Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Two Cents

photo by magister in photobucket
A list of great reading!
These 7 Words
This 'can-do-must-do' society can become a little overwhelming

On So Called Biblical Womanhood
The title says it all

Anger and the Christian
A good post on a difficult subject

The best people in the world are are the worst

The Dispelled Girl
A must-read

Battlefield of Grace
Serena Woods writes of being afraid of grace

And David writes of Thanksgiving:
 23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
      His love never quits.
   Rescued us from the trampling boot,
      His love never quits.
   Takes care of everyone in time of need.
      His love never quits.
   Thank God, who did it all!
      His love never quits! (Psalm 136:26, The Message)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And So....Rest!

I was unable to post my last few thoughts on October 31st (downed Internet service) so I thought I'd sprinkle them out and about tonight.

It has been an amazing journey, this blog.

I found people who understand being afraid of church.

I have found people, even though wounded by their past, encourage grace and growth in Christ (that's you, Hillary!)

I have found people not afraid to say a spade is a spade and that intimidation in the name of religion is evil (Keep blogging, Lewis)

I have been blessed by the incredible insights by bloggers like Eric who understand the choke hold of legalism and Meg and Burnie who write openly and honestly of life out of the cult.

Provender's post describing how spiritual abuse is the invisible trauma was an eye-opener.

The blogger Recovering Alumni at 'My Teen Mania Experience' has my absolute respect. She has stood up to a mega organization for the lives it has harmed.

If you are coming out of a controlling family or church these people are good friends to have by your side.

My battle right now finding freedom from my approval addiction. Blogger Shari Howerton writes eloquently of her own struggle in this area (thank you for sharing your struggle, Shari)

Working in a consumer satisfaction environment has gone a long way to curing my approval addiction. No matter how good you are, how hard you work, how much you care you just can't make 'em all happy.

I might pop back from time to time to pass along some good reading. For now, however, I am going to rest. And watch 'Pushing Daisies' (my new love) and 'The Middle' (my new fav).

My words of wisdom to myself this week come from Max Lucado's 'He Still Moves Stones':
As long as you think you can control people's behavior toward you, you are held in bondage by their opinions...It's a game with unfair rules and fatal finishes. Jesus didn't play it nor should you...Having [approval] is desirable but not necessary for happiness and is not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of His family overshadow his call from God.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Blue Castle: Sanity Shout Out IV

L M Montgomery's Blue Castle describes the life of twenty-year old spinster, life completed controlled by an aged aunt and dour mother.

When told she has a year to live she leaves the control behind to live her remaining bit of life.
The plot may sound fanciful but it is grounded by Montgomery's realistic (at time of writing) description of the cowering Valency and her stuffed shirt relatives.

The book kept me hoping in second chances for twenty-nine year old spinsters :)
When cousin Stickles knocked at her door, Valancy knew it was half-past seven and she must get up. As long as she could remember, Cousin Stickles had knocked at her door at half-past seven. Cousin Stickles and Mrs. Frederick Stirling had been up since seven, but Valancy was allowed to lie abed half an hour longer because of a family tradition that she was delicate. Valancy got up, though she hated getting up more this morning than ever she had before. What was there to get up for? Another dreary day like all the days that had preceded it, full of meaningless little tasks, joyless and unimportant, that benefited nobody. But if she did not get up at once she would not be ready for breakfast at eight o'clock. Hard and fast times for meals were the rule in Mrs. Stirling's household. Breakfast at eight, dinner at one, supper at six, year in and year out. No excuses for being late were ever tolerated. So up Valancy got, shivering.

Shout Out For Penelope

As this is my last day of regular posting on "TCND" I thought I'd give a few shout outs to books, movies, people and songs that made the journey out of the cult a little easier.

I absolutely love the movie "Penelope". When you come out of a cult you feel very freakish...being stuck with a pigs nose is comparable. Accepting yourself for who you are is an important part of the healing process.

Thanks, Reese, for this was lovely.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

As Promised...I Wore My Hat (Via Jib Jab)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!
In the post Some Days It Is Just A Monster Mash I talked about dressing up for Halloween as the witch the cult pastor always accused me of being...thanks to Jib Jab I did :)

Check The Spirits...And Not Just At The Door!

01StevenK in photobucket

 1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, King James Version)
 1 My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. (1 John 4:1, The Message)

Pastor Gene Jennings at True North Church preached last Sunday on hearing the voice of God. (Just to be clear: this is my wonderful new very safe church...not the spooky old church)

Pastor Jennings presented the litmus test to know if the "voice" (thoughts, impressions,other's words) is of God:
  • agrees with Scripture
  • makes one's actions more Christ-like
  • is confirmed by other believers
  • gives a sense of peace
He noted that if the "voice" directs away from the Scriptures it is false.

