SLIDER

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.

Kindness
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.

Special
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."

Secrets
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?'


Gifts

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
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.

Isolation

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.
Ugh.
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

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

Source

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

Source

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?

Source
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.

Add caption

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

Source


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?


Hunting The Dead In A Beautiful Place

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
One of my favourite things to do is to hunt down the dead.

Ancestry research is great fun. If you like puzzles and you like mysteries, this is a pastime that is as much thrilling as it is enlightening.

Rob and I pulled up alongside the Waikumete cemetery in Auckland on a warm Saturday afternoon. We had called ahead during the week, so we had a fair idea of where Great Grandfather x3 Foley was buried.

We squeezed through the overgrown hedge and found ourselves in one of the oldest grave sites of early New Zealand. A beautiful, sloping green field dotted with the grey, crumbling headstones of our ancestors. Many were still in good repair, but many were rusty and broken and fallen, overgrown with grass and briar roses, where the earth had sunken around the buried coffins, and the concrete sealing some of the graves had lifted away from the foundations, cracking and twisting through the hundreds of years of sun and rain and nature's ceaseless and unfettered march.

As Rob explained to me, the cemetery employees, as a government-owned entity is responsible for the upkeep of the grounds, not for the upkeep of the graves. That is left for family to tend to, and as the years pass, and family pass too, the dead are forgotten and abandoned. It's only when we, the young and the living wish to seek our roots and familial connections that we look for them again and come to find the final resting places of our kinsmen.


On my mother's maternal side, we have a rich oral and written history, but on her mother's father's side there is not much information at all. I think my Great Grandmother's family had a strong and large unit of aunties and uncles and cousins and a close bond with their Maori heritage that it dominated the family stories and connections, but in the last month I found myself wondering about my mother's grandfather and his origins, so I began a little digging around to see what came up.

Stephen Foley, my Great grandfather died a couple of years after I was born, and as I hunted around I discovered that his grandfather and grandmother, John and Hannah Sarah Foley immigrated to New Zealand among the first early settlers of the 1800s, and they came from Ireland.


We had always suspected we had Irish blood, not the least because throughout my lifetime people would always refer to the dark ring around my green eyes as being Irish. The legend goes that if you have that, you have Irish blood.

Well, now I've proven it. My Great x3 grandfather was Irish. His wife was Welsh, and they came to New Zealand to start afresh. He was a book binder, and he died in Auckland in 1893 and was buried in the Roman Catholic Division of the Waikumete Cemetery.


But as Rob and I wandered up and down, we failed to find the Foley headstone.

The old part of the cemetery is not very well organised. We were told John Foley was buried in Row 1, plot 63, so we wandered up and down, checking. Some graves were unreadable. There would be moss grown over the etchings or the words had faded into oblivion. We couldn't be sure if we were looking at our family member's headstone or not.


So we drove back to the office. Twice.

If I had the job of working in a cemetery I would be so interested if people turned up looking for an ancestor. I would love to help in the hunt, doing what I could to assist, but the staff at the Waikumete Cemetery were either extremely bored, depressed or just didn't love what they did for a living, because we had to go back twice to find the information. The second time we struck a different staff member and she was more helpful, if slightly bored, and brought out a large ancient cardboard plan of the old cemetery. We had to use the magnifying glass to find the written number on the tiny, faded squares that represented the plot sites, and when we did find it, it was the one part of the old, worn cardboard sheet that had torn and worn away, just like the graves. No markings. No number. No record. The upkeep and record keeping is very poor, in my opinion. This needs to be rectified as soon as possible to preserve history for future generation.

What had happened to my Great great great grandparents original headstone, I do not know. The cemetery had a record of the etching with their names and dates of death, but there was nothing that remained to physically mark the graves, other than a slight indentation in the earth. John's wife Hannah is buried in plot 61 - also unmarked, and John's grave is a double grave, his daughter Elizabeth dying 6 years before him, 4 months after her mother, in 1887. When John died, he was buried on top. Why did Elizabeth, my Great great Aunt and her mother die so closely together - within a few months? This is another piece of the puzzle.

