Lessons From Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapping

Keeping the line bold between abusers and victims over all types of abuse

Elizabeth woke to a knife at her throat and a threat to stay quiet or her younger sister, lying next to her in bed, would be killed. Terrified, 14-year-old Elizabeth went with her kidnapper more concerned about protecting her family than herself. She went on to have a sensational story of being married as a second wife to an evil, narcissistic psychopath who raped her daily for nine months. Finally found and rescued by the police, she went home to throngs of well-wishers and reporters rejoicing in her safe return.

Celebrations are proper and good in such situations. A child captive set free and returned to a loving family who never quit their desperate search for their daughter breaks all of our hearts. The sexual perversion foisted onto her makes our blood boil. It should.

Our culture understands kidnapping and sexual enslavement. There are many wonderful supports for survivors and great understanding from family and public alike. We want to read the survivors’ stories and hear about their struggle and strength. We are inspired to stay vigilant for our own family.

Imagine if no one had even known that Elizabeth Smart was missing. Then she turns up and tells people about what happened to her. Her parents scathingly accuse her of being a liar and the public tells her that kidnappings and sexual enslavement don’t happen. Friends turn against Elizabeth and she becomes an outcast to her family. She goes to church and hears over and over about how she hasn’t forgiven people in her life and is shamed that she isn’t happy and vibrant in life.

This doesn’t happen in Elizabeth Smart types of kidnappings and horror. But there are other sexual abuse genres (if you will) that turn out very much just like our crazy example. The situations I am talking about are as turned upside down from Elizabeth’s true abuse as can be.

I HATE the word “incest”, but I will go with it because it is universally understood. It is a neat and tidy word that explains raping and sexual viewing/touching. These are children who are sexually abused in the home. While people know that it truly happens, there is huge societal pressure not to discuss it and not to get involved in rescuing these children. There is huge family backlash if any abused child gets out of line, and if the child (or adult if they disclose later in life) doesn’t recant the abuse, the victim will get kicked out of the family. Then they sit in churches and hear about how unforgiving they are, shaming the victim instead of speaking out against the perpetrators. Many times, the perpetrators themselves are sitting in the seats.

Satanic Ritual Abuse victims are treated even worse. Most times they are taken to the rituals by their own parents where they are sexually tortured and horrificaly traumatized by death and blood of animals and sometimes humans. In this case, society says that SRA doesn’t happen and feel sorry for the poor family that had this horrible accusation foisted against them by their own child. These victims are also kicked out of the family and are seen as mentally crazy.

It is interesting to compare law enforcement and courtroom reactions to the three different types of abuse we are talking about today. In the kidnapping/sexual abuse scenarios, it is very obvious to society who the bad guy is, who the innocent victim is, and the perpetrator goes to jail for a very long time. In incest cases, many times they never even make it into the courtroom. If they do, it is hard to get a conviction with the blurred lines between perpetrator (but he is a pillar in society! He would never…) and the victim (if this was true, why didn’t she tell a teacher when she was young? She would have told someone!). Sometimes the defense will go so far as to say the victim made it up. If there is a conviction, there is not very much jail time at all.

In SRA it even more bizarre. The parents immediately turn the entire family against the victim if they speak out. They are either quickly recant, or they are outcasts from their family. The family turns viciously against the victim and tries to shame them in front of their family and friends. Society says that they don’t believe it ever happens. Churches don’t know what to do with the victims, and tend to think they are more demonically controlled and need demons cast out. Here not only is the victim made guilty, but their very spirituality is questioned.

Hearing the story of Elizabeth Smart gives me hope. If society can understand the kind of abuse that happened to her, then I believe incest will one day be seen in the same black/white view. Maybe one day SRA will as well.

If you are still reading this, I thank God for you. It is time that society gets educated on all abuses, not just the ones that make logical sense. Society not wanting to deal with or know about incest or SRA is unacceptable. Our churches need to step up and start helping the victims instead of shaming them.

I thank God that Elizabeth Smart was rescued. I highly recommend her book, “My Story”. As you look closely at how easy it is in her case to figure out who was the bad guy and who was the victim, I encourage you to extrapolate that to incest and SRA as well. We need to call out abuse and abusers. If they face what they have done here and now, not only will it alert others to their perversions, it will save those abuses from being thrust on other children. The only way to save incest and SRA victims is through education and prevention. You cannot prevent what you refuse to look at.

 

The Unsung Heroes

What does a worship team do in the hours before church starts.

Carlos arrives first. He unlocks a door for the others to slip through and starts turning on the lights. He goes to the back and turns on the audio equipment and works on getting the numerous dials to the perfect spot.

