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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Answers to Questions

Question: Sojourner, you made a point of saying that the wife is to submit to the husband but that is not obeying him. Sounds like the same thing to me; can you explain?

Answer: Gladly! Picture a two-year-old that wants to play in the street in front of your house. The road looks quiet to him so he just doesn’t get it that he cannot do that and heads for the street. What do you do? Do you discuss the finer points of traffic safety and hours of usage with him or do you just expect him to obey you when you tell him not to play in the street no matter how things look to him? The same is true for the older kids in your house. You have house rules and you expect that those rules are obeyed, even if the child does not agree that he needs those rules. Of course, this is true as the kids reach adolescence as much as it is when they are two. You are the parent and the child is expected to obey you.

Now, moving on to the wife. In a corporation there is a board of some kind that is the top of the line authority. If that board has an even number, though they do try not to make it that way, then the Chairman of the Board is the tie-breaker when necessary. We have the same situation in our government’s legislature and Supreme Court. The top of the chain makes the decision if there is a tie and the top of the chain takes the flack if that decision turns out to be the wrong one. The whole committee/board/panel of justices discuss, research and discuss some more. They make their point of view known and discuss why they believe they are correct, hoping others will agree. But, however fervently the members of the Board might be, in the event of a tie, the Chairman makes the final decision. The others must submit to his authority to make the decision and go along with it. They are not “obeying” him; but, rather, submitting to his authority.

So, in a marriage, I see the husband as the Chairman of the Board, appointed by the Lord. The wife is an equal partner and will be respected as such. She will be allowed to make her case and will be expected to be able to back it up as a colleague. There should be discussion and, if the husband is still sensing that the Lord is saying the family would be better served if they followed his course of action, they pray together and the wife takes her hands off the process of deciding. The decision has been made and the Lord expects her to support her husband in that decision because, before God, he has taken the decision on behalf of the good of the family. God will hold him responsible for that decision and she needs to help pray them through it. Yes, this is true even if the husband is not a Believer yet. God can speak to anyone and I believe that the Lord will honor the woman or man who follows what the Bible says is their role in the family, even if their partner does not. God is still God, even if your mate does not yet believe He is. Of course, if your mate is not a Believer and what he is asking of you or the family is against the laws of God, there are alternate resources to consult. If, however, the husband says that he is a Christian, it is not a free pass to behave in any way he pleases. Do not misunderstand what I am saying here. There is never a tyrannical side to this “chairman” and he is not allowed to inflict harm of any kind on his wife (or children). He is to listen to her as an equal, according to the plan of the Lord. That is the target to shoot for and pray for, in a marriage. Neither party is to be abused in the name of “submission.”

Question: You cannot really still believe people should wait to have sex until they are married, can you? Join the 21st Century!

Answer: It doesn’t really matter to anyone what I, personally, believe. What I believe will never have eternal consequences for anyone’s life but mine. The question you should be asking is what does God think about sexual relationship outside of marriage in this 21st century! It is interesting to me that even people who have never had an interest in spiritual things or the Bible know what God has to say about sexual relationships outside of the marriage covenant… don’t do it. If you are wanting God to answer you when you call upon Him just as He did for people in the Bible days, then you should expect that it also does not matter which century it is, God’s laws are the same. He made us and established those laws based on His position as the Creator. He knows what is best for us and we are fooling ourselves if we think the changing of the page on a calendar makes any difference in what God thinks!

And, speaking of calendars… Happy Birthday to all of you who were born on this day in a country whose calendar says that you are only one-fourth as old as you are! You might want to give thanks that you were not born in a country that uses the lunar calendar, wink

****Enjoy the day, February 29th; we won’t see it again until 2016!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Medical Reflections for Today

     It is amazing to me to read medical reports that urge parents to be sure that their daughters have the HPV vaccinations, beginning at age 9 years. The selling point for parents is that it is intended to prevent cervical cancer. What they seldom tell you is that the reason they want your daughter to have the vaccination is because it is a given that she will begin to have sexual relationships soon after that age. The protection is for those who are sexually active. If your child is not sexually active, there is no reason at all for her to have this vaccination. The deal is that if you say your child is not going to have sex until marriage, you will be laughed out of the office. Well, maybe it won’t be that obvious that they don’t believe you; but, let me tell you, they will not believe you. (Even middle aged single missionary ladies who go to their family physicians for the routine physicals are not believed when they say that they are not sexually active! Many medical folks just don’t believe that there is such a species of human, for any reason, regardless of what the Bible teaches.)

     In defense of my pediatric colleagues, let me rush to add that they have been burned a few too many times on this issue so their stand of not believing that any child is going to abstain from sexual activity is understandable. Just last spring a pediatrician was successfully sued in the courts because she believed the mother and child who said she had never had sex. Turns out that the fourteen-year-old was pregnant after all and the mother sued the doctor.

     In this same report, I was equally amazed to read just how few teens are actually having sexual relationships, as compared with how many the media would like you to believe are. The kids think that “everyone is doing it”, when that is actually not accurate. Only one in three are involved in sexual activity of any kind. Which means that a full two-thirds majority are not. Kids need to know that. Those abstaining from sexual activity are in the majority and should not feel “left out.” Additionally, most of the activity that 30% of middle school age children are experimenting with is not going to get anyone pregnant, though it can certainly give them sexually transmitted diseases. Since these diseases can have serious consequences, we should encourage the children to abstain from such experimentation on health issues alone, even if you have no particular belief that sexual activity is wrong outside of marriage. The kids should know that not everyone is doing “it.” It is okay to be a child for a few more years and not skip that important part of growing up! They will never be ten, eleven or twelve again and those teen years rush by, never again to be experienced. Help them to know it is okay to just say “No.” Sex can wait.

****Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Answers to Questions… Coming Tomorrow

Monday, February 27, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Social Reflections for Today

     I realize that the days of June and Ward Cleaver are not likely to find their way back to the American television Prime Time scene in the near future, but I really wish they would show the reruns during the “after school” viewing times! Boys and girls the ages of Ronny and Sojourner** need to know it is okay to just be kids. They can kick that old rock down the sidewalk and lope along on and off the curb going home from school without feeling like they were nerds or something.  Let’s be serious here; Did you ever in a million years think that Beaver Cleaver and Eddie Haskell were exchanging tales of their weekend sexual exploits with the ten- and eleven-year-old girls in their class as they made their way to school on a Monday morning? Yet, because of the overt sexual content of films and television programming, the media would have your kids think that they are being left out if they are not experimenting with sex.

     I know that I never once looked at Ronny with anything sexual in mind! None of my friends were thinking those thoughts; we were just hoping that a boy would glance our way with a smile and that was that!

     In fact, when those colorful little brochures were presented to us… was it in Girl Scouts?... so that we could learn all about having periods, none of us were speaking openly about such things. There were the normal little girl giggles as the brave presenter tried to make her way through the material, but most of us  never said a word. Then, later, when we learned where babies came from and that it was connected to the monthly period stuff we had learned, we just could not imagine our own parents ever did anything like that! Believe me, none of us were interested in experimenting with a boy along these lines! Since they still believe that girls mature earlier than boys, one can be fairly safe in assuming that the boys were also not ready to go there with us little girls! Could children have changed so much today?

     Children in the Tween group, from ten to twelve years of age, are being robbed of the innocence of their tween years by the media and advertising. Instead of being allowed to learn about themselves and explore who they are, they are being pressed into a mold that is way too big for them, making them feel inadequate on so many levels. It is truly heartbreaking to hear the sad tales of the lies kids are telling one another about sexual activity, just to try to fit in. They are not doing it and feel that they must lie because “everyone” is doing it. They don’t want to do it because of immaturity, as much as because of religious convictions, but they feel guilty as a result of just being their normal age of immaturity! How can we help them to let go of Hollywood and embrace youth as it was meant to be? If we can find a way to re-direct the focus for this age group, we will be saving a lot of them from that ever-rising rate of tween and teen suicides. The Bible says that the truth will set them free, so let’s give them the truth!

                                                                 **Story for Feb 20-22 found in archives.

****Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Medical Reflections for Today… Coming Tomorrow


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Biblical Reflections for Today (conclusion)

     Let’s first cover the verse that will be shared with the umbrella found in Ephesians 5:21:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

     Relationships with the opposite gender are not a competition as to who is most important or who has the most power over the other. Clearly, each is expected to submit to the other as to Jesus; this is important to keep in mind at all times.
     Paul goes on to detail the basics of each side of the relationship. The intention is to promote peace and love within the family unit.

Ephesians 5: 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
(If your potential mate has any children, you might want to consider verse 21, too:  “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”)

     But, it is not just Paul who writes about husbands. Check out

I. Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

     I know some women who think this is a verse that puts a woman in second place to a man because she is considered the “weaker vessel” but, let’s be honest here. If you look at the muscle mass of most men, as compared with the muscle mass of most women… women are built to be the weaker vessel. My Swiss colleague is a lovely, tall, strong lady but her deltoid muscle (the triangle at the top of your shoulder that hooks on to your arm and allows it to be lifted straight up away from your side) is about two-inches at the widest point! Compared to a man’s in the same physical condition she is, well, hers is just plain puny. It is a matter of physical fact, women are the weaker vessel so let’s enjoy it and let the men change that flat tire and lift the heavy stuff, eh?
     Peter deals with the “why”, which to me seems like a no-brainer but let’s spell out the flip side if the man just is going to be resistant to his role… his prayers will be hindered if he is not treating his lady right! Now, that is incentive, I say.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Biblical Reflections for Today

     The Bible does not, specifically, detail how a single man should treat a single woman, though we could just lump that in the blanket category of the Family of Christ and know that God does have some expectations of how we treat our brothers and sisters. Jesus does not make a distinction between us; to Him, we are all equal.

Galatians 3:26-28: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

     How should we behave towards one another? Paul answers that question just a bit farther in the Bible.

Colossians 3:12-15: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

     These are “gender neutral” admonitions, applying to all of us. Okay, I get it that we should show compassion and freely forgive our brothers and sisters, but is there anything else the Scriptures say about that one special relationship with a potential mate?

     You mean “dating” and how does God expect you to treat the lady?

     Well, dating is a cultural thing that not every people group practices but I think it is safe to say that God’s instructions for the “husband and wife” should apply, even if the relationship does not end in a commitment of marriage. If you cannot follow those instructions when you are dating one another, how will you obey the Lord’s instructions when you are already married? It would be better to practice them from the very beginning.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Conclusion

