Monday, October 23, 2017

Me too

If you spent any time on social media you've seen the #metoo.

Women, and some men, sharing their stories or at least raising their hands to be counted among

those who've been sexually assaulted.

I've heard differing opinions on whether this is actually helpful.

I don't know. But I do know that the silence wasn't helpful either.  That's not a judgment on those

who cannot share their stories, but it is a judgment on those who would silence the rest of us.

I've been assaulted twice in my life.  Once at 19 the other at 20.  I was a grown married women until

I fully realized what had been done to me. (<< My answer to critics, and I know they are out there

of why others and myself didn't/don't speak up sooner)

The first incident I didn't speak to anyone about really until just a few years ago. The guilt and shame

I carried with me for 'having put myself in a vulnerable situation' prevented me from seeing or

understanding what really happened to me.

As for my second #metoo story, that's the one I want  to talk about the most.

When you grow up in an extremely conservative environment, you're taught that what you wear

and where you go, play a major part in whether or not you're assaulted.  After all girls who dress

provocatively . . .well what can they expect??

When I was assaulted at 20 (Pushed and pinned against a wall, groped, forcibly trying to kiss me and

telling me 'you know you want to and come on') I was outside the church book store (located inside

the church building) and dressed in a long sleeve shirt and sweater vest and a skirt that basically

touched my ankles.  Predators don't care what you're wearing or not wearing.  When I told those

with the power and responsibility in the church to do anything, about the assault, I was told that I

should show him respect and if I did it wouldn't happen again.

The thing I regret the most is not taking it to his (the assailant) commanding officer (we were at

military base )so I could know for certain it wouldn't happen to someone else.

So, why am I sharing? To give courage to someone who might need it today.. .so she can stand up

and find her voice to say "Yes, Me too" or maybe she even need the courage to say "STOP".

For my daughter.

For my sons.

For The Church.  We MUST do a better job at training, preventing and supporting victims.  I think

we want so badly to think 'that would never happen here' that we look the other way or make excuses

for the abusers. Hear me church members (especially those of a conservative or independent stripe)

It doesn't matter what she's wearing or where she is. Protect her. Believe her. Make sure the women

and girls of your church know they are valued and safe.  Embolden your girls to stand up to the

abusers and bullies in their lives so they don't have to be worried about 'being nice' or 'hurting his

feelings' or 'manliness'.  It is far far past time.


My story isn't nearly as tragic as some and I'm certainly not looking for sympathy. But, I do want

to be counted among the #metoo, because we may not be a powerful force for change on our own, but

together we can and should be.

If you love a #metoo, hear her. Let her speak her story, don't run from it even if it's hard to hear.

If you're a #metoo, find the help and healing you need. Don't live in fear or isolation. Don't let it drive

you from Jesus. He is the healer of the brokenhearted, let him tend to your wounds.

You are dearly loved.

Grace and Peace,



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

You Make It Look So Easy

You make it look so easy. . .words said to me on "Graduation Sunday" this past May at our church.

My friend was encouraging me, but I felt like such a fraud when she said it.

It wasn't/isn't easy.

The exact week before that Sunday my Dear Husband was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and subsequent stint placement.  Healthy, active, non smoking 48 year olds aren't supposed to have heart attacks.  In true Wilkinson fashion we proved that not to be true.

A week later, he was home, we were at a graduation banquet for our oldest.  Then that Sunday standing in front of the congregation as Cam and his fellow classmates were honored.

We had moved into our new home the week before as well. . .in fact, the day before the heart attack.

Chaos would best describe how we were functioning.

We hadn't realized that we were supposed to leave our washer and dryer at our old house, so that very Sunday morning as we were heading out the door to get to church, the movers showed up.
Our graduate was also a nervous wreck and was spending entirely to much time getting his hair 'just so'.

Hubby set out to church with our two youngest, while the graduate and I followed.
I'm pretty sure I screeched into the parking lot on two wheels.

We hopped out and are running across the parking  lot, when my shoe slipped off. . .like a good soldier I yelled "just go on without me". . . of course, they all waited for me.

