#MeToo

#MeToo

Growl for Justice

I was twenty.

He invitedme to a party.

He did not ask if I wanted to be raped.

It should have been safe. It was the apartment of my brother’s friend.

But it was not.

They laughed and someone handed me an open can of beer.

I took a few sips.

Everything got fuzzy.

I now knew I was in danger but I could not move.

They said I wanted them. I said “No!”

They rapedme for hours as others watched and laughed. We were co-workers. He was my brother’s friend.

I tried to fight but my body would not cooperate.

I begged them to stop. They did not.

My brother’s friend said “enough!” And they stopped. Male power.

My brother’s friend threw me out.

I do not know how I got home. I only recall being in the shower trying to wash off the shame but I washed the…

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My Millennial Daughter’s Refreshing View of Trump Presidency

A Millennial’s View: The Unexpected Pastor’s Daughter on the Election

11760138_10207280306031984_6362984565707607752_n-1My 19-year old daughter posted on Facebook last evening a reflection that struck me with its clarity of thought, honesty, and charity . . . more charitable, if I’m honest, than I feel like being right now (although I’m working on it). But sometimes children set the example for their parents. I asked her if I could share her post on my blog, and she said “Yes.” So here it is, unedited by her proud dad . . . 

*deep breath* Okay. Hi friends. I haven’t really posted any of my own thoughts on the election besides videos and posts that I’ve shared, so here goes…

I’m going to start off by saying that to anyone reading this who voted for Trump…it’s okay. I still love and respect you, and an election is not going to change that. I am not going to sit here and call you a racist, or a sexist, or homophobic, or Islamophobic. I’m not going to classify you as a deplorable. And I’m also not going to threaten to unfriend you. I refuse to do any of these things because for one, these actions, to me, would be giving in to the very hatred and divisiveness that I was so against and afraid of happening with this election in the first place; and two, because I simply know that this isn’t true about so many of you. A lot of you happen to be some of my closest friends, who I know very well to be some of the most caring, loving, and accepting people I know. I refuse to let any of that go because of our political choice. Sure, I disagree with you, but first and foremost, I will not stop loving and respecting you as a person.

And here’s the thing, guys. (Yes, I’m talking to everyone now.) Donald J. Trump has been elected to be the 45th president of the United States. Donald J. Trump IS, as much as it pains me to say it, going to be our 45th president of the United States. And I know, I hate it. The man who, as a kid, I just thought of as “the big, mean man who fires people on TV,” is now going to rule our country. And you know what else? I’m absolutely terrified. So many people in our country right now are terrified, and with very good reason. The LGBTQIA community is terrified that their basic human rights are at stake. Our vice president-elect believes in shock therapy, for gods sake. I have several friends who are terrified of being separated from their families, due to our president-elect’s stance on immigration. I have black friends who are terrified of leaving their homes because of the fear and hatred that this election has instilled in people. Muslim women are afraid to wear their hijab in public. Parents are terrified of what it is they’re supposed to tell their children. They’re terrified of sending them to school, where bullying and racism has spiked. Me, I’m terrified of what happens when Obamacare is done away with completely. I’m terrified, what with my “pre-existing condition,” of the prospect of not being able to receive health insurance, and knowing full well that I won’t be able to afford the $30,000 treatments that I need to receive every six weeks, not even including any of my other medications. Our country is absolutely terrified.

But again, like it or not, Donald J. Trump is going to be president. Unless by some miracle the electoral college votes otherwise, it’s going to happen. And I think that, for right now, what our country truly needs is unity. I’ve seen so much hatred and fighting being spread in these past fifteen months due to this election. I’ve watched close friends become enemies, and people from both parties say some really nasty, hurtful things. But the election is over now. The votes have been cast, and the winner has been decided. Like it or not, we need to begin the path to acceptance. I think Hilary Clinton said it well in her concession speech on Wednesday:

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it … I count my blessings every single day that I am an American. And I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.”

