It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Got You Babe

It was snowing paper towels. We were on our hands and knees, wiping up vomit, when my husband leaned toward me. "You know, I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone but you."

I smiled at his words. We had said them to each other over and over again through long nights with crying babies, through unexpected deaths and cancer with loved ones, through painful choices made and endured, through self-discovery and change, and the list goes on . . .  And the list grows with each passing year.

But after twenty-five years of marriage (today is our  twenty-fifth wedding anniversary), we're still saying it.

I'm not an expert in marriage. I'm not even an expert in my own marriage. But this I know: I wouldn't want to be doing life with anyone else than the man who took my hand twenty-five years ago and committed himself, before God and others, to stay by my side for better and for worse.  And who can turn the most disagreeable task, like cleaning up vomit, into a romantic promise by saying those precious words yet again, "You know, I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone but you."

Right back at ya, Babe. I pray we get another twenty-five. Happy Anniversary!

Thanks for allowing me to digress this week and throughout advent. Next week we'll explore why kids don't tell when they're abused--important knowledge to have in the effort to protect our kids. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas! Tamar's Redemption Style

She entered the room. Everyone stared. Some whispered. They thought it was a bold move by the one who had created the latest scandal, showing up in public, displaying the evidence of her choices for all to see.

She cradled the evidence, the newborn, protectively, nervously, in her arms. She had come to this gathering to honor her dad.

Her father ignored their stares. Her father ignored their whispers. And right in front of everyone, he strode toward his daughter. He welcomed her, his face beaming. Then he snatched up the evidence, and cradling the newborn in his large, worn hands, he moved from person to person saying, "I'd like for you to meet my new grandson."

Nothing else matters to her regarding that day. All the stares and whispers are but a faded memory. She understood that she was loved. She knew that her child was cherished.

And it was her father who helped her take her first step toward healing, her first step toward her heavenly father--her first step toward redemption.

Merry Christmas! 

Luke 1:17 ". . . He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children . . . " (NLT)

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Touch of Humanity

The cold took my breath away as I raced from my minivan across the parking lot toward TJ Maxx. I was on a hunt. The hunted? A simple, black nondescript sweater. I already own one, but I rarely wear it. Why? Because my daughter's always borrowing it. Hmmm . . . I thought the definition of borrow was to use and then return.

My solution: Buy her a simple, black nondescript sweater for Christmas.

My plan: Head to TJ Maxx to hunt.

Now, I don't like to hunt. I prefer to shop. Hunting requires that I remain focused and search for something specific. Shopping allows me to wander and take in the view, flitting from one rack to the next, destination unknown. I like random. Random is good. But ten days before Christmas there's no time for random. I'm forced out into the cold cruel world—to hunt.

I entered the store, glad to be in the warmth, and began to prowl through the racks. Focused. But I kept getting interrupted.

"Cashier Number Two will assist you now," said the computerized feminine voice.

Moments later: "Cashier Number Five will assist you now."

The voice was interrupting my hunt. I wonder if those employees hear that voice over and over in their heads when their trying to sleep at night. I thought. Poor things. And the annoying voice continued. And the hunt continued.

And the annoying voice continued. "Cashier Number One . . . , Cashier Number Three . . . , Cashier Number Two, . . ."

By the time I nabbed the prize sweater (yes, TJ Maxx had one, love it when that happens!), I was programmed.

I stood in the checkout line, oblivious to those around me and progressed forward, one annoying cashier number at a time. "Cashier Number Three will assist you now. Cashier Number Five will assist you now." And so on.

Finally, I made it to the front of the line. And I waited, and waited, lost in my Christmas to-do list thoughts. I peered out the window, staring at nothing. Eventually, my eyes drifted back to the line of cashiers.

Then it was if someone said, "Earth to Carolyn. Earth to Carolyn. Come in Carolyn," as my eyes landed on Cashier Number Two. Is she looking at me. I thought.

I pointed to my chest and mouthed, "Me?"

She smiled and nodded yes.

I took the simple, black nondescript sweater and made a beeline to Cashier Number two.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I wasn't paying attention. I didn't hear the voice say your number."

She grinned. "Sometimes a little eye contact works better, don't you think?"

I couldn't have agreed more.

"Happy Holidays!" she said as she handed me my bagged prized sweater.

My eyes met hers. "And Merry Christmas to you too."

Wishing you many touches of humanity during these final countdown days toward Christmas. Happy hunting!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rocking Around the Relationships

I could hear the frustration building in their conversation, two young mothers discussing Christmas gifts for their kids. The questions of how many presents, what kind of presents, and comments of Johnny wants this and Susie wants that, were bubbling forth like froth from freshly poured root beer. I wasn’t eavesdropping, I was just sitting in a rocker next to them soothing a colicky baby in the church nursery and remembering . . . remembering what it was like years ago when I had the same questions, the same overwhelming feeling, and the same stress. Still, I was trying to mind my own business—really.

Then one of them turned toward me, making it my business. “What do you do for your kids at Christmas?”

“Yeah,” the other mother said, “with your seven kids and all, do you do a Pollyanna exchange or something?” (She was still trying to wrap her mind around the size of my family. I could tell. This happens often.)

I smiled and thought, Yep, adding three more kids to our family two and a half years ago has put a strain on our budget, but it hasn’t come to that yet. “No,” I said, “my kids get three presents just like Jesus did. A wise friend shared that idea with me years ago. It’s helped me manage the Christmas stress throughout the years.”

“Wow, that’s a great idea!” the first mother said.

“Yeah!” the other agreed.

Then mother Number One got serious, leaned in, and nearly whispered, “But did your kids ever say anything? I mean . . . were they disappointed that that’s all they got?”

She wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“You know, I don’t remember any comments, but it’s a fair question. I think I’ll go home and ask my two children who are now young adults.”

It’s enlightening having honest conversations with adult children. Some things you want to hear, some things you don’t. Ah, but having a relationship with your kids—ROCKS! So I asked them, individually and privately, how they felt about receiving just three gifts at Christmas.

Here are their responses:

First Born, “It never really bothered me except one Christmas, when I was hanging out with my friends, and I heard about all the stuff Joe got. But you know, I really don’t think the three present “thing” has hurt me at all.” (He's a social worker. He thinks about the overall affect on a life in terms of permanent damage.)

