We Have To Talk About It (Bill Cosby and Other Sexual Predators)

This morning, I woke up to see the above video hanging out in my subscription news feed. I’ve been following the Bill Cosby rape allegations somewhat, with a keen interest in the outcome. Quite frankly, I’m convinced he’s guilty. Looking at the legal process he’s chosen to take and the amount of back peddling he’s done, it appears to be an open and shut case. I do believe that false allegations of sexual abuse happen daily from vindictive and angry people, but I don’t believe this is one of those cases especially given the bigger picture here. None of these women can try him in court. All are claiming the abuse happened during a time when the legal system was even more deeply flawed than it is now, and female victims weren’t even properly heard by law enforcement. Men won out in nearly every case. Now the media’s open to discussing sex abuse and I have to admit, I’m very pleased by this.

I understand this is an unpopular and uncomfortable topic, but it’s been kept under wraps for so long because it is uncomfortable to discuss rape, molestation, sexual abuse. It’s severely damaged victims, survivors and the legal processes, allowing for convictions against abusers.

We have to talk about this and look at it. We can’t keep our heads in the sand any longer. Doing so is harming both victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

I feel called to talk about this issue and put it out there a lot to you, Brothers and Sisters. I don’t care what the implications are towards me. I’m not a weak person. I’ve survived a lot. I want the laws to change. I grieve for these women who are finally able to speak out and be believed. I’m so lucky that at age 10, I was believed by law enforcement and action was taken; however, on the flip side of being believed, in Curry County, my abuser received little more than a rap on the wrist at the time. My step-father raped my handicapped sister, molested my younger brother and sexually abused me for more than 6 years and only received 90 days in the Curry County Jail and was released daily for work! If that’s not a lack of justice served, I don’t know what is! He was allowed to come back into the home 4 years later, legally. He still denies raping my sister, and attempts to minimize the amount of abuse he’s inflicted upon me. I seriously doubt that we were the only three children he ever victimized.

We as a society can no longer deny the lasting, life long impact of sexual abuse, whether the victim is a child or an adult. We can no longer silence or shame victims. The ability of the media to inform the masses about uncomfortable, yet poignant topics like sexual abuse has done nothing but good for victims. It’s empowered us to seek the help we desperately need – and I do use the term “we” because we are a community. We understand each other to an extent, on a level deeper than non-victims ever will be able to. Thus, we need to stand strong together and lift one another up, whether the abuse is fresh or decades old. This is the only way I believe change will happen.

To the 15 women (or more at the time you’re reading this) who have stood tall and spoken up about the abuse inflicted upon you by Bill Cosby, I salute you, brave Soldiers of Justice. March on. I’m right there with you!

To all the victims of sexual abuse, past, present (and unfortunately, future) – I’m right there with you as well. Let me know how I can help. I’ll certainly be lifting you up in prayer. Remember: the abuse was not your fault! You did not “ask” for it. 

Let’s pray: God we lift up to you all victims of abuse. We ask for Your comfort and Your healing. We ask for Justice to be served and for You to surround victims and survivors with Your loving care. The world can be so cruel, but we trust in You to provide solace and rest to each of us. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Old Wives’ Tales and Other Pregnancy Updates

Tomorrow I will hit my 13 week mark in this pregnancy. It’s kind of surreal, since my last two pregnancies ended before the second month, and the one before those ended at 6 weeks. (We didn’t discover it until I was 12 weeks along – just two days before Christmas 2010. I had a D&C on New Year’s Eve.)  I’ve been holding my breath this entire pregnancy, posting happy updates online, but in reality, reluctant to bond fully with baby. It’s just too painful to consider yet another loss. Here we are though, on the cusp of week 13 and I find myself desperately wanting to celebrate and to breathe deeply. If not for my sanity alone, then for the sake of this beautiful life growing inside of me.

