War Room: Dishonoring God

Originally posted on adayinhiscourt:

war-roomby John Ellis

 *Spoiler Alert*

I didn’t wake up last Monday morning thinking about War Room, the Kendrick brothers, or Christian movies in general. Perusing one of my favorite websites while drinking my morning coffee, I read a wrap-up of the weekend’s box office that briefly discussed the success of War Room, a movie I hadn’t thought about in months since I had watched the trailer. Delving further, I clicked on several links to reviews of War Room and came across a statement that prompted me to write a brief article on the Kendrick brothers. I didn’t write a review of War Room, nor was that my intention; writing the article, based on my knowledge of the Kendrick brothers’ movies, I was mainly responding to movie critic Scott Renshaw’s comment. However, my post generated so much buzz, both positive and negative, that I made the rash…

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Why I Refuse to See War Room


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Sometimes people look at me sideways when I share how prayer has literally saved my life, healed my body, and brought me necessities of life.  I have a lot of stories of times God has shown up in response to prayer and made His presence evident.  He has performed countless miracles in my worthless life.  I BELIEVE in the power of prayer!  But, I won’t be watching the Kendrick Brothers’ film War Room.

The loss of my $7 is not going to even make a ripple effect in the millions of dollars their films have grossed, and I know that.  (Their previous four films brought in a combined $78 million in the domestic box office!)  But, I won’t throw my measly $7 away like that anyway, not even to satisfy my curiosity…….what is the strange obsession this country’s church goers have with these movies?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the crowd and follow the sheeple down any path they wander without question.  I bought those first four of the Kendrick Brothers’ movies.  Admittedly, I absolutely love Courageous.  But, Fireproof was naive at best and horribly damaging at worst.  The star is a pornography addict and an abuser, yet he is held up as a hero, saving people.  The only person who doesn’t see how fantastic he is, is his wife….the person who lives with him.  The woman who knows what he’s really like.  The one person who sees beyond the image he portrays publicly.  Of course, she is just as wrong in their mess of a marriage because she has an affair of the heart.  He isn’t really to blame for his behavior toward her.  She does seem to almost deserve some of it.  In the end, he finds Jesus, smashes his computer, and pays for his wife’s parents’ needs.  She responds to his grand monetary show, making her appear shallow and all about the money, and forgives him.  He does seem to sincerely apologize, but his behavioral change occurs only over the course of a few weeks.  And, as we all know, abusers are quite adept at making those short-term changes, only to lure us back in to their web of deceit.  Our hero wasn’t held to any long-term change before the relationship was restored.  He simply performed a few grand gestures; his wife saw the light of his miraculous short-term change; and everyone lived happily ever after.

Since I have not seen War Room I can only go off what I’ve heard.  That, and the few YouTube clips I’ve watched.  From my understanding, the entire premise of the movie is that the wife’s prayer life will change her husband’s behavior and save her marriage.  And, THAT is a dangerous mindset for the Christian church as a whole to embrace so enthusiastically.

I see and hear the Christians all around me clapping their hands and saying, “Oh, prayer works!  Lovely!”

And, so, they go off with great fervor, excitedly encouraging every wounded wife with the admonition to pray harder for her marriage, and the Lord will be faithful to fill her husband with a love for her and a committment to their marriage.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that God is a big Santa Claus in the sky, just sitting there waiting, longing, for us to send up requests, so he can happily drop down our gifts upon us.  Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that we can be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life.

Scripture does teach us to pray.  Jesus said we have not because we ask not.  He said if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains.  And, I believe every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  Every.  Word.

Some of those words tell us to admonish one another.  And, I’ll give the Kendrick Brothers credit….the weight room scene does have a friend admonishing the husband.  But, in real life, that just doesn’t happen.  I’ve never seen it.  What I see is the same Christians who are embracing this movie and think they can just pray and get whatever they want are the same Christians who think they can show an abuser the love of Christ and he’ll respond with automatic repentance.  He’s only acting in that sinful way because he needs love.  “Wounded people wound people,” as I’ve so often heard them chant.

The word of God tells us to go to a brother caught up in sin and reprove him.  If he refuses to repent, we are to turn him over to satan for a season, “that he may be won.”

The wife of a very abusive pastor kept an index card pinned to the wall above her desk.  It read, “Some come to Him when they see the Light, others only when they feel the flame.”  Our weak, politically correct society doesn’t want to offend anyone with the threat of flames.  It doesn’t want to turn anyone over to satan, in spite of biblical instruction to do so in certain circumstances.  So instead, we victim blame:  Pray harder.  Commit your marriage to Christ.  Submit more.   Love your husband with the love of Jesus.  As though somehow her behavior can control the situation.  Her lack of faith is bringing this upon her and, conversely, her improved prayer life will improve her marriage.

Maybe her prayer life does need to improve.  Maybe her attitude does need to change.  Maybe she does need to leave off bitterness and allow herself to be filled with the love of Christ.  But, NOT FOR HER HUSBAND OR FOR THE SAKE OF HER MARRIAGE.  But, for Christ alone!!!   He is enough!  She should be running after Him, seeking Him, because He loves her.  Not because if she runs hard enough after Him he’ll give her that sinful man she’s unequally yoked to.

And, I boldly proclaim that I have never prayed so hard or fasted so often as when I was in an abusive marriage!!!

Did my prayers fall on deaf ears?  They weren’t answered!

No, the Lord was bottling the oceans of tears I cried during those years.  He was looking down on me longingly, not because he was eager to play Sugar Daddy to me if I’d only ask Him, but because He longed for me to STOP worshipping MARRIAGE.  He longed for me to worship HIM.

