whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

here we go… December 20, 2012

Filed under: calling,faith,family,parenting,positive things,sacrifice — Ash @ 4:10 pm

I’ve embarked on a new adventure: work at home mom.
That’s right–I’ve had a baby and I’ve quit my full-time job.
I had a million eloquent things to say about it all over the past several weeks, but I can’t remember any of them right now. I think these verses kind of sum it up for now, though:

“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19, HCSB)

I’m eager to see what God has in store for me and for our new little family. To say life has been different would be the understatement of the year. To say it has been the most difficult time of my life and yet also the most amazing, fulfilling, and joyful time would be the understatement of the decade.

So… here we go.

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this is for you. July 22, 2011

Today I defend my thesis.

It took me a few months to write it… I have been preparing to write it for about 2 years… and my whole life has led up to it.

Today I will be asked why I chose the topic I did. And this is my answer, the one I must write out right now while I can’t stop the tears and can’t speak coherently. I’ll have to save coherent for later when I’m on the phone with the graduate research council.

Why did I write “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Does Prevention Exist for the Potential Molester?”

I wrote it for every friend and family member I have who was molested, sexually abused, touched inappropriately by an adult or another child, or exposed to pornography at an early age. I wrote it for those who have entrusted me with their stories of these incidents, so many now that I have lost count. I wrote it for their broken hearts and stolen childhoods. I wrote it for every adult who has never, ever told anyone what happened to them, because they aren’t sure that it wasn’t normal for everybody and they aren’t sure that it is really that big of a deal. I wrote it for those who have told, and who have been disbelieved. They suffer depths of nightmares that will take years to unravel if they seek help again at all.

I wrote it so parents can be educated and know how to protect and educate their children. I wrote it so those parents can know that if their children are molested, sometimes it isn’t their fault as parents if they have done everything they possibly knew to do. Some parents need to know that they did the best they could with what they had. Other parents need to be arrested and rehabilitated so they can learn how to be parents.

I wrote it so that maybe someday we can stop the cycle of abuse that exists in this nation, and so that these evil deeds can be brought to light. So that counselors, social workers, law enforcement officers, law makers, judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and ministers can perhaps be educated about the unique and devastating effects of sexual abuse for children, so they can save a few from the destruction of their sexuality and self-concept. I wrote it so that more research will be done into the mind of the molester and what can be done to prevent recidivism but more importantly, to prevent the first offense. I wrote it so that maybe someday curriculum to educate children and adults about abuse prevention will be taught in multiple venues and in multiple sessions, so that every parent and child is equipped. I wrote it so maybe someone will investigate the underground pedophile rings and enabling groups that exist in this country, the ones that operate online and in the sex industry. Especially the ones that are protected by the ACLU and the first amendment.

I wrote my thesis to discover if something could have been done to prevent me from ever having been molested. What signs were those teens and adults showing that someone else should have recognized? What should have been done? What help could they have sought and at what stage of their progression into child molesting? The people around me did the best they could with what they knew, but these persons still slipped by. These were people they trusted. They were very good deceivers, and now I know some of the reasons why–they had been down a long road of damaging experiences themselves, they likely had some psychological illness, they had slowly traded in rational thought for distorted thinking, and they had become skilled manipulators. And nobody ever made them get help.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

So, why did I write this thesis? I wrote it for me. But even more so, I wrote it for you. The victims who are still living as victims. The victims who are living as survivors. The people who love those victims and survivors. The children who right now are at risk.

And yes, even for those who fear they may become child molesters. If you fear it, this is a sign there is still time for you to get help.

Was writing this thesis painful? Yes. There were things I read in research that literally made me sick. But was it worth it? Yes.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

This is for you.

 

 

what to do when you’re 30, married, and not a mom February 19, 2011

First of all, let me start off by saying I LOVE my friends who are moms. They are amazing. Nearly all of my closest friends are moms. I admire them and I am glad there are special groups, Bible studies, events, and blogs for them. Most of them probably feel lonely and stressed at times, and I totally understand that. They have a LOT on their plates. So, none of what this post is about is meant to be hurtful to any mommies out there. Some may struggle enough as it is with feeling inadequate (even though they are totally amazing parents).

Like I just said, there is a lot out there for moms. Especially for Christian moms. But at a certain point, especially in Christian circles, you start to get weird looks if you don’t have kids. You’re the odd one out, kind of like it was when you were single and all your girlfriends were getting married. If you’re lucky you might know of some books about infertility that someone told you about. But other than that, being an “older” young married woman in the church (and in the south no less) can be downright depressing.

The Mommy Clubbers. I know the women who do this probably don’t mean to, but some have a major Mommy Club mentality. These are those girls who ask you if you’re pregnant and tease you every time you have a stomach ache (or sneeze). They are the ones who totally ignore you unless they need a baby sitter. They are the ones who never talk to you anymore because they spend their time only with other mommies. They are the ones you thought were good friends, until they got pregnant and began to talk, blog, and tweet about nothing else but their pregnancies and children. These are the Mommy Clubbers.

The Condescenders. Then you have the older women who ask if there is something wrong with you since you don’t have kids yet. They seem to think you exist for little else and that your life must be dreadfully empty without the pitter patter of little feet running through your house. They tell you that if you would just “stop trying” you’d get pregnant, just like so-and-so that they know. Again, I’m fairly certain these ladies mean well. But they are the Condescenders.

