#whyIdidntreport

scorned woman

 

Donald J. Trump has given me reason number 738402836454929874625368490 to be happy that it never occurred to me to vote for him to be the president of this country. He issued yet another tone-deaf tweet today in reference to the allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh, in short, questioning why the assault wasn’t reported by Ms. Christine Blasey Ford immediately following.

I’m not going to get into the nuances of the allegations– you can read that on your own if you are not aware already. I fully admit to being biased to where I typically believe the purported victim, as I can see NO benefits of going forward with such a claim–do people really understand the damage that comes to your life when you do come forward?

If you have even one free moment this evening or anytime this weekend or in the near future, please visit this hashtag, whether you have Twitter (I don’t) or not.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/whyididntreport?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Ehashtag

This is one of the times where I feel social media is truly fulfilling what ought to be its ultimate purpose–unifying people around common themes and experiences, good and bad. There are some survivors on that thread who never told anyone about their ordeal.

My experience is not as relevant to the hashtag because as I’ve said on this very blog before, I DID report. And every excuse that could be made to dismiss what my assailant did was presented. To this day, and it has been fifteen years, I am still not confident that I made the right decision to say anything. Why?

  1. Being shamed after being victimized is like being violated all over again. What were you wearing? (The idea being, of course, that suggestive dress makes it difficult for poor assailants to exhibit the self-control that everyone else in a decent society BUT them is supposed to use).

For the record, I was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, black pants and black boots. Okay, so the pants were pretty tight. I felt pretty good about myself when I put on the outfit that night. I haven’t seen it since it was confiscated before I had my rape kit examination performed, and I don’t care to.

2.  Being blamed for being victimized is just beyond cruel. Well, you had been drinking.

Yep. Extra reason to call it what it was. If someone is passed out drunk most decent people would leave them alone, right? Not a rapist who operates on power and control. But the fact that I was passed out, something S.L. admitted to (those are his initials), only served to show the looseness of MY character. Why do we do this to victims of sexual crimes? Do we tell people who have been robbed or had their homes burglarized that it was their fault? Why with sexual crimes are we so quick to try to dismiss it or deflect from the actual crime? Is it because the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male? Is it because in a lot of cases, evidenced by the stories on the hashtag, that this abuse is taking place in families and we don’t want our dirty family laundry aired? Is it because people truly believe that people in esteemed positions can never be predators? Whatever it is, it is a TRASH mentality and needs to be DUMPED.

3. Having to tell my parents was absolutely awful, even though I knew they would believe me. Imagine not being sure if you would be believed? It was hard enough to face my family knowing they would have my back. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. My parents were devastated. My Dad wanted to kill S.L. and had to be restrained from going to Grand Valley’s campus to do so. I’d left my small town with so much promise and was coming back with a trail of shame and humiliation following. I had failed everybody. As tough and as smart as I thought I was… obviously I had overestimated myself and my abilities or else I wouldn’t have gotten raped, right?

4. I ended up having to leave Grand Valley as a senior and start all over at EMU, pushing me into massive student loan debt. Why? Because Grand Valley would rather have a popular football player there, one who had helped them achieve their first title in years, than little old me, the one who wasn’t a sexual predator but only presided over a volunteer organization for senior citizens, sang in the gospel choir and participated in multiple other volunteer initiatives. After he left willingly to escape the heat (which I’m not convinced wasn’t their plan–to make it look like they were doing something just so things would die down), I was told I’d be informed if he tried to re-enroll. The same day my classes were mysteriously dropped for the first time in four years, I ran into him coming out of the bookstore with a bag of books. I hope you are doing better by your students now, Grand Valley  State University, because you CRAPPED on me, and I LOVED it there. I would have represented you well as an alumna.

I can continue, but I’d rather you go and read the hashtag. The stories are not the same, but the feelings that compel silence are. Shame. Guilt. Knowing nothing will be done. Fear of losing status, career, or other components of their livelihood. Having a mother, for the love of GOD, who chose to believe her boyfriend over her child. (Those stories made my blood BOIL). Or the most heartbreaking of the stories, the ones from individuals who were children and didn’t have a complete understanding that they were even being victimized and that it wasn’t their fault.

Think of six women you know. Picture them in your head. Imagine their smiling faces.

Realize that one of them has probably been victim of some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.

Aren’t you angry? Don’t you want her to have a voice? Would you believe her if she told?

