Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GUEST POST - "My Daddy's Empty Chair" by Carolyn Ruch

Today's post is a GUEST POST from my dear friend, Carolyn. She has a blog called Tamar's Redemption. She is a wife, mother, and "published author who is passionate about equipping parents to face twenty-first century realities, protecting children from sexual abuse, and encouraging survivors toward healing on this side of heaven." I'm hoping that by posting her story it will encourage someone today. (Thank you, Carolyn, for allowing me to share this story on my blog.)
Posted by Carolyn Byers Ruch at 11:49 AM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

*For my facebook friends: As many of you know, I speak to everyone I can about the epidemic of Childhood Sexual Abuse, because sexual abuse can only thrive where there is silence and ignorance. It is for this reason that I shared my story on my blog today, and with all of you.

It was a Sunday afternoon not unlike most on our dairy farm in south central Pennsylvania. The day was warm and sunny, the grass was green, and the farm was alive with the fellowship of relatives visiting. Conversations about the price of grain, the newest neighbors down the road, and the topic of the morning’s sermon were shared in a relaxed atmosphere by people seated on lawn chairs enjoying bowls of homemade ice cream and glasses of chilled homemade root beer.

I loved days like that. All seemed safe and right in the world, and through a child’s eyes – innocent. Yet a trip to the hayloft with my older sister and a teenage hired field hand would begin to wake me from my naive cocoon.

The barn was a fun place to play, a huge playhouse that with any imagination could become a castle, a classroom or an amusement park. I especially liked the hayloft. There I could jump, fly through the air and somersault without ever receiving a scratch. Oh, the hay could be irritating if it got caught between my clothes and skin, but the time away within my fantasy world was far more worthwhile than the time it took to shake the hay from beneath my clothing.

It was there, while playing with my sister, that the hired hand coaxed, “Come on you two, just pull down your pants and let me put some hay in them.”

I looked at my older sister. She was five years older and blossoming into a beautiful young lady. Tall, thin, and lovely, everything this kid sister wanted to be. Yet in this delicate time in her life when maturity forged ahead with no promise of innocence returning, she froze. Unwarranted shame held her captive.

I looked at the hired hand. My mind screamed, “This isn’t right!” My stomach churned. I wanted to flee.

“No.”, I said to the boy. “No!” I turned to my sister. “I’m going to tell Dad!”

Determined, I raced from the barn toward safety, toward the only protector I had ever known.

There was my dad, seated in the circle of chairs, chatting away as if there was all the time in the world. No need to rush, only listen and respond with an occasional hardy laugh. “Daddy, Daddy, Tom is in the hayloft and he’s trying to put hay in Sally’s and my pants.” My father’s jovial face turned stone cold, and the mood of that lazy Sunday afternoon ended abruptly as my father bolted from his lawn chair, his destination unquestionable, his mission sure.

My safe little world returned within the hour. I never saw that troubled young man again, and I never had to worry that the hayloft wouldn’t once again be whatever my imagination would dream it could be. And it’s all because my dad got out of his chair.

Protecting children from sexual abuse is never a child's job, but an adult responsibility. Speak to the children in your care about how special their bodies are, and that no one has the right to touch them where their swimsuit covers. Let's all get out of our chairs.
Here is a link to a recommended book for anyone dealing with their own childhood sexual abuse or the childhood abuse of someone they love:
The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
By: Dan B. Allender Ph.D.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Love Patrol"

"LOVE PATROL," I read. Before I know it I realize I'm staring at some girl's butt. I divert my eyes, slightly embarassed that I'm reading someone's derrier. I internally roll my eyes. All I can come up with is WHY? This isn't the first time. I've seen the written word wiggling and shaking down there before.

A trip to the waterpark this weekend is all the reminder I needed that this world is in serious need of some modesty. Good luck to any man, any boy for that matter that dares to have a nice day at the beach or some fun on a waterslide.

I'm thinking we need a revolution. Is anyone else with me here?