We slipped into the pew next to our dear friends during the second song, when I whispered to her 'did we miss it'. . .no, she replied you're good.

We took a couple deep breaths to calm down and settle in, and tried to pass that along to our graduate who at his core, doesn't like to be in front of crowds, doesn't do well in chaos and almost lost his dad the week before.
We made it through the service, even though unbeknownst to me the heart patient had to lean against the stage to hold himself up.

At the end of the ceremony, my friend leaned down to me and said those words that have haunted me these past few months, "you make it look so easy".

These last three months have been anything but easy.
If I listed everything here that has gone wrong or been difficult, you wouldn't believe me.

In some ways it's almost comical.  Seriously, if it can wrong, more than likely in these past three months it has.  Including this morning, when for the 3rd time in 2 weeks our  power went out.



I would be a total and complete fraud though if I said it's been easy.

There hasn't been one easy thing about it.

There have however been blessings along the way.

Friends who've walked beside us and stepped up and helped us. Watching our sweet boy walk across the stage and get his diploma.
A family vacation that was so special and meaningful to the five of us.
Baseball games. Long walks, Long talks. Road trips with friends. Exploring our favorite places in the city.

Blessings in the chaos for sure and for certain. Knowing God was/is right here with us. . .gives us the strength to endure, but do not for a minute think it's been easy.

Why do I want you to know that? Because, I think, sometimes as Jesus Followers we screw our halo on so tight and grin our way through the pain-as if it doesn't hurt at all; we throw around Scripture and quote it out of context or to apply as bandaids to gaping wounds. . . it can make others going through their own valley either shrug us off as frauds or leave them feeling like losers because they are having a hard time coping.

{ Please don't miss understand. . .Scripture is an extreme comfort. . but saying "All things work together for good" to someone in a pit of despair isn't always the most helpful or edifying thing you can do}


So, if I've made it look easy, I'm sorry.
The reality is, I'm tired and weary and worn. I'm certain I've aged 5 years in the past 3 months.
There's been nothing easy about it.

But, I will also tell you that Jesus is very very near. Even when I'm mean as a hornet or desperate as a Housewife.  He's never left. When I've kicked and screamed like a toddler who's missed nap time, He's never let go. And He will never let go of you either.

Life is hard. And Oh so short. There's not one easy thing about it.

It may not be easy, and my strength is pretty much gone. 

Jesus though. . .He is easy. He is trustworthy. He is strong so I don't have to be. He is faithful when
mine is fraying.

Wherever  you are and whatever valley you're walking through, trust Him-He's right there with you.

He is what makes walking through it look easy-even when it's the hardest thing you've done.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tale As Old As Time

This past Thursday my best friend and I took our daughters (14,10 respectively) to the opening of Beauty and the Beast.

Because of remarks the director had stated regarding the character, Lefou and his sexuality, many

Christians were/are calling for a boycott.

As, a family we made the choice not to participate and address any issues head on that might arise.

After all, we make this decision  about every movie we see.  We are diligent to check pluggedin.com

 and other on line resources, to help us make our decision, and because of the information we receive

there, we either pass, or take the opportunity to talk with the kids about whatever issues might have

 cause for concern in each particular movie.

But, this time, frankly the whole thing felt contrived from both sides.

Let's be real, there's nothing a branch of Christianity loves more than a boycott.

I went in with my mom radar on high alert. Waiting for 'the scene' I would need to talk through

later with my daughter.  What I got instead was a beautiful, lovely movie.  There were no

'gay scenes'.  Nothing you would have to explain. 

Lefou is still the sidekick of Gaston who gushes and preens over him. . .just like in the original

Disney version. I always thought he was playing to type of a stereotypical gay man in the original

but, I'm pretty sure that's just a stereotypical French man. 

Lefou talks to Gaston about his relationship with women.  At one point during the Gaston song,

they embrace and Lefou says "that's too much isn't it" and they both agree.