Patrick walks in at a fast clip with his guitar case and  pedal board filled with his guitar effects. It always takes him the longest to set up with his electric guitar and pedals. The speaker isn’t working right this morning, so he plays with his guitar and volume until he finds the exact spot where the speakers will work for him, not against him.

In walks a new guy with his battered acoustic guitar case. Justin exhibits a laid back demeanor as he introduces himself to the others and begins asking the multitudinous questions that it will take to get him set up and ready to play.

Meanwhile KJ enters the back of the sanctuary with his bass slung over his shoulder. He talks with people and laughs as he wakes up and gets ready to play.

Carlos starts calling for mic checks as Richard enters. He walks to the front and sets down his breakfast, coffee , power bar and drum sticks. He yawns as he walks out the door to hang up his coat.

Cassie and Emily walk in laughing as they walk to the front pew. Emily pulls out her violin as Cassie prepares the keyboard. They continue to laugh together as they prepare their instruments and wake up more.

As the mic checks continue, the chatter slowly starts a crescendo. The air begins to fill in with instruments warming up, a cacophony that will soon give way to order.

Carlos steps up to the main mic, his own acoustic guitar slung from his shoulder. The instruments noises quiet down with short burst of the final warm-ups. Caleb goes through the order of the songs and last minute chord changes. He bows his head, along with everyone else as he prays to God that He would get all the glory; that their worship would bring a smile to the Almighty’s face.

As they play the first song, the yawns lessen and the eyes open a little wider. The protein bar has been consumed and the coffees are empty. The recently showered heads of hair have now dried. The team is looking sharper and chords are called out and debated as the practice continues.

The sun still isn’t up as the singers quietly enter. They are still in yawning mode. Kim quietly distributes the coffee that she has brought in to share. Sarah comes in looking awake and ready to go.  They quietly pick up the mics and voices are added to the music. There is still 90 minutes until the service begins. When the congregation yawns in, the wide awake worship team has been soaking in praise for a couple of hours already.

Carlos finally declares them ready and everyone takes a break. They make last minute bathroom breaks and grab some water. When it is a little before nine, they are all on stage, ready to go.

Carlos begins with prayer and takes directs the focus of the congregation and puts it on God. The people join in with the worship team and the hours of prep brings the people into God’s presence quickly. Hands wave in the air and eyes fill with tears. A few people bow at the altar and some dance in the back.

The Holy Spirit seemingly flows out of the instruments and voices. There is no way to explain how this works. The glory and magesty of God become overwhelming to the hearts that are fixed on their Abba Father.

When the pastor takes the mic, he is ready to preach. This rides on the presence of God coming in like a flood during worship. He is strengthened and encouraged from the worship, and his message today will be strong and Biblically sound.

People will get saved today. Some will be healed or encouraged. All will receive Gods love. God isn’t just working through the worship team, but they certainly set the stage to get it all rolling.

These unsung worship heroes will be at church for a total of 7 hours. They will not have time to eat during until after the last service. They sit through two entire services. Some will fall asleep during the message from exhaustion and it will bring knowing smiles from the others on the team.

After the service, they quickly pack up their instruments and join in with the multitude of conversations taking place throughout the church. Ministry is still taking place as people discuss what God spoke to them during the service and others ask for prayer for difficulties they are going through. Even this is riding on the songs of the worship team.

They do not get paid for what they do. For many this is their day off. Some will leave and  go straight to work, some will go play with their kids and the rest will hit the couch for a well deserved nap. They have pleased God greatly and have impacted lives not only in the congregation where they ministered, but in the lives that the congregation goes out and touches as well. Who knows, as they minister to people who in turn minister to others who in turn minister to others, they will be reaching around the world. But this isn’t what they are thinking about as they quietly and humbly go on with their day.

 

So How Great Am I?

Let all that we do or think be a praise to God, not ourselves.

Okay, so maybe that question is a little bit over the top. How about this one:

How many trophies do I have?

Did you know I graduated with my master’s degree with honors?

Actually, I don’t think any of us have ever had those questions in our conversations. But it is possible that some of them slip into our own thinking. It could be thoughts about how smart or accomplished we are, or how smart and accomplished we’re not, or how we have the need to be successful at anything we do in work or even church.

God needs to be the one getting all the glory in our lives.

That we should be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:12

What we do should be a praise to God. We are giving Him the glory, not ourselves. This is where the point lies: God should be the center of our focus in whatever we do or think. If we are thinking of ourselves, then we are off into pride, no matter how servant-like we are.

