Ministry


My friend posted something on her facebook page the other day, about the Oprah show that she just watched. My friend mentioned how her heart breaks for “these women.” Since I only have preschool shows on during the day, I went to Oprah’s site and got the scoop. The topic for this particular show was on women who had been sexually abused at the hand of family members.

Growing up in with a strict, religious-focused mentality, really screwed me up. As a child and teenager, there were many things that were taboo topics in my family. The thinking was, if negative things were discussed, they’d be at the forefront of our minds and it would make us want to do those things. If we were talking about negative feelings, then we weren’t focusing on God or allowing Him to heal us. Total BS brainwashing. Especially when I had questions about sex, drugs and drinking as a pre-teen and then not knowing what to do or who to talk to after being molested by two family members and raped as a teenager. I’ve gone through HELL in my life because I’ve felt too afraid to speak up, too alone for anyone to care. Years of pain and trauma may have been avoided if I had been given the tools to deal with being molested when I was eight. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned to drugs, alcohol, stealing, running away, etc… maybe I wouldn’t have been molested, for years, by another family member. Maybe I wouldn’t have been raped.

Reading the summary of the Oprah show, the other day, reminded me that there is still SO much change that needs to happen in regard to sexual abuse survivors. In a way, I feel I’m now open to speaking about it so that must mean that everyone else is as well. I couldn’t believe the feedback I read while browsing through this particular site, as well as other sites. There are still so many women and men that are silent because they feel alone and afraid.

To me, it means that the voices of us survivors aren’t loud enough.

I want to be a loud advocate for victims/survivors but given the lack of confidence I have in myself and feeling like the help I have to offer has already been fulfilled by someone else and my story has already been told, it’s no wonder I’ve been dormant on this topic.

The reminder that there are still people too afraid to speak up or feeling like they are alone in their pain/abuse helps propel me, recharge me, to speak louder.

Why is sexual abuse such a taboo topic?!?

I’m sick of the muzzle, especially when it’s placed on by religion.

This year, I’ve finally found help: My church and their love for hurting, broken and weak people. My help has also come from finally tearing down the pride that had been fused to my DNA and talking to a counselor who showed me the depth of my PTSD and a variety of healing processes. So far, I’ve come across one book, Wounded Heart, that has been the most amazing help of all in getting me over my silenced shame and in understanding I’m not alone.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

It’s more than likely that if you aren’t a victim/survivor yourself, then you know of someone that has been sexually abused.

Our silence is deafening.

I have had severe writer’s block, for weeks, with this idea/post. I’m tired of it swimming around in my head. So, although it might be incomplete or disjointed, I’m publishing it now.

I had an epiphany last night. Oooo, I love those. I realized that if I would stop having expectations with other people, then they wouldn’t let me down. If I stopped expecting things from people or for them to act a certain way, then I wouldn’t be disappointed in them.

I realized that that must be what defines unconditional love. Then I realized that that is how I needed to start viewing myself. I judge myself quite severely.

For most of my life I’ve felt defined as a singer. Not as a person who loved to sing but as, just a singer. If I messed up in singing a song, I failed in who I was. It was a horrible place to put myself. If I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t fulfilling who I was meant to be. If I wasn’t at the top of my list of accomplishing “all things I want to do and places I want to go” with singing, then I wasn’t complete.

I feel closest to God when I’m singing on stage at church and most complete when I’m singing, anywhere. However, I was getting to the point, before and after singing, of being unnerved with how I did because it wasn’t the best.

Being ONLY a singer was killing the value that I should have placed within myself. Having unrealistic expectations was killing the unconditional love that I should have had for those around me.

Once I realized that my problem resided in the expectations I had on myself and others, I quickly learned how to dissolve the issue.

In this seemingly simple act of change, I’ve lifted another incredible burden off of my shoulders. The difference I feel, in singing (whether it’s at home for an hour or at church), is tremendous. I’m not held captive to the feeling of being a failure if I make a mistake because I’m not just a singer. I’m a person that loves to sing. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor… that just loves to sing. This change has also lifted a burden off of people around me, whether they knew they were carrying this burden or not. If my family and friends failed in my expectations for them, then they were failing me. Now that I’ve dissolved those expectations, I feel I’m now free to love unconditionally.

No expectations = Unconditional love.

Several months ago, a friend of mine told me he was going to Afghanistan. As my eyelids shaped my eyes into spheres, I said, “I could never go there. People are always talking about humanitarian work in Africa and the Middle East and those are the two places that scare me the most.”

I was raised in a neighborhood where Caucasian was the minority. For the first sixteen years of my life, I grew to completely understand what racism was, from a very different perspective than the norm. Once we moved to a more Caucasian-populated area, I felt as if I was still the minority because I’d grown accustomed to feeling like I had Hispanic, African-American and Filipino roots.

I know what it feels like to, not only, be singled out because I’m white, but to be singled out because I’m female. Both of those, in and of themselves, are extremely terrifying to me. I used to carry a pocket knife to school in Junior High. Junior High! I was twelve years old and so fearful of harm coming to me, I would carry a weapon with me to stab a potential attacker. Why would I want to go to Africa and the Middle East and be singled out like that again? Especially when the media shares horrific stories of attacks in these places, over and over again. Why would I want to put a target on my chest and, essentially, scream out, “Here I am, you Violators of Women, you Haters of Americans, come get me! I dare you!”