When Gaston leads the raid with the townspeople to the castle and the fight ensues, the wardrobe

attacks three men, wrapping them in ribbons and gowns and wigs of the time period, two run away

one briefly looks into the camera and smiles. ( It remind me of the Bugs  Bunny cartoons when he

would dress in drag-although Bugs always seemed to be much more sexualized than this even

remotely was.)

Spoiler Alert:

At the end when the spell is broken and they've all returned to their human form, there is a beautiful

dance scene (think harpsichord  and very old fashioned waltzing) where everyone is moving and

twirling and exchanging partners, and one spin of the partner change meets Lefou with the man

from the wardrobe scene (dressed in the fashion for a man of the time) and nothing. . .no wink

at the camera, just the end.


Our theater cheered and clapped at the end. My Belle already has a date with her daddy to see it

again. 


We (on the Christian right) CLAMOR  for Hollywood to make family films then we when hear

something said to, let's be honest, illicit a reaction from us, we fall right into the trap. 

Without seeing it for ourselves, we dig our heels in and shout boycott from our highest hilltops.

And the world is watching.

I do believe there is a case to be made for not letting an agenda be forced upon our children and our

society. But, this isn't the movie on which to base that argument.

Be my guest and go see this lovely movie. 

Save your righteous indignation for another day. I'm sure there will be a true battle to be had, but

we will have used all our credibility up on nonsense fights like this one.

Have some popcorn and sing a long for me.


Bonjour !
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Womens Minsitry and The Big Picture

I've been the head of our Women's Ministry Team at our local church for four years now.

Which is a sentence I never would have thought I would write even 10 years ago.

{God seems to delight so much in using the most unqualified and weakest choices to accomplish what He desires for His kingdom. I am convinced it is so that He will receive all the glory.}

Women's Ministry just wasn't something I thought I needed or where I thought I'd fit in.

I grew up with a very detailed notion or expectation of what a woman  was to be and NOT be, and

more often than not I found myself on the outside looking in.  But, also what I saw I just didn't see

a need for in my life.

I had (Have) dear friends, I wasn't (still am not) crafty, I am neither demure or quiet. . .things I

thought you must be to be a godly woman.

And also, there's a not so very secret marker among women, yes even Christian women. . .we can

be downright mean.  Caddy. Viscous.  { I am blessed to serve with women who genuinely love

and care for each other and have a deep acceptance for the personalities God has blessed each of

us with. But I have seen first hand that this is not the case in many many churches.}

It has become quite common  to openly mock women's ministry or make blanket statements

like "I just don't like women".


I recently posted a survey on facebook, made up of a few brief questions concerning women's

ministry.

So far, I have received over 200 hundred responses.  Some findings surprised me and some didn't.

Here are the most popular and my response to them.
_________________________________________________________________


We are a busy culture and for women probably even more so.  (True...However, we let our business

excuse our lack of participation. Church life just isn't a priority...especially if we have children. Our children have become idols. And we've come to believe they just cannot function without us for even one night and if we miss one event of theirs we've somehow scarred them for life. Same can be said for marriages.
Can I tell you a secret? You'll be a better wife/momma if you LEAVE them sometimes. Of course, I'm not talking about every night of the week. But once every few months. . .I promise it'll be ok.  And you'll all be better for it.)

We don't care about organizing and cupcake decorating as much as some would have us believe. (A to the Men.  Women's Ministry needs to be a place for encouragement and deep biblical thought. The world is hurting and we have the answer. And it isn't found in cupcake decorating, scrapbooking ect. I would suggest finding a church that takes women and their spiritual needs seriously. Maybe YOU could be the change agent in your church?! How awesome would that be?? )

We are introverts. ( We use this to get out of a lot of things actually.  It's a built in excuse.  We let our fear dictate what we will and won't do. And before I get lots of hate mail. I get it. I do.  I AM YOU.  But, don't let fear count you out !  Deep breaths and you can do it.)

We don't seem to fit the target audience. ( what was interesting about this is all the different types of people who said this. Single. Young. Old. Married w/o kids. Married with littles. Middle Aged. We need to do a better job of making sure when we say Women's Ministry we don't mean 'married with kids' or a certain age range.  Again, maybe it's YOU that can help be that change agent in your church.)

