Time Bomb of Sexual Abuse

“Sexual abuse places an emotional time-bomb in you. When and where it goes off is usually unpredictable. Time, circumstances and honesty will pull that trigger.” -Unknown

shutterstock_106027019

Saturday evening, April 19, 2008. Joe was performing a wedding ceremony for a young couple that we had journeyed with through pre-marriage counseling. Joe had used Genesis 2:24-25 as the foundation for the weeks of counseling. “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”  Joe summed up the verses in these 4 statements: Leave-Cleave-Become One-You Are Not Ashamed.  The last statement, “You are not ashamed” is that of moving towards transparency in your marriage. The two were naked, transparent, towards one another, and yet they felt no shame in being truly open and honest with each other.

As he shared and encouraged that young couple in the last statement during the ceremony, that is when my “emotional time-bomb” went off. That evening, everything changed in our marriage. For that instant in time, I was a scared little girl, afraid of what may become of my life. Fear or what I did to cause this pain and trouble. Fear that Joe would not understand. Fear to share. Fear.

I will not go into details of my sexual abuse. That is not where I live any longer. I am still on this journey of healing. My scars have all but healed. My memories of those years as a young child are still vivid and clear. However, as I stated last week, I chose not to dwell on the past. I am no longer a victim. I am beyond a survivor. I am a New Creation in Christ. That is where I stand. That is where I live. In Him.

That evening in 2008 I spoke through tears to my husband. I shared with him what had happened in my life as a child. I remember watching his face. The wave of emotions pouring through his eyes as he listened. He will share with you this week what he felt. How he responded. However, I was now more scared than ever because of the rage he displayed towards the one who abused me. Yes, I knew my abuser. Joe even met him once, without knowing my background. You see, almost all sexual abuse victims know their abuser. They are friends, family, neighbors. They are “trusted” and they continually groom their victims into shame and guilt.

As I stated, this began a journey for Joe and me. We both immediately sought counsel. We were very selective in who we shared this information with. The shame and guilt still loomed heavy and large over our lives. The next few years were a cacophony of emotions and communication with each other. Again, remember, this is necessary for healing. We move from Victim, to Survivor, but then to Christ. But that path is still enveloped with pain.

Let me bring some clarity to the years that followed that April evening. I realized that during those years of abuse, God was there. Listen closely before you get all worked up. He was there weeping and hurting alongside of me. He never left me. In fact, I know He gave me “Spiritual Amnesia” so I could move forward in life. He placed Joe in my life. He blessed us with two beautiful daughters. He gave us time to grow as husband and wife. He also knew the time and place that the truth would be revealed. He was there then. He has always been with me. That’s when I realized that He loved me so much that He died on the cross for me.

I am no longer a victim. No I choose not to wallow in the past. I will not allow the abuser to control my life through fear and guilt. I became a survivor. In the initial years after sharing with Joe and a selected few, I chose not to wallow but to move forward. I chose to forgive my abuser. Yes, you heard me correctly. I spent countless hours praying and seeking God’s comfort and peace during this time. I spent hours praying for my husbands heart to be healed as well. During that time with God, He made it clear that His Son died for my abuser as well. That I should allow Christ to take on that burden and I should forgive him for the past. Let me be honest and fair, that was one of the most difficult times in my walk with Christ; however, it was so liberating! This is when I moved from survivor to New Creation. I now knew what that verse meant in 2 Corinthians. I owned it and I began to live it out and still do to this day. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”       2 Corinthians 5:17

This is my prayer for those who still hold onto the title of “Victim.” Sexual abuse is rampant in our society today. It was not and is not your fault! It is also not ok!  The latest data shows that 3 of 5 women have been sexually abused by the age of 25. Those are the ones reported. Some reports place that closer to 85%. Seek strong counsel today. You MUST move from victim to survivor. The world teaches us that being a victim is ok. That you are entitled to your darkness. Listen to me please, no you are not. Let go of the past. Disarm your abuser and move forward. Yes, you will have “scars” but they need to be healed. I will go into greater detail next week.

