Friday, March 9, 2018

Parenting in the Wake of the Larry Nassar Scandal

Larry Nassar has been sentenced to a lifetime in jail.

And, this week, the first male came forward, saying that he too was abused by the hands of this man.

When the Nassar trial aired. I turned in expecting story of the gymnastics world rocked to its core.

What I found was something much different.

The sister survivors came forward one at a time sharing memories difficult to hear, courageously addressing a man who tried to steal their voice only to find out they would use it for themselves and for us.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina transformed the courtroom from a place of intimidation into a sanctuary. Extending invitation for all to speak with underlying awareness that they were believed seemed to give survivors bravery to vent anything they needed. And, then, Judge Aquilina gifted each individual with words of encouragement to reinforce their unique significance. Affirming value of all people, speaking life into painful places every opportunity we get, and encouraging what can be redeemed while ending what can’t are take aways that will forever stay with me.

But, what rattled me most was the systemic failure that allowed this ongoing abuse to inflict over 200 multisport athletes for decades. This was not a story of gymnastics, but one of athletics and twisted medical “treatment.” Nassar and any professionals who knew in secret used their position of power in way that left the medically naïve vulnerable, rendered those with dreams silent, and parents unaware.

It adds a whole new layer to conversations around abuse.

Sappho once said, “What cannot be said will be wept.”

This is most certainly true now.

If we are to honor the hundreds of women and young man who came forward to put into air what tormented their soul we, as parents, need to continue the discussions in our homes. The hearts of these young people indicate that they want more than a day of reckoning with Nassar and the institutions that failed them. They want to prevent history from repeating itself.

This is room for prevention. To be a safe space for our children in body awareness discussions so they know they can always come to us and to reinforce boundaries. It is our opportunity to build on the #MeToo movement momentum, yielding confidence and turning tables on the placement of shame dare someone ever cross the line.

How this looks will vary depending on our boys and girls ages. Our twelve-year-old daughter is a stud on the volleyball court. I sat down with her and told her exactly how this abuse happened and why the girls confused it as medical care. I also gave her “Breaking Their Silence” advise that should she go down during a match to request a parent/trusted adult with her in the room she is taken to and always ask the physician/trainer what they will be doing before any treatment begins, in addition to reviewing basic boundaries we’ve always taught.  With our younger girls it’s simple reminder that nobody touches their body without them saying it’s okay at the simple mention of something like a peer grabbing their hand to create early understanding of consent we can expand upon as they age.

These conversations are not fun. They don’t guarantee that abuse won’t occur. And, it might feel awkward to broach. But, abuse – twisted medically or not- in interpersonal relationships and within systems (need I remind you of Jerry Sandusky, US swimming and the list goes on) isn’t going away. Now, with this opened door, is the time to swoop in and give our young people every tool in our tool box to better set them up for future success and give them comfort in you being “their person.”

Rachel Denhollander, the final sister survivor to speak, asked,“How much is a little girl worth?” I’ve got three in my house and they are priceless. I know you feel the same about your children. Fight for their safety. Take hold of the bigger good that can come from this story. Have the discussions.

Trying my best along with you,

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My #OneWord365 2018

I entered 2018 resistant to having a word or Bible verse of the year. Though this tradition has been formed through words God has placed on my heart, I was admittedly over the hard lessons they were teaching me. These past few years have challenged me to let go, be more vulnerable than comes natural, and take some risks. Risks aren’t my thing.

However, as I was totally at peace without a word, God nudged me with reminder that I would have learned the lessons declared word or bible verse or not.

Well played, God.

My control over those lessons is actually close to zero but the faith filter through which I choose to process changes the way I see things.

So, I guess I will accept the word God has repetitively brought to mind since the new calendar was placed on my wall.


First and foremost I seek to honor God. I want to listen. Like really listen. I pray that my life purposes grander than myself and that my faith is evidenced in how I live my life.

I want to honor my work in the church. Last year myself, my team, and an awesome group of volunteers successfully grew children’s ministry in new ways. I still enter each day excited about what I get to do next and how I might get to successfully bond families and bring faith alive in a sensical way to the children in their everyday world. This is an incredible privilege.

