Child Protection Resources

I recently spoke to a group of moms about child protection issues.  I promised them a follow-up email with resources and links regarding some of the things we discussed that evening and others that we didn't get to.  As others who heard about the meeting have asked for info as well, I've decided that the most effective way to share it is here on the blog.  I hope that this post will be a dynamic jumping-off point for those who would like to learn more about how to protect our children, what to do when the unthinkable happens, and how the church can help families dealing with trauma.

This will not be a comprehensive list of everything available...just some articles and resources I've found helpful, as well as a centralized list of posts I've written about child protection issues or things God has taught and is teaching me through our journey. There are resources I've intentionally left out due to the fact that they involve approaches I'm not comfortable recommending to others.  There are many, many resources out there for those desiring to approach this from the traditional humanistic psychology based viewpoint.  Referrals for such services are readily available from state agencies.  As we have been strongly convicted to utilize only resources that align with Biblical principles (and seen God work amazingly through that), that will be the focus here.

I'm also going to share some of the quotes and Scripture passages I shared that night for those who wanted those.  To help me in organizing the information, I'm going to use the outline I prepared for sharing that evening. Hopefully that will help those who were there to find specific information more easily as well.


Scripture: Psalm 40:1-5

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man
    who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
    no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
    they would be too many to declare.

"Our task shouldn't be punishing the villains in our lives,
but enlarging the God who heals us from all wounds."
~ Mary DeMuth, Everything

When the Worst Happens...There is Hope! 

 Nothing comes as a surprise to God!

Scripture: Genesis 50:20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Job 1:21-22

 The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
    your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
    were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. 

Blog Posts on God's Sovereignty and Goodness, Our Suffering and Brokenness, and Hope:

Bombarded By His Sovereignty  *

...From All Evil... *

30 Days of Gratitude...Day 3...God's Sovereignty *

In Other Words...Sovereignty *

On the Subject of Suffering *

Worth a Read (Or a Listen)*

A Prayer for a Friend Doubting the Faith *

In Other Words...When Adversity Strikes *

I am Continually Amazed *

Sunday Sermon *

A Bit of a Ramble, Part 1 *

In Other Words...I Know a Whole Lot More For Sure *

The End of the Rope *

In Other Words...All is Well *

"A Whole Lot More for Sure" *

From My Journal... *

Thankful Friday *

This video clip by Voddie Baucham on asking the right question is excellent.  It doesn't specifically address abuse or trauma issues, but it is one of the best responses I've heard to those struggling with issues of suffering and God's sovereignty.   

I've shared this quote from Steven Curtis Chapman many times.  It is taken from this interview with Larry King on Larry King Live.  You can also see the entire interview (in multiple segments) on YouTube.
"I know a lot less about God, but the things I know about God, I know a whole lot more, for sure." 

Randy Alcorn's book If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil is an excellent resource for anyone dealing with suffering or doubts.  

Prevention and Protection
8 Ways to Protect Your Children From Sexual Abuse 

5 Things You Should Know About Child Sexual Offenders

"Tricky People" Are the New Strangers

Discernment and Sexual Predators

National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (I haven't read all that is available on this site, but there is some excellent material here, particularly the article "Why More Mandatory Reporting Hurts Children"...you'll have to scroll down to get to it.)

Ministering to Those Who've Experienced Trauma

"When a church fails to grasp the dynamics of child abuse, it is ill-equipped to 'welcome these little children in the name of Christ'." ~ Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE)
(*Note:  I don't agree with everything they post/publish, but they do have some good information.)
From Awareness to Understanding to Ministry...Abuse and the Body of Christ ~  *
"We can't all go outside our city, state, or country to do missions...and we don't have to.  There are so many people right around us...even sitting by us in church...who are hurting and who need to be ministered to.  Children and families affected by abuse are among those.  There is a huge mission/ministry field ripe for harvest that doesn't require travelling a mile or spending a dime.  Hurting children and families need to know that there is hope...that there is healing and comfort in the Father who holds us close to His heart as a Shepherd cradles a baby lamb.  We need to share the Gospel with those who are unsaved, and we need to minister to the injured members of the Body of Christ.  We need to let God's love flow through us to them; we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  Church needs to be a haven for those affected by abuse...a place where they can feel the safety they need to heal and grow.  "

We All Hurt ~ This doesn't deal with abuse per se, but is a good, short reminder about hurting people in general.

