Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shatter the Silence - Sexual Assault Awareness Month

I needed to watch a training video (complete Sexual Abuse Safety System for Camps and Conference Centers) to volunteer at camp...

My case was nearly textbook in every example. From the grooming, to the keeping secrets, to accidental touch, to the long term effects it had on me: depression, mood change, and alcohol abuse, the list goes on. I was crying while watching it and as I started to sink into “stinking thinking,” I was prompted to claim the blood of Jesus and His power. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39, NRSV). I am thanking Jesus I am restored, healed by him and no longer controlled by the actions of a man I had no control over.

I have grown so much spiritually and am grateful that I am able to hear the softest voice prompting me to remain in Him.

Ministry Safe provided the training I took and it is extremely well done and "spot on" from my perspective and experience.  They include a section about the "gatekeepers," the people responsible for keeping the children safe and again, textbook example of my experience.  

Family Watchdog allows you to search for  offenders in any area you chose (city, zip code, school zone, etc.) and is FREE.  However, as Ministry Safe says, "Checking for criminal convictions alone will not protect children in children's programs. Statistically, less than 10 percent of sexual offenders are ever criminally prosecuted, because children do not report abuse until years later, if ever. As a result, approximately 90 percent of offenders have no criminal record to check."  Yet another reason careful screening of volunteers is important.  

If you are a volunteer and are required to go through training, have a background ran on you, and character references, not to mention interview questions that are unexpected, PLEASE submit to the process with the understanding that lives are at stake and whatever measures the ministry deems necessary are for their protection, which is what we should all desire: safe places for our children to grow up.  

Here is an excerpt from my biography, 
Things took a bad turn for me when I was 15.  Unfortunately, the choice of another hurt me deeply and I became a rape victim.  For five years, I kept this incident a secret but my behaviors and personality took a turn for the worse.  I was no longer content and joyful.  I lived with knowing that God could have stopped it from happening and chose not to.  I resented Him for that.  
 By the time I was 20, I was faced with helping someone else who had been raped by the same man and I released the burden I had been carrying alone for years.  My family was supportive and loving through the whole process.  Through counseling, I slowly was able to see that God still loved me and had not given up on me.

There are many sites for you to go to for professional help and suggestions.  These are my own.
What to do/not do when someone tells you they were sexually assaulted:

  1. Do NOT suggest in the slightest that they did something to provoke the attack!  
  2. Do NOT ever say:
    "What did she expect when she dressed that way."
    "If she hadn't gone to that party then she wouldn't have been raped."
    "She shouldn't have drank so much."
    "She should have been paying better attention."
    "What did she think would happen?"
    "I hate to say it but, I'm not surprised."
  3. Do NOT compare rape stories to someone else's experience.  If it is your own story, you will have a better idea of what they need to hear.  If it is not your own experience, do not offer someone else's story for comfort.  
  4. Do NOT sympathize with the offender with statements like, "He is sick," "He was drunk," and never say, "Boys will be boys"!  
  5. Know that you are a special person in which this survivor is trusting you!  With that in mind, DO say empathetic statements like, "I have no idea what you are going through but I am so sorry." 
  6. DO offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  Healing takes years and knowing people won't tell you to "move on," "let it go," or "I wish things were like they were before" is a very powerful tool for the survivor to have.  
  7. Just be there.  Don't try to fix it, solve it, or treat the situation as a problem that needs addressed.  Listen, empathize, love, and support the survivor and their families.  
  8. Remember the family but focus on the survivor.  
If you are in a position that requires you to report the incident, NEVER promise you won't tell.  Report the abuse to your supervisor immediately.  If you are not in a position that is require to report abuse and it is has not been reported, offer to be there with them when they report it, stand by their side, and encourage them to report the abuse.  (This is not legal advise, this is a non-professional survivor speaking).

I could go on but focusing on Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, be aware!  Watch this video by a mom and BE AWARE!  

#notavictim #survivor #morethanconquerors #shatterthesilence 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Coming Soon...

