Stealing Faith

humor for relationships, family & life

My “Why?”: Because It Is Yet Light


Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

I’ve been at a few training sessions lately for Classical Conversations (the organization we collaborate with in our homeschooling journey) and it’s forced me to answer a very important question for our children’s education: Why?

 

Why bother educating at home when I’m impatient, easily frustrated, always behind on housework, not formally educated in elementary school techniques, etc.? Basically, in all the ways that seem to matter from the outside this whole home schooling path we’re on as a family seems… well, idiotic.

 

And yet… here we are. Even worse, the more I learn about CC the more committed I am to seeing the culmination of this method within our education process. We’re choosing a difficult path… and liking it.

 

But why?

 

In all the world, of all the many ways we could choose to educate our children, Why would we choose Classical Conversations? Why would we accept more leadership in an organization when my life is full as it is? Why bother when it would instead be so much easier to take off some hats and find space to relax? Classical Conversations is not a religion. It is not a replacement for church. It’s just a model, a method, in the sea of other options, right? And even more importantly, Why CC?

 

My Why is that CC makes home education possible for me. This organization clearly places an exceptional, achievable educational journey in front of my family that I can follow as the primary educator in our family without freaking out because I may be missing something in setting up their knowledge base. It’s comprehensive – and the company’s explicit aim is to reveal God through the knowledge of Him and His creation, to know God and to make Him known. And that mission – that ability to make a monumental task like education my child achievable – is a gift I find a blessing, one my husband and I are willing to sacrifice our time and energy  to promote!

 

I don’t want to keep this opportunity to myself, or to for those lucky few families who happen to live within driving distance. I am so aware of the mom who is dying inside, knowing they don’t want to turn their children over to public schools to be wards of the state for 30 hours each week – but don’t know where to start to even attempt to teach their children themselves. I want that dad who aches to mentor his children to find a way to walk alongside their child in all aspects of life into adulthood with the support of a Godly community. There are people desperate to make the life change necessary to bring their children home who don’t know where to start; CC can be the diving board… at least it was for me.

 

I know we are all busy – too busy, truth be told. We don’t really want to pull our children home with us because we are intimately acquainted with their tricky personalities, the way they can push all our buttons 16 times before 7:30 a.m. We are already so very tired just with the day-to-day living that must take place to survive. Even so, there’s something valuable about this homeschool craziness that somehow, some way makes the sacrifice worth it (for me).

 

Here’s one more snippet from my most recent training session that gives me goosebumps. It was a written response to a person expressing hesitation about whether being a leader in the CC is worth the pay off, but the sentiment applies across the board to those who embrace this counter-culture idea of being your child’s primary influencer:

 

“… as home schoolers, we have a responsibility to work while it is yet day. The night is coming, when no man may work.  We can’t be sure we will be able to home educate 20 years from now. What can we be doing now to make that a possibility for our grandchildren?  So yes, our main responsibility as wives and moms is to our husbands and children first… [but] it isn’t going to do any of us any good to protect our home time and our family time if we have no freedom to home educate. There may come a day when we are compelled to give our children to the state to be educated.  At that point, we will have much more time to devote to the cause.  But a very much harder task to accomplish.”

Before you take me to task on being all death, doom, and destruction regarding the urgency of working to make homeschooling a viable option today, please consider the families in Germany seeking political refuge in the US because the German government wants to jail them and place their children in the state foster care system for daring to educate at home. Take a moment to consider our current US Secretary of Education publicly announced he feels Americans should not consider the ability to education their own kiddos a basic right of citizenship.

 

The night is coming, friends… but I want to do my best to keep it light for a few (figurative) hours longer.

 

Just for fun, here are several links to infographics regarding the home education movement and effectiveness:

 

1. Homeschooling by the Numbers.

2. Homeschool Domination: Why These Kids Will Take You Down.

3. History of Homeschooling.

4. 2008 – 2009 SAT Scores.

5. How American Homeschoolers Measure Up.

Daddy’s Handkerchief


Daddy's Handkerchief

Daddy’s Handkerchief

I miss my dad.