We've been hurt. ( Yep. This is a biggie with no easy answer.  It stinks to be hurt and can take so much time to get over.  I've been there.  But, here's the thing: if we stop contributing/ participating in things that have hurt us, we're going to be very very lonely. We've got to get up, dust ourselves off, wipe away our tears and move on. )

I don't like women. (Whoa Sister, let's think about that for a minute. I mean I know what you're saying. And I know you're trying to say it in a funny way. But, I also know you're serious and what you're also saying without really saying it is that you don't fit in.
But, what you're also saying is you don't care enough about your Sisters in Christ to get to know them. To study the Word with them. To pray with them. To love them. Half of The Church, you're saying you don't like. That's not ok. You're going to have to work on that. I know it's hard. I know you don't want to. But when you say "I don't like women". You're saying you don't like yourself. Pray about it. Ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to grow you. You may just find it shocking what He can and will do in you and through you. . .I know I did.)


I also asked, "If offered would you participate in a mentoring program".
The response was a resounding 96% YES.
I was a bit surprised by how overwhelming that result was.  I mean especially considering most do not participate, even if offered, in a church women's ministry.

Oh how we are thirsty for community. We are hungry for someone to show us the way or at least cheer us on. We have got to have our older ladies (age/and spiritual walk) step up instead of checking out. We've got to make sure no one ever feels like 'their time is over' or that they have nothing of value to add.
Our tables need to be filled with 20 somethings, Middle Agers and Seniors.  We all have something to gain from each other.  Every single one has something to contribute.
Do not get locked into age categories. If you're younger, find yourself a women you admire who is both farther along in age and in her walk with Jesus than you. If you're older, don't think we don't need you or don't want to hear what you have to say. We are CRAVING to hear you.  Find a young momma and take her under your wing. Find that single lady who needs to know she's valuable in the church too, find that hard working women who's got so many plates spinning she's wearing herself out. We might not even know that is what we are missing until we hear you.

___________________________________________________________

Most of us would never question the need for children's ministry or youth ministry in our churches yet when it comes to women's ministry we do.
Women's Ministry is -or should be- a vital part of any church.  Not a party planning committee, but women who need each other and want to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. And not so they can sit and sour but so that they can shine for the world around them so when someone asks them why or how they are able to do so in a difficult and weary world, they can point them straight to Jesus.
__________________________________________________________________

I love women and am thrilled and humbled to serve them.  Women's Ministry can and should be a beautiful thing.
Your church needs you. They need you to show up. To serve. To be kind. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
You can do it. I know you might be scarred, but I also know you won't be the only one.

Let's learn together and love each other well.



Grace and Peace,






Monday, October 3, 2016

Lessons in Humility

These past two years God has really been teaching me/prodding me to

PRAY BIG and PRAY BOLD.

He has been showing me, how He has invited all of us into conversation with Him, The Creator of the

Universe, and we've reduced to a conversation about food or having a good day.

So, being the mediocre student I am, the lessons have been long and repetitive . . .but like always,

The Teacher is ever patient with this student.

And I am learning, ever so slowly what exactly it means to Pray Big and Pray Bold.


_______________________

Walking for exercise is a HUGE part of my routine.  I get a few miles in at least 6x's a week.

It's an absolute must for me.

But, the other night, Hubby and I had been running errands long past when we thought we'd be done

and I got a late start.  Knowing my typical miles would get me far away from the house well into the

dark night, I changed my normal path and stuck close to home finishing up my miles doing laps in the

parking lot of the school that is right behind our house.

The school where we had at least one child enrolled for the past  12 years. The school where I was an

employee for the last 5 years.

The school we left with 26 days left in the school year last year. (You can read about that here. http://lessonsfromaisle12.blogspot.com/2016/04/26-days.html)

As I found my self walking around the parking lot at 9:30 at night, I felt the Lord telling me to pray

for the school.

No. I don't want to.

Angie, pray for the school.

A few more steps. . .Fine I'll pray.

I pray that they would feel awful for what happened to my son and how they let grown adults gossip

and spread lies.