The Concerned. Then there are the people you work with and for. They range in their feelings. Some hope you never get pregnant or adopt because you do such great work and they’re afraid you will quit. Some think you are working on your career because you are just killing time before the kids start coming. They can also be Condescenders, but for the most part they are just the Concerned.

The Torturers. And my, oh my. We haven’t even talked about the family. One individual family member can fit into all three categories, as well as the special category really only a family member or in-law can occupy: the Torturers. They meddle. They press. They pester. They hint. They offer advice on what worked for them or so-and-so to get pregnant. They are desperate for grandchildren/nieces/nephews. And of course they too mean well. But they are the Torturers.

The True Friends. And of course there are those amazing diamonds in the rough who invite you into their lives as parents. They answer your sometimes way too personal questions about pregnancy, labor, the adoption process, or all the special challenges and rewards that come with being a parent. They see parenting as a lifelong learning process and admit it when they don’t know all the answers. They continue to invest in your friendship regardless of your mom-status. They allow you to speak into their lives and enjoy having you around them and their kids. These are the True Friends.

What I find is that for many of us in this older age bracket, we live very fulfilled, happy lives. We have loving relationships. We have careers. We have LIFE, even if we haven’t technically brought life into the world. We may yearn for children, and others of us may not. The point is, while we may spend much of the time feeling put down and left out, we’ve got to learn to live with the Mommy Clubbers, the Condescenders, the Concerned, and the Torturers. We can choose to cut ourselves completely off from them, but I don’t think that is the answer.

So instead I just have a bunch of questions. 🙂

What if you don’t want to have kids?

What if you just want to wait to have kids?

How do you interact in a loving, Christlike manner with the above groups of people?

What are some loving responses to the questions and annoying put-down remarks?

What do you do when you’re the “last one” without kids?

What about dealing with fertility issues?

What if you CAN have your own kids but you’d rather adopt?

Does your husband feel any pressure? How does he deal with it, and how do you deal with it together as a couple?

Do you have True Friend moms in your life? How can we be an encouragement to them?

I guess more than anything I’m just hoping I’m not the only one who feels all this. Some days are better than others. Some days I don’t think twice about any of it. Other days it is all I can think about. So, is it just me?

 

the beauty of the tension of balance November 10, 2009

Well… I didn’t post last week. Sorry everyone.

The past week and a half, I have learned that life is often about living in between two completely opposing emotions, and that this is okay.

I have an intense desire to be a mother. It’s funny, because I used to swear I would never have kids. But as I’ve gotten older, I look back and realize that I have always had a mother’s heart. I didn’t always know how to handle “mothering” emotions in positive ways and often confused them for something else, but now I know that God has put within me His nurturing Spirit.

I’m learning to strike a healthy balance when it comes to unmet desires in my life. In the past I would either take things into my own hands and completely screw everything up, or would shut down my wants and needs so I couldn’t be disappointed. Now I am learning that desire is something God puts within us, especially desire for relationship. The mess comes in when we try to fulfill our desires apart from His direction, or try to protect ourselves from pain by convincing ourselves it’s better to shut down the desire.

Now I see that I can actively have an aching need to be a mother, but can also be content while waiting for it to happen in God’s timing. It’s perfectly fine for me to openly weep when I have a negative pregnancy test. It’s expected that I will feel a painful longing when I hear that another friend is pregnant or adopting. But I can also know that God has things for me to enjoy, important lessons for me to learn, exciting things for me to do in the here and now that I would not be able to experience under any other circumstances. He has a purpose for me and if I will wait on Him, everything will be better than I can imagine.

It’s interesting how much of life is paradoxical. I think this is the beauty of living in the in-between times of life… the beauty of the tension of balance.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. (Psalm 123:2, NASB)

You have caused her heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of her lips. (Psalm 21:2)

“But tension is to be loved, when it is like a passing note to a beautiful, beautiful chord.” (Sixpence None the Richer)

 

wheel January 27, 2009

Filed under: parenting,relationship with God,words — Ash @ 1:19 pm

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. (James 3:6, NLT)

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6, ESV)

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:6, NASB)

Just an interesting observation on a couple of words in this verse. The words translated “the entire course of your life” are Greek words meaning “wheel” (trochos) and “source, origin; used of birth, nativity; of that which follows origin, existence, life” (genesis).

As I reflect on this verse, it makes me think back to my childhood. My “wheel of origin.” Words were often tossed around carelessly and sometimes were aimed to cut to the heart, and not just by my family; I myself did (and sometimes still do) the same thing. One thing my husband and I have talked through together extensively is the importance of our using words for healing and building our future children. He has been absolutely instrumental in showing me the healthy way to use words, the calmer way, the more grace-full way. It can be so very easy to default to the “wheel” of living that was set forth for us by our families and friends growing up. I want our kids to start out with a healthy wheel, not one that is set on fire from the very start. I pray our future home will be one with Christ at the center of the wheel, one with His love spreading to every other part. We will seek to break the cycle of careless, harmful, abusive, unhealthy words that has existed in my life’s “wheel.”

Because our children will be the “tender grass” upon which our rainwords will fall.