one, the one who’s a mistake.

10,6, and 4-  form a line, a straight line.
Terror cloaks their face.

“I didn’t do it.”  whimpered again and again
Amidst shouts of outrage.
Backing away, trying to disappear.

6 is released- the perfect one, the mother one, the one who raises me.

10 and 4- form a line, a straight line.
Terror  cloaks their face.

“I didn’t do it.” whimpered again and again
Amidst shouts of outrage
Backing away, unable to disappear

Screaming.  Cursing.
A confession is required.

Swift strikes- yanking of hair.
10- it must be her.  The naughty one, the scapegoat one, the one who’s beat the most.

4- sucks in breath as though
It is courage.
Tumbling words, bumbling words.

“I did it.  It was me.”
Then braces for full wrath.
Hell hath no fury like 29-
The angry one, the crazy one, the one we cannot trust.

Venomous words-hurled as though stones.
“How could you stand there and let her take it?”
As she turns on 4

Quickness of foot-amidst
“I’m sorry- so sorry.”  sobbed through trembling lips
Ducking head, arms over face.

Fists swing. Full face contact.
Hair in iron claws.
Cursing and two sure blows
aimed into the gut.

Air escapes tiny lungs-ragged little breathes.

29 then leaves.
For now it ends.
10 and 4 embrace- cleave to one another,
Console one another.

This is how they survive
How 10, 6 and 4 survive.

The little one, the perfect one, and the naughty one.
This is what they must survive.



Doorbell rings and I arrive
Push my way in right on time
There they stand- familiar line

Child’s eyes see firm and kind,
Though unyielding in my
Steadfast gaze, at the adult
Worked into a rage.

Terror’s stench heavy in air
Demons freely trodding here

Perfection, rage, control and sorrow
Spoken word
Demands their cower

29, mute and broken- not as large as I remember
“Enough” the only word required
I’m a shield, a buffer zone
To the three stacked neatly in a row

Here to face 29- the drugged one, the cruel one, the one who is no mother.

Then she is gone and I am there
And 4 is just a little girl, so innocent and pure.
Blonde locks and big brown eyes

And we embrace and I breathe life.
He in me as I abide-
For it is I - and I am here
Now 34- the redeemed one, the empowered one, the one with a new name

Not alone.
I’ve come with the Wise one, the Fierce one, the Swift Sure Hand that saves.
This is my chance to bring adoption-
Imparted to 4, while I am rocking
Words of worth and words of hope
Ones of strength- not just to cope.

10, 6 and 4
Someday you will thrive.  Someday this will make you thrive.

(c) 2010 by Rebecca Dunning.
visit www.rebeccadunning.com

The Day My Father Died

I've considered doing this in 2 parts but it would steal the gist of it. (This is an unedited part of my memoir. (c) July 2010

The Day My Father died I was over a thousand miles away probably taking my daughter to ballet or some other normal life activity. I didn’t even know that he’d passed until over two years later, when lying in bed last week, I had the strange urge to Google his name to see if I could find him. What I found was his obituary, the fact that he had been married for 23 years and had two young adult children. Strangely I’d thought of him over the last couple of years with a side-thought of “what if he’s dead?” 

I’d often imagined what it would be like to meet him in a public setting, maybe with my husband, and let him know who I was, what he’d missed out on and what I have become.  I’ve dreamed of extending forgiveness and hearing about his life and perhaps finding out if I ever came to his mind.  Of course, I thought of him the day I walked myself alone down the aisle at my wedding, the day each of my three children were born and then later baptized and other major successes and failures in my life.  But perhaps more painful was the need to have a father whom I had history with and could tell by the tone of my voice if something was off or I could let my “hair down” with on a bad day and not worry about  being judged.  Mostly I just needed to know I was wanted, loved or for crying out loud, even remembered.

My father was in my life until I was a bit over two, when he went to prison for brutally abusing my sister.  I then saw him on one other occasion when I was five and visited him in a maximum security prison so that my sister could be assured that she was safe.

I remember the excitement I felt that I was meeting my dad and the confusion with the tension everyone else was giving off.  I remember my mom saying, “This is the first and last time you will ever meet your dad.”.  From this meeting I had a vague remembrance of his face, complete with mustache and long hair and an orange jumpsuit.  I specifically remember the sound of the clanging of the doors when shut.  Then nothing… there was never even one picture or much talk of him.  I do remember overhearing my mom saying that I had an  “evil streak” like him when I was young.  I didn’t know what that meant, but did know he’d been a bad man, so I knew something was definitely wrong with me.