     “It doesn’t really matter, Mom. He won’t play that hard again. Look, they are nearly all well now.” Sojourner’s pleas lost all potential they might have had to influence her mother away from the phone when she just could not bear the pain one moment longer. Climbing down to sit on the closed toilet seat, Sojourner’s tears began to flow. “Oh, Mom, it hurts so much. I did not sleep last night and I could hardly stand it all day today.” Sojourner was in full sob mode now, shoulders shaking.
     “Did you do anything to anger him, Honey?” She was smoothing the ointment carefully over the wounds before wrapping them. In truth, it would not have mattered to Sojourner’s mother. Ronny had no right to injure her child. Through her tears Sojourner tried to answer.
     “He said I didn’t do anything. Why did he do this to me, Mom? I don’t understand why boys would play like this?“ Again, Sojourner’s mother demanded to know his name. Working hard to stem the tide of falling tears, Sojourner pleaded with her mother.
He didn’t mean to hurt me, honest Mom. Please don’t call his parents.” But mother would have none of it. With much regret, Sojourner gave up the name of the boy.
     As was common in those days long ago, Sojourner’s mother called Ronny’s mother and told her the story. To his credit, Ronny confirmed the account and, alas, his father beat him pretty good. Therein ended Sojourner’s relationship with Ronny. In truth, while she was a bit sad, Sojourner was also a lot relieved. At ten years old Sojourner had already begun to learn about the abuse so many women suffer at the brutal hands of men with anger issues. Sojourner never had the trauma of another such incident, in childhood or as an adult, but this one experience clearly demonstrated the elements of just how a woman can be subjected to this abuse over and over. Had Sojourner’s mother not intervened, she might have been the target of Ronny’s underlying anger issues again.
     Sojourner thought that this was just Ronny’s way to show her his affection and that he was an innocent party to the abuse. Her assumption had been that she must have done something wrong that gave him a reason to physically hurt her. There is never a reason for a man to hurt a woman as a part of their relationship.
     Equally apparent in this real life example of peer abuse, Sojourner voluntarily gave up her entire support system to protect Ronny. She was hurting emotionally as much as physically; yet, she did not tell her friends, sisters or parents about her pain. She had questions as to the cause of his actions, but did not feel she could even ask her friends because she did not want them to think badly of Ronny.
     Next, when Ronny was confronted, he reacted in the same way adult men do: It is the woman who was in the wrong and will be the one hurt most if she tells on him for hurting her. Ronny made it sound like Sojourner had taken her mother’s pen rather than reminding her that it was an innocent matter that the pen had been in her pocket all along and her mother would not be mad at her for that.
     Then, Ronny let her know that Sojourner, herself, would be the one getting in trouble because, not only had she taken the pen, she would return it broken. Well, he is the one who broke it. Sojourner was not focusing on that but on the fact that she had her mother’s pen and could not account for it. She feared getting in trouble, herself, if she told anyone about the assault in the cloakroom.
     Intimidation and humiliation are other elements of how the woman is deceived by the man, or boy in this case. Name calling is not uncommon--baby, tattletale. Sojourner was not a baby to be afraid or hurt under such circumstances; it was justified. The implication was that Sojourner was a baby if she told anyone, rather than to realize that she was just a child and should tell an authority figure of the abuse. It did not make her a baby.
     Lastly, Sojourner was experiencing her first boy-girl relationship. Her friendship with Butchy had been quite different; yet, with Butchy, they had never intentionally hurt each other. Sojourner was not sure what she should expect of this relationship with Ronny.
     Fortunately for Sojourner, her mother stepped in. She set the standard for her daughter as to what was acceptable and what was not, what was play and what was not. Then, she took the role of adult and did not expect young Sojourner to take care of herself and just let it go. “Stay away from him” and that was all. It would take more than that and Sojourner’s mother was not afraid to get involved.    
     Sojourner had a lot to learn about boy-girl relationships; but, an extremely important lesson was learned from this first one: She should expect the boy to respect her and not hurt her.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Scene 3

     “Hello.” Ronny sounded fine.
     “Hi, Ronny. I just wanted to ask you why you did that to me today.” Sojourner waited for his reply but could only hear his nervous mumbling. She could not make out any words.
     “Huh? You’re okay, aren’t you?”
     “I was able to get home before either of my parents so they never saw my bleeding arms. I bandaged my arms but I need to know why you did that. What did I do to you that made you do that to me?” Now, Sojourner heard him laughing quietly into the phone.
     “Hey, you didn’t do nothin’. Why’d you think I was mad? I wasn’t mad; I was just playin’ with ya.” So, this is the way boys play with girls? Well, Ronny did have three brothers at home and Sojourner reckoned that they played pretty rough with him.
     “Well, what you did hurt me. Besides you broke my mother’s pen.”
     “So, are you gonna tell on me? Are you a tattletale? You’ll probably get in trouble for having your mother’s pen in the first place and now you bring it home broken.” What a dilemma. He was right. Sojourner had no idea how she happened to have the pen and now it was broken. Besides, she had liked Ronny before this rough play of his. Did she still like him? Would he do that to her again? Sojourner just had so many questions and her heart was not helping her one bit. “Hey, you still there? Did you hear me? You gonna squeal on me?”
     “No, I’m not going to tell.” Sojourner didn’t want her parents to call his parents and get him in trouble. Sojourner had wanted to phone her girlfriends but she didn’t want them to not like Ronny.
     “Okay, see you in school then. Bye.” Sojourner said a quiet, pensive Bye in return but this event had really shaken her up. Were boys really worth the pain of playing with them?
     All day Saturday, Sojourner’s arms continued to burn with pain and she really struggled with keeping the secret. Sojourner wore long sleeves in spite of the warm weather. Her sisters noticed but her parents just seemed to chalk it up to one of those “kid things” that they never understood. Sojourner sucked it up and never told anyone.
     By evening, however, Sojourner could bear the pain no longer. It was getting worse and she just knew another night of tossing and turning lay ahead of her if she did not do something else. What she needed was some ointment on those stripes. It felt like they were drying up and pulling. Sojourner did not know where the ointment was kept; she had not seen it in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Maybe after her bath, if she stood on the toilet seat, she could stretch far enough to see what was on the top shelf. That was the plan and it might have worked if her mother had not wondered why she was taking so long.