 

I was in church on Sunday and started crying. Crying is a pretty foreign concept for me in general as I’m a bit of a “suck it up” personality. But Circumstances prevailed and my tear ducts turned on.

 

I had no options for my tears and ensuing snot than my shirt sleeve and we all know I like to blame the baby when I’m sporting snot, not myself.

 

At that moment I experienced intense nostalgia for my dad.

 

He’s of the older generation, just shy of the greatest generation of all: World War II. He’s the strong and gentle warrior.

 

He always carries a handkerchief in his pocket.

 

I wish that our generation would carry handkerchiefs. They’re terribly important bits of fabric that can fulfill a multitude of purposes.

 

I cannot begin to number the times I would sneak up to him and borrow his “hanky” – times I was crying, times I sneezed, when I needed something to hold a cube of ice or wipe up a spill – Daddy always had his hanky.

 

I have these times that jump up and attack me with a stranglehold of emotion – though my father is still living and physically present he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He becomes disoriented frequently and struggles to get any words out. It’s been many months since I’ve been able to have a conversation with him. This summer has shown a pretty marked decrease in his ability level and he is in many ways a stranger inhabiting a body I adore.

 

I miss the Daddy who set the standard for the men in my life; a compassionate man who was a jack of all trades, always had an answer or worked with me to find one, a man who honored my mom with the delivery of a single rose on their anniversary or just because (because a bouquet was just too over the top – there was beautiful simplicity in a single bud), and teased us.

 

My kids will never remember the man who snuck sugar-covered orange gelatin candies to me when my mom wasn’t around, or see the capability of a large knuckled hand that could ably butcher livestock, maneuver a tractor, or wipe away a tear.

 

I can’t remember him making a decision that didn’t put our family first in his thoughts.

 

I miss him.

 

And his handkerchief.

 

Follower


There's always that ONE...

There’s always that ONE…

If I said, “You are a great follower!” would you be insulted?

 

If you said the same to me, my first reaction would be offense.

 

I don’t want to be a follower! I’m a leader! I’m not a mindless mass without wisdom and knowledge and gumption! I’m special, unique!

 

I AM NOT A FOLLOWER.

 

But “follower” doesn’t make you a mindless minion. In fact, being a good follower in this age of entitled know-it-alls, of talking heads and news show yappers, might make you a more attractive leader.

 

Why would I say such a thing?

 

I’m reading a book about leadership development and one chapter addresses following. The author couches the information from a leader’s perspective – such as what can you, as a leader, do to make your follower productive, satisfied, and loyal?

 

But in reading this chapter it occurred to me more should be written about the value of a follower in recognition that following is an important skill that if not acquired, will hinder anyone from long term success.

 

Think about it -

 

  • How do many people learn wisdom from leaders? By following the leader until they’ve proven themselves interested.
  • Who do leaders enjoy spending time with? Their trusted followers, because they’re pulling in the same direction toward a common goal.
  • What is one of the most exasperating things to a leader? An unteachable follower who goes renegade because they’re determined they know more than anyone else.

 

These thoughts make me want to intentionally practice to be a better follower. To me that means:

 

  • Trusting. Instead of doubting a leadership decision, armchair coaching, or being a Debbie Downer, I want to learn to trust the judgment of the leaders around me. Genuine trust of an honorable person places a burden of responsibility on that leader to live up to the trust they’ve earned.
  • Supporting. Too many times I contribute to the common good of a group out of social obligation or with hopes of later recognition. That’s not helpful! I want to support others because that in itself is a worthwhile reward.
  • Playing. When someone else is navigating the course I have the freedom to play and enjoy the journey without prepping for the next change. That, in turn, makes me much more fun to be around.
  • Loyalty. I want to be a loyal person. Our culture is not supportive of a steadfast spirit. We are always looking for new and better, speed and energy But I want to be a part of an admirable tradition and someone others can depend upon to be consistent.

 

I’m becoming more and more convinced that being a follower is an unrecognized skill that we should all master.

 

What other skills make people excellent followers?