Though I knew he was the "most horrid of convicted felons", a drug addict and had been continually violent, he was still my dad and I longed to know where I’d come from, what I’d gotten from him and why I felt so different from my mom and half sister’s whom I’d been raised with as true-blood sisters.  When someone is your dad, well they just are….

When I was sixteen my mom took me out for lunch once and I asked her about him and she said, “There were a lot of great things about your dad.  He loved life and threw his head back when he laughed like you do and you have his long strong legs and move like him.”  That was really wonderful to hear that there was something redemptive about him as I’d always felt like I was a bad seed and that a vile DNA strand somehow ran through my soul.

With my mom being a drug addict at the time herself, married many times and having lots of other felons for boyfriends, I felt much like an orphan my entire life.  I often wondered if the bits and pieces I'd stitched together were a real picture of the man that gave me life.

Around that same time I'd talked with my mom, I went in to rent a movie at a small store in my town and a woman asked me if So-and-So was my uncle.  I responded with, “No, he’s my dad.”  She then said, “Yes, I see the resemblance.  He lives such-and-such and carries a gun.”  I said, “Yep, that sounds like him.”

After a futile time of trying to find him when I was 22 after I  had come to know Jesus, I gave up and thought that maybe the future would hold a meeting with him.

Fast forward 14 years, and I find myself weeping at 1 in the morning with the fresh news of his death, the hopes of meeting him and the regrets of not spiraling through my heart. It would and could never happen.  I found a five minute slide show tribute to him and watched it several times seeing myself in his face, specifically his smile.  I also saw the new life he’d created with a wife and children and scratched my head.

I wept that I wasn’t at his funeral, that I was mentioned in his obituary and wallowed in the rawness of feeling alone in regards to having a father.  I cried out to The Father giving him permission to come and heal the hole in my soul that I’d resisted allowing before.  I'd never known until this very moment that I had the need to that depth.

Well, I cried for three more days until we left for a three day camping event called Worship at 8500 with our spiritual family.  Everything felt so raw.  The loneliness and alienation I thought was mostly dealt with in my life was rearing it’s ugly head.  It seemed like everyone was talking about how so and so was there spiritual father and what it meant to have a spiritual parent.  This type of talk was like nails on a chalkboard for me.

See when I was 22 and had come into the family of God, I’d worked with a ministry almost from day one.  The talk of having spiritual fathers was thrown around like candy and our “mandate” was to parent the youth of the nation… I know puke right?- slightly

What I didn’t know at the time was what a healthy family was like.  The environment was controlling and manipulative, lording over and down-right spiritual abuse.  Even our personal time was monitored and controlled  and scripture was often used to keep us in line.  Among certain leaders there was a tremendous amount of sexual perversion.  Additionally, I  worked 90 hour work weeks but it was never enough and when I left, just like those before me, my name was slandered to all those I’d poured my life into across the nation.  Those of us who “got out” have spent the last 12 years putting our hearts back together, trying to love Jesus and heal those who got out after us. (Side note:  There were some lovely people and times associated with this time in my life).

Those two years were some of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned thus far and made me go back to the basics of Jesus.  However, it also tainted certain words, like ‘father‘, ‘daughter’ etc. in light of following Jesus.

Fast forward to last week, when I found myself grieving the permanent loss of my father, in the midst of this camping weekend around all of these really free people using terminology I had banned from my vocabulary.  However, I sat in one of the light teaching sessions and heard a plethora of people I know quite well talking about what having a spiritual parent was and more importantly wasn’t.  I was in a quandary.  I wanted and needed this in my life, but never wanted someone to lord over me again.  I didn’t want to lose what I felt was the peer relationship with those around me.  (My husband and I took to calling people that spoke into our lives “mentors” or said stuff like “he’s like a brother or an uncle” and other such terminology that felt safe.  Yet I saw how free these people were and how their faces literally glowed.

God even brought one of them into my life through the back door by having us work together on publishing my first book.  Over the course of months, I saw this particular leader as honest, humble and genuinely interested in my well being and not just saying it to lure me in like I’d experienced in prior ministry.

I spent a lot of time pondering and praying before I took the step of asking a man that was this particular man’s spiritual father, to give me a 'father’s blessing'. (meaning praying over me like a father and speaking words of blessing over me).  This was a huge step for me but so worth it as he asked me to renounce verbally judgments I’d made against God and people and then blessed me like only a Father can.  It was quite nice if I am honest.

