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Deep Thoughts | Getting Personal (aka a little TMI) No Comments

I gotta be honest, friends: I’ve been on a weird ride since the end of May. I’m guessing on the outside the only thing that was really noticeable  to anyone would have been in my social media posts. I’d post about conflict or strong negative feelings I was having more than I had in the past. Unfortunately, there were times I “vaguebooked” in a way that was unbecoming as it related to my profession.

The result of this painful journey is that I held a lot of pain in. I know that doesn’t seem believable if you know me and have access to all my posts. Not everyone does have that access. I’m having to learn as a 36 year-old that although I am friendly with everyone, that does not mean everyone is my friend. Please don’t take that to mean I label anyone an enemy; I don’t. The truth is, I’ve had to realize that one of the things I have loved most about myself can also be misinterpreted by people who don’t know me.

Sometimes my authenticity can throw people off. The sassy part of me wants to say “That ain’t my fault. It’s their problem.” In some sense, that is true, but I also have control over what I put out there, and not everyone deserves the level of access I was allowing.

That was a tough lesson.

I took it really hard.

Seriously. I look back, especially on the last couple of months, and I am not sure where I went. All the superficial typical stuff was still there (social media posts, outings with friends, church, daily activities), but I haven’t truly connected on a relational level with anyone in months. I was faking it.

I have been lost and wandering; grasping for attention in unhealthy ways. Breaking through doors I had closed and bolted only to find the demons were waiting with open arms offering me attention, affection, and affirmation.

I’m the girl who will analyze the “why” of all that for a while. I’ll write about it. I’ll share some of it. Most of all, I truly hope I learn and grow from it.

Having (possibly over-) shared all that, I want to get to the ACTUAL point of why I’m putting this out there at all.

You see, I was starting to believe I was unwanted and didn’t belong any of the places I called home (friend’s homes, church, in the company of friends and family). My identity was beginning to shift from knowing who I was and whose I was to believing I was what I felt: Alone, Lost, and Unwanted–Cast Out.

I was allowing myself to be hurt emotionally; in fact, I’d go as far as to say I was causing it. Because I knew what I was doing, and that I was willing to do it if it meant I didn’t have to feel all of what I was trying NOT to feel related to my work and personal life, I began to think there was no turning back. I was going to get locked in that dark and scary room.

In a typical Lisa-move, all of my bottled-up emotions exploded out of me recently to two people. Those two people showed me love, offered grace, and also spoke a whole lot of truth to me.

With their help, I backed myself out of the room I was lost in. I’m on my way back—to me.

Tonight I met with a group of people who don’t know me very well. They knew my name and basic facts about me, and through the topic of the conversation they learned a bit more about me. The craziest thing happened–the exact thing I needed to be reminded of was spoken to me.

I shared a piece of my heart and in response was told I was “authentic.” Seeing as that’s the quality I’ve been running from the last couple of months, to have it show back up less than 24 hours after I “re-emerged,” well, for me, I know it was God. He heard me. He’d never left me. He was in that room with me.

I have some more unpacking and understanding to do with that.

But, if you’re reading this, and maybe you’re a person who’s been feeling lost, alone, and unwanted–like you have nowhere to belong but in a hell-filled prison…….

Please know, you are loved.

And if you can’t or won’t believe in a creator or higher being because it’s too far out for you, then I hope knowing that I love you and you matter to me can be enough for this moment.

If you need me–reach out. Message me. Comment.

I’m with you. Take my hand.

I’ll help you out of that dark and scary cell.

You’re worth it.

I gotta be honest, friends: I’ve been on a weird ride since the end of May. I’m guessing on the outside the only thing that was really noticeable  to anyone would have been in my social media posts. I’d post about conflict or strong negative feelings I was having more than I had in the […]

Words are Hard

Embarrassing Moments No Comments

Hello there friends!

It’s been so long since I wrote anything. It’s not that there’s a lack of thing I could say; I have no shortage of opinions and feelings…I just decided some of it was entirely too exhausting to write about.

So, why not tell you a funny story instead?!

Over the weekend, my friends Jason and Nicole were trying to get their toddler to demonstrate that she could say the word “elbow.” She eventually complied, and it was adorable!

If you know me, it won’t be shocking to hear that the word “elbow” sent my brain off on a journey, back in time 20 years, to a funny memory about the word “elbow.”

Let me preface this silly story by adding that sometimes my brain cannot understand English, which is my first and only language.

Growing up, I was blessed to know a great deal of extended family on my mom’s side. When we would gather for family events we would often play Scrabble. I would sit around the table with my great aunt Lois (a reading teacher), and several cousins (once or twice removed and all that jazz), and aunts–all very intelligent people, who were patient enough to allow children to play along with them. As we got older and our vocabulary grew, so did our Scrabble skills.

During one of these Scrabble games, I was definitely in high school, and was playing with my Aunt Sue. She played these letters “E-L-B-O-W.” I chuckled at her and waited for her to remove the tiles. She didn’t and began tallying up her points.

