Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My heart on recent events...

Today as yet another story of abuse comes out of fundamentalism my heart is breaking. When people for whatever reason "look up to" (or what ever you want to call it) someone to the point of putting them on a pedestal they get their eyes off God and start to worship man. When enough people do this for someone they start to think that they can say and do anything they want. In the process many are hurt.

I'm saddened by the many stories that I hear of people in positions of power within the church abusing their power, and thereby hurting many. I'm saddened that when people go to someone for the help that they need (often because they have already endured abuse) that they end up being hurt by those that they trusted to help them.

The church needs to wake up!!!! I just can't say this strongly enough! Stop putting men in the place of God! All men (including pastors) are human and need to have accountability! Stop blaming the victim, and start taking responsibility for your actions. Do the RIGHT thing!

To the victims out there. Please do not give up hope! There is hope for complete healing!!! I will blog soon about that, but please know this is true! Also, please know that not all pastors/churches/Christians are that way. There are those who will love you through the pain and help you to find the healing you so desperately need! Don't give up! You are loved!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Renewed Hope

I've been in kind of a funk...I admit it. (I know I'm not alone in this right now because I have several friends who have been there too) I have been just overwhelmed with all the stuff going on in my life, and in the lives of the people I care about. I just have felt drained.

I went to church today just empty...I just don't have any other word to describe it. I felt like I had given to my baby girl, given to friends, given to those who are hurting, and pretty much just given out... I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way at times. I think I just lost focus and was overwhelmed by the amount of pain I've been seeing. I love people and hate seeing them in pain especially if that pain could have been avoided by others (especially religious leaders) doing right.

I walked in the doors just praying that God would do something in my life because I knew that my "emptiness" was really starting to get to me and therefore it was affecting my family. God answered. I don't really know how to begin, but worship was amazing this morning, and God really used the worship time to speak to me. One of the songs we sang was a favorite of mine, but once again God used it to remind me where my focus needed to be and where I needed to run!

I love how music can change us, transform us, and help to renew our minds. I needed the reminder of who my God is (Good, love, light, hope, etc...) and I needed the reminder of where to run (right into His arms). I know that this doesn't change my circumstances, but it does change my focus, and help to renew my hope in the God that loves me and cares for me. I hope it encourages you too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Losing Hope

It is so easy to lose hope. I think we have all done it at one point or another in our lives. We get overwhelmed with the "junk" that is going on all around us and we just don't see a way out. I've recently been corresponding with someone who reminded me of this part of my journey, so I thought I'd share it here in case it could help someone else.

I remember being ready to just give up because I  had been "attacked",  ignored, or encouraged to do something that I thought would be morally wrong by the "spiritual authorities" in my life. It seemed that they were more interested in protecting those that had hurt me than in seeing the truth revealed and crimes punished. If that was what "Christianity" was (judging, nasty, in my face, outright lying about me, protecting criminals, etc...) and if that's how God was (they represent Him right?), then I was done!!! I know I'm not alone in this! 

I'm so thankful that I have been able to see who the real God is! The God I serve is not one that can be manipulated into loving me more by what I do or don't do, what I listen to, how often I go to church, what I wear, what version of the Bible I read, etc... He loves me simply because I exist! I went into a deep period of searching to see who God really is because I had to know. Jeremiah 29:13 promises that if we seek for God we will find Him. What I found and really continue to find is that I am loved, valued, and treasured simply because I exist. God isn't a God who comes judging when we mess up, but a God who seeks to lovingly restore (there are so many examples of this in the Bible). 

Don't lose hope in God because of what church leaders or other "Christians" have done or said. Not all Christians are this way, and not everyone who claims to be a "Christian" really is. Contrary to what you might have heard no one church has absolute truth while everyone else is wrong. Do some searching. Search for who God is yourself, and look at other churches. I was amazed by how freeing this was for our family! Most of all don't give up hope because of your pain, there is joy on the other side!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Examples of Hope

I think we as humans relate to others who have been in the same or similar circumstances who have overcome and made it to the other side. Seeing where others have conquered gives us hope! Sometimes all it takes is hearing about how someone has walked that same tough road and been victorious to give us that necessary glimpse of hope that we need!

I was reading yesterday and once again came across the story in Mark 5:25-34 where the woman who was very sick had hope that Jesus would heal her. She had been suffering for 12 years and had yet to find relief even though she had been under the care of many different doctors. I think at this point I might have wanted to give up! She heard about Jesus and how he had healed others and decided that he might be able to heal her too. She didn't give up hope! She placed her hope (probably her last one) in Jesus because she caught just a glimpse of what He could do! She was rewarded with complete healing!

Think about the story of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers into slavery, and then cast into jail for something he didn't do, and then he was forgotten by someone who promised he would remember him and try to help. I think it would have been easy to give up hope and live in despair down in that jail cell. Instead Joseph believed that God would somehow save him, and chose to do the best he could where he was. He was eventually promoted to a place of honor.

