Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Choose to Talk About Sexual Abuse (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Choose

I have read a lot about shame. How it quiets and isolates.

The way we hide the feeling bubbling up inside — behind our reactions, our defense, a calm, in-control exterior.

Shame and fear lurk in the depths. And sometimes we don't recognize them.

We all fall victim to shame.

I am a sexual abuse survivor. And I've been working with an organization, Rise and Shine Movement, for the last 4 years helping to spread a message of childhood sexual abuse prevention.

Shame has sexual violation entangled in its snare. Wrapped around its foot, pulling it deeper and deeper into the depths.

There are warriors out there fighting — Mary, Carolyn, Erin. Speaking and writing about childhood sexual abuse. Dragging it out into the light. Hoping you will hear their message and break free from shame's grip.

We are in the middle of a battle and it's fought in our own homes with our own children.

The shame silencer makes it hard. Uncomfortable you wonder, "what do I say, when do I say it?" And that self-doubt discourages you from saying anything — hoping, praying it won't happen to your family.

But YOU are the front line. You are the foundation maker, the bridge builder with your kids.

I know you want to protect them.

You bundle up them up for the cold, take them to the doctor when they are sick, make sure they know they are extraordinarily loved, and teach them about fire safety and stranger danger…

But is sexual abuse prevention part of your parenting, too?

We want them to "say no to drugs" and we tell them about strangers taunting with candy or lost dogs. But the truth is it's almost always someone they know, someone they love and trust.

And if you don't talk to them about their bodies and that they are allowed to say no to touches that don't feel right. If you don't help them know their own boundaries and empower them to use them.

Your honest conversations reinforce that they can come to you, that you are a safe person. If we don't instruct them to yell, run, and who to tell then the predator will find them.

And you'll have to talk about it then.

We think we choose the battles we engage in. But sexual violation chooses you — the unprepared, the ignorant, and the innocent.

We can choose to face it. We can choose to talk about it. And we can do it together.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Inspired by Lemonade Makers and You

Who inspires me?

Reminds me of another question that stumps me. You know the one about if I could have dinner with anyone past, present, or future who would it be? Because I don't really know who I would choose and I feel all of this pressure to pick someone really special and wise and important.

And even though it's a hypothetical question with no right or wrong answer, I just can't force myself to choose. The array of famous, important names waltz through my mind and I'm not sure I'd want to have dinner with a single one of them.

The five olympic rings still fresh in my mind I think about moments listening to the backstories of the athletes with tears streaming down my cheeks, touched and inspired by what it took for them to get to the top of that ski slope or to lace up that pair of skates.

And suddenly, I know who inspires me.

It's people living in the trenches. Who keep trying and don't give up.

The lemonade-out-of-lemons makers. Who find courage to heal from the past and have hope for the future.

It's moms and dads serving and sacrificing and raising the next generation. Who talk to their kids about hard things and fiercely love and protect.

It's the military wives (like my friends, Beth and Sarah) sustaining life at home with a husband away serving our country. Who fight the lonely and find joy as they count down the days to their return.

It's the honest "this is hard but I'm doing it anyway" people. Who find strength to face fears and hardships and losses.

They are risk-takers and broken-healers.

Caretakers and cancer-sufferers.

Not pretending it's easy or putting on a brave face. Sharing their messy and unanswered.

Inspiration comes when we are vulnerable and honest about who we are and where we have been. It invites others to walk with you on the difficult journey so they know they aren't alone. Or so they can help carry the weight or be your biggest cheerleader.

Who inspires me?

You do.

Living and walking in His promises. Practicing your faith. Learning how to trust.

Holley Gerth (today's Coffee for Your Heart)

Friday, February 21, 2014

All That Small Can Do (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Small

I walk across the threshold between street and sand and feet leave sunken tracks up the sandy drifts.

I reach the top of the dune and my breath hangs in the swirl of salt and sea.

I take in the vastness of this long stretch of beach as my feet obey the call of the crashing waves.

I feel small here —

the ebbing power of the green-blue ocean as it reaches beyond the horizon reminds me.

My bare foot finds the sharp edge of a shell and I search the sand for more.

The beach looks big from the top of the dune, but on my knees I see more clearly. Tiny grains of sand, pebbles, and shells surround me.

The beach is made from the small.

I lean closer and drag my finger across the small grains to the muffled drone of pounding surf.

The itty-bitty shell sits alone on the end of a finger — beautiful, delicate, appreciated.

But it's also a necessary part of the whole.

I may feel small here, but I'm kneeling on all that small can do.

I may be one, but my voice joined with others is a choir.

And suddenly, small becomes something very beautiful to me — no longer an excuse, but an amazing opportunity.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo
Five Minute Friday

Friday, February 14, 2014

There's More to the Garden Then Harvest (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Garden

In May we plant — tomatoes, peppers, hopes.

And we eagerly wait for the first signs — a bud, a ball of green promise hanging.

We water and weed and pray for warm rays of sun and growth.

The first harvest of juicy red plucked from backyard tomato plants instead of fluorescent lit grocery bins is sweetest.

We celebrate and appreciate the fruits of our labors — the summer sandwiches and the flavors of homegrown vegetables in season.

But today, I look towards the garden buried deep in snow and cold.