Even though my blog has suffered terribly since I went back to school, rest assured - I am still writing!  I completed 21 credits in the fall and am in my last class for this semester, which makes 15 credits.  When I am not doing school work or work I have avoided my computer.  I look forward to life slowing down A LITTLE since I completed my undergraduate classes and will graduate May 1st!  Excited does not describe how I feel so I will let you think of words that describe your feelings for me.  HA!

Hang tight, my friends.  Posts are forming in my head and heart and I will get them on here soon.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

With this ring...

When I married my hubby, we had rings as the visual affirmation of the commitment we made to each other.  I have been thinking a lot about rings.  My hubby selected an absolutely stunning set for me to wear as a reminder to all of HIS commitment to me.   I selected a simple sturdy gold band to remind him of my commitment.  See, the ring I wear is not my wedding ring - it's HIS.  And the ring he wears is not his, it's MINE.

The set he got me was taking a beating from me hitting it against things all the time.  The prongs had been repaired several times and I was worried I would lose a diamond.  I talked about wanting a simple silver band to wear every day but really needed it to be my husband's desire to get me a new ring - an anniversary band, for example, as his reminder to me.  When I went to Ecuador, he told me if I found one to buy it for him.  So, I did in 2013.  It was not expensive but it was silver and pretty.

Even though he told me to buy it, for a year I felt like it wasn't the right ring.  He must have felt similar because he found the perfect band and gave it to me last Christmas (2014) and I love it.  

When I look at the ring on my finger, I am not reminded of my commitment to him but his to me.  It reminds me of his vow to love and cherish me.  To stay here for better AND worse; in sickness AND health until we die.  The "and" between those extremes is not an "or."  So, when times get hard, I am reminded just by looking at the ring he put on my finger that he will stay by side no matter what.

We watched "Fireproof" the other night.  They said, "It's not if the fire comes; it's when."  To fireproof a marriage takes work and I am so grateful that the man I married is a hard worker.  Today, on Valentine's Day, I cannot adequately describe the love I have for this man; nor the love has for me.  It's not a feeling - it's a decision.

#commitment #love #marriage #1000gifts

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to "do" Lent

So many people are talking about what they are giving up for Lent and when I came across this "cartoon" I felt like I just had to share it.  As I was sitting in silence today, the song, "I Shall Not Want" started singing in my head (don't ask, I'm weird) and the powerful words spoke to my fears today.  

"I Shall Not Want" written and performed by Audrey Assad (2013)

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want

when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God

Deliver me O God


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Quaker Girl's Journey to Lent Continues


As this Quaker girl continues on her Lenten journey, she still struggles with aspects of its meaning. What have I learned about Lent in my journey so far?

~ Lent means “springtime.” 
~ It’s 40 days of fasting with reflection leading up to Easter (actually 46 days – more on that later).
~ Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending at 12:00 AM Easter Sunday.
~  Ash Wednesday services still confuse me but I am okay with that.  As much as this Quaker girl can tell, it is a mourning service to kick off Lent with a visual reminder (ashes on the forehead) of mourning and repentance and a reminder of why we fast in the first place: remembering the sacrifice Jesus made and was.
~ I do not understand Fat Tuesday at all – it makes no sense to me to gorge and enjoy the riches of our lives before entering a time of remembrance.  It reminds me of eating a ton before starting a diet – it does not support true changes in lifestyle, which is what needs to happen in order to truly stay fit.  I relate this to being spiritually fit.
~ The 40 days of fasting corresponds to Jesus fasting 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4). 
~  Lent actually begins 46 days before Easter, not 40.  Why?  Because Sundays are FEAST days – celebration days!  Each Sunday we remember the resurrection of Jesus!  I would like to see my life lived in the middle of the two extremes: fasting and feasting.  I realize, however, there is benefit in observing both extremes for a specific purpose, like Lent. 
~ People advertise what they are fasting from too much during Lent.  Why does Matt. 6:16 not apply during Lent? “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” (ESV).
~ Fasting should bring one to their knees before God and a significant increase in prayer time should be a result of the fast.
~ Lent is a time for me to prepare my heart for Easter. 
~ It is also a time that my fasting might reveal deeper issues that need dealt with – like how Jesus was confronted and tempted in the wilderness.
~ “Lent gives me this gift: the deeper I know the pit of my sin, the deeper I’ll drink from the draughts of joy” (Voskamp, 2013). 

