The Dad Factor: The Best Gift Ever

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My children are excited to give their Dad a gift we found him for Father’s Day this year.  And they are counting down the days til we present him “the best gift ever”, as my oldest called it.

The gift we found him is fun.  I would not call it the best, but it is fun.  Yet without fully realizing it, my daughter’s best gift ever may just be the man she presents our fun find to.  And here is why.

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Nancy Pearcey recently noted an article from the Washington Post, in which the author sets the record straight as to statistics regarding women and abuse.  Though the subject of abuse is a painfully common one, there are distinctives that bear emphasis.

As the Post article states, the simple statistical truth is that:

Women and girl from homes with married Dads, are safer.

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The article begins by acknowledging a very real problem:

Across the United States, millions of girls and women have been abused, assaulted, or raped by men.  

But then it goes on to clarify the contexts for the presence of much of this abuse:

This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers {emphasis mine}.

The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.

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Father’s Day is coming.  And on this day, we will take a moment or two to pause and acknowledge our Dads – why we love them, and why we are thankful for them.  Our families might grill hamburgers and have the kids deliver hand-made cards.  And we will spend a little extra time doting on the men who make our worlds go ’round.

But this Father’s Day, my heart is thankful for a fundamental truth which is often obscured in the shuffle of raising a family:

That simply by coming home each night to us, my husband is doing his job best.

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When he steps in the door each night, he immediately begins “doing” all sorts of things: helping with homework, cleaning up dinner, disciplining when I cannot “get through”.  But none of these functions are helping us so much as his being there, is.

I confess that far too easily my voice is raised impatiently as we juggle family needs and tensions.  And truthfully, I am good at missing the forest for the trees.  Making mountains out of miniscule household-task molehills, I ignore the bigger picture: He is protecting us best by his dedicated presence.  Not by loading the dishwasher.

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This Father’s Day, simple statistics are enabling a deeper love for my husband.  His is an ordinary life.  A quiet life.  A mundane life.  But he knows a great truth: It is not about him anymore.  It is about them.

And he wants to give them “the best gift ever”, which is a healthy, safe and protected child-hood.

And he is.


Mary de Muth: An Open Letter to Sexual Abuse Victims

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Over the past few years, God has opened up conversations with several friends, in which I have gained a glimpse into the devastation of sexual abuse.  There is nothing like knowing a friend is struggling with what cannot be undone.  Such a helpless place to be.

Sadly, the current statistics now claim that 1 in 3 females are victims of sexual abuse.  And those are merely numbers of those who eventually tell.  Sexual abuse is a highly secret pain, one that stays buried as long as it can, but often seeps out onto the surface of life as adults grow older.

My heart’s desire in this space, is to encourage those of you who have been torn apart by the shame and breath-taking pain of sexual abuse.  I know that your memories are difficult, and this makes every-day functioning of marriage, sexuality and mothering, difficult too.

And maybe you have never told anyone.

 

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Today, I want to introduce you to someone who may encourage you, if you are wrestling through the aftermath of childhood victimization.  Mary de Muth has become a well-known speaker in the Christian realm, courageously sharing her story of childhood sexual abuse.  And an equally powerful message of healing and hope.

Mary wrote a letter to women who have experienced sexual abuse.  I wanted to include it today, as I believe the realm of sexual abuse to be one of the biggest kept secrets among women.  The shame of sexual abuse holds so many captive, and as Christian women, I hope that we can be “safe” and helpful to our friends who have suffered.  And this letter may be a good place to begin

 

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Dear Sexual Abuse Survivor,

I don’t really like the word victim. Even survivor has a strange connotation. And I’m not too keen on victor. None of those words encapsulate what happened to you, the devastation sexual abuse enacted on your heart. But we’re strangled by language sometimes–even writers can’t adequately express horror.

I much like the word BRAVE. Because it’s so darn brave to walk away from something like that. It’s brave to forgive. Brave to live your life in the wake of sexual trauma. Brave to hold your head high.

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First let me say I am sorry. I’m so terribly sad that sexual abuse is part of your story. It’s not right. Someone chose to take something from you–your volition and your body. That person (or people) violated you. They used their power and bully persuasion to overwhelm you with their sinful desires. And now you’re the one left feeling dirty and used–while so many perpetrators walk this earth free. 

