Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I Won't Shut Up about the Duggars

Some people are ready to move on from the Duggar scandal, forgive and forget and put them back on the air. There's a petition people are circulating to get TLC to put them back on the air. In that petition, it states, "The world needs more families like the Duggars." No, it really doesn't.

I am not so hasty. The Duggars' scandal is deeper than even the atrocities committed against the young women Josh sexually assaulted. It's representative of a deeper problem within evangelical churches. This article by Lyz Lenz, explains the deeper problem well.

The solution is not going to come from changing policy within evangelical churches. The solution is going to come from women standing up for themselves and no longer tolerating abuse and being forced to protect abusers. Lyz Lenz's article explains how women are blamed and held responsible for much of male abuse. She's right and this is insane.

The solution to stopping abuse within evangelical churches is for women to rise up and stop it.

We are daughters of Abraham. Since when does a daughter of Abraham have to stand down?

We have to say a collective "NO" when it comes to abuse of all kinds.

We are the only ones who can stop this epidemic in our churches.

When abuse happens and we are told to forgive and the abuser gets off with a simple apology, we have to push for more.

As Lyz Lenz said in her article, "Abusive personalities seek closed systems in which to abuse, and the mainstream Evangelical church provides that in spades." And she is right. We women have to reject the idea of a closed system and make the decision that no abuse will be hidden, that no abuse will go unreported, that no abuse will be allowed to continue and that abusers do not get off with a simple apology.

No doubt, God is full of mercy, grace and truth. He is also full of justice. Those who let a sex offender off with a simple apology are practicing cheap grace. Grace is free, but it was not cheap.

We women have power to stop abuse in our churches. It's high time we exercised that power.

We can't allow ourselves to be part of the problem....part of a system that covers up, minimizes and allows this abuse to continue.

Let no one silence you as you speak out to stop abuse. As a daughter of Abraham, no one has the power or authority to stop you from stopping abuse.

~Tricia


Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I'm Not Surprised by Duggar Family Secrets

No, I am not one bit surprised by the recently-revealed-after-a-decade-of-cover-up-sins of Josh Duggar. I am not surprised because he comes by it pretty naturally. He was taught to disrespect women by his parents. His own father, Jim Bob Duggar, has openly admitted that he cannot even hug his own daughters in a normal hug; he has to do a side hug. Have you noticed, like I have, that he only gives side hugs to his sons as well? When asked about this by a producer on their TLC show, Jim Bob smiled and stumbled over his words, finally muttering something about "the front" and "you can figure it out." A side hug testifies to the fact that all women are seen as sexual objects by Jim Bob Duggar. He passed this on to his sons.

Do you think this is Godly? Jim Bob says it is. Think again. Word to the wise: When someone tells you they are godly, they are certainly not. Jim Bob does this in the name of "godliness." Eww.

Jim Bob cannot get through even one episode of the TLC show without making some inappropriate sexual remark and/or innuendo, even toward his own daughters. "Hey, Hey, Hey....."

Clearly, despite his claims otherwise, the man's mind is in the gutter, not on God. I haven't allowed my kids to watch their show in a very long time because Jim Bob is so inappropriate.

So, no I am not at all surprised by Josh Duggar's actions, not shocked by the lies and cover-up. I will be shocked if he's the only one.

The Duggars have set their daughters up for abuse in every way. Abuse relies heavily on unspoken rules. While the Duggars will verbally say that the kids can make their own choices, not one of them chooses anything other than what their parents have silently dictated. The silent pressure is immense. All the boys are taught to disrespect women, even while their parents say things to the contrary. Kids will emulate more of what you do than what you say.

Observations in point:

All the girls wear their hair pretty much the same. (Not unlike the FLDS women in the CO cult.) They learned that from Bill Gothard, one of the most noted sex offenders in "the church" today. He taught them that this hair style is godly and will force young men to look at their eyes and not other parts of them. However, this is not true. Their hairstyle is irrelevant to what young men might or might not notice. Gothard finds this hairstyle becoming, so he stamped it godly and they bought into it.

All the girls are taught to "keep sweet" at all times. They have said this on their show. They claim it's godly to "keep sweet." The FLDS cult teaches the same, exact thing with the same, exact wording. I see a pattern here.

