Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Skeletons in the Homeschool Closet

They are ALL coming out. (DISCLAIMER:  This post relates directly to the conservative Christian homeschool movement, NOT to homeschooling in general).

This has been a hard year for the conservative Christian homeschool movement.  First, at the end of October Vision Forum leader Doug Phillips stepped down from his post due to sexual immorality, leaving many of his followers disillusioned and shaken.  (And somewhat understandably so).  I am not and have not been personally involved with Vision Forum, and my comments about that scandal have been minimal.  Now, we have Bill Gothard of ATI stepping aside because of allegations of abuse that are now coming out.  As many of you may know, my family was an ATI family until I was around five.  Although we left the movement at that time, my family has continued to apply many of the principles Mr. Gothard taught.  It just got a little more personal, so I will say more about this particular situation.

First of all, I want to express my sincere grief for the young women who have allegedly (to cover my rear end legally here) been abused by Mr. Gothard.  I am so sorry they were left vulnerable by family and friends and were misused by a man everyone trusted and respected so much.  I have so much respect for their journeys in getting to a place where they could tell their stories at all, and pray continued healing for them as they continue their lives.

Secondly, I am thankful for ATI placing Mr. Gothard on leave and for taking these allegations seriously instead of dismissing them.  It means the world to me that they are not in denial about it, as some people seem to have been over the years.

Thirdly, and most honestly, I am angry.  And I’m not just angry at a leader who allegedly used his position to take advantage of vulnerable woman.  (Although I AM angry about that, for the record).  I am angry at the countless people who have dismissed these women and their stories, not just since they’ve been posted online, but for YEARS.  I am angry that it took ATI taking them seriously for so many others to take them seriously too.

I am angry because we in the conservative Christian homeschool movement are in denial about abuse.  Like, it doesn’t really happen.  Like, it’s all in their heads.  Like, maybe they’re remembering it wrong because it’s been so long.  And we wonder why it takes these precious women so long to take a stand and tell the truth. Why would they, when we all just think they’re liars or crazy or viewing their lives through a dramatic lens? When their own families

Okay, take a breath, Lydia.

Breathe.

You see, I was just talking to God about this anger last night on my way home from work, and I didn’t even know the allegations were being weighed by ATI.  And you may wonder how that can be, if I didn’t know.  Most of you have probably guessed by now that my anger is largely toward an underlying issue, and you’re right.

Just so you know, I’m about to go to a really sticky place right now in the most respectful way I possibly can.  I’m not trying to make anybody mad, or hurt anybody’s feelings, or turn anybody’s world upside down or whatever happens online these days when people read unsettling things – it just is what it is.  Okay? Okay then.

About a year and a half ago, my dad played the “umbrella” card on me regarding a major life decision.  (You ATI people know what I’m talking about).  I sincerely believed God wanted me to go one direction, but my dad felt another direction was best.  At the time he told me that as my father, he stands before God for what I do.  He assured me that it was his role to protect me.

While I went with what he decided (kicking and screaming, I must admit),  I was determined to understand this umbrella theory and its Scriptural background once and for all.  I had heard it many times growing up, and even embraced it (after all, it’s the pinnacle of Courtship: Homeschool Edition), but I had never heard a Bible verse to back it up.  I googled, asked friends on Facebook, searched concordances, and friends, I have STILL never heard a convincing argument for the “umbrella” theory, spiritual covering or protection.

That’s not the point, though.  (Sadly).  The point is that I can’t find anything in God’s Word about anybody but God being my Protector.  If I’m looking to Him exclusively to keep me safe and sound and away from all harm, I’ve made protection the point, and ATI-ers, it’s totally not.  Following Christ is a battlefield, and if you claim Him, you’d better be prepared to fight, man or woman.

Here is what made me really, truly, to the core angry on my drive home with God.  Protection has been the ideal around which I think this movement revolves, and it has at times been beaten over my head.  But you guys,  I’m disillusioned with this ideal.  I’ve come to believe based on studying God’s Word and personal experience, that it was never my dad’s job to protect me.  It was his job to train me up in the way I should go (Prov. 22:6), and he did;  it was his job to bring me up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and he did; but I can’t find a verse that says it’s his job as my parent to protect me, much as he wants to.  God would never have placed such an impossible burden on my dad, or any other father out there. On one level or another, every man would fail. (By the way, just to be honest, I did not come to this particular conclusion overnight, but after a season of a great deal of anger toward my dad for not protecting me in certain areas – which I will maybe someday talk about, but not today).  I’m honestly angry that people still place this burden on husbands and fathers, and that wives and daughters and (to a lesser extent) sons lose their autonomy before God.  And I don’t want to project or anything, but I think it makes God angry as well. (Yes, a loving God gets angry about things that displease Him).