After you have visited the hashtag, please consider supporting RAINN and/or signing up for their newsletter. I volunteer for this very worthy organization.

https://www.rainn.org/

 

 

 

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You were elected without even campaigning!

campaign

 

As I believe I have said before, I had a hard time determining a career path because I wanted to do..everything. I wanted to be a teacher, then a doctor, then a nurse, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a nursing home administrator, a hospice program administrator… Good Lord.

All of my many career interests have one thing in common. I definitely wanted a job that involved helping people. Politics, although less direct a helping field than those listed above, could apply if politicians acted accordingly. They have the opportunity to develop and enact policies that could help tons of people. As I get older and see the inequality in America and the corruption and partisanship that unfortunately defines American politics, I often wonder if I could have possibly gone into politics myself and served people and my country as a whole in that manner.

Not only is the current state of American politics problematic, the concept behind even getting elected here is an issue. Why? Because campaigning requires money. The more money a candidate has access to, the more television, print and radio ads they can air. Billboards cost money. Fliers, signs, buttons, etc cost money. Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a campaign and losing. Some of us just can’t make that type of investment but could be completely qualified and ETHICAL.

All thanks to God the Father for electing me to an even higher, more important status, one that required no money, campaigning, or winning over a divided electorate. In the Bible we find that there are people that God CHOSE, or elected, to be saved, even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). God knew that some of us would, in our free will, choose to accept His Son–this is referred to the foreknowledge view of election. And just like an elected politician, what should those of us who are chosen by God to be saved to do? Serve and help God’s people. As often as we can.

Before I conclude for the night–all of my kids are asleep and I am enjoying the quiet, but I need to sleep while I can–I do ask that any of you that read this and are so compelled to do so to commit to praying DAILY for our children. Every day without fail I ask that God cover our kids, be a protective fence around them, while they are at school. I pray for a year completely free of school shootings and ask you to join me.

 

Date Your Kids.

frederick douglass quote

 

If something ever happens to Matt, that’s it for me. I will probably be single for the rest of my life.

I absolutely DETESTED dating as a young woman. Obviously before Matt nothing ever panned out, but that wasn’t why I hated it. I wasted so much time on losers who weren’t up front with their intentions (for obvious reasons, of course). One could say I just picked the wrong guys, and perhaps “one” would be right. Either way it goes, I had little patience for bland conversations, arrogance, having a guy ask ME out and then expecting something because he paid, as if I was incapable of paying for myself or even cared to entertain his company in the first place had he not ASKED, and the hidden motives. I would have just preferred if a guy befriended me and told me right up front he wanted to sleep with me so he could get rebuffed BEFORE wasting both our time and making me angry.

Side note: That is one of the reasons I hated my early twenties and would never want to do them over again.

But I digress.

The very thought of dating romantically makes my skin crawl, but let’s just say my experiences had been more positive. Or, let me go back to when Matt and I first got together, and how excited I was whenever we were going to meet up. I remember taking extra time to ready myself. I remember being excited when we first got to our destination, whether it was dinner, the movies or the mall, and how even if there were a thousand people around, it didn’t matter–I was focused on him. (And vice versa, I suppose). What did we accomplish during those dates? We became aware of our chemistry, learned a great deal about each other, and fell in love somewhere along the way. Over a decade in, I have discovered that the “dating” needs to continue, as people change, there is always more to learn about your partner, and as your understanding of your partner grows, your relationship matures right along with it.

My son is going into the 7th grade tomorrow. He is almost 12. My oldest daughter, who is 6, will be a first-grader, yet I can still remember the exact moment each of them made their earthly debut with fondness and much nostalgia. Every now and then I remind myself that there is only six short years before Jayden is technically an adult, and that as he gets older and becomes more aware of the world around him, I have an even bigger role to play in making sure he is comfortable in it. I want to make sure he does not fall prey to the societal norms that embrace toxic masculinity; that he is aware of what contributed to the rape culture that unfortunately made me a rape survivor; and that he becomes a good husband who treats his wife equitably and his children tenderly. As for my girls, I want them to be strong and understand that they don’t need a man or marriage to define them or their womanhood; and to have pride in going boldly out into the world and eking out their own existence.