All the girls are required to wear skirts at all times. It does not matter what they are doing, they have to wear a skirt. If riding a horse, wear a skirt. If fighting fires, wear a skirt under the suit. Better yet, alter the uniform to be a skirt instead of pants. They teach that wearing skirts is godlier than other ways of dressing. The Bible does not teach this; the Duggars do because they learned this from sex offender, Bill Gothard. The truth is, a girl is much easier to molest if wearing a skirt. That's why Bill Gothard required it. The Duggars have adopted sexual predator practices that make their girls vulnerable, yet they call them "Biblical principles." Nothing could be further from the truth. Wearing of skirts limits girls; limiting girls keeps them "in their place;" keeping them "in their place" makes them vulnerable to predators.

All the girls are required to wear a smile at all times. On their show, a sign saying something like, "You're not fully dressed unless you're wearing a smile," hanging in the girl's bedroom was shown in more than one episode. No matter what you feel, you smile. This is unbiblical. God does not require us to always smile.

All behavior and dress modifications are put on the girls, not so many on the boys. This is typical of oppressive societies. Not one cult or society of abuse has succeeded without taming the women first. ISIS tames their women by making them wear burkahs and having strict behavioral rules for them, including what time they can go outside, if they can go outside at all. The FLDS tames their women by giving them a strict dress code, right down to their hairstyle, and strict gender roles.

I have no doubt the Duggars will try to make themselves the victims here....all abusers do. This is another mark of an abuser; they must become the victim or their abuse won't work. They will try to be victims, accusing those of us who have our voice about this to be abusers ourselves.

No, Michelle and Jim Bob, we are not the abusers. You are not victims. The crimes known were committed by your son. Your crime is in covering it up, lying to the public about what happened, allowing it to happen repeatedly in your own home under your own roof and not protecting those kids from a predator who lived down the hall. We are not abusers to want justice for these girls. Wanting protection for the remaining kids is not a victimization of you. You have your reward. God is not pleased. Had you not covered this up, had you properly dealt with this from the start, your son might not have to endure what's happening to him now, in the press, in the loss of his job, etc.

In this sense, Josh, himself, is a victim. He was taught that girls are property, that they cannot lead, that he is to be the "family priest," which is completely unbiblical in all ways. So, as a teen, he clearly saw those girls as property he could use in any way he wanted. He is a victim of his parents' twisted Bible understanding. Do you see how far twisting the Scriptures can go? This is one reason I am so completely adamant about studying the Bible without looking at anyone else's interpretation. We all must study the Scriptures for ourselves to see if what we are being taught is true.

You might say that he has apologized and the girls have forgiven him. Ok, good. But, what he did was a felony and what his parents did in covering it up and lying about it was just as bad. More than an apology is required here. Those of us who care about young girls who are abused are livid, not only about the crimes committed against them, but the cover up of those crimes. Where is their protection? They are still living under the same set of silent rules, not daring to go against the silence for even a minute.

Speak for the victims. The girls who were abused might say they are ok. They might tell you they have forgiven their abuser. They are not ok; they are not going to be ok unless they get help and have a voice.

And, yet, Josh has apologized, resigned his position with the Family Research Council and issued a statement, which you can read here. You might wonder why I still posted this blog post since the issue appears to be dealt with. Well, read their statements. Neither Josh or his parents address the pain of the victims in their statements. They talk about how Josh's life was changed with the pretense of counseling he did not receive, but no one focused on the victims at all! Josh talked about how he almost ruined his own life, but did not own ruining the lives of so many young girls. If he had been involved in porn, then he could talk about almost ruining his own life and that would suffice. However, he did not dabble in porn (that we know of), he physically and literally molested real, live young girls!

Their statements also did not address the fact that they lied to us all for more than a decade. They lied to TLC; they lied to police; they lied to you.

Their statements minimized his grave, life-altering abuses to "past teenage mistakes." That wording is so important because you have to remember that it was 1) in the past 2) done while he was a teenager and 3) mistakes, not sins. To call these molestations of young girls mistakes minimizes the sin, thus minimizes the impact on the victims. Sexual sin is always minimized in oppressive situations. And, sexual sin is always present in oppressive situations. The wording "past teenage mistakes" is an attempt to minimize the truth.

Any attempt to minimize sin while not acknowledging pain inflicted on a victim is wrong.

This is sickening.
It has been sickening to me for a very long time.
I specifically prayed for the abuse I suspected to be openly revealed.
God has answered my prayers.
It's time for those kids to be protected.

