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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Wisdom of Tears: When to Cry with Our Kids, When to Cry with Our Pillow

I remember it well, weeping in her arms over a lost love—a high school breakup. I poured my woes out onto her shoulder. She listened. But when I pulled back to wipe my tears, my pain paused. I saw her eyes. I noticed her tears.

My mother was crying with me. And her tears gave me comfort.

A burden carried. Together.

I struggle to keep my mouth shut when I listen to a mom convey a painful story involving one of her kids and she quickly adds, “But she didn’t see me cry. Yep, I saved that for my pillow.”
Photo courtesy of David Castillo/

I want to say, “Cut! Can we rewind here? Let’s chat. Tell me, how did this help your child?” Not that I’m an authority on this. I’m not. I’m a mother who was once a child. That’s my experience. But I like to think about these things. And I have a question.

Is it always good to hide our tears from our kids?

On that fateful day in high school, when I thought my love life was over, I know my mother’s tears helped. She cried, but remained in control. Her tears were for me, not about her. I felt so loved. Heard. Treasured. She centered me.

Then she spoke words of encouragement with a summery, “This too shall pass.” And I moved forward.

Many years later, my husband and I adopted a daughter. (Obviously, my mother was right. My love life wasn’t over.) And I sought wisdom on adoption. Somewhere I read that between the ages of eight and ten, our daughter would begin to understand the intricacies of adoption—that there was loss involved in her adoption story. She would grieve.

And grieve she did. I’d find her in various chairs, at different times, off and on, throughout the next several months, all curled up. Tears rolling.

“What’s wrong?” I’d ask.

“I miss my birthmother and birthfather.” She has apraxia of speech and struggled to converse, but she found the perfect sentence to convey her feelings.

“It’s okay to cry,” I said. “I’m so sorry you hurt. You can cry as long as you need to.”

And time passed and so did her tears.

I don’t remember if I cried with my daughter through that time. But I’m sure I cried for her. She hurt, so I hurt.

But Anna was just beginning to move from concrete thinking to the abstract, from knowing she was adopted, to understanding what adoption means. My tears could have confused her. Children can see our tears and assume they are responsible for them. So they stop their tears in order to make mommy happy. And then they don’t get to be children. They choose to become comforters and bypass their need for comfort.

So should we always hide our tears? I don’t think so. But with each child and in each situation, we need to ask, “Is this a time to cry with them or for them? Will they understand they didn’t cause the tears?” Then we pray for wisdom.

And if a few tears fall freely, before our child can understand them, we can be quick to explain, “Mommy’s crying because . . .”

And smile.

The Rise and Shine Movement is committed to allowing children to have a childhood, so one day, they are free to be adults. Allowing our children to grieve is one way to achieve this.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Skin Horse Lied: The Wisdom of Motherhood and Grief

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Image courtesy of donnaspoons/


When you’re real you don’t mind being hurt? Excuse me, Mr. Skin Horse, but I think you are perfectly wrong. Because I’ve got seven children who love me. REALLY love me. Plus, I’m real. I. AM. REAL. And I mind being hurt.

I don’t know about you, but this momma thing isn’t for sissies. When my children hurt, I hurt. When they cry, I feel pain. (Well, unless it’s a temper tantrum or something manipulative, then I feel peeved.) But when something happens that hurts them or someone wounds them with words, I hurt too.

There is an old saying, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” I don’t know who said it, but she didn’t lie.

So what’s a momma to do when sad happens? What’s a momma to do with sad?


I know. You wanted a different answer didn’t you? I want one too, but I’ve searched for years and can’t find one. So I’ve learned to grieve.

This hasn’t been easy for me. I come from a long line of stoics who hid their tears, picked themselves up by their boot straps, charged on through pain. And they taught their children to do so too.

Perhaps it was the Great Depression, the World Wars that molded and shaped their survivor mentality. Or maybe it’s all they truly had time to do. I’m not sure. I just know, it doesn’t work for me. And my eighty-six year mother admitted recently, “I’ve learned to cry. I do a lot more of that than I used to.”

We didn’t chat about her admission any further. We didn’t have too. She’s a woman of few words, and I understood her comment. I’ve learned to cry too. Not to wallow, not to wail, but to recognize each sadness as it comes, acknowledge the loss, sit in its presence, and allow the tears to fall.

Tears heal.

So at this point in my life, as I parent for the second-time around, I can relate to the Skin Horse. Several of my joints are loose, many days I feel shabby, and I certainly don’t mind being real. Yet, I still mind being hurt. But now I know what to do with it. And that’s no lie.


Next week. Should we cry in front of our kids? The Wisdom of Shared Tears: When to Cry for Our Kids, When to Cry with Them
If you would like to continue to read Carolyn's hard-earned wisdom on parenting, please subscribe to her new blog, Wisdom from a Second-hand Mother: A Momma Parenting for the Second-time Around. Click here. Tamar's Redemption will be under construction soon and designed solely for survivors of sexual abuse and those who love them. Thank you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Wisdom of Relationship: Navigating the Whitewater of Life with Your Child

It was like the first day of Jr. High School all over again for me. With a lump in my throat, I stood at the top of the cliff and looked at the water below—the whitewater.

