Are We Raising A Generation of Narcissists?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
If you only had one choice, would you rather your children were kind or smart?

Take a moment and really consider that question.

In today's world, being smart gets you everywhere.
But where does being kind get you?

My daughter came home from school yesterday and told me she didn't have anyone to play with.

When I asked her about two girls she was friendly with at kindergarten 2 years ago, who are in her class, if she had gone to play with them, she said they told her she could only play with them if she gave them food from her lunchbox!

Now, I know I am the most awesome lunch-making-mother - thank you very much (snort) - but this did seem a little extreme to take it as far as being friendly to my girl!

Children can be cruel!

Because I am the Myers-Briggs personality type of INFJ - I am constantly trying to define my world. I lie awake at night thinking deep thoughts about the problems of the world and how to resolve them.

But unkindness is something I find very hard to tolerate and to fathom. On any level.
And it's a hard one to excuse, whether you're a child, a teenager, or an adult.
Kindness is always an option.

I had a mother who was acutely aware of this issue and she always reminded to be friendly to those who didn't have friends, be kind to the under-dog; and this is something I am trying to pass on to my children. But lately I have been realising that this is not something that many people value anymore. In our world of elitist schools and one-upmanship and where self is god, the majority of parents are opting to choose whatever it is that will get their child ahead - both academically and socially, regardless of who they have to trample on to get there.
And here I am over here just hoping my kids enjoy their childhood.

Last year, my youngest daughter gave up her place in the school cross-country - even though she was the fastest runner in her class - to hold hands and run with a girl who was crying and didn't want to participate. They came in last, but I could not have been more proud of my girl.

How do you combat a generation of selfish parents raising selfish children? And yes, I place the blame squarely on the parents. Children reflect what they are being taught at home.
How can one person make a difference in a society where the values of kindness and unselfishness and open-hearted friendship are unpopular?

I'm still working on the answers to that - I'll let you know if I ever discover them.
Let me know if you do too.

I see it in the generation of some of my own extended family members who are young adults. But we forgive the young - they're enthusiastic, they're selfish, they're learning about themselves, they're finding themselves... but seriously, I'm starting to question those excuses... what happened to good, old-fashioned community spirit and family ties? What happened to the ideals of putting other people before yourself? What happened to the golden rule of loving your neighbour as much as you love yourself?

Let's talk about the popularity at the moment for random acts of kindness. When we read about it our heart swells with emotion. There's nothing wrong with that and helping our kids to be part of it, but it seems that the random acts of kindness movement has become more of a corporate idea, rather than translating that idea onto a personal level. Give to charities rather than give to the poor, friendless neighbour two doors down who struggles to pay their grocery bill every week.

Instead of asking your kids to donate used toys to a charity, how about asking a classmate over to play who doesn't have a lot of friends.
Instead of making cookies to share with the whole class, how about sharing a kind word with the girl who sits next to you.
Instead of going for your daily walk with a friend in the morning after the kids have gone to school, how about asking a new mum who just joined your school to join in with you.

Little thoughts of kindness that bridge gaps of need in the community.
In our pursuit of personal success we've forgotten how to do that.

Kindness has become more of a concept than an act. It needs to be personalised for children for them to really learn that, not broadly stroked in largesse.

If we don't teach them these things as children -  they won't carry it through into their adulthood.

I still believe that kindness is one of the most important qualities a person can have.
That open-hearted friendship is the pathway to a full and happier life (let's ban cliques)!
I still believe that unselfishness makes you a happier person overall.

But, it's a dying art.

My Food Bag - My Experience

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Lately, I've been in a deep funk of dead-end ideas when it comes to food.
I recently saw something going around social media with three choices. 
If you only had to choose one, what would you choose?
A nanny
A housemaid
A chef

That's easy for me. A chef. Every time.

And just lately, being in the depths of winter, cooking every night just became a chore. I was really struggling to come up with original and tasty menu ideas that everyone in my family would eat, and I am just bored of doing the same dishes, and tired of cooking uninspiring food that if you gave me a cent for every time I'd cooked them, I'd be rich by now.