I questioned her, but she kept going. I just about lost it when she wrote down the points and added them to her score (these are not casual games). She said that I could tally the points if I wanted, but felt she was correct.

I said, “You can’t get points for that word!”

She asked why not…

And I responded “Ee-lah-boo (pronounced phonetically) is not even a word!!”

She gazed at me blankly, as did my younger cousin, who was in middle school at the time.

I did the big eye head waggle to emphasize my frustration, and she calmly said “The word is ELBOW.”

My bad.

I’m glad Nicole and Jason have taught their daughter this word so she will never know the twinge of embrassment during Scrabble.

I remember a couple other times I couldn’t comprehend English.

I infuriated my high school health teacher, Coach Wolverton, as he taught us about the practice of “Carbolodayne.” I asked “What?!” three times in a row, and still never understood what he was really saying, until years later.

Carb Loading. That’s totally a thing.

I can still recall him rolling his eyes at me in front of the class. Coincidentally, we are peers now and work in the same district…or is that irony?

The last language fail I can remember was in college. I was at a classmate’s house with a couple others working on a group project about the founding fathers of research psychology. Ebbinghaus is the only name I can even remember from that class…

Anyway, we were deciding what our visual should be for the presentation. This was before the days of Google Slides or PowerPoint, so we had to actually make a poster.

My friend, Jana, took out a piece of blank paper, turned it to “landscape,” and began to draw rectangles for the spots where we should glue pictures of the men. She drew squiggles underneath the rectangles to indicate we would have a blurb beneath each image. Lastly, at the top of the page, in an arc and in all capital letters she wrote “T-I-T-L-E.”

I waited a second and asked “Tit-lee? What’s that mean?”

My classmates gave me the same blank stare I’ve become accustomed to in these moments. After a second or two it dawned on me what the word actually was, and we all laughed until we cried.

To this day, any time I see the word “title” I pronounce it in my head as “tit-lee” and get a little chuckle from it.

Well, I hope you got a chuckle or two, as well.

Until next time…

Lisa

Hello there friends! It’s been so long since I wrote anything. It’s not that there’s a lack of thing I could say; I have no shortage of opinions and feelings…I just decided some of it was entirely too exhausting to write about. So, why not tell you a funny story instead?! Over the weekend, my […]

What to do when the School calls about YOUR Kid and Bullying

Deep Thoughts 2 Comments

I’ve been a school counselor for 9 years. The use of the B word has certainly increased in frequency; maybe your kid has experienced it in some way.

I know my personal experiences with bullying as a kid helped shape me into the adult I am now, and the experiences my students share with me have shaped the counselor I am becoming each day.

When true bullying occurs it can be heartbreaking for those involved, both the bully and the target, and their parents.

I hope what I share with you will help you know what to do for your child or a child you love.

I’ll try to keep it simple by answering the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of the situation.

What:
Bullying.

What bullying is:
Targeted
Repeated
Intentional
Power-related

In a sentence:
The bully intentionally seeks the same target over and over again in order to damage his or her social status and build up the bully’s social power.

Bullying is NOT:
Conflict between friends
A one-time event
Only physical contact

Who:
Students-Kids-Yours
There are 3 roles in a bullying situation. Despite what you think, your child is ABSOLUTELY fulfilling one of these parts.

  1. The Bully
  2. The Target
  3. The Witness(es)

When:
Any time, really.

You were a kid once, right? You knew the moment you could get away with something. You knew to sprint down the hallway as soon as the teachers turned the corner. You knew to pass the note when they turned toward the board.

Kids KNOW when they can get away with stuff.

And as most of you understand, bullying isn’t an obvious physical fight. Sometimes that can be the culmination of unreported bullying, but the straw is piling up on the camel’s back long before that happens.

Kids can be sneaky. Adults can’t be everywhere.

Are there 7 seconds before the teacher makes it into the classroom because he or she is observing the rest of the class as they transition from their restroom break? That’s enough time to call any kid a plethora of names and knock his or her belongings to the ground.

Where:
Unfortunately, what we all already know is that it’s happening at school; on the bus, the playground, in the cafeteria, the hallways, and even the classroom.

Why:
Oh man, if I could find a one-size fits all answer to this problem, then we wouldn’t be hearing this word every day.

Basic behavioral principles tell us if a behavior continues it is being reinforced in some way. Sometimes, even the consequences are reinforcement.

Suspension? You mean I don’t have to come to school? Awesome. I get to sleep in and play games or watch TV while my folks go to work!

If your kid gets suspended for bullying and continues to bully upon returning to school, then fear of educational and adult consequences won’t motivate them to stop; ever.

Oftentimes the social status of the bully increases. Gaining influence, credibility, and access are all powerful motivators. Fear is influential. Laughter is fuel. Social invitations are currency.

How:
How do we make it stop?

