Truth or Toxicity? Part 1

Truth or Toxicity? Part 1
The Facebook ad caught my eye with its reference to "religious toxicity." The lengthy prose spoke in soothing tones, validating the feelings of those who have been hurt by the church, religious people, and/or specific religious doctrines. The author, an ex-Baptist preacher, offers his course on trauma-informed care to counselors who wish to serve people who have experienced religious trauma. The comments on this sponsored ad were both revealing and cynical...but most of all, heartbreaking.

I can't adequately explore every branch of thought that sprouts from the main trunk of Religious Trauma. It's difficult enough to put my own response into words, let alone dissect the ideas of other learned folks who have probably spent years researching and writing about this topic.

But I DO have thoughts stemming from my own foundation of Truth, the Word of God. And I offer them here because I think it's important to separate the wheat from the chaff, facts from feelings, and yes, lies from truth. Let's start with this first point...

1. Not all who claim to represent Christ do so with His blessing.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" - Matthew 7:21-23

It's tragedy that defies words, the abuses that have been inflicted upon the innocent under the guise of spiritual leadership. Recent exposés include failures of individuals (such as Ravi Zacharias) and denominations (such as Southern Baptists and Catholics). And sadly, these egregious wrongs surely go back through time and across continents and cultures. 

Make no mistake--these ARE wrongs, abuses, exploitation. In a word, SIN. And there is NO excuse for it. NONE. Not for the perpetrators, and not for those who covered it up. WOE to those who cause such suffering! (See Matthew 18:1-9.)

But here's the question: do these evildoers and their actions negate the truth that God exists? Are we forced, because of their toxic actions, to conclude that anything having to do with religion/spirituality is therefore toxic as well, simply because the evildoers claimed some kind of religiosity? 

I say no. I believe we can--and should--condemn those who do wrong (especially when they claim to have some kind of moral authority) while still believing in a loving, just, all-powerful God. 

The very fact that we define abuse and exploitation of the innocent as EVIL is, in itself, a moral judgment that (to me at least) indicates there IS an absolute standard of right and wrong!

So then, a practical (and biblical) response to a person who has experienced heartbreaking abuse by someone in a position of religious power and authority:

Love.
Compassion.
Listening without judgment.
Understanding (as much as possible) the pain and trauma he or she has undergone.
Helping the person find help and healing.
And...if it has not yet been done...telling the proper authorities about the abuse so as to hold the abuser accountable for his or her actions.

This is a start. I hope to share more thoughts in a follow-up post to this one.

Thanks for reading along with me as I process some of my own thoughts about this complex issue. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well; leave a comment or send me a message if this is something that you've thought about or experienced.
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A Day in the Life of Verity

A Day in the Life of Verity
I am jokingly calling July 11 - 15 Nurse Appreciation Week, because our wonderful nurse is out of town for a much-deserved break with her family. While we intentionally give praise and thanks to the Lord for His kindness in blessing us with such a faithful home health care provider, I have been ever so much more aware of all of the things Ms. Yvette does on a daily basis to help Verity live her best life! Of course, as Verity's mommy, I love caring for her myself, but I will say...I don't know HOW I'd also homeschool our other kids plus do general household management if we didn't have in-home help regularly!

Here's just a quick overview of what a day with Verity might entail nowadays...