Someone happened to mention Nadia Lim's My Food Bag. I had heard of it, of course. Masterchef is one of my favourite reality television shows, and I was watching when she won it back in 2011, and heard about her new business venture.
Food and chef-prepared recipes delivered to your door every week sounded amazing!

Whenever someone talks about My Food Bag, they always qualify it with, "it's great food, but expensive." And that is what has put me off trying it out before now. 

Let me just say now, before I carry on, that this is NOT a sponsored blog post. I am in no way affiliated with Nadia Lim or My Food Bag and have not been asked to write a review on this. I'm blogging about it because I write about everything anyway, and thought you might all be interested.

But when I realised how much money I was actually spending going to the grocery store every other day to get something for dinner because I hadn't had any inspiration to write up a menu, I thought I might as well spend that money on My Food Bag instead of wasting time and funds running back and forth from the market.

There are six people in my family. Two adults and four children, and one of those children is a teenage boy, and two of those children are picky eaters and small eaters, so I thought the 2 adults and 2-3 children might be fine as far as quantity.

Screenshot from My Food Bag

On Sunday our first food bag arrived. It was so exciting!

The list for extra ingredients that you need in the pantry to do My Food Bag was so small and insignificant, that after doing the sums I don't actually think this is very expensive. Apart from a few basics, like oil and salt, eggs, butter, milk and flour and a couple of other things, Nadia provides everything, even down to the one garlic clove that I need for tonight's meal.

And the menu looked delicious!

A couple of days after ordering an email arrived in my inbox with a list of extra things I would need to buy and photographs of what I'd be cooking for the week, and it looked amazing!
My husband's eyes lit up when I showed him. I could tell he was so over my done-to-death chicken nibbles, sausages and fish and chips on rotation every week.

To tell the truth, I was a little sceptical when I opened up the chillbox and took out the meat. I though I better check all the dates in case one was close to the expiry and make sure that the recipes I want to cook line up with those dates. Later I was pleasantly surprised to read in the instructions that come with the box that Nadia actually suggests you do this - but I also found that the fresh meat was not only the best available in New Zealand, but the expiry dates were also well within the dates of the menu - if I cooked them in the order they arrived. That's a girl after my own heart, I have to say right there. Careful attention to the small details. I was impressed.

For the first night, we made Cashew Lemon-Crumbed fish with roast veges and sundried tomato mayonnaise.

The fish has a panko and cashew crumb over it and was so delicious some of us went back for seconds, and yes, there was enough for seconds. If this is (literally) a taste of what is to come, then I think I'm going to want to do My Food Bag for the rest of my life - or at least until I get my cooking mojo back - which might be never.

What I like about it is:
* the food and recipes are super-healthy. Fresh, organic vegetables and the finest meats - no unhealthy processed stuff here.
* It's easy to prepare. This took me 45 minutes max, and a lot of that time was stand-down time, waiting for the vegetables to roast.
* the hard work of menu planning is taken away
* The hard work of "what's for dinner" is taken away
* If the kids don't like it, they can't blame me!
* I'm not impulse buying anymore.
* The variety of dishes. Goodbye boring food!
* It tastes REALLY good.

Two things to watch out for if you are going to try this:

1. You have to order a week in advance.
2. You will automatically be charged for the second week unless you request that not to happen. I didn't read the fine print and discovered last night that I've been charged for this to arrive next week also. Oops. Don't care. I was going to do it anyway.

* This is NOT a sponsored post. I am in no way affiliated with Nadia Lim or My Food Bag and have not been asked to review this product. I am blogging about it because I wanted to try it out and writing is how I process everything good and bad in my life. This just happens to be good!

God's Not Bringing Judgement Because Of The Gays

Sunday, June 28, 2015
I love my friends who are gay.
I have a few and they are precious to me.
I love them very much.
Sometimes I feel quite protective towards them,
because the world can be an unkind place
and people can be cruel.

Like today.

When so many christians are wailing that God is going to bring judgement on our fat and prosperous lands because America caught up with the rest of the world and sanctioned same-sex marriage by law.

