When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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Can I convince you that our teens need you?

I have something I want to share with you that I think could potentially change your perspective, and more importantly, change our world. Of course, I’m no expert nor do I have a “special” degree validating what I am going to say.

I’m simply an ordinary, saved by grace woman who sees a need that is not going away.

Our teens want us to answer their real questions with more authenticity than they’ll ever find on Google or Facebook. {click to tweet}

They truly want to know what we  — their moms and mentors – think and especially about how our experiences shaped our beliefs.

Our teens want us to answer their real questions...How do I know?  Because for the last 17 years, I’ve lived at a Christian boarding and day school with teens from around the world and have witnessed their constant, growing desire to hear from the adults in their midst. But don’t misunderstand me. They aren’t walking around with signs on their chests saying, “Come tell me how to live.”  Oh no. They are average teenagers engaging in cultural curiosities, distracted by the temptations of this world, and sometimes finding themselves crumbling under the pressure.

These teens in my world are like the teens in your world who need you to step out of your comfort zone and step into their lives.

I’m convinced this is what the Lord wants from us, because the questions sitting in a box on my desk continues to grow and grow. Last month, I spent an evening with a group of 20 girls, and received 17 questions scribbled on index cards — this is the most I’ve ever received in one ETC Mentoring gathering.  Questions like…

  1. How do you mentally recover from the regret of doing things with a guy you thought you loved, but he didn’t love you?
  2. How do you talk to a friend who you know is following the wrong path?
  3. Is dating a sin?
  4. What do you do if you are afraid to love someone because of being hurt in the past?
  5. During the time when everything turns bad, how do you adjust your emotions and thoughts?

If these 20 girls represent a smattering of teens nationwide, imagine how many questions this generation is longing to have answered!

What questions might your teens have?Do we really want our teens going to their peers or online to find their answers?

I know you may not feel qualified to answer their questions, but God will equip you. I have to remember that truth every time I host an ETC Gathering. When I sat down with those 20 girls, I was trembling inside, even after doing this for years! I begged God for Him to soften their hearts and breathe life into their souls.  Even though I had the “Give Me Love” Topic & Truth resource ready to share, the Lord prompted me to start in a different direction.

“Well, girls, do you know why I’m here tonight? Do you know why I do ETC?”

You can imagine the crossed arms and darting eyes, as I went on to explain how it all began, asking,

“Would you like to hear my story about how I got to this place and why it means so much to me to be able to encourage you?”

I spent the next 25 minutes sharing about my childhood, coming to know Jesus as my Savior in college (along with the foolish decisions I made along the way), and how God’s amazing grace has marked my life. As I wrapped up my story, I reminded them to ask their questions on index cards, but wasn’t at all prepared for the number that came my way.

God reminded me that because I was willing to share my story with them (without the gory details, mind you), they were able to trust me with their hearts.

God opened the door to share with them something way more important — how His Truth matters in their life story.

This isn’t a door only opened for me. It is one God is waiting to open for you, too.

I know you’ll be stunned at how God will work in you and through you, whether He brings into your world 2 girls or 200.

Come on over to moretobe.com and I’ll give you the resources to start a mentoring group, so that you may impact the next generation for His glory.

Blessings,

Elisa, MoreToBe.com

Learning To Let Go (A Letter From Mother To Daughter)

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Learning to let go.

Something that we hear often and practice regularly when trying to live a life bent to Jesus. But it’s hard. Not just sometimes, but all the time. And of all the times I have learned to let go and all the times I will in the future, it’s in the present day that my momma heart is being broken in two.

Why? Because right now I am learning to let go of some difficult things our oldest child, my beautiful Hannah, has been experiencing in life. Those hard life lessons that happen to those (like Hannah) who are a breath of fresh air in this fallen world.

I am sharing a candid letter I wrote to my baby girl just last week with all of you. Friends, I pray that this letter will encourage someone who is going through this exact thing, right now. While it is so hard to see our babies hurting, we have to learn to let go.

Dear Hannah,

Words cannot properly express the love I felt for you the moment I realized your life was forming in my womb. I will never forget the time we spent together as God was molding your life right inside of mine. I will never forget the moment that I realized how His love was being multiplied in the physical presence of your tiny growing body – a creation of love between Father and child – husband and wife – mother and daughter. It was during this time of extreme joy and life creating inside of me that God gently reminded me that you were His, and I needed to learn to let go.

But how? How could I begin to let go of something that I loved so very much? Something that I couldn’t even see yet? How could I let go of the one thing that symbolized the ultimate union of God and man, husband and wife? How?

I’ll never forget when God gave me this scripture as I was praying to Him through my tears, trying desperately to understand what exactly He was asking me to do:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37 KJV)

It was in these words that I meditated on day and night He told me just what letting go really is. Letting go is trusting that God will always love you more than I do. Letting go is allowing Him to teach me how to parent you as unto Him. Letting go is trusting that in His sovereign creation of you that He ultimately knows what you need and how to provide it for you. Letting go is realizing that I didn’t know how to give nor receive love until He loved me first. Letting go is allowing God to be first in my life so that His love may flow through me – not only to you – but to everyone He desires to put in my path. Letting go is the ultimate obedience I can display in a life bent towards Him, recognizing Him as the Supreme authority in my life, showing you who He is, ultimately leading you to Him.

And while these words are easy to write, they are not as easy to do. I try my best to live a life bent to Christ, but I fail. But in His goodness and mercy, He forgives me. Not because I am good, but because He is good, and because I let go. I let it all go to follow Him. This, my dear Hannah is what it’s all about. No matter how much it hurts my momma heart as He is asking me to release you with even more depth into His trusting hand – I have learned to let go. That which I let go, my faithful Father will sustain in His mighty hand, giving me a peace that cannot be earned nor purchased. But only the simple (but oh so hard) act of letting go can produce this peace I have in my heart as I watch you grow and blossom into the beautiful light that you are.

