A 40year old female living in New England..... rambling about parenting 4 kids,homeschooling, autism, spiritual abuse, relatives, politics and any other thought that passes through this old brain.
I mostly ramble on "in the garden"
It's an age old argument between men. no kidding. My husband and I found it in the old testament even. I'm thinking it was Solomon, he said something like, my little pinky is bigger than my father's loin.
Only now, pastors around here are too "HOLY" to say they pack a bigger one than the other pastor. It all comes down to "numbers" and whose new church building is bigger than the others.
It is sickening. Really revolting if you ask me.
When we left our church of almost 9 years, one of the motivating factor was that we were beginning to feel like a number and not a person.
I remember believing from my childhood that God had carved my name on the palm of His hand and knew my innermost parts while I was yet in my mother's womb.
Yet that kind of intimacy, that real relationship was lacking in our group by the end of our time there.
My husband and I walked in one day to worship; a leader standing at the door to greet everyone, quickly switched a "counter" from one pocket to his other. You know, the counters that we used to use when shopping at the grocery store. A hand held gadget that you click a button for the next item that you are counting.
I was being counted like an item!
I kept thinking about how there was a story in the old testament about how David was successful until he was enticed by Satan to count the numbers......
lack of trust.
But really, what is worse? The lack of trust or the competition in my town to build the next mega church? Here in New England of all places.
The constant race from pastors to grow in numbers, to build bigger buildings, to purchase new modern things in order to lure in new tithers......
It is heart wrenching and painful.
In a pressing economy where people are not paying utility bills in order to buy prescriptions; the church leaders are shouting from the pulpits to Press In and give more and trust God more!
Does God NEED a bigger building with comfortable seats, controlled temperatures, and modern technological equipment?
When I read Isaiah, I feel the need to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and to loosen the bonds that bind. No desire to build a building.
These pastors are placing such bondage on their sheep.
Bondage that my husband and I once wore. We were obedient, we were givers of our time, money and devotion.
We stood side by side with our church family and helped build the new building. We rejoiced the day of the first service. We had been told that if we helped build God's house, He would help build ours. We were exhausted, but we had arrived into the beautiful new building.
The year did not pass when our pastor made an announcement. He unveiled a new vision. He had a person stand with a diagram at the pulpit- it was (and I kid you not)-a new building!
We were exhausted physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially.
We knew we would not be joining this group on their new building project.
What an eye opener when you first realize that your service, money, and devotion was for a mere man that suffers from penis envy- ooops I mean bigger church envy.
*i took these pictures of a local church building that I know NOTHING about. they are probably very nice people. my only point in doing so was in the fact that they are relocating from a very small building into this new building project. they are not the only church group in town, there are several. now, they probably need more space, but my point is, well, couldn't anyone worship in the high school on sundays? It's already paid for by our taxes and it's FREE.
Does anyone remember Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "These are the signs of life?"
When one has a 20 year old kid that commutes to college, one often hears typing on the keyboards as papers are being written, loud door slams as showers are being rushed through to get to class on time and groans that border on agony during exam week.
So when a beautiful sunny weekend comes......and one hears car doors slamming in the yard, one knows that these are the signs of life!
Orange paintballs, lots of cars, teenagers (or are they technically adults now??) talking, soda cans all around can only mean one thing at our home;
REMEMBER those ambitions of mine to build the teepees by St. Patricks Day??
Well, I am a little behind.
That seems to be my mantra since I have given birth in September......I'm a little behind, I'm a little behind........I'm a little behind.
puffing out those words like the Little Engine that could.
For a woman who HAD to be 15 minutes early or she was late....this mantra is one of those things that I have to let go off.
Was it one too many kid? Was it simply that I turned 40? Maybe I am having some vitamen deficiency since I gave birth. I don't know.
I did get caught up with myself but then it was time to return to work after my 6 month maternity leave.
so now I am behind AGAIN!
I find ways to beat myself.
This time? I planted 3 beds of SUGAR SNAP PEAS. This way I figure I can still replant them or plant more!
We have gathered the poles from our woods. It took some doing, if you could imagine trying to convince the 7 year old that a 10 inch round rotted oak tree that was about 10 feet long- wouldn't quite match the other limbs we found.
Then a pirate fight broke out in my yard, after all the limbs make GREAT pirate swords.
Just when we had exactly the amount of matching tree limbs that we needed, a WAIL from Sam was heard- it was time to nurse.
So the poles remain lined up- ready to go up- today?