I was on mission. A step-out-of-my comfort zone mission. A kid mission. A momma on a mission. Take the Middle-Girl-Child on a get-away, that hopefully she’ll never forget, and talk about life, boys, sex, and Jr. High. And to do this, I had to love the twelve-year-old in a language she could understand and that meant—whitewater rafting.

You see, she’s a true-blue tomboy.

I had taken her older sister on a mission a few years earlier. Similar goals. Different language. The oldest is a bit more like me. We are not tomboys. So our adventure began at Asher’s Chocolate.

Yep, the oldest got to pick out a pound of chocolates. The only rule—eat them whenever you want—no restrictions. Then we drove to the salon. Manis and pedis, please! An hour later we, and our shiny nails, were off to the Pocono outlets for a little shopping and then my brother’s condo for a sleepover with chat time, junk food, and a movie. Oh, it was delightful! I knew how to pull this off. It was right up my comfort ally. I know the language. I can speak chocolate, shiny nails, and shopping.

Now I found myself at the top of the cliff, waiting in line, to traverse down primitive stairs etched into the side of the river bed, trying to look the part. But shaking in my water shoes. So much like my first day of Jr. High.

I looked around at my peers, my fellow whitewater rafters. All different shapes, sizes, ethnicities. Most were playing it cool, excited for the venture. But I wondered if any were nervous, like me. And I wondered if my soon-to-be junior higher was feeling a bit bubbly in the tummy as well. As I stated before, she’s a tomboy. If she was nervous, she wasn’t going to show it. I’d have to ask.

“Are you nervous?”

“A little,” she grinned.

“Me too.”

So unlike Jr. High where no one admits anything that might not be safe to admit. I was glad she felt safe with me. And I was glad I had sucked it up. Whitewater rafting was sure to provide more metaphors and word pictures to draw on to get Middle-Girl-Child through Jr. High, not without some bruises, but intact.

Before I knew it, we were preparing to enter the raft.  Two other adventurers joining us, a  play it cool lanky male, in his early twenties, and his, do you love me, do you really, really love me, girlfriend. (A writer can assess personalities, both strengths and character flaws, in a few short minutes. It’s a gift and a curse. Trust me.)

“So are you ready to be our captain?” Mr. Lanky, male child, soon to be man, asked.

“Ah, yeah,” I said, swallowing hard, wondering When will I learn? Why did I raise my stupid hand?

You see, before we left the rafting adventure center, they placed us in groups. Then they asked, “Who has ever done this before?” I raised my hand all strong and proud. “That’s your captain, folks!”

Note to self, I must tell Middle-Girl-Child to never raise her hand in Jr. High with a prideful attitude, unless, of course, she’s ready to accept all the consequences. Yet, I was pleased, another word picture to add to my lessons in How to Succeed in Jr. High without Really Dying.

So there I was, folks, in the back of the raft, paddle in hand. And like it or not, I was in charge, incredibly grateful for the rafting refresher course given, in fifteen quick minutes, back at the adventure center. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to go on.

Mr. Lanky Boy, soon to man, was sitting to my right, Ms. Please, Please Love Me, directly in front of me, and my Middle-Girl-Child diagonally forward to my right. Our guides pushed us out into the river. Our six hour adventure began. And it was an adventure indeed.

Let me just stop and say, Mr. Lanky has no idea how many times I wanted to take my paddle and knock him and his annoying little comments right out of that raft. Hey bud, you don’t need to prove your manhood here. And stop speaking to your girlfriend like she’s stupid. And, yes, there were even a few times I wanted to smack Ms. Do You Love Me, Really, Really Love Me up side her pretty little desperate head. Honey, you’re worth more than this. Let him go, tell him to come back when he’s a man. But they were far more interested in their relationship dance, which was pitiful to watch, than getting us past the boulders and keeping us all in the raft.

However, I refrained. I chose to view it as more fodder for my lessons in How to Succeed in Jr. High without Really Dying. And I actually rallied all my momma instincts and reached long and far to keep Mr. Lanky and his gal in the raft on several occasions. Just call me Elasti-Momma.

But when I wasn’t focused on keeping the river rats and myself in the raft and we had some time to float and drift, I thought of all the ways whitewater rafting is like Jr. High.

The unseen boulders - Our guides told us that it’s not the boulders on the surface, making the most noise that can be the most dangerous. It’s those quiet, hidden masses of rock that can sneak up on you, that can send you flying out of the raft.

 Jr. High - Peer pressure. It’s quiet. Sneaky. It can send you places you don’t want to go.

Our instincts - Our guides also informed us that when you’re about to hit a boulder, your    instinct will be to slide your body away from the boulder. You want to move toward it, distributing your weight in the raft, so it won’t tip up into the air and dump you all into the water.

Jr. High - Fears. They will keep you from taking risks, good risks. Move toward your fear. Have courage.

My metaphors continued.

But then we encountered more and more whitewater, again and again. And I noticed something. When we were paddling, especially toward a boulder, the raft would pitch in directions I didn’t want it to go. I often felt like I was paddling alone.

Then wisdom surfaced. A wisdom that spoke quietly. The kind of wisdom that speaks from having done this before, from parenting for the second-time around and knowing that in parenting, one plus one rarely equals two.  I listened.