Pastor Jennings, I wish I believed that truth eleven years ago...heck make that twenty years ago. (Though as a twelve year old I'm not sure how I could have left the cult behind...well, anyhoo)

The cult leader of a Dade City church told a congregant to leave his wife as she was not attending the cult. Let's see...hmm...didn't Jesus say:
 5-9Jesus said, "Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart." (Mark 10:5, The Message)
She told another congregant that she should not care for her ailing mother. She went so far as to quote:
20Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know."
 21Another follower said, "Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father's funeral to take care of."
 22Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life." (Matthew 8:20-22, The Message)
 I'm not a scholar so I don't understand why Christ was telling the man not to attend his father's funeral. What I do understand is that she put herself in the place of Christ by saying that the adult child should give more loyalty to the church (a.k.a her) than to a biological mother.
Paul said:
 3-8 Tell these things to the people so that they will do the right thing in their extended family. Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That's worse than refusing to believe in the first place. (1 Timothy 5:3, The Message)
She instructed church members to shun young children as they were "under an evil influence". We are talking six, seven, eight year olds. Can you imagine the devastating effect this had on the child?

I failed and made wrong decisions that hurt others while in the Dade City cult. One thing I did do right and I am fiercely glad and yes, PROUD of was refusing to ignore a child. I was yelled at over the pulpit and called proud and a promoter of rebellion. After the service I confronted the pastor and told her why I refused to "shun" a child. I told her that there is a Scripture that actually suggests suicide:
 1Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
 2It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
 3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:1-3, King James Version)

I quoted the King James as any other version was 'worldly'.

Here is how the 'worldly' version, The Message, reads:
 1-2He said to his disciples, "Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
 3-4"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it's personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again,' forgive him." (Luke 17:1-3, The Message)

Ohhhhh! So we're supposed to forgive! It's not our job to enforce a repentant spirit....hmmmm! Jesus says it is better to end your life than to give a little one a hard time... Sounds like her theology wasn't from God!

Thankfully my family and I finally "tested" her spirit and let tell ain't from God, friend.

And we got the hell out of that church-or rather, we left the hell of that church behind.

edwardo37 in photobucket
I beg you, reader, test the spirit. Test the words. Test the pastor.

There are zombie pastors out there my friend and they want your brain. 

1-6 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, 'God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren't shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don't feed the sheep. You don't build up the weak ones, don't heal the sick, don't doctor the injured, don't go after the strays, don't look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they're scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them! (Ezekiel 34:1-3, The Message)

 15 The gullible believe anything they're told;
   the prudent sift and weigh every word. (Proverbs 14:15, The Message)

On a more positive note...The series "Hear God Speak" will be available for listening on the True North website. Absolutely worth your listening time. As stated above I wish I had heard this sermon twenty years ago. Many thanks to Pastor Steve and Gene for speaking on the subject.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lift Up Your Face

Hazing: The Fraternity Tatics of Spiritual Abusers

In 1978, Alfred University student Chuck Stenzel decided to join the fraternity Klan Alpine. To become one of the 'brethren',Chuck was given a bottle of wine, pint of whiskey and six pack of beer, locked in the trunk of a car with other pledges, and left in nine degree temperature.When the alcohol was finished, the trunk would be opened.

When the trunk was opened, Chuck was unconscious. He died later that night.

The fraternity denied responsibility of his death.

His mother Eileen determined to find the truth. Klan Alpine members, however, were reluctant to speak out of the 'code of silence' employed by the fraternity.Overcoming members' reluctance to speak out, Eileen eventually pieced together the story of Chuck's last day and determined to fight the oppressive tactics of fraternity hazing.

As I read the story, I was shocked at the loyalty of the frat members. They would rather that an abusive system live on to kill someone else rather than speak the truth of Chuck's death. However, at this point, I had an "Eureka!" moment. Hadn't I myself been part and parcel of a group who employed abuse and mind-controlling techniques similar to those of a fraternity?Hadn't I myself protected a Dade City church 'fraternity' with years of silence?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Two Cents

This is my two cents worth of great reading:

Obedience To Whom?

Blogger Serena Woods answers a reader's question about church authority

Ravens Story-Conclusion

Not for the faint of heart...I have linked the last portion of the young lady's story. Teen Mania is a so-called ministry in Texas that, according to multiple accounts, terrorizes and abuses its members all in the name of God.

A Handy Guide To Being Annoying On Twitter

Just plain funny from Elizabeth Esther

The Danger Of Projecting An Identity
Donald Miller says:
" ...projecting a righteous identity teaches people they will be safe as long as they are righteous which is a lie."
Wow. Just Wow. I think that might be quote for the month.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It Wasn't Supposed To Be This Way

 19-21I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
   the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: (Lamentations 3:19-21, The Message)

At the library Thursday night I found a book by Kay Arthur entitled When the Hurt Runs Deep. No stranger to pain (her first husband was a suicide victim) Arthur titles her first chapter "It Wasn't Supposed to Be This Way".