     “What are those marks on your arms?” Sojourner twisted around to look at the now open door, hands still extended towards the medicine cabinet. Quickly her mother came toward her and took hold of her left hand. While her stunned mother carefully examined the wounds on the tender underside of her arm, Sojourner struggled to come up with a reply that would not get anyone in trouble.
     “What marks?” Oh, how lame. Like my mother is going to believe that I don’t know that there are marks on my arms! Think, think. What can I tell her? Sojourner’s thoughts raced by in all directions, colliding with one another as she tried to find something to say.
     “What do you mean, ‘what marks?’ Look at your arms. How did this happen?” Sojourner’s mother had taken hold of the left arm, turned it over, and was gently palpating the tender pink skin near the jagged linear wounds. Obviously she was horrified at what she saw. Taking the tube of ointment out of Sojourner’s right hand, she examined the other forearm.
     “Oh, Mom. It was just a kid at school. He was playing and…“ Mother interrupted before the explanation was out of Sojourner’s mouth.
     This is not playing! What is his name?” Oh no, I could not tell; I had promised Ronny I would not tell. Would he still like me if he found out I told? Would my mother call his parents? Sojourner was in a panic



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Scene 2

     “Ronny, stop! Stop that! You are hurting me!” Ronny had managed to twist the pen out of Sojourner’s hand but was still pressing her into the coat hooks with his forearm across her shoulders. Ronny was inches taller than Sojourner and a lot stronger than the little girl.
     “Are you gonna gimme this pen or not?” Ronny was still laughing but his face was not smiling.
     “I told you. I will ask my mother and bring it to you on Monday, if she says I can give it to you. You don’t need it until then anyway. Now let me go!” Sojourner could not believe her eyes. Ronny let her go, and in a fraction of a second, snapped the little metal pocket clip off the pen. He threw the pen at Sojourner as he spoke.
     “Here, you little baby. Take the pen back to your mommy. I don’t want it now. It’s broken.” Ronny grabbed for the forearm closest to him, flipped it over, and began to shred the skin and soft tissue of her arm with the ragged edge of the broken pocket clip. Then before Sojourner could react, he did the same with her other forearm. Perhaps, the blood scared Ronny because he bolted from the cloakroom and out the classroom door, without another word.
     The sink and paper towel dispenser was very near the opening to the cloakroom. Sojourner did not take time to wash the wounds; she would do that at home. Sojourner pulled down handfuls of paper towels, wrapping them around first the one forearm and then the other. Gingerly, Sojourner slipped each arm into the sleeve of her lightweight jacket. It was a tight fit with the bulky towels but, at least, they would keep the blood from staining the inside of her sleeves.
     It was a long seven blocks to home that afternoon. Sojourner was so confused. Her arms really hurt but, even more, just the knowledge that Ronny could have done that to her and not even say he was sorry. How could it be? This was not funny and it was not a joke to her either. Now she had to get home and take care of her wounds before her mother saw them. She would not tell on Ronny. She wanted to find out why he would do that to her. She just had to talk to him before anyone saw her arms.
     Sojourner closed the bathroom door and moved to the sink. She had collected the disinfectant and bandage materials she would need to clean and dress her forearms. Sojourner could not cover the many slices with band-aids; there were just too many of them and they were much longer than the Band-Aids. Fortunately, her family medicine cabinet had roller gauze so she would use that. Once both arms had been cleaned and the gauze secured with enough tape to ensure the bandages would remain in place, Sojourner opened the bathroom door.  She cautiously peered out before rushing around that door and through the next. Once in her bedroom Sojourner looked for a long-sleeved shirt that she had not yet outgrown. The cuffs had to be long enough to hide the bandages.
     “Hey, what happened to your arms?” Sojourner had one sleeve of the flannel shirt on but her younger sister caught sight of the white bandages encasing the other before Sojourner could get it into the sleeve.
     “Oh, just playing.” It was a lie but her little sister bought it and asked her to come play Parcheesi with her. So far, so good. If only Sojourner could keep from cringing with the pain every time she moved her arms. She would play one round of the table game with her sister and then phone Ronny. Even if he had not gone straight home, this should be enough time for him to get there.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender

     “But, how can I tell if he likes me,” Sojourner asked her little circle of girlfriends one day at recess. We were looking at Ronny but trying not to be too obvious about it.
     “Well, he talks to you when we are in line, doesn’t he?”
     “And, he tries to stand next to you when we are waiting for our turn in the lunch line.”
     “Yes, he does but sometimes he tries not to stand next to me, too.” Sojourner was trying to assess their offerings of confirmation in light of her own remembered experiences.
     “What is important is that he notices you.” All of the ten- and eleven-year-old girls agreed and, though still not totally convinced, Sojourner slowly made her way to the just forming line at the doors of the upper end of the grade school.  Some towns had already put the sixth grade classes with the seventh and, though hers was not amongst them, it made the fifth grade students feel like a part of the “older” kids in their school. After all, their age had two numbers in it, not just one.

     The weeks passed and to see Ronny smile at her just threw Sojourner’s focus on studies off big time. He is noticing me and that is all that matters, right? Things were really going along well until one afternoon, Ronny’s attention took a new turn. The truly sad thing is that Ronny had no idea that his behavior did not show Sojourner he liked her!

     “Hi, Ronny!” Sojourner was taking her jacket off the hook in the cloakroom. At last, it was time for school to be over for the week.
      “Hi. Hey, I lost my pen. How ‘bout you gimme yours?” Ronny was looking at the pen Sojourner had just found in her jacket pocket, while she tried to remember why it was there and not in her desk.
     “I don’t know why it is in my pocket. It might be my mother’s pen.” Sojourner was wracking her brain to try to remember if her mother had handed her the pen when they were at the grocery store yesterday. Sojourner just could not recall why she  would have a pen in her  pocket.
     “Well, your mother doesn’t know you have it so gimme that pen. I need a pen.” Ronny grabbed for the pen but Sojourner turned to keep it away from him.
     “I will ask my mother. If she says you can have it, I will bring it to you on Monday.” Seemed like a reasonable plan to Sojourner but not so to Ronny. He lunged at her, pinned Sojourner’s arms against the empty coat rack and jerked the pen out of her hand. Sojourner was frightened and aware that they were the last ones in the room; there was no one to hear if she called for help. Ronny was laughing so Sojourner was confused as to his feelings. She was afraid and, definitely, not laughing. Was this a joke of some kind? Was this the way a boy might show a girl he liked her; he joked with her like this?
     Before Sojourner could answer the question, Ronny’s attention jumped from cruel teasing to violent action.