Having said all of this, I should really thank the fabricators of the “umbrella” theory.  If my dad didn’t take his responsibilities as a father so seriously,  he might have considered sending my siblings and I to serve.  As it was, he didn’t, because he felt that some of the programs there should be undertaken in the home and local church.  Even if he had, if I had come back with reports that someone was sexually abusing me, he would have believed me, no questions asked. He would not have regarded Mr. Gothard’s position for a minute before calling him out on his sin.  (I have a great dad).

I hope those of us from the conservative Christian homeschool movement, along with ATI, take the stories of victims seriously and pray for and support them.  I hope we grieve with them and have the guts to be angry about what was taken from them (because, dear brothers and sisters, God is grieved and angry). I hope we pray for them, and find ways to help them heal.  And while we’re at it, I hope we evaluate where we’ve added (or allowed others to add) to God’s Word, and acknowledge how offended He must be when we do that – when we place on ourselves and others burdens He hasn’t.  I’m not asking us to reject all of Mr. Gothard’s teachings because of his sin, but that perhaps his sin can be the catalyst for looking at his teachings more objectively.  And certainly, let’s pray for honesty and repentance from Mr. Gothard in the days, weeks, and months ahead and for God to deal with him mercifully, as He has dealt with each one of us.

This is way longer than I intended it to be.  Over the past year and a half, the buried emotion I’m having to learn to deal with productively is not sadness or grief, but a lot of anger.  I have had to learn it’s okay to be angry, just not bitter – because there are things in this life that grieve and anger God, and with His Holy Spirit within us, we will feel that.  (And not always just toward others, but towards ourselves as well). Of course, of course, God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, but that does not mean we automatically dismiss negative things as positive.

Much love and prayers to my ATI and former ATI friends.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We Can’t End It

I get so caught up in the technicalities of what people say.  There’s probably a medical name for it, because I swear it’s a disease.  I don’t want people to come away from this post with the wrong impression, because I am as anti-slavery, anti-trafficking as they come.  I have a red X on each of my hands supporting raising awareness for modern slavery today.  But I wrestle with the phrase “in it to end it.”

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in our world today.  It was never, I repeat NEVER God’s intention that one human should live in bondage to another. We know bondage is one of the consequences of humans choosing to hand our lives over to an enemy rather than obey God.

Being realistic, we’re not going to end this today or any day before Jesus returns and makes everything right, so I’m not in it to end it.  I can’t end it. As human beings, WE can’t end it.  I do, however, want to do my part to raise awareness and lessen it when and where I can. We can all do that.

Forcing another human being into slavery is WRONG.  If we’re Christians, we have a message of liberty that Jesus himself preached: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1 NASB). So, yes, let’s liberate people from slavery when and where we can, but remember that true liberty is found in Christ, and Christ alone!  He is the One who can truly say He is in it to end it.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It Is By Faith

I’m tired today.  I’ve been tired for a few weeks now.

Waiting on God is exhausting.  Clinging to the Still Small Voice, to the vision He gave me for my life, even when nothing seems to be coming together.  Being here, and also making plans (as much as God puts in my hands) to be there.  Wondering if anything is ever going to happen.  No, not if, but when.  How?  How am I going to make it through days, maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years of not knowing when?  Of just being expected to wait on Him and rest in the fact that He’s got it all under control?

It is by faith, I am reminded.  It is knowing beyond a shadow of any doubt that He wants me there eventually (hence the vision), and the understanding that I am here and He is doing something with me here for now.  It is by the conviction in what I hope for, the assurance of something I cannot see.

It’s why I take the steps I’ve taken: looking for jobs in Seattle, packing things I don’t need now (what my younger brother dubbed as “faith-packing”).  It’s why I’ve said “no” to certain things here.

It’s also why I have no sense of urgency.  I’m not worried about the cost of living there, I’m not worried about the cost of moving there, I’m not even worried about all of the stuff I still need to start a home there.  God has called me there, and He will make a way in His time.

It’s why I can be here now, living fully, because it’s clearly not His time yet.  It is why I can continue building relationships and ministering and seeking job opportunities here, because I know in His time, He will make it clear to me.

It is by faith. As it was Noah and Abraham and Sarah and Moses, so it is with me!

Tagged , , , , ,

Thoughts On SB1062

Because the world needs my opinion on top of everyone else’s on this situation, that’s why.

So here’s the story:  Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer must decide whether to sign or veto SB1062, a law “allowing business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers so long as proprietors were acting solely on their religious beliefs” (CNN.com). It would seem this law would protect business owners from litigation if they chose not to service homosexuals, but would leave the state wide open to litigation.  It’s quite the dilemma Governor Brewer faces, and I don’t envy her for it.

As a former (and perhaps future) wedding vendor, I’ve been considering the implications of this law for people who service weddings in particular, although I’m sure there are broader implications at play.  And as a Christian, I’ve also been personally working through the question of whether or not I would ever consider supporting a homosexual wedding by service or presence.