Which coincidentally has been the title of my latest litany to God. From Monday on I have emphasized over and over to Him how the church is supposed to be the last place on earth that someone gets hurt. How that walking into a church shouldn't make me have panic attacks.

Dealing with resulting pain from other's choices isn't easy. Arthur doesn't hold any punches as she relates stories of a woman impregnated by her dad, a girl molested for eight years by her pastor father. Another mother of a suicide victim wrote:
Everyone said he was the strongest Christian they knew, so it is almost impossible to understand. my other child is...very ill. Why do these things happen? I had it we are left with rubble. Does God care?
Arthur writes:
This woman's questions are ones we all wrestle with at times...Why us? Why now? Does God care?

A technique I tried (unsuccessfully) to deal with the pain and questions was to measure my pain against others, such as this breaved mother. "At least all my family made it out of the cult alive." The thought in itself is fine and true. I can be thankful that no family members were a suicide victim in the cult.

The thought in its completeness was this: "No family member lost their life to the cult. Therefore there are others who have greater losses than me and deserve the right to mourn and ask questions."

And the Pharisee me pops back into light: everything from pain to righteous acts are measured on a scale and I don't measure up.

This line of thinking was promoted by the pastor of the Dade City church. I was called in the office once and berated because I was worried about a family member that had a broken arm. I was told that there were members of the church suffering so much more (the members happened to be her 'special' 'family' members) and that they had the right to be worried about family circumstances. My pain didn't measure up. I didn't deserve to worry.

Just another of her devilishly brilliant tactics: If you take away the person's "right" to feel pain they never bother questioning God why the pain is there. Take God and the need or "right" to ask God questions out of the equation and who's left? The cult leader...standing where she always meant to stand: In God's place. The pain of life is too much to take by yourself and since you don't have the "right" to talk to God about it you would end up talking to her.

Wow! I just realized once again how incredibly twisted this woman was and unfortunately still is...she is a true witch!

So maybe that's the point of this portion of pain...I finally figured out that I have the "right" to talk to God about it. I'll tell Him again today how I am tired of the fall out from a sick, narcissistic woman's need for control. I'll ask again when He is going to stop her evilness. I'll beg Him to give me a day off from all the questions...a day to just be.

David had to understand. He talks about hiding in God's presence in Psalms 91...hiding from deadly traps and hidden arrows under God's arms. God tells him:

14-16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
      "I'll get you out of any trouble.
   I'll give you the best of care
      if you'll only get to know and trust me.
   Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
      I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
   I'll give you a long life,
      give you a long drink of salvation!" (
Psalm 91:14-16, The Message)

I'll keep a grip on hope. I have the right to communicate with a heavenly Father about the fall out. I don't know why everything is "this way". It wasn't supposed to be this way. But as Jeremiah said:

 22-24God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left.
 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.
 28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst. (Lamentations 3:22-30, The Message)

I'm sticking with God...I'll say it over and over.

 31-33Why? Because the Master won't ever
   walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
   His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
   in throwing roadblocks in the way: (Lamentations 3:31-32, The Message)

I would remind the pastor of the Dade City church of the next verse:

 34-36Stomping down hard
   on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
   in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
   the Master does not approve of such things. (Lamentations 3:34-36, The Message)
photo by fortschreitend of Parkersburg tornado damage

My Two Cents on Good Reading (and Listening!)

I'm the chick with the broken heart by Elizabeth Esther

Sheep Story by Eric Pazdziora

8 Techniques For Thought Control by My Teen Mania Experience

Encouragement by Darcy's Heart Stirrings

Lamentations 3:19

Building an Altar by Lewis Wells

I See Dead People by Meg and Burnie

Michael W Smith sings about church abuse

Don't forget to share your two cents!

photos by davidfaboyd and magistar in photobucket

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Share Two Cents

Though I won't be posting regularly after October 31st I do want to host a monthly "share fest".

Share your two cents! Share two of your recent posts or mix and match it with a favorite post you've read. Make it more fun by alerting your readers of the chance to share. Be sure to share a comment explaining why you chose the two posts.

I am sharing my post "Some Days It's Just a Monster Mash" in the spirit of Halloween as well as Elizabeth Esther's "I'm the Chick With the Broken Heart".
Here is Mr. give us your two cents!

I have discovered wonderful authors from Elizabeth Esther and Stuff Christians Like respective blog parties- Thanks for hosting, Elizabeth and Jon!

Thanks for sharing! Your two cents are important!

In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands, translated from French by Stuart Gilbert

Monday, October 4, 2010

Now I Thrive

Another dear family member shares their account of life in the Dade City church:

Where does a person begin to tell about the mental abuse? I’ll just tell the truth.

Friday night youth meetings did last for hours - and, [name with held] did in fact tell us not to let the Pastor know how long she kept us in youth meeting. These meetings were not times of fellowship, sharing or “God moving,” but more {name with held] yelling at us and chewing us out, telling us how we were not measuring up to God’s standards (as she defined them).