In order for me to teach them what I need to, I need to have a good approach, and my approach is dependent upon their personality and level of awareness and understanding. Their personalities are all different. Even with my daughters I do not foresee many circumstances where I can gather them into a group and have a serious discussion with them and expect that they all have understood equally. Over the summer, I carved out time with Jayden after all the girls had gone to bed to discuss certain issues, and he definitely retained everything I told him. So that’s what I have to make a habit of moving forward–“dating” my kids: Making special time with them individually, in an atmosphere where they are comfortable in which we can just completely focus on each other and our interaction.

Not only did I learn a lot about my son during these conversations–he is a lot more intuitive and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others than I’d thought, which was a welcomed surprise–but he expressed his appreciation for me taking the time to talk to him “like a grown-up”. It made him feel special, especially since he knew I was tired and would have loved nothing more than to have gone to sleep while I had the chance, but instead decided to stay up for a little while and talk to him over a late-night snack or a virtual treadmill walk on YouTube.

I tend to think all kids crave that alone time with their parents, and we as parents need to make sure we are not playing favorites with our children–that can have long-lasting, detrimental effects. But overall, we have to make the most of the little time we have to influence them. They’re not kids for long. And while dating romantically can have its drawbacks, there are no negatives associated with spending time with your kids.

I am what I do, I do what I am

I am a spit-up cloth, a diaper-changer, a booger-wiper, a cook, a counselor, a rock’n’play, a toy finder, an organizer, a hairstylist, a teacher, a confidante, a builder of self-confidence, a Sunday school teacher, a bed to a fussy infant and jealous toddler, a dishwasher, a clothes launderer, a referee, a coach, a walking day planner, an avid reader and writer during the few minutes I have to myself, a repository if random facts and current news stories,…

It is usually late in the afternoon before I eat my first meal or have my cup of coffee, but I nake sure my kids and husband are fed. It is usually late in the afternoon most days before I get to hurry through a shower or eke out a quick workout while the baby is asleep, but I make sure everyone else is clean. It is usually after midnight before I have time to deeply read, study and write, and when I sleep, my sweet baby wakes me up every few hours.

I am a Christian wife and mother, and what I’ve discovered is that mental work weighs just as heavy as physical work sometimes. I don’t remember being this tired working overnights stocking shelves at Target. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it. I could work from 10 p.m. until the wee morning hours, sleep for five hours and be good to go. Then again, I was quite a bit younger and child-free.

Le sigh. My parents made this look easy. I wish they’d have told me the truth 😂

With that being said, self-care is important. Yes, I get bored and frustrated sometimes, usually when I have just sat down and one of my kids needs something, or when I’ve finally gotten the baby to sleep and someone wakes her up. Parents of course have to make their family a priority, but husbands and wives deserve opportunities to disconnect every now and then. Couples need intimate time together and reflective time, time to refresh and recuperate on an individual basis as well. It has to be said-family responsibilities can suck the life out of you. Some days when both my younger girls are crying or have loaded diapers or my older two are arguing over a mere difference of opinion over the most trivial thing EVER I can just feel my brain cells dying due to lack of challenges and stimulation. And that’s when my temper gets short.

Over the years, I have changed but certain things remain the same. I guess they are part of my personality. I like solitude. I relish the moment when I am alone with a good cup of coffee, soft old school music, and a good book or pen and blank paper. Not only do I like those moments, I NEED them. So even if I am tired I have to spend time with myself, either in the morning before anyone wakes up (which is almost impossible) or late at night (which is more doable, but no coffee is allowed). It is for my own sanity. I’m willing to admit it. Sometimes I mentally disconnect from my family so I don’t run away screaming.

You know how I know it helps?

Because I often dream of leaving… But I always come back.

 

Oh, for shame…

How about changing that phrase to “Oh, for forgiveness?”

It has been almost twenty years since I have been out of high school, and ten since I obtained my undergraduate degree. In a very short period of time in my late teens and early twenties, while I explored freedom with which I was wholly unacquainted, tried to figure out who I was, and indulged in typical college vices such as alcohol and sex, I lost my way.

At the time, I excused my behavior as being normative of people in that age and setting. But after being raped I began to wonder if my loose behavior had set me up for that, and the guilt and shame has been with me ever since.

I admit I am struggling to accept God’s forgiveness. What we know from the Word is that once we confess our sins and earnestly repent, we are forgiven. The problem is that there are always other people, places or other external things that can bring that guilt and shame back to the forefront. And what happens then? You begin to doubt yourself, to feel inadequate or unworthy. Your focus changes.

