Friday, December 12, 2014

Miracles Still

I was asked by a very dear friend to share a little bit of Larry and my testimony with the women at a marriage conference the second week of November. I really struggled to write it. Not because I didn't know what to say, but because there was so much more that I wanted to share than there was time for. I condensed down our very complicated and involved story as much as I could and shared some of the lessons I learned. 

Before we left for the lodge, I asked God to use my broken attempts and my broken life to bless others. 

I was overwhelmed by the response. I am a little teary thinking about it. God used our heartbreaks and joys to touch people and give some rough marriages hope. 

One couple there sat down and talked to us after reading a copy I had printed off. Turns out that he administrates a ministry website that publishes people's testimonies. He wants us to expand our story for the website (including contributions from Sweet Geek) and told us we should write a book.

A book. 

What a daunting thought. 

So I have decided to share our story one small piece at a time on this blog, and hopefully include some guest posts from Sweet Geeks as we progress. And perhaps, with the content mostly complete, we can take the blog posts and edit them into a decent book. I am open to what God has for us. This is a really difficult journey. It is painful to revisit those dark places. But I will begin the baring of my soul to all of you.

But to begin, here is my testimony that I shared that weekend. It was written with women in mind.

The point of all of this is that God is still in the business of miracles! Even on broken hearts and broken marriages. 

Here we go:

