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.