It’s not fair.

Some of you feel shame and guilt in gigantic measure, heaped upon you. Some of you feel that you invited the abuse. The way you dressed. The hole in your heart that longed for attention. The equating of sex with love and affection. You feel you wooed the perpetrator somehow. Let me say this: A person who adores and loves you would NEVER EVER violate you. Never. Instead of violation, they would protect. They would pray for you. They would honor your boundaries.

Someone’s selfish gratification is not your fault. Don’t own that. Dare to believe your worth, and allow yourself the feel the grace that God grants you. Forgive yourself. Let yourself off the hook. You were abused. You didn’t want it. Someone took from you–like a thief. They may have used slick words, threatened you, persuaded you that you wanted it, but it’s not true. Thieves are often liars.

In sexual abuse’s aftermath, you’ve possibly thought of suicide. You’ve cut your skin until the blood came. You over-ate. You spent years hard as rock, bitter as horseradish, always vigilant–ready to fight. You’ve protected your heart with ironclad resolve. No one will EVER hurt you that way again. Not on your watch.

All these coping strategies had good purpose a long time ago. They protected you. But now they’re strangling the life out of you. I only say that because I’ve walked the path of isolation and withdrawal. Actually, I spent about a decade of my life keeping the sexual abuse secret. And once I let the secret out, I decided I’d been healed, so I tucked it back away for another decade and lived inside myself–not daring to deeply engage my heart.

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An untold story never heals, friend. Isolation only masks the problem.

That’s not living. It’s existing. It’s pushing stuff down that you hope stays submerged forever. Unfortunately, our stories have a way of coming out–almost always in our actions. We end up hurting those we love. Some people become perpetrators because they never deal with getting better.

I know there are questions. I have them too.

  • Why did God allow this to happen?
  • Why didn’t He step in and rescue?
  • Why do I have to suffer seemingly forever for something someone else did to me?
  • Why can’t I ever feel normal?
  • Will I ever be able to enjoy sex?
  • Why does my spouse have to suffer for something someone else did to me?
  • What’s wrong with me that I kept being violated?
  • Was I put on this earth to be stolen from?
  • Why am I here?
  • What was it about me that perpetrators found irresistible?
  • Why do other people keep telling me it was a long time ago and I should be over this?

I want to assure you that these questions are entirely, utterly normal. And you should ask them. You should wrestle with them. Some of them will not be answered this side of eternity.

When I feel overwhelmed by the whys and the whats, I stop a moment and consider Jesus. This may not resonate with you because you might be mad at Him. That’s okay. I hear you. But there is comfort in knowing Jesus understands.

He took on the sins of everyone, including sexual sin, upon His holy, undeserving shoulders. He suffered for everyone’s wicked crookedness. And when He hung on a cross, He did so naked. Exposed. Shamed. Humiliated. Bleeding.

That’s why, when I write about sexual abuse recovery, I have to involve Jesus. He has been the single best healer in my journey. He understands. He comes alongside. He “gets” violation.

Sexual abuse is devastating. It pulls the rug out from under your worth. It keeps you scared. It infiltrates nearly every area of your life, consciously and subconsciously.

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But I am here to let you know there is hope. Though the healing journey is long, it is possible. When I tell my own story now, it feels like I’m sharing about another person’s sexual abuse. I’ve experienced profound healing. It didn’t happen passively or quickly. I had to WANT it, pursue it. I had to stop shoving it down and bringing my story into the light–with praying friends, with counselors, with my husband.

Today I enjoy sex. I can share my story without getting that vomit-y feeling in my stomach. The flashbacks are less and less. I still have moments, of course. But I am so much farther along than I had been.

I want to end this letter with this truth: You are amazing. You survived something traumatic and horrific. You are reading this letter blessedly alive, connected to others. Your story absolutely matters. Don’t let the trauma steal your story of hope today.

Joyfully free,

Mary

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If you find this letter helpful, please forward this post on to family or friends who may benefit.  Mary’s candid approach to healing from past abuse, has helped so many.

And in the mean-time, if you are 1 of the 3 women who have experienced sexual abuse, know that I am praying for you today.  Your hurt runs so deep, and I pray that you find God’s grace and love to be the first facet of your healing.