 

 

Life is Not an Emergency


Life is not an emergency. Even if your guts are made of slinkys. paaselland / stock.xchng

Life is not an emergency. Even if your guts are made of slinkys. paaselland / stock.xchng

They are laminated and on my wall, two printables from Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.

 

I’m a reluctant Voskamp fan. If you’ve been reading this blog for oh, say, 10 minutes, you’ll note that our writing styles are wildly different and she is much more capable of deep thought on a regular basis than I! It’s that depth of character she has in her writing that brings me back, makes me chew on the thought, and ultimately changes my life.

 

If you haven’t read Voskamp’s book, 1,000 Gifts, I recommend you pick it up and put her suggestions into practice! This book literally changed my perspective on how to be thankful when I read it a year ago. It was through that book I found her website and the lists I have laminated and stuck to my wall above the antique secretary and below the chore chart.

 

10 Helps for Really Busy Moms and 10 Point Manifesto for Joyful Parenting. These are the two pages I will read on the days my brain isn’t clicking correctly and my temper is teetering out of control.

 

I’d like to share a few of these items with you, my take on what they look like in real life.

 

The first? Life is not an emergency. Life’s a gift. Just slow.

 

It’s incredibly difficult for me to sit still. I think I’ve always been this way – even my quiet, still times have been filled with speed-reading my way through a book.

 

This attitude tends to make me pretty productive, but it has also translated into an unhealthy habit — I get really frustrated when things don’t get done in an extremely efficient manner.

 

I view a lack of housekeeping mastery as a character flaw.

 

Being late for meetings is occasionally a cause to be frustrated to tears.

 

I’ve found myself being so task-oriented I don’t take the time to simply enjoy the simple things in life. I can be so focused on getting the next thing done I don’t stop to include the kids in the journey, leaving an exhausted, disconnected mama at the end of the day.

 

Why do I do this? Life is not an emergency.

 

Life is designed to be fully experienced. It’s not supposed to be lived with blazing red and blue lights and sirens. This daily breathing should not be a cause for stress.

 

I’m going to do my best to remember to Be Still. Breathe. Experience. Pray.

 

Do you find yourself rushing from one task to another as though it’s an emergency? What techniques do you use combat this attitude?

 

This post was originally published January 17, 2013 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

The Truth About Homeschooling


zirzuke / stock.xchng

zirzuke / stock.xchng

I’ve stepped into a leadership role with my local Classical Conversations community that has me meeting with prospective parents frequently to explain the program and how CC might work for them.

 

I love it, absolutely love it! Because if it weren’t for Classical Conversations there’s a reasonable chance I wouldn’t even consider homeschooling as a viable option for our family. At the risk of sounding like a complete CC Kool-Aid drinker, this academic community has made all the difference in our life and opened up the world for our children.

 

Even so, sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t add the “downer” side of homeschooling to my conversations with people about whether this is a party they want to join. To clear my conscience, I’m going to go public with some of the negatives of homeschooling right here and now…

 

1. You’re going to have to actually school them. The real bummer about homeschooling is those kids – they don’t just teach themselves. And school? It happens every day. There are no sick days, you can’t sleep in for fun, and your kids are used to getting your attention so they get a tad presumptuous about your time. There’s no one you can send them off to or blame when they don’t perform as well as anticipated.

 

2. Unrealistic Expectations. Let’s face it, we all want kids who do something exceedingly well or else the “how to tell if your child is gifted” post wouldn’t be one of the most popular on BabyCenter. Homeschoolers are the worst about this. “Did I mention my 4 year old is able to recite Plato and complete advanced geometry problems? Oh, I didn’t? Don’t worry. The public school will teach your little Susie to wipe the drool from her chin by the end of 6th grade, I’m certain.” Sheesh! We read statistics about kids who are home educated winning spelling bees and doing well academically and dream that our kiddo will be the Next Big Thing. But take a moment to realize an important fact: they’re your kids. If YOU weren’t a member of Mensa or a Top Shot… chances are simply doing school around your kitchen table won’t make them phenomenal.

