Monday, August 25, 2014

Swimming with the grands….or Pride goeth before a depression!

Our son just moved his family a little closer to us, and of course, they needed us to come help unpack and be helpful. Naturally we hit the road last weekend and again this weekend. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have our youngest grandchildren still at home: Tommy is six and Adrienne is seven…and then they have a swimming pool too.  If you know me at all well, you know I love the water.  And when Jessica asked me if I would like to keep the kids occupied in the pool, so she could work, it took me seconds to get into my suit.

Little Tommy had been struggling to eat, and his mom, wise lady that she is, asked him how he was feeling, whether he was overwhelmed by the move and all the stuff in boxes and the changes.  It was so cool to hear him say yes, and watch her talk with him and comfort him, helping him put into words how he was feeling.
It made me think about how much pain and grief we carry around because we either can’t bring ourselves to admit it, does pride figure in here? Or, we won’t or can’t act on the good counsel we get?

I know that when I get down or anxious, it is because I am forgetting who I am - a child of God. He so moved in my life that I would hear the good news, that God loved me so much He sent His Son to suffer for my sins. He redeemed me, paying my sin debt.  The big thing though is God loves me.  And because He loves me, His plan is for my good and not evil…so even when things look not so good, the outcome will be good, for me.  Perhaps I will grow and learn from the painful experience and be able to minister to others, or perhaps I will be reminded that I am never out of God’s sight.
Little Tommy listened to his mom, accepted her comfort and hug, and ran off much lighter. I wonder how many times we never tell God our troubles, or never accept His comfort and hugs, sometimes given through His children.  Then that pride leads right down to depression and feeling miserable.

Note: I am not saying this is the cause of all depression, but I fear a whole lot of us feel miserable when we don’t have to and shouldn’t.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Opening Up a Can of Worms

Have you ever looked into your family history, stringing out more that one of those John begat Joseph who begat Jerry lists like the lineages we find in the Bible?  I mean have you done one of those searches that actually tell you what John and Joseph and Jerry actually did and who they were besides serving as your second or third of fourth great-grandfather?

A few years ago I did a little of that research and found my great-great grandfather and grandmother’s graves, John and Johanna Brennan.  It appears that they only lived a few more years in Bradford County, Pennsylvania after they emigrated from Ireland with some of their children – two sons who then fought in the American Civil War.

Then I checked out my mother’s line, in this country for centuries and found pharmacists, and bricklayers and photographers, and one wife-beater – remember that can of worms?

What came to me as I thought through what I have discovered through a few clicks of a mouse and what my daughter found with several more serious clicks and much research, was what would people discover about me? Would they see it as a can of worms, or would they be grateful for that kind of forbear.  I know I was encouraged to read about my forbear, Mary Amelia Hay, who was called a lady doctor, and who started the first post office, the first elementary school and the first boarding school and the first church in the settlement where she lived moved to do all of these things in Kansas back in the 1800’s. 

What evidence will there be of my faith, of my desire to honor God?  And how will thinking about this legacy I will leave affect the years before me, as God alone numbers our days?  Enough to write for the moment, more to think about!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Quite Healed, ways to help the sexually abused….and there are far too many of them – even in our churches.

Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before age 18. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects. ( Furthermore, men are generally so ashamed of their abuse, they too often never tell.

Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;  Again, self-report! How many fear telling?
As a college dean, I nearly left my job when six young women came to me separately and in a short period of time, relating their stories of sexual abuse within their Christian families and churches.  It seemed too great a burden, one that broke my heart and was outside of my early training. My colleague, the Dean of Men, could tell you similar stories.  The challenge was finding tools to help them.

Cecil Murphrey was one of the writers at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, and he wrote, with Gary Roe, Not Quite Healed, 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Both men experienced childhood sexual abuse, but could not face nor deal with it until they were some decades distant from it.  As I read their stories, I could not help but think this is not just a book for men, it is a book for female abuse victims as well, for the families of abuse victims, and for people-helpers of any stripe.
Reading the book is like overhearing a dialogue as the two men share their stories, the long-term consequences of their abuse and what helped bring about the healing process. The 40 truths the title refers to include such topics as these: Why was I victimized? Where was God? Why do I feel responsible for others? Why did I believe the lies? Why do I need to forgive? And Why is forgiving so difficult?

I finished reading the book yesterday, and felt like I was a steward of all of the helpful information…especially knowing that the abuse of children has not stopped, and that there are far too many adults still suffering the consequences of their own abuse. 
So, if you have never experienced sexual abuse, praise God, but learn how you can be of help to those who have.  And if you have experienced sexual abuse, unwanted touches, childhood exposure to pornography (not that any exposure to pornography is not harmful), pressure to engage in sexual activity as a child, you will find this book helpful. 

The evil one has used shame, undeserved shame, for too long to keep abuse victims in prison, fearing that if they tell, they will certainly experience rejection and hurt others, and that does happen still. Nonetheless, the story does not have to end there.  It is true that everyone is not able to provide the help these hurting people need, but read this book, and be one of those who will help open the door to breaking down the shame lie and to healing and wholeness.  And once you have read the book, don’t think you have to go looking for people to help.  When the time is right, God will bring them to you..


Monday, August 4, 2014

Jesus and Others and You: It’s all Wrong!

You probably sang the song back in the day, when you were a kid.  Then you sang the song as an adult, thinking about the words this time, in a different way than you did as a kid.

Jesus and Others and You
Written by B. Metzger, 1951

Jesus and others and you
What a wonderful way to spell joy
Jesus and others and you
in the life of each girl and each boy
"J" is for Jesus for He has first place,
"O" is for others you meet face to face,
"Y" is for you, in whatever you do,
Put your self third and spell JOY.
And maybe you were like me, struggling with feelings of guilt when you considered doing something for yourself.  The problem is that I, and maybe you, have adopted some theology from your hymnology, and really believed you had to stay in third place.  After all, if you did not take care of everyone else’s needs first, you were selfish, and a bad person.
Here’s the rub: even God took a Sabbath!  Furthermore, we see Christ getting away from the crowds to rest and pray.  Finally in Matthew 11:28-30, we find these words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

When my children were very small, I established “Mom’s chair.”  At first, it was the one they could see from their bedroom at nap time.  As long as I was in that chair, they had to stay in their beds.  Thankfully, they usually fell asleep waiting for me to get up.  Then as they got older, especially in Africa, Mom’s chair was in the living room, and when I was in that chair, they had to keep their feet off the floor.  They could read or color or play with Lego, ON THEIR BEDS! 

While I sat in “Mom’s chair” with my cup of coffee, my Bible and notebook, I rested; God and I rested together.  I don’t even know if they remember this, but I wanted them to know that my time with God was important.  I have to admit that it took a while for me to come up with this, especially since number two and three were only 15 months apart, and this was back in the cloth diaper era.  I could fold a lot of diapers or mop the floor or browse through a Family Circle magazine or even lose myself in a book while they napped, but I could not read my Bible and journal while they were awake…so this plan worked for me.
I just wanted to encourage you today, that if you are ever going to have the wherewithal to minister to others, you cannot put everyone else’s needs before your own.  Sometimes you just gotta have a “Mom’s” chair.

image borrowed from