About a month ago, Anthony and I went to the hospital for my eight week ultrasound and I was surprised by my reaction. I hesitate to share this, but I want to be relatable to anyone else who may have experienced similar feelings – I saw the baby on the sonogram machine and cried. I was shocked that it was still alive, and completely amazed to see a tiny heart steadily beating!  I could accept that it had died. That was easy, but to see life on the screen? Unexpected! This is my seventh pregnancy and this will be my third baby.

8 week sonogram

As far as feeling those precious little baby kicks – I have been feeling them for a little over a week now. It’s been amazing and has made this pregnancy feel even more real. It’s been a huge blessing and has really caused me to face the fact that I need to begin bonding with baby Jackson/Roosevelt. The girls are both anxiously awaiting the time when they’ll be able to feel baby kicking, too.

Yesterday I was on Pinterest, looking up some of the fun gender prediction tests that I could do at home. I’ve seen several on YouTube and most have carried mixed results. The one I was most interested in was the baking soda test. My test result looked very similar to the one pictured! I’d never seen baking soda fizz and bubble that much before and it was loud! I used first morning urine (at 3:45 am) this morning. Yes, baby #3 has me on a strange schedule.

One of the really neat ideas I saw on Pinterest is to track the results of the gender prediction tests and post them at the baby shower. I modified this a bit because I have a small photo album for each of my kids and I wanted to place this inside of Jackson/Roosevelt’s album. So, without further ado, here’s the chart I made:

Gender Prediction Chart

I found the Chinese Calendar on Baby Center.com I conceived on September 7th and I’m 31. So, boy. You can see that so far 3/4 of the tests predict a little mister. Anthony is pretty pleased with himself. He’s hoping for a boy and I’ve been praying for more than two years for a son for him. We will officially find out via ultrasound sometime in mid January and I’ll be more than happy to update you all on that.

So what about you? What gender prediction tests have you heard of? Which ones have you tried? Which ones would you be interested in learning more about or seeing me try? Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t Believe the Lies, Mama

My husband and I are blessed with two amazing, beautiful girls. They’re so full of love, kindness and compassion. Both girls are sensitive and caring. Sometimes I look at them and I wonder how and why I became so blessed. Me, who is completely undeserving of anything good in this life. Yes, those are my thoughts more often than I would like to admit. Do you ever feel like this, too? Do you ever look at your children, your inheritance from the Lord, and wonder “Why God? Are You sure You knew what You were doing?”

Growing up, I don’t really remember feeling all that special except on Christmas and my birthdays. Most days I just felt like I was in the way all the time and to be honest, I was completely embarrassed about who I was. Nothing I wore was right, my body was a funny shape, I weighed too much, I laughed too loud, and I wasn’t very smart. Everything I did was wrong somehow. Fast forward to now and I still feel the same way most days. In my own mind, I’m the worst parent in the world and I have no business having kids. Why? Well, I gave my kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the sixth school lunch in a row. I have a large load of laundry sitting in my living room that needs put away and I keep falling asleep every afternoon while the kids are doing their homework. I’m pregnant and exhausted and need much more help than I want to admit this time around. When Theresa, my seven-year old asked her tenth question in a row the other day, I cut her off and told her “no more questions!” I would’ve encouraged her curiosity, but frankly, I was exhausted and my brain wanted to shut down.

When I have these feelings of inadequacy, my first tendency is to believe the lie that I’m an unfit mother. It’s difficult to accept that these are normal parts of life. I don’t want to be normal. I want to be the best Mother ever for my children. I want to have a clean house at all hours of the day, make an organic home cooked meal from scratch every night and spend hours answering all their questions because that feeds their inquisitive minds, but that’s not a realistic picture of daily parenting, and I’m often falling completely short and feeling disappointed with myself. Sometimes I just have to tell the critical voice inside my head to hush up! I can’t be all those things all the time, especially at this stage in life. And that’s okay.