 

3. It’s lonely. There was a time I described staying at home full time as akin to putting ground glass on my eyeballs… and I meant it. I love my children to an insane degree but I think I’m pretty close to the worst person possible to be a full-time stay at home mom. This is likely why I’ve also worked for all but about seven months of my mom life – I need the adult interaction and challenges provided by employment. Even now, working full-time from home, I struggle with the loneliness of homeschooling. Being a part of a co-op makes this journey feasible… you have someone to commiserate with on a regular basis as well as people to celebrate the awesome achievements of your kiddos!

 

4. You see your ugly side. There was a time I never, ever raised my voice. In fact, I would cry if I was around people yelling or even loud noises. Home schooling has taught me I have a short temper. There’s a little switch in me that pops its overload setting when I have a load of laundry that must go into the dryer, dinner cooking on the stove, a baby crying at my feet and a grade schooler asking me if I have ever tried to draw a picture of Charlemagne’s horse and whether the mane should be black or brown… all at the same time! I crack, sometimes daily. This gives me the opportunity to be humble. (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! An opportunity to demonstrate faith!)

 

5. You question your value. When you’re at home, wondering if your child will ever figure out how to read or write or add or subtract, you begin to doubt whether you’re doing enough. You read what the “experts” say, you try to gauge yourself against others… what you really do is practice insecurity. It’s eternal, this responsibility you have for your kid and your concern that you’re just not living up to their potential, that you’re holding them back. There is no boss who pulls you in for a performance review, followed by a pay raise. And that stinks.

 

After all these negatives, I think it’s important to mention we do homeschool and aren’t planning to change that anytime soon. For our family, it’s worth it because this aligns with our values. (But it’s not always just peachy.)

 

What are your highs and lows regarding home education?

 

 

The Lump On My Chest


JK Images

JK Images

I’m sitting in bed typing with one hand, still wearing my sweatshirt because I have this wonderful lump of a little boy asleep on my chest and I’m just not willing to put him down.

 

These moments of sweetness, they surprise me. The unreasonable amount of love I feel is overwhelming as I listen to his heavy breathing, little chest movements that try to shake him from his perch against my shoulder into a slumped puddle around my belly…

 

There are times when the emotion of motherhood is so raw and so encompassing I feel like a leaf flying in front of a hurricane.

 

I look back at the last six months and I can no longer even imagine what life would have been like if he hadn’t been born. I grieve that I wouldn’t have known how he would nudge the boundaries of my heart larger and fill my world with more light.

 

This is the emotion that makes me pause when we talk about whether our family is complete. It’s easy to say we are done having children when I’m in the midst of incessant requests and a tsunami of emotion, when I look at my gray hairs and realize I’m more adept at quoting child-rearing theories these days than articulating intended outcomes, cost/benefit plans, and navigating organizational politics.

 

To be honest, I crave the days when things were orderly, when the shoulders of my shirts didn’t sport various forms of mucous, when my time was my own to direct. There was never a layer of dust on the leaves of the potted plants and when I went shopping I never stopped in the toy section just to see if there were any amazing new products.

 

From my current chaotic state I look at the clean lines of that life and sigh.

 

Then I take another look, this one influenced by the memory of daily laughter, awe, mystery, curiosity, and humility, and realize the emptiness of my previous life of order. Child rearing is the hardest job I was never prepared for, and some days I want to cry, to rage, to quit….

 

But then I feel this little body huddled on my chest and my arms don’t have the strength to put him down because I realize his presence is my blessing, a genuine miracle wearing 6-9 month footie pajamas!

 

I can’t imagine what I would have missed had he never been born.

 

And I am replenished to stand up for another day, to give my all to this battle once more and relish the treasure of childhood.

 

Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,

“I will try again tomorrow.”

- Mary Anne Radmacher

2-Year-Old Brain


Tres is very two. Very.

Tres is very two. Very.

Sometimes living with a 2-year-old is like having an angry foreign exchange student in your house — limited language skills combined with many passionate gestures. Other times you want to lick them up like a lollipop because they’re just so sweet.
And sometimes you go from one extreme to the other faster than your brain can really comprehend. It’s like riding the Gravitron at a county fair. You’re pinned into a situation that is covered in filthy germs but also offers a compelling amount of fun. Fortunately, 2-year-olds don’t come with carnie tattoos and a smoker’s cough.