I’ve been clear about this on this blog and in my personal life, but I think it’s worth restating: among other things, I believe homosexuality violates God’s design for sexuality.  (God’s design for sexuality being one man, one woman in a covenant relationship).  I do not think same-sex attraction by itself is sinful, but I cannot condone acting on that attraction, just as I cannot condone adultery, viewing pornography, or pedophilia.  I think I’m probably approaching the somewhat unpopular conclusion that I cannot support homosexual weddings by providing my services as a vendor at these events.

I know, I know.  How anti-gay of me. I love gay people.  I really do.  Unfortunately, our society equates love with tolerance, in which I must be 100% behind you and what you are doing in order for you to receive my love.  (Good gravy, we humans are messed up).   Gay friends, why would you want to pay me and my narrow mind to be at your wedding, filming you through my judgmental lens? Why wouldn’t you want to invest your money in a business that is happy and proud to support you on your big day?  There are hundreds of them out there.

Reality is, SB1062 in Arizona will set a precedent, which is why it’s such a big deal.  The state will make a choice in who to protect – homosexuals or Christian business people.  Politically, I tend toward libertarianism, which tends toward extremely limited government involvement, so politically, I think this is an issue the government should stay out of except on a case by case basis. In short, politically, I think it’s best not to have a law about it.  Unfortunately, I think we will begin to see more and more cases like the one we saw with the bakery in Portland, and legislation is bound to come at some point. The precedent set in the Portland bakery case is that business owners have no right holding religious convictions in business, since business are not religious institutions.

Christians are expected to go along with the separation of conviction and business, the separation of who we are from what we do, and that is what concerns me. I am not worried about the state leaving Christian business owners vulnerable; I kind of expect it.  In our softness, I’m worried we followers of Christ will just sit back and go along with it, and not fight to be people with convictions no matter whether we are in church or at work. I’m worried we’ll get mean with the people challenging our rights. I’m worried we will compartmentalize and be the convicted person at church, and not carry our convictions to our businesses, blogs, Tweets, and Facebook updates or that we’ll be the nice person at church and the mean person in the world.  I’m worried we’ll lose our integrity as followers of Christ – that we’ll either begin condoning things He doesn’t, OR we’ll take out the loss of our rights (which may be promised in the Constitution, but are nowhere to be found in the Bible) on the people our rights have been forfeited to protect.

It makes very little difference to me whether Governor Brewer signs SB1062 into law or vetoes it.  I will continue to stand by my convictions whether it gets a little easier (for a while) or whether it gets much harder. And I will continue to love people who do things that make no sense to me.  I hope you will too.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Keep Making Me

This is the song I’m currently learning and praying into my life.  Timidly, oh so timidly praying it.  The song asks God to break me, empty me, and make me lonely.   The end result is God is my everything.  See you on the other side.

Keep Making Me

Sidewalk Prophets

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Vulnerability

It’s not about protecting yourself, your feelings, your emotions, your pride.

It’s about saying, “This is who I am, this is what I do,” knowing some people will not accept it, and will not accept you as a result.

I used to have a different blog when I was in college (and a few months following graduation).  A more honest, open blog about who I am and what I struggle with.  It wasn’t widely-read, but I didn’t write it to be read.  I got rid of that blog. I then authored a few ministry blogs and started another personal blog, which didn’t end up being very personal, so I got rid of it too.  I got the distinct impression from certain people that I was being harshly judged for my vulnerability.  Then I had an idea to start an anonymous blog, which would also be personal.  It was several months before I ever shared anything I wrote here on Facebook, but I had quite a following here on WordPress.

Here’s the thing: if I’m not being open and honest, vulnerable in my writing,  I’m not being vulnerable anywhere else in my life, either.

When I was doing my personal revisions to the Field, I had a chapter that wasn’t gelling.  After a lot of consideration, I realized I wasn’t being true to the character, and how she would really react to her circumstances.  I got honest about it.

I have to do the same thing in other areas: sometimes, I discover things are not gelling in my life, and as I seek God’s heart about it, I realize I’m not being vulnerable.  Somehow, somewhere this persona has developed of who I want to be, not who I am, and it causes me problems, because I know, when nobody else does.

This is why I am vulnerable.  While my openness and honesty is a joke to some people, I have found most people appreciate it.  I am not a city broken down or without walls, like the uncontrolled person of Proverbs 25.  Yes, I can and do get hurt pretty easily, being this way.  But I’ve chosen to trust people with myself anyway.

Because it’s not about protecting me.

 

Tagged ,

I’m Never NOT Going To Need You

I’m never not going to need You, God.   I’m never going to get to this place in my life of such independence that I just don’t need You, or Your provision.  I’m always going to have to wait on You, depend on You, trust You, rest in You.