Desiring God: Interview with Justin Holcomb, author of Rid of My Disgrace. (EXCELLENT interview)

General Resources

Rid of My Disgrace, by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb ~ This is the best resource I have found on this issue. Justin and Lindsey Holcomb deal with this subject Biblically and gracefully.  

Thin Places, by Mary DeMuth ~ Mary DeMuth's writing has ministered to me greatly throughout our journey.  Her story is one of hope and healing through God's grace.  

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Jesus truly is our Wonderful Counselor.  The most important thing for anyone dealing with this type of trauma in any form is to seek Him as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

Bugs Bunny, Facebook, and Stewarding the Story *

Protecting Children, Part 1*

Protecting Children, Part 2*

Protecting Children, Part 3*

(Resources marked with an asterisk * are blog posts here at Ponderings of an Elect Exile.)

If you've found these resources helpful, please consider pinning this post on Pinterest to share with others.  Thanks! 

Thanks for visiting Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Don't want to miss a post?  Please take a minute to follow Ponderings of an Elect Exile on FacebookTwitter, and/or Pinterest.  Or subscribe by email via the box in the sidebar.  I'd also love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option on my profile page. 



Helping Share their Story to Help them Share His..."Until We All Come Home"..

I am so excited to have the opportunity to participate on another launch team...this one for Kim de Blecourt's book, Until We All Come Home, scheduled to be released on November 6.  Last night I sat and read Kim's post, "Why I Wrote Until We All Come Home", through tears.  I've never been out of the country, never adopted a child, never been physically assaulted or threatened with arrest or told that I would have to return a child I had come to love as my own to a heartbreaking orphanage in a foreign land.  Our circumstances are very different, but this post resonated with me, nonetheless.  I have known the determination to protect my children whatever the cost...and seen Jesus become my Everything in a whole new way as I realized that only He can truly protect them.  Our family has dealt with post-trauma issues and wondered if life would ever be remotely "normal" again.  And I have experienced that urgency to share "my God in action"...that story of His glory and grace that just has to be shared!

So I am excited today to share that post with you, and looking forward to sharing more about this book in the weeks ahead!

Why I Wrote “Until We All Come Home”

Posted on August 24, 2012 by Kim de Blecourt

The most common question I am asked nowadays is “Why did you adopt?” The second most common question I’m asked, especially if the person asking knows anything about our adoption journey is “Why are you writing a book about your adoption?” Today, I’m tackling the second question…

Our adoption journey has been described by a fellow writer and friend as “a terribly, beautiful story of love for a child.” The beautiful part is understandable. A family gained another member. A child gained a family that adores him. Adoption can be a beautiful thing. The terrible part comes along side our journey to get our son home. Perhaps the one sentence description I used to describe my book to agents and editors says it best: “Our adoption journey was like Not Without My Daughter meets The Hunt for Red October and The Hiding Place.

I was simply trying to get the son we had just adopted, home to America. There are still serious post-Soviet overtones throughout my son’s homeland of Ukraine and nothing there is simple. It was only through my faith in God’s heart for the orphan that we were finally triumphant, almost one year later. During that time, I learned Russian, I tried to keep a low profile and most of the time, I lived in Ukraine without my husband and daughter. For perhaps the first time in my life, God became my everything.

Ukraine is where many dear friends live, it is my second home and the birthplace of my son, so there is no revenge theme here. We were made a solid offer for the rights to publish our story, but all the profits from the book go to a favorite non-profit of ours, Food for Orphans (www.foodfororphans.org), so it wasn’t for the money. And since I had posted our adoption journey on Facebook, our story wasn’t a secret. Our journey even attracted a casting director from the Oprah Winfrey Network, so our story was already in the public eye. Later, I was interviewed for a nationwide NPR show. That interview is still online and part of an iTunes podcast — so again, no secrets here. But to re-live it all again? I would have to have help. I could barely function, let alone construct sentences. So not only the ‘why’ but the ‘how’ became a question. So then, why did I choose to tell our story? Wouldn’t it had been better buried deep?

When we finally arrived home on Sunday, April 25, 2010, I was numb. I had lost over 40 pounds. I could no longer cry. I was hearing things that weren’t there. I could hardly talk. Yet through all my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms and the relief of being back on American soil, there was one thing I was sure of — I was to tell the story of my Deliverer. At times it was if I could feel God’s hand on my back, gently leading me forward through the publishing maze. When I wanted to give up, and believe me, there were many times during my publishing journey I wanted to do just that, He led me forward. My time in Ukraine had attuned me to His voice. I no longer questioned, I simply followed.