You can give Middle-Girl-Child all the word pictures you want comparing Jr. High with whitewater rafting. Word pictures are good. But what good are they if she goes through Jr. High thinking—she’s paddling alone?
So I spent the rest of the day, attempting to stay in the moment, simply enjoying the trip with my daughter. Because if I’ve learned anything over my twenty-six years of parenting it’s this:

The battle against most of the perils of Jr. High and beyond
 are best fought on the field of relationship.

Later, on our ride home, I spoke wisdom, in as few words as possible.

“I’m wondering. When we were on the river, did you ever feel like you were paddling alone?”

She smiled. “Yeah, I did.”

“I did too, especially when we were heading right toward a boulder. Jr. High can feel a lot like that. And sometimes you’re going to feel like your paddling alone. What are your dreams? What are the things you most want to do with your life?”

She’s a thinker. She had a list and shared them with me.

“I want those things for you too. And I’m here to help you get there. To help you achieve those dreams, I believe, God has placed in your heart. But here’s the thing, sometimes in Jr. High, you’re going to feel like I’m not paddling with you. You’re going to want to go one direction and if I think it’s not going to help you achieve your dreams, I’m going to steer you in another. But please know, when we were on that raft, facing that whitewater, no matter how it felt, I was always paddling with you. And no matter how you feel in Jr. High, you are not alone. I’m paddling with you.”

Sometimes the best wisdom we can share with our kids is to just shut-up and be there—be fully there.

If you would like to continue to read more stories by the Mother of the Cottage, AKA The Second-hand Mother, please subscribe to Carolyn's new blog here. She will continue to address issues for survivors of sexual abuse at Tamar's Redemption beginning this fall.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Wisdom of Bread Crusts, Novels, and Naps: Encouragement for Too Pooped to Party Mommas

I remember riding out of the church parking lot, the back of the mini-van stuffed with kids, passing by one empty nest, middle-age mother after another, my jealousy brewing. I thought  . . .

Ms. Blonde. I bet she’s going to recline on her sofa this afternoon and read a novel. An empty nest meant more time to relax, uninterrupted.
Mrs. Auburn. I bet her husband is taking her to lunch. An empty nest meant some extra cash, less cooking.

The Brunette. I bet she’s going to a quiet house to take a nap today. An empty nest meant more time to rest, refuel.

I know these things, because I was once so close to the empty nest, I could see it. Feel it. Almost touch it. But if you remember my story, you know, just as I was near the end of my full nest, three precious little girls flew in.

And, yes, on this particular Sunday morning, this Second-hand Mother, the Mother of the Cottage was having a woe is me moment. Wondering how I ended up in a mini-van. Again. And who the heck were all these kids.

So I did what I usually do when I’m overwhelmed and feeling like a scum. I cried out to the Lord of the Heaven’s. “Why me? Why now? Why? Why? Why? Help!”

But when I finally stopped whining and listened to the CD playing softly in the background, I heard this song--not just the music--but the words. And I found the strength to ride on, in that mini-van, home to make lunch.
So if today is one of those days, you know, those days, and you’re wondering if this service, we call motherhood, is worth it? Give yourself a few minutes, and hear these words above life’s noise. And during nap-time, if you can just let the dishes sit in the sink, the laundry lay in the pile, recline on your sofa, read that novel, munch on those leftover P and J crusts, doze-off. Let’s not let those empty nesters have all the R&R!
If you would like to continue to read more stories by the Mother of the Cottage, AKA The Second-hand Mother, please subscribe to Carolyn's new blog here. She will continue to address issues for survivors of sexual abuse at Tamar's Redemption beginning this fall.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Wisdom of Simple Prayers

The Handsome Aging Husband had to go slow in his relationship with The Three Little Girls. Father-figures weren’t safe. And he did. But there came a time when it seemed natural for him to tuck The Three Little Girls into bed at night. So, he did.

Then one morning after such a time, the eldest of the three, the eight-year-old mother, came bounding into the kitchen, a smile lighting her face. “Last night when Uncle Ken was praying, he thanked Jesus for making me special and asked Jesus to keep me safe. I liked that.”
Image courtesy of tungphoto/

And the Mother of the Cottage smiled. She liked that too.

If you would like to continue read more stories by the Mother of the Cottage, AKA The Second-Hand Mother, please subscribe to Carolyn's new blog here. She will continue to address issues for survivors of sexual abuse at Tamar's Redemption beginning this fall.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Wisdom of Slow

It’s been five years since The Mother of the Cottage said, “Yes,” to the Lord of the Heavens and opened her home to The Three Little Girls.

Five years.

Time. Where does it go? In those five years, I’ve moved from my early forties to the later. Fifty is approaching. Fast and furious. Crazy!

And the girls are growing. Growing in stature. Growing in trust.

They didn’t trust us when they came. Nor should they have. I knew this going in. Each reaction, each day, was going to be a test. And sometimes I passed. Sometimes I failed. I knew in my heart of hearts that as much as I wanted to be a healing balm, I am not the Healer. I would add my own flaws to the mix.

I pray they are few.

My husband’s exam was even more challenging. He had to go slow. Slow to speak. Slow to react. Slow to touch. Father figures weren’t safe.

So he went S.L.O.W.

And one day he received his blessing for slow.

The eldest, she saw much, experienced much. The protector of her little sisters. The eight-year-old mother.