But I confess, God.  Today, I don’t want to need you.  I don’t want to need anybody.  I don’t want to wait on You, depend on You.  I want to trust You, rest in You and do it myself.  Because I like to think I’m good at doing things myself, even when they turn out disastrously.

I cry out to You because I’m tired of not having enough to make it on my own, and You gently remind me that I’m not supposed to be making it on my own.  I’m supposed to be making it because of You.

Pfft.

What a week.

When Life is Heavy

My life is heavy.  Too heavy for me.

Need You Now

by Plumb

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

Tagged , , , ,

Unlovable

I wrote a poem this afternoon, thinking about stuff.

Unlovable

our generational curse

bequeathed to us by matriarchs

who pushed the bounds

and found the limits

too far

and too late

Unlovable

our burden to know

and feel like frauds

if we don’t let others see

and experience our unlovable-ness

too big

for just ourselves

Unlovable

we become like them

like our foremothers

constantly pushing and proving

to ourselves

Unlovable

and yet we’re loved –

a complete mystery to us

it’s wrong

it’s all wrong

it’s so wrong

for we are

and always will be –

can never be anything but

Unlovable

they prove it, too

don’t they?

when they make mistakes

loving us

and we learn it again

as if we could ever forget it

we are

Unlovable

 

Tagged , , , ,

Author Influences

A few weeks ago, a writing friend asked who my author influences are, and more specifically which authors most influenced writing The Field.  It made me realize I have been influenced by a lot of authors in my lifetime, not just as a reader, but as a writer as well.

My dad introduced me to authors like J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, George McDonald, Brian Jacques, and David and Karen Mains.  My mom introduced me to authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Charles Dickens.  My oldest sister introduced me to John Bunyan, Michael Bond (Paddington Bear), and Beverly Cleary (Ramona).  Somewhere in there J. K. Rowling and Phillip Pullman were also introduced, and I independently discovered Margaret and H. A. Rey, Peggy Parish, Sarah Dessen, Stephen King, (and I’m going to make a BIG jump here) Ayn Rand, Mary Shelley, Rainer Maria Rilke, Joyce Carol Oates and Doris Lessing.

Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty well-read and broadly-influenced.  Whether I like it or not, who I read influences what and how I write.

I have always aspired to be like the authors my mom introduced me to.  In the tradition of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and Jane Austen, I’ve been writing stories about sisters from the get-go.  I love exploring the dynamic of sisterhood, and it’s something the aforementioned authors do really well.  I also love (love, love, love) Charles Dickens’ take on humanity and his stellar character development, and I’ve always desired to emulate that in my own work.

Much as I enjoy the authors my dad brought into my life, it has never been my goal to create new worlds in my writing.  And I certainly never intended to be a writer who used another world for the purpose of allegory or parallels to our own world.  And yet, The Field is an allegory that takes place in a different world.  Being honest, my writing going forward will be taking a similar vein.

Now, I still don’t have the subtlety of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or the comprehensive nature of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and I wouldn’t want you to think that I do.  That’s the beauty of where I am as a writer, though, right?  I’m just starting out; I have a lifetime (however long that may be) to develop my craft through many different stories and books.

If I had to choose an author that most closely and clearly influenced The Field, it would be David and Karen Mains in their Tales of the Kingdom and Tales of the Resistance.  I hadn’t read these books in years until this week, hadn’t even thought of them until this question came up, but I correctly remembered them being deeply allegorical.  They are more marketed to children, where The Field is intended for a more mature audience, and the two have different characters and storylines, but I think the overall purpose and message are very similar.

Thing is, allegory is not everyone’s cup of tea, just as not everyone likes Dickens or poetry or science fiction.  I think that’s okay, but that’s also why I don’t intend to market The Field too terribly specifically, but rather to minds that can see parallels in the characters and conversations to real-life philosophies and occurrences.  For that reason, The Field will never be wildly popular, like Harry Potter, Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings.  Even if only a handful of people like it, it will have been well worth my while to write it.

I look at Tales of the Kingdom and Tales of the Resistance.  I’m betting most people who regularly read my blog have never even heard of them or if they have, they might only vaguely remember them.  Me, I remember them vividly from having read them many years ago.  They got under my skin and impacted me.  Along with a colorful edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress, these stories are what got me interested in allegory.  Ultimately, that interest is what prompted me to write The Field.  And this is about what I expect for The Field – niche interest.

Now don’t get me wrong, someday I hope to be an author who writes an allegory so compelling even people who hate allegory won’t be able to put it down, but as Aragorn says (in the movie), “This is not that day.”  I’m just starting to flex my fiction writing muscle: I expect it to strengthen, book by book.  I know that a few years down the road I’m going to have written bigger and better things than The Field, but I will always be glad I wrote it and had the courage to put it “out there” at all.

That’s how the authors I’ve read have influenced me! 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,