One day, something inside me broke. My heart had been through so much. He had yelled at me for something small -again- and the love for him in my heart just sputtered and died. I became very indifferent, and make no mistake, indifference is the opposite of love, not hate. When you hate, you still care. When you are indifferent, you don't even care any longer. And that is where I was. I didn't even care. Come, go, stay, leave, live or die -I had zero preference.
Some of you may think that I was calloused and you would be partly right. I was. But I felt as if the man I married had been replaced with a bubbling cauldron of anger -spewing venomous words at myself or my precious children. And to make matters worse, during that time we had also lost every single thing that we owned: our cars, our home, our jobs. I felt so alone and wondered why God had abandoned me. Abandoned me with a man who seemed so bent on shredding my heart and injuring my kids.
Let me give you a little background:
I met Larry in July 2000 at the factory where we worked. He was a complete geek: goofy clothes (with almost no sense of style),shaggy hair, very smart and able to fix anything. He would come repair machinery on the industrial line I was working on, and stand there and visit with me while he made sure it was working correctly. I saw his work ethic and how he reacted under pressure and had the utmost respect for him.
 We never ran out of things to talk about. He is one of the most interesting and well-informed men you could even imagine. He gave me a ride when my ramshackle car broke down, and then helped me fix it. He was always there, willing to offer a hand up, always unconditionally, always selfless, never pressuring me, just loving me and being there. I was still reeling from my breakup, so I was not interested in a romantic relationship. We became closer and closer, until I realized , by his actions, that he loved me. But I just couldnt move forward. I was so afraid of getting my heart broken again, that I could not bear to move more than painfully slow.
 In June 2001 I went to Nebraska for my sister's wedding and it was a HORRIBLE trip! I got stuck at my second-shift job the night before, and had to leave by 3am for the airport. I got home from work just in time to throw the rest of my clothes in a bag and dash out the door. Larry had helped me make my arrangements online and gave me a calling card (back before everyone had a cell phones!) to let him know when I got to the hotel safely. When I landed in Omaha, I went to get my rental car and found that they wouldn't give it to me because I was a few months under my 25th birthday. Then I couldn't get a speedy refund to go elsewhere and had to call my mom -3 hours away- to drop the wedding plans and come pick me up. All this time I hadn't slept at all, and began getting really sick. By the time I arrived at the hotel and called Larry I had a full-blown cold. I cried on the phone and told him that all my family was out having a wonderful time while I was stuck in the hotel blowing my nose. He just encouraged me.
On Saturday night he called the hotel and told me he had a package coming the next day and I needed to head to the hotel around noon. I thought he was sending me flowers or something to encourage me, and I thought it was sweet. My heart had begun to soften to the idea of moving forward, but I was still conflicted about going too quickly, and so I was keeping those breaks locked down. Imagine my surprise when I arrived the hotel after church and found that he did have flowers for me -and delivered them himself! He had gotten in his car after work Saturday and drove 15 hours through the night to surprise me on Sunday. He was waiting in the lobby for me with a beautiful bouquet in his hands.
My family loved him and were really impressed with the man he is. All reservations were gone. I had no more doubts about his absolute seriousness of his commitment, and we were married that December.
We enjoyed years of wedded bliss. To be quite honest, the vast majority of any problems we had were cause by me! He was a patient and loving daddy, a tender and selfless husband, and a tenacious provider. I was so blessed!
All that changed in September 2007. Larry was removing a diseased tree in our back yard and fell on his head. On pavement.
That one event changed our entire lives. He fractured his C7 vertebra, had three skull fractures in the shape of a triangle on his occipital bone (that is the little bone that sticks out a bit on the back of your head), and had two major concussions. One was the size of a peach (think your fist) and the other was the size of a plum, and he was bleeding into his brain behind the left eyebrow. The frontal cortex controls personality and impulse control. My husband fell one man, and got up entirely another.
The change in him was drastic. It felt as if the tender, charming man I married had just died on the pavement that day and replaced him with this sullen, suicidal, perpetually angry man who had absolutely no filter and burst venomous words at anyone and everyone. You heard me say suicidal. One of the things they didn't tell me was that He would suffer from severe depression. In fact, they usually sent head injury patients home with an anti-depressant, but not Larry. I don't know why they didn't. Even in the hospital he was so nasty and rude that I didn't even WANT to help him do all the things he absolutely needed help with. He was on a downward spiral into a black hole and just kept going down and down. 
Things kept getting worse. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse it would. We had episodes of smashing dishes, throwing furniture, screaming fits, hurling food items against the wall. My three kids were terrified. More than once I had to take the kids and get out of the house. I am ashamed to say that I contributed. I was working and couldn't keep up, but also, working out of the home turned my heart away from my husband and family. He was unable to keep up with his work and was laid off from his job. That just made things worse.
I really need to take a moment to explain that, what I didn't understand, didn't WANT to understand in all this, was that as much as I was grieving the stranger sleeping next to me, Larry was grieving even more.  He lost a large part of himself and felt completely turned upside down. Up was down, down was up, and he literally didn't know left from right.  Due to the injury, he also lacked the verbal skills to explain it to me. And with the loss of his job, we lost the home he had poured hours of work and thousands of dollars into, we lost our cars, all our emergency funds were depleted, and he felt like a different man. A man that was failing, and failing, and failing. He felt as if the rug was pulled out from under him, and just when he would stand again, it would be yanked out from under him again. He felt as if this process was happening over and over.
 But I didn't understand, and I was part of this process.  I felt as if he was just being a jerk and couldn't understand why he wouldn't just pull it together.  I had zero compassion for his situation. Granted, I didn't really understand, but isn't that the point? We show compassion even when we don't feel like it. Not because they are worthy of compassion, but because as children of God, that is what we are called to do. My husband was just as valuable to God after his accident as before. We choose to be on our husband's side and stand by him, right? In sickness and in health? Richer and poorer?
 I was not doing what was right. I was using Larry's bad behavior as an excuse to have a rotten attitude, and tell people how "bad" he was -under the guise of asking for advice. And granted, it was a terribly difficult situation. Maybe one in 100,000 people have to deal with this kind of thing! But no one, NO ONE, had any idea what to do! Even people who were staunch supporters of sticking with a marriage were telling me to take the kids and leave. Even my mom (whom I have heard say more than once "Divorce, never. Murder, maybe, but divorce? Never.") came to visit with the birth of child number four, and told me "Dawn, you told me things were really bad, but I had no idea things were this bad. Things are much, much worse than I thought."
As I look back, I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit just wouldn't allow me to end our marriage out of my selfishness. Somehow I just couldn't do it. Even after the day my love for him shriveled and died, I prayed about it and just decided that a lack of feeling was not a good reason to divorce. I decided (clearly by the hand of God alone) that I would continue to fight for my marriage. That doing the right thing was more important than how I felt. But I will say, that lack of feeling is what made it possible for me to do the right thing. I no longer cared if he liked me. It no longer hurt when he yelled, and I didn't get emotional and yell back. I was no longer hanging my emotional health on what Larry thought of me.
But I did have to leave for a time. He needed to get help for his crushing depression and suicidal thoughts and he refused. As I packed a few things I got on my knees and asked God for a miracle.  But I never intended to end the marriage. And me being gone opened the door for some honest dialogue that needed to happen. I affirmed to him that I wasn't ever going to divorce him, but that he needed help. And he reached out for help at that time. The struggle was far from over, but for the first time I had hope for my poor husband.
But that miracle I asked God for, I expected Him to do a work in my husband, imagine my surprise when I found that the work He wanted to do was in ME! To make a very long story incredibly condensed, God worked on my heart; He squished it and chastised me and got a hold of my heart. God taught me lessons I should have learned long before:
First of all, God never intended for Larry to be all that I need. He never intended him to be the perfect husband for me. No man on earth can meet the needs of our heart. NO MAN. Only God. As long as we look to our husbands to meet our emotional needs we will feel slighted and wronged. When we put our self-worth in God's hands alone, we are able to weather the failures and mistakes that our husbands make. And they will make mistakes. And we must have understanding for the failures they will make and continue to DO RIGHT in spite of them. We need to keep being respectful, and kind and display the fruits of the spirit. Larry didn't get hurt and go through all this to hurt me. Truthfully, he was hurting so much more than I could even imagine, but I was too self-absorbed to see it.
Secondly, I realized that men have incredibly fragile egos. Oh, they posture, and try to put on a strong front, but the truth is they often feel as if they are failing, and they need to hear from us that we are proud of them and think that they are great guys. Even in the midst of the extreme experience that we had, I had to go back to my memories of better days and recount those happy memories and how much I appreciated the different qualities that he had, and why I fell in love with him. Though his impulse control was gone for a time, He still had the same marvelous spirit he had before. This is where Philippians 4:8 is such a powerful tool, and a commandment, for married women.
 "Finally, Brethren, Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
 You need to fill your minds with the positive things about your husband and banish the negative thoughts. So often, we women are so filled with thoughts of all that our husbands do wrong that we fail to be the helpmeet that God intended for us to be. We replay their mistakes over and over in our minds that we don't love and support our husbands the way we should. Make no mistake, ladies, this is sin. They desperately need us to build them up and edify them. Doing so is obedience to God. Choose to actively build him up every day.
Thirdly, in Ephesians 5:33b it says "...and the wife see that she respects her husband." Ladies, I am going to address you in a very direct manner, you need to make a hard and firm rule that you will never, ever speak to your husband in a disrespectful manner. Sometimes he will be wrong.  Sometimes he will snap at you. He will fail, he will sin. That does NOT make it permissible for you to speak to him in a condescending, snide or disrespectful manner. A woman can even confront her husband over something he is doing that is not right and be completely respectful about it -never tearing him down, but building him up. Completely respectful. That means not badmouthing him to your family or dishing his faults to your girlfriends. If you have a real issue you need to find a godly older woman, and in great discretion, ask her advice. Or seek a godly couple to counsel you. But make sure that you are respectful in what you say about him and to him. And if he continues to do the thing you cannot agree with (aside from harm to yourself or your kids), you pray about it and leave it to God. You also must respect what God is doing in his life and the speed -or lack thereof- that God deals with him. It is God's job to grow him. Not yours. So respect that as well.
Fourthly, Ladies, you need to be willing to submit to God by submitting to your husband. I grew up in the Independent Baptist Church movement, and they were mostly marvelous people, but occasionally we would come across an IFB church that was different. And even as kids we could tell that something was off. My amazing Dad would comment on the way the women were browbeaten, dressed in a dumpy and unkempt manner and so clearly very, very sad. So at an early age we could observe these families where submission was used as a club to fit women into a box, and impose on them things that they were against and leave them unprotected. Women who were never permitted to have an opinion, and were not permitted to ever confront their husbands in wrongdoing or make any decisions in the home, and that is abuse. That is NOT what I am talking about here.
What I am talking about is that a marriage is is two flawed people with our own bents and selfish plans, and someone has to have the final say and take responsibility before God for what happens in the family. God appointed men to be the head for that reason. It isn't because God values women any less. We have an amazing influence over our husbands and in our family and communities. Women are valuable to God. It is because of that value that God lets the responsibility rest on the husband. I helps us avoid a union of two people of equal power fighting over and over and never resolving, no one ever throwing up the white flag, a marriage of constant and unrelenting conflict. And every one of us have seen marriages like that. You may even have lived through or may be living in that kind of marriage now. Whether you like it or not, your husband has to answer to God for your family. That means that he has GOT to sign off on the big decisions, because he has to answer to God for it. I can't tell you how many, many times God revealed His will by our agreeing, but when we don't, I have to step back and allow God to work.
 I lost a very dear cousin last October. The previous July we were scheduled to go to a family reunion and, among other things, spend some real time with my cousin. I planned, and prayed to go, and close to the time it looked like we would have the financial means to make the trip, but Larry's second in command was in a horrific car accident and Larry couldn't get away from work. I begged and begged to take the kids and go, but he just did not feel comfortable. I cried to myself and begged God, but calmly told Larry that I would abide by whatever He decided. He decided "no." I was terribly upset. But he just told me that if something happened and the car broke down (which had happened before) that he would not be ok with me and our kids being at the mercy of whoever came along. We didn't currently have any trouble with our van, so I felt he was being overly cautious. Do you know what? That van stranded me 3 times that week. God knew, and He worked through my husband to protect our family. Though his loss months later made our absence more painful, I just have to trust that God has a reason for the way things happened.  Ladies, sometimes things will work out the way we desire, but sometimes they won't. But what it all comes down to is whether or not we trust God.

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it withersoever He will.

 Ladies, God holds the heart of the king in His hands, can't he effect the hearts of our husbands? Our God is so very, very much bigger than we give Him credit for. How truly small do we think God is that He cannot work in the hearts of our husbands for our protection and mutual benefit? My dear ladies, God is so much bigger than that.

