In my early adult years I did not always love God and myself. My family's love has respect and differences of lifestyle across the miles.

One Christmas I was celebrating Christmas with my Central New Jersey parents. I had broken up with my boyfriend who didn't seem to love me because he had given me a black eye. I could not tell him that I was not his "love machine."

Coalition Against Rape and Abuse here in Cape May County has a phrase: "There's no excuse for abuse."

My parents had eaten a meal with my boyfriend's mother, who visited from Georgia. So, when the cycle of abuse showed itself again as a 10-speed woman's bicycle gift, I shed tears.

My ex-boyfriend's name was Bill, and he had dropped the gift at my parents' house.

The bike was definitely useful for many years. I finally broke up with Bill permanently over 30 years ago. God has allowed me to forgive myself and Bill for our completely unloving relationship.

I am thankful that I learned the geography of Central New Jersey on long-distance bike rides. I used to travel from Flemington to New Hope, Pa. and from Flemington to Somerville.

The heart muscle I developed on long distance rides is in God's hands.

Merry Christmas.