I’m holding on to the belief that the majority of people who voted for Trump are not the hateful, racist, bigoted people that have been described in the media. In fact, I think a lot of the people who voted for him would be just as scared as we are right now if Hilary was elected. (Mind you, I am not making any kind of statement on whether that fear would be justified or not.) I think that our country is snowballing so quickly into hatred on both sides, and I think that we all owe it to ourselves to take a deep breath. Nothing is going to be fixed if we stay divided. Donald Trump is not going to succeed if we don’t show him any ounce of respect or support. I believe it is time right now to come together and begin loving our neighbors, no matter what side we were on in the election. As President Obama said after meeting with our new president-elect, “I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face.” And to Trump he went on to say, “Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed — because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”

I am not saying that we need to stop speaking up and fighting for what is right. I am not saying that it’s time to give up. I am saying that it is time to accept what cannot be undone, and to work with what we have, and that is each other. The fight is not over, but the hatred needs to end. We need to love our neighbors, and work together to achieve a better America.

I respect Donald Trump and his supporters, and I pray that he makes good decisions, and that he really will, as he claims he will do, work for the American people. (And by the American people, I mean everyone, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or otherwise.)

And if anyone needs someone to talk to, or someone who will just listen, I am here for you. I’m scared too, and I love you, and I support you. ❤️

 


 

 

Post Election Grief – How to Heal

Post Election Grief – How to Heal

Be glad, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because God is faithful. God sends abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. Joel 2:23 NIV

Great verse for Singing in the Rain but I’m not in the mood. I wish I was because it is definitely raining and my heart is drowning in a post-election shower.

And Facebook confirms I’m not alone. There are many walking wounded on both sides who have been beaten or bruised by this election and are lashing out at one another. However let’s apply a few basic rules we learned in preschool:

  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything
  • Treat others the way you wish to be treated

We all have friends rejoicing over the election, reaching out to us to say “everything will be okay” and “God is in control” because my candidate won.

Here are a few tips to our friends who are trying to help. Be careful. You do not have the authority to speak for God about suffering; or understand it. And it doesn’t help.

Relax:  The election is over. This isn’t the time to post all the reasons you voted for your candidate. Don’t be defensive because we don’t support your candidate. And an important tip to my white friends, it is not helpful or compassionate or even biblically sound to post on the wall of a friend of color that you are not racist, you simply voted for your faith. Yes, I’ve seen several of these posts since last night.

Everyone who experiences loss goes through the stages of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression

Unfortunately these stages don’t work like a checklist, their order and timing is all messed up just like our divided Country. Your friend is grieving and hurt. Remember when we weep, God weeps.

You don’t need to say anything, just be present, tell them you love them and let you know if they need anything.

Grieving people are rarely looking to join a bible study, nor do they appreciate being hit with scripture or reminded of their blessings or to have their feelings minimized; they want comfort.  They want to know someone understands they are hurt. Just say OUCH!

Pray for and with us – “God be with my sister, hold her, love her and give her your grace. Bless our Country. Amen”

Telling someone who feels like they fell in quick sand that everything will be OK doesn’t help.  Stay in the moment, leave the future planning to God. Pray God speaks directly to them, that they will feel the Holy Spirit comforting them.

To my fellow grievers, time is the most important factor in surviving the emotional roller coaster of grief. And this is what I’m trying to remeber me during this time:

Like this post, I write out my hopes, dreams and fears in words or pictures.

I allow myself to grieve.  Crying is healthy. I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying. It’s not the first time nor will it be the last.  I left all those toxins on my pillow.

I’m trying to accept the reality that while I’m grieving, my friends are rejoicing. Let them rejoice.  You don’t have to unfriend them, just unfollow or suspend notifications for a while. It’s important to acknowledge how difficult your loss is, it’s equally important to accept other people have an alternate reality. Which is obviously the hard part which leads to the next phase in our lives with any hope of meeting in the middle.

I’m trying not to beat myself or anyone else up. Believe it or not this is my perfectionist default unhealthy response. It’s easy to start criticizing or blaming myself and looking for what I could have done different so I won’t repeat my mistakes without realizing I’m caught in the biggest mistake of wallowing in blame and guilt.

Self-confidence needs to be intact to heal and cope. Challenge every negative thought that goes through your head. Focus on the positive.

Taking refuge in your “cave” may give temporary comfort, but is little help if your time spent there is not constructive. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive family and friends may better help your self-esteem. I am very thankful for my family and thankful they know how to comfort someone who is grieving.