Second Born, “Only during times when kids were comparing their stuff, but that’s not what Christmas is about. It’s about family. It’s about being together.” (He's our social one. If there's a party, he's there.)

We long as parents to give our kids an amazing moment each Christmas morning. Believe me, I get that. I still try to have at least one present each child opens up that makes their eyes sparkle and makes me feel like I’m the best momma in the world. But we all know it’s not about the gifts or my feeling like the best momma. It’s about the relationships. It’s about belonging. Being known. Being loved. And together celebrating the relationship we can have with God. For long ago, he sent His son just because He longs to be in relationship with us. And He thinks being in relationship with His kids—ROCKS!

What are you doing to keep your stress level low this holiday season?

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter my fiftieth blog post celebration. See previous post.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest Anyone?

It's almost time to celebrate my fiftieth blog post and in honor of my accomplishment (seven kids, you bet, this is an accomplishment for this busy momma), I'm giving away a series of books entitled God's Design for Sex Series to one blessed blog reader.

Now, in case you've just turned a funky shade of red and are wondering if you just read the word sex on my blog site, let me be clear: Yes, you just read the word sex on my blog site. God's Design for Sex Series is a series of age appropriate books that parents can use to teach their kids about sex.

Now why would any parent want to do that you might ask? They don't. But it's a parents job to do that, and if you're like me, you need all the help you can get. (Incidentally, we tried using hamsters at the Ruch house to teach these lessons. I don't recommend this. You just end up with a lot of little hamsters.) I love these books. They are well written and the illustrations are beautiful. And they make an uncomfortable job a whole lot more comfortable.

So how do you enter? Just make a comment on my blog, on any post you desire, between now and December 31st. The winner will be chosen at random in high tech fashion by one of my kiddos picking a name from a hat. I will announce the winner on January 1st, 2011.

Happy commenting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Tamar's Redemption Style

We had spent the past twelve hours together, a little shopping, a little food, a little sleep, and a lot of conversation. I had said little and listened much. Not because I didn’t have anything I wanted to say, I had a boatload of statements I wanted to make and questions I wanted answered regarding her present life choices and how they were affecting her and others. But Wisdom told me to be quiet . . . until our last few moments together.

“Are you angry with God for all the pain you’ve had in your life?” I asked, holding each word gently in my hands and presenting them to her slowly, carefully, one by one.

Her gaze remained fixed on the road ahead, her hands gripped the steering wheel. “I’ve never thought about that,” she said. “But . . . I have wondered what I’ve done wrong in my life to deserve all of this.”

And there it was. I could see it. She had pulled the band-aid back just far enough for me to see one of the lies that festered joyfully and danced freely on the edge of her wound, looking up to laugh and smirk at me before diving back deeply into her injury. “Honey, God’s not like that,” I said. “He’s not getting you back for wrongs done. You’ve had great wrongs done to you and losses in your life. You can tell him you’re angry. He can handle it.”

Then she startled me. She whipped the band aid back farther, exposing a gaping, oozing hole. “I don’t know how to say this, but I think my heart is hard.” And as quickly as she yanked the band-aid back, she reapplied it, pressing it against her skin, careful to make a perfect seal.

She pulled her car next to mine. Our time together was over; our conversation ended. I fought to keep my tears under control. Her face showed no sign of emotion. “I love you,” I whispered as I hugged her. Then I got into my car and cried out to the Healer of hard hearts during my long drive home.

A year passed and her choices became darker with each passing month, the wound grew so large it literally sucked her in, swallowing any remaining healthy tissue. The drugs she trusted to numb her pain and keep the wound from spreading betrayed her. She kissed the face of death. It took the paramedics an hour to resuscitate her. It took her loved ones five hours to convince her she had hit bottom and the only road leading anywhere was up.

She took the up road. It was a long and arduous climb. But as she reached out a shaky hand toward Jesus and he clasped his nail-scarred hands around hers, she felt strength for the journey. Jesus stripped each lie naked before her and silenced each menacing laugh that sought to trip her. And when she felt the need to stop traveling and beat on his chest and tell him of her anger, he took every blow until she was exhausted and fell peacefully into his arms—a time to rest. And miraculously, her life began to change as her heart began to soften.

I spent twenty-four hours with her recently. We did a little shopping, a little eating, and a lot of talking. We said much and listened much. Her face was radiant. And I couldn’t help but notice, the band-aid was gone and so was the wound. But her scar remains . . . and it is beautiful. It tells a story—a story of redemption.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Hope

"I was violated at the age of five, ten, and fifteen," she said. "At five I was touched inappropriately, at ten my girlfriends and I were playing at the park and a man exposed himself and masturbated in front of us, and at fifteen an older boy sexually assaulted me on my way home from school."

I've known this woman for over twenty-five years. I know her well. She has lived and does live a joyful life. So I asked, "Why haven't these events paralyzed you in your adult life?"

"It's how my parents handled each incident that has made all the difference," she said. "They listened to me, believed me, and took action every time. I have little memory of the first incident. I know I told my mother about the inappropriate touch, she took me to the doctor to make sure I was okay physically, and she and my father protected me from the perpetrator. They dealt with him.

"I remember the second time well," she continued.  "It was awkward, but my friends and I ran and told my dad, he took us to the police station immediately. The police caught the exhibitionist and he went to jail. We found out later that this man was a wanted on other sexual charges.

"And the third time, I ran home and told my parents. They took me to the police station and we ended up with a court case. I had to testify. It was scary, but my parents supported me the entire time. The older boy was charged and sentenced to prison.

"But do you want to know what happened after that? What's really amazing?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

"Being a tiny girl and a racial minority in a large public high school, I used to avoid the cliques of students standing outside the front of the high school each morning and slip in a side door to avoid any kind of taunting or bullying. After I won the court case . . . I used the front door."

I can't promise you by following the six steps to protecting your kids, in my previous posts, that your children will not experience a violation. It happens to one out of four girls and one out of six boys before their eighteenth birthdays. But what my survivor friends will tell you is that it's not the sexual act or violation that does the most damage to their hearts, minds, and souls. It's the isolation. It's the secret. It's the not being able to tell, or worse, not being believed.

