Category Archives: Life

Before #MeToo Becomes Yesterday’s News, the Truth About Rape on College Campuses

The recent #MeToo movement is a sobering wakeup call to just how prevalent sexual harassment and abuse really are. We hear about it on the local news, but in light of the Harvey Weinstein revelations hearing from the many women who have stepped forward with their own stories has both personalized the problem, and exposed how big a problem it really is. But what we can’t even begin to quantify is the effects of the shame and brokenness these women have been left to deal with because of what happened to them.

Many of these women (some who are still suffering in silence) have been the victim of rape. And for many of these, the rape occured in college. Studies show 1 in 5 college women experience rape or attempted rape. But only about 20% of sexual assualts on college campuses get reported. Likely this is because many victims feel guilt over their own behavior (alcholol and drug use are often a factor) though by no circumstance is a victim responsible. Another reason rapes go unreported is because in most cases the perpetrator is a friend or acquaintance of the victim, who in turn fears consequences of telling on him.

Having ministered alongside my husband at a university for nearly eight years, the reality of date rape, along with the pervasive hook up culture and binge drinking on college campuses is something we have dealt with personally and also read much about. Therefore, when it came time for our own daughter to head off to college last year this was one of our biggest fears. Since early high school we had talked about this stuff, but without any #MeToos she was slow to believe the picture we painted about drinking, dating, sex, and the college culture was as we said it would be.

But after being on campus for almost three semesters, and witnessing what takes place at fraternity parties and in dorms, she now sees we were right.  Thankfully, it has led her to take more seriously precautions about holding her own drink and staying with her sisters. And though she used to be bitter about her curfew in high school and our conviction that, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” I now hear her repeating this mantra to others (with a slightly altered time because of the late hour college kids even go out).

My hope in shining the light on another not-talked-about-enough problem is to spare more women from ever having to say #MeToo. The life-altering experience of sexual assault can lead to deep depression, thoughts of (and attempted) suicide and carry with it shame that will infilitrate into future relationships.

*In my daughter's pledge class of a 115 girls, statistics say 23 of them will be victims of rape
*81% of college rapes happen in a dormitories
*72% of college rapes happened when the victim was so intoxicated she was unable to consent or refuse
*Freshmen girls are the most vulnerable of becoming a rape victim.

Parents of high school and college students, please talk to your girls and boys about this topic. They may roll their eyes, but education is the first step against naivety – theirs and ours.

There is so much on the topic, plus the book we recommend, Unhooked about the culture in general.  It’s not fun reading, and honestly I think sometimes we’ld rather not know what’s happening, but we must in order to increase our kids awareness, and hopefully help protect them- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If only education were enough to guarantee their protection, but for that I continue to pray.  Not being able to fully protect our kids has got to be the hardest things about being a parent. And it is also my biggest struggle in trusting God. #YouToo?

If you found this helpful, please share. I regularly write and speak about parenting issues, teens, and Christian living. To receive new blogs in your inbox, please subscribe!

Called to the ‘Same Kind of Different’ Life

***Spoiler Alert*** If you haven’t read Same Kind of Different as Me, you may want to skip this post until after seeing the movie.

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Years ago after reading Same Kind of Different as Me, I dragged my three young children to Barnes & Noble in Waco to hear Ron Hall and Denver Moore speak. To be honest, I don’t remember what they said (probably because I was working hard to keep my kiddos still), but I do remember humility, and humor, characterizing the way they interacted with one another. It was refreshingly, not normal: this wealthy, white art dealer and a black homeless man sharing such an authentic friendship.

But had it not been for Ron’s late wife, Debbie, Ron would’ve never stepped foot in the homeless shelter where he met Denver, let alone navigate a relationship with someone so different from him. At the time they met, Ron had been having an affair, and Denver was the most violent, hard-to-reach man at the shelter. So no one would’ve predicted the transformation that would come for both.

In the movie we get snippets of the Halls pursuing after Denver, the Halls fighting for their marriage and then fighting Debbie’s cancer. Can you imagine the emotional exhaustion they must have felt? Plus, they had teenagers! The fact they didn’t throw in the towel is but by the grace of God.

Speaking of teenagers, with them in the Hall’s home, and the fine paintings and other high-dollar items they had, I think most of us would’ve been too afraid for Denver to even know where we live, let alone come spend the night. But Debbie inviting him into their home was the catalyst for the change in Denver, and the shift in their relationship.

