February 2014

So Much to Learn

by Priscilla on February 10, 2014

I write sometimes about my experiences growing up in a  strict Baptist church and school.  I ran around Awana circles in a gym on Wednesday nights, sang songs from the Praises! song books, traveled hours on a bus to attend The Wilds camp. Needless to say, I didn’t fit the mold, but I honestly believe most of my teachers and pastors had my best interest at heart.  I didn’t agree with all their teachings about what good Christian girls should wear or listen to or watch, but I’m pretty sure I was never going to win any trophies for Good Christian Girl anyway.  Even as a child  I saw God as much more gracious and forgiving  and wild and wonderful than they… or maybe they just had no idea how scary they made God to a lot of us students.

I graduated. I moved out.  I moved on, and while I am still in church, it is not the same denomination. That’s it. End of story. I still keep in touch with a lot of these people. I love them. I disagree with some of their theology, but I’d like to think we’re okay on a personal level. No one harmed me.  No one touched me. Ever. In fact many of them encouraged me in my creativity, writing and acting, and they recognized that my friends and I were funny, funny girls and they laughed with us. 

Almost a year ago, I discovered that at the same time I was living what I thought was a horrible existence of having to wear culottes, girls my age were being abused on a mission field in Bangladesh. I stumbled upon all this information quite by accident, and the more I read their stories, the more I was horrified, and their sites linked me to other survivor sites – some missionary kids survivors, some church kids survivors, some Christian college students,  all abuse survivors.

I read, and I read and I read.  I’d go back and look at dates and just shake my head thinking while I was leading my nice teenage churchy existence, some of these kids’ innocence were being yanked from their souls, and those who perpetrated these sins upon them were supposed to be trusted church leaders and teachers.  There are many sites. Many stories. Many victims. And all of them deserve our time. 

Sometimes I’ll read in a comment section of one of these sites something like, I don’t know why you continue to post things about so and so and such and such.  God forgives; so should you.  Or one of the old stand bys You are hurting the cause of Christ by talking about this publicly.  This is a church matter.  No, the abused aren’t hurting the cause of Christ.  The abusers are. The ones who wish the abusers would just shut up and go away are.  Yes, it is a church matter.  But the problem is, when victims brought their stories to the church or church organization, the church didn’t listen.  Or the church sent the perpetrator somewhere else. Or the church failed to contact authorities. In some cases the church didn’t even tell family members. The church isn’t a building. The church is people. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are the church, and these victims, whether you’ve ever met them or not,  are your brothers and sisters, and they are crying out asking to be heard, to be affirmed, and to be told, You matter. Your stories matter. You were wronged, and we are going to move heaven and earth to help you in any way shape or form we can…

We need to tell them all of these things…and then we need to shut up and hear what they have to say.

As a child, I used to love it when missionaries came to church.  They’d set up their slide shows in the Sunday evening service and show pictures of far away places.  Most of them were and still are amazing people doing wonderful kingdom work.  But some are not.  I have no words for them. There are adult survivors who grew up as kids on the mission field among us now who bear life long scars at the hands of these people.  One survivor is  Tamara Rice. She is vocal and ardent and thorough and tireless.  Her blog is called Hopefully Known. If you are like me and are oblivious to all that was taking place in other teenagers’ lives when you were young, please, I ask you to take a moment to hear her words.  She has a lot of links and a lot of stories, and a lot of facts, and a lot of advice on how to reach out to victims. If you are a pastor or church leader, please follow her blog in order to educate yourself better on how to help the abused who come asking for help. If you are a survivor, please know that so many of us out here are waking up to what has happened.  We are angry at this egregious injustice. We believe your accounts. We stand with you. We think it’s time to start turning the tables in churches and shining the light in dark places. It wasn’t adultery as some of you were told. It was abuse. You shouldn’t have been forced to confess your sins.  You didn’t sin.

The church should be a safe place…and for some of you it wasn’t.It was a terrible, horrible, awful place…and maybe it still is.  It’s time to help you bind up your wounds and share the load of the burden you bear.

Keep talking. Keep writing. We hear you.

This isn’t about bringing churches and institutions to their knees as some might insinuate. This isn’t about payback.  It is about righting wrongs and protecting today’s children and students and bringing an end to the vicious cycle of abuse.

For more information for those who are just starting to hear these things, here are some starting points…

http://www.sgmsurvivors.com

http://childrenofsim.wordpress.com/tag/new-tribes/

http://www.pbisurvivors.com

http://fandaeagles.com

http://www.allgodschildrenthefilm.com/The_Film.htm  This film is especially heart breaking as these incidents occurred in the 1950’s, and the victims are finally having their say.

http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/2013/01/baptists-should-heed-mothers-call-for.html

http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/2013/03/boots-biscuits-and-prestonwood-scandal.html

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You Can’t Poop!

by Priscilla on February 7, 2014

Are you at home?  Okay, I’m pulling in!