My friend was blessed to have amazing parents who listened to her, believed her, and took action. She knows this and thanks God for them. And she has allowed me to share her story with you so your children can use the front door too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Conversation (Part Six)

"And what do you write about?"

All eyes are on me. It's my turn to answer the question.

I take a deep breath and respond, "I write about sexual abuse."

I get this question all the time when I attend writers' conferences.  It's a natural inquiry at lunch or over dinner with fellow writers. Sometimes my response is followed by an awkward silence, especially in mixed company, but most of the time, the table comes alive with questions, comments, and most often, with a disclosure from a female. "It happened to me." She says, "Thank you for doing what you're doing."

"You're welcome." I say.

I know sexual abuse isn't easy to talk about, but the more we talk about it, the less power it has to enslave survivors and harm our kids. The pain of sexual abuse thrives in silence; the act of sexual abuse depends on silence.

So talk about it, talk about it, and talk about it some more. Let those around you (friends, family, babysitters, and neighbors) know you've been reading about how to protect your kids. Ask your child's coaches, church leaders, and music instructors what their organizations are doing to protect your kids from perpetrators.

Raising our voices regarding this issue has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence.

Join me.Take a deep breath and say, "I speak about sexual abuse."

And I promise you, someday, someone will say, "Thank you."

Step Six: Talk about sexual abuse. Joining our voices has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence. Perpetrators thrive in environments of silence and ignorance. They also count on our children to keep secrets. We must teach our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets (step five). We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Secret (Part Five)

Mrs. Beasley and Me
"Do you want to know a secret? I know one."

Longing to hear her whisper the seeeecret, I leaned in close and pulled my doll's string again.

"Do you want to try on my glasses?” Mrs. Beasley asked. “You may if you wish."

Huh? I pulled her string again.

"Do you want to play?"

I stared at my doll. I didn't want to try on her glasses or play with her—I wanted to know the secret! Frustrated, I grabbed her by the neck and pulled her string over and over again. Mrs. Beasley asked me more questions until she asked again, “Do you want to know a secret? I know one.”

With one more pull of the cord, my hopes of hearing her secret were dashed forever. Mrs. Beasley never divulged her secret but continued on with the same cycle of questions, and I was ready to yank her string right out of her polka-dotted little bottom.  I still loved my Mrs. Beasley doll, but I was one disappointed six-year old. Why? Because children love secrets.

Perpetrators love secrets too. They depend on them and will use cunning methods and various threats to convince your child to keep their secrets. Understanding this fact gives parents an opportunity to thwart a perpetrator’s plans by creating a home environment where secrets are discussed and discouraged.

“But what about ‘fun’ secrets?” You might ask. Lest you think I’m an old humbug, let me give you a replacement word for secret that’s even more fun for children and it begins with s. Replace the word secret with SURPRISE.

Let’s say you’re going to have a surprise party for grandma and you don’t want your little darling to blow the cover. You could say, “Sweetheart, we’re going to have a surprise party for grandma. We’re not going to tell her about it until she walks through the door and we all yell, ‘SURPRISE!’ and then you get to answer all of grandma’s questions and tell her everything.” Choosing our words wisely as parents requires some thinking and creativity, but it's well worth our time and effort when the goal is protecting our kids.

I don’t know who designed Mrs. Beasley, but whoever did, took the time to understand children. Thousands of Mrs. Beasley dolls were sold in the sixties and early seventies. Perpetrators take the time to understand children too. And thousands of children will be molested this year. It’s important for parents to remember what it’s like to be a child and do what they can to keep their children from becoming another statistic, shackled by a lonely, senseless secret.

Perpetrators count on our children to keep secrets. Our fifth step in protecting our kids is teaching our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets. We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Boundaries (Part Four)

No child was injured during this photo shoot.
Imagine you're three foot nothing. The world is big, very big! Adults are tall, really tall!

"Guess what, Pumpkin, today we're going to a family reunion," your mother says as she pulls open your bedroom blinds. "Time to get dressed."

You use your little fists to wipe the sleep from your eyes. You're not quite sure what a reunion is, but your mom tells you you're going to have fun, lots of fun.

A Child’s Perspective: Take One

After a long ride in the minivan, you're happy to be out of your booster seat. Your mom takes your hand and you enter a room, a really big room. There are people, really big people--everywhere. Suddenly a woman you don't know comes racing up to you. The next thing you know all you can see are big red lips, all you can smell is coffee breath, all you can hear is "Oh, isn't she a cutie patootie?", and all you can feel are your cheeks being pulled so tight you want to yell OUCH, but you can't move your lips into the OU position.

Next thing you know, you see giant hairy arms grabbing you. They pull you twenty feet off the ground. You try to look up to see who it is, but you can't. Your right cheek, still sore from Red Lips, is crushed up against someone's big green shirt. All you can see is green, all you can smell is bad aftershave, all you can hear is "Grrherherherher", and all you can feel is every ounce of air being squeezed from your tiny body. Finally, that someone lowers you to the ground. You spot your mom across the room. You run as fast as you can away from Red Lips and Green Shirt and nearly topple your mom over as you grab her legs, refusing to let go.

Being a kid is scary sometimes. Adults forget that.

A Child's Perspective: Take Two

After a long ride in the minivan, you're happy to be out of your booster seat. Your mom takes your hand, bends down, and looks you in the eye, "Now remember, you don't have to hug or kiss anyone if you don't want to. It's okay to say no thank you. I'll be right here if you need me."

You enter a room, a really big room. There are people, really big people--everywhere. Suddenly a woman you don't know comes walking up to you, she stoops down, looks you in the eye, and says, "Well hello, Sarah, it's so nice to meet you. My goodness, you're a cutie patootie."

You see her smiling face and reach out for a hug. She hugs back. You smile.

The next thing you know a giant man in a green shirt bends over, looks you in the eye, and says, "Hello Sarah."

You know him. He's your uncle.

"Do you have any hugs for your ole uncle Frank today?"

"No thank you, I don't feel like hugging right now."

"No problem. It sure is good to see you. My how you've grown. How about a high-five?"

You feel safe. You slap him a high-five. You giggle. You look up at your mom and smile. She smiles back.

Teaching kids that they can set boundaries and say no is wise all the time. Adults need to remember that.

Empowering children to say no to adults, when they don't feel like hugging or kissing, is our fourth step in protecting our children. Perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries. Perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Instruction (Part Three)

"But how does the sperm get to the egg?" he asked.