The Kendrick Brothers won’t miss my $7.  They have millions and millions of dollars to bathe in.  They’ve joined forces with Sony because Sony brings us such great, uplifting, spiritual films like Evil Dead.  It’s a natural pairing, right?  The Lord certainly is smiling on that.  (Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4)  I can see Jesus, the man/God who overturned money changers’ tables in the temple courtyard, placing a stamp of approval on their $3 million production budget for their most recent movie because it’s a great Christian movie, bringing millions of people to their knees in renewed prayer.   The end justifies the means.  I can see it now…..the hope this movie will bring to the masses.  The abused.  The broken.  The poor.  The homeless.  The sick.  Christians will excitedly tell them to pray harder.  HARDER.  HARDER!  Pray harder to see the changes they NEED to see in their lives.   And, they’ll walk away…..home to their abusers, or perhaps not to a home because they don’t have one, or home to remain hungry, or still sick…..now also carrying the shame and blame that somehow perhaps it is all their own fault.   If only they had a better prayer life.

The Importance of a Support System


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I sat in the hairdresser’s chair while she talked about people I’ll never meet.

“Of all the people she could have gotten pregnant by, and it was this guy!  They don’t even like each other, and they were only together two months.  I was like, ‘Weren’t you using anything???’  I asked her about her baby shower, and she said she isn’t having one.  Which, I get, because she’s not married; the situation isn’t good; it wasn’t planned, and she’s not even with the guy, but still……everyone should have a baby shower.  She’s going to keep it, and she’ll need stuff.  She said that no one has offered to throw her one, so she isn’t having one.  So, I volunteered.  I mean, can you imagine?  Not having a support system like that?  Your mom and your best friend neither one even offer to throw you a baby shower?  Nothing?  How awful that your hairdresser has to throw you a baby shower because no one else will!  I can’t imagine not having a support system AT ALL.”

Oh, Sweetheart, I can!

I’ve been that girl.  I am that woman.  I’ve been the one who has graduated college, got married, had babies, and no one celebrated.  Accomplishments and major life events go unnoticed.  I’ve received frightening diagnoses, been abandoned, buried family, and am living in squalor, and it sometimes seems that the only people who notice are the ones who blame me for ending up like this.

What they don’t understand is that the reason they are where they are is because, somewhere along the line, they had an intact support system that assisted them and allowed them to be the success they are today.  They’ll often say they’ve worked for everything they’ve got.  And, no doubt, the individuals I’m thinking of are indeed very hard workers.  But, way back when, someone made sacrifices and did the unglamorous mundane things so they could focus on achieving their goals.  Goal completions were celebrated, or at least congratulated, which spurned them on.  And, their “tribe” still helps them today, even if they aren’t willing to acknowledge that they aren’t a one man or one woman show.

I know families who all live on one piece of property or on adjacent properties.  There are, at any given time, four, five, or six adults to watch children and guide them, run them to activities, let them know they’re loved.  There are that many adults available to take down the trash, pick up a gallon of milk, feed the dog.  They back each other in child discipline and instruction, reiterating the values mom and dad are trying to instill in them.  They come together to have garage sales, do yard work, perform household repairs, and host celebrations; they divide the work.  They loan vehicles and move each other in when tough times strike.  They take turns tending the sick and keeping vigil with each other through long nights in a hospital.

It keeps the wheel running smoothly.  It keeps any one person from feeling over burdened and overwhelmed.  It allows each individual the opportunity, the freedom, to at least attempt to reach their goals.

And, like my hairdresser, they can’t imagine what it’s like on the other side over here.

Over here……where, children don’t get meals and clothes and help with homework.  There is no structure.  No routine.  No support.  Over here……where one adult is strapped with ALL of the responsibilities.  One person to educate, train, raise up, instruct, pray with, feed and clothe, and love the children.  One person to work and provide support.  One person to perform maintenance and repairs.  One person to bear the burdens of the world on their lone shoulders.

And, face the shame of their failure.

My clients will frequently tell me at the end of an obviously long, hard day, “Go home and put your feet up!”  They mean well, they really do.  But, I have to get groceries and cleaning supplies for the next day, cook a meal, go over the kids’ school work, deal with whatever has broken around here on any given day, pay bills, take the trash down, feed animals, wash cleaning rags and restock supplies for the next day, return calls and reschedule clients, try to schedule kids’ dentist and doctor visits, read to the kids, brush their teeth (or, at least check the job they did), dole out vitamins, clean my own place a bit, and deal with whatever emotional crises the kids may be dealing with.  Last night my 15-year-old was tormented with nightmares and barely slept…..he dreamed his dad and his family came here and tried to kill him.

Rest, recharging my batteries, exercise, and time “alone with the Lord” are elusive in my life.

I was recently asked, “If it was really that bad, why didn’t you just leave?”  I HATE that question.  First off, the ‘if’ is really offensive, as though it may not have been as bad as I’m telling.  Second, where was I supposed to go with no money and sometimes no car and dragging along five children?  I didn’t have family to run to.

The house we rent is cracking and sinking.  The water runs iron brown from all of the faucets.  The sewer is seeping through the ground.  The lights short out.  My four-year-old grandson told me that I should put the firewood tarp over the house because of all of the cracks, as he pointed at the roof and asked me if I saw them. Acquaintances will ask, “How much can you afford?  I’ll keep my ears open.  I’m always hearing about open rentals.”  Their intentions are good.  But, they can’t imagine.  They can’t imagine what it’s like to not really, honestly, be able to afford anything.  My realtor friends think they’ve found me a great place though it’s a 2 bedroom, further out from town than where I’m at now, for only $200,000.  For this area, perhaps that is a good deal.  But, I can’t afford that!  Nor would I even qualify for that kind of loan!  I made $10,000 last year!  My sweet, precious Bible study pals talked last Christmas about no one being able to live off of $10,000 a year nowadays, they did when they were first married but you couldn’t now…..They can’t even imagine.