Since being home, I have heard the ‘confessions’ of those touched by our journey. One couple has started attending church again. Other friends, who claim no knowledge of Jesus Christ, have confessed they have started to investigate Him again. God works in mysterious ways. If the often painful re-telling of our story leads someone one step further towards heaven, then it is a journey I’m willing and happy to make.

Make no mistake, I am NOT a saint. Only God knows my imperfections better than I do. Many are revealed in my book. But, if God can use me, in spite of myself, I am His. I have nothing to boast about except Him. And I can talk about Him, all day long.

So there it is — the answer — I wrote a book about our adoption journey to show you my God in action. To bring attention to the orphaned children of the world He loves so dearly is a bonus. To raise funding to feed them, an honor.

Soli deo gloria.

Read more at Kim's blog, Nourished Hearts.  


I'm late, I'm late...

for a very important date!

I posted on Facebook yesterday, but got sidetracked and never posted here. But...I'm guest posting on one of my very favorite blogs ever this weekend...so please hop, skip, or jump over to Creative Confetti for my guest post there this weekend!   Looking forward to seeing you there!

(Public domain image by Jon Sullivan.)



Pinning {Everything}

My first Everything pin for the launch team!  So excited about this book!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Journaling {Everything} ~ The Intro

Mary DeMuth has long been one of my favorite authors, and I was beyond thrilled to be selected as part of the launch team for her soon-to-be-released book Everything.  

This book is packed with things I want to remember and come back to often.  I'm reading it on my Kindle, and while I LOVE my Kindle (both my Kindle Keyboard and the Kindle app on my tablet), this is the type of book I just really want to be able to take a pen...actually, several different colored pens...to.   So...I've decided to take colored pens (and pencils!) to it in a little bit different way. :)

Today is the beginning of a new project here at Ponderings of an Elect Exile:  Journaling {Everything}...Art Journaling Through Mary DeMuth's Everything

I'll be sharing my journal pages here, along with additional favorite quotes from the book.

I'm not even going to try to keep a set schedule for these posts...I'd love to do them daily, but I already know that won't happen. :)  So...if you want to make sure you don't miss any...take a minute to subscribe by email via the box to the right, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  (And if you're on Pinterest...pin away using the handy "Pin It!" button below!)

One disclaimer...I'm a papercrafter, not an artist. I don't draw well!  And my lettering skills from days gone by have gotten pretty rusty.  My current art journaling definitely reflects all that!  But just think...those of you who follow from beginning to end may actually get to see some improvement. :)

Journaling {Everything} ~ The Intro

"God wants to grow us up, to bring us to new vistas and promised lands aplenty. He created us for adventure, not ease. Instead of obeying in the moment and experiencing powerful spiritual growth, we wander around in circles chasing ease, trusting in ourselves to solve our problems, living a Godless life. We arrive forty years later, looking back, and wonder why in the world we didn’t grow and why God seems terribly distant."

"[People] either hoard their 'everything' as a means to coddle and
control their lives, or they joyfully relinquish everything to Jesus. And
when that second group gives up everything, they gain Jesus, who is
our everything."

"If we are near to Jesus’ mind and heartbeat,we will naturally act like Him. That’s not a simple, catchy formula. • What we think about God matters.
• How we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters.
• How we obey Him in the moment matters.
This book follows those three truths. We start with our heads, what we think about God. We’ll move to our hearts, the place Jesus wants to revolutionize, to become our everything. And we’ll end with our hands, how we live out Jesus’ internal transformation.
Head. Heart. Hands. Giving every part of our lives—everything—to Jesus."


Do We Know Him? Or Know About Him? Take 2

I'm loving Bro. Gary's sermons in John on Sunday mornings.  When we were first realizing that God might be leading us to Grace, and I heard that Bro. Gary was preaching through John (and in chapter 4 at the time!), I thought, "Really, God, again??"  For those who don't know, Bro. Kent spent 5 years (give or take a bit) preaching through the book of John...we just finished a couple of years ago.  It was wonderful...life-changing for me in many ways...but my thought was that I just wasn't sure I was quite ready to go through it verse by verse again quite so soon.  :)

But our God...and His Word...are so amazing!  Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."  Going through John again right now has been such a great illustration for me of that verse.  I'm in a totally different place than I was when we went through John the first time.  God has brought us through much and taught us much since then.  And while His Word never changes...it is definitely living and active!  I'm seeing and learning all kinds of fresh, new things this time around...because God has different things to teach me now!  Talk about awesome...!