Sometimes I look at those stories from the Bible and think yeah, but that was so long ago. Could that really help me today? Things were so different then, it wasn't so hard to believe that something good could happen from all this bad. There are so many present day real life stories that could be told. There are so many countless people who have lived through things that should never have happened and yet have come out to be wonderful people who live relatively normal lives. I think of people like Tyler Perry, Maya Angelou, Joyce Meyer and many others who have overcome and seek to change the world to make it a better place. They seek to do something beneficial with their pain to bring hope to others. I pray that my story will also inspire others and give hope.

If you are struggling to see hope, look around! No matter how you feel you are not alone!! There are so many people dealing with pain, some just hide it better than others. Find that glimpse of hope and hang on to it! True healing can sometimes be a painful process, but is so worth it! I'm here to tell you that there is hope for a full and amazing life after the pain of horrible abuse! I'm living proof of that! 

Friday, July 13, 2012


I am in the process of doing a study on the topic of hope, so I'm sure that this is only the first of many posts on this topic! We all talk about hope and how we need it. Do we know what it really is? Where is our hope, how does it stay secure? These and many other questions have been mulling around in my mind (hence one of the reasons for the study).

Hope can be defined as:
   1. The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: 
     2. A person or thing in which expectations are centered: (the medicine was her last hope)

It is really easy to lose hope when things are spinning out of control. Sometimes you just can't see that there is any hope for things to get better. Please know there is ALWAYS hope! When David was at some of his lowest points in life he sought to remember God was his hope. In Psalms 42 and 43 he re-writes the same thing 3 different times. (Sometimes I think things like that are for people like me who need to hear it more than once!) In these verses he writes: 

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

If you are struggling I would encourage you to start reading these 2 chapters over and over again. Know that it is normal to struggle! It is normal to have good times and bad times! It is even normal to question God and ask him "Where are you?". Just remember there is ALWAYS hope! If you are struggling look for even the slightest glimpse of hope and hold on to it! You can make it! You are loved!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Real Change Looks Like ~ Part 2

This is a continuation of a post that can be found here. I would like to again make a disclaimer that this is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list of things that can and should be done.

Something I really think needs to be understood and acknowledged is that many times the person who enables the abuse is just as bad as the abuser. This enabling can be done in many different ways. The enabler can allow a known abuser around their own children. The enabler can knowingly allow an abuser to be in a position within an organization that lends itself to trust (such as a visible position at church) and thereby potentially endangering more children. When it is a parent or another authority figure that is the enabler it puts the child in a situation to feel like there is no where to turn. My caution is to be careful with allowing known abusers to have any sort of position of trust (even just being an usher at church) especially around children! I think that those who have enabled known abusers also owe victims that have been harmed because of their enabling an apology, and really even those who were potentially put in harms way as well.

One thing that I believe is ESSENTIAL for change is to change one's mindset. In order to do this you have to begin to see things differently. I believe that churches and other Christian organizations that have been impacted by abuse NEED a 3rd party to come in and evaluate. Bringing an organization such as G.R.A.C.E. will help any ministry see where things have gone bad, and how the situation can be rectified. I also believe that they can help to give a godly perspective that may differ from how things are currently viewed. If someone from the "outside" is not brought in nothing will change. Without a proper understanding of what abuse is, that it is NOT the fault of the victim, and without a true understanding of various aspects of abuse there will not be change either.

While I know that there are many other areas that I could touch on, and that I only hit basics this is where I choose to stop for now. Change is NECESSARY! My prayer is that churches, schools, parents, and anyone with access to children will come to understand the dynamics of abuse, and see the need to change to help prevent it. I believe that part of prevention is in understanding how abuse happens, and even some of how predators pick victims. We ALL have a responsibility to do our best to protect the next generation of children from the horrifying effects of abuse.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Real Change Looks Like ~ Part 1

Change is a word that is often used in today's society, and something that a lot of people are calling for in many different aspects of life. Real change can not happen unless a person or a group of people is willing to admit that they were wrong, there is a problem, and that they need to be part of the solution. I seemed to have opened up a big "can of worms" so to speak with my last post and I'd like to BRIEFLY discuss what change could look like for churches, schools, and organizations that have been dealing with abuse in any form in a less than perfect way.

I want to be clear that this is not directed at anyone, nor is it me offering unsolicited advice to those who couldn't care less what I have to say. This is just my perspective as a "victim" of this kind of horror who knows what it is like to walk the tough road of healing. These are things that from either my perspective, or God's perspective or both that would help victims in the healing process.

The very first step I believe is to ADMIT there is a problem, and stop trying to hide and cover the problem. Here's the thing...many churches have hid the problem to "protect the name of Christ" and in so doing have done much more harm. Abuse in every form is a major problem that needs to be addressed and  REPORTED!

