Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nothing to Hide

Now that I've spilled my guts all over the blogging community, I'm feeling much better, though I'm afraid it may have left some of you feeling a bit queasy or uneasy. Sorry about that. I hope it doesn't ruin your shoes.

I realize that I'm all out there with my stuff, maybe a little more than your average basket case, and I'll bet you've wondered "What is she thinking?"

Well, I'm about to tell you.

I'm thinking that pounding out my frustrations on my keyboard helps to keep my speech gracious and opens the door for healing and forgiveness. It's cathartic.

Yes, but why post it?

I'm thinking someone might find himself/herself in a similar situation and realize that there is hope. We care. God cares. Let us pray for you.

I'm thinking someone might recognize a destructive pattern in his/her own behavior and realize that he/she needs help. Love is kind, not cruel. Love does not endanger; it protects. Please don't abuse the ones you love, and please don't let them abuse you.

Domestic violence is not limited to physical assault. It includes any tactic used to instill fear and exert power and control over the other person in a relationship. Click here to learn more or to get help.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Share the Love

** Updated to add: Yes, Lord! Yes and amen! $9160 has been given so far. Blessings abound! **

Today's the day! Go here to find out how you can help.

Warning! Sharp turn ahead.

Welcome back to my roller coaster. Thank you all for your encouraging comments and prayers. I kinda left you hanging, didn't I? Hopefully, this post will bring you up to speed.

By New Year's Day, Lindsey had come to me a few times to strike a bargain for their return to Arkansas. Can you meet halfway? What if dad pays for your gas? Can you talk to him? He offered to pay for the gas if I would bring them back. He can't get off work to come. I told him that I had to rent a car for the trip because we weren't sure ours would make it. He offered to pay for the rental. I asked if he could wait until the end of the week when I get my paycheck. He agreed to wait, but I was running out of time. They were going to miss three days of school.

Even after Lindsey's dad had some rather choice words for her, which I simply cannot bring myself to repeat (ugly, vile, repulsive characterizations of her womanhood) she was still considering going back to live with him. Not only did he violate her sense of worth with his vulgarity, but he also spewed it at me loudly enough for her to hear. Now it's one thing to have him say those things about me, but his own daughter? There are no words to describe what it's like to see your child ripped to pieces by the very animal who had tried in the same manner to shred your dignity. No words, only tears. The pain on her face strengthened my resolve.

I had almost given in once again, and I could not let it happen this time. What difference does it make what I believe if I don't stand my ground? What kind of mother would take her children and leave them with someone she can't trust? I explained to the girls why it would be a terrible mistake to do what they were asking me to do. I know what the Lord expects of me, and I will never again bow down to any other.

Another phone conversation with their dad had him telling me that it would destroy Sarah to make her stay here. He wants her to be happy, and she isn't happy here. And they don't like Carl. (These are lies he tells himself so that he can play the hero.) I told him that Sarah was thinking about staying. Well, obviously, I misunderstood. What she meant was she's thinking about thinking about staying. Bless her heart.

I explained (unsuccessfully) to him that what will destroy Sarah is allowing her to have her own way when it goes against what she knows is best for her. I told him that she does not need to be rescued and he will always be her hero, no matter what. If they resent anybody it'll be me, and I've got no problem with that. I know that eventually they'll get over it. If he would encourage her to stay with her mother (which he agrees would be good for her), she would realize that we both have her best interests at heart. I want her to be happy, too, but I want her to be happy making wise decisions.

But it's not fair to her, says he, if Lindsey gets to decide where they live because Sarah hasn't done anything wrong. She shouldn't be punished. Who said anything about punishment? I guess making your child brush his teeth or eat his veggies is also a form of punishment, since most kids really don't want to do those things. Let's just set her up for the rudest of awakenings, why don't we? Let us not just let her think she can do no wrong, let's tell her so. Let us feed her Satan's deception on a big ol' happy plate and see where that leads her. Oh, HELL no.