 1Peter 3:1-63
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Sarah trusted in God. Abraham pulled all kinds of nonsense, but God always had her back, didn't He? We can trust God too. It will not be painless, it won't be easy. But God will never leave you alone in any situation. We also can trust God in every situation.
 Let me tell you, God is faithful. He will not fail you -even if the situation seems so dire. God will not fail you. I have lived through this. I have seen God be faithful even when there was no earthly way it could all come together. I worked through my pregnancy with my fourth child. I was an insurance agent, and very good at what I did, but with everything going on with Larry I could see that my family was falling apart. One morning, as I got ready for work, I was crying out to God, and the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to my heart "You need to quit your job!" And I said, "Lord, we need the money so badly that I just dont think I can make a case for quitting to Larry. He will never agree. When the baby comes, I will have an excuse to get out." The Lord said, "You need to quit NOW!" I told Him, "OK, Lord, if you can make Larry agree, I am willing. But if that is what you want from me, then I am going to hold You to your promises that you care for your children!" Just a few days later I fell and bruised my pelvic bone and was put on bed-rest. Once I came off bed-rest I began having early contractions and was put right back on bed-rest. I never worked another day. Just having me there was a huge improvement for my sweet little girls. They had been fending for themselves and lacked clear direction. But God kept His promises too! We were living in GR at the time and there were three shootings in view of our home in a 6 month period of time, we opted NOT to renew our lease. But that left us homeless again, and we landed in a little shoebox home of a friend -just around the corner from a church. We didn't have transportation for the whole family, so when a neighbor stopped and offered to pick up some of our kids so we could all go to church, we were really grateful. So around the corner to church we went, and found a very welcoming environment.  The second Sunday we attended,we were down to our last $50 and two weeks to go before another dime was available and an empty pantry and fridge. I saw a pile of food for a pantry drive in the foyer, and I though "Boy, would it ever be nice to have some of that food! Lord, you are a promise keeper. Please provide us with some food. I know You won't let us go hungry!" The next day, the lovely couple who had invited to church us stopped by and said, "We don't want to pry, but it occurred to us, that maybe you could use some food. Do you guys need any food?" I just began to cry and told them that I had been praying for food, and so that evening two deacons stopped by and brought boxes of some of the very food I had seen, and a check for enough money to get by. Over the next few months this happened a hundred times, "Lord, we desperately need toilet paper!" and a couple hours later someone would drop by with some groceries and toilet paper. I ran completely out of makeup, shampoo and facial cleanser. I suffer from cystic acne and so I am self-conscious about my skin and I have a very narrow margin of skin care and makeup I can use. I am sorry, $60 skin care is NOT in the budget! So I prayed about it, and we came home one evening and there was a box by our door FULL of Amway products: shampoo, organic cleaners, the entire skin care line and makeup. Christmas was not a financial possibility for us at all, but God laid it on the hearts of three different people to treat my kids for Christmas. We woke to a pile of presents and food on our doorstep. We were given THREE Christmas turkeys! I prayed for a coat for my oldest and God provided four. As a result, we were able to bless teo other friends with daughters her age with desperately needed coats as well. We were given a van large enough for the whole family! God didn't just provide, our cup ran over with both provisions, and with love.
 The very best part of the church God led us to is that they understood what having a head injury meant. Seven years prior to the time we began attending a member had been in a really terrible car accident and had suffered from a serious head injury. The church and pastor had walked through the healing process with her and had an understanding and empathy that we had not gotten anywhere else. The deacons and elders just surrounded me and my family and those men led and protected my family while Larry could not. The wise counsel meant so very, very much to me. I not longer felt like a single mom. I had strong leaders that were just amazing to me and our family. They passed no judgement. They were just there, loving, guiding, helping. God poured out his provision and love. But I had to get out of the way.
It is the same way with submission, Ladies. By submitting to our husbands and God we are effectively stepping out of the way to let God work. He is unable to fail us.
The last thing, and most important, is to pray constantly for our husbands. Pray for God to bless him at work, for God to steer him towards the place he should be. Pray that he would be pure and passionate towards us as wives, pray he would love his children deeply. Pray for God to give him strength courage and wisdom, pray for God to show him God's will for your family. Pray for anything and everything.
I have an interesting story to share about prayer. A few months ago my three Bible Study friends and I committed to pray for our husbands at work the following two weeks. When we met again we were amazed by God's swift answer to prayer. Of the four husbands, three had gotten a raise and one husband had been injured at work, but his superiors were determined not to have him out on disability (with a 33% pay cut!) and gave him a desk job while recuperating. It was an answer to prayer. Pray for your husband. He desperately needs it.
The charming and intelligent man you have met here is my excellent husband. Our church helped with meds to aid his healing, but when it came down to it, I begged God to heal him without a lifetime of meds. And God did. I was prepared live the rest of my life -if God called me to that- in a very cold marriage. But God chose to give him back to me. And God worked a miracle in my heart too. God woke the flame of love in my heart and restored the passion I thought could never be healed. God is still in the business of miracles, and He is still in the business of healing marriages. Our love is a testament to the love of God and what He can really do to a heart that is willing. 

What do you think? What trials have you gone through that you thought would break you. Did you find God used it to make you stronger? I would love to hear your miracle stories.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Objects (And My Shame)

I did something today that I am ashamed of. It is something I have NEVER done before. Like, NEVER. And did I do this in private? Nope. Right on the hyway. In the van. With all FIVE of my kids as witness to this despicable behavior.

I am really ashamed about it, and I even hesitate to share it here. My cheeks are burning with embarrassment as I write this. But this brings to question another matter that has been mulling in my mind. I have had a hard time puting in to words how I feel about this particular topic and have failed to express very well to those who don't agree with me. 

Let me back up. 

A couple of months ago this video went viral on YouTube.

 In this short video a young woman walked around New York for 10 hours and they recorded the catcalls and interactions of men around her. She was dressed modestly in plain old jeans and a t-shirt with a high neck. For the sake of the experiment she did not engage any of the cat-callers in substantial conversation (so no one could say she was encouraging them), and she simply walked around, minding her own business. Most of the things thrown at her are minor and easy to brush off, but one very disturbing part of the video is when a man walked beside her for five minutes, as she refused to speak to him. He just kept following her. As the time progresses, she became more and more visibly tense and scared. Even though there was someone right there who would have come to her aid if she was attacked, she was still afraid. That was very telling to me how she felt about what was happening.

This video got mixed reviews. Many people (of both genders) who viewed it didn't really see that much wrong with it. They felt that she should be flattered by, what they felt, were sincere "compliments" she was receiving. And some did seem sincere. Others saw what they felt was rude and oppressive behavior at best, and frightening harassment at worst. Some comments were nasty, plain and simple. And a couple of these guys were straight up scary. 