And while you’ve been deeply hurt by the lies of the enemy and cut by those who are unaware of your Father’s truth, I am learning to let go. I let go of the anger and judgement and ugly words that try to fill my heart and mind. I let go of the lie that no one loves you as much as I do – because there is One who loves you even more. I will always be your advocate, my dear Hannah, but more importantly I will do my very best each day to let you go and release you into His hand that ultimately leads to His plan for your life. Because I love you. I love you so much that I am willing to give you to Him, over and over again. Let Him be your comfort during these hard times. Yes, I am here for you and will hold you and pray for you and love you. But the very best thing I can do for you? Is let go.

Loving you through His sustaining grace,
Your Very Grateful  Mom

I am praying for you right now, dear momma, the one who has a heavy heart as she learns in every season of life to let go. I know that it isn’t easy, and I want you to know that I care about you and am praying for you. My heart is aligned with yours and we’re in this together. Let’s continue to give it all to Jesus, the center of our hope and anchor of our salvation!

Carlie @ Learning to Speak Life™

Using God’s Word to Correct in Your Family

Using God's Word to Correct in Your Family

Reboot.
Or maybe boot camp.
Something of a control-alt-delete sequence is how this parenting class has felt for me.

My husband and his friend have been leading a parenting class at our church.
As couples, we led a similar class about 5 years ago and it’s not that I’d forgotten everything or that any of the material has been actually new.
But it has been a good reminder–
Of what our deepest goals are for our children.

We pray for true heart change and not just outward external obedience.
We want them to know and love the Lord and live for Him.
We desire close relationships and connection with each on of them.
And we need God’s Word to permeate every aspect of our interaction with them.

I’ve been thinking about how easy it is, in the heat of the moment,
when I’m digging half-melted-Disney-princess-plastic-dolls-shoes out of the heater vent for the second time…
To forget that my words, my response, needs to flow from God’s words of grace and it also needs to be rooted in His call to obedience.

His “children obey your parents in the Lord…that it may go well with you” (Eph. 6:1-3) is the foundation for my response, not irritation at the inconvenience.

So, I’ve been thinking about ways to get back to the basics of letting the Bible be the foundation for the discipline and training of our children.

Here are some ways you can start using God’s Word to correct in your family.

1) We need to go back and teach or re-teach biblical foundations.

The everyday talk of biblical concepts comes fairly naturally to both my husband and me, but especially with our youngest, we need to go back to some of the basics of parent/child relationships.

At a time before correction is needed, we need to sit down and explain God’s desire for children to obey their parents.  We need to pull out our Bibles and read through some key verses about correction and training.
A couple of good ones to start with are: Eph. 6: 1-3, Col. 3:20, and Hebrews 12.

We need to redefine obedience.  In our family, our definition is obeying– quickly, completely, and with a good attitude.

2) As a family, we need to memorize verses that will be helpful.

If there is a particular area where we, or our children are struggling, we need to find and memorize Bible verses that apply.
Instead of merely telling our children to “get along” or “stop fighting” we need to let God’s Word speak into our relationships.
Lately we’ve been struggling with self-discipline, so you can find this verse in various places around our house.

2 Tim Collage2

3) We need to use actual verses in correction and training–

Instead of telling our 4-year-old to “stop whining” we need to be prepared to take our children to Phil. 2:14 where God says to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” or to walk our child through the Exodus story where God reprimanded the Israelites for grumbling against the Lord (Exodus 16).

One of the best resources I’ve found to help me quickly find verses is the Child Training Bible.
Over the years, it has also helped me to create my own little symbols that I put next to verses that relate to a particular subject or topic.

Here’s an example from Proverbs where I’ve used “PC” to note any verse that relates to a parent-child relationship and ”HW” to note those that relate to marriage or husband-wife relationships.  The odd scribble-ish-mess-symbol is my attempt at a “fire” which is what I put next to verses that have to do with the tongue or words.
This has just been a helpful way for me to prepare ahead of time so that I can quickly locate a verse when I need to share it with a child (or with myself).

bible verses
4) We need to weave God’s words and truth into everyday life.

Whether it’s watching a movie, checking the weather, reading a book, listening to music, taking a walk, or driving to swim team practice– we need to “talk freely and naturally about God” with our children.

My husband and I both really appreciate John Younts’ book, Everyday Talk, for its emphasis on using “ordinary conversations to show (our) kids the goodness and wisdom of God”.

We need to pray each morning that we will look for and notice opportunities to mesh God’s words in the Bible with moment by moment life.
Even something as simple as cutting open a pear that looks beautiful on the outside, but is rotten within can bear witness to God’s Truth.

pears

5) We need to pray God’s Word for our children.

There are so many resources available to help us pray for our children.  My friend Brooke has a new book specifically about Praying for Boys and this past post from The Better Mom has free printable prayer cards.
I love Jodie Berndt’s book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children. In the forward to Berndt’s book, Fern Nichols writes:

“I believe the greatest influence a mom can have in the life of her child is through prayer. As she stands in the gap for her beloved child, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth hears and answers her prayers…When we pray the promises of God for our children, our faith increases because we are praying back the very words of God.”

It can also be as simple as just picking a passage from God’s Word to start praying this very day.  A great one to start with is Eph. 1: 15-19:

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…”

We know that the Bible is living and active, able to determine motives, correct, and change hearts.
I want to move back towards using God’s Words vs. my own words when it comes to correcting and training our kiddos.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite resources or ways that you have used God’s word in parenting your children.

Love,
Kara at The Chuppies

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