Taking action will help you feel more in control of your situation — I’m not sure what that action is but believe it will become clear. Simple words of sympathy and encouragement can be a huge boost in this difficult time.

Turn to people you trust for support

Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the support you need. Don’t try to shoulder the stress alone. Your natural reaction may be to withdraw out of embarrassment and shame or to resist asking for help out of pride. But avoid the tendency to isolate. You will only feel worse.

And this is the end of my grown up moment. Love you all, even if we disagree.

Is Hillary a Sheep or a Goat? Vote to Find Out

Is Hillary a Sheep or a Goat? Vote to Find Out

This election is like two opposing Christian families facing off.  There is so much fighting, bickering and meanness.

When I go into the voting booth I use Matthew 25:31-46 to vote for the person I believe is more likely a sheep than a goat.

In otherwords, the candidate most likely to care for their neighbors. Which 2016 candidate do you think will feed, clothe, visit and care for Jesus?

I’m interested in knowing which 2016 presidential candidate you think is more of a sheep and which is more of a goat, and will that make a difference when you go into the voting booth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor.  We are called to feed, clothe, visit and care for Jesus in our homes, churches and yes even at the polls.  Please vote!

Reformation Colors

Jesus –

Why did you rise from the dead so early in the morning? Couldn’t you have made your grand entrance around noon or later?

Are you really surprised to find half of the congregation asleep and the other half listening for an excuse to sleep in next Sunday?

It is hardly the party hour. The best parties start after the sun goes down, not when the sun comes up.

While the children may have lots of enthusiasm once they get there, getting them out of bed and into their party clothes is exhausting.  Not to mention how our bodies take a little longer to warm up as we get older.

So you’re probably not surprised that attendance goes down when the pastor is out-of-town. After all, who are we going to see ?

I’m just suggesting that when planning your return you take a later flight and make sure our pastor is in town.  Just a really good suggestion.

All about me,

My Church Lady Notes

Sunday ServiceReformation Sunday the pastor, my hubby, was away on a men’s retreat. I was teaching a parenting class during Sunday school and scheduled pre-marital counseling after church, so I never gave a thought to “alternate” plans.

I knew I was going to be busy so I spent more time deciding which shoes looked good, would be comfortable and gave me a leadership edge than about my husband not being in the pulpit.

I was looking forward to seeing and hearing the visiting pastor. I knew we were in for a treat. The last time I heard her preach I felt like she was talking directly to me and I liked how she was able to transform the liturgy into a conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very blessed to be married to a spirit-filled pastor. I love hearing his sermons. I LOVE worshiping with him, especially as his assistant.  And…

It was Reformation Sunday.  As a Lutheran convert, I appreciate the annual confirmation that I’m saved by grace and other biblical truths. And while I’m inspired by the ways the Holy Spirit stirs up my husband, I am also moved by how our Lord shakes His word out in others.  Sometimes it takes another voice to nurture the message into action.

Often, just by inviting someone else to join a group turns a gathering into a party we are glad we didn’t miss. And this Sunday was no exception.

However, the day before should have been a warning that not everyone shared my enthusiasm. While hanging out with a few church friends, one reminded the other that the pastor wouldn’t be there.

I, being rarely able to hide my opinions gave a sharp disapproving look, to which my friend tried a weak save by saying we should still go, she was just making sure no one was surprised that he wasn’t there.  And in my low cat caught the canary, aren’t I funny but I’m not, voice I said thank you but I knew he wouldn’t be there. Ha ha.

I know church-cation codes. I let her squirm before releasing her from my old Catholic guilt and allowed my Lutheran reformation wash over us by saying, “We’re Lutheran, we don’t have to go to church. We’re saved by grace.  We get to go to church.”
Visiting PastorThere was a time I would have shouted “BS” to the last sentence.  Clearly it negates the others. What is the difference between we ‘get’ to or ‘have’ to, if we end up in the same place in the end? The answer is Reformation which I’ll get to in a minute because I wasn’t being Lutheran at the moment, just a churchy preacher’s wife. I’m sure I would have used stronger words before my conversion.

Sorry friend.