 

Our particular 2-year-old has been cracking us up the last few weeks. Perhaps you’d like to take a peek into our exchanges?

 

The other morning, Tres was wearing only underwear but sporting a wedgie. “Honey, you have a problem with your underwear,” I said.

“I know. It a tuggie,” was her matter-of-fact response.

“I’ll help you fix it” I said as I reached over and secured her underwear across both sides of her bottom. I decided to make an attempt at getting the child clothed. “Why don’t you go put your pajamas back on, you must be cold!”

She had a quick reply: “No. Way. Hooo. Say!”

I acted shocked and said, “If you keep talking like that I’ll eat your belly button off!”

She was completely unconcerned by my threat. “That OK. I put it back with sticky tape.”

 

Then there was her Christmas present, a canister of Double Bubble.

 

I don’t know why gum is like crack to her, but she’s a preschooler with an addiction — likely an intestinal stoppage thanks to all the pieces of ingested Hubba Bubba.

 

Shortly after Christmas, Tres pulled out two pieces of her Double Bubble but her Daddy told her she could only have one piece at a time.

“But… I like two piece bubble gum!” She told him, batting her blue eyes furiously.

“I know, but that’s too much for your mouth – only one piece, little girl,” Lizard told her.

She immediately responded with a very, very concerned expression,  pleading eyes, and pouting lips.

“But… if I not eat two pieces…” she paused for dramatic effect, then dropped her voice to a whisper, “… I die…!”

This afternoon we splurged and went to the Olive Garden for lunch. She got macaroni and cheese with a fruit cup full of grapes.

 

Tres was having a difficult time staying seated and already on thin ice when I watched her start playing with her ramekin of grapes.

“You need to stop playing with that or you’ll make a mess and be in trouble,” I warned her.

She didn’t care and kept doing exactly what she pleased, a trait I’ve found is common among youngsters of this age group.

“Alright, if you won’t listen I need you to give the bowl to me,” I told her while holding out my hand. Her ramekin was filled with about six extra large red grapes.

She looked at me with big eyes, thought about my request, and began stuffing grapes in her mouth like a chipmunk hoarding for the winter. Once she’d gotten all six grapes in her mouth, she obediently handed me the empty ramekin.

When she smiled, all you could see were grapes.

Final story of sassy 2-year-old antics, tonight we were getting ready for bed. I’ve initiated a new policy that if they have dirty clothes strewn around their bedroom we will do our prayer time but the kids can’t tell jokes.

 

Yes, the jokes are the highlight of the evening. Completely lacking in humor, but a highlight, nonetheless.

 

When we got to the kid’s room tonight it was mostly clean… except for the clothing Tres scattered around the room, presumably to add ambiance as only a pair of red tights and Dora the Explorer pajamas can!

 

Lizard and I were trying to decide if we would skip jokes because of the clothing when we noticed Tres in her crib, holding a small rock to her ear.

“Mama, Dada!” she bellowed at the top of her lungs, “We tell joke?!”

“What are you doing?!” I asked her, my ears still ringing from the extraordinary volume of her previous statement.

“I calling Mama Dada on my phone to see if tell joke,” she said. “Ha, ha, ha!” I should mention “phone” is pronounced “foam” in our house these days.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this four-stop-tour of the insanity of our lives with this little girl. We love her, that’s for sure!

 

What is your favorite age of a child? Why?

 

 

Move Confidently


Follow your path...

Follow your path…

I’m guessing I was on Pinterest when I saw the phrase, “If your dreams don’t scare you you’re not dreaming big enough.”

 

I say this because my Pinterest feed looks like a Twitter feed from Jim Rohn. But it doesn’t really matter where I saw it first, as long as I have a chance to talk with you about what it means!

 

I spent the evening talking with young adults about having child-like faith. It reminded me of the time Dos accidentally let go of her helium-filled balloon in a parking lot.