This is another million dollar question. These are just my thoughts. They aren’t statistically proven and are relationship-based. Connections are vital to change.

If your child is the target:
I always brace when making this call. It’s never uplifting to tell this to a parent, and usually they get mad at the school in some way. I understand it, but I hate bearing the brunt of it. It’s never pleasant to tell a parent that their child can’t even come to school to learn without being teased or demeaned in some way. If you get this call, we understand your desire for justice, but we simply cannot tell you some details of what happens with the bully. They are literally federal laws protecting all children and how their information is released in schools.

LISTEN TO THEM
If you listen you may be able to discern whether or not it’s truly bullying, misunderstanding, or friendship conflict.

PRACTICE SELF-ADVOCACY
No matter which situation it turns out to be, show them how to stand up for themselves. Show them how to use big strong voices. Have them practice talking through a friendship conflict with you. Have them express their feelings in an “I” statement:

“I felt _(insert emotion here)_ when you _(insert specific words or actions of the other here)_.”

Yes: “I felt hurt when you said I suck at kickball.”

No: “I felt like you were a real jerk when you made fun of me at kickball.”

If these things don’t work,
ENCOURAGE REPORTING
There are adults who can help IF they know what is happening. Yes, you could just call or email on your own, but it’s a critical life skill to teach kids to report what is happening for themselves. Practice this with them, too. You can even write it out with them.

If you want to “help,” (read: manipulate) please consider discretion. Contact the adult at school and explain that you want your child to report on their own. This way, the school official can find a way to allow time for that child to report.

If your child is the bully:
If I call you, please believe i
n NO way am I calling to shame you or your child. I need your help AND I want to help. I’m not calling you to label your kid bad or label you bad. I’m calling so we can work together to change the behavior.
But if I do call you:
LISTEN TO THE DETAILS
Take a deep breath. Try not to react out of anger. No one wants to receive or make this phone call. If I have to call you to break this news, please know I have triple-checked that it truly meets the criterion. Ask to call back or come in to the school if you need time to calm down.

ESTABLISH COLLABORATION
There is a difference between standing by their side and being on their side. They need to know you want to help them through this problem. They need to know you love them. If this conversation is confrontational or punitive, you will not get honest answers. I’m not telling you not to have an at-home consequence. I am a firm believer that conversations between parents and children should not feel like a punishment. They should be desired. Grace and accountability are key.

GET HELP
Sometimes this is as easy as doing the first two items. It might mean getting help from the school staff, like the school counselor. In some cases, the reason your child is bullying may require therapy. Your school counselor can help with all of these things.

This is your kiddo. You love them and want what’s best for them. Guess what, I want what’s best for them, too. That’s literally my job-to advocate for what is best for each student. What your kids needs is to be at school and learning EVERY DAY. I bet we agree on that.

Lastly, there’s a part of the dynamic that isn’t in the equation when it comes to calling parents, because the child  who witnessed the bullying didn’t do anything wrong.

Let me be a bit more clear: It is highly likely that your child observed bullying and did NOTHING.

For me, that is the toughest part of the scenario to comprehend. I mean, I get being afraid, but what I don’t get is the lack of empathy and the lack of understanding of “strength in numbers.”

From a sheer numbers standpoint, most kids fall into the “witness” category. Sure, you may have heard them called “bystanders,” but I dropped that word when I realized how much it was lacking.

Specifically, POWER.

Bystanders are silent and weak.

Witnesses are strong and capable.

You won’t get a phone call if your child is a witness, but I need you to understand that at some point in life they WILL play that role.

It’s not enough to NOT laugh or otherwise encourage the bully. That is inaction.

Let’s empower them to take action. Talk to your child about treating others how they want to be treated. Teach them how to appropriately stand up for someone without bullying the bully.

If your child is a witness (and they probably are):
There are several basic methods they can use to help.

BECOME AN ALLY
This doesn’t mean they have to be best friends. It means they are being friendly for the moment. Sometimes the target won’t leave the area with them. There are other things they can do.

REPORT IT!!!!!!
Seriously, we can’t help if we don’t know it’s going on. They may need to tell more than one adult (recess aide, teacher, counselor). Sometimes the only adult they can tell is you. You can tell us if they can’t.

SPEAK UP
Admittedly, this one incurs the most social risk. Others will see and hear it. It may make your child the target. “Snitch” is another word thrown out by kids too much. They aren’t using it correctly, so you can educate your child if they are fearful of being labeled a snitch. Technically speaking, a “snitch” is someone who commits the same crime but “rats” on their accomplices in exchange for a lighter consequence. If your child is not taking an active part in the bullying, then they aren’t a snitch. If they are, and they tell because they know it’s the right thing to do, that certainly speaks volumes for their developing character.

Ultimately, you have to decide for your family what you value. Establishing your family values is a great topic of conversation for any family with school-aged children.