I remember reading my Bible on my own, and coming to a saving knowledge and a loving relationship with Jesus during this time, understanding my life’s purpose to become more and more Christ-like. This was definitely not the message being preached on Friday nights. It was made clear to all of us that no matter what we did, we would never be good enough – we would always be a disappointment to God, unless we surrendered our lives to her direction, without question. This was also the time [name with held] started to exert control over behavior. We were shown how to shun kids that didn’t meet her expectations, and other social pressures were brought to bear. Many of those kids grew up to be very good at shunning at her command.

Without going into all the gruesome details, [name with held] continued to “work” with the youth. When the Pastor passed away from an illness in the late 80’s, she began to work to take control over the church, undermining the successor the Pastor had chosen. By about 1990, [name with held] had become head pastor, and church began its dissent into becoming a cult. Once she had control of the church, she began working on individuals.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blinded By False Love

This account was written by a very dear friend of mine.

To my eternal consternation and regret I was the one that invited she and her sister to the Dade City church, thereby inducing her in the cult.

There are so many decision and words I would take back if I had the chance.

Inviting her to attend the cult with me is the action I wish most desperately to take back.

Thankfully she is still my friend and has never made me feel guilty or responsible for introducing her into this life of horror.

I am proud to say she thrives, a fulfilled woman unshackled by her past.

God bless you, Friend.

My Sister and I entered "the Cult" life when I was 12 and she was 10 when our parents enrolled us into what seems a very innocent church/school.  
Unbeknown to my parents this was a very big mistake. They were quite impressed by the warm greeting they received from the teacher and principal , even some of the church members greeted us with extreme courtesy.

I remember thinking where were all the kids , not realizing that "the church kids" I were my age, but were dressed and looked as if they were in there 20's and 30's.

The girls wore dresses and skirts that I had seen at the "old lady " departments in Dillard's and Bealls.

The boys were wearing dress coats and old style pants that I had seen on older men of their 50's.I couldn't even imagine conforming to wearing those clothes and styling my hair the way they did.

Well soon after we starting school, I was immersed into how kind I was treated and gifts started to get laid down at my feet. I was honored with "people person" and varies other awards. I couldn't help but think WOW they must really think I'm special and I just ate it up ! I began staying after school more and helping around the church property with the "church kids". Slowly I fell into a pit of FALSE LOVE.

Saturday Evening Blog Post @ Elizabeth Esther's

Head over to EE's and join the blog party!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Some Days It's Just a Monster Mash

In an interview with Focus on the Family author Frank Peretti explained his motivation for writing about monsters. As a child he had a medical condition which turned his tongue an oozing black.

As children are often the cruelest beings on the planet, Peretti suffered through taunts of being a “monster”. Choosing the positive aspect of a bad situation, he decided to see monsters as “cool” and himself as special in being associated with them.

This post is in celebration of choosing the positive, and yes, even the humorous aspect of feeling like a freak.

After living in a fundamental cult for twenty plus years, I escaped into what I thought would be stress-free living. I survived hell on earth- now it was time to lay back and relax, right?

That might be right for some. And if you are part of that some, congratulations- you have the good life.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happiness is a Journey

This account is from a dear family member who also attended the abusive church:
I must say, this is a very difficult situation for me because I still have family that I love dearly, still in this compound. My mother and sister are still held captive there by a force that they can not even see for themselves. They will read this and will be very upset with me, and I am sure that they will make sure it gets back to me that they are not by any means being held captive or feel they have to stay, but the truth is, I have been there and I know that there are times they feel insecure about the environment in which they exist, we all did at some point and time, but because of the deep-set mind control, you ignore those feelings and continue your mere existence in the world that has been “created” for you. So, mom and sis, I do this because I love you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Story: Can't You See I'm Dying?

To start the beginning of the end of the blog I am re-posting the personal accounts of life in an abusive Dade City church.

This is my story:
I was part of a Tampa/Dade City church for twenty-four years. If I sat at this computer for a year and typed continuously, I couldn't begin to record the horror perpetrated on me and those I love.

At the same time, I have experienced God's amazing deliverance from destructive cult and the amazing concern from those who walked with me as I left behind a spiritually-abusive hell.

My history begins with my parents attending the church when I was pre-school age.

The pastor at the time tried to 'sever ties' with the movement called the 'Body'; being a young child, I didn't understand what this meant.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Journey From The Cult

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

~J.R.R. Tolkien~

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good Reading On Lukewarm, Grace, Hazing, and The Desperately Wicked Heart

Articles and blogs definitely worth the perusal time.
by Rebecca Walker
Heartbreaking article detailing the emotional damage when a parent is fanatically dedicated to a movement
by Hillary McFarland
The overwhelming burden of perfectionism
by Eric Pazdziora
This post resonated deeply with me as the leader of the cult I was in ranted regularly on this was a "one-size-shame-for-all" sermon when she wasn't getting enough parishioner's money, time or adulation.
by Elizabeth Esther
The title says it all...
by Tales From the Crypt (Meg and Burnie)
Leaving a cult can feel like being mowed over by a semi-truck...
by the Cult Next Door
Re-read my post about the hazing-like tactics used by the cult leader of the Dade City church.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post: The Galatian Road Out of Legalism by Eric Pazdziora

 I am so honored to have Eric Pazdziora as a guest blogger on The Cult Next Door.