ANGIE. YOU KNOW HOW TO PRAY.
YOU PRAY BIG AND BOLD FOR THEM.

So. . .I did. I prayed for the children of the school to thrive. For teachers to be kind and nurturing to

those who need it the most.

I prayed for financial stability.

As I passed the ball fields, I prayed for success on the field for the teams.

Then I prayed for the Administration.

I prayed they would have discernment.  I prayed for their families.  That their children would

succeed and grow and thrive.  I prayed they would be good fathers and husbands.  That they

would be appreciated.

I prayed for their forgiveness for hurting our family.


I'm not saying it was easy.  I am not saying I'm some sort of Spiritual Giant for doing so.

I am saying God is so good.

What began as reluctant prayers ended with a fresh sense of peace and forgiveness over the

whole entire situation.  I can honestly say, at the end I meant the words I was praying.


Isn't that how God works?

Takes the things that hurt us the most. . .and as any mom can tell you, hurt my babies. . . you hurt me. . .

and He uses them to bring us closer to Him.


Praying Big and Boldly for those who hurt us the most was very humbling.

Yet, when doing just that I saw a brief glimpse of the cross and how Jesus was broken for those

who hurt Him the most.

As I  am learning day by day, to pray BIG and BOLD, I am also learning that I gain so much

more than anything I might think I'm giving up by doing so.

_______________________

So, yes, I still thank the Lord for my food, and good day would be nice . . .but I refuse to let

my conversation with my Creator, Sustainer, Savior to be only about those things.

And if you chose to join this journey with me of praying BIG and BOLD, be warned.

Those prayers aren't always easy.  You don't always get to pray for what you want or even

who you want.

But, I do promise you this: Your mind and heart will change and you will be AMAZED at what

God can do, if you only ask.

__________________________

Each and everyone of us have been invited into prayer with the Lord.

Let's do it.

Let's learn to pray.

And when we do. . .let's pray

BIG and BOLD.



Praying with you and for you,



Monday, September 19, 2016

Time Hop and Choosing to Remember

Every morning when I'm checking out my social media sites, I also check my Time Hop app.

I sometimes tease that Time Hop is being mean when it shows me a picture of one of my little 

Monkey's from when they were little.


But, today it reminded me of two significant event in our oldest son's life.

One of from four years ago, when our extremely asthmatic son contracted Whooping Cough.

He earned himself a 911 call and an extended hospital stay.


I believe there are few things as scary in this world as watching your child gasp for air and turning

blue and fainting because they can't get any into their lungs.

Then two years ago Cam had to have surgery on both his eyes to correct some double vision and other issues he was having.

Yes, that's as painful as it sounds.



This is our same son who had heart surgery in Kindergarten. . .who'd basically been dealing with 

some type of sickness or another since he was 2 months old.


But, you know what? This is also our same son who is shy but has a wicked sense of humor, who is

kind and adventurous, who has an amazing head of hair, who loves his grandparents deeply, who is

smart and well read and deep thinker and who loves Jesus and has a deeper sense of theology then I 

ever did at his age.

The things he has been through and his unique personality have given him trials to go through, but 

they have also given him (and us) a front row seat to God's amazing grace and power.

How incredible is that?  I wouldn't trade that for him for all the high school football stars in the 

world.

heading out to his first day at his summer job



deep in thought 

after finishing his first 5K Color Run at his high school 




In Joshua 4  it tells the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River and God's command to take up

a stone, so they could use it to remember. Remember what God had brought them through and then 

tell all He had done to their children and their children's children.

Today, we will sit as a family and remember and give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for all He

has walked our sweet boy through.


What about you? What do you need to remember today about what the Lord has brought you through 

and thank Him for?

Maybe you're still in the middle of your Jordan River and you're not sure you'll get to the other side 

safely.  I've been there too.  Just keep walking the path in front of you. . .He's already gone before you 

and made the way. Hold on to that promise, and praise Him right in the middle of where you are.








Blessings, 






Monday, July 25, 2016

The Things No One Tells You. . .