So he says to me, "How 'bout this. If it's God's will for them to stay there, then something will happen to me to prevent me from coming. Otherwise, I'll be there Saturday."

Saturday came, and Sarah started packing. Lindsey had decided that she was going with them (that girl is just too much like her mother, God help her) until their dad called and told Sarah that he had gotten a restraining order on Lindsey's boyfriend. Whoops. Another lie. Turns out it was just a threat. While he's telling her she can come back if she wants to and he wants her there, he made the decision for her. Stay in Georgia or your boyfriend might go to jail. Which would you choose? This time she chose to stay, and she doesn't want to see her dad again. I prayed aloud that God would stop the insanity and keep him from coming.

He showed up at 11 pm and called Sarah's cell phone to let her know he was at the end of the driveway. Wouldn't even come to the door to help her with her bags. I gave him a nice lecture about that. This is the kind of treatment she should expect from her hero? No man is going to disrespect my daughter on my watch. Surely he wouldn't allow her to go on a date with someone who wouldn't even come to the door for her. He came to the door, but he wouldn't come in the house. Then he asked me to send Lindsey outside. How Jerry Springer of him.

So here's the deal. He gave his word that he would have Sarah call me every day, read her Bible, and go to church. She promised she would. I promised to come get her if I don't hear from her. She'll be back. It's only a matter of time.

Please exit to the right, and watch your step.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Saga Continues

Brace yourselves for the ride, folks. There are lots of twists and turns up ahead.

When I picked up the girls on Christmas day, they wanted to know when I would bring them back. I wasn't sure how to answer that because I was hoping that they would decide to stay. Lindsey demanded that I take them back on the 1st, and I reminded her that we had agreed to seek the Lord's will and do what He leads us to do. Sarah remained silent.

Everything that took place from that moment on gave me every indication that I would have to stand firm on my convictions, yet I wavered. As the year drew to a close, the pressure was mounting, and I was stalling for time.

Meanwhile, back on the roller coaster...

For reasons I ain't saying, I called the girls' dad to inform him that he needed to have a talk with the 19-yr-old boyfriend of our 16-yr-old daughter. I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that even if you aren't a parent, you were once a teenager, and you may have already drawn your own conclusion about what prompted me to make that call. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon. Nonetheless, I had to draw mister man a picture. He admitted that he'd had misgivings about allowing her to date him, but he also said that he had warned them about what would happen if they ever got caught in the act. Then he gave the boy permission to come to the house when he wasn't home. Does anyone else see a parenting award in his future? Maybe he's holding out for a grand-parenting award. Oh wait. Is there an ostrich award?

Later that same evening, he called Lindsey, and I could hear him screaming at her, but it wasn't about the boyfriend. It seems he had just seen the phone bill. I was slightly amused at first, since it wasn't the first time she had exceeded her minutes. Last time, it wasn't all that big a deal since I was paying the bill. Now that it's his bill, it's not just a big deal, it's an ordeal. So much so, in fact, that he asked her if she wanted him to blow his brains out. She hung up on him, and Sarah said "If he kills himself, it'll be your fault." Oh my word.

He called back to continue the tirade, and she handed me the phone. I asked him what he'd have done if Lindsey had said yes. I told him that he needs to stop the emotional manipulation, aka ABUSE, because now Sarah is worried that he would actually carry out his threat. He then called Sarah to reassure her that he wouldn't do anything drastic and apologized for upsetting her.

And here's what baffles me: They still want to go back. Lindsey is willing to endure all manner of degradation just to see her boyfriend. Her dad told her it's fine if she doesn't come back, and he doesn't care if her mother beats her (she doesn't, though it is tempting). Ain't love grand? Sarah doesn't realize the effects of witnessing that kind of behavior. She's learning to make excuses, to blame the victim, to bury her head in the sand and pretend that all is well.