Our eight year old (yes, eight year old) wasn't going to settle for a generalized answer. A budding engineer, who was right by his daddy's side anytime something needed to be repaired, he knew if daddies carry the sperm, and mommies carry the egg, and the sperm and the egg make a baby, then somehow parents have to connect to make a baby. And his inquiring mind wouldn't rest until he knew how.

I looked at my husband. He looked back at me. Our eyes spoke the unspoken.

Your turn.

No, your turn.

No, really, Honey, you can answer that one. Go for it. (wink)

I honestly can't remember who answered, but aside from our desire to pass the ball on this one, we were so glad he asked--us.

Conversations about sex make parents sweat. But when we are uncomfortable discussing a topic, our kids pick up on it. They are experts at taking our emotional temperatures, and if we are uncomfortable, they will be uncomfortable. If they sense us avoiding a subject, they will avoid the subject. And they will find answers to their questions somewhere, and they may not be the correct answers--the answers you want them to have.

Sex Ed. 101, taught by parents, should begin early. It is a critical step in protecting our kids from sexual abuse. Instruction can begin in the bathtub when you're teaching your little ones self care. As you teach them to wash their bodies, label the parts as you go--all the parts--with the correct names. A nose is a nose,  a  hand is a hand, a penis is a penis, and a vagina is a vagina. I know, I know, the last two don't roll off the tongue as easily as the first two, do they? But let me cheer you on. You can do it!!! Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying "those words" if you have to, but don't miss an opportunity to teach your kids. Why? Because kids who have knowledge are confident, and perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids. Why? Because kids who are knowledgeable and confident tell. And perpetrators don't want to get caught.

Let the heart aching words of a survivor of sexual abuse stir your heart into action: "How could I put into words something for which my ten year old vocabulary had no words?" I wept with her when she asked me that question. Her words still bring a lump to my throat. She had "no words." She was a victim, and she couldn't tell.

Let's give our kids the confidence. Let's give our kids the vocabulary. We don't need to fear the conversations.

Even though I can't remember whether it was my husband or me who responded to my son's question, I remember my son's response:

"So, you do that to have babies, right?"


"You guys are done having babies, right?"



I was glad for his sake, and for ours, that we were "done" having babies. And he, being satisfied with our answer, was done with our conversation and raced off to play.

Giving our kids confidence through giving them knowledge is our third step in protecting our kids from sexual abuse. Perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Here is a book series I recommend to parents for teaching their kids about sex. I'm using them with my foster daughters. God's Design for Sex Series: The Story of Me (Ages Three to Five),  Before I Was Born (Ages Five to Eight), What's the Big Deal? Why God Cares About Sex (Ages Eight to Eleven), and Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (Ages Eleven to Fourteen).

I will be giving a set of these books away to one of you soon. Keep following for details.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Foundation (Part Two)

Piglet: "How do you spell love?"

Pooh: "You don't spell it. You feel it." (A. A. Milne)

A wise statement from a bear whose head is stuffed with fluff, don't ya think? Pooh and his friends always make me smile and long to climb into the pages of the book and spend a day in The Hundred Acre Wood. If only life could be that innocent, that safe, for us and for our children.

But the statistics shout even if we ignore them. One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually violated by their eighteenth birthday. Sexual abuse is an epidemic. It won't just disappear. So how do we, as loving parents, begin to inoculate our children against this heinous threat? Let's dissect the wisdom from our little friend, Pooh.

We spell love in many ways for our children. We provide food, clothing, and shelter. We help with homework, taxi them to games and concerts, take them to their well checks once a year, and the list goes on and on. But we can spell it forwards and backwards, upside down and right-side-up, and if our children don't feel loved, we've opened the door wide for an abuser to abuse. Children who don't feel loved are easy targets for perpetrators, and perpetrators are looking for easy targets.

So how do children feel loved? I'll defer to the experts on this one and recommend two books. (I know, I know, who has time to read? I promise you, these books are worth the time.)

In his best selling book, How to Really Love Your Child, Dr. Ross Campell encourages parents to convey love to their children through four areas: eye contact, physical contact, focused attention, and discipline. It's my favorite parenting book. A friend recommended it to me long ago. I needed it. I'm a "doer". I like to get things done--check things of my list. "Doers" buzz right by Dr. Campell's first three principles. Believe me, my kids are better off because I read the book and now that I'm entering take-two of my parenting (foster children), it's time for me to read it again.

The Five Love Languages of Children, by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campell, is another great read for parents who want their children to feel loved. The authors divide how children (and adults) "hear" love into five languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. I have a child who's a hugger. He grabs a hold of his momma often. His momma, who's not a hugger, but a quality time kinda gal, needs to grab a hold of her hugger often. That's how he best understands love. Great book.

Over the next several weeks I'll give you more tips on how to protect your kids, but nothing will give your kids more protection than your love communicated in ways your children can understand it, or as Pooh Bear wisely states, in ways they can feel it.

Building a relationship with your children where they feel loved and valued is the second step in protecting them from sexual abuse. Refusing to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse is the where we begin.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Protecting Our Kids: The Definition (Part 1)

"Do you see anything wrong with what she's wearing?" asked the editor as he pointed to the illustration of the little girl in overalls. He had just read my sexual abuse prevention manuscript and now he was evaluating the illustrations.

"No." I responded.

"Think about it."

I looked back at the illustration hoping the answer would jump off the page. It didn't. I turned toward him, "I'm sorry," I said, my eyebrows and shoulders raised, "I'm just not getting it."

He hesitated. I waited.

" could someone touch her, you know, in her private areas, with those [overalls] on?"

There is much confusion as to what constitutes sexual abuse. Before we begin our discussion on protecting our kids from sexual abuse, let me give you a definition from an expert who has spent years counseling survivors.

"Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person. Sexual abuse may be committed by a person under the age of eighteen when that person is either significantly older than the victim or when the perpetrator is in a position of power or control over the victimized child/adolescent." (The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender, Navpress, 1995, page 48.)

I didn't rattle off this definition to the editor. He was already overwhelmed--clearly uncomfortable with the topic.

"A violation is a violation," I responded, "regardless of whether it was above the clothes or beneath the clothes."