Finally, also know this. I could not have traveled this journey without Jesus Christ. When I surrendered my life to Him, He took on my pain and suffering for me. He held me close and has never let me go. I no longer dwell in the past, even as a survivor. I am a New Creation in Christ. That’s where I stand.  You can too. It’s never too late.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””               Matthew 11:28-30

 

Kerry

 

Content or Disillusioned

“How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”     Philippians 4:10-13

content-marketing-question-ss-1920

I wanted to take time to share with you how much these verses mean to me. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, and 3 years of dating prior, Kerry and I have seen our fair share of seasons. There have been times of long winters, some beautiful and fulfilling summers, and many transitions of fall and spring in our lives. With that said, I hold dear the words spoken by Paul in his letter to the Philippian church. This is a letter of joy in the crucible of trials. To focus on the blessings instead of the darkness. Yes, for some, you believe that the darkness will never leave your heart. Trust me, I fully sympathize with you. I was there nine years ago. It was a time that I felt all alone and so out of control. Yet, through the encouragement of friends and from Kerry, they lifted me up and guided me back towards what Christ was doing in my life to wrought my heart closer to Him.

So let’s see what Paul is sharing. He first learned this attitude, this focus. He had to continually practice this mind set. It was not one and done, it was a continual process that occurred daily. Next, he understood what it meant to be content. To be content is to satisfy the mind and to make quiet in your spirit. It’s to stop your complaining and/or opposition to the situation at hand. This leads to the final observation I now own as my own. Through Christ. Paul reflects on the ups and downs he has encountered, but the learning of being content is nothing without Jesus Christ. He is the One who gives the peace in our hearts. He is the One who we must rest in daily. And it is not a passing emotion or conversation, it is Through Him. We must dwell in Him, daily.

So as Kerry and I begin our journey with you, I want you to know that we would not be where we are today in our marriage, our friendship, our family, if it were not for the strength and love of Jesus Christ in our lives. So this begs the question, are you choosing  daily to be content in where Christ has you today?

 

Joe

Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”  Song of Songs 2:15

1405490579-in-pics-keep-your-office-romance-a-secret_570x379

Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together; they begin with inappropriate friendships. Friendship and emotional attachments with people of the opposite sex can spell danger for your marriage. This is where you husbands, must daily make a choice to protect your marriage. Wives, this is for you as well.  What do you chose?

 

Kerry and I have witnessed many couples who “innocently” will become emotionally attracted to a member of the opposite sex. They become “bored” with the relationship they are in and begin to truly believe that there is something better for them. Instead of investing into their own marriage by seeking counsel and choosing to focus on where they are falling short in the marriage, they instead begin to drift away-emotionally and physically, and especially-spiritually.

 

So here are 4 Warnings for you to be aware of in your marriage and heed immediately.

 

 

  1. Protect your marriage by avoiding private communications and intimate conversations with people of the opposite sex. Too often we see Social Media and Texting becoming a hidden area of spouses worlds. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you and your spouse share the same pass codes and that at any given time, they have the right to look into your phone for emails, texts, social media posts and IM’s. You have nothing to hide from your spouse…Nothing.

 

 

  1. Beware of workmates who seem too concerned with your personal private life; those that tell you “let me know if you need anything.” That’s the beginning of an open invitation to draw closer to them instead of your spouse. Do not share intimate details with workmates about the trials and struggles in your marriage. If you need to talk to someone, find a marriage counselor, a pastor or find another couple that shares your values and the four of you take time to talk it out.

 

 

  1. Beware of those that give you exaggerated and suggestive compliments about the way you look. Regardless of what is happening in your marriage don’t give the Devil a foothold in your marriage by falling victim to this trap. Let your workmates know there are things you won’t tolerate. Enough said…

 

 

  1. Keep a healthy physical, social and emotional distance between you and people of the opposite sex. This is the most important facet to all of these warnings. Your workmates need to know without a doubt that you are married, that you are in love with your spouse, and nothing will come between you both. Make sure to have pictures up of your family and spouse. Wear your wedding ring. Smile when you talk about your spouse.

 

So in closing, I ask the same question…”What do you chose?”

 

 

Joe

Victim or Survivor?

Victim: Something destroyed; something completely sacrificed in the pursuit of an object or situation.

Survivor: One who outlives another or a situation of conflict.

rear-view-mirror

In this world, it seems that we begin to classify ourselves as either a “Victim” or a “Survivor” of our past or current circumstances.

It’s become easy to play the victim card and stay a prisoner of the past. Not allowing ourselves to look forward, but to be perpetually stuck looking in the rear-view mirror.  We use the pain of past or the trials of the current to set the tone for our life. We become “Hand-Wringers” and use that victim card to remain hopeless and broken. It is the excuse we carry so we no longer have to take responsibility for our own actions but instead we place blame on the past.

Or, we take a new ownership and call ourselves Survivors! We have overcome the past. We no longer place blame on the past, but instead we know where the pain came/comes from and we conquer it. We take either responsibility for our actions or we choose to forgive the one who caused us the pain and terror. We no longer live in the grip on its guilt. We point back to our past and declare we are a survivor.