Here's where the boyfriend redeems himself. Lindsey told him about her dad's threats to throw him jail or kill him if he came anywhere near her. He encouraged her to stay here. It appears that self-preservation may have been his motive, initially, but his concern for her well-being was very much a contributing factor. He reminded her that the braces on her teeth would not adjust themselves and that she needs to stay where she knows she'll be taken care of. He even said he would move here if he had to. She began asking me if he could stay with us until he saves up some money to get his own place. (Yes, dear, I did fall off the turnip truck just yesterday. Why do you ask?) Boy howdy.
Oh. He also apologized to me, declared his love for her, and said that he would respect the boundaries I set for her. No, he isn't moving here, but I've got no problem with allowing him to see her as long as he understands that there will be constant supervision.

At this point, Sarah still hadn't spoken up about not wanting to stay. I understood her to say that she was thinking about staying. Then their dad called me and assured me that the girls would hate me for the rest of their lives if I made them stay here, and that they would never ever want to see me again.

Here's where we all throw our hands up and scream.

This ride ain't over yet.

Monday, January 08, 2007

How I Spent My Christmas Blogcation

I've just spent two weeks with both my girls, and I'm blown away by how much has happened in such a short time. I picked them up from their dad's in the wee hours of Christmas morning then drove to my mom's to spend a couple of days. It was a very pleasant visit, with the exception of having my daughters tell me that they would only go home with me if they don't have to stay. Sheesh, who's the parent here?

I made it clear that we are playing by different rules from now on, and they are going to have to learn to submit to my authority. My job is not to make them happy. My job, my obligation, is to teach them by example, by instruction, and by discipline to love the Lord and to walk by faith.

We left my mom's two days later, headed for home, and while I drove, they read various scripture passages aloud, and we followed up with discussion. Afterwards, I asked them how they felt about making it a habit and received positive feedback. Hallelujah! Half the battle has been won.

Still, Lindsey was very adamant that she was not going to stay because of her boyfriend. I had met him and his parents the day before, and they seemed to be good people. The only problem I had with him is his age and his advice to my daughter. (Wait a semester after graduation to start college? Bad advice, in my opinion, especially since it's contradictory to her parents' wishes and his own mother's advice.) I sat the two of them down to discuss my concerns about the seriousness of their relationship (He's already given her a promise ring, and they've only been dating two months.) She's 16, he's 19. As I was explaining to them the reasons for my belief that she needs to be with me, he felt compelled to point out that adolescence is all about rebellion. (Really? It's not just stuff they put in movies?) He was making a beeline for my bad side, at warp speed. I informed him that I'm fully aware of the natural human condition, but for the child of God, human nature is no excuse. THEN, when I asked him if he knows Jesus, he said he is saved, but he doesn't go to church because of all the hypocrites there. Mercy sakes alive! Who knew? I must have missed them for all the other sinners. Lord, forgive my sarcasm, and wake this young man from his slumber.

I scored a few points with Lindsey later when her dad was ranting about her attitude, right there in front of her beau. I looked at him, rolled my eyes and said "That's just adolescence." Good times.

Sarah surprised me. She was talkative and friendly, and seemed to be enjoying herself. After we got home, she wanted to go shopping. We spent a few hours at the Mall of Georgia, which wasn't enough time to hit all the stores, especially with the incredibly long lines. That place is HUGE! We will definitely go back. The following day, she asked if we could go shopping for me. Apparently, my wardrobe needed some updating. I highly recommend taking your fashion-conscious kids with you to the department store. They'll try to convince you that $50 jeans are reasonably priced, but hold out for JC Penney and head straight for the clearance racks. Grab the most garish thing you can find and act as if you'd actually consider wearing it. They'll be mortified, but you'll reach a whole new level of cool when you opt for something more tasteful. They won't even mind that it's on clearance.

There's more to this roller coaster ride. Stay tuned as the saga continues.