My friend, Suzie, wasn’t kidding, and 30 seconds later she and Mr. TIS were sitting at my dining room table looking across at me with strange looks in their eyes. I knew then I should have kept my big yap shut.

What was the cause for concern? Was one of our children seriously injured? No. Did the medical tests come back questionable? No. Was the family in the Philippines hurt in a natural disaster? No. No. No.

Nope, the big reason for this impromptu pow wow was the simple fact that I’d told both of them that I’d been invited to be in a weight loss contest at work, and the kitty was possibly $500.  I might as well have said $50,000 the way these two Type A  personalities came at me with suggestions and commands each growing more frenzied and magisterial (which is a nice word for bossy)  with the thought of getting the chance to be a real-life Jillian  to their flabby friend/spouse.

When does it start?  Okay you have a week to bulk up! Barked one. Drink a ton of water before your weigh in! Then we start two a days!  commanded  the other.  You have to start an eight week no carb no sugar diet!  One continued. I could no longer discern the owners of the voices coming at me. My dining room had morphed into the trading floor of the stock exchange with all this cacophony of calorie counting and burpee exercise instructing. Don’t poop until after weigh-in…hold it all in, and wear layers of clothes! That last one was from Mr. TIS. He gets People’s Most Romantic Husband Alive award for it. I sat there looking across the table glassy eyed at the two of them…I think my husband at this point was standing in all of the excitement…Suzie’d never sat to begin with so I was that child in the principal’s office not sure what I was doing there but pretty sure I was in some deep do based upon the positions of the adults towering over the table at me.  All I wanted to accomplish by joining the contest was not horrify an entire Florida beach this spring break upon donning a bathing suit and carry around a few extra dollars in my pocket, but apparently, now I was Private Benjamin boarding the train to Paris Island.

Look, I tried to explain meekly.  I’ve done this before when Mr. TIS was in Egypt for a year.  This happened 11 years ago.  I grew bored, started working out more and eating less and went from a size 12 to a size 4. The problem was, Mr. TIS came home from Egypt, saw the 40 Pound Lighter version of his bride, and immediately knocked her up with the twins so here we are again with the size 10 pants growing a little too tight.

I’m ashamed to admit that during my weight loss time, I turned into that girl in the office. The one spouting off all the evils of hydrogenated oils and the miracle of weight training to boost metabolism.  When everyone else left for lunch at the local diner (which by the way served some of the best Southern staples my mouth has ever tasted), I ran seven miles in the 90 degree Tennessee sun; and at quitting time when they drove off to their families, I walked across the parking lot to the post gym for another hour and a half workout.  Why not? I had no life.

I counted steps and  calories while my coworkers counted the days until Mr. TIS returned, and I would have sex already and shut up with all this other nonsense.  (Folks who work on or around a military base endure this kind of activity from spouses every time a deployment rolls around. In my case, my coworkers were very gracious about it…to my face.  I’m sure I got called skinny bitch once or twice behind my back, and if so, I deserved it. )

Suzie’s never met the skinny version of me, and Mr. TIS has never forgotten her so the two of them, very excited about my prospects, started at me guns a blazin’.  Suzie hit me with a 20 page Paleo on Steroids 8 week plan, while Mr. TIS downloaded P90X workouts and wrote down a training schedule. There was talk of workouts in those horrible 80s metallic sweat suits. I tried to interject that I wasn’t trying to make weight for the wrestling team, but Mr. TIS and Suzie didn’t hear me.  They were too busy disagreeing with each other about the best way for me to achieve success.  She doesn’t need two-a-days, she needs Cross Fit.  She needs at least one rest day a week…maybe two.  She needs to eat whenever she’s hungry. She needs to cut calories.  What I needed listening to the two of them, was a large glass of wine, but flipping through the pages of the Paleo Plan, I read that I was limited to only six ounces a day.  I wondered if straight Vodka had any calories.

Eventually, it all got sorted out. I agreed to go sugar free, dairy free and starch free for eight weeks which made Suzie happy, and I told Mr. TIS I’d start the workouts he’d share with me.  Weigh in wasn’t until the day after the Super Bowl, and lucky for me, the $40 in Girl Scout cookies I ordered from Suzie’s daughter came in the day before so I ate an entire box of Peanut Butter Heavens in one sitting, downing it with two glasses of wine while watching the Broncos get trounced and wondering the point of the Maserati commercial.

Today is day five of the challenge. So far I’ve been good except for the one time I ate too many dates according to Suzie.  Seriously?  Too many dates?  This is hardcore.

Tune into tomorrow and see if my family is surviving without pasta, or if they’ve met the fate of the Donner party.  It’s too soon to tell.

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Well, the Snow Days have officially won.  Unlike our tough and gritty pioneer women foremothers, I cannot take the one big continuous snow -in known as Winter 2014, without displaying the warning signs of mental cracking. Signs such as the following:

1.) I joined a weight loss contest at school – which now meets once a week… school… not the contest members.