Why do you, oh christian church, think that God will now judge your nation because of same-sex marriage, when some of your ministers have been hiding their secret sins behind closed doors while proclaiming His Holy Name?
When they stand up in that church and they tell you to live 'moral and upright' lives, and yet they abuse and mislead God's children?

Is God not already shouting from the roof tops these hidden evils? Have those iniquitous doers of evil not been dropping like flies, one after the other, in such a public and shameful way, while all the world look on.

Don't you think this angers God more than gay marriage becoming legal?
The hypocrisy? The self-righteousness?

And yet you cry out in your pride and spiritual superiority, that God is not happy because of the gays.

Photo Source

How far have we strayed from Jesus when we allowed prosperity and pride to be our gospel.
How far have we wandered from His sacrificial love with our moral code and our indulgent communities of self-importance, our pride in our 'good' lives, as we waste them, tending the pretty facades that hide dark and murky hearts of evil.

It's easy to be a christian in our western world of comfort.

God's not bringing judgement because of the gays. 

God's bringing judgement because of the christians.

Judgement begins in the House of God. God said that you know. Christians who proclaim His name the loudest while doing evil acts behind closed doors. Christians who are proud of their 'holy' living, their tidy and respectable facades, their western rules and their judgements of others who don't act the same.

It's easy to be a christian when this is all you have.

Don't you think this angers God more than gay marriage?
The hypocrisy? The self-righteousness. In His Name?

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

There should be silence all over the world because of that verse.

What does God ask of His children?

That we lay down our life for our friends. 
That we love others as we love ourselves.

Pretty simple really.

And I ask my friends who are gay.
Please don't judge me because of the hurtful things other christians are saying.
And when the world is unkind to me, please love me.
And when people hate me because of my faith, please protect me.

Because the world can be an unkind place,
and people can be cruel.

photo credit: Cross 1 via photopin (license)

The Characteristics of a Sexual Groomer

Sunday, June 21, 2015
"It was in an evil hour that you ever came here!" 
from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

When I think back over my life, and what happened to me when I was 20, when I met Bill Gothard, I think of this quote from the character of Rosa Dartle in David Copperfield. 
With my good, acute memory that never allows me to forget, I can put myself back in that room, that hour, the one that changed the course of my life, and I now think of it as an evil hour. It brought harm to me, to my family, and to my friends.

My predator issued a new-ish statement this morning on his website, and for a brief moment I thought about issuing my own retaliatory statement here on my blog in response to his very personal attack towards me and the other women who bravely shared the secrets he was hoping we would keep. He continues to deceive in his veiled sentences with their double meanings and the pious use of God's language, in his attempt to make everyone believe he is still a holy man.

But it is futile to try and argue with a narcissist, in what could end up being an endless slinging match of she said/he said. So, instead of focussing on the personal element this is to me, I am choosing to use this opportunity to bring awareness to how a sexual predator works. Even in Bill's new statement and the 'testimonies' from the eight women that accompany it, I am very concerned to still clearly see the elements of grooming in his letter and in some of their letters. 

Let me lay it out here - there is a clear process of sexual grooming that a predator uses. Every woman I have spoken with who has experienced some form of sexual harassment or abuse agrees that these are predominant aspects of a groomer. At some point in this process, your groomer will start touching you - at first it will be very mild, very innocent, very grandfatherly. As it was for me; a pat on the hand, a side-hug, a special 'look' that exchanges between you. If you have been selected by the predator, this will progress to full bodily hugs, to holding hands, to rubbing his leg up and down your leg, to caressing your hand and your fingers, to putting his face close to yours. This can progress to further violation.

This is the method that seldom fails when a predator selects their target.

Maybe you can see them also.

Predators are good listeners. They will spend hours talking with you, paying attention to your words and your story. They will ask questions, they will empathize. And they are sincere. So very sincere. You will feel grateful to them, and humbled that they have shown such interest in you.