Josh can certainly be forgiven; I am not without compassion. However, I do not believe his parents are doing what is best for him even now because they covered this up, failed to protect other victims, then lied to us all. I wonder if they are going to apologize for all that. Isn't it a crime to lie to police? What happens to that?

Josh needs real counseling, not just a time away doing hard labor. He needs counseling outside the Bill Gothard world they live in. His victims also need counseling and they need it outside the world they live in. They need to be taught to read and interpret the Bible for themselves so they will have power to overcome this abuse and not be a future victim.

A voice for the victims, whether they are aware they need it or not,
~Tricia

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's Going to Happen to Joe?

Every week, my husband has to go to The Johns Hopkins Hospital and have blood work done to keep track of the effects of his chemotherapy and keep an eye on the cancer, itself. Every three weeks, he goes to have a full day of his chemotherapy, taking usually around 8 hours total. Yesterday was a "chemo day," and we were actually gone for 13 hours due to some delays because of his blood results.

Going to Johns Hopkins gives us many opportunities to meet different people and going to the oncology department gives us even more.

Today, I want to talk about Joe, a man I met in the oncology waiting room.

Joe, not his real name (although it might be his name because I did not get his name), was sitting on the edge of his seat, his wife beside him. I would guess his age to be around 60. I tend to look people in the eye and greet random strangers wherever I go, so I caught Joe's eye, nodded and said, "Hello." He said hello back to me and I asked him how he was doing.

He said, "I could be better."
I said, "I guess that's why you're here. What's going on?"

And Joe told me his story. He has a skin disorder and while it's not cancer, it is treated with chemotherapy, thus landing him in oncology. Joe's skin is uncovered by itself; it has raw patches all over it, leaving him in constant, horrible pain. He has had this condition for several months and it has been getting progressively worse. He said that he can no longer work and had to stop working about a month ago.

I asked him what the doctors were doing about his pain. He said, "Nothing."
Stunned, I said, "Seriously? How can that be? Why not?"

Joe said his insurance company won't approve pain killing drugs, therefore the doctors won't prescribe them for him! He said he's only at Johns Hopkins now because, even though he has had his diagnosis for a while, the insurance company has not considered his case bad enough for him to see any specialists, until now.

Joe's arms, which I could see, had large, multiple, raw patches all over them. His wife said his back was 10 times worse, so he had to sit forward on his chair. He was wearing a plain, white undershirt and jeans; could not wear a regular shirt or anything binding or chafing.

His wife said, "Something's gotta give. We can't live like this any more!"
I agreed and told them about some essential oils that have given some people with skin conditions relief. I wrote down what oils they need and told them where to get them. I also gave them my writer's business card with my number and email on it. I really, really hope I hear from them. I am committed to praying for Joe every day, even though I don't know his real name.

Is this what the Affordable Care Act is all about? Is this what our country has come to? Joe cannot get help because some insurance professional in a comfortable office has to decide when he gets bad enough?

I am livid. Joe deserves better. Joe needs help.

Oh, and what kind of doctor listens to an insurance professional instead of their patient? What kind of doctor can possibly look at Joe's skin and not be moved with so much compassion that they would do whatever they possibly could to get Joe the help he needs? Are you kidding me?

Are there seriously doctors who can look at someone with Joe's pain and not do something about it?
How can these people sleep at night?
What happened to compassion?

This system is so messed up it's not funny.  Joe's life is ruined. I blame the Affordable Care Act, I blame the doctors who are not filled with compassion, but with fear.

My hope for Joe is that he's finally getting the help he needs now that he is "allowed" to go to Johns Hopkins. I am relieved that he was there and maybe we'll see him again on one of our trips. David has 3 more chemo days to go, so there's a chance we will.

As for David, his chemo yesterday hit him hard and he was late to work because he was so very sick this morning.

If you will, pray for "Joe." I will be praying for him every day.
~Tricia

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Other News.....

My last three blog posts have centered on my husband's cancer and resulting treatment. While that remains a very prominent part of our lives, and will for a few months to come, there is other news that is also very prominent in our lives.


Through the pain of the still unknown tumor, through the lack of sleep dealing with unrelenting pain, through the diagnosis and through the treatments, my husband has been driven to plant a church. Last week, we held our first Bible study for Mosaic Church of Bowie, MD and are nearly ready to launch the website. Click here to see our website. (Keep in mind, it's still under construction.)