Eric writes definitively about legalism and spiritual abuse.

Without further ado, Eric's post:

 Legalism. It’s one of those nasty words that everybody points to as an example of religion gone wrong. Everybody knows that you shouldn’t be a legalist. Everybody knows that legalism is unbiblical. Everybody would be affronted if you called them a legalist.
Unfortunately, “everybody” by definition includes all the legalists. All the most legalistic people I’ve ever known assure me that they’re not legalists, and that legalism is wrong, and that they know they’re not saved by works, and that you must misunderstand them if you think they’re legalists.

So who are the legalists, then? The bogeymen? Anyone whose view of religion is more than 5% stricter than the person talking? Those are lousy definitions. We need something better. If legalism is so bad, and most of the people who practice it are not even aware of it, how can we avoid it? How can we diagnose ourselves to see whether we’re legalists? How can we be free if we are?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don't Ever Dare A Dancing Bear To Teach You How To Waltz...

Don't ever cross a crocodile
However few his faults.
Don't ever dare
A dancing bear
To teach you how to waltz.
-Kaye Starbird-

I was quite sleepy Friday night and was in the process of shutting down my laptop when Commandments of Men latest blog title caught my eye: "Buckle Up For These Links..."
Of course I had to jump over and find out what I needed to buckle up for- the last couple of posts Lewis wrote necessitated that he outfit his e-mail with Kevlar. Brave man, that (cheering for you Lewis!)

I wasn't the least bit sleepy after reading the post he linked. I was sitting with my head between my knees trying not to be physically sick.

I won't list the details in this post. Roll over the link for Commandments of Men
to read the details.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Talk: Great Discussions...

Comments, opinions, and heated discussions are flying around over at Jumpers to Jeans and Commandments of Men.

A quick warning though- one subject being discussed is not for the faint of heart. I felt physically sick after reading the article.
photo by alcyewilson on photobucket

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two Must Reads: "A Counterfeit Appearance..." by Shari and "Stolen Hearts" by Lewis

Unless you have experienced this level of control over your life and choices, you can't fully appreciate the oppression. We were not free to choose our own wardrobe (especially the women) or hairstyles. There were rigid rules and restrictions. Long skirts and dresses were requirements for women (no pants allowed). We were expected to wear nylons (even in severe heat), rather than expose bare legs. Earrings were forbidden. Make up was considered worldly. Elbows and knees were to be covered. Women were to grow their hair long. Even nail polish on fingers or toes was a sign of worldliness and would result in disapproving looks, comments, and even public chastisement in the form of a rebuking "testimony."-Miss Oblivious Thinks Aloud-

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"And then I started thinking about my own life, how I need people to love me and like me and how, if they don't, I feel miserable and sad and how I am tempted to believe what they are saying about me is true. It is though the voice God used to have has been taken up by less credible voices."
~Donald Miller, Searching For God Knows What~

Read something lately that inspired you? Use Mr. Linky in the sidebar to link it.

photo by pink_hippo_pictures in photobucket

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Surviving The Control: How Did You Cope?

I am a Potter fan. I admit it wholeheartedly. First chance I get I am bee-lining to Universal Studios for the ultimate Potter experience.

If you are not a Potter fan, please allow me a moment to tell you why I am.

Reading the Potter books aided me in escaping the horrid reality. Tapping the wall in Diagon Alley opened a door away from the existence of the cult. The wall always slammed solidly shut, never admitting my abuser.

I often wished I could go to platform at King's Cross Station and waltz through the barrier leaving forever the pain wracked experience of church.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Picasso Would Understand My Slightly Sad Sundays

Sundays are slightly depressing to me. It gets to you when you hear fifty-two or so Sundays a year that nuclear nightmares are lurking just slightly around the corner and that the United Nations is days away from passing out free "Mark of the Beast" cards to the evilly loyal, cutting off the food supply from the rest of us more sanctified folks.

Sundays are my 'Picasso' days. Good sense is slightly out of focus, slightly distorted. I don't listen to the news, read the Bible (hold the 'Gasp!' factor down...I still read it the other days), or go to church. I'm just not quite that brave on Sundays. If the current President is washing the country down the world drain I beg you not to tell me on a Sunday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Manipulative Power of Peace: Guest Post by Lewis Wells

A month ago I discovered the blog Commandments of Men by blogger Lewis Wells. Lewis writes with passion of the danger of legalistic, human-powered religion. His personal loss at the hands of patriarchal control breaks my heart.
Thank you, Lewis, for speaking out against spiritual abuse.