Two families I know have moved in with her parents, so they don’t have to try to live in their own houses while they’re being remodeled.  A friend recently moved her ill brother onto her property from out-of-state.  My daughter’s retired father-in-law just built their new pump house while my daughter and son-in-law were both at work.  Some things are simple, like animal sitting while someone goes on vacation.  Some things are big, like home sharing.

The thing is, even for these friends and acquaintances who are successful and independent with lovely lives, they still depend on their families more than they realize.  They wouldn’t ever refer to it as “dependence.”  They might say they have “a great family.”  They might rightfully point out that they do for their families plenty, too!  It’s just an intact, healthy support system where everyone does what they can.  It’s just an outward expression of familial love.  But, some of us don’t have that.  We never did.  We’re left floundering without a support system with the burden of our worlds resting solely on us, overwhelmed and exhausted, wondering when God is going to provide us with some miracle……like a support system.  That thing to them that is brushed off as something to be expected, is for some of us a miracle that we hope and pray for.  And, we’re the ones who can’t even imagine what it must really be like to have love and support that you can take for granted will always be there.

Car Wrecks, Online Dating, and Working Weekends


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Hello again!  It’s been awhile.  I’ve missed you.  How have you been?

My summer hasn’t gone exactly the way I planned it.  I bought a pair of hiking boots in June, thinking that I would hike the waterfalls around the state.  I haven’t been to one.  Instead, I’ve worked nearly every weekend, following on the heels of full work weeks, all summer long.

The ex quit yet another job, so child support didn’t come….just in time for my youngest son’s birthday and the 4th of July.  I worked the 4th, too.

One morning as I was slowing to turn into work, a young girl slammed into the back of me and pushed me into the embankment on the other side of the ditch.  My cute little car sustained front end and rear end damage.  The damage to me was confined to my back and my psyche.  Neither are healing very quickly.

The online dating thing hasn’t gone as planned either.  The men I’ve “met” have either been total losers, perverts, or so emotionally damaged they aren’t capable of being in a healthy relationship.

In short, my summer has been a wreck.  But, ya know what?  I’m still here.  And, there are seasons where that is okay.  We don’t always have to be on top of the mountain or in conquering mode to prove that we’re trudging onward.  Some times just getting up and breathing and putting one foot in front of the other is good enough.

I have learned a lot this summer.  I’ve learned that there are some really awful people in this world.  There are people who enable evil.  There are people who couldn’t care less about other human beings and how their actions affect those around them.  There are people who seek out other human beings to use for their own gratification with no regard to the humanity of the ones they’re using.

And, there are good people in the world.  There are those who will bend over backward to do a good job.  There are people who feel great compassion.  And, there are people who show tremendous kindness no matter how rotten things are for them personally.

I’ve learned that I can advocate for myself without joining that first group.  I can stand up for my rights and seek out resolutions that are good for me without losing my sense of decency.  And, those in the second group will listen and respond appropriately.  Those in the first group never will, so it’s best to jump over their heads and seek a better person in a higher position to petition.

I’ve learned to respond gracefully to the question, “Why did your ex beat you?”  Several of the men I’ve chatted with have ultimately said some complimentary, flattering statements and then rounded off with, “…….if I had a woman like you I would treat her like a queen.  I could never do that.”  Well, maybe they could, maybe they couldn’t.  But, the point is, I’m no longer offended by that question.  I used to immediately get angry, as though the response they were looking for was that I had provoked him, that we fought constantly and I hit him, too, that he’d caught me overspending or cheating or something else that might warrant his behavior.  I did none of those things.  But, even if I had, would that have justified the terror he unleashed on his wife and children?

I have a standard response they all get:  It’s because it is who he is.  It has nothing to do with me.  His abuse says nothing about me.  It says everything about how inherently evil he is.

That usually stops them in their tracks.

But, it’s true.  He abuses because he is an abuser.  Not because I brought it on myself.  My responsibility in the whole thing was that I chose him.  I was a good wife to a bad man.  I have to examine though why I married a bad man.

I’ve learned that if I don’t set my bar pretty damn high, most men will attempt to step on it and push it lower.  There must be a zero tolerance policy in place in my heart and mind.  Never will I tolerate disrespect.  Never will I accept a man who has less ambition than I.  Never is it okay to send me semi nude photos or talk in a sexually suggestive manner.  If I allow one little indiscretion to pass by, just one, because I convince myself that I’m too out of how things are in the world today, it opens the flood gate for further disrespect.  It just does.  If you give wickedness and selfishness a foot in the door, it slams its entire body into the opening and pushes with all of its might to allow in all sorts of demeaning behaviors.

I’ve learned how to nicely reject someone.  And, that is huge.  Doesn’t it seem like we survivors have spent a lifetime feeling guilty for not letting others have what they want?  Even if what they want is us?  It’s like “no” is the ultimate dirty word.  Sure, they don’t always like to hear it, but that’s okay.  If someone can’t respect our no then the relationship wouldn’t have been a healthy one anyway.  It’s totally okay to simply say, “I think we’re looking for different things in a relationship.”  It’s okay if they act hurt or angry.  Their emotions and their ability to be an adult about it are their responsibility.  What I allow in my life is my responsibility.

There are a lot of things I can’t control, like whether or not my ex mans up, holds a job, and takes financial responsibility as the bare minimum.  I can’t control a spoiled young girl whose parents bought her a car within a month of rear ending someone else, and then rear ended me, too.  I can’t control insurance companies and demanding clients and horny, lying men.  I can’t even control how my summer has gone!  All I can control is how I respond to all of it, and that almost always requires me viewing myself as being just as worthy as everyone else around me.

I’m worthy of my car being repaired fully.  I’m worthy of being treated with respect as a business owner.  I’m worthy of being treated like a lady.  And, it doesn’t mean I’m an awful person because I ask for those things.