It's also been so neat to sit under two such different pastors preaching through this book.  Bro. Kent and Bro. Gary are both solid men of God, committed to preaching the truth.  We are so blessed to have both of them as part of our lives!  They are much alike in their love for God and His Word, and their passion for proclaiming it.  But, oh, my goodness...they are also so very, very different in so many ways!   Their personalities, their styles, their delivery...totally, totally different.  They are preaching the same message...but because they are so different, there is not a bit of the "we're doing this AGAIN?" feeling.  

I love it. :)

Anyway, this morning we were in John 5:37-47, talking about the Jews, who had seen Jesus, heard about Jesus, and knew who Jesus was, but they didn't KNOW Jesus.  They rejected Him, in fact.  Bro. Gary talked about people in similar condition today...they've heard the Bible all their lives, they may even be church members, but they don't truly KNOW Jesus.   They claim a relationship with God, but they don't want Him to have any authority over their lives.   They know *of* Jesus, but they don't KNOW Him.  I was reminded as I listened of this blog post from last spring, and I thought I'd share it again. 

Ammah Grace, Bayley, and Emlyn meeting Guy after the St. Paul concert in May.
(Thanks to Faith Denise Mckinley for the photo!)

Guy signing Ammah Grace's shirt.  She was concentrating on being *very* still. :)

I do have to make a bit of an update, though...since this was posted last spring, Ammah Grace has actually seen Guy Penrod sing in person.  Not only that...she met him, had her picture made with him, and he signed her t-shirt!  It was a pretty amazing time for her.  Now...they still aren't friends.  I doubt he would recognize her if he saw her again.  They don't  know each other.  There isn't a relationship.  Kind of like the folks Bro. Gary talked about this morning who walk an aisle and maybe even get baptized, but there's no change in their lives, because there is no true relationship with God.   

Please make sure you KNOW Him.  

Do We Know Him?  Or Know About Him? 

Gracie happened to see a picture of Guy Penrod online this afternoon:

AG: "Mom, that's Guy Penrod!" 
Mom: "Yes, it is."
AG (a few seconds later): "Mom, does Guy Penrod know me?"
Mom: "No."
AG: "But I know Guy Penrod!"
Mom: "No, you know *about* Guy Penrod, but you don't *know* Guy Penrod."
AG: "I sure do...I only missed TWO on that test.  I did better than a lot of people!"

The whole conversation cracked me up.  She has two Guy Penrod shirts, can sing "Pray About Everything" by heart, and came in tied for second on the pop quiz we had at the last OCBCGPFC meeting (otherwise known as Craft Night :)).  (And before anyone gets worried...it's all in fun and  we really aren't groupies...so don't panic! ;))  She knows a lot...for an 8-year-old...about Guy Penrod (as does her older sister, who came in first on the pop quiz. :)) 

But...she doesn't *know* Guy Penrod.  Our conversation continued:

Mom: "You're right, you did.  But just because you know a lot *about* Guy Penrod, doesn't mean you *know* Guy Penrod. You would have to have met him and talked to him to know him.  And you would have to spend even more time with him to be his friend."

AG: "Oh."

Mom: "It's kind of like God.  You can know a lot *about* God, but until you repent of your sin and ask Him to save you, you don't *know* Him. 

We continued talking for a minute, and then she hopped up saying, "But I still only missed two on that test!"


She's a silly girl, and she keeps us laughing on the hard days (and the not-so-hard ones, too. :))  But it was a good reminder this week-before-Easter.  Do we know a lot *about* God?  Or do we really *know* Him? And is that relationship growing deeper all the time as we spend time in His Word, in prayer, and in corporate worship and fellowship? 

Do you have questions about knowing God?  I'd love to share with you about knowing Him.  Send me a message by clicking on "View My Complete Profile" on the right.  Or if you'd rather, check out "Are you a Good Person?"for more information.  


Multitude Monday...The Tip of the {Blessing} Iceberg

Editor's Note:  This post was actually composed on Monday.  It's been one of "those" weeks, and I never got back to add photos and finalize the post. So...it's Multitude Monday on Thursday. :)

Counting the tip of the blessing iceberg today...