The second step is to seek to rectify the wrongs that have been done. There are many ways that this can be done, and I'm not going to go into every one of them, but a basic start is to ask for forgiveness and sincerely apologize to those who have been hurt. This would include a public apology if for one reason or another the victim was "smeared" publicly. I believe this would include doing these actions even for a victim who for one reason or another seems to "not deserve it". Let me assure you that no matter what a victim does the abuse was NOT their fault. Different people react to pain differently, and it may be that the person who has hurt them seeking their forgiveness could change the lives of those who have been abused. Remember you can't see inside anyone's heart (I Samuel 16:7 ~ Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart).

It is also ESSENTIAL that any person or organization REPORT any instance of abuse. It is up to the police not anyone else to determine the validity of the accusation.

After reviewing the empirical literature concerning the frequency of false allegations of sexual abuse, Mikkelsen, Gutheil, and Emens concluded: “False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents are statistically uncommon, occurring at the rate of 2 to 10 percent of all cases.” Mikkelsen, E.J., T.G. Gutheil, and M Emens: False Sexual-Abuse Allegations by Children and Adolescents: Contextual Factors and Clinical Subtypes.American Journal of Psychotherapy 46: 556-70, 1992.

Another study showed that children tend to minimize or deny abuse, not exaggerate it. (Check this site for more info) In order for victims to feel safe, and to protect others from becoming potential victims reporting MUST happen.

This is just a start...Part 2 will look at other essential steps to take...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Real Attempt at Change or a "Show Window"?

This blog is not one that is or will be characterized by criticizing others. My intention is not to call people out in a public way or bash in any way. However, from time to time (right now being one of those times) I feel like I really have to share my heart and my concerns.

I feel like fundamentalism and really Christianity as a whole is really getting a wake up call from God telling them that the way they have handled sexual, and really any kind of abuse is NOT ok. Now would be the perfect time to re-train those in leadership how they should really respond when they find out that abuse has occurred. NOW is the time to bring in people from OUTSIDE to give a very different perspective. NOW is the time to talk to those who have been victimized within the church to gain a perspective on how they feel about what happened, and their ideas on how it could be changed. NOW is the time for complete change!

The mindset of  "Our way is the ONLY Biblical way" is wrong, and quite frankly it's one thing that is holding back fundamentalism from true change. Just because someone listens to different music than you do, reads a different version of the Bible than you do, wears different clothes than you do, or interprets passages of Scripture differently than you do does NOT mean that they aren't a good Christian or that they don't love Jesus as much as you do. I can remember being taught (as do many others from where I grew up) that our church was the only one in town that really preached the Gospel. This simply wasn't true, and quite frankly this mindset really hurt the church in the eyes of the community.

All of this to get to my real point...Within fundamentalism there is an upcoming conference at one of their "hubs". While I think that it is a good thing that they are finally at least discussing the issue, from the line up of speakers it seems like it could be "business as usual" (I HOPE I'm proved wrong about this!!!). While I do not know every speaker it seems as though most (if not all) are or have been associated with the "University" where the conference is being held in some way. There are 2 HUGE things notably missing from their "line up" of seminars. First would be a seminar on how to go back and attempt to rectify the problems in the past and seek the forgiveness of those that have been hurt within these ministries. The second is something from someone who at one time was a victim, but has come out on the other side and can help them see through the "eyes of a victim" when dealing with these situations.

I'm not typically a cynical person, but on this issue I'm so passionate! Although I experienced horrible abuses throughout my life I have overcome with God's help and am able to live a normal, productive life. Because of what I endured my desire is to help others find the freedom and healing that I have experienced. I'm praying for this conference and those that attend it because I'm so afraid from what I see that it could potentially do more harm than good...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Update on our Youngest Daughter

We are just over 2 weeks past our surgery, and our youngest daughter is doing so well! I'm constantly amazed by how strong and amazing this little girl is! While we have had several bumps in the road so to speak during the last 2 weeks the hardest part is keeping her relatively still!

Soon after surgery we discovered that she could not tolerate narcotic pain relievers because they were making her oxygen levels drop too low, so within about 36 hours post surgery she was on tylenol and advil only. We went home from that point because I found it easier to keep up on those things at home! Within a couple days of being home we noticed that the area around her incision was red and "blistered". It turns out she had an allergic reaction to the stitches. The easiest and therefore best course of action was just to pump her full of benadryl, so that's what we did. All along this road our precious girl has been amazingly tough and even cheerful! The incision is now healing nicely, and we are only needing the benadryl and pain killers a couple times a day!

Today we visited with her phenomenal pulmonologist. We were hoping to be able to start reducing her daily meds. Unfortunately this did not happen... Her lung function numbers were up (Praise God!), but not up into the "normal" range yet. So, for now we continue with all of her normal meds and try to give her body a chance to heal. We are scheduled to go back at the end of August for another evaluation, and are hoping at that time her numbers will be up into the normal range!

I can't thank those of you who have been supporting us and praying for us enough! I know that God has a special plan for this little girl's life, and I'm excited to see it! We would be lost without the knowledge that God loves her so much and is protecting her. We are trusting Him to completely restore health to our little girl!