So here is your friendly confirmation for the day. And mine! First, realize that the only one you sin against is God, therefore you only have to get your sin problem right with GOD. Now, if you do somebody wrong, should you apologize? Absolutely. But no PERSON has the right to continually drag you through mental mud because of things you’ve done that you have already asked for and received forgiveness. Instead of questioning whether God truly forgave you, question why that person is trying to make you feel bad about yourself.

Second, truly believe in God’s forgiveness. Look no further than the Bible and its many examples of God working through flawed, sinful people, and realize He is attempting to do miraculous things with you as well. That’s why you ain’t got time for doubt and the mental anchors of guilt and shame.

Third, as a Christian, realize you are just as flawed and sinful as the next person and have no business trying to hold people to standards that you can’t attain yourself. And if you have an issue that warrants it, get professional help so that you do not project your negative emotions on to others. Remember YOU are accountable for your own attitudes, not anyone else.

Spiritual food for thought.

A Living Testimony

Not going to church in months was a major mistake.

Sure, I might have had a decent excuse. The physical ills that accompanied my pregnancy made mornings extremely difficult. The discomfort that came from sitting on those church pews was definitely not just a figment of my imagination. But what happened spiritually was even worse and my recovery from the loss of prayer, worship and fellowship will take longer than it will to heal from pregnancy and childbirth.

Hard lesson learned, but one I am happy to pass on to you. Now I feel guilty and need to spend time in prayer because I know if I’d had a job I would have gone regardless of how bad I felt, because I wanted to reap the financial rewards. Yet I forsook spiritual rewards-love, peace, fellowship, joy, acceptance-to stay in bed with my heating pad and phone. And now as my life has entered into a state of upheaval I realize that is why. I let my connection to God crumble.

In the meantime God has continued to do right by me. My baby is growing well, as are my other children. Despite economic uncertainty in the area, my husband has had the opportunity to not only work regular hours but overtime as well. And I am very happy to report that reviews of Abusing His Grace continue to come in, and they are good, despite some printing errors and typos that I need to fix. Among the reviews was this one:

Screenshot_2018-08-13-13-20-01

That is what I wanted with this book. For someone to read it and enjoy it. Mission accomplished. I am thankful to God for the gift. I owe God a debt that I cannot repay, so all I can do is thank God for Jesus and resolve to do better.

Missed the mark already!

So my goal was to start writing each Sunday beginning… Yesterday. Obviously I already missed the mark. I figured after both my babygirls fell asleep I would be able to give my blog my undivided attention. However, neither of them respected my plan 😊 Up until half an hour ago, I was nursing Soleil while Jayla was falling asleep in my nap. Multitasking level=expert.

I made plans to attend church yesterday. That was before I weathered a relatively sleepless Saturday night. Now, I love the newborn stage. I have loved it with all four babies. There is just something special about establishing that bond, seeing that first smile, inhaling that sweet baby smell. Breastfeeding presents challenges, but even that has given me opportunities for quiet time gazing into my infants’ eyes and to marvel at God’s wondrous works. But…

The broken up sleep drives me bananas.

I love sleep. Sleep makes me happy. I have pleasant dreams that I don’t wish to quickly leave most nights, dreams so good I roll over in the morning, grab my phone or notebook, and jot them down lest I forget. I’m always happy when I have met all of the day’s requirements for responsible adulthood and can lay down and let The Golden Girls watch me fall asleep.

Fortunately, Soleil does not cry much, and when she does wake up through the night they are pleasant encounters. I talk to her while I change her diaper, then adjust my pillows and latch her on. When she is done she usually goes back to sleep within minutes of me patting out a burp. But I don’t. I cannot get back to sleep right away. I doubt I get a total of four hours sleep at night, and then of course during the day I have my other kids to deal with.

It makes me wonder how my grandmothers did this. My paternal grandmother had twelve kids; there were eleven on my mom’s side, with one dying in childhood. They each had their babies back to back and had little support when they returned home after childbirth. I can only imagine how exhausted they were.

Despite my fatigue I am still feeling loads better than I was during my pregnancy and am excitedly looking forward to going back to church and reconnecting with the saints. I have truly missed their fellowship. I felt myself lag spiritually while I wasn’t in regular church attendance. Being a Christian isn’t contingent on church attendance of course, but the benefits of belonging to a functional church that teaches sound doctrine are tangible.

Once I get back I’ll feel whole again. I can’t wait!

May God bless you mightily this week!