A predator will make you feel special and favoured by them. They will use words like this:
"I have probably spent more one on one time with you than any other young woman you would know."
They will make you feel that you are the only person in the world that makes them happy. They will tell you that you give them energy. 
If you have a faith of any kind, they will use God's name to reinforce that. They will say things like, "God has brought you here," or "I have been waiting for God to bring someone like you to me/this ministry," or "what a blessing from God you are to me."

At this point in the relationship they will feel safe enough to start probing for your secrets. If you open up to them, trusting them because they have been kind to you and you believe you are special to them, you will share your secrets. My groomer would say things like, "can I ask you a personal question?" This would be followed by questions along the lines of, "have you ever done something you're ashamed about," or "are you a virgin?'  With the initial, qualifying question making it feel like you have a choice whether to answer or not, lulls you into believing it is safe to share.

They may even share a secret or two with you from their life. It is unlikely they will share anything too personal - remembering that a narcissist/sociopath has denied their authentic self and is living a double-life. Any secret they share will be innocuous. My groomer shared a 'secret' with me when he admitted that he sometimes felt nervous speaking in front of thousands of people. I felt privileged that he would share that with me and nobody else, but what is that secret compared with 'are you a virgin?'


To cement this growing relationship your predator will start giving you things. It depends on the circumstances you are in at the time, but for me, I was given a bedroom makeover, clothing, gifts of money, phone calls to my family overseas paid for by my groomer. The gifts are a way of reinforcing to you that they have been kind to you, that you are special to them, that you share a secret bond.

Fear can come in many forms when you are in a relationship with a groomer. But ultimately this step is designed to make you fear that one day the relationship will come to an end. Your groomer will start dropping subtle nuances about this. His fear will seem very real to you but it is designed to make you worry about losing them. 
This will make you work harder to please them.


The next step is to isolate you from family and friends. If this cannot be done physically, it will be mentally. Your groomer will start confiding in you about other people and their faults. They will use words like 'trust'. My groomer said things like, "other girls will want to be your friend just to get close to me." This made me look on my peers with mistrust, believing they had alterior motives to befriending me. It also devalues my worth in my own eyes. It says, I am not worthy of being a friend. They don't really like me, they like him."

Soul ties

By now you and your predator think as one person. 
Well, you believe you do. 
He is the center of your world.

Absolute Loyalty

Do not listen to others who tell you they have concerns about your relationship with this person. 
They don't know him! They don't know how sincere and kind and special he is. They don't know his generous heart and his vulnerability. 

When you find yourself thinking this, you have fallen into his web of lies and deceit. 

Your groomer has won your heart, he has won your trust, he has won your mind.

In my case, I was fortunate enough that I had an intervention in the form of the USA Immigration Service - God bless their honest red tape!

If my story and the lost twenty years of loyalty to my groomer has any redeeming fact, I hope that it has this - to bring greater awareness to the process of predatory grooming. 

Let us cast light into the corners of those shadows. Let us drive out the evil lurking in our churches and schools and homes and communities and our lives.

In your hour of evil, 
when the shadow darkens your door,
remember my story, and remember my words of warning.

The Duggars and Bill Gothard. Is God Cleaning the House?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
If you're not tired yet of reading hundreds of blog posts about the Duggars, here's another one.

I have thought long and hard about posting on this controversy on my personal blog. It is not easy for me to do that, but with all the news that has come out lately about the Duggar sexual molestation scandal I felt that I had a right to weigh in on this and voice my opinions, because even though I do not know the Duggar family personally, we have many mutual friends, because the Duggars and I have a mutual personal connection, and that connection is Bill Gothard.

I have waded through dozens of blog posts and news articles with varying opinions and some have made me want to stand up and cheer and applaud, and others have left me shaking my head and burying my face in my hands for shame.

I never thought the day would come where I would be thankful for whoever it is that chooses the television programmes for New Zealand, but for whatever reason 19 Kids and Counting is relatively unknown in this country, so I don't have to see it flash across my tv screen bringing with it the triggers of my experiences with the cult that the Duggars are in, nor specifically my experiences with the man who ran the cult. If you are not familiar with my story, here is the link again. Some of us even pleaded with the Duggar family to make a public statement about Bill Gothard.