 

“Sad day!” I told her as the balloon floated away. “Now it’s all gone!”

 

“No, it not gone,” she told me confidently, “Daddy get it! Daddy get ladder and bring it back!”

 

I think back to that exchange whenever I need to remind myself to just believe in something, believe it can happen even if there’s no rhyme or reason.

 

For some reason I think you need to hear this today: You need to be brave enough to dream big. Get embarrassed by your audacity… but don’t stop dreaming.

 

I don’t know what you’re going to accomplish but it’s going to be big if you have courage. And the journey on the way to achieving your dream – definitely worth taking.

 

 

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

 

Backbone, not Wishbone


foobean01 / stock.xchng

About a week ago I had an armchair psychologist set out 25 pictures of front doors on the table and asked me which door I preferred and why.

 

I chose a wide, wooden door with an arch over the top because it was made of natural substances, was large enough to be welcoming, and the arch over the top had spindles that directed my eye toward heaven.

 

“Now, imagine you’re walking into that door with your family,” she said. “Tell me about the hopes you have for your children once you’re inside that house.”

 

This was definitely one of the strangest exercises I have ever completed! I realized I could breeze through and just answer something silly out … or I could stop and give the question some thought.

 

I decided to embrace the experience.

 

“I imagine this house to be a house where our kids see other people welcomed and there’s a large table with room for extra people for dinner. I feel the attention of the people in the house will be outward focussed and my children will realize they’re part of a larger community and have a responsibility to pay attention to the world around them. I imagine we would be a satisfied, content, and useful family living inside that door.”

 

I can’t tell you why a picture of a door pulled those thoughts from me, but I can assure you when I finished speaking my throat was tight, my eyes were misty, and I was feeling exceedingly vulnerable.

 

My armchair psychologist said they’d never heard anyone respond to the exercise that way. “It’s cool, I like what you had to say, I’ve just never heard anything like it before,” she said.

 

I felt dumb and exposed, but also pleased I had articulated a glimmer of the philosophy that is part of our family value system.

 

Later that same day I ran across this quote on Facebook:

 

“Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘what can we do, where can we go?’

 

“My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

 

“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get our of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!”

(A judge, as quoted by Northland College principal John Tapene.)

 

The phrase that stuck out to me the most in this incredibly blunt, incredibly true statement, was “develop a backbone, not a wishbone.” And the second most significant phrase? “You are important and you are needed.”

 

Is anyone else convicted when they read this quote? I am!

 

I regularly forget my world shouldn’t be consumed by my issues and concerns, that I should have an outward focus and be constantly on the lookout for ways I can help the people around me.

 

The world does not owe me anything… but I have the power within my hands to make a significant impact for the better on the world.

 

How exciting, how liberating is that?!

 

What would you like to do with the power you harness when you develop a “backbone, not a wishbone”? If you could spend your energy impacting any one thing and be wildly successful, what would you change about the world?

 

 

My Fears of Sleep Overs Run Amuck


Jacob...K / compfight.comSome th

Kids and slumber parties seem as sweet and traditional as Mom’s apple pie and getting a tan while watching a baseball game, huh?

 

Blame it on Grease, or maybe personal experience, I’ve always assumed our girls would eventually age to the time when they would have sleep overs complete with giggles, pranks, and outrageous memories. (I’m not sure why I assumed this; every slumber party I attended as a youth involved games of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” scary stories, or attempts at making an Ouija Board move. Guys I know have said they had their first exposure to pornography as a child at overnights. These are not awesome activities for children.)

 

Despite expectations and the accepted traditions of my childhood, I’m questioning whether we’ll allow the girls to have or attend slumber parties while they’re still living in our home and we have a say in their activities. The hairs on my arms are standing straight up and there’s a creepy-crawly feeling at the back of my neck.

 

Yesterday I read several blog posts about why parents should think long and hard before they let their kids attend sleep overs. (I Don’t Trust Parents Outside My CircleThe Safe List – And Why You’re Not On It, among others.) James Dobson had already gotten into my head on the subject — he speaks out against slumber parties in his book Bringing Up Girls because you just can’t determine with certainty what will happen in another person’s home or the motives of everyone present.