Without further ado, Lewis' guest post:

Show of hands...

Who among you has based a decision solely on whether or not you had "peace" about it? (my hand is raised)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quivering Daughters: Interview With Hillary McFarland

Almost three weeks ago, on a Sunday evening, I sat on my ottoman, surrounded by tissues, tears running down my cheeks.
I was listening to Hillary McFarland, author of Quivering Daughters - Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy, describe broken little girls. Little girls and women who despair of life as they sink beneath the weight of guilt and fear.

Hillary spoke of these 'quivering daughters' with such compassion and understanding. Her tone was gentle and sympathetic as she explained how a family, God-honoring and intent on maintaining His precepts and standards can evolve into a fear-riddled, guilt-consumed environment.

At the end of our conversation it felt as though a large weight was lifted off my own shoulders. I realized I had allowed the fear and insecurity of my repressive ex-church to wind it ways through my head and heart. I was, in various circumstances, once again quivering.

It took almost two weeks to write this post...simply because the tears would start again as I remembered how FREE I felt after speaking with Hillary. God has truly blessed her to minister to the broken heart and crushed spirit. I pray that her book finds its way into the hands of many discouraged and faltering 'daughters'.

Here are Hillary's beautiful explanations to my questions:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Home is Where the Heart Is: Guest Post From Meg and Bernie

I am so honored to have Meg and Bernie, authors of the blog Tales From The Crypt share a guest post on recognizing God's love:

My heart has been in Brisbane, and with all those we left behind when we came out of BCF. It is also still with those family we cut off for reasons of our own safety and emotional health. What does this say of me? It says that the love I crave has been tainted love, not genuine love. In fact, human beings don’t know what love actually is until God shows us. For if God is not just the perfect lover, but IS love itself, then anything that we humans come into contact with from each other which does not first originate from God is not really love . It is something else entirely. This is a difficult concept to get your head around. We like to think that humans can love each other just as well without God thank you. Mothers love their children, men and women love each other, lay down their lives for those they love, keeping them close, protecting them, giving them everything they need. But if we compare this to the love of God, it falls short consistently.

In dramatic or traumatic events, human love and sacrifice comes to the fore. We do indeed put our own lives at risk in order to save others, sometimes not even those we know, sometimes complete strangers. This indeed looks very much like Godly love. It is, for an instant, the personification of Godly love. But none of us can hope to replicate this for a lifetime. To suffer loss daily, for the sake of those you love is not possible for human beings, nor do I believe that God asks us to do this where our own lives have become degraded or imprisoned as a result. Only he is capable of this type of love, and it is therefore the reason that he alone is worthy of what the bible calls our first love. His love is pure holy and self-sacrificing, and only his love can sustain us. We can show a much lesser form of this love to each other, and a diluted version of it as it comes through our flesh. Only the love which is given freely, which both enhances the life of the giver, and the life of those loved, can be representational of God himself.

God’s life and being is never diminished by his longsuffering on behalf of the human race. He is not in bondage, or imprisoned, nor is his essence lessened by pouring out his love upon us, as we constantly turn away from him, give ourselves to others who are less worthy, worship things, and become spiritual harlots.

God does not for example, expect a woman to stay with a husband who beats her or her children, emotionally abuses her, is an adulterer, treats her with anything other than Godly self-sacrificing love. This is NOT love. A woman may believe she loves her husband, but a woman in this situation is NOT able to determine her own emotional state, as her perceptions are affected by the abuse. She believes she should stay with a man who abuses her because she loves him, yet, even God tells us to turn away from ungodly ones, to not even eat with them. So, it is evident that true LOVE, as opposed to true human love, which we must call something else to avoid confusion, is not one which benefits only one party. God’s love does not diminish his person; it is instead the perfect reflection of who he is.

It is therefore important for us to know what genuine love is. The true definition of love is nothing to do with emotions or even actions, since human emotions and actions are always less than perfect. The ONLY illustration of perfect love that we have is Jesus; and he in turn is the personification of God.

It is important then, to rearrange our understanding of real love. If my heart is still with those who have abused me, who care nothing for me, who have ignored my needs and diminished me as a person, and who continue to do so even after I have brought all this to their attention, then my heart is at fault. If I still find comfort in my memories, in the nostalgia of remembering what I thought was love, then I am seeking after something which is not God. Like David, I need to ask God to create a clean heart in me, or to put it another way, to help me to understand what real love is, and to renew my heart so that I can receive and perceive it.

Much love,

Bernie and Meg
Authors of Tales from the Crypt)
photo by sheriffdave in photobucket

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Story of Survival

I asked some recent commenters to share their accounts of life within a fundamentalist/cult group. Here is one reader's story:

"Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to find a good church for his family to go to in order that they could all worship and serve God together. One would not expect this to be a problem in the Southeast United States but the fact remained clear that there were a bunch of organizations that called themselves a “church” that were little more than social clubs. There was a heavy emphasis on meeting felt needs and little if any emphasis on really studying the Bible.