~ Our oven. And our mixers. Stood in front of the stove again today fighting tears as I was overwhelmed with God's blessings in so many areas that I am reminded of every. single. time. I use these wonderful gifts. Thankful for the friends they represent and for the God who is the giver of all gifts.

~ Excedrin!  Woke up with a totally disabling monster headache today.  As I was lying immobile waiting for the Excedrin to kick in, I couldn't help but think of friends who have much more frequent severe headaches than I have, who for whatever reason can't take Excedrin or similar meds.  I really don't know how they function.  

~ Our church.  Sat listening to the Gaither Vocal Band singing "Greatly Blessed" last night and thought about how that has been one of my theme songs in the last few weeks.  I am so overwhelmed on Sundays...and all through the week in between...with love for our new church family and excitement for the work God is doing in our little church.  There aren't adequate words to describe the joy and thankfulness God has given in this new adventure.

~ Our former church.  It's also hard to describe how thankful I am for our former church and how much we love our church family there.  So thankful we're able to continue, for a little while, being there for Wednesday night activities to help in the transition.  So thankful for the work God has done in our lives through Oak Cliff to bring us to the point that we needed to be to take this step of obedience.  So thankful for the relationships that continue with our church family there. I'm gathering from many of the reactions that we've received to the news of our "move" that it is rare for people to move from a church they dearly love to another church they dearly love, without there being a reason such as relocation.  What a blessing that's been for us. 

~ Cooler weather!!  Not a triple-digit in sight in the 10-day forecast.  Since that takes us into mid-September, I'm going to *hope* (although not take for granted!) that that means we're done with them for the year.  Yay!  Fall invigorates me.  I love it.  Praying for an early, long one this year!

~ Music.  Had such a HUGE treat last night, seeing and hearing the Gaither Vocal Band, Kevin Williams, and Gene McDonald in concert in Alma.  Got to hear new music that hasn't even been released yet, see David Phelps new hair-do (still not quite feeling the love for it :)), and experience Matthew Holt on the piano.  (And experience is definitely the word!  Apparently this young man is being called the Anthony Burger of his generation.  I can certainly see why after last night!)  Soaked in some incredible music, laughed a lot, and truly worshiped.  So thankful for the "concert fairy" who made it possible, and most of all, again, for the God who gives good gifts.  (Keep an eye peeled for this concert to have a blog post all its very own soon. :))

~ A good medical check-up recently for one of our children.  Wish I could share all that God has done there...maybe someday.  But for now, I'll just say that God has brought us a very long way in a very short time, and He has shown His power mightily, and I am so very thankful. 

~ My family.  I'm reminded every day how thankful I am for my husband, although he doesn't hear it nearly enough.  He is a true example of Christ's love for His bride, the church, and I am truly spoiled.  And I'm so thankful for my children, and for the blessing of being their mom.  They are so uniquely different, and it is so amazing to watch them grow and mature (and also to experience their crazy-nutty-goofy sides! :))  I can't wait to see what God is going to do in them from here!

Thanks for visiting Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Don't want to miss a post?  Please take a minute to follow Ponderings of an Elect Exile on FacebookTwitter, and/or Pinterest.  Or subscribe by email via the box in the sidebar.  I'd also love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option on my profile page. 

Also, be sure to stop by A Holy Experience to see what others are thankful for this week.  I love Ann's Monday post on "The Greater Problem of Good."  So true! 


St. Paul {Guy Penrod} Weekend, Part 6 ~ More Concert!

Finally!!  I know...it's been forever. And I apologize to those who have been waiting quite patiently. There are, if I have things figured correctly, three additional posts in this series after this one.  I'm hoping to be more timely with them. No promises, though...I know myself, and my life, too well. I'm really trying to make some changes on the blog right now, which include posting more frequently and more regularly...even trying to get on a...*gasp*...blogging schedule. (If it happens, it won't be a rigid schedule, by any means. My brain and my life just don't work that way. I'm just hoping for *better* at this point!)

One of the {many} posts I have planned for the near (relatively speaking) future involves explaining a bit about my blogging process and WHY some of these posts (like this concert series!) take so long from original thought to actually hitting publish. There are reasons...which may not make a whole lot of sense to anyone other than those closest to me, but reasons nonetheless. :)

ANYWAY...without further ado, here is Part 6 of the St. Paul {Guy Penrod} weekend, which happens to be Part 2 of the concert itself. :)

As I've said in past posts (St. Paul {Guy Penrod} Weekend, Part 5 and Guy Penrod,), Guy's concerts are not just concerts...they are worship experiences.  I mentioned in my post about last year's Guy Penrod concert in Lavaca that I'd never taken notes at a concert before...but I took more in St. Paul.  Here are a few:

"I had some stuff I had to get out and it had to come out or blow up! (Loved this remark about part of the reason he went solo in 2009...so that he would have more freedom to share what God had laid on his heart. This is so much how I feel about many of my blog posts...!)