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Abuser and The Abused

     Statistics record that one out of every three women has been molested or sexually abused at some time in their lives, though the statistics are believed to be underestimates as women don’t want to admit that they had experienced the abuse. My first such experience happened when I was only six years old. (The links for that series are listed below, if you missed the account.) As children we were told not to get into a car with anyone we don’t know. Sadly, it has come to light that most of the sexual abuse of children occurs from someone that the family does know, even a relative. We were always told not to accept candy or cookies from a stranger. The implication there was that someone would hold candy out to us to lure us into his home or close enough that he could grab us. All of these things were good rules and I cannot begin to count just how often my mother reminded us of these rules every time we left the house to go anywhere, especially the seven blocks to school.
     The one thing that we were never warned about, though, was that small animals such as puppies and kitties might also be used to lure us into a place we should not be going. I don’t think my mother had even thought about the allure a puppy or kitty might be for me. I would say that it held a lot more possibility than any piece of candy or cookie! I could get a cookie from my mother but a puppy was quite another thing.
     I did run away in fear at my first opportunity but, unlike many of the older members of this not-so-rare group of abusees, I left with a determination to enact my revenge on my abuser. I had no idea just how my plan for revenge would affect me.
     The fact the Lord had interrupted what the teen had planned to do to me, made a huge difference in how this event was remembered and I will, forever, be grateful to God for that intervention! Nevertheless, one of the greatest lessons I learned from this episode in my life was that sin brings a really tangible sickness and it is only released when it is dealt with in the manner God has designed for us, confession and repentance. How marvelous of God to have thought of such a thing and to have freely offered it to us! Counselors, both secular and Christian, know that the wounds of abuse can not truly be healed unless the victim is able to forgive the abuser. It is hard to measure this freedom but the lack of it can be seen in the continuing suffering of the victim. I was blessed to have learned this principle at such an early age.
     I, certainly, do not advocate “revenge” as the solution for abuse; but, on the other hand, I am most definitely in favor of prosecution and punishment for the abusers. The Bible says that vengeance belongs to the Lord and this is an absolute; it is not for us to exact. Most of the time, it is not the abuser but the abusee who ends up getting hurt or imprisoned. It is just not worth it! Forgiveness is the real key and, whether we see it in this life or the next we can be absolutely certain that God will bring justice to the situation. The abuser will not go unpunished.
     There are just so many really important lessons the Lord allowed me to learn in that first decade of life!
  
  Here are the links to the story if you missed it:


**** Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Early Changes in Relationships

     In reviewing the archives of my first decade of life, I can see that the memories that evoke the deepest emotions are those involving relationships and change. The first such lesson came when I was only four years old. My six-year-old sister, inevitably, had to start elementary school; thereby, depriving me of my greatest peer support and teacher. She had been in my life since it first began and this was quite a huge change for me. Funny how the addition of my younger sister just the previous year had not caused me to think of a “change” in our family; while the daytime loss of my older sister was a trauma.

     If you missed this story, you can read it in Life 101: Change

     The closest non-sibling friend I had in those early growing up years was Butchy. He was a year younger than I but had the very same interests and love of the outdoors. We were always together and “adventure” was a regular part of any day! If you missed them the first time around, you can read a couple of these by clicking on the following:

    
     For children many of their changes in life come as a result of changes for their parents. The first major change caused by parental employment issues came for Butchy and me soon after the passing of one decade into the next. It was so painful and, yet, God had really orchestrated the timing of this change of best friends in my young life. I was changing and did not even know it! I needed to develop friendships with girls as I passed into the rocky road of pre-adolescent years. My relationship with Butchy could be categorized as “gender neutral”, I think, because neither of us saw the other one as different. If you missed the episode of our parting, start of new “best friend”, and the reunion with Butchy, you can pick them up by clicking on any of the following links:
    
     This is the news of Butchy’s family moving and the start of new “best friend” relationships.

     Scene 1 in this series marked the change from little girl beds to bunkbeds, followed by Scene 2…the family’s move to another house/neighborhood.
   
     Butchy?   The reunion day with Butchy.

     I would live in this second of our family homes until the move to a university dormitory. However, there were a few changes in “best friends” in keeping with changes in interests. Some of these changes were a natural progression and others quite painful. I wish I could say that I was never the one to bring any of the pain; but, alas, this is not the case. While I suffered the pain of some changes, others I initiated and that did cause pain to a really good friend for which I will always be sorry. The way of adolescence is to think of one’s own interests before another’s and I was no exception to that rule. I rejoice that growing up did change that about me!
     Next week I will plunge into stories from those ‘Tween and Teen Years. There are many accounts from this second decade that cannot be told publically because of the hurt it might bring to others. As adolescents we just take so much for granted and plow through the lives of our friends as though they were chunks of dirt instead of fragile lives of developing people. It is a wonder how any of us emerge with our inner being intact!

****How did changes in early friendships affect you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Principles of Godly Business

     The Bible makes it clear that as long as the law does not conflict with the Scriptures, we are to obey the laws of the land. Often we have heard “Ignorance is no excuse” when a defendant protests that he just did not know what he did was against the law. Doesn’t matter; he is expected to know beforehand what the law says so that he won’t break it. This is so true in business that entire corporations have been formed to advise even us common folk, as well as those corporate executives, ahead of any business decisions to keep us all out of the pokey.
     Yes, there are also lawyers who are hired at exorbitant rates because they are well-known for finding the loopholes in the law but one must ask, “What would God want us to be doing in this case?” There is no point to find a loophole that will tie God’s hands when we ask for His blessing on our company or new venture.
     Sojourner learned this “check before you act” principle at an early age! If you missed that account, you can read about it in Marketing 101. (It should be noted here that, while Tommy was the “wrench in the works” for this episode, he was not always the bad guy in Sojourner’s young life. In fact, it was Tommy who first taught Sojourner to dance in the living room of his family home. He was wearing a coon skin cap and the dance music was “Davey Crockett” so you know it had to be quite a sight to see, eh? Tommy was a year older and taller than Sojourner; but, both being in the single digits, romance did not enter the equation in the slightest. “Davey, Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier”—are you hearing that melody and seeing those little kids try to waltz?)