Having known little about Lent, I have learned quite a bit!  That being said, there is this part of me, (is it the Quaker part?) that struggles with becoming legalistic in the fast and being broken for Jesus. 

So, I will continue on this journey and remember Paul’s words to the Galatians, “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 NRSV).  “I die every day!” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31 and for me that means making a decision each day that my life is not my own – Christ Jesus lives within me!

It means setting my mind on the things of the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, secure in my knowledge that I am a child of God!

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  (Romans 8:5-14 NRSV)

I have asked God to reveal to me if there is a specific desire of the flesh I need to examine, “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). I want to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh and will strive to daily to just that. 

This goes beyond Lent but it is part of my journey so I am sharing it with you.  Jesus paid the price but I still have a part to play – not by works but by giving up my life for His.  

We are going to read through the Gospels in 40 days as a family.  If you would like to join us in this challenge, let me know so we can pray for each other!  In the youversion app, it is the "The 40-Day Gospel Reading Challenge.  By the way, if you've made it this far... Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.  


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When He Brings Me To My Knees

It happens every now and then,  I am in my own world, studying, reading, typing, revising, and counting words for my paper when... WHAM!  I am so overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit I fall to my knees with tears streaming down my face.

Even, now, tears flow.  Be careful what you pray for.  He answers.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome hereCome flood this place and fill the atmosphereYour glory, God, is what our hearts long forTo be overcome by Your presence, LordYour presence, Lord
When my heart speaks and words flow that I did not know were there - communion with the Holy Spirit.  Power.  I believe this is what early Friends felt when they were so overcome with the Holy Spirit they shook - quaked in His presence.  It happened often enough to earn them (us) the nickname Quaker.  If what happens to me happened to them, it was not a silent meeting - it was loud and amazing and powerful.

As I go back to writing my final, my own spirit is in a different place now and there is peace surrounding me that I am grateful for.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Senior Night Letter

Here is the letter my DH and I wrote to our daughter for her senior night.  You can read about my experience here
Photo credit: Brenda L.

Dear Daughter, Our feisty firecracker daughter, this is it!  Your first senior night came so quickly.  We thought we were ready but we were wrong.  This year is passing too fast but we plan to hang on and enjoy the ride! 

Photo credit: Brenda L.

You are so good at encouraging others.  Doing the right thing when it is hard – standing up to your friends when you see an injustice – we are proud of you!  Your persistent and determined energy is powerful – trust it.  You do great things; thank you for letting us share them with you.  You are so determined and strong and we are extremely grateful Jesus is Lord of your life. 

Photo credit: Brenda L.

For all the times we “hushed you,” told you to sit still, quit fidgeting, relax, talk quieter, we did not know that you are naturally loud, outgoing, quick, and strong-willed.  We love this about you!  Okay, we usually love this about you.  That strong-willed side has caused all of us to butt-heads more than once.  It is these things that contribute to the uniqueness of your confidence and personality, and we understand that we do not have to understand all of you, in order to love all of you. 

Photo credit: Brenda L.

Daughter, you deserve to succeed.  You have not had the easiest life so far; yet your relationship with Jesus has made you a strong woman of valor; a warrior for Jesus.  While we have had our ups and downs, we support you and are so proud of who you are.  It is okay to make mistakes and we are happy with your choices… usually.  More importantly, we are happy with you.  You never have to do anything more or being anything else but you to be loved.  Please remember that.  You are so loved.   


So here we are, our fourth senior yet this is our first senior night with all this jazz.  How fun and exciting!  Finally, we get to experience a first with you.  We know this pleases you and we are right here with you.  It’s a night marking a milestone for you – you did it!  You hung in there when the going was hard and unpleasant and look at you now - one of the captains of your team!  You rock!  Thanks for letting us be a part of the crazy, fast, adventurous ride that is your life.  We are so proud of you. 
Photo credit: Brenda L.


All our love, besos y abrazos,

Papi and Moma Joy

#seniornight #gfa