"Take the opportunity to tell your story every chance you get...and see what He does!" (Speaking of the "story" God has given each of us and how God uses that story for His glory and our good...)

"You get gifts and then you hone them and then you do wild things for the Lord."

"That'll light your fire even when your wood's wet!"  (Such a "Guy" expression! :))

"The Devil goes 'Ugabooga!' and he's always trying to scare us!"

"What's the Devil got to scare us with...Heaven??" (quoting Mark Lowry)

"The Devil doesn't even care enough about you to hurt you...the only reason he does is because we are loved by God and he hates God!"

"All science does is trail along behind truth...way behind truth!  We are the handiwork of God almighty."

Guy's guitarists...Jonathan Crone (on the right) and Jason Ahlbrandt..are fabulous.  I was so excited to have a chance to visit with Jason for a bit after the concert and get his autograph...I told him I follow his wife's blog (My Mid-Century Modern Life) and he seemed genuinely excited that I was a "fan". :)  (Her blog really is fun...check it out!)

One of Guy's long-time supporters said, "Not only is he [Guy] very 'real', but he surrounds himself with very 'real' people." One of those "real" people is Guy's road manager and "brother from another mother," Keith Ellerd.  Here Guy and Keith are about to draw for giveaways.

One of the give-away winners.  Guy was asking his advice for lasting marriage.  I can't remember how long he'd been married, or what he said...but I remember the whole exchange was quite fun. :)  Maybe one of my fellow concert attendees with a better memory will add to this story in the comments. (Hint. Hint. :-D)

One thing is for sure, "I can't do it!" Jesus Christ "did do it." He walked a sinless, perfectly balanced, perfectly managed, perfectly loving -- simply put -- "PERFECTLY lived" life. By accepting His sacrifice on the cross for my sin and committing to His Lordship in my life, I, too, can "do all things" through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Guy Penrod

"[My] ultimate goal as a minister? I don’t know that I could quantify it other than to say, “I want to burn out lifting up the name of Jesus and His ways with my very last breath." ~ Guy Penrod

Still to come in this series:

My very favorite moment of our whole whirlwind trip...:)

Heading Home! Adventures en route to Arkansas

God's Glory Behind the Scenes...an Amazing Story 

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Previous posts in this series:

Part 1 ~ "Let's Start at the Very Beginning"

Part 2 ~ "We're Going on a Road Trip!"

Part 3 ~ "A Road Trip with Mrs. Jodie is Always an Adventure!"

Part 4 ~ "The Friends Who Live in Our Computers"

Part 5 ~ "At Long Last...The Concert!"


{In the News} Guilt, Innocence, and Dangerous Opinion

What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase "child molester"?  "Pedophile"?  "Sexual offender"?

Do you envision a creepy looking man with greasy hair, shifty eyes, and ill-fitting clothes?

Or maybe a big, burly guy covered in tattoos and scars?

In the News

I don't keep up as well as I used to with the news.  In fact, a friend posted about a recent "hot topic" sort of news story the other day with this lead-in:

If it is possible that someone hasn't heard about this story, I'll give a one bullet point summation.

I had to comment on her post that yes, it was possible, because I hadn't. :)

Thanks to Facebook, I keep up a bit better with local news. One of the major headlines locally this week has been on an unfortunately all-too-common topic:  a former teacher in an area school arrested on suspicion of sexual indecency with a child.

The stories themselves always make me feel a bit sick to my stomach.  Regardless of guilt or innocence, people's lives are devastated forever...in the case of guilt, the victims and their families and all who know and care for the perpetrator, and in the case of innocence, the one falsely accused and his or her family.

I'm even more disturbed, though, when I catch a glimpse of the responses of the public to such stories.  I had a similar reaction to the Casey Anthony case and  to the Sandusky/Paterno situation.

In these cases...and many, many others...people have had immediate, vehement reactions.  News sites and social media sites explode with public opinion on both sides.  There are replies from everyone from family and close friends to total strangers, most weighing in with definite, unshakable views.