     Marketing 101
    
     Secondly, though it is the Number One Principle, “whatever we do, we should do our work to the very best of our ability… with all of our heart and strength. We should do our work for the Lord and not for man/paycheck.” (See Colossians 3) Whether we own the business or work in the mailroom; whether our collar is white or blue—whatever we do, do it as well as possible and with a good attitude because, if we are surrendered to the Lord, He is watching. He is not guarding us like some kind of a jailer; but, rather, He has promised to keep His eyes upon us in case we need His help. There is no greater joy than to feel His pleasure and no greater sorrow than to feel His displeasure at what He sees when He watches us in the work place. Whatever the salary may be—whether it is sufficient or well-below what we think we should receive—the smile on the Father’s face is worth more gold than Midas ever had. There is nothing that can compare!
     God gave little Sojourner an opportunity to not only learn, but to put into practice, this principle at the start of her very first business venture. If you missed that episode, you can read it by going to these links:

     Snow Business

     I will hasten to add here, dear Reader, God is not out to condemn you for those days at work when you are just not as strong or capable as at other times. He understands that things come into our lives that cause variables in our performance/production. He will never scowl at you and remind you that you worked a lot harder the day before or that you don’t work nearly as hard as so and so. He only wants your best and, for me, that is not always the same each day as far as can be recorded or measured. I can only say that, truly, it is the best I could do on that day. That is enough for the Father!

****Are there any examples from your own childhood where you were exposed to this principle?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Once Again, The Father

     I am certain that God’s plan was that our earthly fathers would present to us our very first glimpse of Father God. Many times we hear people say that they could not be a good father because they, themselves, did not have a good example in their lives. Dear Reader, God knows that and is very willing to help you be the father you want to be for your children! My father had not been raised in a family with a strong positive image of a good and Godly father; yet, even without a role model to follow, he let his heart direct him. The result of that direction was that three little girls had a wonderfully involved father. He was human and made mistakes as we all do when raising children; but, to the three of us, he was the best God could have ever given us. He tried so hard to understand what was going on in the heart of a child.
     Last fall, I shared a series of stories that gave three examples of my earthly father’s caring, all of which reflected the kindness and wisdom of Father God. Clearly, God was teaching him to be the father he had never had. God helped Dad to understand what might be in our mind under various circumstances and how to help us through each situation.
     If you missed those accounts, you can check them out now in the archives:

     An Early Glimpse of the Father
     When Is a Monster Not a Monster
     When You Are Three, You Are Not Brave

     Then read on to see what the Heavenly Father has to share through His Word.

    
When we look back on our lives, and ask God to show us His Hand in it all, we may find some examples of His involvement in our young lives through the kindness of others, if not our own father. Would you ask Him today to show you, to remind you of some specific incident in your childhood that shows you He put just the right person where you needed a special hand or heart? It is such a blessing to know that He was there all along!

****Will you be that example of Father God in the life of a child today?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tender Discipline, Conclusion

     The story told in Life 101: Truth detailed an account of five-year-old Sojourner learning the meaning of truth. Even if her deception did not seem to hurt anyone and, in fact, brought joy to her little classmates, deception was unacceptable. In this case, Father God used a very kind and Godly woman to care enough about Sojourner to gently seek a resolution of the issue. Sojourner had a choice to make and made the right one, to the great delight of the teacher. How precious of Father God to have this exact lady there for Sojourner. The teacher could have been someone who would make fun of Sojourner and the classmates would have laughed at her. She could have actually punished her in some way for lying about her birthday. So often adults either go overboard in the punishment to teach a child a lesson or, more commonly in today’s litigious world, don’t bother to confront any transgression; it is just someone else’s business, right? Don’t get involved. God saw the heart of little Sojourner and wanted to step in to teach her the lesson with his tender discipline; He knew just who could do that.
     The third example can be found in the post entitled Lessons from Fred: Do Your Own Work. This demonstration of God’s tender discipline is one that is often used in adult life, too. One might say it is the “First Rung” on the conviction of sin ladder. If the sin is repeated, then Father God will move to Step Two and things will only get worse from there in His attempt to bring us to repentance.
     In this account we read that no one at all knew of Sojourner’s transgression and no one need ever know, if she so chose. The consequences of her act were a personal disappointment and the lesson was learned without anyone’s intervention. It was just not a good idea to cheat. The gentle conviction and correction… just between God and Sojourner… was enough!
     What could God have chosen to do? For one thing, have the teacher look at her at just the time she was committing the violation. That would have upset her on a number of levels… not to mention the embarrassment of being singled out in front of the class. Sojourner would never have been able to concentrate on the other tests and the sick feeling in her guilty little tummy would have lasted more than that afternoon as kids never forget such things, you know. Teasing and being reminded by their taunts would have been very painful. No, God knew just what to do to achieve the resolution of the first time offense in a way that would not break Sojourner’s spirit and injure her self-esteem. How grateful I am for His tender discipline!