I am not a teacher or a person who is a great studier. I don't spend hours and hours looking up Bible verses and figuring out the root meanings of the words, but since the beginning of all this controversy in the christian world - from Doug Phillips to Bill Gothard to the Duggar Family, I have had a deep belief that God is cleaning house. (1 Peter 4v17).

God is cleaning house.

I have always thought that the Duggars seemed like nice people. Misguided as we all were when we were involved in ATI and IBLP. Conned by what other people have termed the 'greatest threat to modern day christianity' - Patriarchy and fundamentalism. Bill Gothard and his powerful personality and persuasion. He influenced a whole generation of christians. He sounded good, it sounded right, but it wasn't. His version of God took us far, far away from the real God.

I have been stunned at how many christians are saying that what the Duggars are going through is persecution. Persecution! You are kidding me, right? Persecution is what the christians in Iraq are going through. Or the christians in North Korea. They are persecuted because they are christians. Not because they are sexual predators.

The Duggars brand of 'persecution' is self inflicted. They invited the media into their home. They've been in bed with publicity and television cameras and newspaper headlines for years. What is more astonishing is that they knew they had this skeleton in their family closet, and they still went ahead with the reality tv programme. Either they are incredibly naive, self-serving or they were ill-informed.

Many people say that the world is being hard on them because they are christians and they stood for what is right and moral and good. But many of these people don't understand that the brand of christianity that the Duggars follow is a performance brand. I know this because I worked for Bill Gothard for many years and followed the same brand. The basis of his teaching was that if you lived a certain way - that is, kept sin out as much as humanly possible, then God will bless you, your life will be successful and you will never have to deal with hard things, like sexual abuse in your family.

See how that worked out for the Duggars.

I imagine they were left reeling in shock when this happened to their family. Nobody wants that. So the Bill Gothard way is to try harder. Make the girls less tempting by covering up their bodies as much as possible. Side hugs only. No kissing. The list goes on and on. It's why they were so rigid with their courtship/dating stance. It's why they homeschool. It's why they have so many children. It's why the girls dress the way they do. Please God. Please God. Please God and He might not let anything bad happen. He will bless you.
A different God.

My heart breaks for those sweet, beautiful Duggar girls. I even had some sympathy for their brother, because I know what they have grown up in - repression and shame. They have not been allowed to grow and develop normally. Yes, our world is full of sin and evil, and yes, children should be sheltered when they are young, but christianity is not about hiding ourselves away from the world. We can't. We are in it. We are no different to any other person walking the face of this planet. The only difference is that we found Jesus who will cover our sins with His blood when we stand before God because we acknowledged our ability to be evil and we asked him to protect us from dying eternally because of it. That's it. That's all it is.

But my husband, who has worked with criminals for over 30 years in law enforcement, and many of those criminals are sex offenders, did not have much sympathy. It is not normal for a 14 year old boy to grope his sister. It's not even normal for him to do it once to one sister. But it seems this was done over a period of time and to at least five. It is normal for boys and girls to experiment, to be curious, but it is not normal for them to do what Josh Duggar did.

And what happened - he got shipped off to one of Bill Gothard's training centers, where he teaches that sometimes the victim is the one to blame.

What can we do about the Duggars?

I think it is a time for christians to show them love. To show them the real love of God. I think it is a time when we can reach out to them and say, 'hey, we love you, we are praying for you." This has to be a dreadful time for them. It will not hurt us to show compassion.

But it is also not a time to defend them, or to cry persecution.

It's a time to look inward. To our churches, to our belief structure, to find out if the God we have been following is the real God, or a man-made one. Is the basis of our faith one of performance or one of grace?

The conversation is healthy all while being heart-wrenching.

I do believe the time has come to clean up the house.

They're Changing Flags...

Sunday, May 17, 2015
I quite like our New Zealand flag. I have no objection to it.
The union jack gives testament to our historic ties to England, and the four stars of the Southern Cross represent our place on the planet.

But there are winds of change afoot, and a new flag is being discussed and will be voted on soon.

How do you feel about a flag change?