I don't know about everyone else but Easter coming early has made me feel like spring is hiding on us. My daughter and I decided to try our luck at forcing out blooms. We picked a few things from the garden that bloom early, spliced the bottoms and put them in a vase.
If you peek out my window, you can clearly see that we've entered our muddy season here in Connecticut and there is very little spring outside.
So here's to hoping that our bouquet of blooms blossoms soon!
People have been emailing me privately, "hey, what is spiritual abuse?"
It seems that they want to know before they keep reading my posts about it. One woman actually said, "i don't want to find out that the church i am in for the past 25 years is one i need to leave- or that you have found proof that Jesus is a hoax because I NEED to believe in order to wake up each day".
So let me interject here that I do not believe that all churches or religions are spiritually abusive. I do not believe that spiritual abuse is limited to one group or cult. I do not believe that christianity is by itself spiritually abusive.
For me personally, spiritual abuse was when I allowed other persons to control the decisions that I was making for my life because I came to a place where I believed I was submitting to authority in the name of Jesus.
For me, I loved Jesus with all my heart and needed to know that I was worthy in His eyes. This need allowed me to trust people that "came in His name" with decisions about my time, money, relationships and belief system.
I don't blame people for this accumulation nearly as much as I blame myself. I have spent my life dedicated to eradicating abuse in people's lives- especially in the areas of child abuse, sexual abuse, and spousel abuse so it was quite a surprise to me to one day realize that I was allowing myself to partake in the cycle of spiritual abuse.
When you read my stories about the people in my life, know that most of them, I love. Know that in my perspective most of them are also victims (is that even the right word?) of the cultural norms of our society and in particular to the times that they are living within this society. (for example people post war world 2 are going to have similar beliefs to each other that may differ greatly from the teenagers growing up in the 1960s).
I write my stories not to judge the people or blame them......just to release what ever it is that has a hold on me and to educate others so that they don't fall into similar traps.
FREEDOM is what I seek and freedom isn't truely freedom unless we take others with us.
Wikepedia defines Spiritual abuse really well, so I am not going to redefine it. I just simply want to explain where my perspective is going with this.
When I was a little girl about 4 years old, I lived with my mother and younger brother in a home that is like a town house. The neighbors were close together and the houses were in an association. When we walked into the front door, we immediately had to go up the stairs to the main floor. It was a small but open floor plan with the kitchen to the right of the living room. The bedrooms were behind the livingroom, down the hallway.
One day the doorbell rang. I ran down the stairs to see who was there. I was hoping it was AnneMarie, my best friend next door. It was a fisherman from the island. He was standing in the pouring rain when he asked me, "is your moth- ah home?". Knowing that I was not to let anyone in, I closed the door in his face, ran upstairs and told my mother that the fisherman from the island was here.
She looked confused, but I knew he was the fisherman from the island.
I knew it because he was wearing a yellow rain hat and raincoat. The kind of rainhat that is round on top with a large flap around it to keep water off of your face and a thin snap strap under your neck. The raincoat was long with the metal flip buttons down the front and sleeves that fall past your hand. I don't know why the color yellow was always so bright, I think it is in case you needed to see each other if you were fishing in the morning fog.
He stood solid and stocky like the fishermen on the island. He had a strong face that looked like it had been carved in wood. He had a familiar face with kind eyes and I knew he was one of the people from our island. I definitely knew he was from the island because he asked if my "moth-ah" was home. Those people on the island say things like that, "moth-ah". Here, we say "mother". We also say "car" but they say "cah". So you see, I knew that he was a fisherman from the island.
My mother went down the stairs and answered the door. She looked out, laughed and called up the stairs. "It is your grandfather".
"Yeah" I said. "from the island".
My grandfather moved in with us because my grandparents were divorcing. My mother was born on an island off of the cape called Martha's Vineyard. She met my dad at the Tisbury fair, his family long time descendents from up island; West Tisbury. The story goes that he was working the carousel at the county fair when she was riding it. He wouldn't let her off the ride until she promised him a date. That's how my parents met and planned their first date.
As a child, the island was simply; the island. We went every summer to see all of our grandparents and many relatives. Everyone on the island was related, it seemed. It didn't occur to me until I was older that the island even had a name as it was simply our island. I would be told, "we are going to the island to visit Ma and Grampy". Or, "Mikey caught some striped bass and is sending some up from the island". My favorite was when my great grandmother mailed us a care package from Oak Bluffs with popcorn bars, then I'd hear, "There's a package from the island!" Martha's Vineyard. That was "the island".