If you’re like me and having a hard time loving yourself and affirming your positive qualities, I want you to take some time to make a list of at least 10 things you’ve done right this week. Then go hug your kiddos and tell them how much you love them. Don’t believe the lies, Mama. You’re not a terrible mother. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, I lift up Mothers everywhere to You and ask that You would comfort us in our moments of feeling inadequate. Remind us who we are in You. Thank You for the blessing of children. Thank You for all the work You have done and are doing in our lives. In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.

Ten things I’ve done right this week:

  1. Daily affirmations for my children as I drop them off at school. (I’ve only missed 1 or 2 days this entire school year!) 🙂 I remind them that “You are beautiful. You are smart. You are important. You are a daughter of God. No one can make you feel bad without your consent. Mama loves you. You’re going to have an awesome day!”
  2. I feed my kids fruit for their after school snack
  3. I read 3 chapters of Bambi to the girls last night instead of the usual 1 chapter
  4. I allowed the girls to choose their own dinner last night. They ate it all! WOOHOO!
  5. They ate a hot breakfast this morning
  6. I cuddled Theresa on the couch last night
  7. I let Chelsea make her own PB&J sandwich Monday. She was really proud of herself and was glad I stood there watching her doing big girl things
  8. I helped Chelsea write her very first letter to Santa last night. She was so proud of herself.
  9. I ask the girls about their day and high-five them on their accomplishments
  10. I made a pie with the girls last week for our church’s holiday bazaar. They were really excited to drop off their creation for sale.

Victim and Survivor Shaming Must Stop

Victim and survivor shaming must stop. It’s imperative to the health and welfare of all victims past and current of any type of abuse, domestic, emotional, spiritual and sexual, for the shaming to stop immediately. We must be allowed to tell our stories. We must be allowed to tell them accurately and as honestly as possible. We must be allowed to tell them as often as we feel called to. We must be allowed to tell them in public, online, in books, in stories, in private and to friends and family. We must be allowed to be heard, whether our abuser is a celebrity, family member, friend or stranger. We must not be continually questioned as to the validity of our statements. Even when something is remembered only partway, there is a valid reason for that – the event was traumatic and as a result, the formations in our brains were changed dramatically. Our brains may not want to retain the information, so it attempts to lock it away in a deep dark corner, like stuffing something revolting into the bottom of the trash in order to dispose of it entirely. There is no way to completely dispose of trauma, except to heal from it and move forward. Otherwise, we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of running from it only to find we’re actually running in circles, gaining no actual ground. There is no road behind us except that which is well worn by our own souls – the same sights, smells, tastes, memories on repeat.

When we’re allowed to tell our stories, we take the power away from the event little by little. We effectively state that we are no longer stuck in the past but are actively moving towards a brighter future. We build in our community, hope. For each survivor that speaks out, another victim is listening, gaining strength to someday break free from their own hell and begin to tell their own story. The path to healing is paved by the bravery of the freed survivors – those who were not silenced by hatred and shaming but spoke up anyway. I will be one of those that help pave the road for the next generation. I will be one of the brave and you who hate what I have to say will not stop me. My God gives me strength and in Christ, all things are possible. I will speak up for those who are too weak to speak for themselves. I will inspire the next generation to stand up and tell their story. I will no longer sit in shame, but will look you in the eyes and tell you my story. I am no longer a victim, but a survivor. You cannot take that from me.

Over the years, I have been told that I should not give pearls to swine and that by telling my story openly, I am giving pearls to swine. I respectfully disagree. By keeping my story secret and protecting the identity of my abuser, I am giving pearls to swine. I choose to take my pearls back. My abuser was not only my step-father, but several of his friends as well. Most of the abuse occurred while my mother was out of the home, tending to work or to my severely handicapped sister, Melissa. My step-father was very manipulative and found many avenues for gaining control over me. It seems that one of his favorites was to nurture me. Often times he’d turn children’s shows on the television – shows like Disney on Ice that were meant to fascinate me and hold my attention. He’d then call me onto his lap and proceed to molest me, his hands between my legs and my hands often between his, at his insistence. If I rejected him, I’d often be punished severely. I remember being cornered in a narrow hallway on a few occasions, his leather belt in hand. I’d refused him. He didn’t care for that too much. I learned my lesson. The next time I focused on the television show and did not resist him. I pretended I was somewhere else and that it was not me who has touching him, but someone else. This is how I coped. This is also how the abuse was allowed to go on for so long. My memories were deeply repressed and this abusive behavior became a way of life for me, like waking up and eating breakfast before going off to school. It was habit and I was overpowered, my choices removed from me before I even realized I had a choice to make. I’d also refer to this as brain washing.