Hmmmm……..perhaps I did climb a few mountains this summer.  And, ya know what, the view from up here is spectacular!

Mother’s Day for the Single Mom


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I don’t mind being alone today.  I don’t mind working today.  I don’t mind having a grilled cheese sandwich and some hastily purchased store bakery brownies.  None of it bothers me.  Honestly.

Mother’s Day has never been that big of a deal for me.  The ex would fight with the kids about what to get me, something they’d run out and buy at the last-minute.  Almost like an afterthought.  He’d pick me up a coffee and grab something for dinner to bring home.  One year he left me to tend several large trash fires while they ran in late Saturday afternoon because he’d forgotten the next day was Mother’s Day.  It wasn’t ever about the kids showing me gratitude.  It wasn’t ever about making me happy or honoring me as the mother of his children.  It was about me expressing gratitude to him for whatever little he did and allowed the kids to participate in.


I’m used to Mother’s Day being a bit lackluster.

But, this year I am sad.  I’m sad because my little boy is sad.  He cried in church and has spent most of the day weepy and bending over backwards to be helpful.  He finally just confessed to me that he is sad and a bit angry.  He just wishes that he could have bought me something.  He even has his own money to spend.  He just has no one to help him do anything for his mama.  And, he said he can’t wait to have a wife so he can do things for her for Mother’s Day.  Someday.  When he can drive.  Someday.  When he isn’t a little boy and isn’t dependent upon other people.  Who aren’t there.

He has been with me as others have bubbled over about where they’re eating today.  He has been with me as people have said they’re sorry today is just another work day for me.  And, he has taken it all to heart and felt the sting, as though he is responsible.

His one glimmer of hope today came at church.  They had purchased long stem roses for every mother in the congregation.  The children were to hand them out before the service ended.  He brightened.  He would be able to give his mama something, too!  But, then, the teacher told him no.  He was to pick a woman sitting somewhere and hand it to her.  He sobbed as he realized he really was to be empty-handed today.

I know people feel bad for me on Mother’s Day.  On Valentine’s Day.  But, I think it’s worse for the kids.  Their childhood isn’t marked by family celebrations and happy days honoring each other.  It’s watching every other family do those things while they sit on the sidelines or wander along behind mom, dragging cleaning supplies into an empty business.

Compassion Next Door


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Before we left the church parking lot my 15-year-old turned to me and asked, “What’s wrong?  I looked at you several times, and you weren’t dancing and throwing your arms up like usual.  You were just swaying a bit.  And, I couldn’t hear you singing.  Is something bothering you?”

This is the kid who remembers the store clerk’s dog’s birthday (not really, but it’s almost that bad).  He notices details about people and commits to memory what they share with him.  There was no denying it to him.  I wasn’t upset, but I couldn’t get lost in worship either.  There was a small pebble stuck in my craw.

The guest speaker was a representative from Compassion International, and he shared what it was like growing up in poverty.  He told how the organization had changed his life, made him realize he wasn’t human garbage, showed him love, and provided those things he needed to catapult him into a successful life in the United States.  He explained that he’d been told he’d always be poor and that those people who should have been supporting him were the major ones who tore him down as a child.  He showed slides of worn out shoes, kids digging through garbage, leaky roofs, and open sewer.  He very strongly encouraged everyone to sponsor a poor child and change their life.  And, they were obviously moved with compassion.

The first song we sang afterward began with, “Everyone needs compassion….”

Please understand, I was filled with compassion.  I have always, since childhood, had a deep love and concern for the people of Africa, especially Sudan.  But, as I realized that nearly every single family in my church already sponsors a child and they were lining up in droves to add another, I couldn’t help but sting a bit at the lack of compassion we’d been shown in that first year.

All of the compassion, love, and assistance we’ve been shown has come from outside our church except for one instance.  Every single time we’ve point-blank presented a need to our church, we’ve been ignored or denied.

These people who will dedicate themselves to sending money and writing letters to a child in a foreign country won’t be bothered to pray with or visit a woman or a child sitting right in front of them.

After the service a woman I really love and admire stated that the poor in this country aren’t really poor.  We don’t know what it’s like to go without a meal.  (Her son, incidentally, is that one instance of compassion we received from our own church.) I’ve heard that at Bible study, too.  My dear, sweet friends with hearts of gold have shared how they would love to sell everything, live simply, and minister in a foreign country because we just don’t have it bad here.  The poor in this country aren’t poor like they are in other countries.  We don’t know what it’s like to not have a warm bed or to be hungry.

I beg to differ.

I’m not jealous or resentful that they will happily brag and throw hundreds of dollars in the direction of an impoverished child!  Those children NEED it!

But, so did mine.

So do other children right here in our own country.

My children may no longer be hungry, eating out of the garbage, and they now have decent shoes, but our housing is still horrible.  Yes, we do know what it’s like to have the roof leak on us….to have the stench of sewer in our living area……to have rats crawling all over the place.   We are still there on that one.  But, our reality, past and present, isn’t recognized or acknowledged by the church.

And, I guess that was the source of that pesky pebble yesterday.  The value they joyfully and compassionately place on the children served by the organization is not a value they have ever placed on my children or the children of another single mom in the church.  Strangely, my church body’s demonstration of compassion for children they’ll never meet was a reminder that we aren’t deserving of the same compassion.  That stung just a bit.  It’s the message we’ve had crammed down our throats our entire lives.  The mantra of our abusers.

I believe in the work of Compassion International.  It’s a fantastic organization.  But, I would love the opportunity to stand in front of the church and show slides of long-haired, dirty, poorly dressed American children with teeth rotting out of their heads and bodies covered in bruises.  I would love to show slides of open sewer in the front yards of rural homes, hidden away from the site of fellow Americans, where all kinds of horrors take place inside the walls of those broken down homes. I would love to shout, “IT HAPPENS HERE IN AMERICA!  THERE ARE WOUNDED, STARVING, DYING CHILDREN NEXT DOOR TO YOU!  Who will care for them?  Will you?”