I have no strong feelings either way. I like the current flag. I like it's historic significance, but I also think it says a lot about our small country that we are discussing a change. Does this mean we're feeling independent enough to assert our growing autonomy?

In thinking about this debate, I keep coming back to the Canadian flag. It is arguably, one of the most recognisable flags in the world and was chosen as the official flag in 1965. Previously, it also emblazoned the majestic Union Jack. In using just red and white and a large Maple leaf, we all know which country this flag belongs to. It's simple, but it stands out. I would hope that New Zealand would adopt similar guides. Simple and bold.

Whatever the reason, the changing of the flag has generated a lot of debate and quite a bit of creativity. Any New Zealander is free to submit ideas for a new flag, and I have been perusing some of them and decided to list a few of my favourites.

1. Design by Martin Caie from Auckland

I like this one a lot, because it is simple, keeps traditional colours and stands out.
It's a little too similar to the flag of the State of Texas.


Or this variation, but I do not like black in a flag, for the reasons that it is dreadfully dull - I like colour - and because of the current association of black with the IS flag.

This design by Ryan Maxwell from Auckland


2. Designed by Martin Hermans from Auckland

PROS: This is actually one of my favourite designs. It keeps the traditional royal blue, the Southern Cross and changes the union jack slightly to also represent our Maori heritage.
CONS: Not much of a change from the original?

3. Designed by Kyle Lockwood from Auckland

PROS: This is currently my favourite. I like the traditional colours, the inclusion of the Southern Cross and the large white silver fern which has special significance to us kiwis. It just kind of has that official look too, if you know what I mean.

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4. Designed by Simon Aiken from International

PROS: My husband likes this one - he thinks it's original and quirky. Me, not so much, but I appreciate the design originality. It incorporates the Southern Cross, the red, white and blue, has a nod to Maori tukituki (slightly stretching it there), and is forward thinking in the digital code.
CONS: Not really visually identifiable as kiwi.

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5. Designed by Andrew Sims from Auckland
PROS: I really, really like this flag. It would be instantly recognisable. Probably in my top favourites.


There are dozens of flag designs that have been submitted, and you can view them all here. What I think would be a good idea for the government to do once the final designs are chosen for the vote, is to make the flags up and fly them from a mast, as that would give us a better idea of how it would look at official occasions. What do you think?

Which one do you like?

The Royal Tradition of Familial Baby Names

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
There has been quite a bit of discussion in our household over the naming of the newest Princess.

Having our own little Alice and the girl next door called Charlotte, there have been two little girls very excited to see whether their name would be chosen.

I guess the girl next door won, but Alice was not to be disappointed. Elizabeth is also her second name.

I really love the tradition of naming babies after family members. It is obviously something that is important in the Royal household, but what about you? Have you used family names when naming your own children?

We did a mixture.

When I was studying New Zealand history I discovered that Maori had a long tradition of naming their babies after family members who had passed away around or near to the time of the birth, or named after significant places or important events. I think it's a wonderful tie to the past - a link to honour those who have made our existence possible. For Maori, before they had their written language, it was a way of recording past events.

Our eldest son Hugh takes his name from at least 5 generations of Hugh's. There's a family legend involving the original Hugh who sailed out to New Zealand from Scotland, but that is a story for another day. His middle name is after a New Zealand judge who was my husband's godfather. But we later found out it was also a surname on my husband's side.

Our eldest daughter's first name is a name we chose because we liked it, but her second name is Frances, after her paternal grandmother. Many (not all) of her first born girl cousins have the same second name in honour of their grandmother who passed away before she even met any of her grandchildren.

Our third child's second name is after my maternal Grandfather, Roy Spencer, MBE. I have always liked the name Spencer, and I once promised my dear Grandad that one day I would name one of my children after him. Probably a foolish promise to make, but in my youthful enthusiasm it was a way of me telling him how much I loved him.

And Elizabeth was chosen as a second name for Alice. It is a favourite family name going back through my mother's lineage. We can trace it as far back as the early 1800's. There is an Elizabeth in every generation.

How do you choose your names? Do you mix it up like we did, or are you like the royals and go for family names through and through?

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