I had a conversation with a CHRISTIAN man who saw nothing wrong with the comments being made to this girl or the way that all these men viewed and treated her. I tried to find his comments (I couldn't. It was a couple months ago, like dog years on Facebook!) but I said something to the effect of:
The problem is that these men are treating her as if she is nothing more than a sexual object. They treat her as if she exists to meet sexual needs. That is what we women object to! That is what we are standing against! Here she is, going about her day, and is repeatedly reminded that the only thing all these men value her for is her body. They care nothing except what they can get out of her.

Do you know what this Christian man replied to me?  He said that all men are horndogs, that we women should expect it and accept it, and that all men should think of women as a sexual object from time to time -like in marriage.

I wish I could find my response. I was quite *snark* eloquent! It was a vision of verbal *gag* perfection rivaled only by *snort* Shakespeare himself! 
HA! Cant keep a straight face on that one! Did I mention what a terrible time I was having puting into words how I felt about this? I thought over his comment for weeks, and just felt I couldn't address what he said without anger. In fact, I wrote a couple of them out, but my phone malfunctioned and wouldn't post. I think God was just saving me from getting deeper into a discussion I didn't have either the time or the stomach for. And when I refer to my stomach on this issue, I really mean it. Because the thought of what this girl went through ties my belly in knots. Why, you ask? I will get to that.

This is a video response to the fallout from this social experience, this guy handles the issue with grace and humor (WARNING: Some comments are a little inappropriate. Not for children.)

There are a couple of things that I want to call your attention to in this video.

First of all, did you hear every single woman say that it happened to them daily? More than half had this weary, almost pained look on their faces as they described how it was DAILY, some ALL DAY. Constant. Never ending. Interjected on every day of their lives. They are exhausted by it.

Secondly, did you hear the things those women said they would like to do to the men who made catcalls to them? Lightening bolts to their private regions? Being branded? Does it sound to you as if these nasty comments meant nothing to them?

I also wanted to draw your attention to the guy that was fully convinced it was good to street harass women, and that it made their day "better". 

*eye roll*

The interviewer responds well, "I like a guy not confused by the facts."

So what does all this have to do with my shameful behavior today?

There I was, driving my van full of my five kids, and in the front seat was my oldest. Referred to on this page as Monkey See, she has grown so much and become so beautiful! I don't mean to brag. She is just a really lovely young woman.

Monkey See is completely ignorant of her own beauty. She has never been a primper or much of a fashionista -not since she was three! She goes for comfort in her clothing and shoes, she is blissfully unaware of her womanly curves or the magnetism of a lovely woman being unaware of her loveliness. She wants to be treated like "one of the guys" because she likes gaga-ball and science. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up. And not just a doctor, she wants to be a researcher. She wants to study the magnetic force fields of the human body and the cause and effect of mentality, nutrition and overall health on magnetic fields. Only my little geek who takes after her father! One Direction (the singing group) bores her and she isn't that into fashion and so she has a hard time with other girls her age. They just don't relate.

Today she got her hair cut, over a foot off.

And she had been feeling so light and so completely lovely in her own, oblivious way -completely ignorant of all other views of her beauty and not really caring! Unaware of her own radiance, and just thrilled to have all that weight off her! 

We were going down the road on the way to our next errand, and I am being careful to watch the traffic around me. Out of the corner of my eye I see this beige, full size, 15 passenger van pacing us on my right. And the driver turns towards the van and makes one of the most obscene gestures ever invented. Such a repulsive, obtrusive, sexual advance. Towards my TWELVE YEAR OLD daughter in the front seat. And suddenly I was back.

 I was back at the first time I ever noticed being followed in the store. It was about a month before either my 14th or 15th birthday. Every December, my parents and five siblings would go on our annual Christmas shopping outing. We would dress up a little, pile in the car and head to Souix City, IA and hit the malls, see all the lights and maybe have pizza after. It was a wonderful bit of holiday fun for our whole family. I was with my parents and all my siblings, I was CLEARLY young. And this guy, maybe mid 20s, kept trying to catch my eye. Every store we went in to he was there. I didn't feel afraid because my buff army dad and 6ft tall older brother were there and I knew I was safe. But that was just the start of what would become the norm in my life. Once I moved to Michigan, I was followed around the store nearly every time I went in. Constantly being hit on. Smiling and being polite.

But always wishing I had a wicked right hook, and wishing I had the courage to use it. 

I was back at the days working at a fast food place where it was as if I had a neon sign over my head begging for sleazy old men to hit on me. And if I shut them down they got belligerent and mean. There was a gay guy I worked with who was the most human man there. When he saw any of us girls dealing with a nasty customer who wouldn't leave us alone, he would come and pretend to relieve us for our break and take over ringing the guy up and get his order. He was a Godsend! 

I was back at the techs on the line snickering and pointing in full view. I knew what the faces they made meant. I knew the lewd intentions behind them. They didn't care that I knew. They wanted my body and had not a single thought for my mind or anything else. 

My mind was back at "the look" I would get over and over. Taking in my body. Lust. It makes me want to gag. Even now.

I was suddenly thrown back to the day I heard a knock on the door of my upstairs apartment and looked through the peephole. It looked like the son of the people downstairs, so I opened the door. He had a bouquet in his hand. I thought maybe some flowers had been delivered or something while I was out and he was there to hand it off to me. It wasn't. The night before a guy had asked for directions in the parking lot of the grocery store. 

He followed me home. 


No matter how I say it, I still can hardly believe it. Because that doesn't yell "STALKER" at all! (Where is that sarcasm font when you need it?)

I didn't sleep another night in that house.

For months I was always looking in my rear-view mirror, and if anyone turned more than once after me, I went into panic mode. I haunted me for over a year.

I couldn't make this stuff up.

I wasn't always mother to five amazing monkeys. I wasn't always 700lbs (not really) and had to be rolled down the sidewalk (not even CLOSE).
 But my physic is quite different than it used to be. I was very curvy and perfectly endowed. Not "model pretty", but street pretty.

To be perfectly honest, my drastic weight gain is almost a relief. I don't have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis. Now icky men don't oogle or drool. They just go about their business and leave me to mine. No lewd comments. No unwanted advances. Relief. Well, at least for the most part.

  But that is a topic for another day.

And all this stuff is going through my head, and all the terror of all the scary moments combined is hitting me in wave after wave. I had no idea what these guys were going to do. They were pacing us, hanging on my right.  Would they ram us? Force us into the ditch?  Was I going to have to attempt to fight off at least four men trying to abduct my daughter?

More obscene gestures.

And... I actually flipped the bird. 
*more embarrassed burning of the cheeks*
 In that split second, I couldn't think of a single other thing that could so clearly convey my extreme displeasure and make clear their advances were not wanted and not tolerated.

If I had a rock or brick, I would have thrown it. 
It is a good thing I didn't have a gun. I may have opened fire. 
If I had a bat, I am fully convinced I could have jumped through the window, beat both the guys in the front seat, and made it back to my spot in the seat the van before needing a steering correction. I was that angry and scared.

 Well, maybe not that much.
Truthfully I was terrified. 
Terrified for my daughter and my other kids also in the car. Willing to do anything to protect her and them. Not knowing what they would do next.

Monkey See grabbed a paper and scrawled in bold letters:
"I am 12"
and held it up to the window.