**** Can you think of a time God may have shown you His tender discipline?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tender Discipline

     “What happens when you don’t obey Daddy?” My nephew was calmly asking his two-year-old daughter, who was being more than a bit rambunctious during her first Christmas holiday visit to Great-Grandma Marge’s new apartment.
     “Time-out,” Laney replied. Her head was tilted at the angle which matched the set of her determined countenance. Of course, her four-year-old sister just sat next to Grandma on the sofa like a little princess but what was the fun in that when there was just so much to explore?
     “And, do you want another time-out today?” He was gentle in his question; but, definitely, holding the upper hand here. It was a face-off of such tender proportions. Suddenly the little girl dropped her “frozen in place” pose. Laney let her arms go slack at her sides and settled herself on the carpet just in front of Daddy.
     “No, I don’t like time-out.” Such a quiet reply and, oh so hard for the adults not to chuckle out-loud to see the little one’s response.
     On the other hand, most of us have been as traumatized as the little victim when we have witnessed harsh discipline meted out to a toddler who was pretty much just acting her age in a public setting. What a difference to all concerned when a parent is able to administer tender discipline.
     Because we cannot physically touch God, we sometimes don’t recognize the consequences of our actions as His correction. One can be fairly sure that my nephew will not offer a ten-minute time-out to his daughter when she is disobeying him at the age of fourteen. This was a very age-appropriate punishment he offered the two-year-old. The same can be said of how our Father God deals with us. He considers our maturity level and assesses just what we can understand. God’s punishment is always just because God is always just.
     Taking a second look at three Sojourner stories will help us recognize God’s tender discipline in her early childhood years. In the anecdote entitled How Old Is Old Enough?, 7-year-old Sojourner was putting herself above God, making a threat to break fellowship with Him if he did not acquiesce to her demand for a blue bike within twenty-four hours. God did not rain lightning down upon the child and bellow, “Oh yeah, Kid, well take that! Who do you think you are talking to anyway?”   
     Instead, God just looked on from a distance and did not make His Presence known. Following her recognition just what the absence of fellowship with God would mean in her life and repentance, it was clear that God came close enough that Sojourner sensed His Presence once again. No one had to tell her this threat had not been a good idea!

****Tender Discipline, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Front of the curtain

     Have you ever been to a theatre production of any kind … maybe in secondary school or university? When it is time for intermission or a scene change of major proportions, the curtain falls. Unless it is intermission when you are expected to return to the lobby and spend some cash on their refreshments, someone may step out in front of the curtain to speak with the audience. It could be a comedy routine to keep the audience’s laughing juices going until the production resumes. It may be to discuss what has happened thus far and get the audience’s take on the part of the play just finished or comment on the characters. Well, here I am in front of the curtain. We have just finished Part I of our Journey sharing, which could be labeled “The First Decade, Years 0-9 or more simply “Early Childhood.”. To be truthful, I guess, I would have to say that my memory only harkened back as far as age three; the earlier “memories” were not recorded here because they come from 16mm movie footage my father took for any and all occasions.
     What are you missing? If you are a friend of our family, absolutely nothing at all because you were already “invited” to view the little darlings on that film often enough during whatever length of time you were connected with our family. If you were not numbered amongst that group, you missed little Sojourner at age eight months minus five days in a high chair, near the Christmas tree—my first Christmas. This was the year I received my first little white KJV Bible from my paternal grandmother. It tasted funny but I kept it anyway. You would have seen my older sister in Mrs. W’s yard, all dressed up and wearing a pretty little bonnet. She was dancing in her special way. One foot appearing to be nailed to the ground, while the other rotated the body around the stationary limb with a lot of bouncing at the knees and humming going on. When she was tired of that direction, the other foot took a turn and she went the other way. Sometimes, not soon enough so there was that little stagger of dizziness before resuming the dance. Sojourner? Ah, well, I was only a few months old so likely hoping that this was not going to be expected of me any time soon, while admiring my big sister’s ability to hum and dance at the same time. Aren’t you sorry you missed those home movies? But I digress…
     If you read the “Welcome” at some point in the last four months, you know that this blog is all about a journey that I hope to share with you. “Share” is the operative word here so, please, feel free to share with me any of your experiences along your own journey or your thoughts on my journey posts. My email address is in the profile if you don’t want to comment here.
     This is a very special journey, not really a travel log or flat out reminiscing, though I do get a lot of that in, don’t I? The purpose is to understand God in my life, when He came to be a part of my life, what He has done in my life and how I reacted to his inclusion in my life. It is not about religion. There is little reference to denominational affiliation because I wanted to be sure that you felt welcome here. I believe that denominations is something we, the people of the Body of Christ, did to organize ourselves but that it has not much part in our journey to understand God, i.e. it was not God’s idea. There is nothing wrong with denominational affiliation and I have enjoyed mine over the years, but the journey to understand God is a personal one. We may see others along the way; and, if we are blessed, we may even spend a bit of time trekking together. But, in the end, when we have finished the journey and see God face-to-face, we stand alone.
     Reflections as far back as I can remember, have shown me just how early God let me realize fellowship with Him. This is why I have shared all the “kiddie stories” with you. Can you take a walk back down your own memory lane and recall early stories where God may have been there but you did not see Him? It was in writing these accounts for you, that I saw His Presence clearly—a long time before I could ever read that first Bible from Grandma.

****What is your earliest memory? How about sharing it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tweens/Teens and God and Me

     One other change began about this time and it was so subtle that I really didn’t notice it, at first. I just did not have as much time for God in my life. I had so many other things to think about and stuff to do every day that, well, I just didn’t think much about God. I did go to church sometimes but not all the time as I had when I was younger. Most of my memories of conversations with God were centered on the crisis communication, not relationship with Him. When I was a little kid, I talked with God all the time. I told Him about new bugs I had discovered or a flower that had lost its head in the windstorm that had just passed. I told God about my father needing to go away to some Army camp and asked God to watch over him and us until he was back at home. I enjoyed sharing my school papers that had smiley faces or a gold star on them because I just knew God would be proud of me, too. But, now that my age had two digits in it, I was a lot busier and it didn’t’ cross my mind to include God in the day-to-day affairs of my young life. No wonder God’s Word tells us that we need to be as little children in our relationship with Him. Bedtime was another matter, though, I still said my prayers before going to sleep so I had not really abandoned Him altogether. If someone had asked me, I would have said that “Of course, I believe in God” but, well, I didn’t give Him much time.
     The wonderful thing about God is that, while I was “too busy” for Him, He never gave up on me. God was still there watching over me and waiting for me to share my day with Him.
     One sermon illustration I heard made me think of this long ago time in my life:
     One day an elderly couple was traveling in their car, each one in position with the husband at the wheel and the wife in the passenger seat. The lady quipped to her husband, “Remember, dear, when we were younger how we used to sit so close to one another as we drove around from place to place. There was barely room for breathing.” The elderly man took his eyes off the road for just a second and gave her a smile. With a twinkle in his eye, he gave his tender reply.
     “Well, dear, I haven’t moved.”