My poor neglected blog. .. 

If you're here reading after my unexpected 2 month break--thank you!

Life is good, and busy. 

Messy and imperfect as always.

And well, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've learned more from the imperfect messes than I ever have from any attempt at unattainable  

perfection.

It is such an illusion-perfection-and often the mask of it gets me into more trouble than the 

real life mess.

_______________________________________


With that in mind, here's some things I've discovered on this health journey of mine.

Things people either don't know about, or don't talk about.

I have Hashimoto's   Thyroid Disease, which is certainly treatable and manageable, but causes

me to need to see my endocrinologist every six months. And for a person who is seriously not 

good about going to the doctor-this is a BIG DEAL.

But, since I've began my health journey a year and half ago, it certainly a bit easier.


As of today, I've lost 142 lbs.  Yes, I've lost a person.  My blood pressure and resting heart

rate are fantastic.  I feel good, I can (basically) keep up with the kids and-here's one of the best

parts-no longer sit on the side lines while they are having all the fun.  I love being right in the middle

with them.

There are things though that I've learned and am going through that aren't so great. 

And, I figure, like everything else in my life, if I'm going through it someone else probably

is too and needs to know that they are not alone.

So here are the top things I've discovered that aren't so great.

1) Skin. Lots of loose, stretched out skin.

When you loose  the equivalent of a person, you're going to have some extra skin.  It doesn't matter

how many weights you press or how many miles you run. . .you're going to have extra skin.  And 

you're not going to like it. Also, harder to camouflage in the summer than in the winter.



2) You won't get that you look different for a very long time.

Yes, I often still feel like that 'fat girl' in the room.  When trying on clothes, I often first try on a 

bigger size than what I actually need, because I don't see myself for who I am now.  (I mean come on, 

I spent a lot 'o years in the plus size section.)  Sometimes, when I look in the mirror I don't recognize 

myself and certainly don't always see the now Angie.



3) Losing  weight doesn't solve all your problems

Yes, I'm thinner (not skinny) now than I ever have been in my adult life. However, I still got 'stuff'.

Still have stress (for pete sake I have three kids, two of them teenagers, I've got stress) still have

bills, a mortgage, a ministry, a job.  Stuff. The same stuff you have.

(The cool part is, I've managed to learn not to 'eat' my stress. Thank you Lord for that good gift)




4) People will treat you differently

Even people you love.  Some times it's better. . .which is highly offensive and hurtful. I haven't 

experienced much of this with close family and friends (Thank you Lord for that Good Good Gift!)

But, I've certainly experienced it with my interactions with acquaintances and in the general public.

More attention, kinder. . .you know, at my heaviest I never noticed I was being treated differently.

I had just grown accustom to the behavior.  Now, that my treatment is different I can totally see

the mistreatment or unkindest from before. It's painful, and maddening to think about, and I

pray I never come so far that I forget.

Sometimes, they treat you worse.  There are people in your life that need you to be a certain way.

They need you to stay the same and when you don't, it makes them either angry or uncomfortable.

They will distance themselves from you or write you off altogether.  And make no mistake, it hurts.

But, their ability to handle your change, or not handle it, can't  and shouldn't detour you and I from 

our ultimate  goals.

Live to please the Lord. Let him handle the naysayers.



5) It might never be enough.

No matter how much you lose, how strong you become, if that becomes your whole focus, it

will probable never be enough.

Your value, my value, no matter our size, has not ever --is not now --wrapped up in  a number on a 

scale or the size of our wardrobe.

You and I are enough because Jesus said we are.


_____________________________________

Don't misread me or get me wrong, I've learned more good along this journey. . .much more good

than negative, but I just wanted to share with you 1) so you  know you're not alone if you're going 

through  some of these things or 2) if you know someone who is on a journey like me, you can pray 

for them, it's allot-everyday, it's difficult to not let it consume you, to become your identity, to become 

prideful one minute or  discouraged the next.  There are traps all around.

So, pray for your friends, pray for yourself.  God is with you and me, every step along the way.


Much much love and support along the journey!

XOXO