They kept making the gestures and hanging right on my right flank. I gunned the engine and got ahead of them (my exit was coming up). They headed to the left lane and paced us from the left, making more gestures and creating a sign of their own, which they held to the window. I won't tell you what it said, but it makes my whole face feel as if it is burning. At that point it was clear they were talking to me and the heat was off  her. I wish I could say I was relieved, but I wasn't. It was a horrifying, ugly exchange. Without any notice I suddenly took the exit (at the last moment). By the time they realized what I had done, they had no choice but to move on down the road.

You may wonder why I was so scared. Why? What could be so terrifying? It is just fingers and mouths and obscene gestures, after all. Why terror? Why such protective rage? 

Now here is the part to wake up to. 

Awake yet? Here it is.

They were treating my beautiful daughter and I as if we were objects. They were CLEARLY thinking of us as objects and not people. There is no doubt. Why else would you single out someone on the HYWAY to make sexual gestures at?

Why is this such a problem? 
Because objects are things that can be used and it doesn't matter what you do to them. Things don't matter. We drive on roads, walk on doormats, use utensils, throw away unwanted items when we are done with them. We cannot harm them because they are THINGS. It doesn't matter if we use them up or throw them away. They have no souls, no feelings. It doesn't matter what happens after that because things are just things. 

Those men think my daughter and I are things. They don't care what happens to us, they don't care how we feel, they don't care if we hurt, they don't care if our needs are met. We are objects to be enjoyed and thrown away. 
We have no idea just what lengths they would go to for their "good time." Would they rape? Murder? Torture? What lengths would they go to? I have zero information about their character, except a highly negative exchange that speaks absolutely NOTHING to good character or any kind of restraint.
 You see, it is a very short step between treating someone as if they are an object and losing all sense of a person's humanity altogether.

Let me say that again.

You see, it is a very short step between treating someone as if they are an object and losing all sense of a person's humanity altogether.

 If a woman is not a person, then torture doesn't matter. If a woman is not human, then it doesn't matter if she lives or dies. If a woman isn't a person, then any abuse she endures doesn't matter. 
That is why objectifying women is so dangerous. That is why men of honor and faith should not turn a blind eye to other men who treat women as nothing but an object. That is why men of substance should stand for women and call for an end to this horrifying way of thinking.
It matters when men view raunchy materials and porn. Why? Because there is a fine line. Because it lacks humanity. And most women have this sense that there is something very wrong with porn, but they cant quite put their finger on it. They are considered by society to be "prudes" and treated with a bit of contempt and a "get over yourself" attitude. But this is WHY. We women know that the margin is very, very narrow. Even if we can't quite express it  in words.

Men with a backbone should revolt against the way that society has treated the image of women. Constant, unending objectification. I think many Christian men secretly like it. They love that sin more than their wives and daughters -as they help perpetuate the culture that will harm these loved ones their whole lives. How narrow is the margin between the dehumanizing of women -enough to make catcalls or kidnap and rape? How far is it really?

And as for married men sometimes needing to think of their wives as sexual objects, I haven't really decided what exactly I think about that. I would much rather that men think of their wives a intensely sexual people, with needs and desires that matter and should be met in mutually unselfish ways towards each other. In my marriage I find that intense, unselfish love incredibly effective. If a married man thinks of his wife as an object, how would that effect the way would he treat her? Would he value her opinions and input? Would he be respectful of and to her? How would he work through -or not work through- problems? Would that be the kind of marriage I would want to be a part of? Is that what I would want?

This next part makes me want to cry:

I am beyond grieved that my daughter has to deal with this. For over a year, as I have watched her physically blossom into the body of a woman, I have dreaded what I know she will have to deal with. I have struggled with how to prepare her for this, to both keep her humble and also impress on her the effect of her physical appearance. I have wondered how to prepare her. How do I prepare her? How do I prepare her for a world that is dangerous to her because she is physically beautiful? How do I raise her to send her out to a world of men who have been fed a steady diet of images and attitudes that portray and encourage objectifying women. How do I teach her to look over her shoulder at all times without scaring her to death? How do I help her navigate through all the innuendos, forceful invitations, treatment as sub-human, thought to be stupid (since she is pretty) and relentless lewd comments. 
This is the world my daughter has to live in. She looks 16, but is actually 12, and struggles with her changing physic. She is so young, and dealing with such grown-up problems. 

Today she saw things she shouldn't have had to see. She is being forced to grow up ahead of her time. And as a mom, it is really heartbreaking. This is the world she has to live in -even worse than the one that robbed me of so much peace of mind.

And there are no resources. I can't find a single book or parenting course that shows me how to prepare my daughter for this. there are tons of resources for nearly every other problem, but what about this? Why is it ignored? You would think that at least one Christian author would have thought of this and helped parents work through this with their daughters. Maybe the world has actually changed so quickly that they cannot keep up. Right now I do the only thing I can do: pray and trust God. I know that He loves my Monkey Girls even more than I do, and He will only allow what is for their ultimate good. And yet I know what they are going to face. And it makes me sad.

There is an attitude that has permeated the church; boys will be boys.


Boys will be what you expect and teach them to be.

And some of you may read this blog and feel that I am overreacting to all of this, but I want you to keep something in mind:


How many nights after that sit he sit outside my house waiting for me to come home? I didn't sleep there another night. Did he wait for me? Was this guy a rapist? Murderer? Did he have violent fantasies he desired to fill? I will never know, but I am painfully aware of the world my lovely girl is walking into.

And I have three more girls, all rapidly hitting all their height markers. My heart aches for each one of them and the world they are going into, and for all the young women. Very soon they will be navigating difficult waters.

Friday, January 31, 2014


Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

I am blessed. I have the most wonderful Mr Geek on the planet. I sincerely and deeply appreciate everything he does for our family, working the overly stressful job tirelessly to provide for the family,  fixing all the broken items -from broken cars to broken barbies and toy trucks, leading our family with honor and wisdom and dignity,  giving me the gift of sincere and fascinating conversation, his unwaivering support of homeschooling our precious brood, very protective of me and our young family, choosing to spend all his spare time (which isn't much) with them and investing in them, and his dedication and humility towards his family. 

It was not always that way. We had a terrible time in our marriage. I didnt think our fragile union would survive.

But that is a story I will begin another day.

For those who live in the middle of our country, you know that we have been having record-setting low temps and snowfall. Over the last three weeks we have barely even left the house (causing some serious cabin fever in my five monkeys -I just can't send them out to play when the wind chill is 24 below!) And my Sweet Geek has battled his emotions of concern sending his medical curriers out in this terrible weather -knowing that the conditions they are driving in are life threatening, but also knowing that the elderly recipients of the medication they deliver are facing life threatening situations themselves.  What a burden to bear. 

And yet, each day he came home and slept, then tackled the chest high drifts in our driveway without complaint.  

I was wishing that there was a way to lighten his load. I sincerely thought that I could do a little snowblowing so he could get some more sleep or catch up on something else.  But I had no idea just how hard that would be.