 

The world is changing. People are pushing boundaries and not exhibiting self-control. Kids are suffering… and by suffering, I mean case after case is coming to light of kids being molested while at sleep overs.

 

It’s not all pillow fights and fingernail painting.

 

I’m not into fear mongering and I genuinely despise distrusting the folks around me, but I can’t help but wonder:  what is needless fear and what is cautious wisdom when it comes to this issue? Can we predict the moment innocence is destroyed and protect against it by saying “no”?

 

Years ago someone close to us, someone we trusted completely, molested his daughter. I am, to this day, baffled that I never suspected him capable of this type of wrong.

 

Me, with my high levels of paranoia and suspicion… I had no idea. 

 

I made a mistake in my judgment then that still haunts me. Today I will do anything to protect my children from a mistake in judgment again. That may mean I go to an extreme length, to ban sleep overs for fun from our family activity list.

 

(I do put slumber parties in a different category from emergency issues like hospital visits and such. I’m talking about a gaggle of pimply creatures wanting to push boundaries and act silly while sleeping 45 minutes for the night just for the sheer joy of experience.)

 

Because I’ve spent a bit of time fretting about pajama parties, I shared the current instigating posts via Facebook. A friend who works with the juvenile justice system saw the links and wrote me a note:

“Of the 14 felony and/or misdemeanor sex offender teens I have had on my caseload, all 14 were first offended on as children by a family member – usually within the home or close extended family. Another three who were referred on other alleged felony charges (not sex related) also reported to have been molested by a family member as well.

I don’t know the national stats but, so far, in 100% of my cases that have anything to do with sexual abuse, it has been a member of the family (the majority of these being middle class families).

And that is what I find scary. You truly do not know what sin and sickness lies in the hearts of those around you – even family. Especially family. We’re taught to be cautious of strangers and trust family – but trust does not mean being blind, it should be paired with a discerning and watchful eye.”

 

The idea of distrusting people to this degree… well, it rubs me the wrong way. I want to believe that people are good and protective of children! And yet…

 

…truth is truth. I don’t know any parents who would take their kid to a truck stop half dressed and leave them there to hitch-hike home. But I know a lot of parents who would trust their friends and family members to watch their kids overnight. And what if the outcome is the same?

 

The U.S. is leading the world in human trafficking and sexual crimes. Huge numbers of men and women are addicted to pornography. These crimes are not taking place in some inner city somewhere or in someone else’s neighborhood, they are in our living rooms, on our streets, prompted anonymously via internet, smart phones and magazines; fantasy appears in reality as our friends, cousins, PTA members and politicians search for the next big adrenaline high… and use our children to satisfy their sickness.

 

These are not the isolated incidents by ungodly people. I know with certainly there are at least four cases — within my immediate circle of influence — of adults who have admitted to being victims of molestation/sexual abuse that took place at church or youth group activities. In church. Where people are supposed to be trustworthy and God-fearing.

 

Ay-yi-yi. (Proof we’re all sinners in need of radical heart change and grace.) This is not a safe world where people “eat rainbows and poop butterflies” and everyone sings “Kumbaya” or “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

 

Deep breath. (As this post is at risk of turning into a ramble of fear.) Here are my take aways:

  • It’s going to be very, very hard for me to ever have the kids sleep away from us.  I’m also not going to offer to have other kids at our house just for fun. In cases of emergency, etc., I have a different standard. But fun overnights? Nope. I’m planning to squash those with abandon.
  • There is brokenness inside of each of us. Humans are painfully messed up and capable of atrocity. The most horrible news story you’ve ever read? Guess what? I’m capable of that act — and so are you. It is only by the grace of God we have self-control and don’t regularly indulge in evil; I don’t want to ever take that for granted.

 

Now that I’ve scared you with my fears run amuck, I’ll do my best to return to my regularly scheduled humor posts. But before I go…

 

Do you have reservations about sleep overs? Or were they the best part of your childhood and you feel you’ll be robbing your kids without them? What are your take aways?

 

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