If you’re reading this and you have questions, send me a message. My passion is doing what’s right for kids no matter the situation. I can help.

 

I’ve been a school counselor for 9 years. The use of the B word has certainly increased in frequency; maybe your kid has experienced it in some way. I know my personal experiences with bullying as a kid helped shape me into the adult I am now, and the experiences my students share with me […]

All Because Mary was Pregnant before Marriage?

Deep Thoughts No Comments

The other day I had some time to spend in the car during a road trip. I was bored with reading and perusing Facebook, so I settled in for some “random thoughts” time. You know how this works: You hear a song lyric, see something out the window, drive down a familiar path, and your brain is off and running and suddenly seeing a Dairy Queen sign makes you think of your first kiss with the guy who was your best friend’s cousin when he took you to Homecoming your junior year.

Or is that just me??

Yeah. Ok.

Anyway, I was actually thinking about Christmas and the birth of Jesus; more specifically,  I was thinking about Mary being pregnant before she was married.

This happens all the time. I mean, if we all took a moment we could probably name 5 people in our circle of influence who would fall into this category.

So why was Mary’s pregnancy anything to make a big deal over? Why would this elaborate story about her baby boy being the messiah need to be created?

His birth; the miracles; the sermon on the mount; the torture; the resurrection….all just a big cover up for a girl who was pregnant at the wrong time??

mary-and-josephAnd if we had the chance to create a story about the savior of the world, why wouldn’t we make him some kind of royalty and not born to a carpenter and his “not yet” wife?

Yes, I know there were prophecies in the old testament, but we all know councils picked and chose some things to be left in or out of the Bible, so why wouldn’t they just change all that, too?

I get it! It’s totally crazy! “The holy spirit came upon her” and she was pregnant?? That is bonkers!

It’s supernatural…If there is this power that’s running the show, shouldn’t it be able to do something that defies logic and reason?

Shouldn’t it be unquantifiable to the human mind?

Maybe it’s not a big conspiracy, like I wanted to believe for so long.

Maybe it’s real.

And if it’s real, then it must have implications for your life, too.

 

The other day I had some time to spend in the car during a road trip. I was bored with reading and perusing Facebook, so I settled in for some “random thoughts” time. You know how this works: You hear a song lyric, see something out the window, drive down a familiar path, and your […]

A Couple Dents in my Fender…

Deep Thoughts No Comments

barbieI’m a very lucky girl because my subconscious is a very rich place. I get to have wonderful dreams AND I tend to remember them.

On the flip side, I have pretty intense nightmares, too.

But, for today, we’re gonna stay on the “dream” side of things.

I’ve written about my ridiculous dreams before (married to Justin Timberlake, for example). They can be quite lovely.

Last night I had 2 dreams I can remember. In the second dream I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with some friends and my brother. A pretty nice dream.

It’s the first one that’s bugging me; especially when I combine it with one from last week.

Last week I dreamt I saw my reflection in the mirror and it caught me off guard because I was not my current weight, but slender, and I had a thigh gap. My subconscious self was so elated that this dream became about my shock that I had a thigh gap.

I don’t think I’ve had a thigh gap….in.my.life….teach-body-hate

Like Ever.

In fact, I distinctly recall being called “thunder thighs” as a child, so I’m just gonna go with a “nope” on the thigh gap
existence.

That was last week, so let’s dig into last night’s first dream.

I was in a huge and lovely home. It wasn’t mine, but I remember feeling like it was familiar and I was comfortable in it. I walked down a set of stairs and heard my brother talking to someone. I couldn’t tell who it was, but it was someone with whom my brother was comfortable because they were joking around together.

Eventually I realized it was a guy…I realized this because he greeted me and said he had to change clothes. The part of me that was an audience to this dream still didn’t know who it was, and my brother made the comment of “Is that always how you greet your fiance?”

Oh, so I had a fiance! This is a good dream, then, right?!

He came out of the room after changing his outfit, and I can tell you this is not the type of man to whom I would be attracted in real life. He was wearing plaid shorts and a polo shirt (that was maybe a soccer club shirt). He was Italian and very muscular. (My ladies who were at the Royals V Tigers game with me a week or so ago will know who my subconscious used as a model). Although his physique was attractive, his personality was obnoxious.

I’m taking all this in: me in a nice house, my physically attractive fiance, my brother approving of the guy, when the part of me that’s in the peanut gallery watching this movie chimes in, “There’s no way a guy that hot is your fiance.”

souls-not-bodiesWhat the heck?!?! My subconscious is a straight up bitch, guys.

Who says that to someone?

But wait, isn’t my subconscious the product of my thoughts and experiences?

Then I think I have a real problem here.

And I think many people, not just girls, suffer from this same kind of thing.

We gain our value from our appearance.

We constantly evaluate our self, and others, on our shell.

AND WE KNOW BETTER…at least I do.