However, I am asking that you notice something from both those classifications: Victim or Survivor. They both still point to the past. While one is victorious and the other is brokenness, they both rely on the past as their “Badge.”

In the next couple of weeks, I will share with you all some very personal and raw emotions and events from my past. I will also take time to share with you where I was a Victim, where I became a Survivor, but most of all, when I chose to become a New Creation in Christ. The past is gone, a new life has begun.

Hear me please, I truly know that there are many circumstances out in the world that are so overwhelming that you cannot fully understand how to even begin to survive. I will not be trivial nor contrite in the upcoming weeks. I give you my word that I will be honest, true and very transparent. I will share with you my journey and where my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has brought me. So please, let me share with each of you my heart.  Thank you. We will continue this discussion next Monday.

Kerry

Are You Married in Public?

“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.”  Song of Solomon 2:4

Banner-of-Love

Here’s a question for you married folks…Is your love for one another evident to those around you? Better question, “Do strangers know you two are married?”

Ok, before you quit reading and move on with life, seriously take time and reflect on those answers.  Too often, we as married couples, fall into a rut or routine.  We take for granted the relationship God has ordained for us as a husband and wife. Instead of purposely pursuing intimacy in our marriages daily, we begin to assume that each of us is ok and content with the amount of physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy we are currently displaying to one another. So, no need to try any harder, it’s just fine where we are. To that attitude, I cry foul! That’s just plain lazy as a spouse.

Look what the Shulamite Woman writes in SofS 2:4. Solomon, the King of Israel, displays a love for her for all to witness. It is evident that there is a genuine love he has for her and she in return, reflects that love for all to see. It is clear that they are in love. This is probably the first Biblical account of a PDA: Public Display of Affection. There is no need for them to be locked in a passionate kiss, nor are they all handsy with one another. No, it’s probably the way they look at one another, set aside and focus on one another, probably the way they hold hands and speak to one another in public is the beginning of telling those they encounter that they love one another.

Jesus spoke it clearly, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”   John 13:34-35

Stop what you are doing when your spouse enters a room or is in eye shot and make eye contact with them. Smile and give them a wink. Acknowledge that you see them and know they are near. Hold hands and smile when you are together. Be walking side by side, not in a military line showing “who is in charge.”  Speak words of encouragement and tenderness to one another. To be sarcastic and rude to one another in public, or even in front of friends or children, is rude and toxic to your marriage. Even a soft kiss on the cheeks or lips, save the passionate kissing for private, is a beautiful way to display the precious gift of marriage that Christ has given to each of you.

Again, when you are in public with your spouse do those around you see a “banner of love” between you two? Start today to display the love you have for each other and in turn you will display a Christ-Centered love that will reflect the Gospel for all to witness.

Begin today with a new banner for your spouse!

Joe and Kerry

Pulling Back the Curtain on Physical Intimacy

Looking through red curtains

The past several Monday’s have gone very fast and have, for a better word, exposed some of the honest truth about physical intimacy in a marriage. Comments we have received runs the spectrum: “Thank you for discussing a topic on marriage that churches seem to shy away from.”  “Appreciate your honesty and candor. This is an important issue that seems to be brushed aside and avoided by most pastors.”  “You are wrong to be spreading these ideas. Sex is strictly for procreation in a marriage, nothing else.”  “Thank you for allowing me to feel sexy and giving me permission to enjoy sex.”  “Keep your comments to yourself, you will only increase promiscuity by your posts!” “By sleeping naked this past week, my husband and I for the first time in our marriage have enjoyed our time between the sheets like never before.”

So, you see, we are causing a stir and making people think again about physical intimacy in a marriage.  Whether it be good, bad, or just convicting…people are thinking. That’s good.

This now leads us into this day’s post. Communication is key when it comes to fully enjoying each other’s bodies as well as enjoying an active sex life as husband and wife.  However, too often we shy away from asking the key questions that will allow us to grow in our physical, sexual intimacy with one another. We are too embarrassed to ask and very embarrassed to respond truthfully. To those reactions, I say “STOP!”