"You'd better include that in the back of your book or something." he said.

"Yes, I think I should."

Conversation ended.

Parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse have embraced the first step in protecting their kids from sexual abuse.

Please join me in learning more tips to protect your kids over the next several weeks. Stop by next week for step two.

Myth: Children are most often sexually abused by strangers in trench coats, white socks, and black shoes.

Fact: Ninety to ninety-five percent of children are sexually abused by someone they know and trust.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mommas of the Round Table

She confessed her fear to us. "My son just started high school and I'm scared. The other day he said to me, "Mom, you're more nervous about this than I am. I'm fine."

We, the mothers seated at the round table, nodded in unspoken empathy. No explanation needed, we got it!

What is it about mothers? I know, I'm guilty of this--projecting my fears onto my kids.
I'm dyslexic. So is my son. I was sure he would be teased and suffer just like I did. And I was hell-bent on making sure he wasn't. But nope, now he's an adult and he looks at me as if I'm speaking Greek when I try to "connect" with him on this level. Now, I know part of it is because he's male and just doesn't go there (smile), but he's different from me and his experience has been different from mine. Although I didn't ask her, I suspect that my friend's confession had more behind it. I wonder if her high school years were marked by fear and pain.
If you ask some of my friends who survived childhood sexual abuse what their biggest fear is, they would say without hesitation, "I'm afraid it will happen to my kids." And I don't blame them. If it can happen to them, they know, it can happen to anyone. True. Yet, considering this, one of my concerns is that they'll let their biggest fear paralyze them from taking steps to protect their children rather than motivate them.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to lay out simple tips on how survivors, and others, can protect their children from sexual abuse. We'll "sit" at the round table together. We'll join forces and arm ourselves for battle. Are you with me?

Oh, and fathers are welcome too. I'm sure you're brave enough to "go there".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hey Doc, Could You Spare Some Time

When I speak to moms about protecting their children from sexual abuse, I invite them to enlist others to help them with their mission. "Grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc... can all become part of your team." I say.

Recently a friend of mine shared the following experience she had with her child's pediatrician.


As we were gearing up for the start of kindergarten I took Matthew to the pediatrician for his five year well check. I have always liked our pediatrician, but at this particular visit, I fell in love with her care for my son.

When it was time for Dr. Nancy to check his pelvic area she looked at him and said, "Matthew I need to check under your pants, but before I do that, I need to ask someone for permission. Who do I need to ask to check under your pants, Matthew?"

"Mommy," Matthew said.

"You are right," she said.

Then Dr. Nancy turned to me. "Mommy, is it okay if I check under Matthew's pants?"

"Yes," I answered.

She turned toward Matthew. "Matthew, Mommy says it's okay, but Matthew, what if Mommy had said no, then what would you do?"

"I would say NO and scream!" he said.

"That's great, Matthew! And there is one more thing you should do if someone asks to look under your pants without permission. You should find and tell mommy or daddy."

With tears in my eyes I looked at her and said, "Thank you for that."

"You're welcome," she gently replied and continued on with the exam.

As a survivor of sexual abuse and a mommy who has been teaching my son what to do and say if anyone ever asks or tries to touch the area covered by his bathing suit, this visit with his doctor helped affirm everything I have been working so hard to train Matthew to do. It gave me confidence that what I have been teaching him is sinking in and he knows what to do if he's ever put in that situation.


My friend thanks God for this experience. I thank God too. It has brought peace to her heart, not only as a mother, but as a survivor. God cares about that.

I also thank her consummate pediatrician. She understands that she needs to not only care for her patients' bodies, but their minds and spirits as well.

Consider enlisting your pediatrician to help you protect your children from sexual abuse. Print this blog post and take it to your child's next doctor's visit. You'll not only be helping your own kids, but others as well.

Imagine a world where parents and pediatricians work together to protect kids from CSA. Imagine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Blogs Merge In A Lonely World

I have this widow friend who blogs about widowhood. I have this mommy friend who blogs about motherhood and life. Today my mommy friend blogged about being lonely because her kiddos are back in school. Today my widow friend shared this video on being alone. If you've ever been lonely, you'll appreciate this video and perhaps you'll celebrate the upside to being alone. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wisdom From The Friendly Skies

"It's unlikely, but if cabin pressure changes, the panel above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. If this happens... Adjust your own mask before assisting others."

She was roughly an hour late. She walked toward me guiding a toddler with one hand, clutching a baby in an infant carrier in the other, and lugging a diaper bag over her shoulder. Oh, how I remember those days when just getting out of the house was a miracle and arriving on time was, well, only a dream.

"How do you do it, Carolyn? I mean, seven kids and all!" She asked.

"Listen, four of my children are through or nearly through the teen years and the other three can get themselves in and out of the car by themselves. Your stage of parenting is the most physically exhausting." I said.

"I'm tired all the time." She brushed a stray lock of hair back from her eye. "My oldest challenges me all the time... I'm sorry, I'm talking too much. I get with others and I just keep talking."

She went on chatting. She needed to speak and I needed to listen. As I stated before, I remember those days. I could tell she wanted one piece of advice, anything that would get her through the afternoon. I dug deep.

"You need to take care of yourself." I said.

She looked at me like most women do when I make that statement, like the thought never occurred to them before, like it's taboo, like it's breaking a code of motherhood to mention self care. We're supposed to be superwomen right? We did this miraculous thing by giving birth and now we're going to keep on being supernatural. Right? Wrong!

True confession: I surrendered my supermom cape long ago. I don't try to fly through this parenting thing without heeding the warnings and when I do, disaster strikes. Always. So here's some motherhood navigation advice:

It's likely, our life pressures will change and there's no panel above our heads that will open to reveal oxygen masks. We need to find what gives us oxygen, what breathes life into our souls, and take a few breaths--before assisting others.

Your turn to share. What breathes life into your soul? How do you refuel in whatever stage of life you're in? How do you make time to refuel?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lessons From The "Big Easy"

I viewed the cityscape from the window of the airport shuttle. So this is New Orleans. I thought. I'm not sure what I expected, but other than an occasional palm tree, it looked a lot like my own city of Philadelphia. The billboards that welcomed me, alternately one to my left and one to my right and so on, boasted of an irony I couldn't miss: I was visiting New Orleans to attend The National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention and my eyes were being assaulted by sexual images of women, who were once little girls, welcoming me to this club or that bar. And I wondered how many of my fellow conferees shared my observation.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a pessimist at heart. I was excited to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of NOLA. And I did, once I got several miles from the airport.

