Updated: Dec 14, 2020
True or false? People who stand up and do hard things like fight against child sexual abuse or trafficking have it "all together", ducks all in a row, feel self-confident and KNOW they are influential.
I guess those things could be true for some. Maybe some have learned to put on a good front to LOOK confident and gain influence. Maybe some don't have to put on a front at all...they ARE confident and influential.
Can I tell you why I do this hard thing? Because of moments like what I experienced this morning.
I glanced through Facebook, my eye caught a friend's picture of a cardinal and I was instantly drawn into reading. The cardinal represents hope to many and is very symbolic to me. It "just happened" that as my husband and I were in the process of fostering and adopting our son, whenever I was worried about upcoming court or other issues, I would see a cardinal right outside my window. It was as if God was saying "it's going to be ok. I've got this". And He did. Everything turned out alright, we are done with court hearings and have finalized our adoption.
But that's not what this story on Facebook was about. A father had passed away in his daughter's arms. The most agonizing five minutes of her life. He obviously was a wonderful father and very dear to her. Not long after his funeral she experienced a pair of cardinals building their nest near her window. Even though she is not superstitious she found herself saying, "Hi Dad...I'm ok." How beautiful!
But this is where I doubled over to catch my breath and choke back tears.
It is rare for me to experience flashbacks anymore, but this was a big one. I was suddenly 14 or 15 years old again in the recurring nightmare, sitting on the floor crying as my dad, blank-faced, was dying in my arms. My dad was not actually dying, and I did not understand my dreams until I became an adult. The dreams were God's way of warning me that I would some day have to let go of my dad for the safety of my children - and myself. I did let go... I thought.
I haven't contacted him for at least 7 years since the last time we spoke he blamed his child-victims for his sexual abuse. Out of sight does NOT mean out of mind. I am 50 years old and still need God's reminders that I'm capable, beautiful, strong, smart, and worthy because my dad spent my growing up years demonstrating that I was none of those. He has never once tried to contact me, which leads me to believe it doesn't matter to him whether I'm ok or not. At this particular moment I'm NOT.
That my dad's abuse can still have that kind of effect on me after so many years frustrates and angers me. Those feelings of low self-esteem have caused me to make poor choices, held me back from trying or pushed me down when I felt successful so many times over my entire life I can't even number them. It is THIS personal repeated cycle - once I have allowed the Lord to speak into my heart and bring me back up again - that puts the fire in my heart to keep on going.
I don't ever want my children to wonder if they are worthy. I never want any child to feel incapable or stupid, ugly, or weak. I don't want my children, or any other child to seek attention, affirmation or love from someone outside their own family because they are not receiving those basic needs at home. It's these kids who are most likely to fall into the trap of substance abuse or the arms of a sexual predator. God saved me for a reason. That's the reason I wrote Raising PEARLS: Prepared, Empowered, Armored, Restored, Loved & Secure Children.
Parents, we all have the extremely important job of empowering our kids to help them grow up strong and safe. They are our future leaders, so they need our encouragement to BE who God designed them to be. If you did not grow up with much encouragement, then this activity book will be especially helpful in walking you through affirmations (not only to your kids but to yourself), activities and conversations that will help build them up, protecting them from potential abusers or traffickers. It will also help with the beginning of restoration if they have already been abused.
There are very few Christian books available directed to elementary aged children and younger. If you don't have a copy for your family, click the link here to purchase on Amazon. It is available both as an E-book and paperback on many other online booksellers as well. Paperback is necessary for you to do the activities with your children, and you have my permission to make copies of the activity section for the children in your own household.
And in case you need reminders like me,
You are loved
You are chosen
You are special
You are smart
You are strong
You are capable
You are important
You are precious
You are beautiful
You are fearfully and wonderfully made
You are never alone.
Jesus Himself said, "I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
We might fall down and lose our breath sometimes, but we don't need to stay down. We can take His hand, stand up, and walk OUT of the darkness into the light with HIM.
God bless you,