We were hanging out on the deck of my sister’s vacation home. Playing a game. Our older kids doing their thing. Acting out words, so others could guess.

That’s when I witnessed his blessing—the A on his exam.

And it took my breath away.

She was giggling. A joyful, no holds barred moment. And just as naturally as all my kids, she forgot her reserve and hopped up on his lap, her arms surrounded his neck.

And, for me, time stopped … just long enough to capture a memory.
If you would like to continue read more stories by the Mother of the Cottage, AKA The Second-Hand Mother, please subscribe to Carolyn's new blog here. She will continue to address issues for survivors of sexual abuse at Tamar's Redemption beginning this fall.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Story of the Second-hand Mother

 Once upon a time there was a mother, who loved shoes, and lived in a
Copyright R&SMovement 2013
cottage with her Handsome Husband. And, yes, she had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. One child had dyslexia, another ADD, another ADHD, and still another apraxia of speech. She loved and cared for each one, grieving their losses, celebrating their victories. She watched them grow. They turned into Three Fine Young Men and One Special Young Lady. And the mother smiled, her job
 nearly done. So she made plans for her future.

Then the Lord of the Heavens said, “Oh, not so fast, Mother of the Cottage. I will send you three more children to fill your home.”

But the mother cried, “I’m older. Have you seen my gray hairs? Lord, do you have any idea how hard it is to be a parent? And besides, I can finally afford more shoes. Surely you’ve chosen the wrong mother!”

But the Lord of the Heavens said, “Do not fear. I will be with you.”

Then Three Little Girls, with broken dreams and sad hearts, but sparkly bright futures, came to live with the older Mother of the Cottage and her aging husband.

Each day, the mother asked—no, she cried—to the Lord of the Heavens for wisdom, patience, mercy, grace, forgiveness.

Time passed. Then something mysterious and marvelous happened—the Mother of the Cottage, her Handsome, Aging Husband, the Three Fine Young Men and Special Young Woman fell in love with the Three Little Girls. And although the Mother of the Cottage still cries out to the Lord of the Heavens for wisdom daily, she knows in her heart there is nothing more important she can do with her future. And she surely doesn’t need more shoes.

And this is the beginning of the story of the Second-hand Mother—a momma parenting for the second time around.

Twice upon a time . . .
If you would like to read more stories from the Second-Hand Mother, please subscribe to Carolyn's new blog here. Carolyn will continue to address issues for survivors of sexual abuse at Tamar's Redemption beginning this fall.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Expectin' Perfection? Wisdom from a Second-hand Momma

She stood at my front door. Tears in her eyes. A toddler in the stroller, by her side. “I blew it,” she said. “ I yelled at her. What’s wrong with me? I wanted this child more than anything. I’ve never done this before.”

She had waited years for a baby. Untold doctor visits. Countless procedures. Numerous miscarriages. Endless tears. But then her joy was complete. A baby girl. Healthy. Strong. Beautiful.

And sinful.
Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield/

Yeah, sinful.

I know. Who has a heart to call a precious, wanted, and longed for child sinful?

I did. Let’s just say, I was a bit stressed out that day and was a year's worth of dirty diapers, temper tantrums, and a few yells ahead of her.

“Mary, she’s sinful just like the rest of us.” I said. “She’s going to get on your nerves, pluck your feathers, make you mad, do things wrong.” The words slid off my tongue. I didn’t even know if she believed in sin or hem, hem . . . sinful children. It was one of those moments when you hear your words and think, What the heck am I saying? She’s going to think I’m nuts! Just call me Frank.

But I continued, invited them inside, while attempting a softer approach. “You can’t beat yourself up over it. You’re not going to do this perfectly and that’s okay. Motherhood is hard.”

Mary still reminds me of that morning and my word choice. We laugh. Her baby girl is all grown up now, a lovely woman. She had survived her mother’s first yell and probably several more along her way toward adulthood.

And Mary and her daughter are the best of friends.

Parenthood is hard. We all blow it from time to time. Even a momma like me, parenting for the second time around. But sometimes, the best gift we can give our kids is to not expect perfection from them or ourselves.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some Momma Battles Are Best Left Unfought

I’ve been thinking a lot about boys lately—my boys. I have three of them, one taller and meatier, and two not-so-tall and on the lean side. They’re all adults now, so we talk about stuff—stuff you don’t chat about when they’re younger because all you’d get is a grunt, a groan, an eye roll, and little perspective. Now they indulge me. I like that.

Today I was talking with one, of the not-so-tall ones, who is on the lean side. He said something that I thought was worth posting (with his permission, of course).

He said, “Some people were meant to move boulders and others were meant to climb them.”
Imagine courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/
 That made this momma smile. Smile from my gut.

You see, for far too long, he’s felt bad about not being able to physically move boulders. I’ve observed that it’s tough being a not-so-tall, lean young man, in this world that honors height and strength. I would imagine it’s even harder when the taller, meatier males decide to demonstrate their strength using your lean body as their weights. This happens. I’ve witnessed it, not from his taller, meatier brother—he’s a gentle soul, but from others.