God loved King David just as much as a shepherd boy as he did when David was king. David’s life was a big praise to God. Let our own lives be that praise and may our thoughts reflect our love for Him throughout the day. More of Him, less of me. John 3:30

It’s About The Journey

The jourey may be exhuasting, but eventually you will arrive.

She shifted around over and over and over trying to find the spot of the least pain. You would think with modern technology they would have invented a more comfortable donkey. She shouldn’t complain, at least for the 68.9 miles she was riding, but she was pregnant, and very pregnant at that. Seriously, out of all the times there could have been a census it had to be now? And what was wrong with Joseph, the audacity to be born so far away? She shifted again and the baby gave a strong kick into her bladder. And now another of the already hundreds of restroom breaks! She knew that this baby was divine and all, but the pregnancy was anything but! When she got to heaven she was going to have a little chat with the Almighty about this…

We always assume that Mary was perfect: quiet in her sufferings, sitting poised even though a little hunched over on her donkey, having sweet conversations with her husband…. But we really know nothing of her jouney to Bethlehem other than she went, went into labor, and found no vacancies at any hotel… Why Was there No Room in the Inn?

What we can focus on in the birth of Jesus, is that it was  journey for Mary and Joseph. They had a road to follow, a destination to get to. God had a plan, but it was not easy. In fact,  I can guarantee you it took every ounce of emotional and physical energy that they could muster. God never gives more than you can bear, but Mary and Joseph were pushed way beyond what they thought they could bear.

Last night was Christmas Eve, and Patrick and I made it to bed by midnight. We reminisced over the years of trying to get toys together and eveything wrapped, food prepared, and everything ready for whenever our four excited kids decided to wake up. It was exhausting. We rejoiced in not having to go to bed at two or three or four in the morning. Then I said, “Phew, we survived another one!” Then I started thinking about the journey.

Christmas is not just a labor of love for a week, but for many weeks. There is money to be saved or credit cards to be charged, there are lists of gifts for loved ones, planning meals, throwing Christmas parties, attending parties, participating in the church outreaches, practicing and performing in the Christmas contada, and on and on and on. Our donkeys are uncomfortable, we get stressed and short with the loved ones we are trying to bless. The 68.9 miles seems longer and longer every year.

Such is the season, and we walk it over and over and over because we have an expected outcome. Mary’s journey led her to Jesus, cradled in her arms with the soft glow of the star resting on his little perfect face. Our journey also leads us to Jesus. Mary was crazy tired and sore from her journey, as are we. The parallels go on and on, and are a fun rabbit trail to discover.

Congratulations! You made it to Christmas 2016! Now we look at the birth of Jesus and ponder the gift that he was to the world. We may have family to spend our time with, or solitarily feel alone and abandoned with the “familiness” that everyone else seems to have. But regardless, we have all made this journey. And we will do it again next year, God willing.

The important thing to know about a journey is that there is always an end. Be it Christmas or some other journey God has you on, remember that you will get there eventually. So shift around on your donkey, try not to bite off the head of the people around you, and revel at the expected end that God has given you.

Merry Christmas! Thank you all for joining me in my blogging journey this year!

Coffee Break; Cream, no Sugar

It has come to my attention that I have not been blogging very much as of late, so I thought I would catch you up on the Life and Times of Lisa Meister. So grab your favorite mug and let me pour you a fresh and hot cup of coffee. I will take mine with cream, no sugar.

Well, technically I have cream and sugar because I have the French vanilla kind that is crazy good with a crazy amount of sugar. But I feel better just saying no sugar. I figure that I am a hypocoffeedriac, meaning that if I believe that there isn’t sugar in the cream, there won’t be.

I have already blogged about my wonderful new job in
A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid. What is amazing is that I live in Indiana, USA but teach in China. I am teaching Chinese children, ages 4 – 12 English. There are so many wonderful children out there that are a lot of fun to work with. I really thought that China was mostly a third world country, but these children look to be from homes very much like ours.

But I digress. That rabbit trail started with my job, so I will get back to it. I am slowly building my student base and am starting to figure out what I am doing. My kids are very smart and by the end of a 25 minute lesson, I can already notice a jump in what they can understand. I work from 5 – 9 am each morning, with prep the night before. I have puppets, cheerleading pom-poms, birthday hats and blow toys, crazy hats, and a tamborine. Aargh, I digress again.

Okay, on to a new area. I am still homeschooling my youngest. It works great because we don’t start homeschooling until 10am. She does almost everything on her own now (a trait the homeschooling community highly prizes), with me there to discuss ideas, help with math, or to try to help with science.