However, after looking for a while, the man and his family found a church that seemed perfect. The Bible was taught exceptionally. There were no fluffy Sunday School classes with trite prepackaged lessons that were superficial. Rather, the teachers taught straight from the Bible. The man was a Calvinist and this church held to the doctrines of grace. The church wasn’t huge but it was big enough to have something for all ages of the family to learn and serve. This should have been the “Happily Ever After”.

Such was not the case, however. About a year or so after they had joined the church, the pastor began to make pleas from the pulpit for increased faithfulness in giving. He said the church was going through a budget crisis. A few months ago, one of the elders had left with some of the congregants to form their own church. About 10 families left. A few other families left for various other reasons. Now, with the pastor making a plea for funds, the man’s “Spidey sense” started to tingle.

No financial reports were ever released. It was really the first the man had thought about it or realized it. Most churches he had been in had business meetings. The financial reports were laid on a back table where everyone could get them. This church didn’t do that. When the man asked the pastor, he was told you had to ask for the reports and they would be mailed to you. So the man asked for the reports. Being an auditor by trade, as soon as he opened the Excel file, he knew where the problem was.

The church’s budget was going to run about $50,000 short for the year if subsequent months ran like the month he looked at. So he started to look at the various categories to see where the problem was. Long story short—the pastor’s salary was better than 50% of the budget with the mortgage being another 30%. When this $100,000 a year salary and $60,000 a year mortgage payment were paid, there was hardly anything left to pay for maintenance, utilities, or anything else. Now the man’s “Spidey Sense” was REALLY tingling. However, he forced himself to keep his concerns to himself. They are the elders, he said, and it’s their job to make these decisions. Besides, the pastor seems to be a man of integrity.

However, that integrity was only a veneer and a thin one at that. About 6 months later, several more families left the congregation. There was a big meeting to explain what had happened and why. Basically, the families left out of concern for the pastor and what they perceived was a greedy attitude on his part. He had taken time out of a sermon series in Ephesians to begin to preach on stewardship and the need to tighten our belts. However, he was still making $100,000 in a church with about 120 people on Sunday Morning. He would make comments that “The average salary in this area is $60,000 per year, we should have no problem with the finances in this church”. After this meeting, the man had an occasion to talk to the pastor and some of the things the pastor said caused the ol’ “Spidey Sense” to start ringing again. Particularly, “I’ve got 20 years experience and a doctorate”. His doctorate was from a diploma mill. However, he seemed to be saying “I deserve this salary”. It also came out that he was able to pay considerably more on his mortgage than the payment every month. This man, in every respect, was becoming quite wealthy. Further, he told the man that he hasn’t taken a raise in 3 years. With his salary I should certainly hope not.

Anyway, the man pushed these concerns down again. He and his family liked the church. They liked the people. Then, the Holy Spirit began to convict him that staying silent was wrong. He began to question the financial decisions of the church and was rudely rebuffed. He finally asked to meet with the elders. You see, anytime someone had a problem, the elders wanted to meet with them individually. They didn’t want people to compare notes and see that others saw the same problems in the church. They also felt it easier to intimidate the person. The man met with the elders and it was like Pink Floyd’s song “The Wall”. They blew off his concerns and basically said that to leave the church without a valid biblical reason was to leave without God’s approval.

A few months went by and some things started happening that violated what the elders claimed were things they’d never do. They had a woman lead music on Wednesday night because the two guys who would usually do it were not there. The elders claimed she wasn’t leading because she was standing with the instrumentalists rather than on the platform. In other words, we’re going to claim that we would never do something but if it becomes necessary we’ll just change the vocabulary, call it something different, and do it anyway. That was the final straw.

The man went to tell the pastor that he would no longer serve in any ministries in the church. The pastor asked why. The man cited the incident above as proof that the elders had no integrity. The pastor was irate. He began to raise his voice. The man told him he didn’t come there to argue but to inform him of a decision. At this point, the pastor blew his stack and said, oh and I’m quoting here, “Don’t you DARE walk away from me!”

The man laughed. He told the pastor “You have no authority over me”. As he turned to walk out, the pastor said “As pastor of this church I certainly do”. He rudely told the man that his resignation was accepted and if he wanted to talk to the elders they would meet with him. The man thought to himself “Alan and the Yes-men”.

He and his family left the church and, after a few months of looking have found a church where the leaders are men of integrity and they can feel safe. Leaving was hard. Staying, however, would have been a greater sin. Supporting a church where the leadership do not have the character qualifications the Bible says they should have is dangerous and potentially damaging. If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. The above story is real. The people in it survived through God’s grace. You can too."

Read more on Joe's blog Hear God Speak

photobucket picture by:kmlapham

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Hyacinth Effect

In a lighter vein...