You stand there, as his momma, watching, as all the dudes laugh it off, but you notice—not everyone’s laughing. It’s all you can do not to march up to the big guy and stamp on his foot and yell, “Put him down. NOW! You ... YOU, BULLY!” But you don’t, because you know that would only make your son feel worse. He doesn't want his momma fighting his battles. So you watch. You wait. You pray. And you guide him into other areas to build his confidence.

And on that day, when he realizes that he was meant to climb boulders, you celebrate and cheer him on as he climbs.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Lesson from a Little Boy and a Big Tornado

I smiled as I listened to the little boy, an Oklahoma tornado survivor, give an account of the reunion with his dad, after the devastation, during a radio interview.

“I saw you [his father] and I just jumped, because I knew you’d catch me,” he said.

He jumped because he knew.

He jumped because he trusted.

What a beautiful image, after such a devastating tragedy—a son jumping into his daddy’s arms with abandon, without a second thought.

I love that!

And then I imagined—a different child, a boy or a girl—after a different kind of devastation saying,

“I saw you and I just told, because I knew you’d listen to me, believe me, and take action.”

The child tells because he knows.

The child tells because she trusts.

And then I smiled as I thought, If adults would begin the conversation, regarding sexual abuse, with the kids they love, more children could live life without a devastating secret.

I love that!

Image courtesy of Ambro/

When we teach our kids about sexual abuse, we build a trusting relationship with them. It’s summertime. Time to relax. But don’t relax until you’ve talked with your kids. Begin the conversation. Build the bridge. Break the silence.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not Feeling Like an Amazing Momma? Advice from a Second-hand Mother

“I could have been an amazing mother if I could have just parented our kids a week at a time,” I said, confessing to my husband.

“You are an amazing mother,” he said—always the encourager.

“Well maybe so, but I just had the best week with the girls. We baked, did crafts, read stories, I didn’t even need to worry about dinner. If I didn’t have to worry about cleaning this house and cooking, I’d be the most amazing mother!”

Can you relate?

It’s the stuff we have to do in life that gets in the way of our amazing. I know this, because, you see, I’m a mother parenting for the second time around.

My four kids were nearly grown, launched, out-a-here, when God brought three little sisters to my door step. We started keeping them a week at a time. A momma for a week. It worked.

I had time to plan. I knew when they were coming. The dates scratched on my calendar months in advance. Craft ideas planned and purchased. Check. Meal ideas, planned and groceries purchased. Check. Check. A thorough cleaning before they arrived. CHECK. I was ready. My ducks were in a row. And, perhaps more honestly, I knew there was an end. I could shop and clean next week. It was time to play and do mother stuff. The fun stuff.
Image courtesy of Stewart Miles/ 

 And I was AMAZING! And I felt AMAZING!

Then came a summer.

Then the summer ended.

And then . . . the point of no return. Literally.

They came. They stayed. Oh, and yes, they conquered.

I could barely breathe. So much to plan. No time to plan.  So much to consider. No time to consider. It was no longer camp at Aunt Carolyn’s. It. Was. Life.

“Sorry kiddo, I can’t help you with that puzzle, I’ve got to go make a grocery list.”

“Stop what you’re doin.’ Everybody in the mini-van, NOW! We’re outa milk.”

“Sorry Squirt, I can’t read right now, the cat just used the mound of dirty laundry for his litter box.”

You would think because I’d already parented before, it would have been easier. I’m a second-hand mother for crying out loud. Ha! So much for thinking.

Oh, if motherhood, well . . . could just be motherhood. If we didn’t have to be a maid, a teacher, a personal administrator, the cook, the house keeper, the taxi driver, the recreation director, the “If you don’t get this right, you’re going to screw up the lives of three otherwise healthy human beings” director. Yeah. Did I miss anything? (Please feel to comment below.)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’d just like to parent a week at a time. So then I can feel amazing.

But somehow I think it’s in the feelings where I can lose perspective with AMAZING.

My kids do need clean underwear, whether doing laundry makes me feel amazing or not.

My kids do need meals, whether grocery shopping or making dinner makes me feel amazing or not.

My kids do need a semi-organized home, whether cleaning up makes me feel amazing or not.

Yes, I think we can be amazing mothers, whether we feel that way or not.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Can a Mother Find Rest? HOPE for Too-Pooped-to-Party Moms

I sent my pal an email today. We had bailed out of the last day of a training conference last week to go home and be moms. I wrote, “So glad we didn’t go Saturday. I needed to be a mom and rest—not sure rest and mom fit in the same line, but somehow I managed to do both.”

Is life tugging at you? Are you too pooped to function, let alone party?

Yep, I get that way too. I no sooner run toward one end the see-saw and the other end soars up into the air. My stomach rolls. I do a flip with a twist. Land with bent knees. A jolt. Facing the opposite direction. Racing toward the other end, I attempt to bring balance back to this thing called life.

Exhausted. Grumpy. Overwhelmed. Out of balance. Dizzy.

This does not make for a happy contented Carolyn. This does not make for a peaceful, contented mom. And if mom ain’t happy . . .

So how did rest and motherhood collide for me last weekend and land in the same sentence on Monday?

I ignored a bunch of crap. Yeah, crap. Crap like dusty furniture, sticky floors, and dirty laundry. Crap like weedy flowerbeds, empty flower pots, and grimy porch furniture.