You guys know me. I am the encouraging one. I am the one who tells people to love themselves and I work with kids…

And I am so so so careful not to body shame myself in front of kids or body shame anyone when small humans can hear.

Maybe I can save them from having this voice in their head when they’re older.

Maybe it’s not too late for me.

body-blooming

I’m a very lucky girl because my subconscious is a very rich place. I get to have wonderful dreams AND I tend to remember them. On the flip side, I have pretty intense nightmares, too. But, for today, we’re gonna stay on the “dream” side of things. I’ve written about my ridiculous dreams before (married […]

#BlackLivesMatter

Deep Thoughts No Comments

Before I dig in here and reveal what’s going on in my heart and my mind, I’d like to throw out a disclaimer to my friends and family:

You may disagree with me.

dangerI hope that even if we disagree you will not see it as a need to stop speaking to me, or interpret that I disapprove of you in any way.

I am on a journey to greater understanding and accountability as a human on this planet.

I’m not trying to say YOU are bad. I am not trying to say YOU are blatantly and actively racist.

I’m saying there is a deeper problem beyond white cops ending black lives.

I’m saying I can’t be a silent witness or casual observer anymore.

I think some of this process of standing up and speaking out means acknowledging what is wrong inside of me. I am not willing to point at others without first looking inside.

I don’t know that I actively think any life is less valuable than my own. In fact, I probably value my own life less than those of strangers.

Thus, when I take in words professing that black lives are not valued, it doesn’t resonate as something I feel within me. I don’t mean to imply that it’s not true for others, or that it’s not how it feels to others, but it’s not what it true for me.

The feeling that I think is more accurate for me is fear.

When I walk alone along a street and encounter an able-bodied man (read: not elderly), I have a sense of fear.

When I walk alone along a street and encounter an able-bodied black man, I have a greater sense of fear.

That is prejudice.lives end

That is racism.

And I know it.

If I can know it; a person who is empathetic, compassionate, a lover of all people and most animals, a hater of any kind of pain or exclusion; if I can know that my inherent, yet somehow learned fear, is racist, then why is it hard for others like me to see that it is absolutely an ingrained systemic problem?

I have never been harmed by a black man. I HAVE been harmed by white men.

I have never been harmed by a cop.

Yet, when I pass a patrol car or encounter an officer’s vehicle on the highway, my heart leaps to my throat and beats a little faster…..fear.

Because I know I am speeding.

I’m not afraid they will harm me.

I’m afraid I will get an expensive ticket and my insurance will go up.

I’m not afraid I will be killed.

Other than the unknown factors contained within my vehicle, I’m not afraid I’ll be killed because I think no officer would assess me as a threat. There’s the fear factor again.

Do I see cultural disdain for law enforcement? I do. And you know what, I see it from people of all colors. I work with kids who do not trust LEOs, MANY of them are white kids. The thing is, unlike their black peers, they don’t have to worry that the color of the skin puts an automatic target on their backs.

Please understand this: Many people I love are law enforcement officers. I believe they are good men and women. I do not believe they would shoot someone unless they had to for safety. I think I believe this about most police officers. I want them to get home safely at the end of each shift.

I’m willing to believe that some of the officers who have killed our black citizens were/are even good people.

The reason I believe it is because I believe I am a good person, and I can acknowledge the racism that exists within me.

If I’m willing to believe there are some officers with inherent biases who ACT on them, conversely, I’m willing to believe some of the humans killed actually did criminal things. From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem like shooting them was a reasonable response in many cases.

I know those are not popular beliefs.

In my heart I know the brutality is not acceptable, and I don’t want to stay silent anymore just because someone may disagree with me and unfriend me on facebook. If we can’t disagree and still be people who love and care for each other, then I am not sure we have a solid basis for a relationship to begin with.

If I encounter an educator who treats students unfairly based on racial bias, whether or not that educator was aware of it, would you WANT me to say something to them? If it was your kid, or your co-worker’s kid, or your high school friend’s kid, would you want it addressed?

Yes. If it were happening to someone in your circle of influence, even someone on the fringe of your circle, you would feel it and want it to stop.

If we wait until it gets that close it will be too late.

It’s too late for so many right now.

You know what else I have witness in my own life that I know to be true? Change and redemption.

We can do this if we surrender our defenses and embrace this struggle through love.

Let’s not make the beast of racism more ferocious by feeding it with denial and malice.

It is biting us right now, and before long it will tear us apart.

As I have finished writing this the news is breaking from Dallas.

Cherokee

Before I dig in here and reveal what’s going on in my heart and my mind, I’d like to throw out a disclaimer to my friends and family: You may disagree with me. I hope that even if we disagree you will not see it as a need to stop speaking to me, or interpret […]

Relation to Race

Deep Thoughts No Comments

**This is from my heart. It’s my attempt at processing and feeling through these experiences, and not intended to simplify or pretend to know what anyone else experiences**

brothers and sistersToday I visited a small town, just north of KCMO, with my family. Since it’s Tuesday, there weren’t a lot of people out on enjoying the shopping and incredible weather. In fact, we were the only shoppers on the block.