Summer Reading Goal: 10 Least Popular Books of the Bible

In a recent info-graphic, The Overview Bible Project produced a flow-chart of the 10 least popular books of the Bible {HT: Challies}.

I have never considered before that there are pieces of the Bible that are rarely read, but I suppose it makes sense that sadly, popularity extends even to Scripture.

 

Infographic: least popular books of the Bible

 

In a quick overview of this chart, I was interested {but not surprised} to note that 6 of the 10 books are prophetic.  The Old Testament prophets were not well-received even in their day, so it is not a great shock that in modern-times they are still not our favorites.

God’s prophets were no cowards.  Tasked with speaking out against ungodliness and God’s judgment if hearts remained hard, these men lived taxing, lonely lives.

Prophets have never been popular.  In fact, did you know that nearly all of the Old Testament prophets were martyred as a result of their stand for Truth?

This Summer, I plan to familiarize myself better with these bold men and their teachings.  To spend a little more time refreshing my memory on the lives of these courageous heroes.

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And I plan to walk through the other “un-popular” books too : 2 John, 3 John, Philemon and Jude.

I would love for some of you to take on this challenge with me, and compare notes at the end of the Summer.  These books are all short and will require mere minutes of your day to read, so they are a perfect Summer-day length.

Would you like to explore the 10 Least Popular Books of the Bible this Summer?

Click here for more information on the context of the books.  And let me know if you plan to get reading.  {My husband is going to read along beside me, as a means of accountability}.

I would love to compare notes with you in 8 weeks. I read Jonah this morning, and already my pencil has been busy noting themes I have not focused enough attention on in the past.

And maybe if enough of us read, we can bump the 10 least popular books of the Bible out of the running, and into a better-respected category.


Miss Kay Robertson: “I Told God that I would FIGHT for my Marriage”

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By now, we are all familiar with the Robertson Family, A & E network’s Duck Dynasty royalty.

Miss Kay, Willie and Jace have nearly become household names as they chronicle their lives as business owners and as members of a tight-knit family.

Theirs is large, happy,  and functioning unit- full of quirks and resulting humor which makes them easily identifiable.  But the Robertson’s are perhaps best-known for their Christian convictions. They are strong advocates for traditional family.  And they are equally determined in their outlook on marriage

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To look at the Robertson family, you might assume that theirs has been a “simple” journey of boy-meets-girl meets the American Dream.

But written behind the story-line of what we all see on television, is a back-story.    A story of a 14 year-old girl,alone and vulnerable.  Married at 16 to a 17 year-old boy, angry and addicted to alcohol.  A girl kicked out of her house by this self-destructive husband, left to fend for herself and her three little boys.

A teenage-Mom, lost and found by God, when brought to the end of herself.

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Kay Robertson vowed as a young woman, “I will FIGHT for this marriage”.  And fight she did.  Praying each night with her young sons, Kay begged God to change her husband’s heart.  To work repentance into him.  And over the course of months, God began to work in Phil.  One day he showed up at the house where his family was living, wanting his family back.

He was changed.

As Phil Robertson claims of his new-found understanding of the Gospel:  “It was profound.  That Jesus had died, been buried and rose again.  I had never heard that before”.

“I decided I was going to live as hard for God and my neighbor, as I had been living for the Evil One”.

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Phil and Kay began working to put together a solid marriage.  And Phil slowly began to earn his family’s trust.  “Is the Devil is going to leave Dad this time?” the boys would ask at times, insecure in their trust of their Daddy.  But Phil and Kay persevered.  And slowly, they built a family.

“It takes a lot of time to learn the fruits of the Spirit: to be patient and kind”, Kay acknowledges.  But God was with them in their “fight”.  And ultimately, His love won.

Phil and Kay have been married now for 47 years now.  And Kay still calls Phil the “love of my life”.

Yesterday, I wrote about the ease with which divorce is handled in our culture.  But today, a journey of a nearly-broken marriage, redeemed by a gracious Savior.

Phil and Kay Robertson’s story is inspiring, because ultimately, their is a story of all of us.

Of being lost, and then found by God’s incredible, saving grace.