Either people are clueless or they just don't care. No lie, the other day at the gas station a girl was wearing a shirt with two big eyes strategically placed "you know where". Are you kidding? "Look into my eyes...not the ones on my shirt!"

What happened to modesty? Too-tight shirts, mountains of cleavage (excuse the pun), short shorts...everything is getting smaller and tighter. Just because you are covered with cloth doesn't mean you aren't accentuating your "curves". I'm not asking anyone to wear a burka (although I did see a waterproof one at the waterpark) I just think we could be a little more mindful about what we are showing the world. If only we viewed our bodies as a God honoring temple maybe we would be more protective of it.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
Are we being intentional about what we choose to wear? Are we thinking about what people are going to see? In this world of sexual abuse, infidelity, and even rape are we thinking about who is looking at us and whether we are okay with that? We SHOULDN'T be okay with that.

Parents, are we teaching our children, girls AND boys, about modesty, privacy, appropriateness? What about respecting ourselves and the opposite sex? We have a huge responsibility to our kids to talk about this. Do we set good examples of modesty in how we dress? Do we guard our eyes from things we shouldn't be looking at? Are we causing someone else to have to guard their eyes?

I obviously feel strongly about this. It's not something you hear discussed a lot. You may not agree with me. Or you may be one of those people that never really thought about it until now. It doesn't take long to become desensitized to the inappropriateness of this world. Do you even see it anymore? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Do you worry for your son? your husband? Temptation is everywhere. As much as I see a need for modest dressing I also believe there is an equal responsibility to not look. I just feel like there is less to "look at" if there is more modesty.

So come on girls! Cover up, loosen up, buy the longer shorts, the scoop neck instead of the V-neck, don't wear words on your's a revolution! Who will join me?

Friday, May 14, 2010

I love you, I hate you

I have a love-hate relationship with money. Maybe you can identify? It is the perfect "worry trap". You need it to live. Most everything in this world costs something. Not much is free anymore. You can't live without it.

I know it's a heavy subject because God even writes about it in His word.
"The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." 1 TIMOTHY 6:10
At first you might think this is kind of an extreme statement. The "root of all kinds of evil"? Seriously? Think about it this way...God is good and money easily distracts us from Him. If we're depending on money and NOT HIM that's a sin. Do you have more then you need? Are you a good steward of not only the money you have, but the things that you have? Are you generous and willing to share? Consider the place you put money in your life.

There is an area for me that God has been convicting me on lately and that's DEPENDENCE ON HIM. I may think I'm depending on him, but any time I worry or try to control something I'm not. Dependence comes from not only knowing that you can't make it through this life without Him, but actually surrendering those things that keep you from dependence on Him.

I don't know if I would consider myself a big worrier. But there are certainly areas that are the chink in my armor. Money is one of them. I could make excuses and justify myself and maybe you would agree they sound legitimate. I have children. They have to eat. We have bills to pay. We need a house. We need clothes and shoes. There's a field trip at school to pay for and soccer registration. It piles on and if we aren't careful it can bury us alive.

The past few weeks are a great example. When one thing happens after another the worry builds. Our oil burner died this week. I mean died, red tagged, disarmed, DIED. If you have ever had to replace your heater you know that it's no small financial task. Adam's truck needed new brakes. Our van needs an inspection in June and the muffler needs to be fixed. (I sound like Mario Andretti driving my son to school each day.) We just got Adam a "for work" phone in January and the other day he fell backwards at work, landed on his phone, and cracked the screen (thankfully he can still use it, for now). Let's not forget the stress of Ellie's tonsil surgery (which was thankfully covered by insurance). This is the perfect "money worry" storm.

The sad fact is, big or small, expected or unexpected, my money worry meter is usually always running near the red. Maybe it plays into my control issues because most of the time it's out of my hands. The only thing I can control is how we spend our money, but even then it gets tricky. How do you decide what you need vs. what you want? The more you think about it the more the lines start to blur. If you over-analyze it, you start to worry. When you start to feel helpless about your situation, you start to worry. It can paralyze you. It can distract you from the truth.
"Put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment...Be generous and willing to share." 1 TIMOTHY 6:17-18
There comes a point when I either turn to Him or try to do it on my own. I don't want my life to be all about the next paycheck. I don't want my money, or lack there of, to be a test of God's provision for me...a sign of how much He cares for my family. I want to know in my heart that He will provide, that He will make a way for all our needs to be satisfied. He already!