I see the tangle of brown remnants poking out of the frozen white and the garden seems long forgotten.

There's more to the garden then harvest.

There's promise and hope and mystery.

I plant in dark soil. I water the seedlings. But the rest is out of my hands.

All I can do is tend. And watch the beautiful unfolding.

In winter, we wait.

In spring, we cultivate faith to plant and the hope to harvest.

And in summer, we marvel and enjoy the fruit of growth —

in the garden.

Today I'm linking with Lisa-Jo, but there's more to her link-up today. She's asking this blog community to help build a South African community a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids. And she needs you! Click here if you want more information on how you can give.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Are Strong When We Have To Be

Fear is so crippling.

We convince ourselves that if the thing we fear were to actually happen that we wouldn't be okay.

And not being okay, well, that is what we're really afraid of, isn't it?

I am living proof that even when bad things happen to you, you're going to be okay.

Because you are strong and resilient.

How do I know?

Well, we all are when we have to be. That's what struggles and trials have taught me — that I will survive whatever comes my way.

Don't get me wrong. I don't always handle it with grace. But deep down, I know it won't end me.

You will figure it out.

You will soldier on.

Through tear-stained cheeks you will fight the urge to flee. Or hide. Or give up. Because you know there is no way around it. You can only go through.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

And the blessing and the hope is you won't be alone when you do.

No matter what happens, you’re going to be okay.

Linking with:

Holley Gerth (today's Coffee for Your Heart)

Monday, February 10, 2014

In Pursuit of Healing (A Review of Mary DeMuth's new book, Not Marked)

"I would not be okay if I had not told my story," author Mary DeMuth writes in her new book, Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse. (tweet this)

And I wouldn't be either.

For too many years I kept it a secret, stuffing surfacing memories down with a shudder trying to forget it happened. It doesn't work. You never forget.

Memories weren't the only thing surfacing in me. I slowly began to see how childhood sexual abuse was affecting me and my relationships with others. And I, hesitantly at first, took steps to find healing.

Mary DeMuth is right, healing takes a lot of time and effort. It's difficult and painful. And it's not a once and done thing.

I have been working through healing on and off for the last 15 years because the effects of abuse are like the layers of an onion — new wounds are revealed with the peeling of each layer.

Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker. She has written over 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest book, Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse, is releasing today and I had the privilege of reading it.

Based on the statistics, we all know someone who has been sexually abused. Many of us love a survivor. Many of us are one. Not Marked is a book for everyone.

Not Marked is a powerful conversation about how childhood sexual abuse affects people. Mary DeMuth shares her raw story and the tenor of her words are the empathetic voice of someone who understands.

She speaks openly about the impact abuse has had on her self-worth, her relationships, and her marriage and how she has walked the path of healing in these areas.

Not Marked is a book about hope. We often get stuck in the pain of our past, but Mary DeMuth firmly, but gently encourages the reader to pursue healing by being honest with yourself, finding your voice, sharing in community, and through prayer and the act of forgiveness.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Not Marked is the honest contributions by her husband, Patrick.

At the end of each chapter, Patrick shares what it has been like to be married to a victim of sexual abuse. He reveals his personal trials and triumphs with wisdom and encouragement for those who love a survivor.

Sexual abuse doesn't have to define us. It doesn't have to mar our relationships or isolate us from others. I don't have to accept the wounds as my fate or feel like "this is just how it is for me."

Not Marked opens the door to community with others who have suffered or may be suffering still. It unites us and reminds us that we aren't alone. And reignites hope for a better tomorrow.

I'm not marked by the sin of sexual abuse. And neither are you.


To order Mary DeMuth's new book, Not Marked click here.

For more information on this book, visit the Not Marked website.

Here's how you can receive over $80 worth of free resources when you buy Not Marked between February 10-17th.

Here's how you can get a signed copy of Mary DeMuth's book, Not Marked.

“Telling the truth is a brave act that flings wide the door to reconciliation & forgiveness.” #NotMarked (tweet this)

“Healing is layers. Healing is time. Healing is excruciating. Once you think it’s done, it’s not.” #NotMarked (tweet this)

“If we long for wholeness, we can’t underestimate the power of telling our stories.” #NotMarked (tweet this)

Friday, February 7, 2014

I Didn't Know I Was A Writer (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Write

I have always liked writing — organizing thoughts and expressing them on the page.

But I never dreamed I'd become a blogger.

I started this endeavor after years of writing silence, when life was hard and confusing and words would have torn me apart.

There were babies and exhaustion pulling on me until I had little left.

Then words began seeping their way, passed the tired and used up. Words that spoke of Love and Truth and relationship. And I felt myself open up to them, like a bud to the coaxing warmth of the sun.

It was in this space that I found writing again. Felt the power of words and how writing them down cleansed and freed.

I didn't know I was a writer then.

But the more I wrote, the more confident I became. The more risky and open and vulnerable I was willing to be.

And if felt good to be honest.

And scary.

I don't regret the voice I have found here, writing for me, for you, for Him.

Or the cathartic act that helps me process and connect with others who read my words and feel encouraged or understood or less alone in the struggle.

I have always liked writing, but I never knew how much I needed it.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo
Five Minute Friday
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