On Friday night the roads were so horrific that Larry was stuck 30ish miles away in the city where he works. On Saturday morning he called me: "I am SURE the driveway has drifted over. It has drifted every day for the last three weeks.  You are going to have to start the snowblower and make at least enough of a path for me to walk in and take over. Take the path of least resistance and get to the road.  Now listen carefully..."

He then proceeded to describe the complicated way to start the snowblower.  

First you turn one knob, then another, then pump a thing three times,  then plug it in, then hold down yet another button for three seconds. But it wont start then,  so you turn one of the knobs back one notch, then it was frozen so I had to free the thrower, then I had to stand on my head, sing the alphabet backwards, do the hokey-pokey ... you get the idea. It was the most tempermental, sideways, ridiculous thing I have ever had to coax into action. Ever. 

More than my kids. Yes. Really.

More tempermental than my first car -a 1978 Chevy Impala Station Wagon. And that is really saying something. That thing was a beast.

So I FINALLY got the ornery thing started. 

Out I set, by this time Larry is parked across the street, waiting for me.  He had purchased a shovel at the store on his way down, and was at the other end of our 40 yard driveway shoveling towards me.  My two oldest girls, viewing this for what it was, an adventure, climbed over the drifts and headed out to joyfully greet him and help shovel from that end. 

Ok. The path of least resistance. 
The path of least resistance. 
The path of least resistance. 

Ok. That looks like the best way to go. 

I headed down the east side of our driveway. It appeared to be the best route. About halfway down I realized that the snowblower was determined to go halfway on the grass. 

Now, let me take a moment to say that the difficult way to start this machine was a great indication of how difficult it was to manage the thing! It is like an unruly dog. It needs a firm hand. Much firmer than mine. 

So, here I was, the grass on the left, and a shoulder high drift on my right.

Hmmmm. I think my assesment of "the path of least resistance" was badly done. Not working.

So what do you do when you make a mistake? You admit it and make it right. I acknowledged defeat and backed up to attempt another route. The middle of the driveway was the highest point of the drift,  so I cut across and tried down the west side. It seemed to be going well enough until I hit this large chunk of ice. It was nearly as high as a cinder block and twice as wide. I just couldn't get it over or around it. Once again admitting defeat I headed back to my first defeat and tried to cut through the shoulder high drift. 

By this time I was completely exhausted.

I knew it was hard, but this was beyond me. I asked God, no, I BEGGED, for strength and courage and just kept plugging forward.  

All of a sudden I noticed oil dumping out of the snowblower. NOT a little. A LOT. 

If you know anything about engines that require oil, you know this is a very, VERY bad sign. 

My own knowledge is limited,  but this I knew was not good. I let go and stepped away and started yelling for Sweet Geek in a bonifide PANIC.

Aaaaack! I BUSTED his only snowblower, I was thinking. He, being the darling he is, waded through the only hip-deep drifts to see what I was panicked about. I think he injured himself coming to my rescue. 

Turns out I was tipping it too much and was dumping oil out of the oil well. I was SO relieved I didn't ruin the snowblower! Mechanical things, and electronics and I DO NOT get along. Maybe that is one reason why my first car and I didn't get along. I just don't do well. I ruin phones and computers in the most ridiculous ways. My Sweet Geek is constantly saying, "What did you do NOW?!"

So he checked it out and everything was fine. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness at the bullet dodged!

And I have never been so happy to hand a task over to someone else in my life. 

I think I would rather change 100 poopie diapers than ever run that machine ever again. like, EVER.

So I climbed over the drifts to help the girls dig towards him from the other direction.

We tackled it with vigor, knowing that every shovel of snow we threw was one less bit of snow thing Sweet Geek had to deal with. 

Now, this fall, for the first time in my life I discovered that cold weather produced breathing problems for me. I had been training for a 5k, but was forced to discontinue after needing an inhaler for EVERY SINGLE RUN.  So, when using ANY exertion outside, I have my inhaler with me and use it. Ugh. 

So I was prepared I had tucked my inhaler into my pocket, thinking that having it close to my skin would be enough to keep it warm, right? 


On came the asthma attack. I pulled it out and used it.

When the frozen mist hit my lungs like 1000 tiny icicles stabbing the inside of my lungs, I knew I was in trouble. I waded my way back to the house over four foot drifts, feeling lightheaded and my legs like jelly and headed inside. 

I laid down on the couch, my chest hurting, and rested while the medicine icicles in me lungs melted and started working. After a half hour or so, he sent the girls in so they didnt get too cold.

After a few hours of resting I looked at the clock and out the window. At this point realized how little progress Sweet Geek had made. It was about three hours later, and he had still not been able to punch a wide enough hole through the drift to allow even enough room to pull the van in. So once again I bundled up and headed out, and for two more hours we worked together. I walked behind him breaking down the drifts for his next pass. I was careful not to exert myself too much and get to breathing hard. I just knew he could never get it done in time to head back to his evening job without some help. I even wrestled with the snowblower for a couple passes so he could get a warm cup of coffee. 

By the time we were done I was aching all over. I used muscles I forgot I had! Oh, boy. Did I ever ache! All told, it took seven hours to get a path wide enough to not get stuck in. SEVEN HOURS! 

But I realized something. My oldest, Monkey See, said it best. 

She watched me struggle with the snowblower and said, "Dad sure makes that look easy, doesn't he?"

Yes, Monkey See, he does.

I realized that my husband is really good at hiding so many difficult things he faces every day. Sometimes I am given a glimpse from him how many different things he wrestles with because he is a 
definite "words person." He loves to tell me about his day.

 But men who aren't words guys, who struggle to communicate with their wives, who don't want to or can't put words to the way their day made them feel might not have the tools to express what their struggles are.  Even my Sweet Geek with his superior communication skills has trouble puting words to it. And he doesn't want to complain.  how many men carry burdens feeling so alone because they think they must just "suck it up" and refuse to complain?

We as women seem to have an easy time wording the struggles of our day. I have read so many, many blogs where women talk about the endless stream of dirty diapers, shirts we have worn for three showerless days covered in spit-up and baby food in our hair, the riggors of frantically locking the bathroom door so we can poo in peace -hoping against hope that they are distracted enough by Backyardigans that they don't destroy anything before you can finish. Because you haven't pooped alone in three months. 

And I am not saying that those blogs and personal accounts aren't important. They are!  They aren't only important, they are crucial. They not only help all of us who share similar experiences to realize we are not alone in our struggles,  but it also gives those outside our experience an opportunity to have an insight into our lives.  They can have empathy in our situation. They can see new perspectives and have a window into vastly different lifestyle than their own. It is powerful.

Words are powerful. Writing words is powerful too. It is a form of therapy.

But the male blogs are simply not as common.  I think that men have plenty to say, but they dont seem generally express it in the same ways as we do. 

Sometimes we need to set our rough day aside for a moment and read between the lines.

Not only do so many men just not sit around and talk about their feelings (can you IMAGINE that night out with the boys? I am giggling just thinking about it!), but they can't always tell us what they need. Even my uber-verbal Sweet Geek just can't seem to say, "I really need to to support me today because I am falling apart here." or "I missed you today and all I want is for you to seem really happy to see me!"