And I played. Yeah, played. My daughter had a craft project she wanted to complete for a teacher who is retiring. So we hopped in the mini-van, went to Lowes, and got our supplies. Then we made a mess. A big mess. But in the mess, we made a gift for someone else. And a memory.
Image courtesy of Lisa McDonald at

I don’t know how you play. Perhaps for you, a craft project is torture. I get that. But have you played recently? Do you remember how? Take some time to reminisce and then play. Play with one of your kids or all of them. Play until you giggle. Play until you don’t care about the mess. Just play. And in the play, I promise you—you will find rest.

We will always have the crap. But we won’t always have our kids. I know this to be true, because I’m a momma parenting for the second time around.

When was the last time you played? I'd love to hear about it. Add a comment, and I'll draw one winner at random for a FREE copy of Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom. The winner will be posted next Thursday. So, be sure to stop back.

Share this post with a friend. I humbly thank you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Summer Rest

Thanks for stopping by. Tamar’s Redemption seeks to bring hope and encouragement to survivors. In order to do this well, we invite you to share your needs with us. We know it’s difficult to hit the comment button. That is why we invite you to share your needs privately at What do you want to hear about? Where do you struggle most in your healing journey? Where do you feel most alone? We will collect your questions and requests all summer and be ready to serve you best in the fall.

Image courtesy of  Pixomar at

Until then, please send your questions and comments . . . and rest. Yes, rest. Just be. Feel the grass tickle your toes. Feel the sun warm your face. Listen to the crickets sing their evening songs. And know that the sun will rise again, each and every morning, with the promise of hope and an invitation to rest.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Know Why My Momma Hummed. Did Yours?

You could hear her humming in the kitchen. Washing dishes, stirring mixes, spreading frosting.

You could hear her humming in the laundry room. Loading the washer, loading the dryer, folding the clothes.

When my mother worked she sang, whistled, but mostly hummed.

She’s nearly eighty-six now and her mind is as sharp as mine or better.

How did she raise six children, three boys and then three girls, and keep her sanity? There are days I wonder this, especially when I feel like I’m losing mine.

The other day, I had one of those moments, when I thought I was on the brink. One of my kids, who I’m convinced could be a lawyer one day, was stating her case. I’m an older mother now, a more tired mother now. Keeping up with her twists and turns, her “But you said last week . . .,” and remembering my own name, all at the same time, is just too much for me sometimes. This moment was no different. She stomped off to her room.

That’s when I plunged my hands in some soapy dish water and began to hum. And I hummed. And I hummed. And I hummed . . . one old hymn after another.

And the longer I hummed, the better I felt.

 I smiled. I now know why my mother hummed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are You a Reverend Mother? Hope for Mommas Lost in the Land of Motherhood

“I feel like all I get done all day is minister to our kids,” I said. Well honestly, I cried. Yeah, I cried. You see, I was in the midst of a momma meltdown, seated on our little timeout stool in the kitchen, my husband next to me, seated on the floor.

 “Did you read that somewhere? “My husband asked.

“Read what?” I sniffled.

“The part about being a minister. I think being a minister sorta gives respect to the whole motherhood thing.” It was then he stood up and excused himself. He had to pee. (I know, I know, TMI! But my husband pees and so does yours and it’s important to the story—really, it is.)

This gave me time to think, no reflect. (With seven kids, this kind of think-time is limited.) So I reflected about all the times, through the years, when I’ve struggled with my identity. Yep, the big I word which is really the big ME word. Are you tracking with me, Sister? Hang in there!

The truth is, I never dreamed of being a momma. Yeah, you heard me. You probably thought a woman with seven kids grew up dreaming of being a momma. But it wasn’t what I replied when someone asked me, “So little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

You see, I was going to be a veterinarian, a psychiatric nurse, a truck driver (I still love wide open spaces and having control of the wheel. That would be another blog post. But I digress.), a counselor, a teacher, and the list was longer, but you get the idea—momma wasn’t on it. Sure I played with baby dolls, but enter Career Barbie and I was hooked. Compare changing diapers to changing into stylish clothes, cute shoes, and driving a convertible and well, there was no comparison.

Then I met Ken. No, really, I met Ken. A real Ken. And Ken and Barbie, okay, okay, Ken and Carolyn got married. And then other things happened. (I’ll keep my TMI, my TMI here.) And before the ink on my teaching certificate was barely dry, I was going to be a Momma.

I still remember the day, standing by the copy machine in the elementary school office, my tummy the size of a watermelon, cranking out reading papers for my class, when the principal cleared his throat and said, “I hear you’re not coming back next year.”
Yep, Barbie had decided to trade in her convertible for a station wagon. (That’s a half-lie, I’ve never owned a convertible. It was actually an Oldsmobile Forenza. But it had pin stripes! But again, I digress.)

Years passed.

And just when I thought, I might have the career and convertible, three little girls showed up. They needed some mothering. And I was doing what I never dreamed of doing—mothering. Again.

That leads me back to last week when I said . . . no, I cried, “I feel like all I get done all day is minister to our kids!” I had hit one of those days when everyone needed me and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up.  I was just plain burned out. I had lost my sense of true identity. It still happens to me some days, even after all these years.

You see, I wouldn’t trade being a mother, not for all the letters I could have put after my name. I made choices to keep and serve each child that has come my way, either by my womb or some other miraculous process. And my parents taught me to stand by my choices, even when my choices have led to more dirty diapers than paychecks.