For the next day I ruminated over what I felt like God was asking me to do.  I was trying to stay off the open mics and away from any area that would require me to publically declare my need for what was being freely offered. I sat in the group discussions and kept 100% mum.   However, on the last night, bam, right in the middle of the worship set, this man I’d walked with for several years casually and then closer for months on my book, stops and opens the mic for anyone to share.

I found myself pulled to the mic, confessing my need, hurt and desire in regards to family and being fathered, giving permission for this man and others to speak into my life.  I think the stronghold was so huge in my life that a public declaration in humility was the only thing that would have allowed me to be free in this, though, I must say I was so embarrassed.  It was extremely comforting to have countless people come up and share how they struggled with the same concepts and needed to hear this too.

After leaving the event, I felt like a wrung out rag emotionally and came home to find an email from my half sister.  I’d found her on Facebook on a whim after seeing her name in the obituary and she asked me if I was the daughter of her father.  She went on to say that he’d tried to find me for nearly 20 years.

In the course of our messaging I discovered not only did he remember me, but he had pictures of me and had showed them to his children.  He’d missed me and loved me and had hopes of finding me.  He even had tried to pursue me after the friend who saw my driver’s license had told him about our encounter.  He’d been gone for a week trying to locate me, but was in the end unsuccessful because I was enrolled in the school under a step father’s name, even though I’d never legally taken the name on.

I wept as I read these words from this girl, who may never know how much I needed to hear them.  She mentioned that he was a talented artist, which gave me such a tremendous sense of knowing where I’d come from and why I have the creative bent I’ve always had.  I find myself driving down the road with the words, “He wanted me.” or “I was wanted” rolling around in my spirit.  There have been few days that I haven’t shed many a tear just knowing that my dad knew my name and thought enough about me that he told others about me.

I’ve been able to form a new picture of my father as well.  Among other things, he’d never had a job when he was with my mom and for almost 20 years he held the same position.  And from what my half sister says, loved life and was good to them.

Most importantly, I have been able to move past the slippery sense of the Heavenly Father’s love for me.  By that I mean, it always has been slightly allusive to me, surely never free and never quite “sticking”. In my asking publicly for family and Fatherhood, I received this precious gift of knowing my earthly father wanted me, remembered me and sought me out.  When I heard these truths the questions that haunted my life in the natural and in my relationship with God have been answered in a way I’ve never been able to experience.  I’ve always secretly questioned my existence, my worth, whether I was wanted or not, thought of or not, important and so on.  When I received the truth of my human father, a greater reality took over. 

For the first time in my life I know I am longed for, desired, wanted and sought out.  I have a picture in my head of the Heavenly Father waiting longingly to release this gift at just the right time, not unlike me as a mom when I have saved, plotted, eavesdropped and otherwise scavenged for the perfect gift for my children for Christmas morning just for their delight.

It is difficult to put into words something so new and not fully processed, but being a writer, a lot is worked out in me as I put pen to paper and allow my mind to go on auto pilot and the "real me: share the inner thoughts.  Even still, how do I put physical words to something that is invisible?  One way of saying it is this: If I could have asked for anything in life, it would have been this.

I have such a sense as I write this of His overwhelming desire for us, His hurt when we are away from Him, and  His perfect, unconditional, unchanging love for us.  We are His and He is ours.  We are not mistakes that have been redeemed, but instead we are planned in the heart of a loving Father and that will not and cannot change. 

I am sure more is coming…  thanks for reading. Would love to hear your comments or personal stories.

To find out dates were I will be doing book signings for The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter go to www.rebeccadunning.com.

Team Abolition

This is a pet project my husband, Clint and I are working on.  We are forming a relationally based team of folks with like minds for anti-human trafficking.  Read on.