And, UGH! How often am I so wrapped up in my own little set of problems that I forget he has a set of them too? How frequently do we women lash out our frustration aimed at him when he gets home? How often do we dismiss his feelings because, hey! at least he gets to poop without an audience?

  His rough day, his exhaustion is every bit as valid as my own.

 When he comes in saying "I am so tired."

I have ZERO right to say "You have no idea what tired is! I got no sleep last night with the baby and still had to function today!"


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. 

Your frustrating day does not make his rough day worthless.  

How much better would it be if we could understand and build instead of tear down?

Would it hurt us, really, to say, "I am so sorry you are tired. I know how you feel. I am exhausted too. Tell me about your tiring day while I rock the baby and then I'll tell you about mine."


"Honey, it means a lot to me that you work so hard at your job. Thank you." 


"I am so glad God gave me you!"


"I am so glad you are home!"

A couple of scriptures to think on:

Proverbs 14:1

Every wise woman buildeth her house: 
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

If you aren't respecting and actively BUILDING UP your husband (and children), then you are tearing down your household. You tear him down, you are dealing your own destruction. 

Matthew 7:12

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, 
do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

You want to be appreciated.  So appreciate.  
You want to be loved. So love. 
You want to be forgiven when you fail. So forgive.
You want to be listened to. So listen.
You wish to be understood. So make and effort to understand him.

Even when he doesn't appreciate you. 
Even when he is crabby. 
Even when he hold stuff against you. 
Even when he fails you.

Cut him some slack. 

You want to be respected, right?
So respect. Even when he doesnt deserve it.

I know that I couldn't without my Faith.  

Tell me about your hubby. What does he do that you are very glad you dont have to do?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When Push Comes To Shove

     "COME ON! YOU CAN PEDAL YOURSELF! I am NOT going to push you all the way around the culdesac!" I almost hollered at my sweet Monkey Do, who must have been about four at the time. "YOU CAN DO THIS! COME ON! LET'S GO!" 

     The neighbors must have thought I was one of those horrifyingly abusive, overbearing, out-of-control parents who has no compassion on her poor breakable children, but that was entirely the opposite in this case. Here she was, four or five, fully big enough to learn to pedal in the early stages of learning to ride a two-wheeler with training wheels. But she didn't WANT to pedal! She wanted ME to push her all the way around the lazy loop of our street. I might have given in and complied, except that I had her little sister (who must have been just under two) in the stroller. There was no way that I would be able to push the stroller and her as well. 

    And every few moments she would stop, and cry and ask me to give her a push, followed a wheel barrel load of whining for good measure. She wanted me to do it all for her. After the fifth or sixth push, and enough tears to fill a five gallon bucket, I looked at our progress. We made it all of 15 feet. 
     I suddenly had an epiphany: She was NEVER going to pedal her bike without without some kind of push. I was going to either have to resign myself to always propelling her little bike everywhere she rode -for the REST OF HER LIFE, or allow her to give up and never learn to ride, or I was going to have to push her will and propel her character. 

     When thinking of which of those choices is reasonable, we think the choice is so obvious, but for SO MANY parents I have observed an almost obsessive departure from the same thought process that seems so normal and reasonable to me! 

     For the sake of argument, let us consider those choices one at a time:

     1. Allowing her to give up: My little Monkey Do was SO excited about getting a new bike! She begged for it, she was THRILLED when Daddy brought it home, she wouldn't allow anyone else to touch it! She WANTED to learn to ride. She was very vocal about what she would do when she rode, and expressed the new adventures she concocted in her sweet four-year-old mind that involved bike riding! But when things got tough she wanted someone to do it for her. I could have said, "Ok, you tried. Let's go park the bikes and we will just walk from now on." This wasn't really what Monkey Do wanted anyway, but even if she had been willing to park the bike and never learn, what doors would that have closed for her? She would never feel the rush of the wind in her hair, have the joy that comes with bike riding altogether! As she grows she would limit her mobility, so many young people ride bikes to friend's homes or neighborhood jobs. She wouldn't be able to go on bike trips with the youth group or do anything that required her to possess this skill. And most importantly, she would never know the satisfaction of accomplishing something that was very difficult for a sweet four-year-old girl! Pedaling is a huge deal to a little monkey with short legs. Allowing her to quit would have robbed her of that joy.
     But most importantly, what does allowing her to quit after such a feeble attempt say about my expectations for her for the future? What about when other things get hard like college, a job or your marriage. Does allowing her to quit teach her that anything worth having is worth working for? Does it teach her that sometimes accomplishing something worthwhile takes everything you have? Whether it is finishing your degree to do what you love best or making it to your 40th wedding anniversary? Quitting and allowing her to quit seems so clearly illogical. This choice was quickly dismissed in my mind.

     2. Doing it for her: This is a pit I see so many parents fall into. They want so badly for their kids to succeed, and have everything they never had, that they are willing to do everything for their kids. But how does doing everything for them apply to successful lives? What about when they are in college? Or get a job (followed by being fired)? Or become a parent? What happens when the parents pass away? This type pf parenting creates uber-dependant, non-functional adults who cannot think or act for themselves. Do you want your child never married, unemployed and still living at home on your dime? This is the way to accomplish that end! When you do everything for them you remove the understanding of natural consequences and rob them entirely of anything resembling work ethic, ambition or desire to succeed. You are basically ensuring that they will fail at life! Not a choice for me. A life of perpetual failure isn't what I want for my lovely, sweet, intelligent children. I want them to soar! Giving them responsibility, and making them take responsibility for their own actions -and successes or failures- lets them learn to manage those successes and failures. This skill can launch them far in life!

     3. Pushing her to do it herself. This is a difficult approach as a parent. This is tough love in small increments throughout their life to better prepare them for the rigors of real life! This means letting kids -even when they are young- to live with some of the consequences of their decisions. 
     When my girls were small we were given the chance to go to a local theme park and they were really excited about it. This excitement translated into a REFUSAL to stay in bed! Larry had installed a motion sensor light in their bedroom in an effort to save money on our light bill and not only did they refuse to sleep, but they would stand up on their beds and flail their arms and make the light come one. NOW we laugh about it. At the time, as the clock hands reached 1am and the 1:30am, and with their baby sister screaming from sheer exhaustion at the refusal of her sisters to allow her to sleep, we were not laughing. We all had to be up in less than 5 hours and there was a battle on. Sweet Geek finally put his foot down: you lay down and be quiet. If you aren't LAYING DOWN and QUIET right NOW, we are NOT going. At all. 
They did not heed him. They continued to come out of their room and be overly rowdy instead of simply laying down. We did not go the next day. We couldn't take three very small children into an extremely crowded theme park, overly exhausted and crabby -with no assurances of their motivation to obey! We had their safety to consider! It broke our hearts. they were filled with grief and regret, but we had no choice! We said there would be consequences! We had to follow through. Tough love. Tough love isn't nearly as tough for the child as it is for the parents. 
     So in this instance what would tough love look like? It meant prodding her verbally. I had to cheer and insist at the same time! But this was clearly the right choice! She NEEDED to accomplish this and have the sense of success and the lifelong rewards that went with it!