The American church, as a whole, loves to preach a conservative message against government subsidies and openly judges those who use them.  Yet, when one of their own abides by the maxim–submits nearly to death to her husband and looks to the church rather than the government for assistance–they refer her back to some government program!  Do you know how many countless times I’ve heard, “I thought there were government programs for people like you.”  When I asked for help with getting wood in, our only source of heat, the man who runs the wood ministry said, “We can’t help you.  We believe that people should work for what they need.”  I do work!  I work very hard!  But, I’m not able to fall trees.

At this point, I’m finally able to keep shoes and clothes on the kids.  There is food in the refrigerator, and I’m even putting in a garden this year.  Things have improved so much since that first year.  Our lives are unrecognizable in comparison to when he lived with us and kept us in abject poverty.  But, we’re still alone.  My sons still need to know how to use tools that I don’t know the names of.  My children, my daughter included, beg to learn to fish.  But, I don’t bother asking.

My teenager asked the youth pastor, a woodland firefighter, to show him how to run a chainsaw and fall a tree.  He acted funny and said to talk to him about it at the church picnic.  But, strangely, he didn’t come to the picnic.  He never mentioned it again.  I know the response I’d get if I asked for one of the men to act as a surrogate uncle or grandfather to my kids.  Talk to them about it at an event they wouldn’t show up to?  Or, throw me a sticky note?

Again, I do NOT begrudge the love sent oversees!  But, in Matthew 23:23 Jesus says, “…….these ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone.”   I’m just asking how they can love so deeply a child on a flat screen and yet look right past the child sitting in front of them?

There’s a stigma surrounding abuse so it often remains hidden, but if you look you can see it.  And, poverty is obvious.  When we were living in deep, deep poverty and our abuser was still in the home, a pastor once told me, “I know your husband has some hidden sin, but I don’t know what it is.  If he didn’t, your children wouldn’t be hungry.  And, I’d help you, but I don’t want to get in God’s way of teaching you whatever He’s trying to teach you in this.”

My grandparents knew who was being abused in their neighborhood.  Way back in the 50’s when the stigma was even worse, if that’s possible.  Way back when it was NOT questioned that women were to OBEY their husbands.  My grandparents still knew who was in trouble and needed their help.  My own grandfather, a former traveling preacher, ruled his home like a tight ship, my grandmother being required to submit her grocery lists to him for approval.  BUT, they could see the “mousey” behavior of two of the neighbor ladies.  They noticed the unkempt children sitting quietly in the dirt yards.  They heard the yelling.  They noticed how grossly thin the women and children were, though the husbands “carried weight on them.”  So, my grandpa took them boxes of produce from his fruit trees and garden.  My grandma sent meals over.  Sometimes they just popped in for a visit “to be neighborly.”  And, when the one husband nearly beat his wife to death, she and her children knew which house they could flee to.   My grandparents opened their door to the frantic pounding and hid them.

They were just being neighborly, showing compassion to those right next door.

I’d love to stand up in front of the church and encourage my “neighbors” to continue to write those checks out for the starving children overseas.  But, I’d beg them…..each time you send off a check or write a letter to a child in a foreign country, make a phone call to a lonely, desperate person in your own church or send off a birthday card to a child from an impoverished, broken, abusive home who probably sat right in front of you in church yesterday.  Change a child’s life if you can.

Naming It


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Would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?

Grandma used to say, “Call an ace an ace and a spade a spade.”  My dad constantly chastised us, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say!”

What’s in a name or word anyway?  We name our children based upon what’s currently popular or whether or not we like the sound of it.  Perhaps, we name them after someone we admire or like.  Or, in honor of the deceased.  Does it matter what tag we place on people and things?

How deep is the meaning of words?  How much do designations contribute to our understanding?  Is it really that important how we reference abuse?

The world of psychology and some abuse circles refer to narcissistic abuse, to which I must ask: Is there any other kind?

Psychology defines narcissism as extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.  

dictionary.reference.com gives this definition of pride:  a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing,conduct, etc.

I’m admittedly not familiar with the page I’m about to link to, but I liked what they had to say about pride.


And, Ezekiel 16:49 and 50 state, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

Pride is the original sin.  It’s the reason God utterly destroyed Sodom, and He felt that action was good.  It’s why He created Hell for the devil and his fallen angels.

It’s why an abuser abuses.

I say that abusers don’t abuse because they were abused as children.  Some were.  But, some weren’t.  And, many people who were abused as children don’t grow up to abuse others.  There’s fault in that reasoning.

The old “wounded people wound” is a lie in my opinion.  I think it’s a lie straight from the pit of hell, manufactured to get people to feel sorry for the perpetrator instead of holding him/her accountable for their actions.  In my experience, wounded people “allow” others to continue to wound them because they believe that’s what they deserve.  How can a Christian ever give abuse the adjective of narcissistic and then deny abuse stems from willful pride and instead claim they’re just innocently acting out what they were taught?

Paul makes it very clear in I Corinthians 5 how the church should deal with unrepentant sin among its members.  Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for their labor, their patience, and how they could not bear them which are evil.  After He let them know what it was that he had somewhat against them, He commended them a second time.  This time, for having a hatred for the deeds of the Nicolaitans, as He also hates.  Meanwhile, he sent a warning to the church at Thyatira for permitting Jezebel to teach her apostasies.

Abuse isn’t a disease.  It isn’t a character disorder.  It’s wickedness.  I’m going to call it what it is.  By any other name it still stinks, but it is evil metered out on those around them because of their self-perceived grandiosity and self-proclaimed rights to elevated treatment.  Those who abuse are following in the footsteps of their father, the serpent, the devil.  They don’t need the tender loving care and understanding of the church.  Their victims do.  Abusers need discipline!  Wickedness requires discipline!