But this isn't a story about the island that calls to all of its descendents with a drawing that is super natural. I believe that even the saltiness of the water can be tasted in our blood.....and the seagulls cry out for us to return soon as we leave. Its a compelling relationship the island has on her children. But like I said, this story is about the day my grandfather came to live with us and the very beginings of spiritual abuse. The very early labor pains that would later in life prepare my personality to allow for abuse in the name of Jesus. See, abuse doesn't just "happen" but little things happen in our lives that slowly tear down our boundaries or teach us twisted messages about what is safe or "ok". It sets us up to be a person who allows for manipulative and controlling personalities to get a foothold in our lives.
I wouldn't know it at the time but my grandfather would marry a woman down the road. She had 4 children from her previous marriage and they attended the Assembly of God church in our town.
There was a lot more that came to my home that rainy day when a loving fisherman showed up from the island.
at the time I was too young and innocent to understand what would unfold. For me, that moment was simply marked as the day the fisherman came to live with us.
I swear I just bought them last year. I was making cornucopia breads for my son's kindergarten class. That's right. Homemade dough wrapped around chicken wire for 25 individual kids...when I try to be super mom, I go ALL OUT.
I had to bring the 25 cornucopias home to bake- After they were done, I couldn't fit them into any ziploc baggies.
So I put them in the BAGGIES with the alligator on the box.
Yesterday while trying to be a good mom again, I needed some.
I had sent my oldest to the grocery store for our corn beef (yup, two days late this year, I am slipping) so I called him up and asked him to get my BAGGIES.
I need them for my son. He attends a 2 hour program each day with 5 other boys. We had bought easter cups and filled them with treats. He was reaching in and eating the treats. The cups needed closure or there would be no treats for his class! IKES!
So my oldest son is parusing the aisle for baggies.
"mom, there are no boxes here with an alligator on it"
"are you sure? I know they are usually down on the bottom" I said
"do you know what BRAND they are?"
"BAGGIES" I said. I think that they are red.
"nothing here like that!"
SO while the poor boy waited, I went online. The ONLY thing that I could find was a YOU TUBE COMMERCIAL FROM (check this out) 1971!
They NO LONGER MAKE MY BAGGIES!
What am I going to do????
Since it is so past time for me to reduce my carbon inprint I guess it is time for me to find a different way to keep my supermom projects fresh.
Now my son, he thinks I had this box in my cabinet since 1971!
I know I am loosing my mind these days but I am sure that they were still selling them 3 years ago!
There will be no church service for our family this year,
there will be no green palms waving in the air,
no songs sung about the donkey that carried in our king,
no palm crosses to fold and place into our bibles,
no Easter clothes bought and ready for next week,
no tears shed in memory of a savior slain on the cross.
This Sunday will be like all the others.
We are recovering born again Christians.
This is a controversial subject to most people that we love and even to strangers but it is a subject that NEEDS to be talked about.
We are survivors of spiritual abuse.
As a child I attended the THIRD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH every Sunday. Jesus was a friend, heaven was beautiful, Christians knew each other by their love. There were holiday rituals like palms on palm Sunday and beautiful dresses for Easter.
Life in Jesus was good.
I loved the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind.
When I was about 13, I had a friend named Cindy who lived across the street. She attended a local baptist church. I didn't think anything of it until one night while sleeping over she had a small paper thing with a comic strip that talked about "needing to be born again". I now know this to be a "tract". So with her, I said a prayer of salvation; a magical incantation that was the key to enter heaven.
I WAS SAVED!
It was an extension of what I already knew to be true; Jesus was Lord and I loved Him.
The last church that we were members of is where I experienced spiritual abuse.
While sitting in a small group that they called "home groups" we studied cults. My husband and I were being trained for leadership and had to prepare the lesson on cults.
Like the blind that began to see, so were we.
There were many things that we were doing in our church that were defined in the writings about christian cults.
We started to have questions, many questions.
What we learned was that in a dysfunctional, controlling, authoritarian church environment; questions are not welcome. Questions are in fact a sign of rebellion, a lack of faith and of Satan's deception over your mind.
We prayed. We felt compelled to leave. Abusive dynamics increased. We stayed another year.
Obedience to our leadership became our idol. As we submitted to their authority in trust; our emotional and spiritual lives began to die.
The hope for our own ministry was robbed as we served another man's ministry.
Loneliness grew as we realized that our relationships were created ONLY for the context of being part of this group.
