A tribute to my Mom (poem)

You taught me the power of words-
You made me a poet.
You taught me compassion-
To see and to love those who are in pain.
You taught me to value diversity-
Helped me understand how it felt to be different.
You taught me the value of community-
Helped me learn to notice the lonely and left out.
You taught me to love mercy-
To treat people how I wanted to be treated.
You taught me to love my children-
To value who God made them as individuals.
You taught me to listen with my heart-
To hear the wounds of others that were hard to express.
You taught me that you don’t always
Get to choose how the lessons come
But to keep my heart open to God
And try not to miss them.
You taught me to value humility-
And to seek to do justice.
You helped me learn to look for the “jewels in the ashes”
and light in the darkest of places.

Today, I am grateful you’re still with us.
Out of CCU, still on the journey.
I love you, Mom.

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It’s Not Your Fault….

When kids are little, and all hell breaks loose, it’s developmentally normal to think whatever just happened is their fault.  There’s all kinds of twists that journey can take….”Daddy wouldn’t xxxx if you weren’t a bad girl”….”Mommy wouldn’t xxx if you did/didn’t xxxxx“…  A powerful burden some kids carry in silence, trying to keep things together so the world doesn’t fall apart.  Sometimes acting out, other times acting like angels….

I was 30 years old when I heard the speaker say: “It wasn’t your fault-and, you didn’t deserve it.”  They spoke  to the kids/adults who kept asking themselves why; what they could have done different; what they did to deserve “it”.   I never realized before how I’d stuffed/packaged it, but I guess I always figured if I  tried harder, worked smarter, believed better, didn’t need anything , wasn’t a bother….it would have been different.  My logical/rational/non-emotion admitting side, resonated with it.  But  the hidden, reserved, removed, guarded part of me, fell on my face before God and tearfully said “Thank you.”  The questions remained as to why some things in life had been the way they were, but I could start letting go of thinking it was because I was defective or insufficient or had failed to measure up to the task.  

Today, in the CCU, an angel in a nurse’s uniform gave me an explanation I didn’t think I would ever receive in this lifetime.  She explained about the “elephant  in our living room,” that had lived there undiagnosed and nameless for so long.   It’s an illness- a biological/physiological malfunction.  There is no medication or treatment that would have controlled it for long.  The changing cycles were too rapid.  It wasn’t our fault, but it wasn’t hers either.  It’s just the way it was.  Nothing has changed, but everything is different, understanding that she really couldn’t help it.

Today, I give thanks, and explain to my kids how grateful I am they have learned to live with grace and tolerance and love a somewhat challenging person who has loved them the best she could.

Who am I?

I don’t remember  the purpose of the meeting, but several hundred of us were gathered in the meeting hall at  Langley United Methodist Church, during the days when Tom & Claudia Walker were pastoring there.  Different now forgotten things went on during the meeting, but then Tom and Claudia got up to sing one of their songs, “Child of God.”  This was probably 15 years ago, but my life has never been the same. 

“I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.

My name is Marie, now I can see

What this relationship’s doing to me

Last night he hit me, I fell on the floor–

Just like he’s hit me so often before.

He says he’s sorry.  He brings me flowers…

Things will go fine for a couple of hours…

He says I’m nothing.  He says I’m scum.

Then he hits me because that’s what he does.

I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.

My name is Manuel.  My hands can tell

The story of how you’re living so well.

I work every day but my family is poor

So you can have coffee bananas and more.

The landowners say if I don’t mind my ways

They can find substitute workers to pay.

They say my soul will only be free

In heaven some day, that’s what they say.

 I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.”

There were at least three of us who wept and wept, even after the song  and the beautiful, worshipful, expressive  dance Carol did during it were over.  Something had happened….in this song, by the grace of God, we saw a new reality for how God sees us, even in our brokenness.  He loves us all, even in our failures, poverty, isolation, differentness, or in other groups excluded in their society.  He sees us not as life’s incidences and conflicts had taught us to view ourselves, but with through the lens of the dignity He created us for. 

(Sorry I have lost the third verse (the story of a man being disowned by his family for admitting he was gay-very powerful! ), or the music to share with you (it was beautiful).

Thank you Tom & Claudia for sharing your gifts.  Wherever you are, hope you are well and blessed with the kind of grace you have shared with others.

“Not Rape” (a tough read)

For any man, woman, husband, wife,  teenager, sister, parent, brother, teacher, pastor, friend….please click on the link here to the instructive but tough read on what the writer calls “Not Rape“.  Unfortunately, this experience is too common, too untouchable, and too often, those who experience it are blamed for causing it and have nowhere to go.  It’s not written as guy bashing, but as someone’s story, and worth acknowledging.  It happens to people of faith as well as those who claim no faith.  It’s a human thing gone wrong.  The gift of sexuality misused….abuse of power….

The Faces of Domestic Violence

Facts and figures about violence against women are overwhelming and maddening, but, it’s the faces that give me the nightmares.  There is a new face added to the gallery of survivors I remember…a women spending the night on her friend’s couch in a new town with her three kids,  trying to sort out what kind of future is possible that will keep them safe from her husband’s rages.  I see the faces of those who ended up in a shelter a friend started, or on the couches of friends or strangers, exhausted, afraid, ashamed, looking for temporary safety for themselves and their children…those who, even though they have won in court lost everything except their futures and their children and had to figure out how to build a new life out of courage and not much else. I cannot imagine how powerless that must feel, or how much courage it takes to seek help.  I see those who have survived.  