6am  Water flush (we have to give her water through her g-tube to keep her hydrated)
7:00  Water flush, check diaper
7:30  Give glycerin suppository, rub belly, wait for poop; if not already prepped, make a new batch of formula and prep a new feeding bag (she gets a new one every day). On Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri, this is the time our nurse clocks in.
7:45  Change poopy diaper; dress for the day, including putting on her AFOs (orthotics/braces for her ankles)
7:55  Put Verity in the stander so she bears weight on her legs/ankles, also making use of gravity to help get even more poo out
8:00  Administer coconut oil (helps with poo...see a theme here?!) and begin morning bolus feed. Make sure she has some toys to play with in her stander. 
8:05  Brush her hair and put it up to keep it out of her face when she head bangs. Use barrettes to secure her glasses and BAHA (bone-assisted hearing aid, which is on a headband).
8:10  Apply an eye patch over her left eye. She will wear this for 2 hours to help her right eye work harder. It's tracking much better than it used to!
8:25  Stop the feeding pump--she's having issues--grab a cloth and wait for it...........yes, she's grunting...here it comes...sigh. Much of her formula is now spewed into the burp cloth and dripping onto her toys. Make sure she's finished and suction out her nose, then clean the mess.
8:40  Mess is cleaned and she seems ok, so we resume feeding. 14 more ml to go. 
9:00  Breakfast is finished, food is settled. Administer probiotics along with a small water flush, then take her out of the stander and change her shirt since this one has emesis on it. Change her diaper as well...success on the poop front!
9:30  Water flush with Lactulose (helps keep her poo soft).
10:00  Water flush, remove the eye patch
10:30  Water flush, remove AFOs and check skin, give her a break before putting them back on.
11:00  Water flush. AFOs back on.
(We do therapy activities as well during those time blocks after breakfast. Depending on the day, Verity will have anywhere from 1-2.5 hours of therapy. Today, however, we had no one come for therapy, so we did our own thing!)
11:30  Lunch bolus feed! Verity has worked hard; we let her sit in her feeding chair and play with toys during lunch. (I should have given coconut oil, but I forgot...)
12:30  Water flush
1:00  Water flush
Water flushes continue every half hour...we also put AFOs on and off depending on her activities.
Various therapeutic activities...may include playing outside on the swing or trampoline; practicing moving the wheelchair; sit-to-stands and then into the gait trainer or walker; using the crawler; reading stories; etc.
3:00  Afternoon bolus feed
4:00 Water flush. Put her in bed with her hip brace on for "nap time."  
4:30 Water flush.
5:00 Administer Prevacid (helps with acid reflux) and Flonase (helps her breathe through her nose better).
5:30 Water flush (On Mon, Tues, Wed, and Fri, this is the time our nurse signs out.) If Verity is napping, we leave her alone! If she's awake, we remove the hip brace.
6:00 Water flush
6:30 Dinner bolus feed--at the table with the whole family (or whoever is home).
7:15 Bath and clean up if it's a bath night (usually Tues, Thurs, Sat)
7:30ish Sit on Daddy's lap during read-aloud time (or movie if it's Friday night)
8:15ish, or whenever she is getting fussy: Change for the night, water flush to catch up on water, brush hair, brush teeth, put in bed, sing our songs
8:30 Administer prophylactic antiobiotics (helps prevent UTIs because she has renal reflux), start overnight feeding. Mix up overnight formula with vitamins.
9:00 Currently, on Sunday through Wednesday nights, we have a night nurse. HOORAY! She arrives at this time. Otherwise, we put her CPAP mask on around this time.
9:30 On Thurs and Fri nights, we welcome our friend and respite provider, Edie, at this time. HOORAY!

And of course, not on any time schedule, there are the many wet diapers to change, often along with pants because she has a super power of peeing through and/or around her diapers! We are grateful to have disposable underpads provided through our DME (durable medical equipment) company!

I'm sure I've forgotten some things...and this doesn't even touch on all the FUN things we get to do with and for our girl! These are just the "to-dos" that I try to keep track of on the days we don't have nurses. :-)

I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into life with our special girl!
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Happy 25th Anniversary to Us!

Happy 25th Anniversary to Us!
Last week Ted and I ran away to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where we spent 5 days celebrating our 25 years of marriage! It was quite the team effort to get us out the door...two of our nurses agreed to work 12-hour shifts so that Verity could be cared for 100% of the time, and our respite provider also extended one of her shifts to help as well. Ted's mom stayed at the house to take kids to karate, supervise meals, and provide all-around Grandma fun, so much so that we aren't sure the kids really wanted us to come back, ha! 

I've driven through Glenwood Springs a number of times on our travels, but I've never had the chance to stay there. (Ted remembers stopping with his youth group one year.) I've always loved the drive on I-70 through the beautiful Colorado mountains, but being able to stay and soak in the scenery was such a special treat. We enjoyed paragliding, caving, whitewater rafting, hiking, resting, swimming in the hot springs, and eating lots of great food without having to clean anything, lol. And we had the chance to look back over the years and recount God's faithfulness to us in so many ways. 

It's been an
amazing, 
difficult, 
memorable, 
stretching, 
fun, 
growing, 
agonizing,
wonderful,
challenging,
unforgettable
journey!

In a world that says we should pursue our own individual happiness, we choose to grow together, to die to selfishness (not always successfully), and to elevate the eternal over the temporal. We choose to prioritize our relationship with Jesus, our marriage, and our family, in that order. 

Ted, I'd choose you all over again! ❤️😍🥰 Our paragliding experience was a thrilling adventure, but it pales in comparison to living a full and abundant life with my best friend and lover. I could never have imagined what our life together today would look like when I nervously donned my wedding gown 25 years ago, but I knew you were the one God had picked out for me. 

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of marriage! Thank you for my loving and faithful husband, a picture of how Christ loves the church. Thank you for the wonderful father he is to our 9 children, a reflection of your heart toward your creation. Thank you for fun and crazy memories, for adventures and experiences that shape and grow us, and even for the hard times and tears. We are stronger, more patient, quicker to forgive, and more Christ-like today than we were 25 years ago—and that is a testimony of your tender mercies on us as individuals and as a couple. May we be bold and faithful witnesses of your love and truth as you continue to shape and grow us as long as you give us life here on earth! May we seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, loving you and all others you put in our path. In the name of Jesus we pray, AMEN!!


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