For Denver, this invitation made him feel valued, loved and trusted, which then freed him to share his darkest secrets. And while I’m sure he still feared rejection might come when the Halls heard about his past, their response and unwavering acceptance reflected what God’s love is like.

I hope this story – this movie – will move in more of us to take up the “torch” (as Denver called for at Debbie’s funeral) to invest ourselves in the muck and mess of others, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For some this will be to the homeless populations in our cities. For others it will be to the refugees, sex trafficked, poor, homebound, elderly, disabled, sick, abandoned, addicts and others. For some, this will be overseas. But for all us, this should also be happening in our churches, workplace, schools, and neighborhoods!

All around us there is brokenness, hurt and need.

All around us there are those hiding their past, or current, struggles in fear of rejection.

All around us there are those who need a friend who isn’t going to walk away when things get too hard.

All around us there are those who feel such shame and hopelessness that to know just one person cares could change everything.

But I also know, like the many at Debbie’s funeral who gave Denver a standing ovation for his speech, the idea of doing what Debbie did is one thing, the putting into practice another. Why? At the heart level, there are at least two reasons: 1) our time, our things, our schedule is more valuable to us, and 2) our distracted, self-focused lives keep us from even seeing the needs of others.

Pouring ourselves out for others takes time. It’s a commitment and sacrifice that will not leave us unaffected. We will get entangled in other’s problems that will seem easier left alone. But like Ron Hall discovered, life interrupted was of far greater value than anything he owned. May we see this too.

May we be a people who see ourselves as the same kind of different as those around us. May this create in us humility, and the eyes to see and love our neighbors as ourselves. And through the loving others better, may hearts be transformed, communities changed, and in the process true joy discovered through the giving up of our lives.

IRL for a Pastor’s Family

Yesterday my husband, boys and I woke up before dawn and drove 3.5 hours to see our daugther for her university’s Family Weekend. After spending an hour redirecting Siri around campus since the streets were closed off for game day, we finally found parking and… our girl. But by this time the morning tailgates were ending and everyone was heading to the stadium. So really, we did all that and paid parking for nothing.

Farmers Table does not disappoint!

We had choosen not to buy game tickets so instead we went to a local favorite restaurant of hers and waited an hour to be seated. It was worth the wait (though the boys were starving!) and ended up being the best part of the day.

After lunch we stopped by her apartment for a bit before the Dad’s Day gathering at her sorority house. With a house of well over 400 girls + parents and siblings though, it’s easy to eat up time looking for friends and their families. Even if/when you find them it’s a hard place to enjoy leisurely and substantial conversations. But with that, it was time for us to drive the 3.5 hours back home. And that’s when the tears filled her eyes…

Everyone else was still with their parents and would be for the evening. They would also be with them again for breakfast, and had been with them the night before. They were having a true Parents’ Weekend. Our daughter- she only got us for a few hours.

Leaving is never easy, but it felt extra hard knowing in this case it was because work couldn’t be de-prioritized. For those who don’t know, my husband is a pastor. And for a pastor regardless of what is going on in his personal world and with the family, the sermon goes on. I share this simply to let you in on the “In Real Life” reality of a ministry family. Not so you feel sorry for us, but to tell you the nature of my husband’s calling as a pastor creates unique challenges for our family and at times, like yesterday, it is really hard.

My daughter wanted more time with us and we wanted more time with her. None of us could do anything about it- this time. (Our associate pastor is already preaching next week.) There are other times our kids don’t get all of my husband, or all of me (mentally or physically), because we are preoccupied with the duties and/or emotions of ministry. It’s just not a job you leave behind, which is why it’s a calling. But the calling of a pastor is not just his, but a calling for the family. Not always a calling we like, or truthfully feel adequate of.

So though you may see us sitting on the front row and think we have it all together that is far from the truth. Our smiling faces sometimes betray what’s really going on in our hearts. At times there is bitterness, sadness, frustration, lonliness, tiredness, selfishness, the desire to hide, escape or avoid. And like everyone else, we struggle to balance family and work life, and often fail.

But at the same time all of this is true, what else is true is God is at work through this calling to shape and mold each of us- my husband, me and our kids. He has each of us in mind. For this I’m thankful. And for this we must each fall back on when our expectations and desires don’t go as we want. All these circumstances unique to us, I trust he is using for our good. And by his grace for his glory too.

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