More than 2 years ago, while we were still living in Minnesota, God sowed the seed for this church plant through a friend who lives near Bowie. God used many means to bring us here and many others to open the door to the church plant. Some of those means were very surprising, others painful, but they all led to the same conclusion: Plant a church in Bowie.

There have been set backs, cancer not being a small one (we were set to launch when David ended up in the hospital), but it's finally happening. Just this past weekend, fliers went to 20,000 homes in Bowie announcing the start of our Bible studies. These fliers were distributed through the Valpac coupon packs that are regularly mailed to all the homes.

Cancer or not, setbacks or not, David continues to be driven by the fact that the people in Bowie need Jesus and he's determined to bring Him to them.

I am excited to be able to be a part of Mosaic Church of Bowie.

Praise be.
~Tricia


Friday, May 8, 2015

Up....Down; Up.....Down

Cancer treatments have very high highs and very low lows. We go up, we go down, we feel like we're going in circles at times. Chemotherapy is toxic, lifesaving poison. Without it, the cancer would eventually take over till a person dies. With it, a person might wish they would just die because the after-effects are so severe.

A great high for us is that my husband's tumor, which started this whole mess, which kept him awake at night in pain, which caused his daily life to be completely centered on managing the pain, is no longer an issue. He's no longer numb, no longer writhing in pain till it's time for more meds, no longer altering his life to accommodate and control it. The chemo has shrunk the tumor until it can no longer wreck the havoc it was wrecking on him even just a month ago.

Another high is the healing of his hematoma. They are not fun. Even though it was an internal injury, it caused severe external symptoms and pain. All that has finally subsided. It is hard to watch a loved one suffer and not be able to do anything about the suffering.

Another high is the fellowship of fellow cancer survivors. We had no idea that so many friends and acquaintances are cancer survivors and having this news revealed to us at this time is incredibly encouraging. We are so very thankful for social media which makes keeping in touch with people, and getting back in touch with people, so easy.

We are not immune to the downs, though. The pain, nausea, lack of energy, robbery of motivation and overall sacrifice of our family are things that can get us down. David comes home from work and often can't join us for dinner, even if he's home on time, because he has to lie down and take an hour-long nap before he can even function. Our time as a couple is severely limited while he rests more, giving his all to provide for us and do his treatments. The chemo cocktails work in his system for weeks, so the symptoms progress accordingly. The first few days after chemo, he actually feels pretty good because they give him steroids to help. But, when the steroids stop, he crashes and the next week is incredibly challenging. The week after that, he starts to regain some energy, just in time for another round of chemo that will knock him down again.

I understand. The kids understand. We all understand. But, we do not like it. I have decided it's ok to get down about these things. How can we not? How can we not be upset that our kids don't get much time with their dad, or that he's had to use all his vacation days for chemo so there will be no vacation this year or that we can barely have a conversation some evenings? It's ok to grieve the things cancer takes from you and your family. Grieving these things is normal, healthy and right. If you're suffering through something hard and want to grieve, just do it and without apology.

The encouragement we get from other cancer survivors is universally compassionate. Not one of them has said, "Choose happiness!" as though it will make things all better. They have all simply shown compassion. They are a lot like Jesus, Who showed compassion to so many. He showed compassion even to people his disciples tried to keep away from Him. Compassion is a rare thing, we have learned. Very rare, indeed.

Yesterday, while waiting at the chiropractor's office for my daughter, the gal at the desk asked me if I'd like to sit in the massage chair. I told her I'm not yet a patient, but she didn't care. She hooked me up nicely in that chair and for the next 10 minutes, I enjoyed a full-body massage that made me cry. Her compassion touched me. I thanked her and she said, "You looked like you could use that," so I guess, to some, the tension in my life shows.

Today, I am thankful for the relief my hubby is experiencing. I'm thankful for smart, compassionate people who encourage us along the way. I'm thankful for our kids and how they have rallied around us and stepped up to show their love. (My Mother's Day has already started with flowers on my doorstep.) I'm also thankful for my sisters, who call, email and text to check up on us often.

I'm not trying to think positive or choose happiness; I believe my gratefulness is completely of God, from God and because of God.  If left to myself, I suppose I would curl up in a state of depression and feel sorry for myself.  Instead, our God chose gratefulness for us and poured it over us.

Praise be.
~Tricia