I spotted some vinyl records inside one of the antique/jewelry shops. The Captain and Tennille and “Love Songs of the 50s” were on top. The covers were in good condition and still brightly covered, and I thought of a friend who is a music producer.  When my parents were getting rid of some of their records 15 years ago he nabbed some, so there was some schema there.

I sent my friend a Facebook message about the records and described the street where the shop was located, as well as a couple other stores since he mentioned looking for decor.

As the conversation was winding down, I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that was incredibly unsettling. Was I sending my friend into danger?

Let me be more specific: Was I sending my black friend into danger in small town Missouri?

As I was thinking, my friend posed the question as to whether or not it was a friendly place for him….and my heart felt as sick as my stomach.

I couldn’t answer with an immediate “yes” because I didn’t know that to be true.

As much as I wanted to say it, I knew the answer would be based on my own experiences; which are provided by a whole lot of privilege.

I reached out to two other friends familiar with the area to see what they thought, and while I waited for their replies, I was taken back to other times in my life where I was confronted by racism concerning my friends.

Around ages 21-22 (I’m almost 35 now) some ladies and I went to a late night bar in Gladstone with a long-time no one is born hatingblack male friend. While sitting a booth, as a group, my friend became uncomfortable because an older, white, bearded man at the bar was turning around frequently to stare at him. I had not noticed this one bit, and when my friend explained that he should probably leave, I became indignant. In my mind I was indignant FOR him, and put my arms around him in what I thought was a show of support and an “eff you” to the man at the bar.

What I thought was a good move, or something I could visualize happening on TV, was naive. I’ve looked back on that moment many times over the years and realized how stupid I was. I could have endangered my friend. Although I could never imagine someone harming me, the reality may not have been the same for him.

Another time, also around the same age (It’s the bar-going age, after all), several friends were going to a small bar in Northtowne for karaoke. I invited a ton of people and my friend (the same from the current “records at the antique store” tale) asked if it was safe for him. I looked at him strangely, as if he was nuts to as that question in the 21st century, and said yes. Just after I did, two of my friends, who were/are married to each other, looked at each other, then looked at me and said, “no.” The husband was/is in law enforcement and is Latino. We didn’t go to that bar. In fact, I never went back again…..

How was I so oblivious?

That answer is easy. I’m white…and I was naive.

But I’m not anymore, and that is why I couldn’t give my friend an immediate “yes” when he asked about going to check out the records.

Eventually, the two opinions came back in agreement that it would be “friendly” for my friend, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

In fact, it feels very wrong to have to ask if a place is safe for a black person near our world-class city.

I know racism is alive and strong in so many places. I know it doesn’t look like a man in a white hooded outfit. It doesn’t sound like the vile N word.

It manifests in more subtle ways, and that’s scarier to me because it’s harder to recognize with my eyes and ears…

who wants to changeYet somehow, my heart still senses it every day as I scroll through Facebook; watch TV; and see generational, cyclical poverty.

 

The only thing I know to do about it is to acknowledge it; to stop pretending that it doesn’t exist just because we check certain milestones of the list.

Much like any true change and conversion, it doesn’t come with just acting better and watching our language in public. It doesn’t come from a checklist. (I would say all of this about “Religion,” too)

Meaningful, long-term change….It comes from the heart.

How’s yours?

Love,
Lisa

**This is from my heart. It’s my attempt at processing and feeling through these experiences, and not intended to simplify or pretend to know what anyone else experiences** Today I visited a small town, just north of KCMO, with my family. Since it’s Tuesday, there weren’t a lot of people out on enjoying the shopping […]

“When the Waves are Crashing…”

Deep Thoughts | Getting Personal (aka a little TMI) No Comments

Hey everybody! Anyone still out there?

Long time, no post…I know.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

I’m hesitating with how to start this off, because I don’t want it to seem like I am always struggling.  The thing is, when I’m in the midst of a tough internal (and external) struggle, I do a lot of thinking, and when I do a lot of thinking it leads to a lot of feeling.

What I’m realizing today, as I write this, is all that thinking and feeling, that feels like chaos and pain, is really me wrestling and breaking through into a moment of growth.

So, I think I might have to reframe my processing. Instead of referring to it as struggling, from this moment henceforth (I hope you’re using an English accent in your head like I am)….henceforth I shall refer to these moments as times of growing…not struggling.

The gamer in me says I’m gaining XP and leveling up. *nerd alert*

Aaaaaaanyway….

The last few weeks I’ve really been in my head and heart and relying on some old ways of thinking and acting; unhealthy and scary, really.

It’s been pretty isolating; to feel so unworthy that you pull away from most things…and then the isolation and shame begin to poke holes in the life you’ve fought for and spiral into the most critical and demeaning thoughts. I felt very much like I felt 5 years ago before I accepted Christ; and that was pretty low.