The first day I ate so much gumbo and po-boy that I couldn't stuff in a beignet (Creole doughnut)--one of my goals. (I love pastries.) I strolled the streets of the French Quarter and saw soulful musicians, sweat glistening, oblivious to the heat, their music--their life. New Orleans was alive, and I was an enthusiastic student absorbing its rich culture. But the majority of my three day adventure was spent indoors absorbing all I could about the culture of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.

I can't post all I learned in one blog post. The sights, emotions, and facts go on and on, and I'm wondering if my readers really want to know. (Please comment. I'd like to know.) It's a dark subject and for all my optimism, I can't make it light.

But here's some good news. I met a lot of amazing people who are on the front line in this battle. And yes, they shared my observation.

My sincere thanks for all the encouragement and prayers sent my way regarding this venture. I had peace each and every moment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

My bags aren't packed yet, but my anticipation is building. One week from today I plan to be in New Orleans doing something I've never done before: attending The National Conference on Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse and Child Sex Trafficking. Think Forest Gump goes to Washington and you've got the idea of how I'm feeling about this venture.

So I'm asking you to pray for me as I battle all the lies that creep up in my head. The lies whisper, "What can one mom do to make a difference in the horrific world of sexual abuse and sex trafficking?", "This is just a waste of time.", and "What if your heart acts up on the plane (I have a heart that beats to its own rhythm at random times.)?" The lies can go on and on. And honestly, the lies can get my attention sometimes and if I'm not diligent in replacing them with truth, they will begin to consume my thinking. That's when I act like a crazy woman, hair standing on end, who's got one foot nailed to the floor and keeps running in circles. (Not a pretty picture. Just ask my husband. He's seen me this way.)

But pushing the fears and lies aside, I'm committed to boarding that plane next Tuesday. Why? Because the doors have opened for me to go and because in my heart I know I'm supposed to be there.

The truth is, childhood sexual abuse isn't going to go away. Yet, if I can learn one thing I can share with one parent or survivor that can make a difference in one child's or survivor's life, it will all be worth it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Hardest Word

"I don't know what else to say." She said. The confusion in her aging gray eyes surrendered. "I'm sorry."

"That's all I ever wanted to hear...all I ever wanted from you." She responded as she brushed away her tears and the final traces of mascara from her eyes. Her fingers, once clenched, began to relax. Emotions that had once held her captive began to loosen their grip. And she was another step closer to becoming the woman she was meant to be, empowered by a five letter word spoken in love.

I think Elton John made a valid observation of human nature in his song hit song entitled: "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word."

I've made an observation as I've listened to the hearts of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The word sorry, spoken by those who were in a position to protect the victim (mother, father, older sibling, grandparent, etc...), seems to be a healing word, even if the one in position to protect had no idea the abuse had occurred until years later in the survivor's life. I'm sorry, offered in complete sincerity, can say more than any excuse given.

I'm sorry says: I regret that I wasn't there to protect you. You deserved to be protected. I mourn with you. What happened was wrong. I believe you.

We may not always be there for the ones we love when they need us. In fact, we won't. We can't; it's not humanly possible. But we can sit with them, look into their eyes with tears in our own, and help them take another step toward healing. Sorry doesn't have to be the hardest word.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Next Thing

She had buried two husbands. I thought she had something to say about how to survive through grief so I listened.

"Do the next thing." She said. "That's what you do. Each day you just do the next thing."

I thought her advice was too simplistic, almost cold to those hurting in her midst. Yet who am I to argue with a woman who has buried two husbands when I haven't buried one. I'm not that stupid and hopefully not that arrogant.

Grief stinks! I've smelled enough of it in my life to know I don't ever want to smell it again, but I don't have that option. To live life is to encounter grief. Whether it's death, the loss of a dream, or childhood innocence, grief comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. It shows up when I least expect it, and makes me want to run for cover, push it away, ignore its existence, or do anything but look into its ugly face.

But there's the other side of grief. It's what happens when the tears begin to decrease and healing comes into view. Then I realize that grief, although disguised as a villain, isn't really the ugly schmuck I've perceived it to be. The stench of grief dissipates and like the air after a spring rain, it beckons me to take another breath. Grief is a healer.

I don't know what you're grieving today. Maybe nothing and that is good. We need days, months and years like that. But at some point there will be something...maybe something new, maybe something old that deserves your attention. Don't run from the tears, and while you're crying remember, there will be a tomorrow and an opportunity to do the next thing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Farewell Yellow Cheese Box...Until September

So tomorrow the big yellow cheese box pulls up one last time and deposits three energetic elementary age children at my front door and several days later dumps two thrill-seeking teenagers at the same spot. Ready or not, school's out for the summer and I become not only mother, but summer camp director. It's a role I've met with fear and trepidation in years past. Moans of "I'm bored" have haunted my mind as I've imagined the 90 degree heat waves of an endless summer. Each year I've devised plans and placed a few tricks up my sleeve, but this year I have a new mantra.

Presently I'm reading a book entitled Too Small To Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International. I'm hooked. I'm convicted, and as I read Dr. Stafford's words as he describes the preciousness of children, I'm humbled. Kids are amazing. Sometimes I can't believe God has entrusted their care to mere mortals. The decisions we make, the things we say, the actions we do, all weave together into the fabric of their lives forever, for good and for bad. Heavy.

Yet, I found a quote in Dr. Stafford's book last night that has become my mantra for the summer of 2010. "Inviting a child to participate actively in the real life of our homes beats an hour of isolated make-believe in the most lavish toy room."

Now, I'm not always so good at inviting my kids into my life. I like to get things done. I like to get things done well. Inviting a child to do the things I do requires patience pills I often run out before I can get a refill. Yet, in this culture where teens are lost and can't seem to find their purpose in life, now more than ever in our history as a nation, it's time I enhance my approach to summer vacation and seize opportunities while I have them.