On Sunday was a steady stream of “is the pastor here”, “the pastor’s not here”, “where is the pastor”, “do we have to …”

I confirmed for each confirmation student that they have class, than I repeat myself for their parents, I confirm for my students that I am here to teach even though my hubby is not and finally I teach my class before heading to church.

In church more people than usual came up to me before service began.  It was amusing to see so many usually introverted people get up from their pews and head straight to me before returning to their seats. Each felt the need to actually tell me they were there when obviously I’m talking to them, so I know they are in church.  I said I wasn’t taking attendance. A few apologized for coming saying they didn’t know the pastor wouldn’t be there and I joked that I was just as surprised as they were.

And another told me attendance was light because the pastor was out-of-town.  This wasn’t the first time I attended church without the preacher and it wasn’t the first time I’d been told members take a vacation when the pastor was gone or when there was an important football game. I said the pastor would be disappointed attendance was down but probably would also be upset if he missed the best attended Sunday.

It seemed like most were surprised I came to church without the pastor because I’m usually worshiping at another church either with or without the preacher.  And even the pre-marital couple seemed surprised we were meeting when the pastor was out-of-town.

When I got home I told my daughter I missed her at church while I proceeded up the steps to change my clothes.  My daughter reminded me that her father wasn’t there.

I stopped, walked backwards down the hall, and looked her in the eye before stating very slowly, “We do not go to church to worship your father!”  (Or any pastor, praise team etc…)

Obviously I was much harder on my daughter than anyone else. I was also a hypocrite.

I haven’t attended church every Sunday of my life. When I was young, my family usually left church right after communion and never went to church on vacation.  Occasionally we slept in on Sundays.  I don’t know if it was because the priest was out-of-town but I appreciated the extra sleep. And I rarely went to church in college.

And I don’t know when that changed.  After I became Lutheran I attended church on a regular basis but still didn’t worship while on vacation.  I don’t recall if it was a Lutheran woman bible study, a sermon, hubby going to seminary, trying different services at Synod events or a combination. But I know that when I started attending church while on vacation my worship was less of a chore and more of a celebration.

At some point several reformation points merged together, took root and began to grow.  I’m saved by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I don’t have to go to church.

I’m called to worship with my brothers and sisters because it is good for us (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Church is a support group for sinners.  I’m a sinner.  I fall short (Romans 3:23).  I need a savior who has already come and paid the penalty for my sins. It is a delicate balance of Good Friday and Easter. Worship is a celebration of that freedom.  Every Sunday we celebrate with wine and feast an independence day from sin and death. We celebrate and look forward to reuniting with our departed saints.

So why miss the party?

Church isn’t any different than any other party.  Good parties have good food, good music and fun people. Exciting people do not attend out of obligation.

The fun leaves the party when the “I don’t want to be here but the host will be mad at me if I didn’t come” or the “I didn’t want to come but it would be boring without me or my 2 layer dip” sucks the life out of the group.

Imagine if on Sunday everyone was asked, “Are you ready to party?”  And this includes traditional service. Everyone who says yes is offered a bright party shirt, everyone who says they need to be nurtured is given a blue shirt, everyone who says they are here out of obligation is given a gray shirt and anyone who arrives claiming to be the guest of honor is sent to a box seat in the balcony with a tiara and boa. (Sorry Bishop if you get sent to the balcony.)What does your congregation look like?

We all have low energy days that we go to church out of obligation. If we don’t go who will greet people, pass out bulletins, seat people, read the lesson, serve communion, teach Sunday school, preach…

We also have days when it takes every ounce of energy to drag ourselves to church.  We are hurt, grieving and desperately need support.

Prayerfully we all have Spirit filled days when we are bursting at the seams to share our joy with Christ.  We know we are sinners.  We know we have been freed from our sins. We are thankful for our church family and look forward to seeing them.  We are eager to share the love poured out upon us. We know it is a party and we can’t wait to get there. We sing to church, dance while we are there and dance our way into the community to share the love of Christ. We want to invite our friends, family and the man on the corner to the best party ever.

At almost every party there are some who think they are the life and focus of the party. They think everyone came to see them and believe it wouldn’t be a party without them. When they arrive they state the service can begin and look for their place of honor.  But if they’re not Jesus, God or the Holy Spirit they need an adjustment.