I am guilty of falling sway to the Hyacinth effect. Who is Hyacinth and what is her effect...We-l-l... more on Hyacinth at the end of the post.

I'm really good at coffin polishing. Sound grim? Here's one more morbid: "'re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and all the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh."

This is performance based religion in a nutshell. And who better than Jesus could spot its slithery, slimy symptoms? This is why he used disturbing images to describe it. He wanted his listeners to realize and realize good performance based religion is rotten through and through.

I cut my teeth on performance based religion. Appearance MATTERED!!! And boy do I mean actual appearance. As the pastor of the cult was female outward neatness scored high with her. She was obsessed with neatly pressed clothes, perfectly cleaned houses, and Emily Post deportment.

Don't get me wrong-these things are good and healthy in perspective. However, they are not possible all the time. And that's what she demanded: PERFECTION ALL THE TIME.

But enough about her. This post will be funny and the harm she inflicted isn't funny.

Back to the Hyacinth Effect. I suffer with it. And poke fun at myself for doing so. Hyacinth is a character from a British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, who labors mightily that her neighbors, friends, and family would recognize her to be the member of the upper-crust echelon she knows herself to be. For her pains, Hyacinth is arrested, misses a long-awaited cruise, loses the chance to talk to royalty and many others hilarious scenarios. The moral of the story: her slovenly older sister and her slutty younger sister enjoy life in so much more fullness because they don't strive to keep up an appearance (not that I am endorsing slovenliness or sluttiness...but it beats coffin-polishing by a mile)

So if you're tempted, as I am, to rush about, believing you are controlling other's opinion of you by keeping up an appearance, visualize yourself in this Hyacinth clip:

Show Me Blood

by chrisb11101 in photobucket 

 Just finished reading an insightful guest post article on Quivering Daughter's titled
Abusing Abuse?. The article describes the attitude of many to "Buck up!" The mentality is to be grateful that you weren't physically scarred. Darcy, author of the post, has this to say:

Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies?
Powerful stuff, that. Why should we carry around a pain meter to decide if an experience is deemed painful or scarring? Are religious circles really so blase about suffering that they must be shown blood to produce a merciful attitude?

A situation that I feel illustrates this "there's no blood- so there's no wound" mentality is illustrated on the blog My Teen Mania Experience
The blogger (along with others sharing their personal experiences) petitioned the board of directors to acknowledge wounds (many emotional though I read of several physical ones as well). The board responded with, in my opinion, a cold, dismissive letter. The main concern of collective board was that the problems discussed on the blog were already corrected and that the institution had "a bright future". Not one apology for the many, many scars people bear from their experience with the institution.

I was hoping for a story book ending in this case: board of directors saying that concerns were heard, apologizing for the trauma the institution inflicted-for isn't contrition a Christian virtue?

Apparently not. Since the folks sharing their pain on My Teen Mania Experience didn't show enough theoretical blood they were dismissed as a "dust storm".

I keep hope though. I even keep hope that my spiritual abuser will see her evil and repent for it. Abusive patterns aren't broken by chance. They are broken because some speaks up and says "Hey, that's wrong! Enough is enough!"

I love what Jon Acuff has to say about hope: (Read Jon's wonderful blog Stuff Christians Like - worth your time!)
But here’s the thing about hope, it takes time. And sometimes, I think our greatest frustrations are when we try to force hope into a stage it’s just not ready for...We had to learn to live with a past that refused to stay quiet. As I’ve often said before, unless you deal with it, the past turns into a collection of knives hidden around your house. If you haven’t forgiven each other, then all the sudden you’ll see a character on a television show do what you did and you’ll get stabbed. Someone will make an offhand joke at a dinner party and you’ll get stabbed by that memory. So for us, learning to live with the past was about removing knives.
We have to talk about our hurts- as Jon said, the past doesn't stay quiet. As Darcy stated people will say things about being grateful we weren't beaten, etc. And if you are anything like me, that is your ticket to a month long cruise in guilt land.

So why talk about it? Why blog about it? Well, for the folks over at the My Teen Mania blog because a bunch of leaders decided you weren't bloody enough and de-value you even more by calling you a dust storm. So, you talk about it. According to the comments on the blog, it helps. I know it has helped me.

When I first came out of the cult I posted endlessly for a year on Wanda Mason's Ex-GAC message board. I said often I just needed to feel validated, almost as if I had to ask if it was OK to feel the pain. Wanda would always encouragingly respond back, "You are validated. You are free to share your pain here."

Thanks again so much Wanda. You didn't need to see blood to know there was pain.
To Darcy, Hillary, Recovering Alunmi, Provender, Elizabeth Esther, and all you other awesome blogs out there: Thanks for sharing your pain so others feel free to share theirs. Thanks for not requiring blood.
photo by no_namer_29 in photobucket

Further Reading:
Silent Sorrow
In Black (Velvet)