So this summer when I cook, clean, play, read, sew, and all the myriad of things I do, the kids are going to be by my side as much as possible. It's going to be messy, tedious, and not always done to my standards, but ya know, who cares? Really? Who really cares? I know when that big yellow cheese box pulls up in September, I won't.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Never Too Late, Never Too Early

"Sometimes I wish I could have healed sooner. I think of all the years I lost. Yet, I know the years have made me who I am today, and I love who I am."

Time stopped as I savored her words. She had lived beyond a half century, many of those years filled with pain--pain that began with childhood sexual abuse and continued on for several decades until she exposed the secret, cried the tears, and welcomed the healing. I felt privileged to hear her words. To see her smiling face. To feel her peace. To celebrate her victory.

It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Little Botox, Please! (Part 2)

I couldn't believe my ears. I couldn't have written a more compelling ending to this story if I were a fiction writer, and honestly, if I were a fiction writer and had created this story, I would have rejected this ending. Too sappy. Too scripted. But the following is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth:

Like I stated in "A Little Botox, Please! (Part 1)", we got very few complaints as the days turned to weeks which turned to months. Then one day...

Child P sat next to me at the dining room table working on a craft project. I was yapping with my son's girl friend seated across the table. Child P took advantage of a pause in our conversation interjecting with this random statement, "It sure is good to have my life back again [That got my attention. It's not often one hears an eleven year old child speaking about getting her life back.] now that I'm not watching so much TV."

If you could have seen my face, you would have whispered to your nearest friend, "Yep, she made that appointment for Botox. Poor thing! How long are her eyes going to be stuck in that upright position?" I was shocked--out of the mouth of babes once again.

I sent my son, Luke, a victory text. I needed to share the moment with the one who had sounded the battle cry. He won. We won. And an eleven year old child got her life back.

And Botox? I've got a face that moves with life. It tells a story only my face can tell. So Doc, you can keep your Botox. This momma's got all she needs.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little Botox, Please! (Part 1)

He sat across the booth from us in Applebees with twenty-two years of wisdom under his belt. Not much when you compare it to my forty-five years of wisdom and my husband's forty-nine years. Put our years together and you get a grand total of ninety-four years of collective wisdom. Impressive. Intimidating. But not to him.

"Mom and Dad, I need to talk to you about something." Always good with eye contact, his gaze didn't waver. "I've been noticing the girls are watching too much TV."

I took a deep breath and forced my eyes to remain steady, locked in a smiling position. No Botox needed.

"You never let me watch that much TV. Do you know all the things I did when I was a kid because of that?"

He didn't give us a chance to reply.

His eyes still engaged, "I played with Lego's for hours. I read books. Made up games. Played..."

Twenty-two years of life. Most of them childhood. With his youthful memory, he had quite an exhaustive list.

Gotta admit, I was glad he remembered his childhood that way. Felt like a hefty paycheck to this underpaid servant to family and society. I wasn't so sure I'd kept the TV off enough. Even without cable, the temptation to use the entertainment box as a babysitter had gotten the best of me more than I care to admit (not that I counted or could remember if I had). And now with well over a hundred channels and beyond, this tired old momma and papa were loosing the battle, and my son noticed.

He continued. "They should be doing...and playing..."

At this point I really could have used some Botox. I'm sure my eyes lowered. I did my best to move them back into the smiling position. Giving my husband no room to interject, I said, "Luke, do you know who has to do all of that stuff with them at their ages? Me!" I wanted to plead my case with a little more passion, tell him that after nearly raising four children to adulthood and now having little ones underfoot again, I had a right to be selfish with MY time, and..., but I realized self-pity wasn't very attractive, and I was sure it was exposing itself in my eyes. Giving the muscles around my tired eyes another workout, I pushed my lids up again and smiled.

He nodded. His eyes compassionate.

I took a mental step backwards and listened to wisdom. Isn't this the kind of son you wanted? He's bringing a concern to the table, unafraid, with respect, with concern for others.

Again, not giving my husband time to speak (I struggle with that sometimes), my face softened, and I forgot about my eyes. "Thanks, Luke. You're right."

Then together, husband included, we became problem solvers. Our solution: No TV on school nights...even if their homework is done.

We told the girls that afternoon. I braced myself for the worst. We got very few complaints as the days turned to weeks which turned to months. Then one day...

Stop by next week to see if I made an appointment for Botox.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Right Back Atcha

The SOS could be heard from aisles away as I rounded the next aisle with my grocery cart. I was trying to mind my own business, but somewhere between the yogurt and the butter, I got bored. So I did what every mother does who hears that international distress signal. I put the cart in reverse and took a peek.

It was a tragic sight--one mother, two little boys, and a shopping cart loaded with groceries. The oldest boy, probably age six or so, was in deep do-do. How do I know this? His mother was leaning over him, eyes bulging from their sockets, her index finger pointed toward his nose, and words flying rapid fire from her mouth like a classroom full of fifth grade boys launching spit balls. It's amazing what one can observe in a quick peek.

Alarmed by the disaster taking place right in front of me and in such a public forum, I snapped to attention and threw myself into first gear. The bread aisle welcomed me and brought comfort to my sad heart.

I'm a mother who's lightly aged--like some cheeses--and having lived through some victories and defeats, I know the humiliation that the oldest son was experiencing was so not worth all the groceries that mother had in her cart or in mine. I contemplated abandoning my cart and racing to her rescue, but I knew instinctively that any honest attempt at throwing out a lifeline like, "Hey, I've been there...let me tell you about the time..." or "Can I help you?", would be seen as arrogant judgments from a stranger, and I didn't want to add to the stress. So I tried to mind my own business...

Well, I tried. But next thing I knew her cart was passing me on my left...blocking my view of the breads. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation:

Oldest son: "Let's get the eggs, mama."

Mother: "Eggs? Do you think you deserve to make Easter eggs after the way you've been acting?"

Oldest son: "Mama, please!!! Eggs, please!!!"

Mother: "Zip it! Just zip it!"

Now the whole time while my eyes darted between her cart and the bread, I never heard a word out of son number two, who I guessing was four. He was in his own little world, smiling and giggling, obviously the family clown and totally oblivious to the fact that the ship was sinking and he was on it. But something about "Zip it" struck his funny bone.

"Zip it. Zip it!" He laughed as he repeated it over and over looking up at his mother.

Now that made me nervous. I wanted to get his attention and sound the warning, "Honey, don't. Please stop. You're mother...she's about to blow!"