The pain in our lives became overflowing and started to drown us as we stayed and tried to serve Jesus but in truth were only serving man.
There is a lot that I want to speak on regarding this topic so I will try to write in small segments appropriate for blogging.
If it offends you; ask yourself why. If you don't want to be bothered; pass over my blog and move on.
I will not leave this topic unspoken any longer for if I don't speak, others will be abused.
So I will write and pray that through that process, healing and hope will return.
but for today, I am again hurting, because my sweet children are not waving palms...and rejoicing in the memory of the day a man/god rode on a donkey....towards the ultimate sacrifice for human kind.
My Uncle Robbie died this past week. I want to write about it but I find myself not able to. Instead, I will post the letter that I wrote for his online memorial book.
When Levi called about Robbie, I immediately began to think about the moments that he has left in my life.
Perhaps the strongest memory that I have is when my father took us to visit him when Sally was just a baby. She was still in diapers and walking around the house. The way that Robbie said her name, "sally" as his face lit up- you knew how much he loved his little girl. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. He loved being her dad with his life.
Then I remember getting ready for Tina's wedding at grandpa's house. Back in those days he and grandpa thought I was a 'bleeding heart liberal'. Yes, we were all talking politics at the cottage up island. Robbie said to grandpa, "don't worry dad. She's young and liberal; she has a heart- she'll grow up" and they chuckled. They enjoyed talking politics together, Robbie and grandpa.
I remember as a child visiting him while he was building his home. I remember as the hammering was sounding, the boys were running around on the rocks. It was a great place to run. He came down and talked to us- my dad and Colleen- about what he was doing and what he was going to build. He loved building his own home with his own hands.
Another memory that I have is of him with Timmy. It was grandpa's funeral. They had to catch the boat. Timmy was in church. There was a fierce protective pride that he had in Timmy. When I saw him gathering Timmy, I remembered him saying "sally" years ago....and felt again that powerful love that he had for his kids.
An email photo was sent to me of Robbie and Rose with their grandchildren riding amusement park rides- so young at heart- and enjoying his grandchildren.
The last memory that I will have of Robbie is from a princesses' wedding. Sandy Ree's wedding was a gift in that so many of us were able to laugh, dance and love together. Robbie was dancing, having a good time with everyone. While Uncle Warren and Bev were talking with me about Caleb; Robbie was listening attentively with his heart.
My heart breaks for grandma- for no mother should live through this. My heart breaks for Rose-I pray that you find peace in these days and comfort through the family. My heart thinks of Sally, Timmy, Steven and Brian.....and all the grandchildren; Aunt Beth, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Kathy- Uncle Ted, Uncle Reggie and my father- what a tragic loss to you all.
With love and regret that I find myself writing a memory about uncle Robbie-
I'm afraid to say it outloud because I can't tell the difference between a wren and a female red winged blackbird.
My daughter has a love for counting the hawks; I thought they were all red tailed but I have since learned that I was wrong. Only the ones with red tails are red tailed hawks. There are others I am told.
So, I am addicted; an ignorant birder; but addicted.
It all happened one day as Hannah (my 4 year old)was counting the hawks while coming home from LUTZ children's musuem. Coming down 91 south, she is counting them, "there's another one, mommy, that's 7".
We merge onto 9 south and this day there wasn't so many hawks.
As we drive close to the Bridge, she spots 2 HUGE hawks in a dead tree on the right side of the highway. I PULLOVER QUICK.
Those were NO hawks!
They were bald eagles! I was stunned! I thought, "it can't be....."
The only bald eagles that I saw growing up around Middletown Connecticut was on posters in history class.
We get home and type in "bald eagles".
We find out that YES, BALD EAGLES ARE ON THE CONNECTICUT RIVER!
We find a really cool blog..... The Brownstone Birder...and we find that there is an EAGLE'S FESTIVAL IN ESSEX.
Yes, we went!
Hannah held a saw whet owl on her arm. We saw eagles. We saw all kinds of birds.
We picked up some binoculars on vacation in Pennsylvannia. We are officially BIRDERS now.
Every year we venture out to the Lyman Orchards Apple Hunt. YEARS ago when Jason was small, no one knew about it. It was the best kept secret! We left the apple hunt with bags....like 3 bags full of apples! We ate pies, made applesauce and had so much fun.
These days we have JUST as much fun taking home still a bag of apples. The kids find stickers on the apples and win DELICIOUS PRIZES.