Honestly, some of the thoughts I had last night were deep and dark.

I was feeling alone. More and more I have felt like I don’t fit in with my closest friends anymore. A lot of this feeling comes from thinking I’m left out because of this phase of life I’m living.

It used to be that my friends were married, but we would still hang out after I got divorced. Then it progressed to them having kids, like, on purpose…then more than one…on purpose. Their families were building and there were baby showers and births and 1st birthdays; reasons to get together.

And then there’s now…and the families are established and growing up…and I am in my parent’s basement; alone. Forgotten, or at least an afterthought…according to my own thoughts and feelings.

This is how the thoughts start….and they spiral from there; but I want you to know this is truly a hopeful post, so I’m not going to dwell there because it’s not where I am right now.

Image belongs to Suzanne Davis Harden

Image belongs to Suzanne Davis Harden

So while I’ve been “growing” these last few weeks, I’ve been praying to God to come get me out of it. Take me by the hand and pull me out…wash the dirt off me; and let’s move on.

Today, at church, listening to the story of Jesus walking on water toward his disciples, my mind began to shift away from “get me out of this” to something totally different.

When the disciples were in their fishing boat on the stormy waves, they weren’t too shaken up by the conditions. They were used to stormy seas. What got their attention-what made them afraid-was seeing Jesus walking toward them on the waves….like a boss. They’d seen him do amazing things already, but this? I can’t imagine how crazy they must have felt, and in awe at the same time, to know they knew well the man doing that impossible thing…surely he must be who he says he is.

Jesus never told them to quit being wusses. He didn’t try to offer a silver lining to what they were going through, or minimize the situation.

who caresGod’s not looking at me going “Hayden, seriously. I have these people with cancer, and this ISIS thing, and Trump…don’t even get me started….and you feel ‘lonely’?! Cut the crap, girl.”

He’s not watching me waiting for the most meaningful moment, right before my fingertips get submerged, to reach in and pull me out.

While I was feeling unworthy in my relationship with my creator, I was making Jesus into something he isn’t. I know my verb tenses don’t match…just go with it.

Jesus is an “all-in” kind of God. He’s not just gonna stand around and watch while I struggle, and in the moments I look to him give me a half-hearted shrug.

He’s here fighting with me already. He is IN the mess. He’s not a “wait outside until the messy part is over” kind of God.

Jesus doesn’t want me to “give up.” He wants me to surrender. And there’s a big difference between the two.

And so I will.

Because He is “I am.”

And that’s greater than any storm.

john 6 15

Hey everybody! Anyone still out there? Long time, no post…I know. I’m hesitating with how to start this off, because I don’t want it to seem like I am always struggling.  The thing is, when I’m in the midst of a tough internal (and external) struggle, I do a lot of thinking, and when I […]

Untitled

Deep Thoughts | Getting Personal (aka a little TMI) 4 Comments

I’ve never written fully about this experience before. I barely talk about it.
Before I do so now, I want to warn those of you who have been through a sexual assault of any kind, that this post may contain triggers. It will not offend me in any way if you can’t read it. To be honest, my writing this is triggered by hearing that Bill Cosby has finally been charged with one of his numerous crimes.

I’m not even sure I can post all the details; nor that I should, but since a new year is coming, and we like to look at those things as new beginnings, I think I’ll get this done. Please forgive any errors in language. This isn’t something I want to read over and over.

In 2009 I was in the beginning stages of a divorce. Most of you know the end of the marriage included a miscarriage and my ex-husband attempting suicide; then 5 months later we were officially separated. To say I was grieving and bearing a great deal of emotional weight would be an understatement.

I was a lost woman, and I was acting out in ways that were unhealthy and also unknown, so no one could help me.

When I became unattached, married men came out of the woodwork to support me, and much to my own shame, I appreciated the attention. In my testimony of becoming a Christian, you can read that I slept with a married man (once, for the record, and never again), but something happened before that, with another man.

I’d dated him a decade earlier, as a very innocent freshman high school girl (I remember we broke up because I wouldn’t have sex with him), but now he was married with a happy family, and I was headed for divorce. They took me under their wing when my marriage ended. His wife was very kind to me.

She went out-of-town around his birthday, and he asked me to celebrate it with him. I agreed to go to dinner with him, his kids, his mother and her friend. I even asked his wife if this was ok, as it was eerily similar to the catalyst that ended my marriage.

I didn’t intend it, but just me asking caused a fight between husband and wife. That should have been a sign.

The day of his birthday approached and the plans for celebrating kept changing. We weren’t going to dinner with his family. His kids were with a sitter. Some friends were coming out for dinner instead. Another sign.

I arrived at his house to watch what now seems like a charade of friends cancelling on him or not answering their phones; so it was just the two of us for dinner. Another sign.

He paid. Another sign.

