Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Being BRAVE!

I'm not sure where to start this post. I'm not sure what all I want to say here in this space. I have so much to say, but I don't know where the words are to say it.

I do know that I'm finding my voice, and I'm not going to let anybody stop that. I want this to be the time that I find the strength and the courage to use my voice to claim truth. To use my voice to encourage others to find and use theirs.

I feel like when it comes to sex we allow our voices to be quieted. We allow shame to come in and take root, and we allow our voices to be silenced. What we need to be doing is being BRAVE! We need to talk and talk and talk until we feel better. And then talk and talk and talk until we feel even better and then keep talking because we have found our voices, we have told the shame and the guilt to  "Go to Hell!", and we help each other heal.  (Thanks Ritz!)

In January, I decided I was going to do a word for the year and I chose the word BRAVE. When God laid the word Brave on my heart I thought He was asking me to adopt, go to Haiti, go on a mission trip...

I didn't realize that when God asked me to be BRAVE this year it was because dealing with sexual abuse was going to take every amount of courage I could muster and then some. I didn't realize that I was going to need my friends and family to stand in the gap for me when I had no bravery left. I didn't realize I was going to have to be brave by sharing my story with those people who are standing in the gap for me. I didn't realize that it was going to take being brave to tell God how I really feel about who He is because it's easy for me to look at Him as a far off impersonal God not one who weeps over the sexual abuse of His child and then continues to weep as the effects of sexual abuse continue to hurt for many many years. And I am learning that He cares about what I have to say when it's good, when it's bad, when it's honest. He is big enough to handle my doubts, my fears, and my anger. And He can help me overcome it.

So if you are reading this, and thinking "I get this! I feel this way!" use your voice and be BRAVE. Start with God. Start by being honest with Him, and then keep talking to everyone who will listen, and even those who won't because your voice is beautiful and your story is valuable and you never know what that person will hear and how it will encourage them.

Be BRAVE!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Story Worth Telling

Last week a group of bloggers went to Rwanda with IJM and Noonday Collection to meet women and tell their stories of redemption from some very dark places. There were many critics of this trip, but those people have probably never been in a place so dark that they wanted to scream their story to all who would hear it.

Over this past week, I too, have realized that I have a story to tell. A story that is sad and so scary. A story that I have prayed I would forget over the past 27 years. A story that haunts me as a wife and a mother, but I have a voice that will not be silenced and my story is worth telling.

When I was 5 years old I was sexually abused by a foster child that lived in our home. A place where I thought everyone would be safe; he took safety away. I remember very very vague details. I remember him coming to my kindergarten classroom to check on me, and I laid on my mat during nap time PRAYING that my teacher would think I was a sleep and send him away. I remember when I was in first grade I walked by his room and he asked me what I was going to be for Halloween and I told him a yellow crayon and then he asked me to have sex with him. And I said yes. I said yes. He told me not to tell. I remember nights of him being on top of me with a pillow over my face. I remember laying on the floor in front of my door waiting for him to come in because he was going to come, and my dad finding me and telling me to go back to bed.

What I don't remember is when it started, but I do remember when it ended. It ended when I watched something on TV about AIDS and became terrified that I would get AIDS from him and told him to stop or I was telling. He stopped so I didn't tell. He took my voice. After he left my home, I told my parents. And after that we didn't talk about it. And for years I haven't talked. For years I've allowed my voice to be silenced. For years, I've worried about what others would think so I didn't talk I just pushed it all inside. I never healed and I felt like my story was not worth telling.

And now I'm married and I have 2 beautiful daughters, and I daily live in fear that someone will sexually abuse them and take their voice and they will feel that their story is not worth telling.

And I'm tired of living in fear.

I'm tired of feeling unworthy.

I'm tired of pushing my feelings inside and fake smiling.

I'm tired of someone else silencing my voice.

I'm going to speak up.

You see, I'm worth healing. I'm worth living free of anxiety and depression. I'm worth be healthy. I'm worth it.

That 10 year old boy may have been abused, but that did not make it okay for him to abuse me. He knew what he was doing to me was wrong and he told me not to tell. He took advantage of a 5 year old girl and then left me to deal with the ramifications for the next 27 years.

Make sure you understand this: Healing will come for me.  But my voice does not need to be silenced. I don't need to get over it and move on. This is part of who I am, and I'll be damned if I'm going to shut my mouth any longer.

Don't tell me that I should've talked about it sooner. Don't tell me that God works all things for the good. Don't tell me that I need to trust Jesus and this will go away.