Feeding The Narcissistic Beast


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“You’re real, and people respond to that,” my chiropractor said to me when I asked him his opinion on whether or not I should get my real estate license.  I’m no salesman–AT ALL–but he feels that my approachability and openness are natural assets to sales.

My client who asked me to think about getting my license and working for her had previously said nearly the exact thing.  In fact, I hear it a lot.  “You’re real.”  I always chuckle to myself, “I’m a real what?”  But, the fact remains that people who know me see me as genuine and “real.”  And, you also know that these posts sometimes get a little too “real.”  I embarrass my kids with my “realness.”

Something happened when everything was stripped from me though.  I stood naked before the world.  Vulnerable.  Needy.  Lost.  All of my sins and failures exposed.  There were some who threw stones and laughed at me, whispering behind my back.  But, there were others who came rushing in to cover me with their own coats, hugging me in reassurance that I was loved and things would be okay.  I found that the only way to truly get my needs met as a human being was to be willing to get real with others about those needs and fears and failures.  I also found that it’s just about the only way to connect on a terrifically deep level.  When you share your worst nightmares, it encourages others to open up and share theirs.  Pretty soon it becomes a circle of affirmation, connection, and encouragement that just isn’t possible when everyone is hiding behind the clothing of a false perfect life.

I found that I kinda like being naked.

So, Bachelor #2’s continued accusations fell on deaf ears.  I have laughed at his antics.

I did not respond to his understanding-but-it’s-a-bummer email, and I unfriended him on Facebook.  I was just letting it go.  As the saying goes, “Not my monkeys, not my drama.”  But, in true abuser fashion, he wasn’t willing to let it all go so easy.

He sent this:  “I noticed you haven’t responded in a while and you have de-friended me from facebook.  I have always been very open and honest, but I understand not everyone feels the same way.  Some like to keep secrets.  In all honestly, keeping secrets is a red flag for me.  People keep secrets when they have something to hide.  I do believe that if someone has nothing to hide then they hide nothing.  I don’t mind when others disagree with me as everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I don’t expect people to fit into my “mold” as this is what makes us unique.  Most, however, don’t like disclosure and I think this speaks volumes.  Clearly, we are different in this area.  I hope the best for you and your children.”

You see why I laughed?  He’s ACCUSING me of keeping secrets from him because, after meeting him ONE TIME for an hour, I simply told him that I choose not to engage in the conversations that demand I defend my home schooling.  I was nice about it, but I let him know that his line of questioning, a second time, was a bit offensive.  Instead of apologizing or even just saying that wasn’t his intention or explaining what he really meant, he has launched into an attack on my integrity.  If I choose not to answer a question–asked by a STRANGER–I must be hiding something.

And, isn’t it big of him that he doesn’t mind when others disagree with him?  A true sign of a humble person.  For sure!

I really love how he let’s me know that my “keeping secrets” from him is a red flag to him.  Ummm, take a hint, Buddy, I’m not responding to you!  I’ve seen waaaay too many red flags with YOU!  It reminded me of junior high, “You can’t break up with me because I already broke up with you!”  Except I was never with this guy.

My eyes are open to this game now, but they weren’t always.  At one point in my life, his tactics would have worked.  I’d been living it my entire life.  My mother accused me of sleeping with my step-dad when I was 12.  She said there could be no other reason that he was nice to me other than that I was “fucking [her] husband!”  Of course, the reality was that he felt sorry for me because he knew what she and my dad were like and how they treated me.  The truth was that she was sleeping with my dad, in my step-dad’s house while we kids were home, and I knew it.  Better to accuse me and put me on the defensive than to have me divulge her dirty secrets.

My ex-husband brought home venereal diseases, couldn’t explain hours of missing time or money, and hid gifts for his lover under his truck seat (which I found).  I was kept impoverished, working, and, for years, without a vehicle, yet he constantly accused me of cheating on him.  Even when I was working and there were multiple witnesses to the fact that I was indeed caught up in a work crisis, he was convinced I was having illicit sex with someone, everyone.

Don’t feed the beast.  My ex quite often told the kids and me the abuse was our own fault because we should know better than to poke the bear.  Shifting blame, false accusations…..it’s how narcissists/abusers/wicked people roll.  Abusers are wicked.  Narcissism is a fancy word for what the Bible calls pride, and that was Lucifer’s ruin.  More on that later.  For now, let’s stop feeding these narcissistic beasts.  Let’s do the healthy thing and walk away.

Sorry But Not Sorry


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A friend of mine posted a link the other day to the definition of a non-apology.  It’s pretty good.  Here it is:


Does any of that sound familiar to you?  It sure does to me.

My ex still occasionally dons a pathetic tone and musters a, “I’m really sorry for the way everything turned out.”  Yes, I’m quite sure he is.  I’m certain he is sorry that I’m alive, that I have custody, that I’m not wasting away over here, that the kids still don’t want to spend time with him, that he’s living in a camp trailer.  He still denies that he stole from me, beat all of us mercilessly, or any of the horrors and neglect that he subjected us to, so it isn’t any of that that he is sorry for.  As far as he’s concerned, that never happened.

About three years before my parents died, I heard the voice of God tell me to call both of them and apologize.  I obeyed, not because I really felt either of them deserved my apology (I wanted one from both of them) but because I love my Lord and will do as He says.  He knows better than I.

That began a three-year journey of healing for my dad and me and allowed him to pass with closure for us both.  My mom took her hatred to the grave, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I at least tried.  I kept her emailed response, “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did to you.”  Ummm, she and I clearly knew exactly what it was she did to me.  But, let’s not say it out loud or admit that she actually recognized it.

I’m over it.  It doesn’t bother me.  I’ve moved on with my life and buried her hatred with her.  I don’t bear that burden.

