Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stepping up to say ENOUGH

I'm sure most of the US, and for sure a small community in Texas are still reeling from the after-shocks of the shooting that happened almost a week ago.  As I struggle to make sense of the deaths of half of that small country church, I have been reading media accounts, testimonies of family members, of the two community heroes who stopped the gunman, and the background of the man who did this.

This is my attempt to assimilate everything I know so far....

The gunman was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force after being convicted and serving time for domestic abuse of his wife and infant stepson.  The Air Force admits that they neglected to pass along this information to the agencies who should have been alerted, making it possible for him to purchase the guns he used.   (sources: here, here, here)

The details of what he did, and why he did it, and who was killed, and who was injured, and how he was stopped are available all over the internet with only the most cursory search.  Those things are not really what is most concerning to me.

In the wake of this horrific crime, people again are asking "WHY?!?"  Why are white men, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, doing terrible things to powerless people?

These questions always make me start looking for patterns, which is what I am trained to do.  Patterns of behavior help us figure out why things like this happen, and what can be done to prevent further bloodshed.

Too often, people think there is no tie between the "lone wolf" gunmen across our nation.  "They acted alone" is the report on the news.  While that may be true, there is a disturbing link between most of them that is often overlooked, underreported, and most often completely ignored.  That link is a history of domestic violence.

This gunman abused his wife and stepson.
In Texas, in the last 7 years, there are nine more incidents (at least) where groups of 4 or 5 family members and friends were killed by someone with a history of domestic violence (source).
It doesn't just happen in Texas. 
While perpetrators of domestic violence account for only about 10 percent of all gun violence, they accounted for54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, so there is a disproportionate link, Webster tells Kodjak. (source). 

 In working with victims of domestic violence, one shocking statistic shows that the most dangerous time for a woman escaping a violent and controlling man is AFTER she has already left the relationship.  THAT is when she is most likely to be killed.  (More statistics at this link).

AND YET...
The typical woman tries to leave a violent relationship SEVEN times before she is successful.
Why don't they leave sooner?
 - - They have been alienated from their friends and family by their abuser.
 - - They are afraid people won't believe them this time.
 - - Fear of retaliation by the abuser.
 - - For Christians, they are often told to stay in the relationship.
 - - Fear of losing their children.
 - - Fear of homelessness.

This is a complicated issue.
Women and children need to be protected.
Violent men need to be redirected, to be stopped from continuing the abuse.
Churches need to know how to respond.


HOW TO RESPOND
This morning, our pastor talked about security for our very large church, and how there is a concerted effort to keep those attending services as safe as possible.  This is a NEEDED response.  But it is NOT enough.

Our church also is affiliated with a ministry to women, providing a safe and confidential resource for women who are in abusive relationships.  This is a NEEDED response.  But it is NOT typical for churches across the country.

This week I posed a question on Facebook, asking my MANY pastor-friends what their policies are for dealing with domestic violence.  I got ONE response...from a female pastor...and NONE from male pastors, though they outnumber female pastors by a large majority.  I want to give the benefit of the doubt, and recognize that they may have been preparing for the weekend's services...but I'd still like to hear from them, at least an acknowledgement that this needs to be on their radar.  Because, as we saw last week, domestic violence unchecked affects us all, even in the church...maybe ESPECIALLY in the church.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Momentous Occasion...

I have a LOT of thoughts today...

First picture together
How does one celebrate 25 years together? 

1992?
How do you look back and look forward at the same time? 

October 17, 1992
October 17, 1992
We were SO young.
You were 19...yes, I robbed the cradle.  No, I wouldn't have it any other way.
We were so YOUNG. 
The stars in our eyes meant we didn't see the risks everyone else tried to alert us to.

1996? 
They said we wouldn't last. 
Honestly, there were moments I was afraid we wouldn't...
...but, God...

2000
God put us together. 
God kept us together. 
God provided for us. 
God blessed us with an amazing bunch of children.
God taught us, and directed us, and reigned us in. 

2006
I think God probably also has looked at us over the years, and shaken His head, and wondered if we'd ever "get it", like many parents do with their hard-headed children. 

2009
He has seen us through financial difficulties, and marital strife, and drama, and legal problems, and more moves than I care to count.  He has protected us through separations, and accidents, and thousands of miles on questionable roads.  He has educated us, sometimes in classrooms, but more often through His Word and the input of wise people He puts in our paths.

Bahrain, 2011
On this path, we have loved, and laughed, and cried, and yelled, and had hard times, yes.  But we have also had fun, and made amazing memories, and worked together, and grown together, and dreamed together. 

Married Prom, 2013
25 years is a good start.  I look forward to the next 25...I can't wait to see where God takes us and what He has for us!!



September 9, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ten years of Writing

I just looked at my stats pages on this blog, and realized that I am coming up on my 10-year anniversary of posting things for the world to read.  This thing has brought more than 52 THOUSAND visits, lots of comment-love, and way too much over-sharing on my part.

Honestly, when I started writing on this blog, I never envisioned that it would go on this long, or that I would have readers all over the world (yes, I know that a LOT of those are bots...but I also know I have friends in Haiti, Thailand, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, and the UK...and probably a few others that don't show up in my Top 10.)

What began as a way to document our lives for my husband who was in another part of the country quickly turned into a therapeutic outlet for me.  I have shared from my heart, from my experiences, and from my hopes for the future.