It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:2 (NIV)

I fully believe my step-father will answer to God for all of his sins against me. The Bible makes it clear that my step-father not only sinned against me, but against God Himself as well. That is a strong statement with lasting repercussions, and it’s one I believe whole-heartedly. If he doesn’t repent fully, I believe my step-father will burn in hell. I see him suffering now in his personal life with work, health, his continued marriage to my Mother, and his fractured relationships with family (his only son, my younger brother) and with friendships. There is a large part of me that finds satisfaction in his suffering, though I am aware that Christ is not pleased with my satisfaction. I pray daily for His Light to overcome the darkness in my heart. If Christ can forgive those who crucified Him, I too can forgive my abuser. I’m finding it’s a daily, if not hourly process. Each time I think I’ve fully forgiven him, my heart finds more bitterness and I lash out. It’s my intent to forgive but never forget.

Out of the pain of the past, it’s become difficult to trust others. In my own personal life, there are precious few who are allowed intimate glances into my daily life, and fewer still who are allowed to remain in my life for long periods of time. The time of abuse from my step-father and his friends has taught me to trust no one, and to keep no one around for long periods of time. Habits form when people are allowed to be near you. It gives people time to manipulate and brain wash you, therefore, relationships must be considered disposable in order to remain safe. This has been the most difficult thought process to overcome. I understand intellectually that it’s flawed and needs to be revised in order to live a full life, but it is one of the hardest for me to address on a consistent, daily basis. It is simply too painful. I will continue praying for Christ’s Light to overcome this darkness in my heart. Could you, reader, pray for me as well? This is a hard battle, and I’m not the only survivor walking it. This battle has threatened my marriage multiple times. I will not allow it to overtake me or my marriage, but I can’t do it alone. Neither can you. I continue seeking help.

Seeking help is another area I want to address in regards to victim and survivor shaming. Over the years, I’ve sought help from many different avenues. Some of them have been entirely appropriate – talk therapy, behavior modification counseling, psychiatry, Christian Bible-based counseling, support groups and prayer. Other avenues haven’t been nearly as successful, especially within friend groups, but they did often lead to other, more helpful solutions. I also gained a better understanding of who my true friends are, and who I am in Christ. The most painful avenues I took were speaking to close and personal friends, entrusting them with information, and then being told that I was too broken to formulate a lasting relationship with. I understand their point of view to an extent; however, the delivery was painful. We are all a broken people in one way or another. This is why we must live in community. We complete the beautiful picture that Christ has painted.

I’ve written many times on the struggles that I’ve overcome – homosexual tendencies, adultery, depression, suicide, addiction…these are nothing new within the sexual abuse survivor community. These are prevalent themes. They’re sins and they need to be addressed as such, but they’re also causes for deep concern. Why are these things happening to our youth? Why are so many survivors turning to harmful avenues as a way of healing from the pain of the past? I have a theory, but you probably won’t like it.
We’re being silenced, shamed, told to keep it quiet and move on, but we can’t. Our stories are banging on the walls, begging to be let out. We can’t move on until we can heal. We can’t do that until we can talk about it, explore the depths of what happened to us and be allowed to move on in our own time. I’ve been told by several professionals that for every year of trauma a survivor has endured, it takes an equal amount of years to heal from that. We can’t even begin to heal until we’ve been effectively heard.

In the news, we’re reading about celebrities abusing youth and we turn our heads and scoff at the victims and the abusers. We make jokes about it and quote famous lines from movies, TV and commercials. It becomes funny to us, but it’s deeply harmful to the victims. I’ve been on both sides of this, and it’s disgusting no matter where you stand.