My other antidote for worrying about ANYTHING is thankfulness. I cannot let myself get overwhelmed at all the things I need and don't have. I MUST remember that what I have is MORE than enough. When my heater breaks and I don't have hot water I realize that it is a luxury not everyone has. There are people in this world who don't have ANY WATER. We are so used to having it all that our wants get clouded into our needs and we can pretty much convince ourselves that we NEED everything.

With God at the center, surrendering and trusting that He knows what we need and has promised to "provide us with everything", how can we justify worrying about ANYTHING, let alone money?

Please, Lord, help me to be satisfied with what I have. Help me to be wise about what I need and what I want. Help me look to You, depend on You, for everything I need. Help me to trust that you will provide it when I need it the most, in Your perfect time. And please give us the wisdom to make good choices with our money without letting ourselves fall into the sin of worry over it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Beautiful Day To Take Some Pictures

What a beautiful Friday morning to take some pictures! My blog contest winner, Jen and her family met me at Prophecy Creek Park in Blue Bell, PA for our one hour photo shoot. Here's just a sampling of the results.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Dirty Come Clean

I lugged the damp and heavy clothes out of the washing machine and into the basket. Clothes once covered in dirt (and who knows what else) from a hard days work. I heave the heavy load on my hip and carry it outside. The breeze is strong, the sun is shining, and the air smells spring fresh. As I begin to pin each piece one by one on the line my mind makes a connection to something I've been mulling over these past few days.

We all carry our own load. Sometimes we let other people help. Sometimes we heave it alone. Sometimes we leave our unmentionables spinning in the dryer while the "more appropriate" things hang on the line. Are we clean enough? Will we ever be clean enough?

There is a beautiful song by Sara Groves called "Different Kinds of Happy" and simply stated it's about "Intimacy".

When I hear the song I think mainly about my relationship with my husband. Until about 5 1/2 years ago we really didn't have intimacy (and I'm not talking about the "act of intimacy" here). We lacked that open sharing, connecting, "bearing our souls" kind of relationship the song describes. I don't know if I thought we were doing it then or not. Maybe I didn't realize how important it was. Experiencing intimacy with another person is freeing and honest and a God thing. Do you have this kind of intimacy in any of your relationships?

And with each piece of clothing the line starts drooping more and more and pretty soon I'm searching for a prop to lift the line up.

This intimacy can be brother & sisterly, too. A place where you can share the truth of who you are with another friend. There is power in getting lies out of your head. If you keep it all in, if you hide who you are and how you feel, then you are in bondage. You will be held back. You will not have joy. You will feel tired and defeated. I'm thinking about the accountability my husband has with his best friend. A relationship built on a "this is me" foundation. A weekly appointment with each other where they share the burdens of this life with each other, admit their struggles, and look to the other for encouragment, support, and sometimes rebuke. A band of brothers. A paracleet. An accountability partner.

You know the sin and yuck you hide inside. You know the lies you believe. You know the chains you carry. Do you bring them to God? Do you allow yourself to "feel clean"? Can you hang it all out on the line, even the unmentionables? Are you afraid? Do you admit them to your spouse or good friend? Do you allow your spouse or friend to be a prop for you when things feel really heavy? Can you ask them to help you with the load?

The clothes are clean. The wind blows them dry. The prop keeps them from getting dirty again. They smell like fresh air. And when I take them off the line I know they get clean to get dirty. We will meet back at the washing machine again next week. But there is always hope for clean clothes and a place to go to wash them.

We have hope and a place to go, too. I encourage you today to reach out to God with your burdens. Become clean through sharing with a friend. Have an honest, soul bearing relationship with your spouse. It's not a question of do you want to, but that you have to.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." JOHN 8:32
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