This doesn’t mean we don’t offer our best and first fruits at the alter. We all should arrive with party hats and a grateful heart for our gifts and special talents.  Our focus, the guest of honor – God.

Long ago I realized that worship days I couldn’t put on my party shirt or a blue shirt for comfort are days I need to  celebrate anonymously somewhere else. I need a retreat; a boost.

It is also important to give before I go so the party is still there when I get back.

Imagine if instead of ministry fairs, everyone wore their shirts to church.  Brightly colored spirit filled members praying with and nurturing our blue shirted friends, stepping up to replace burnt out Sunday school teachers, ushers and council members. Imagine if your pastor arrives in a gray shirt and someone in a bright shirt steps up to lead worship.Church Obligations Seaching for Grace

Imagine a brightly colored congregation ready to party.celebrate

To those who missed service, I hope you got some rest.  You missed agreat sermon and awesome praise music – after all it was Reformation Sunday.

To everyone who worshiped elsewhere, please share.

Trainwreck – Why I Stayed

trainwreckHow does a speeding train blowing its horn, heading in the right direction get derailed?

I was moving forward. I had a job, an apartment, an education and I was in graduate school.

I was “smart enough” to avoid the trap that kept following me home. I knew I didn’t want a relationship. I wasn’t attracted to him.  I didn’t like him.  I thought he was creepy.

I refused to join him in his jail.

I said “No!”

I ignored him.

I was rude.  I was arrogant. I made fun of him.

But he was persistent.

I didn’t know he was abusive but I knew he wasn’t independent. He couldn’t help me.  He didn’t want to help me. And he wouldn’t help me.

But he was persistent.

I was alone.  I let go of my life line before grabbing another. I was working my safety plan without a safety net.  My former counselor was hundreds of miles away. It was only a matter of time before I slipped and  fell.

If I was in counseling it would have been a set back but since I wasn’t – I was derailed.

I’d never been safe so I couldn’t find safety without the help of a professional.

He was persistent.  He was lonely.  He was dysfunctional.

I was fragile.  I was vulnerable. My family was dysfunctional. I was grieving the suicide of my favorite brother.  I had no friends.

I had no therapist.

He was persistent.  He either followed me home or was waiting for me when I pulled into my parking lot. He was waiting for me to fall. He wasn’t planning to pick me up.  He was just waiting for me.

But I didn’t let him in until…

My second brother died.  Just one year after the first.

After he died, I shook my fist at my oldest, dearest and only friend – I turned my back on God.  I was already angry at God for allowing my brother to end his life. I was angry about my abusive childhood.  I was angry about being raped.  I was angry about being alone.

I hadn’t forgiven God.

I felt God’s presence and didn’t hold back telling Him how angry and disappointed I was. I thought He was a terrible, weak, ineffective God.

God was cruel to take another brother so soon. I stopped talking to God. I was too angry to speak. God wasn’t worth my prayers.  He wasn’t listening. No one listened to me.

If I had a therapist, they’d probably say I was depressed. But I didn’t have a therapist.

I still had my apartment. I still had my job. I still went to school. I still didn’t like the guy but I threw God out and let the stalker in. I shut the door on God. I went off track. But didn’t care.  Tired, numb and out of breath I thought I’d take a moment to rest.  I didn’t realize how long I’d sleep.

Why did I stay?  He became rough.  Everyone who cared about me was rough.  Even God.

I ran from him and locked myself in the bathroom. I didn’t like him. I should have been afraid but…

I was numb.

#WhyIstayed: We weren’t living together.  “Stay” was abstract. I had my own apartment. I was moving forward.  I avoided him after he was rough. I thought I was taking care of myself. No one else cared about me.

I guess I wasn’t “smart enough” to avoid or end the relationship.  I was a victim. Victims aren’t very smart.

Violence is loud.  It is hard to think with all that background noise. We need an emergency crew to pull us from the wreckage.

And he waited patiently  until I invited him in. He was very persistent. And it would be many years before a crew arrived on the scene.

Have you ever snuggled with the devil? Share your story.

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak…
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.

Important Points:

Seek professional help

Abused? You’re not alone

God is with us even when we are angry

Related Post:

Bruised at the Altar…Why I Married Him

Say NO to the Mess!

Need help?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline    1-800-799-7233

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)