It’s time to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. It’s time to become transparent with one another. Genesis 2:25 says it clearly, “The two were naked and not ashamed.” They were completely vulnerable before one another. They were transparent and had no shame for being so.  As husband and wife, we should be the same. The questions will be difficult at times but our hope is that they will first encourage each of you to open up emotionally which in turn will allow you to open up physically. Treat these as conversation starters, modify them to suit your marriage, pick and choose what you wish to discuss; however, please don’t try to rush through all of them in one sitting. That’s not what they are for. It’s important to ask these questions so as to learn more about your spouse. These will help you be a student of your spouse.  Don’t get upset and try to “readjust” their answers, instead, explore the answers, listen to your spouse and grow! Also, final instruction, answer in complete and clear sentences, don’t give vague answers because you are embarrassed of the answer as well as give specific answers.

So here are 30 Sex Questions to Ask Your Spouse:

  1. Where is your favorite place to be touched that isn’t sexual to you?
  2. When I initiate sex, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
  3. What is your favorite way for me to initiate sex?
  4. How do you usually try to let me know you are in the mood for sex?
  5. What does sex mean to you?
  6. Describe your favorite memory of us having sex.
  7. Where and how do you like to be touched the most during sex? Why?
  8. Where do you not like to be touched during sex and why not?
  9. Describe something you’d like to try, regarding sex, which we haven’t tried together.
  10. Describe something we have tried before, regarding sex, which you’d like more of.
  11. How often would you like to have sex, ideally?
  12. What do you think about during sex?
  13. What’s your favorite position? Why?
  14. Would you rather have sex with the lights on or off? Are you afraid of having sex with the lights on?
  15. Does being naked in front of me make you uncomfortable? What can I do to make you more comfortable?
  16. Are you happy with how long we spend on foreplay? Would you like more or less?
  17. Are you happy with how long we spend having sex? Would you like more or less?
  18. What is your favorite foreplay activity?
  19. If there was one thing you’d like to improve about our sex life, what would it be?
  20. What is your favorite thing for me to say during sex?
  21. What activity gives you the strongest, or longest, orgasms?
  22. Describe what an orgasm feels like to you.
  23. Describe what it feels like to you when I have an orgasm (physically or emotionally).
  24. What is the most important part of sex to you? Why?
  25. Is there someplace you’d like to have sex that we haven’t already?
  26. Would you rather have sex in the morning or in the evening?
  27. Would you rather give oral sex, receive it, or neither? Why?
  28. What do we do in bed that you never thought you’d participate in?
  29. Which one of my body parts are you favorite? Which one of your body parts are your favorite?
  30. Name one thing that really turns you on.

 

There you have it. Here is our list of 30 questions. You may have additional ones and you may think that these are 29 too many. Either way, the key here is to communicate with your spouse. Talk to them and begin to open up to one another.  Be transparent with one another and don’t be ashamed of the answers.

 

Joe & Kerry

A Prayer for Your Children

praying-hands

It was about 15 years ago that Kerry came across a “Daily Prayers for Your Children” article from Focus on the Family.  Since then, she has made copy after copy for us. She has also implemented those daily prayers as a guide for the teachers at her school as they pray for their students. She has even made copies to hand out to parents in our Bible Study classes.

What I appreciate most is that my wife not only realizes the importance of prayer, she is gifted by the Holy Spirit and is a dedicated prayer warrior. Since Samantha was an infant, we have prayed over our children daily. For their future spouses, for their protection, for them to get caught in lies or deception. Most of all, we have prayed for their salvation through Jesus Christ. That they will live for Him, first and foremost.

So I will share with you the prayer plan we have adopted and made our own, originally from Focus on the Family.

Monday                                                                                                                                    -Place a protective, solid hedge around them so satan can’t reach in and lead them into temptation and so they will be safe from harm.  2 Thess 3:3, Ps 33:20

Tuesday                                                                                                                                  -They will use Godly wisdom in selecting friends and that they will make a positive difference in their lives. Give them discernment of people and knowing right from wrong.  Prov 1:10, 18:24, Deut 13:6,8

Wednesday                                                                                                                            -Stay pure in their thoughts and deeds. Ps 24:4-5, Job 17:9

Thursday                                                                                                                                 -They will be caught if they cheat, lie, or are mischievous. Heb 13:18-19

Friday                                                                                                                                     -They will be alert and think clearly in school and activities. Help them to be motivated to do their best.  Col 3:17, 1 Cor 10:31

Saturday                                                                                                                                 -Their future spouse. That they will come from a Godly background and desire the life you want from them. That their goals will be the same and their homes will be one that seeks holiness first.  Deut 5:29

Sunday                                                                                                                                   -They will live for Him and that He will use them for His Glory. That they will fully mature spiritually.       Ps 78:1-8, 103:17-18, Is 54:13, Eph 3:20-21