I am also a blogger, a great love in my life. But as you can see, I don’t have a lot of time for it right now. As teaching gets easier I will have more time again.

My oldest daughter is graduating from College next week! That’s a “Yeah!” and a “Yikes!”. My 5 pound bundle of joy is now 23. Yes, the years vanished in a smoky “poof”, but I know I gleaned all the time with her I could because I educated her at home.

I have also started writing a new book, and am trying to find big chunks of time (well, not really, more like small chunks of time) to write. I have my topic, my research, my voice and am well on my way into chapter one.

Christmas is upon us, so I am taking time to think through all that Jesus has done for me and marvel at his loving decision to come to earth as a man. This year I have been thinking through all the prophecies in the Old Testament about his coming. I’ll have to blog some about that at a later date.

There is always church, God time, teen drama, husband, and health issues that I deal with on a daily basis; heavy on the teen drama. I think that is about it.

So that about catches you up on me. I would love it if you would leave a quick reply as to how you are doing. I have missed all of my blogging friends.

My Last Straw Was Many Bales Ago

I woke up one morning with a situation I knew was too rough for me. I had been going through it for a while, and the last straw happened many hay bales ago.I was panicked and nothing was changing. It was time for a little chat with God.

It went something like this,”God, the Bible says you will not give me more than I can bear… well, this is it, so it’s time to blast out the enemy and get me out of this.” I slowly opened my eyes to peek, and I was in the same place as I was before.

There is, apparently, a divide between my definitions and God’s. I realized that with all my hay management. I wish He had written the Bible in my vernacular; it would have cut down on the confusion and made my blog more successful. I will continue the dialogue with God on all this, but it all comes down to this:

  • Ultimately, God is the one on the throne
  • He believes in my way more than I do
  • Just because He listens to me does not mean we are in agreement
  • I had betters study the Greek/Hebrew definitions
  • Get a bigger barn

There is not much I can do to help my circumstances, but there is a lot I can do to help others. When they are beyond their breaking point, I need to be their prayer warrior. I can encourage them, help them with their needs during their process, and be the light to a world stuck in the “more than I can handle” arena.

If you are in a situation where you are panicking and beyond your point of bearing, remember this: “our light and momentary struggles are nothing to be compared to the glory of God”. Now that is a bunch of words God and I can agree on.

A Tactical Homeschooling Error

Now that I have time to look back and evaluate my homeschooling strategy a little, I see a big mistake in my strategy: my kids are using what they learned against me!

My very godly goal was to equip them in all areas (academics, running a house and a budget, clearance shopping, etc.) so that when they graduate from my homeschool, they will be ready to walk into anything God has for them. I went into this whole-heatedly.

Most of my strategies were good ideas, some not so good, and some were downright failures. Here are some of my good ideas :

  • academic strength
  • learning proper socialization
  • creative classes to reflect each child’s interests
  • problem solving skills
  • hard work ethic
  • strong civics understanding
  • strong self identity
  • a heart after God

Okay, I feel a bit better after coming up with that list. Now my “not so good” list:

  • breeding animals in the home (pomeranians started sex-ed at a way to young age for my comfort), (butterflies, tiny silks with worms hanging off of them in the hair of my children at the dinner table)
  • homeschooling in the summer (good idea, bad implementation)
  • teaching the kids to drive by myself (okay, with a little soul searching on this one, I am moving it to the “stupidity” column)

Enough with that, I am getting a little depressed. Let’s go to the “failure” list:

  • using Abeka math for three classes in highschool even when I knew it wasn’t working for us (oh the hours I wasted trying to figure out their way of doing things when I could have just taught my kids the way I knew how to do them)
  • logic fallacies course

Those are just enough to give you the idea of where I am on this. So now onto my greatest strategy error:

Teaching my children how to back up an argument and pointing out the logical fallacies in another person’s argument.

And this is why: My kids can argue me in circles until I don’t know what hit me. Seriously. I also prepared my kids to be independent after graduating from school, and they are way too independent. Plus they are now smarter than me and have a higher vocabulary than I have.

It is just embarrassing when I have to  look up the definitions of words my daughter uses in her writing assignments. It’s humbling when the kids can run the house smoothly when you are out of town for an extended time.