I want to honor my family and not let what could be constant demands of my work or temptations of technology distract me from meaningful and important time that belongs to them. Drawing boundaries to create more quality moments is critical to a well-balanced life. And they are simply the best.

I want to honor my friends, dance students and other blessings in my life, ensuring that the chaos of life does not get in the way of being present and making time for what matters. I want to be intentional about creating important space, aware that what we make time for is always a matter of choice.

And, I want to honor myself. My own body. I know many of my mom friends will understand with the many hats we wear taking care of our own self can easily go by the wayside. I’ve been more intentional, of recent, to care in different ways for the one body I’ve been given this side of Glory. I know it'll affect the number of healthy days I see and it makes it worth refocus for a better future. Maybe I’ll go crazy with some naps and enjoyment reading mixed in there, too. J

I won’t get this perfect, I know.

And, honestly, I think I do decent at these efforts now.

But God is challenging me to really keep the word front and center, so I shall honor my God in doing so J

I’m off to a good start.

Did you choose a #OneWord365?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Illusion of (Parenting) Control & The Gift of Mercy: Reviewing My 2017 Verse of the Year

I am a planner. An organizer. And, we folk, generally like to feel in control. People like us because we will reliably meet goals and things will get done. We like math because A + B usually equals C. We like a syllabus because it methodically organizes time with complete awareness for what to expect. We may even organize our closet with a specified system on matching hangers to more quickly find the desired apparel…I don’t know. It’s just a guess J

If 2016 was an exercise in responding to matters no one could control, 2017 held lessons in responding to the impact others had on us when it seemingly defied logical expectation.

I chose Micah 6:8 as my Bible verse of the year. It was honestly to provide myself guiding approach to the predictability of lived life being unpredictable.  

Near the end of 2016 we’d let Hannah share her story of an asthma attack experienced in smoky air before city government and the vote at hand didn’t result as we hoped. My fear that she’d experience adults make decisions that didn’t match with lessons and values adults teach her became reality. It hurt her/us and left me at God’s feet asking how I was to respond. My gut reaction was to clamp up and be done. But, as I drove past the cemetery one morning where my father-in-law’s (who battled lung cancer) headstone was recently laid, Matt Maher’s lyric, “Let there be peace. Let it start in me” flooded my ears and settled in my heart, providing a healthier response – to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

I (and my husband) wanted Hannah as well as our other children to know that speaking the truth in love, engaging in hard conversations so that we can all grow and be our best, and treating everyone with kindness and respect + a soft heart mattered to walk difficult situations – when people make choices we can’t understand- well. It’s a bridge to understanding, potential future change, integrity and peace. And, I’m most proud of how Hannah handled it.

The impetus for this verse was revisited (and, after further discussion healthy steps to cleaner air policy were made happy dance), however life had way of calling this verse and lesson to light more than once. I went in telling God how I was going to do life and He must’ve smiled and said, “Oh, but honey, open your eyes. There is so much more.”

No matter how much I wish I could bubble wrap our children from painful experiences, the best I can hand them is a broken world and show them how they might shine a light through the cracks. It requires a dance of letting them go enough to stand strong on their own two feet without too much space that they feel disconnected.

Though the challenge is primarily commissioned to us as her parents, there was so much more for me to learn thorugh it.

The result of this merciful living - which is so. very. difficult- when A + B does not equal C or expectation is defied and mess is made, is beauty. BEAUTY.  I can’t believe my Type-A self is saying that but my God has proven it true. This year, because of hardship, I’ve seen new fortitude and dreams be born. In not being able to be in control I’ve witnessed a village of unexpected, incredible people cheer my girl on and make her stronger. We've come to appreciate some we didn't see before and made new friendships with people we never knew. And, I’ve felt love that builds up my family greater than if I were doing it alone.

These are gifts I never imagined. 

Touché, God, I went in with a plan but You established my steps…and the story You wrote was better than I imagined.

xx Melissa
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