But, interestingly, those types still pop into our lives, don’t they?

Remember how I told you about Bachelor #2 in my post Online Dating Safety; Part 2?  How there were warning signs, but there was something else I just couldn’t put my finger on?  Wellllllll……………

He wanted to come down this weekend, Passover/Easter weekend, to visit me.  He didn’t have his daughter for the weekend and thought it would be a grand time to see me.  Not like I also have kids or anything.  I explained that I had to work and it just wouldn’t be a good time.  This is my busy season……spring cleanings, move outs, houses coming up for sale, etc.

He responded that he understood but that it was a bummer.  And, then, he lit into an entire paragraph of rapid fire questions:  I understand about the weekend.  It’s a bummer, but I understand.  You have to do what you have to do.  How do your kids manage during these busy seasons?  I have been meaning to ask you about the homeschooling that you provide your children.  How do you meet state and federal minimum standards?  What curriculum do you use?  When I taught in the private school I used a little Abeka and some Bob Jones.  I liked the Abeka math, but didn’t care for their history. How do you handle the social aspect for your children?  Are they active in a children’s church or youth group?  Socially, I want [his daughter] to be interacting with other children.

I had previously told him that I use an eclectic mix.  I shared with him that I’ve been home schooling for over 25 years.  In that time, I’ve tried a lot of different curricula and found that some companies are just better at certain subjects and weaker in others.  I use each company’s strong suit.  I don’t commit to any one company.  I also told him that I don’t like Abeka’s math.  To which he acted confounded because he did like it.  He also knows about my adult children’s successes and my younger children’s activities.  We discussed all of this.

So, I was immediately offended, seeing how these questions came in the same paragraph as his “understanding” about the weekend and immediately following his resigned, “You have to do what you have to do.”

I waited a few days and decided that I would indeed let him know that I found it all offensive, but I would do it nicely.  My response began with pleasantries and then I simply said, “I’m honestly not sure how to answer your questions regarding my home schooling.  They’re a bit offensive, to be honest, and I just choose not to be on that end of the home school issue anymore.  I was one of those pioneers who couldn’t even take their children out during the day back in the 80’s.  Been there, done that.  The proof is in the pudding with successful home schooled adults taking their place in society.  I no longer feel some of those questions need answered.”

It apparently wasn’t well received.

He responded:  I think you and I have a lot in common, however, I do think there is one issue where you and I have a difference of opinion.  I have said from the beginning that I am very open, I am not easily offended and what you see is what you get.  My philosophy is that I would rather be fully open and honest about myself so at least people know what they are getting and who they are dealing with.  Of course, people don’t have to like it, but that is who I am.  I DON’T like secrets!  I think I am different than most men in that I really do love conversation and am willing to be open and honest about myself and what I am thinking. With that said, I would like to clarify something.  My purpose in asking you about your homeschooling was, as mentioned, I am hoping to put [his daughter (he actually already stated that he found a charter school that offers classes at the school because the social interaction is so important to him] in some type of homeschooling.  I believe if one has a question, then ask.  Who better to ask then someone who has been successfully homeschooling for several years?  My motive was to gleam some knowledge and understanding from your years of experience, nothing more.  You’ve “been there done that”.  I was not asking to be critical by any means.  I am just being honest here, so please hear my heart – I am trying to understand from your perspective how my asking you these questions regarding your homeschooling is a “bit offensive.”  I certainly didn’t mean to cause you to be deeply hurt or angry over questions that I feel are neutral in and of themselves.  For causing you that I am truly sorry.  Am I missing something here?

No, I think I’m the one missing something here.  We have a difference of opinion because he believes in being open, isn’t easily offended, and would rather be fully open and honest?  He doesn’t like secrets.  Is he insinuating that I do like secrets?  Because I chose not to engage in a second round with him regarding my choices in how I raise and educate my children?  That I’m just easily offended?  That I’m not open and honest?  Hmmmm……..okay.  To be clear, I wasn’t deeply hurt, nor was I angry.  I was a “bit offended.”  Is he exaggerating to make his point?

I looked at that link again.  Statements that use the word “sorry” but do not express responsibility for wrongdoing may be meaningful expressions of regret, but such statements can also be used to elicit forgiveness without acknowledging fault.[2]

He’s sorry for causing me to feel the way he is saying I do, but he isn’t sorry for coming off as offensive.  In fact, he ends with asking if he’s missing something.  He just doesn’t get what my problem is…..after he let me know that he is just an open and honest kind of man, Mr. Nice Guy, and we differ there.

This is coming from a man I have exchanged a half a dozen emails with and met once for an hour.  We should all kind of be on our best behavior right now, shouldn’t we?  However, if I were to end up with this guy, couldn’t he always remind me that I knew all along what he was really like?  He never tried to hide anything or misrepresent himself.  I can only imagine how he would act if we were seriously involved, if there was a real problem worthy of serious discussion!

I’ve decided not to respond this time.  I’m tapping out and choosing not to engage or be used as narcissistic fodder.  If that deeply hurts him or makes him angry, for causing him that I’m truly sorry.

Sorry but not sorry.

Online Dating Safety; Part Two


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A party guest nudged in to the sink tonight to rinse his wine glass, and I wished him happy anniversary on this, his 45th wedding anniversary.  He willingly and joyfully shared his story with me:  He’d been a fireman.  His apartment had a bar.  Hers did not.  So, she began frequenting his apartment complex’s bar.  The first night she walked in he turned to his friend and said, “See that girl?  The girl standing in the doorway?  I could marry her.”  It took him eleven months to get the guts to introduce himself.  He walked up to her at almost 9 o’clock on December 28 and asked her to dinner.  She said yes, and they hurried to the nicest steak house in town.  They let them in though it was nearly closing time, and they had the place to themselves.  He proposed a month later, and they were married two months after that, three months to the day that he had introduced himself.  The rest…..is history.