2.) I’ve taken to working out with Mr. TIS.

3.) I’m well on my way to becoming the world’s oldest lifeguard.

4.) I joined Pinterest.  This last one I believe is a sign of the apocalypse is upon us.

What’s leading to these abnormal behaviors?

Snow Days.

Like half of the mothers in the country, snow days, like Twin B and her new tap shoes are tap, tap, tapping at the door, but instead of finding a talking bird when I answer, I’m looking at a dirty 8 foot snow pile that for one and a half days claimed ownership of Twin A’s snow boot until I marched out with a snow shovel and sheer determination to dig down two feet to retrieve it. How does a child lose an entire boot when playing in the snow? Well, according to A she lifted her foot up out of the mound where she was digging a tunnel with one of her little buddies, and the snow, like quicksand, sucked her boot off, claiming it as its own. Upon finding herself down one boot, she did what most kids do – shrugged,  trudged in the house, disrobed  in the middle of the kitchen, tromped upstairs to teach herself French. (No, I’m not kidding. She’s teaching herself French, and unlike her mother who thought whispering Mange Merde! in high school French class was great fun, she’s actually putting forth some effort.) and mentioned in passing that her boot was somewhere out in a snowbank.

Twin A is under the impression that there is a Magical Snow Boot tree available to all mothers of school age children, and that women, regardless of age, religious background,  ethnicity, sexual orientation or fake hair color can visit and partake of the fruit known as the lost snow boot.  I think this tree grows in a grove along with the Lost Mitten tree, the I Forgot My Snow Pants at School tree, and my favorite, the I Left My Goggles in the Locker Room tree.  This last tree is bearing much fruit lately thanks to not only my children, but also all other the little children on my swim team.

Because I am older and wiser, I realize that the only magical tree there is, is the one that magically sprouts Keurig coffee cups.  I let it go thinking the boot was somewhere close by in the yard, and I’d easily spot its pink shape in a few hours when I had to go out and shovel the dog another Poopy Path.  You dog owners know what this is about.  It’s not enough that we shovel a path for the mail delivery folks in the front of our house. We then follow that daily exercise up by flinging snow around for at least fifteen minutes in the backyard so that Milo, Max, Sassy and Spike are free to frolic in the winter wonderland before doing the circling, circling, circling to find whatever it is they are looking for that makes the perfect spot to do their business.

I know what you may be thinking: why not just have your children shovel? After all, they are old enough, and the whole point of having kids is so you don’t have to do all the crap work around the house that you hate so much.  Well, my kids are busy tap dancing to The Cup Song and teaching themselves French, remember?  Also, one is down a boot…which leads me back to the point of the story…

It was day four or five of no school, and I’d given up completely on all the things we moms are supposed to do with kids in these situations – crafting, reading and making snow ice cream – and  was halfway into episode 32 of Monarch of the Glen. I was growing more concerned with how Archie the Laird was going to save Glen Bogle House ( for the 32nd time)  than how  I was going to save a lost boot so I let it go…until the next day (Known as Please God, Not Day Six!) when temperatures dropped to Holy Crap the Snot In My Snows Froze In Three Seconds Flat degrees, and I realized I was going to be shopping for new snow boots if I didn’t get my fanny out into the frozen tundra to retrieve the lost boot. Not unlike the biblical shepherd, looking for his lost lamb, I began my search in earnest.

Grabbing a shovel, I suited up and stomped around in the back yard about ten minutes…thanks to my attention span, not only did I look for a lost boot, I refilled the bird feeders, cleaned off the air conditioning/furnace unit, checked the bear traps and retrieved some potatoes from the root cellar.  I’m sorry, that’s Ma Ingalls.  With all this long, harsh winter, I feel myself morphing into her.

All my shoveling efforts revealed no boot – although I did free a garden gnome, a stray ceramic pig and an angry cement gargoyle all of whom, thanks to my children call our back yard home now.  I tramped back into the house and yelled up to Twin A, Ou est, la pink snow boot? She hurried down the stairs (She knows the Oh, crap my mom is about to blow a gasket in French, yell), and pointed out the back door to the 8 foot snow pile up against our neighbor’s garage – or what I think is the neighbor’s garage.  I can’t really identify buildings anymore.

Using  garden hoes as snow picks, I slowly heaved myself up the mound and commenced to digging around snow bank until the top of a pink boot was sighted.   I don’t know how to say swallowed alive in French, but seriously, that boot was at least two feet down into the packed snow which led me to wonder how my kid escaped the growing snow mass alive.  Tugging and pulling and digging, with quite possibly a little swearing thrown in now and then, I retrieved the boot and hiked the 15 feet back to the house where I placed it with its mate down in the basement with all the other wet snow gear.

So far, today is just a two hour delay. This means only two hours of tapping and parlezing…or so I hope.  These delays have a nasty habit of morphing into closings. Tomorrow, I’ll explain the meaning of the words, And don’t poop until after weigh in! 

It’s been a long winter.

 

 

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