So as I stood up, from that little timeout stool in my kitchen, and reflected, it hit me. I am a Reverend Mother. The title rolled through my mind. I smiled.

I’m not a Reverend Mother in the catholic sense, although, I certainly have bellowed out “Climb every mountain . . . follow every rainbow,” and such, through the years. I’d like to think that I’ve been my children’s strongest cheerleader.

I’m not a Reverend Mother in the theological sense, although I think I’ve listened to more sermon hours than it takes time to get an M.Div. And my older kids will tell you, I’ve certainly preached enough sermons.

But I am a Reverend Mother because motherhood is a sacred calling. Each time I choose to lay down ME to listen to my kids, to guide them, to weep with them or for them, to love them without return, I’m doing the sacred. It’s something close to holy. Something that goes so against my inner core, my human nature, that I get a glimpse of the miraculous.

So I will hold my head high, determined to embrace my new Identity and lay down ME.  

And Sister, whether you have twenty titles or one, three careers or one, seven kids or one, if you listen, guide, weep, love, and lay down your ME for your kids or your step-kids, so are you.

Embrace the title with me. Say it with me. Out loud. Head held high. I am a Reverend Mother.

So Sister, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Lie (What's Wrong with Me?)

I've written it before. I'll write it again. I've said it before. I'll say it again.

Sexual Abuse creates lies.

And those lies, according to my survivor friends, are more destructive than the abuse.

I invite you to click on over to Cec Murphey's blog (Men Shattering the Silence) today. Cec is a New York Times best-selling author. He is also a survivor of CSA. He gives hope to millions of male survivors each week and crafts into sentences, so clearly, what many struggle to speak.

Male or female, if you've ever thought What's wrong with me?, I know you'll find hope in his words and his new book,

Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One Parenting Thing I'm Sure of . . . No, Two

She had a half-day of school, so we took a walk. I learned a lot as we walked, she talked, and I listened.
Image courtesy of Ambro/

I wish I could tell you when my older children had a half-day that I walked with them and listened too. But I can’t remember any specific walks—true confessions from a mother parenting for the second time around. Some of my children have grown up. So have I.

Now mid-life has given me a few more kids. I am parenting the children of another. I’ve had some time to examine some of my moma failures and successes. And, yes, there are some things I want to change, like time.

There is nothing like time-spent in developing a relationship with someone, to truly know and be known. Relationships take time. Yet life is busy.

Perhaps you have to work from nine to five or from three to eleven, or from eleven to seven. You have to provide. Food and clothing are necessities. I get that. No condemnation here.

But two things I’m convinced of, after nearly twenty-six years of parenting, are that time spent listening to a child is never wasted and that the only way to have a relationship with a child is to spend time.

Prevention Tip of the Week 
Children who are in a relationship with their parents, one where they are known and heard, are less likely to be targeted by a pedophile. Those who chose to violate children like lonely kids. Yes, food and clothing are necessities, but relationships are too. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It’s Not Over When It’s Over (Part 2)

by Dawn Scott Jones

            Sexual abuse is one of the most devastating traumas a person can experience. A survivor’s life is scarred in ways that go beyond our comprehension. Once abuse is over and the survivor is out of danger, she is left with the devastating aftermath abuse.

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

            You’re in a relationship with a woman who has been wounded by sexual assault. You want to help her, but you’re not sure how.

When sexual abuse happens, it shatters trust and the ability to trust. It destroys feelings of security. Because the abuse is usually done at the hands of someone older or more powerful and against the child’s will, she is left stripped of her boundaries—feeling powerless, vulnerable and fearful. She’s been intimidated—her self-confidence, decimated.  And since a child is too young to place responsibility where it belongs—on the abuser—she blames and belittles herself.

Regardless of the form of abuse suffered, whether a single experience or a lengthy season, the woman experiences a wounding invasion—a molestation of her mind and soul.

Well in adulthood, survivors struggle with:

      •     Shame and guilt
      •     A sense of worthlessness and damaged self-esteem
      •     Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks
      •     Sleep disturbances and eating disorders
      •     Impaired memory and flashbacks
      •     Fear of trust and intimacy
      •     Depression and suicidal thoughts

These plaguing symptoms persist because most survivors try to ignore the abuse committed against them and repress their emotions. Confused and bewildered, survivors often are unequipped to interpret or process the intensity of emotion that’s present: pain, rage, fear, panic, guilt, shame or pleasure. Emotional circuitry is overloaded.

Rather than process the trauma, many abuse victims shut down their feelings and go emotionally numb to mentally survive. Tragically, they grow-up disconnected from their feelings, unable to experience the full spectrum of emotions.

As one survivor put it;

“I’m afraid that if I start to cry I’ll never be able to stop or if I start to “feel” I’ll fall into a black hole and never find my way out.”

Learning to feel, however, is the beginning of healing.

When the dam breaks and emotions are allowed to come, survivors are faced with a decision to walk the healing journey or find other suppressive, unhealthy methods of coping with emotional upheaval.