And blow she did.

"Don't you tell me to zip it!" Finger wagging in his face.

Let's just say I found some humor in that, and threw myself into second gear and high-tailed it out of there.

On the way home I thought about the day before. It was Good Friday and my daughter was going to babysit our three youngest, "the three little girls" as we affectionately call them. It was a morning out. A morning with a good friend. A time for moi'. I dressed up a little. No sweats for me. I was a mama of seven, but I wasn't going to look like it.

"Anna, you've got things covered right?" Check.

"You can reach me on my cell if you need me." Check.

"I'll be back by 11:00. " Check.

I could hear the tension mounting in the distance. Well, from the family room, not so distant.

"I did not!"

"You did too!"

"You always get to watch what you want!"

"Do not!"

Then there was a smack of some kind. Wails followed.

"Mom, Mrs. Greene is in the driveway waiting." Anna said.

The pressure was on. The tension mounting. No one, and I mean, no one, was going to mess up my morning out. Yeah, you guessed it. I marched to the family room and let out my own SOS.

It was ugly. You could have heard a pin drop. I laid down the law, turned on my heels, and marched out the door.

Within seconds I felt awful. I'd blown it. Knew I'd blown it. But it was obvious I needed the break. So I jumped in the car and confessed to my good friend.

At breakfast, we talked about life. Parenting. Grace.

When I got home I knew what I needed to do.

"Girls, come here." They raced to see me. Actually glad to have me home.

"Girls, I'm sorry the way I yelled today. It was wrong. Will you please forgive me?"

Quick responses of grace and hugs followed. I turned to leave, my mother ear still within hearing.

One little girl said to the other. "I'm sorry about this morning."

"Yeah, I'm sorry too."


Friday, March 26, 2010

Hair-raising Expectations and Lamentations

Child Q was in tears, a result of anger more than sadness. Her mother didn't have time to straighten her hair, and thus, she had to face, yet, another day--curly!

The desire to have her hair straightened began early in the afternoon a day earlier. The evening was clear, no scheduled activities. Her mother, she thought, available. So she did what any curly haired budding young woman would do, she dreamed of straight hair. Not just any straight hair, her straight hair. Long. Dark. Flowing. She didn't share her dream with anyone. Why share a good dream anyhow? The risk of someone waking her up would be too great. So her dream continued long into the afternoon and into the early evening until it morphed into...The Great Hair Expectation!

What is it about hair that can change a perfectly good morning into a dreadfully dark melodrama? If it's curly we want it straight. If it's straight we want it curly. It's too thick. It's too thin. Too long. Too short. And my latest woe--too gray!

Yet, on this particular morning, child Q had a dilemma of the curly kind, and I couldn't seem to find a satisfying response to her lamentations.

Finally I said, "I'm sorry there wasn't time to straighten your hair last night."

Her upper lip stiffened as tears continued to well-up in her eyes.

"How long had you been hoping that there would be time to straighten your hair?" I asked.

"Since yesterday afternoon." She snipped.

"Oh, I see. Ya know, my mother always told me (yep, now that I've got the gray hair, I'm sounding a lot like my mother) not to have expectations...if you don't have expectations, you won't get hurt."

"I think I'm figuring that out," she said, arms crossed. I don't like life. It's not fair."

An understanding smile softened my face. "Yeah, I know." I said.

Then child Q trudged toward the door to catch her bus, curly hair pulled tight into a pony tail, as I realized....she's growing up.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Assaulted by the Green-Eyed Monster


"It's not fair! She always gets invited to sleepovers." I could see the green ooze rising up in child Q's eyes as she spewed forth her injustice.

"Not true." I said. "You were just at a sleepover a few weeks ago, and you certainly have been to more birthday parties than child P."

I could see by child Q's pursed lips, scrunched nose and squinted eyes, that my opening arguments were not going to win the case. In her mind, an injustice was done and there was no way to rectify it.

Chapter 1

Ah jealousy. It creeps up on us. Twists our thoughts. Grabs hold of our hearts. I can see it clearly when it glows green in the eyes of the little women in my life, but what about when the green ooze rises up in my eyes? It's hard to see with green goop in my eyes, so I don't notice it at first. But for me, this is generally how it goes:

"You got your book published? How wonderful!" I say to the smiling author.

She beams back at me displaying a full set of perfectly whitened teeth and a California tan.

I grumble inside. She's just too perky. I bet that little perky personality landed her that book deal. I bet she doesn't have any kids at home either, and if she does, she's probably ignoring them and hiding out in her office somewhere writing as if she has no other responsibilities or her perfect husband sent her off to some remote beach house with a blessing spoken through shining white teeth: "Go ahead, Darling. I'll make dinner, help the kids with their homework, and even do the laundry while you're away. Don't you worry about a thing. And, Sweetheart, feel free to stay until your book's written...from the dedication to the epilogue." (And believe me, I've had worse thoughts, but one can't write such things on blogs about redemption--the readers might think I haven't been redeemed. :)

Yep, the green-eyed monster gets me sometimes, and when I finally take a peek at myself in the mirror, I hardly recognize myself. It's U-G-L-Y!

Chapter 2

So how do I slay this monster? I begin by praying for my victim--the one I thought all of those "wonderful" thoughts about. Then I think: Maybe that book deal has taken her years of blood, sweat, and, tears. Maybe underneath all the pretty teeth is a person who has tasted pain far greater than I've ever experienced. What if she died tomorrow or her husband or her child, would I still be jealous? What if...

And somehow, I don't feel so jealous anymore.


The morning of the sleepover was dreary and child P's eyes were heavy with fever. Child Q sat eating her cereal, healthy and strong. And I, having lived a few more years and having had to
slay a few more green-eyed monsters, took the time to pass along my hard-earned wisdom and explained to child Q how to raise her sword.

Friday, February 19, 2010

When God Writes Your Story

Eighteen years ago today, I cut the cord of a 6lb baby girl. I celebrated and wept with her birth-mother as we gazed into her sweet stork-kissed face. She was going to be moments with her, I thought, brief. But God was writing a different ending to the first chapter of this baby girl's life. And no more than 96 hours later, this baby girl became Anna Marie Ruch--my daughter. Happy Birthday, Anna!!! It is a joy to be your mother. :)
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