Since my friend shared his story of going to Afghanistan, something began stirring in me. For the last several months, I’ve actually felt my heart becoming soft and intensely empathetic to the people of Afghanistan. I’ve reflected, over and over, on the fear I have of harm coming to me and the lack of faith I have in God if I ever had a chance to go to this country. I’ve cried, so many tears, as story after story of God providing a water well and a school and other supplies for these people in the desolate refugee town of Barek Aub. I’ve become attached to the familiar faces shown in pictures and videos as team after team travel from our church and help these people establish freedom after Russian and Taliban invasions have killed their family and friends and/or maimed many of them. The “least” of their problems has been a complete and total crush of hope… until our church became involved. The other day, someone shared how, for years, the Afghan people prayed to their god to bring water to their town. When we prayed to God, they got their well.

Our church is putting together it’s third and final trip of the year with a medical trip to Afghanistan. I applied to go and have an interview tomorrow morning. I have never been more passionate about doing something and more overwhelmed by fear, in my entire life.

Since deciding to go (once Jase gave his blessing, of course), I’ve been daily consumed with the pain the Afghan people have had to endure, the struggle they live with everyday and the fear a trip of this magnitude brings. I’ve also been consumed with wanting to share my life with these people.

How can I teach people (especially my own children) about Jesus’ love and passion for people, from the comfort of my free country, air-conditioned home and way-above-poverty income status? How can I show love when I’m almost a world away? How can I show faith in this God I serve if I never live that faith?

The more I try to write off the feelings of going, the more overwhelmed I am with a push to go.

If you pray to God, please pray for me and my family.

  • I am very aware of the toll a trip like this will take on me and my loved ones as I’ll be gone for ten days.
  • I’m aware of the danger I’m placing myself in.
  • From fruitlessly trying to raise money as a teenager for fundraisers to fruitlessly trying to raise money as an adult for a couple of mission trips and given the state of the economy, I understand the struggle it will be to raise the funds.

Given that knowledge and the fact that I believe in a God that loves these people and dislikes what they are going through and longs for His people to share a message of hope and love and help these people attain stability on their own:

How can I do anything but take a step forward and trust?

I first heard about Invisible Children (IC) in 2004. I was living in Alabama at the time and since this was a hometown (San Diego) organization, I thought that I could only help from afar, by word-of-mouth.

Living in Colorado, I first got involved with Invisible Children in April 2006. The event was called Global Night Communte (GNC). I had been wanting, so desperately, to actually do something that I jumped at the chance to spend the night, in some strange downtown Denver park, with only my six year old son, Malakai, and our sleeping bags. I don’t feel I’m making a legitimate change in this world unless I can bring my family, my own children, with me in the plight. My children have such an amazing road of change before them. They learn best when actually experiencing change.

Me and Malakai, making an effort for change: IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Me and Malakai: IC’s GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Early morning rise in front of the State Capitol, IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

IC’s GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

The second time I joined in an event with Invisible Children, it was for DisplaceMe in April 2007. This journey was a little more interesting, given the fact that I was now almost eight months pregnant with Cali and we would basically be hiking about a mile to our final location, while trying to balance water bottles and crackers, cardboard box “homes”, sleeping bags and my humongo belly. The numerous middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom to pee, a quarter of a mile away from our “home”, through a field of potholes, in the dark, was very humbling. This time my nephew, Clay, came along with me and Malakai.

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly).

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly): IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit.

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed "dinner", handed out when the organizers saw fit.

Our rationed “dinner”, handed out when the organizers saw fit. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Invisible Children is doing again. On April 25, 2009, thousands of people in 9 countries and 100 cities take part in abducting themselves and calling attention to over 300 children abducted to fight in a murderous rebellion army.

If you have a heart to change the world. I highly suggest you start by watching this video**. Jase and I don’t have money to help out every organization we attach our heart to.

However, we DO have time.

We have a voice.

We have limbs / a country /vehicles / freedom to actually take action with.

We have our own children and other youth, that look up to us to lead by example.

We have our own children, and other impressionable youth, that won’t ever have to fear being abducted by gun-toting rebels who pierce into camps and rape, pillage and kill in the middle of the night, or day.

I dare you to watch this video**. I dare you to take action. I dare you to spread the word as far as you can.

Let’s teach our children, the next generation of leaders, about those that have become Invisible. Let’s help those who have no voice / no country / no freedom of their own.

Put your apathy on the back burner.

**Disclaimer: The video is amazing and life-changing in and of itself, but it’s full of graphic imagery/audio/photos surrounding the effects of war. In regard to younger viewers, do with that as you will.

Does your past bury you or carry you?

In my life, for the most part, I’ve let my past carry me. I’ve let it be the fuel for my passion for life and people. I’ve let situations that would normally smother someone, breathe life into me. Since 1996, when I gave my life to following God, I’ve seemed a champion, a conqueror, of my unpleasant (sometimes horrendous) past. If I felt memories starting to drown me, I’d just absorb myself into something new.

Lately, something is changing in me. I’m realizing that I’m not so much a champion as much as I am a survivor. I’m still learning how to survive my past and not let it bury me. There have been times that my past has been a hazard, a hurdle, that has seemed too difficult to leap over, too tough a task to overcome. Guilt over a friend killing himself and another being murdered, the trauma of having been taken advantage of time and time again can sometimes reduce me to nothing but a shell of a person.

Would I change anything from the history that now seems to define the passionate, loving person I am today? I don’t know. There is so much that is ingrained into the foundation of who I am. So much of what I consider trauma allows me to empathize and understand people that others would walk on and ignore. So much of what disgusts me from my past allows me to protect my children in ways I never would have originally dreamed of needing protection. So much of the guilt from my past pushes me to never give in, never give up, never surrender in the fight for my own life and the fight for the lives around me.

Would I sacrifice the momentary pain, that sometimes still lingers, and the extraordinary love and compassion I have for people by changing my past? I think not.

I choose to allow my past to pave a path for my future and in the legacy I leave behind in the generations of life to come.

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