If I had to do it all over again, I have to question what I would do differently. So with great reflection, here they are:

  • waited to buy the first butterfly caccoon until later in the summer when it would be warm enough to let them free
  • not buy the tadpole as it turned into a frog that we couldn’t let loose in a pond and had to buy a friend for
  • not give scissors to a toddler to practice cutting paper while I was homeschooling the other kids, resulting in a beautiful new groove on the edge of the table (who knew safety scissors could actually do that!)
  • taught each subject to suit all levels of kids instead of each child having their own and unique curriculum
  • not study logic fallacies and debate (talk about a student soaking in a subject, biiig mistake

 

I have one child left to homeschool, and she is so smart and independent that she really doesn’t need me much. Mostly she needs me to read to her and discuss ideas. So I am basically out of a job. My older kids have a good head on their shoulders and work hard, and have better ideas about life advice than I normally have. Now they are giving me advice! Argh! But it’s too late. I guess I will have to wait and give fair warning to my kids when they start homeschooling. Of course, they probably will already know that…

 

 

 

 

 

I Want to Know

We see God through the glass darkly, so let’s clean the glass…

By Lisa M. Meister

There is so much
I want to know
About my Lord
Each truth to sow

In my life
The vision clear
Open ears
So I can hear

I want it all
I’d prefer it now
I mean, why wait
Just show me how

Windex in hand
Some elbow grease
Undarkens the glass
All truth release

How much better
To follow you
When I know
All that you do

With it clear
Your face to see
What can it harm
Closer to you be

But as wise
As I think I am
I bow to you
Your greater plan

And at each kernel
Of truth I find
I marvel at it
It sparks my mind

I take it in
And try to see
To change my life
According-ly

To be better now
Than before
To celebrate
Of you adore

And to think
Of all I’d miss
If I already knew
All of this

So I come
Before you now
And concede
To your way I’ll bow

Tell me what
You’d have me know
Our relationship
Will strongly grow

Until I stand
Some glorious day
Face to face
With you I’ll stay

But I Want What Enoch Had…

Comparing our relationship with God against others.

I’m not complaining or anything, but I want to have the relationship with God that Enoch had. We know that he “walked with God”, which I want. We could talk about my blog, the sky, teens…)He also had so many encounters with angels that he knew them by name (there is a book of Enoch that isn’t in the Bible, but is traditionally accepted as truly being about him; fun read). So I must admit I am a tad bit jealous.

This morning I was reading Daniel. God had given him a vision that greatly troubled him. So much so that he ate only boring food and did a lot of praying. He wanted God to explain the vision to him. This is where my mind rebels to say that if God wanted Daniel to understand it, He would have. So 21 days later an angel comes, apologizes for being late (apparently he was jailed by a demon), and explains what Daniel had been wanting to know. I find his relationship with God a tad bit demanding, so I don’t want the relationship he had.

David was a man after God’s own heart, so lots of people want the relationship he had with God. I find David a bit bit-polar, so he’s out.

So I am sticking with Enoch. I told that to  God, but He said no. Everyone has a different relationship with God and that’s the way God set relationships up. He doesn’t want us looking at other Christians and being jealous.

We need to take our relationship with God where God has it. Don’t compare. Identify where your relationship is, and find ways to get closer to God. The more time we spend with people, the closer the relationship gets. The same goes with God. 

I am still a tad bit jealous about Enoch, but I am working on that. I am excited where my relationship with God can go. I hope you can, too. 

Take a Walk

God walked with me today. The day was not special and we chatted about nothing deep, but just spent the time enjoying each other’s company. I love spending time with Him. I love learning about Him and drawing closer to Him. Each day I want to find ways that I can get ever closer to Him.

I am never satisfied with how close I am to Him. My heart is on a race toward the throne room. I want to bow down right in front of Him and be able to see His toes on the floor. Today I did get closer to Him, just by spending time.

I love to tell Him how beautiful the trees and mountains and birds are. I tell Him how amazed I always am His creativity. Seriously, how long did it take to figure out gravity just right so all the planets and suns didn’t collide together? With all the solar systems and galaxies, it surprises me that the spheres up there aren’t colliding like billiard balls.

I thought through all the miracles, grace and mercy God has extended to me over the years. I thanked God for our new paid for and installed water softener. I thanked Him for my family and friends. I thanked Him for our wonderful church and amazing pastor and his lovely wife. They have such a passion to love on people and point them more and more toward God.

I also enjoy talking to Him about things I disagree with. mosquitos, dirty dishes and time continuums. Or ask about what was up with the platypus. Or why don’t I have a panda bear and slide when I want one so badly. I’m sure He laughs at me a lot, but I really do talk to Him about these things.

Everyone can walk with God. Everyone can talk to Him. Take Him along with you tomorrow, and just chill. You will get closer to Him than ever and have a lot of fun. I’m sure you will make Him laugh.