Satan has twisted scripture for so long and has whispered lies into so many ears. He’s using sexual sins, among others, to rampantly overtake the world. He’s started with the innocent children, molding them into confused, scared little people who grow up to pray on the children they’re entrusted to protect. It’s a rabid hamster running around in the same wheel, in the same putrid cage, breeding and killing it’s own off-spring. We have to treat that rabid hamster, no matter how disgusting he really is on the inside. We have to do it without killing the off-spring and without silencing their cries for help. Each person needs their own space to heal, their own space to tell their stories and their own space to carve out a life for themselves. We cannot continue to group survivors in with the abusers, nor can we continue to ignore either’s cry for help. I know, this is a controversial statement, but it’s one that needs to be made. Perhaps if my step-father had received the help he desperately needed, he would not have abused me, my handicapped sister and my younger brother. Perhaps if we have been removed from the home, we could’ve healed sooner and more effectively. Perhaps if more victims and survivors’ voices were heard, there would be less abuse and more action towards ending it.

I do not propose that simply hearing our stories will end all abuses, but I do propose that it will end for us, the cycle of abuse and begin the path to effective healing. We need more success stories and more survivors to find their voices and call out for action. We need more bravery and less cowardice. Join me now in sharing your stories. Stop protecting your abuser. Speak out and speak up!

My simple prayer for you: May God bless you in your endeavors to tell your story and heal from the horrors of your past. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Yes, Another Response to A Church vs. World Issue

This morning I was reading an article from the Independent Journal Review on what Millennials within the Church actually want from their church. To me, it was a pretty surprising article. I’d expected more radical responses, as that has always been my experience when dealing with Millennials within the Church. Our family has attended more than seven different denominations in the last six years, searching for a church that isn’t afraid to address the Truth and stand strong for Jesus, instead of running away at the first sight of trouble. We’ve finally found one that suffices, though I’m sad to say it’s congregants aren’t nearly as vocal as the Pastor. Most are lukewarm, waiting to hear words that will tickle their ears, rather than cause them to move into action. Loving one’s neighbor is never easy, and most of us would love to tune that message out, wouldn’t we? Sometimes though, God calls us to tough love, and I wish the Church would address that more instead of spouting endless scriptures about how “God is love.” He certainly is love, and that love takes many forms as it does in parenting, in marriage, in community relations and so forth. Sometimes God leaves us in our sin because we are unwilling to acknowledge it, despite being told that we are in fact, rolling around in the muck of it and are in danger of being left in it if we choose not to repent and turn from it. Romans 1:26-28 is a great reminder of that.

While I was reading the comments section of this article, I was disappointed to see so many people defending revisionism within the Church! Some asked if we should bring back stoning for homosexuals. This was my response, for which I am entirely unapologetic. I’ll leave you with it and ask, what would you have said?

Well, perhaps we should bring that back. I for one am disappointed to learn that at one time it was in fact illegal to be homosexual in the U.S and that law has been rescinded. I’d love to see it come back! But I wouldn’t want my Pastor to preach an entire sermon on how the government should deal with homosexuality. I’d prefer that He’d speak about God’s take on it and that God calls us to repentance for ALL sins. It’s a sin that desperately needs addressed within the church before too many fall away for eternity!

Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

If you refuse to turn from your sin, God WILL leave you to it and you will NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Many “Christian” homosexuals will be surprised to find themselves burning in hell for eternity. Just as many “Christian” murderers, adulterers, pedophiles, liars, greedy “business” folks, etc. God has made it clear that He does NOT condone homosexuality, yet the church has softened the message in order to fill the seats. It IS possible to turn from that sin and recover, though it takes years of hard work and dedication. And it CAN and HAS been done without the use of harmful therapies. Simple prayer and Bible study has fallen wayside over the years and the miracles of Jesus and of faith have long been forgotten in lieu of trusting in man, which always leads us astray.