We picked up alcohol because people were going to join us back at the house. That wasn’t completely true. One more female friend came over. We drank some. I felt very drunk-very quickly. Another sign.

At one point he showed us his guns. He put them on his bed.

We listened to music on YouTube. Music that still triggers me back to this night.

He put his hand on my knee. I assumed it was out of excitement. He was incredibly attractive BUT married; there was no way it was flirting. I was convinced I was a bad person for thinking he would flirt with me. His wife was beautiful and I was fat. More signs.

Eventually I could no longer keep my eyes open. He made me listen to a podcast about binary code, but it was only on his phone which he couldn’t turn up very loud, so we had to sit close together. Another sign.

I’d had a lot of tequila and the podcast was super boring…I knew I couldn’t drive and was going to sleep on the couch.

He insisted I sleep in his bed and he would sleep on the couch. I refused several times. He did not back down. Another sign.

At some point he told me he’d set out things for me to sleep in on the bed. I was thinking shorts and a t-shirt. I was stunned to see 3-4 of his wife’s negligees from which to choose. Another sign.

I vehemently declined; told him I was fine; and got into the bed fully dressed (minus shoes). He insisted on staying to show me how to work the remote for the TV in the bedroom.

I covered my face and asked him to go. He insisted saying it wouldn’t take long. I remember pulling the blankets over my face.

valid sexual assaultAnd all at once we were kissing. For about 17.2 seconds I think I thought it was ok, until he hurt me (there were bruises from this). Although that was scary, the pain jolted me back to reality and I told him to stop. He didn’t.

I shouted for him to stop as I tried to hold my body together like a brick.

He did.

My thought processes were shot. I knew I had just interfered in a marriage, but I didn’t stop to think that I needed to get out of there; that I was in danger.

I just couldn’t think clearly.

I told him “we” should not be doing that.

He begged me to stay and said he would go to the couch.

I laid there and knew I needed to leave, but my shoes were by the couch. It was winter and there were at least 6 inches of snow on the ground.

I went to retrieve my shoes. He apologized and asked me not to tell. It was completely dark. I sat down next to him and asked if he was ok. I asked HIM if HE was ok!!

Suddenly, his hands were on my head pushing my face toward his exposed genitals. I yelled at him to stop and twisted to the floor. His hands were around my neck and head still pushing my face down.

I grabbed his thigh as hard as I could and he let go.

I ran out; leaving my footprints in the deep snow.

Somehow I made it home and called a friend at 3 in the morning.

For the next several days I watched the bruises on my breasts, thighs, and neck change color and fade away.

It took me 8 days to realize I was the victim of a crime. I thought I was a slut who had broken up a family.

When I went to report it to the police, I was made to stand and tell the story in the lobby through a vented window to a male uniformed officer on the other side. Someone else was reporting a car accident next to me.

Once I finished the officer had me wait while he called a detective. After a while he came out and said he was instructed to ask me one question: “Why did you wait so long to report the incident?”

My reply, quite simply, “I thought it was my fault.”

I started having nightmares after that. I had to sleep with my lights on. I would dream that I woke up with him standing above me in my room.

Just as I began to move on, I ran into him, with his whole family. Thankfully my best friend was with me. I was shaking so badly. The nightmares started again, but went away more quickly this time.

What happened to me was minor in comparison to so many other victims, and yet it still had those effects on me.

Twice in the last 5 years the man’s wife has contacted me. Most recently (this year) she asked why I had never showed up to any of the court dates. I replied that I had never been made aware of any court dates. My address has not changed, nor my phone number, for 15 years, yet I was never informed. I even called after the first time she contacted me, yet no one in the department could find information for me.

The man is still a public servant, and is probably quite good at his job, but I will always believe his position kept him safe.

If you read this, then you probably know me, and maybe even feel some kind of warm feelings toward me. Thank you, for that, by the way. But maybe reading the story of someone you know will help you to judge victims of assault less harshly. No matter what I did/wore/said/drank that night, nothing would add up to consent for what happened.

I KNOW I was in the wrong place. I KNOW there were lots of warning signs.

Even though I know those things, NONE of that granted him permission to place his hands upon me once I told him to stop. NONE of it meant I deserved and earned the bruises on my neck, breasts, and thighs; nor the scars to my psyche.

There is so much more I could tell you to make my point so much more clear, but I don’t feel like I can write anymore about it. I’ve said what I needed to say.

I’m still ashamed. I’m still embarrassed. I’m still scared, at times.

I concede I ignored my intuition, and I learned a hard lesson for it.

Do you think he learned his?

<3, Lisa If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault and you don't know what to do, please check out these websites: http://mocsa.org/services/24-hour-support http://www.safehorizon.org/ https://rainn.org/get-help/help-a-loved-one https://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims

I’ve never written fully about this experience before. I barely talk about it. Before I do so now, I want to warn those of you who have been through a sexual assault of any kind, that this post may contain triggers. It will not offend me in any way if you can’t read it. To […]