I told him my best friend and her mother-in-law both said they would “marry that man” the first time they laid eyes on their husbands.  He said that he has friends who also have experienced that and lived happily til death.  He said, “When it’s right, you know it.  You just know it.”

He then asked how long I’ve been married.  When I told him I’m divorced, he immediately asked if I’d like a good man in my life.  Of course!  I explained, “I’m very happy.  I’m content.  I have UH-MAZING friends, beautiful children and grandchildren; I really love what I do for a living; and I feel fulfilled writing my blog.  I’m not desperate.  I don’t feel like I need a man.  It would just be nice……”

He told me that anyone I meet will have to pass muster with all of the people who are a part of this group I was hostessing for, and he let me know he’s on the search to find me a good man.

That’s why I’ve been on one date, if you can call it that, in the almost four years since my ex-husband left.  I’m holding out for a good man.

And, I do have a “safety” list.  This one list that I look at nearly every day lately.  I wrote it shortly after R left.  I wrote it while the pain and fear were fresh, when I didn’t think I could recover from the mess of my life.  I wrote it when the memories of his cruelty were FRESH.

These are the required attributes of the next man:

  1. All consuming faith
  2. Transparent and honest
  3. Dependable
  4. Strong and independent
  5. Gentle
  6. Supportive
  7. Financially healthy
  8. Brave
  9. Patient
  10. Confident
  11. Thoughtful
  12. A COURAGEOUS MAN (like the movie)

Each of the bachelors I’ve met online have been put to this litmus test, and nearly all have failed miserably.

Bachelor #2 speaks clear and fluent Christianese.  But, it all seems a little smarmy.  There’s an uneasy feeling in my gut.  Something just isn’t right, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I just know it.  However, on our weird date-not-a-date it all became crystal clear when I assessed him according to THE LIST.

He asked what I wanted to eat, and I told him, having just got off work, I really just wanted water.  He feigned being upset that the waiter hadn’t brought my water because he’d asked for it before I arrived.   I told him it was okay.  I was sure the waiter would be around shortly.  He said, “No!”  and got up to go tell the waiter to bring me water.  Kinda seems chivalrous, right?  He’s taking care of my needs, right?  Not really.  He didn’t respect my no.  He expected the waiter to stop waiting on other customers to bring me, Princess, my water.  That just doesn’t seem very gentle or patient, does it?

Over dinner he told me how he’d had a successful business but let it go after his first divorce because he was just too upset to handle it.  His house was auctioned off last week because he couldn’t deal with everything after his second divorce…..FIVE FRICKEN YEARS AGO!   [Insert sound of screeching brakes or needle scratching across a record.]   He allows his business to just fail because his little feelers are hurt?!  In five years’ time he can’t get his shit together enough to pay his house payment because he got dumped a second time?!   Doesn’t sound dependable, strong and independent, brave, or financially healthy, does he?

Then, there’s Bachelor #3.  He constantly baited me, letting me know that he really doesn’t think much of women in general.  We’re apparently all greedy and bossy.  At least he was transparent and honest!  But, he’d have never been gentle, supportive, patient, thoughtful, or courageous.  And, I knew it.

Bachelor #4 recently sent me an email telling me how angry he was that I had not returned his email, and it had been over a week.  He’s feeling like our communication is very one-sided.   Oh, boo hoo.  Seems like someone has forgotten that he doesn’t own me and isn’t entitled to my response or my time after exchanging a mere four or five emails.  His little verbal temper tantrum screamed that he will never be independent or patient.  He wants it and he wants it now, and he needs my attention!

Bachelors #3, 5, and 7 all follow soft core porn pages on Facebook, so that whole Courageous thing???   Not gonna happen.  Guy #5 even went so far as to ask for a picture of me in my swimsuit and then asked for me to tell him what I would do to him if he were here.  When I refused, he said that our “relationship/friendship” couldn’t continue unless we could tell each other everything.  Hmmm…….manipulative much?

Bachelor #6 does not view those types of pages.  He professes a sincere and deep love for Christ.  But, he believes that if a woman like me marries, I’ll be forcing the man to commit adultery every day of his life because I’m divorced.  There is no freedom from the sins of my ex, no redemption of the years the locusts ate, no hope in Christ for a new life.  Not for me.  I’m divorced.  Apparently that is the unpardonable sin.  I’m still confused as to why he was on a dating site, looking for a partner, when he is also divorced.  He doesn’t believe he has the “right” to remarry either.  But, he moved a woman into his house for several months.  Apparently willful fornication is forgivable.  Divorce, for any reason, is not.  Sorry, I’m standing on I Corinthians 7:15 and Matthew 5:22.   My unbelieving ex-husband committed adultery and abandoned me.  God says I’m no longer bound.  Bachelor #6’s all-consuming faith seems to be in his own cafeteria style theology.

And, I suspected, on our very first communications, that Bachelors 2 through 7 weren’t “it.”  There was something amiss.  Something just didn’t feel right.   I knew it before I looked at THE LIST that there was something wrong with them.

When I attend functions, like tonight, even though it was work, and everyone else is a happy couple, I could get to feeling like I should excuse some things.  After all, everyone is human.  We’re all sinful.  We all make mistakes.  I can’t be too particular.  I’m not perfect; I certainly can’t expect perfection out of anyone else.

But, then, there’s THE LIST.  Whether or not my elderly friend at the party tonight really examines any potential suitor or not, they must pass the muster of THE LIST, my list.  And, it is condemning.

The bottom line is, I’d rather be alone than with the wrong man.  Again.  I’d rather wait until it’s right for me.  And, I’ll know it when it is.  I’ll know because I have THE LIST and also because I’ve learned to trust my own gut instincts.


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