     So I hollered, I prodded, when she said "I can't..." I would yell, "YES YOU CAN!!!" She cried. It broke my heart. She thought I was horrible and mean. It shattered me. But I can't raise my children to be entirely unprepared to live as successful adults. And I don't mean successful in terms that the majority of our society recognizes. I mean for them to have good relationships, to be mature enough to seek Christ on their own, to have some failures and successes enough to give them perspective, and humility enough to have compassion for others. 

There was a single young woman who came to stay with us for a little over a week last Summer. The trip was not fun for either of us. We were not as exciting as she expected and I certainly didn't need another child around to clean up after. Among other things she actually hauled off and hit me. Twice. In front of my kids. I was relieved to put her on her transportation home.
Some time after she went home I got a series of communication from her which criticized my parenting. She claimed I was mean and prideful to my kids for insisting that they treat me with respect. She claimed that my children would all go off the deep and and hate me.
My answer to her was, "How many kids have you raised? Do you have a single moment of parenting experience? If I want parenting advice I will ask someone who has amazing, grown kids who turned out godly and wise and ask their advice. I won't ask a single, non-parent who has no idea. And what is your standard for your judgement of my parenting? Did you think I would raise my kids the way you were raised? You have made terrible choices that have negatively affected your life over and over. Do you think I want that for my kids? based on the things you have suffered wouldn't you WANT me to prepare my kids for adulthood better than you were prepared?"
She later apologized, but I am sure she still does not understand. Parenting isn't about making life easy for you kids! Parenting isn't about being your kids' friend! Parenting isn't about giving your kids everything you didn't have! Parenting isn't about raising heirs or mini-me's. Parenting isn't about having the perfect kids so that your peers think you are great! Parenting is about raising kids who are ready to live on their own -without YOU! If you are successful they LEAVE and go live wonderful lives all on their own. If you do your job, you work yourself of of a job! Your job is to get them ready!

     I was talking about this concept with my Marvelous Mom yesterday on the phone. Monkey See is now old enough to go on a trip with Nana and Papa, and left on the 4th for a wonderful vacation planned just for her and her cousin. Oh! The fun planned for them! and yet my poor girl is terribly homesick. She has been having a TON of fun and loving the adventures she has been having, but when she talks to us on the phone she begins to cry. She doesn't want to come home, but she is having a tough time. My Marvelous Mom was wondering if they should cut out the last couple of planned adventures and get her home more quickly, and MEAN OLD MOMMA said "No." Monkey See will remember this trip for the rest of her life and cherish the time she has with my parents. She will have wonderful memories of all the things they did together and the things she learned about them as people and as her family. I want her to experience all that she can -all this trip has to offer. I sure do miss her, and hearing her heart break over the phone was painful. It may have seemed calloused to push her to let her fears go and press towards fun. But as hard as it is to bear her grief, it would be harder for her to miss something as important as this trip and regret it for the rest of her life. This time with my parents and having the experiences she is will shape her character -even if it is in a small way. And she can DEFINITELY benefit from time with my Marvelous Parents.
     So I push her. I tell her everything will be great and she will always cherish this trip. I tell her not to rob herself of the fun she should be having. I tell her to make sure she is helping Nana and Papa. It must seem to her as if I am dismissing her pain. It must seem as if I am not validating her feelings. But in real life some things are WAY more important that how you feel. Facing your feelings and doing what is right even when you don't FEEL like it is the definition of courage. 

Monkey Do with a TON of prodding made it all the way around our tiny culdesac. twice. It was hard to prod her and balance the pushing and the cheering. but she did it and at age nine she now LOVES to ride her bike!
     Yep. I can live with my kids having the courage to face life with responsibility and dignity.
Because when push comes to shove, these kids will have to look at themselves in the mirror every day. I want to raise kids that can live with that reflection.

      When push comes to shove...

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Postit

I am sure that some of you are wondering why it is that I have waited so long to blog again. especially since I have expressed such a desire to, right? Well, the answer is quite simple. It is nearly impossible to blog from a phone. Yep, you heard me. We moved into a very rural area, and suddenly the blogging I so took for granted became impossible. I tried! I really did. Blogging is simple -if you don't think that capitalization and punctuation is at all important.

I tried to blog and this is what happened from my phone:
it has been way too long since i have posted on my blog. i know. i knoe1 you all missed my witty banter and flawless humor

Couldn't backspace, no commas, nothing but periods. Ugh.

In fact, the wonderful, obvious typo name of this post is due to the inability to fix a single mistake.

Oh, MY! I am so glad that in real life God often gives us the chance to make things right. He offers forgiveness and redemption, and wipes our sins clean. how glad I am that He has forgiven me! and I am not just stuck in a hopeless place with no hope of making some of my mistakes right!

My Friends, it has been far too long. 

So much has changed in the two and a half years since I was last on this page blogging. And I have often missed this outlet for creativity and expression. Many times I have wanted to pour out my experiences and sort out my mind by puting it in print. Many times I have wished to share what God has been doing in my life and in the lives of my family. So many times I have wished to share the hardship and miracles and most of God's faithfulness with you!

I am beyond blessed. In the past three years I have been so tenderly loved by my Savior. Time and time again He has blessed me in ways I could never have anticipated! God has repeatedly poured out His tender affections on myself and my family. It is humbling. It reduces me to grateful tears. 

How is it that the God of the Universe sees fit to hear and answer my prayers? I am but an insect, and yet I can go to His feet and unburden my heart and lay all my cares and worries at His feet. 

Among the blessings are the growing of my sweet Emma and the adding of our only boy (and our only blue-eyed child) Kenny to our family. We did not expect to have another child, but God surprised us with a wonderful gift!

And God has blessed our marriage in amazing ways. Our marriage is inspiring, passionate and thrilling. I adore my husband. Who knew that the way for the power of God to be unleashed was with MY obedience. How often we ask God to work, and it turns out that the work that needs to happen is in ME! I am so grateful for God's work in our marriage. and if my humble obedience produces such lovely results, we should all clamor to obey!

 Larry and Dawn, December 2012

 The family

In addition to many blessings, God has led us to an amazing church full of sincerity and truth. We are repeatedly blessed by our wonderful church family!

We also were blessed by the chance to live in a beautiful home! We outgrew everywhere we have ever lived! But God provided a home big enough for our family and at the right price.

In November of 2011 (on Thanksgiving Day) the kids and I were in a serious car accident. God protected our children and my injuries were not life threatening. Our van was totaled. and God provided new wheels for us a few months later. 

There are so many things I could share! SO MANY... And I will. But those posts will have to wait for another day! 

Thanks for reading. I am just so thrilled to be back!

Dawn Marie

Sunday, July 11, 2010


There is a really good reason why I had so much trouble getting clear pictures of Emma out of 129 pictures!

WHERE is Emma!


WHERE is Emma!


WHERE is Emma!


You think that is FUNNY! Don't you?

WHERE is Emma!

Hi, Pretty Girl!