     What about you, dear Reader? Are you still over there in the passenger seat? I moved back at age twenty and have enjoyed that closeness for nearly all of the forty-plus years that followed. There was a period of “bad company corrupts good morals” that lasted for seven months in my mid-twenties. Once those wild oats had been sown, I found I still had to carefully guard against letting the hectic pace of adult life rob me of my child-like times with Father God. It is not really enough to just remember Him at bedtime; or, when we are in crisis. He wants to share all of our day!

**** Sorry, this is late, the internet didn’t work yesterday.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Butchy?

     Did I ever see Butchy again? Yes, as a matter of fact I did. His mother had some kind of business in town during the first summer we lived in the new neighborhood and the kids had asked if they could come visit us. Suzie and Butchy were dropped off at our house for the afternoon. I don’t know how Glenda was feeling, but I know that I was so nervous I just could not sit still all that morning, anticipating their arrival. I worried about how things would be between us. We had been such good friends but it had been a long time now since I had seen him last. I had changed. Had Butchy changed? What should we talk about? What should we do? It remains one of my most stressful childhood memories, as a matter of fact.
     I remembered that Butchy and I liked to play with our toy guns, acting like cowboys and rustlers. Butchy had not seen my last pair of six-shooters so maybe he would want to play guns? I also had a toy 30-06 hunting rifle with a scope on it. Maybe he would like to shoot that? We had special sounds we made that no one else mimicked; they were “our sounds” when we played. Of course, since Butchy had not been around, I had not used the sounds and had to try to remember how to do it. I had also not played guns since moving to the new neighborhood. The truth is that I had become a girl since Butchy last saw me… you know the kind that plays tennis instead of football and has a ton of stuffed animals on her bed instead of the baseball game stored under it. But, of course, Butchy would not know that about me. Would he think I was just the same as when he last saw me?
     I showed Butchy my latest pistols and leather holster, as well as the rifle. We played a while with them and I tried to use the sounds we had articulated when playing guns in the past. I was surprised, but relieved, when Butchy made comment on the sounds.
     “Are you still making those sounds? I don’t do that anymore.”
     “Actually, no, I don’t. I had to try to remember how to do it because you were coming to play.” It was a tense moment or two as we both realized that things were just not the same. Yes, he had also grown away from what we thought of as fun when our ages had only one digit. I can’t even say we had a good time of catching up with what each one had done since he moved away from the neighborhood. One thing had not changed: Butchy was, still, not much of a talker! I was very relieved, as well as a little sad, when Butchy and Suzie drove away with their mother that day. I would never forget the wonderful memories we shared as children but, the fact was, they were over and both of us had moved on. Hey, Butchy, thanks for the memories!

****Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Home/New Friendships?

     At age ten Butchy had moved from our neighborhood, shattering my heart and changing my world. When I was eleven going on twelve, it was our family making the move out of the old, familiar neighborhood. As I look back over those changes in my young life, it is easy to see just how carefully God had planned for my transition. Before the trauma of leaving the only home I had known, in a neighborhood that knew me, I had pretty well adjusted to maintaining my friendships with the aid of the telephone. Since our new home in this vastly different neighborhood would also have a telephone, I did not lose my friends with the move.
     Even so, I missed our old neighborhood because this one seemed much more metropolitan and not nearly as cozy. I was growing into an adolescent, however, so some of those “little kid” pleasures of the old neighborhood, like frog ponds, were just not as important. It didn’t matter that my friends lived outside of our own neighborhood, or even outside of town, because I could ride my bike when we wanted to hang out and not just talk on the phone. In fact, the move to the other side of town shortened the distance to Linda’s.
     As time went on I did make friendships with kids that moved into our neighborhood; but, thankfully, there was no traumatic shift in current relationships—for me, at least.
     It was the most drastic friendship change for my younger sister, who had to transfer schools at the end of third grade. She would not see any of her Fred Graff Elementary School friends until they entered Junior High, when all of the students from the various elementary schools joined the seventh grade classes in the same building. Very soon after the transfer, however, Glenda began working as one of the student volunteers in the West Elementary School cafeteria.  It was a good place for her to make lasting friendships. (I often wonder if that early exposure did not contribute in some way to her enthusiasm for volunteer work in feeding programs of all kinds in adult life! Whether it is feeding the homeless on a Sunday afternoon, preparing food for street kids on a Wednesday, working on preparing and serving lunch for the disadvantaged local area folks following a church service, or just about any other event where food is prepared and served my sister has her apron on!)
     For both my older sister and me, the school change would have happened regardless of our family’s relocation. Donna would be entering high school, continuing her long friendships with her own best friends. As for me, I was beginning the first of three years of junior high school, under the school system’s new three years each for junior and senior high instead of two and four years, respectively, which had been the plan for about as many years as there had been schools!
     There were a lot of changes when we moved to the new neighborhood but, all in all, it was a very good experience. I so appreciated not having to go through the adjustment of loss of friends and trying to make new ones. God was so good to let me make those new friends well before this move

****Butchy?... Coming Tomorrow