My only complaint is now the whole world knows and it gets crowded!
it all started last weekend when we attended the local Agways christmas festivities. My four year old decided that she would need a 40 pound bag of birdseed to make birdfeeders as christmas gifts to the wild feathered friends that visit our yard. Why not? I thought to myself, how harmless is that? Let me cultivate her love for the wild creatures in our yard and make a learning project out of it.
I forget about autism.
All the time I forget that it lurks like a monster in our closet waiting to come out at well, really inopportune moments. It usually waits until my guard is down, it waits until I just start thinking that, silly me, autism isn't really real.
Caleb had a great morning during his diagnostics session. I picked him up so that I could take him ice skating..... hmmm ice skating I was thinking; is a way for him to exercise now that winter is here; ice skating is a way for him to meet other boys his age.......ice skating is well, a way to get out of the house! So after hearing from another parent that homeschools that she would be on the ice if Hannah (all kids under 5 need an adult on the ice) would like to ice skate......
I ventured out. In my autism mobile and all......you know the mini van with the broken mirror, no sun visors and dents in the side.....all scars from autistic moments.
If the van could tell stories..... ..SO I ventured out, 3 kids in tow; looking as insane and dis-sheleved as I internally always feel these days.......and well, ICE SKATING WENT WELL! go figure. Ok, a few minor autistic moments that I tell myself no one else recognized as autistic.... . like a ski mask over the entire face because well, cold is just too cold for a sensory child; and every time he fell; I laughed and smiled...... .because well, with autism it is ALL IN HOW YOU RESPOND. seriously. If I show my real feelings of terror; the autism tells the boy to quit because what is going on is too scary for him. So I laughed. No lie......and Caleb sits down next to me, calm as can be and says, "why did you laugh mom? It wasn't funny".
See why I sometimes forget autism doesn't lurk here??? Such a logical statement as my son is asking to sit on a blanket because the fall made his BUTT COLD.
So we got through the skating event......social skills in tact, transtition issues hidden, sensory overloads handled..... even when the ZAMBONIE came out.....loud noises and all.
Until, he had to climb in the van, stepping on the 40 pound bag of bird seed.WHAT WAS I THINKING? I should have removed that bag last week........ .
So Caleb, in all his sensory glory danced on the bag of birdseed, spun on the bag of bird seed.....put a hole in the bag of birdseed.... and yup, you guessed it.The autism monster reared its head.No amount of parenting from any expert or creed was going to stop this disaster. Bird seed went everywhere. My van now has 40 pounds of birdseed from front to back AND birds are eating FREE from Cromwell to Bartholomew Rd in Middletown.. ...and birdseed is still being found in my hair, my bra and everywhere. I have to laugh. Really. If you don't laugh, you will go on prozac. Think of all those wonderfully perfect families driving down RT 9 next to me.....their perfectly clean cars......with kids sitting calmly in their car seats...looking over at us.HEHEHE. The autistic mini van.......with a child who seemingly appears normal is throwing BIRDSEED OUT THE WINDOWS and AT MY HEAD and screeching and spinning in his car seat.IT doesn't make for wanting to have a play date with us. BUT it sure is funny! Piles and piles of birdseed at every stop sign and street light.......so much for making birdfeeders. ......
what I am really grateful for is that Caleb was able to go to diagnostics. ....and be successful.. .....and to walk on ice skates when just a few years ago we lived in physical therapy in order for him to run correctly... ....and skate, and laugh....... and leave without a transition melt down.So what's a 40 pound bag of birdseed all over the van that is already beat up? all just a little bit of sensory fun that makes the autistic monster sometimes simply funny.
I haven't been in blog world for a while! Life has been busy.
I started full force and then got scared......and aggravated! To change my format, to add things; I just couldn't figure it all out. Now it looks easier, so I am hoping......
feeling like I have so much to share since I've been here.....
wondering if my old friends are still around?
One thing that I want to say is about my old blog- I posted a thing about my cousin Joe, when he died. It really bothered me that later I found out different things and I couldn't figure out HOW to change the story. He DIDN"T hang himself. I don't even know if it was a suicide! That is what I was told originally............but I found out that my aunt found him in bed asleep- that he had overdosed; it may or may not be a suicide. Part of not wanting to come back was the shame that I felt in posting such an awful thing and finding out later that I wasn't told the truth.
I guess that in of itself is something to write on- you know, getting the right information from family members.
So I plan to try to come back......
my brain is taking a little while to get back into the grove. It's not that I haven't written anything so I think I'll start by posting some of the things that I have written.