Today, my baby is the same age my eldest was when I started.  And that eldest just got married.  A lot of life has transpired in those 10 years.

We have moved 2 more times.
3 of my kids have graduated from high school.
The oldest is 2 semesters away from graduating college.
I started and finished 2 Masters degrees.
Jason finished 3 more Masters degrees (he has 4!).
Jason spent a year in Bahrain, and six months in South Korea.
I was able to visit him in Bahrain, twice.
We have cycled through 7 more cars and 2 motorcycles.
I lost my last grandparent.
Jason served as an associate pastor for 2 years.
We survived record-breaking snowfall with little-to-no gear.
There is a lot of between-the-lines that happened....
We have dealt with crimes, and legal systems, and house sales, dramas large and small, celebrations and heartaches.

The thread woven through all of this is how God has guided, and encouraged, and carried, and provided for us every step of the way.

I can't wait to see what He has in store for our next ten years!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Emotional Overload (aka, After the Wedding)

There are days that seem more than I can handle.
The tears are "RIGHT THERE"...
and might leak out over "nothing".
I miss my son.
I miss my daughter.
I miss the childhood I didn't have.
I miss friends living in different places.
I emote about news stories,
friends' discussions about their families,
and videos of military homecomings,
and 50-year-old dads seeing color for the first time.

This is not my "normal".
My normal has had tears suppressed
for close to 30 years.
My normal was termed a "crybaby"
for normal childhood responses...
so I learned to never let it show.

I got to where I couldn't cry if I wanted to...
or needed...
I didn't cry when my grandparents died...
of course, I also wasn't allowed a relationship with them.
Moving has not solicited tears,
nor loss, or loneliness, or fear.

I used to watch overly-done military reunion videos
to help myself process the emotions
from my husband being overseas for a year.

I don't know what to do with this overload.
I am feeling more,
and crying more,
and missing more,
and longing more.

None of this is wrong or bad.
It just IS.
I am actually glad that I can cry now.
But it is too much at once....

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Recuperating and reminiscing

I am sitting here drinking a hot cup of tea and eating some leftover cucumber salad, and thinking about the last week.  I'm trying to write, and my heart is just too full.

We had guests staying with us for the whole last week, fires to put out, crises to manage, and last-minute details to attend to, as well as school for 3 kids, college classes for the bride, and work for two parents, and two kids.  It was a bit hectic and crazy, but it was AMAZING.  

So, instead of talking about it, I'm just going to put some pictures up...

Rehearsal





The brothers

Two of the sisters





Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer, 2017

What a whirlwind!!

I had NO PLANS for this summer.  It was going to be quiet, and we really were only going to concentrate on preparation for the upcoming wedding and move(s).

Heh.  When you have 4 teens living in a house, it will NEVER be quiet.

There was art....
By Leah Paxton
Pencil drawing

By Katherine Paxton
Dry erase marker on white board

By Heather Paxton
Acrylic on canvas

By Heather Paxton
Acrylic on Canvas 




























There were visits with friends and lots of good food...

Todd and Debbie...
I hadn't seen them in more than 20 years!!

A special note from special friends!

Leah and Laurel
Happily reunited for a week!

Delicious treats from Uncle Dave!


There were "see you laters"
from good friends moving away.  



There has been SHOPPING for wedding stuff....



...and accomplishments....




















....and spotting of wildlife....

Geese!
Turkeys!!
The bunny that joined the zoo
for 2 days. 
The fluffy-butt who always lives here.



























...and the beauty of God's creation!!

Flowers!!
Everywhere, flowers!!
Even in town!
So much beauty!!

I am thankful for our "quiet" summer, and looking forward to where God takes us next!

Pineshore Bible Camp
Westminster, MA

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Semper Gumby

Brain dump time.

Feeling VERY emotional right now.

We are heading into month #4 of waiting for orders.  I have ALL KINDS of feelings about this, most of which are unfit for reading.  Mostly, I just wish they'd hurry up and make a decision already, so I can *officially* get on with preparing for a move.  Because we KNOW a move is going to happen, but can't do anything really official-like until they (the Navy) tells us that they are officially actually making a decision.  Confused yet?  Me too.

Meanwhile, I have to unofficially prepare to leave my job, prepare my house to be moved across-country (or wherever they decide...), prepare the kids' school stuff, get medical records, dental records, etc....but not officially, because, you know, we don't have official orders.  Which we may have as little as 6 weeks to get it all together when that actually, officially happens.

Oh, yeah.

We're also wedding planning (eldest daughter and her fiance are doing most of this, but you know...), planning on what to leave with the two daughters who plan to stay here, including buying cars, selling cars, gather furniture....finding them places to live (anyone got any leads on CHEAPish places to rent around here, or how a newly-wed couple can get financing??).  Of course, nothing official, because we have no end-date, because the Navy can't make up their danged minds about ANYTHING.

And then....

I'm also finishing up another degree.  What was I thinking?!?  Sigh.  This week and next week, and I'll be done...and THAT has no impact whatsoever from or on the lack of official decisions.  It is just another source of stress....

So, stressed to the max...
I want to CRY.
I want to SCREAM.
I want to punch someone...not that it would make anything better....

Limbo is where I am living, and it is a terrible place to be....

Semper Gumby, y'all.