The pain of abuse reaches far and wide my friends F A R AND W I D E. This abuse effects my parents, my siblings, my husband and my children just as it effects me. And the effects of abuse don't go away. They are there forever. They are scars are on my heart and my soul. There will ALWAYS be evidence of it in my life. As long as there is evidence of it in my life then I'm going to tell my story because someone else has a story that is similar and they need to know they are not alone, just as I need to know that right now.

So when you meet someone who has a history of abuse in there life please let them tell their story. There is value in it. That person's life is valuable and to not listen to their story makes it seem like you don't value them. They need to know they are valuable because someone has told them they are not, and the wounds need to heal.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Community of Friends

I am absolutely floored by the community we have. Our church is very big on living in community, and there have been times I've wondered if we did, but God is showing me how much He has blessed me. Right now we are putting in tile floors. Not the most fun job in the world, but we have a community that has stepped up to help.

I understand that this is such a minor detail in life, but to have people come along side you and say "Hey, I've done that before...I'll help!" or "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'll learn and I'll help!" is so huge. Even our sweet neighbors who blessed us by watching our girls so we could have a little time to get stuff done without them was so HUGE!

Thank you Lord for our friends! They are a blessing!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Oh dear friends! I feel your prayers and they are mighty.

I've seen this verse from John 14 many, many times. It has really hit home with me this morning. In John 14:18 Jesus is telling his disciples that once he leaves this earth they will not be left alone. The Holy Spirit is coming. He isn't actually talk about the fatherless in this verse. However, his disciples thought they were going to be fatherless. They knew a time was coming when Jesus would no longer be there and they felt scared. What would they do? They had given up everything to follow him.

But this is a promise from Jesus. He wasn't going to just leave us with no one. Someone else was coming. The Holy Spirit was coming. The Holy Spirit who was going to "teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (v. 26).

I imagine that if I had been one of Jesus disciples I would've been terrified. Everything I knew was going to change. This man that I gave up everything for was going to die, and then who knew what was going to happen. I tend to live in fear anyway so I'm sure I would've been a whole bucket of a mess, and while dealing with Peter,  Jesus would've smacked me and said "Get it together! Haven't you been listening to me these past 3 years!".

I don't know if orphans know they are going to be orphans before they become them. Some may. Some may know they have one parent, and that parent is dying. They may know that once that happens they have NOTHING. That must be terrifying. And that must be why Jesus tells the disciples (and us...because after all the Bible was written for us) that they were not going to be left as orphans. Someone was coming! Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit! (And I know he uses the word "I" there. It's because of the whole God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit...3 in one relationship. And let's not forget the 2nd coming. That's a whole other post.).

I can't help but think that orphans in orphanages feel like someone just left them, and no one is coming. They feel very much like the disciples did. Hopeless. The disciples had Jesus to tell them "Hey! I'm sending someone for you!". And I want my daughter to know that Jesus is sending someone for her. He is not going to leave her as an orphan. Mommy and Daddy are coming. He has provided a family for her. She can have HOPE! Just like the disciples had HOPE that they were not going to be left as orphans.

I'm sure that you are wondering why I just said "daughter" in that paragraph above. I know that you are wondering what has happened. Well, since yesterday Paul and I have prayed over that little girl I told you about. And we have decided to express interest in adopting her. We don't know what anything looks like. I literally sent the email to our agency 30 minutes ago on a Saturday morning. So we probably won't hear anything until at least Monday if not later.

And y'all, I'm scared. I'm scared to set my adoption parameters aside and adopt outside of birth order. I'm afraid that they will tell us NO! I'm afraid.

But God is doing a MIGHTY work in my heart. He is calling me to put down my parameters and take on His. He is calling me to open my heart to a little girl who needs a family so He can fulfill His promise to her of not leaving her as an orphan. Because that promise in John 14:18 is for her too. God doesn't want to leave her as an orphan physically or spiritually. So He is sending us to bring her into our family and tell her all about Him.

Will y'all pray for us? Pray that we won't live in fear. Pray that we will be BRAVE. Pray that we will find our courage in Jesus. Pray that our little girl will be well loved until she can come home. Pray that she will rest in the arms of her Heavenly Father while she's waiting for mine.

I will keep you updated, but in the mean time would you please pray about giving to our adoption? At the top of the page is a map of Haiti. If you click on that map it will take you to our Pure Charity page where you can donate any amount to help us bring our girl home.

Thank you for your love and support!