 If healing is chosen, the process of wholeness will include stages of healing such as:

      1.   Denying the truth
      2.   Deciding to heal
      3.   Surviving crisis
      4.   Remembering
      5.   Choosing to tell
      6.   Releasing responsibility
      7.   Finding the inner child
      8.   Grieving loss
      9.   Expressing anger
      10. Forgiving
      11. Resolving the conflict

Choosing to heal is excruciating at times, but the journey is life-giving.

If you’re a survivor, take the hand of Jesus and trust him as you walk into the light. Remind yourself that you are safe now, and you can start to feel.

If you support a survivor, help her recognize and feel the damage that was done to her. Encourage her to be honest about the pain of her sexual abuse, and to choose wholeness.  Her healing is possible, and with your love and help she can explore the depths of her wounds and begin recovery.


To read more, please read Dawn's book, When a Woman You Love Was Abused. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your wisdom with us. We are truly blessed and encouraged by you and your work.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Man, a Yellow Bus, and a BIG Attitude

Ben was only five years old and three foot nothing. But on this day, he had the confidence of a six-foot-three, two hundred pound male.

He stood next to his four year old little sister, Anna, by the front door. We watched her bus pull up to the curb. I opened the door to let Anna walk out and Ben slipped right out with her. “Ben, where are you going?” I asked.

With one hand on his hip and the other around Anna’s shoulder, he said, “I’m walking her to the bus. No one’s gonna pick on my sister!”
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/

It was one of those Moma-proud moments.

My heart was already weary for Anna’s future. Starting her in home speech therapy at age two and now sending her out to a therapeutic nursery school was more than I was ready for. To make matters worse, that BIG little yellow school bus just seemed to swallow her up each morning and spit her out each afternoon. And when she had come home in tears the day before and had told me in broken sentences that someone had teased her, I was done. So done! My Moma heart hurt.

But I never noticed Ben had taken it all in. He had remembered Anna’s tears from the day before and when that BIG little yellow school bus pulled up, he was ready.

I continued to watch in amazement from the door. He marched his attitude and his sister safely up to the bus door and said, “Bye.” Then he stared at the bus, hands on his hips, as it drove away. His mission accomplished.

I don’t know if Ben’s presence made an impression on the teaser on the bus, but I do know the teasing stopped.

I also knew that I wasn’t the only one who was concerned about protecting Anna. She had a BIG older brother who would be watching out for her too. And my Moma heart danced.

This weeks prevention tip:
It’s a lonely place, attempting to protect our kids by ourselves. But we don’t have to do it alone. When we speak about sexual abuse to those around us, we break the silence and draft others on our team. Because the more we speak about it, the more others know about it. And when we work together, we protect our kids better.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It’s Not Over When It’s Over (Part 1)

Today, we welcome Dawn Scott Jones, author of When a Woman You Love Was Abused.

 I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I want to tell my story because I’m hopeful that by doing so, others can draw from the insights I’ve gained and find help and comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.  Indeed we’re not alone:

·         One in three girls have encountered sexual abuse. For boys, the generally accepted statistic is one-in-six.    
·         Ninety percent of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers and neighbors.

Until recently, I couldn’t have told you how deeply I was affected by sexual abuse, but years later I’ve come to know that abuse is not over, even when it’s over.

My Story
Although I don’t have total recall, I have vivid memories of the sexual molestation I encountered. Behind the curtain of love and security given in my childhood home, lurked a monster—a sexual predator. I wish I’d never known about him, but bit-by-bit the drape was pulled back until finally I met the monster.

He was my dad by day, but something else by night. One evening I went to bed with the innocence of a child and the next morning I awakened with intense shame. My father, my childhood hero, had become my abuser. The one I looked to for protection, security, and love was the one stripping it from me. My innocence was stolen—my sense of worth, shattered. Is this all I’m made for? For the next several years I questioned my value, my abilities, and my worth.  I tried to ignore my past by stuffing my emotions and minimizing my pain. I denied the impact of sexual abuse.

But soon my body told on me; Panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance, began to plague me. Anger erupted at the slightest perceived threat. Trust issues and intimacy fears surfaced in relationships. I was unraveling at the seams of my soul. Although sexual abuse had been over for years, it wasn’t over at all.  I was still a victim caught in its grip.

Many survivors find themselves in a similar vice-grip. They tend to minimize or dismiss the trauma of their abuse by reasoning, “It’s in the past.” Or “ It wasn’t that bad.”

Reality is often too devastating and overwhelming to face, so they suppress their abusive past, hoping that the residue of trauma will disappear with the passing of time.  

The psychological imprint abuse leaves on its victims, however, is massive. Soul-wounds like these don’t just somehow mysteriously fade away when abuse ends. On the contrary, only when abuse is over, can a survivor start to process the event and thaw out from her emotionally frozen state. Often, this is years later.

If you, or someone you know is suffering with the aftermath of abuse, it’s not uncommon—in fact, it’s expected. Survivors question if they’ll ever find peace. Haunting memories lurk on the peripheral of their mind and they wonder how long they can evade them. They desire wholeness, but doubt it’s possible.

Well, the hope of healing and overcoming is alive. Survivors can experience a healing journey and find freedom after abuse. It’s an exhilarating and excruciatingly painful pathway, but Jesus will walk with anyone who calls on his name.

Next week, in Part 2, we will explore what it means to find healing from S.A.

Dawn Scott Jones
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