We did find them - we know where they are buried now, but there is nothing to mark it, other than this old tree that grows over the site.



We photographed the graves beside.




and recorded the site for our future reference.


I am going to look into getting a small marker for John and Elizabeth and Hannah. It doesn't seem right that the two people who gave us the privilege of being new Zealanders don't have anything tangible to remember them by, other than their genetic gift of their many descendents. I hope we can rectify that.



John Foley born 1814, County Carlow, Ireland
Book Binder. 
Died aged 80 years, April 16, 1893 in Auckland, New Zealand

His wife,
Hannah Sarah Foley, born 1820, Glamorgan, Wales
Died, aged 66, 7 February 1887
Occupation: Domestic

Their daughter Miss Elizabeth Mary Foley (buried with John)
born in London, 1857
died in Auckland, 30 May, 1887 (age 29 years)
Occupation: Domestic

Buried in the Roman Catholic division of the Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland
Row 1, Plots 61 and 63.


Not Really The Kiwi Way

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
So there's been a bit of fuss lately over this story.

Two high-school lads, from a private school in Christchurch took a ride on a baggage carousel at one of our busy airports, while in transit on a school trip.

It was against the rules. Actually, it was a serious breach of national security. 
If you've been to an airport lately you will have seen and be familiar with the signs warning against riding the baggage carousel.

But you know what boys are like. 
I know what they're like. I have two, and I went on an international school trip last year with several teenagers from our school.
Before we left my teenage son had to sign all kinds of agreements, and as well as signing the agreements the teachers verbally warned them that if they broke the rules they would be on the next flight home. Heck, we the parents had to sign stuff too.
We read it. We heard it. We agreed to it. We signed it.

It sounds like St. Bede's School, where these two carousel-riding-boys attended, also had such rules in place. Schools have to do that now. What other way do they have of controlling their students, especially when they are in a group away from home and they have the safety of children to consider?

I don't think the boys did anything necessarily bad in jumping on the carousel. They're just kids, looking for a laugh. But kids do tend to be thoughtless when they're in the moment. If they'd jumped off before passing through to the secure area this might not have ever made the headlines. But they didn't. They breached security and rode past the ribbons into a secure airport area.
The school pulled them from their rowing regatta as punishment.
The parents didn't like that. After all, any sports regatta or tournament is expensive, and a lot of time and effort goes into training. I get that. It would also have let the whole entire team down.

So the parents took it to the court and got a judge to overturn it.

And so the New Zealand public has been hotly debating this for the past few days, and the majority seems to agree with the school.

These are my thoughts on the matter.

At first I was sympathetic. They're just boys. One of our boys on our trip last year did this in the airplane. It was silly, and we frowned and tut-tutted appropriately (while smiling into the corner), but it's just boy-stuff, you know, not worthy of being sent home. 


Then I read more into this carousel matter, and I do believe now that the school are rightly justified in taking the action they did.

What if this had happened to two boys from a public school? Maybe they'd be from families less well-off than these private-school families. They would have been sent home, and they would have had to take their punishment and had to live with the consequences of their foolish actions.

This matter smacks of elitism. It screams arrogance.

Mummy and Daddy have the dosh, so let's go running off to court. We won't let our sons learn the natural law of consequence. We won't teach them, by backing the school authorities that sometimes if you break the rules you don't and shouldn't get away with it.
Yes, the rest of the team would have been let down, but that is what being part of a team is all about. You work for the good of everyone. You keep the rules, because you're part of a team.
Sport, at it's foundation, teaches character. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It's part of life.

This was a selfish, thoughtless, foolish act by kids, and the parents are supporting their children in their selfishness. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, by the responses of the parents, that the children flouted the rules. Perhaps this precedent had already been set at home.
We won't teach them personal responsibility. We'll throw our money into a lawyer and we'll show them! We are important people because we have money. Money that can help us get our own way.

Whatever the parents say, in justifying their actions, this is the message that the rest of New Zealand is getting. If you have money, you can over-ride the rules.

It's elitist and it's arrogant.

It is very un-kiwi. It is not our way. It should not be our way.

What would you have done, if your son had been part of this?







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