What is Team Abolition?
A growing group of local, national and international friends who walk, run, climb, hike, bike and do completive races in Colorado and beyond.  The group is connected by a common thread:  to bring awareness to human trafficking. There are no dues to belong and each member is connected by a group on Facebook or relationally.  In Colorado each person is invited to races and climbs Clint and Rebecca are attending or helping promote.  Members purchase the jersey at cost and pay their own entry fees if applicable. They then take and send photos with details of the event to Rebecca Dunning. She then uses the photos in press releases, blog posts, articles for 24-7, the Gazette and other networking sites including but not limited to Digg, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, BlogFrog, Mixx, My Space, Technoratti and community calendars thus bringing awareness to your business’ work in the area of justice and to the issue of slavery itself.
What is 24-7prayer?
24-7 Prayer is an international, interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice that began with a single, student-led prayer vigil in England in 1999 and has spread, by word-of-mouth, into 100+ nations. For more than a decade the global 24-7 Prayer meeting has continued unbroken, impacting locations as diverse as the US Naval Academy, a German punk festival, war-zones and underground churches, the slums of Delhi, the jungles of Papua New Guinea, ancient English cathedrals and even a brewery in Missouri. Visit www.24-7prayer.com.
What is Just24?
  Simply a collection of international friends helping 24-7prayer get hold of issues of social justice. The concept of marrying prayer and social justice isn't new for 24-7. Justice and Mercy always have been part of our movement, in the prayer room, and into practical action in our communities.  Focus includes homelessness, HIV/AIDS, poverty and human trafficking.
This is where YOU come in:  100% of the funds raised for Just24 go directly to anti-human trafficking
Platinum Sponsorship: 1 available @ $2000- (This has been filled by Artisan Decorative Finishes)
  • Largest logo on the jerseys and other social media, Platinum sponsorship certificate to frame in your office space, Key logo positioning in the promotional video shot on Team Abolition (including personal interview) and in all other press releases.
Gold Sponsorship:  2 available @ $1000
  • Second largest logo on the jerseys and other social media, Gold sponsorship certificate to frame in your office space, Logo positioning in the promotional video shot on Team Abolition and in all other press releases.
Bronze Sponsorship:  1 available @ $500 (FREEDOM CHIROPRACTIC HAS TAKEN ONE SPONSORSHIP)
  • Logo on the jerseys and name mentioned in all other social media, Bronze sponsorship certificate to frame in your office space, name positioning in the promotional video shot on Team Abolition and in all other press releases.
Regardless of your level of sponsorship, 24-7 prayer is a 501c3 organization for your tax purposes and perhaps more importantly you’ll receive the tremendous satisfaction of helping set captives free.
Contact:  Rebecca Dunning e: dunning.rebecca@gmail.com c: 719.287.7074
Target Goal: Raise $5000 for Just 24, the Justice Initiative of 24-7prayer.com
Please let me know if you would like to join Team Abolition or become a sponsor.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fair-Trade and Anti-Slavery Shopping: Where to Begin

Working a bit in the area of anti-human trafficking, I get a lot of questions about fair-trade shopping and how to be sure you are not purchasing slave made products.  In light of that, I thought that I’d put something together to refer folks to that will point them in the right direction.
This whole thing can seem pretty overwhelming at first, so take a deep breath and begin the journey with the obvious at first.  (You don’t need to necessarily shred every item of clothing you wear for instance)
  • I started with chocolate, coffee and candy.  We do not, nor do our kids eat anything made by the corporate villain, Nestle or companies like them.  Cocoa and coffee beans are one of the most slave/non fair wage areas of cash crops in the world.  It’s easy to pick up something at Wholefoods and not even need to worry about checking as they have already done it for you.  However, your local grocery store will carry, Endangered Species, which is rated an A+ by Ellis Jones in The Better World Shopping Guide.- Pick up a copy of the book, which has a lot of web site links that will educate you, and find out how companies are rated and why. 
  • By and large I buy gifts that are local (by artisans that are into the same mojo), or certified fair-trade.  Not only am I supporting local business, but I am getting unique things that often give back to developing countries. 
  • If you are ever getting screen printing on t-shirts for your team or organization, insist on getting the printer to verify that they are fair trade. I know Gildan and No Sweat has taken a stand among others.  FYI:  I do not shop at Sam’s Club or Walmart, for there is indeed a cost to someone for our cheap prices. Dillards is also a deceptively sweatshop orientated clothier.
  • Another easy thing would be to make sure that your diamond purchases are not blood diamonds.  Don’t take a verbal promise when purchasing that special lady her engagement ring but insist on seeing certification.  Check out Global Witness who first made the link to diamonds and wars including the use of slaves for mining.
The above is simply to point people in the right direction but you can go as deep into the rabbit hole as you are willing.  A tip for the road: Educate people with patience and kindness in light of your convictions and enjoy the free conscience that comes with your next delicious chocolate bar.
~ Thanks for reading.
To find out more about Rebecca or see where you can purchase her books, The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter, go to www.rebeccadunning.com.