Perhaps it's my background in the child protective services field.  Perhaps it is our more personal experience with unimaginable criminal behavior touching our family.  But every time I see such reactions, I have an immediate, intense reaction myself: a strong desire to ask, "But how do you know??"

Because we don't.  As the "general public"...even the general public who may be close to the family...we can't possibly know.  We don't have all the facts; we don't have access to the evidence that is available.  We just don't know.  We may have strong opinions.  We may be quite prejudiced {prejudiced in this case referring to having any preconceived opinion or feeling, favorable or unfavorable} in either direction regarding the situation and/or the individuals involved.

But we don't know.

There are those few who admit that...who have a distinct leaning in one direction or another, but who realize that they truly don't know one way or another.  I'm always relieved to see those comments, but saddened to see how little influence they generally have on others.

Dangerous Opionion

With this latest story, however, I have found the comments even more disturbing.

As soon as the news hit, people began to take sides.  Friends of the one arrested jumped quickly to his defense.  Others jumped in quickly to vilify the accused.   The accusers...young boys...have received sympathy from some and condemnation from others.  In this case, because the alleged offender is well-known and much loved in the community, his supporters far outweigh his critics.  There has been a Facebook page set up for his supporters, and there are fundraisers of all kinds being planned to help with his legal expenses.

I truly believe that many of those on both sides are very well-intentioned.  Loyalty to those we care about is a commendable thing.  Sympathy for one falsely accused or for victims of a horrible crime is a commendable thing.

In cases such as this one, though, we must be very, very careful.  Opinion without fact can be a dangerous thing.

On the one hand, there is, without a doubt, such a thing as a false allegation.  It is a terrifying reality of our current culture, and one which Billy and I saw too many times in our work in the child protective services field.

On the other hand, the fact that someone is a leader in community, church, and school does not mean that he  "couldn't have done such a thing".  The fact that someone has a reputation for being kind, compassionate, honest, and generous does not mean that he "couldn't have done such a thing".   The fact that people who have known the accused for many years (or even a lifetime) believe in him does not mean that he "couldn't have done such a thing".

As Boz Tchividjian says (in his article 5 Things You Should Know About Child Sexual Offenders, which is well worth a click-through):

The faith community must come to terms with the heartbreaking reality that those who pose the greatest risk to our children are within our families, churches, and circle of friends. Our protective antennas must always be on alert, especially when our children are around those that they know and trust.

I have no idea whether the allegations in this case are true or false.  I have no personal knowledge of the case or the individuals involved.  What I do know is that decisions about guilt or innocence cannot be made based on reputation or relationship.  The only ones able to determine guilt or innocence are those directly involved...either by having been an eyewitness to the alleged events or by having had access to actual facts/evidence related to the case.

Abusers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  They come with all educational backgrounds, professions, and reputations.  Child sexual offenders can be quite charming and convincing.  Some are able to live double lives for years without the slightest knowledge of those closest to them. We must be careful not to presume guilt until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt, but we must also not automatically assume that any person is incapable of "doing such a thing".

Our Responsibility

Our justice system isn't perfect.  We've seen that, as a family, "up-close-and-personal".  However, it is the system we have for enforcing the law and protecting our citizens, and we need to allow it to do its job.  We need to be careful about making decisions of guilt or innocence without having all the facts.  We need to be very careful that if we should ever be involved in making an accusation, we do so with the utmost caution. (And our current child welfare/reporting systems need massive overhaul...but that is a different post.)

We need to be very, very careful about accusing a child of making a false accusation without evidence of such.  That doesn't mean that we assume the accused is guilty.  It does mean that we are open to what the child is saying and that we allow those in positions of responsibility to do their jobs so that guilt or innocence can be determined appropriately.

We also need to be very, very careful, for the sake of our children, that we don't ever assume that anyone is incapable of anything.  We don't need to see offenders behind every bush, but we do need to err on the side of caution with our children.

And regarding incidents "in the news", we need to be aware that we simply don't have all the facts.  Unless we have firsthand knowledge of the incident involved or access to the facts/evidence, we need to be very, very careful about making any sort of assumptions of guilt or innocence.  Rather than jumping to hasty conclusions, we need to pray for all those involved, that the truth will be revealed, that justice will be served, and that repentance will occur wherever needed.

Thanks so much for visiting Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.  Or you can send me an email through the email option on my profile page if you prefer.  

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