And the Mom’s aren’t the only ones who suffer.  Dad’s can be abused too.  Kids may or may not be being hit, but they are shaping their view of themselves, of relationships, and of God based on what they see and hear.  

If you’re reading this, and you’re one of those being abused, please tell someone.  Tell a pastor, a friend, a crisis line…get help. Don’t stop trying til someone listens.   A new life is hard, but it can happen.

http://www.metrokc.gov/dias/ocre/dvresources.htm

http://www.way2hope.org/domestic_violence_facts.htm 

http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/index.php?p=Domestic_Violence&s=28

Jesus Loves the “Other” Children
 

Jesus loves the little children?

Oh really?  Yes, I see…

He must love the other children

(This don’t look like love to me!)

 In the car, while Mom hits Dad

And I sit in the back

Afraid and sad

As we drive to the church

And park in a row

Where all those nice people

That Jesus loves go…

I think of the words 

Those nice ladies say —

“You can get what you want

From God if you pray,”

So I pray, and I pray

And I pray and I pray…

(But it never makes

The pain go away.)

 

We smile and look normal

As we walk from the car.

No one knows how bad things are.

No one can tell me

Why I feel so bad-

Like Jesus can’t love me

And neither can Dad.

 

From the Child:A Child’s Perspective on Child Abuse

(Used by permission)

Facts and Figures on Violence Against Women

Today is the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.” For a minute, let’s imagine a world where at least one out of three women and girls were not subject to being “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetimes, usually by someone they know”.  Violence against women is reported by the UN’s Say No to Violence Against Women” campaign to be “perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today“.  (The following paragraphs are taken from their report)

Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. For women aged 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause of death and disability [2]. In a 1994 study based on World Bank data about ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria [3]…. 

Domestic and intimate partner violence includes physical and sexual attacks against women in the home, within the family or within an intimate relationship. Women are more at risk of experiencing violence in intimate relationships than anywhere else.

In no country in the world are women safe from this type of violence. Out of ten counties surveyed in a 2005 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50 percent of women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Tanzania reported having been subjected to physical or sexual violence by intimate partners, with figures reaching staggering 71 percent in rural Ethiopia. Only in one country (Japan) did less than 20 percent of women report incidents of domestic violence [7]. An earlier WHO study puts the number of women physically abused by their partners or ex-partners at 30 percent in the United Kingdom, and 22 percent in the United States [8].

Based on several surveys from around the world, half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. Women are killed by people they know and die from gun violence, beatings and burns, among numerous other forms of abuse [10]. A study conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, reported that 13 percent of deaths of women of reproductive age were homicides, of which 60 percent were committed by the victims’ partners [11]. According to a UNIFEM report on violence against women in Afghanistan, out of 1,327 incidents of violence against women collected between January 2003 and June 2005, 36 women had been killed — in 16 cases (44.4 percent) by their intimate partners [12].

According to the Secretary-General’s In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, by 2006 89 States had some form of legislative prohibition on domestic violence, including 60 States with specific domestic violence laws, and a growing number of countries had instituted national plans of action to end violence against women…

Limited availability of services, stigma and fear prevent women from seeking assistance and redress. This has been confirmed by a study published by the WHO in 2005: on the basis of data collected from 24,000 women in 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted NGOs, shelters or the police for help [13].”

 

Illusions Fall (a poem)

ILLUSIONS FALL

 

One I looked upon the world

With glasses colored rose.

I thought peace and tranquillity

Were what I would behold.

I dreamed that having faith

Would be the answer to all needs;

That love would flourish everywhere,

And all men would be free.

 

What I see, in reality —

Is a world that’s sometimes cold,

Full of people crying, hurting, suffering;

Their stories left untold.

And all too often, we of faith

Walk on the other side.

We shake our heads and scurry on.

We say, “The job’s not mine!”

 

A woman is abused:

We say, “Go bake your man a pie.”

Our ears are closed.

We cannot hear

The battered children cry!

They pound their heads upon the wall

And cry out to the town:

“Can’t you hear us?  Can’t you see?!

            IS ANYONE AROUND!?”

 

The frightened child cries in the night

“Oh, who will rescue me!?”

While all of her deliverers say,

“You surely can’t mean me!

I can’t be meant to take a risk

And venture from my safety!

There might be danger in that move;

It surely can’t be godly!”

 

And Jesus sees from heaven above —

He weeps with His heart broken.

He longs to comfort those who hurt,

But can’t wake up His chosen!

We stop our ears and cling to fears

From which we can’t be shaken.

But illusions fall

            If we heed His call

                        To change and be forgiven.

 

Have mercy on us, Lord above,

According to Your kindness.

Continue to open our eyes, oh God!

Deliver us from blindness!

Give us hearts to reach out

In Your mercy and Your grace

To those who need to know

You bear their shame

And their disgrace.

 

(From “Tamar’s Prayer”  1988)