The Horrifying Reality of 3:02 AM


Well, Visitors, what a time we have had. In the past week since Trump was elected, we have been treated to all kinds of images of the most extraordinary fearmongering. School teachers in a large local district wearing black after Election Day, informing ALL children they were mourning the ‘Death of America’.

Ignorant college kids protesting the election, saying they were ‘frightened’ of the upcoming four years. Misinformed twenty-somethings calling for the end of the electoral college, calling it a ‘fearful tyranny of the minority’.

Most incredibly, my peers, college educated middle aged women, being accused if ‘internalizing misogyny’ and being completely unaware of the fearful hell we had just voted down on our heads.

Gracious. In the midst of all this, there has been a small chorus of reasoned voices attempting to redirect attention back to an issue that’s close to my heart- that of genuinely traumatized, fearful people.

I was talking with my gentleman caller – code name “Stockholm”- about this very issue. Privately, Stockholm and I share the same disdain for ‘triggered’ young ‘uns, who need ‘safe spaces’ for ‘self care’. Stockholm is a great deal more diplomatic than I, as I voice my disgust for this at every appropriate opportunity. Stockholm just smiles.

Last night, at 3:02 am, I had a ‘triggering event’.

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3:02 am, on July 18, 2010, the phone jarred me out of a sound sleep. On the other end, my sister informed me that Chris had lost his battle to the great dragon Cancer, and won his seat at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

I was traumatized. I broke the news to my daughters, called my son, and drove over to the Hospice in my bathrobe. I stumbled into the facility, and kissed the cool, lifeless forehead of my husband goodbye. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Now, most of you know that I am of a pretty rational bent. I like things that can be measured. I like things that I can observe, and control as much as possible.

For about a year after that event, inexplicable things happened at 3:02 am. I got spam phone calls. Coyotes would yap at that hour. As was expected, any night terrors would reach their peak at 3:02 am, jarring me into a wide-eyed, heart pounding wakefulness.

Rationally, one would expect that sleep would become a trial for me, and it has. As most of you know who have been with me for a while, I have a horror of getting ‘stuck’ in destructive behavior. Good ‘self care’ is simply critical for authentically traumatized people. A combination of outstanding talk therapy, judicious, short-term use of benzodiazepines, meticulous attention to exercise, and really, really great church family continues to restore me to good health.

So, about last night. My dogs are these little Italian Greyhound mixes. These two possess the hearts of lions, and the brains of walnuts. At 3:02 am, these little beasts spotted a bull elk off of my back deck, and went ballistic. Snarling! Snorting! Bellowing at the top of their lungs! Raising the roof!

And, of course, triggering  me to jolt BOLT upright, flooded with memories of 3:02 am six and half years ago. Heart racing, I crept downstairs to deal with this auditory mess, and slept no more for the rest of the night.

Self care this morning included a sturdy breakfast, prayer, Scripture reading, understanding from the gentle Stockholm, visiting with good friends, and a solid day in at work.

Visitors, let us not allow authentic struggles of people like me to be co-opted by these irresponsible people rioting after the recent election. It dilutes the language, and the progress we have made on this issue.

Rioters, for shame. “Triggered” students? For HEAVEN’S sake, pull yourselves together. Manipulating teachers? KNOCK it off. You are to teach, not preach your worldview.

My people? The genuinely traumatized? The authentically ill-used?  The wounded and the bleeding? The cloud of us surrounds you. You can do this. We are here, and we love you.

Much respect,

Victoria

 

 

The Unshockable Electorate: Corruption In the Jeffco Board Of Education? #NotAnotherDimeJeffco


Visitors, I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about what it would take to make evil repulsive again.

It was an interesting concept, from an interesting man- Code name “Swede”.  Swede and I are like most of you, very concerned about the moral freefall our country has found itself in during this election season.

It seems as if NOTHING is repulsive anymore. Hillary Clinton a liar about national secrets? Phht. Pilferer of her own ‘charitable’ foundation? Big deal. Arguably a murderer of our own citizens in Benghazi? Yawn. (That Benghazi has not raised national ire simply astonishes me)

Donald Trump a selfish, shady businessman? Who cares! An abusive pig who treats women like objects, on camera? What of it? A man with no moral compass, leading what used to be the most moral nation on earth? Truly, truly alarming.

Swede, like me, found himself nonplussed. How could we, hobbyist authors, get a message of shock and concern to you, the unshockable electorate?

It’s a matter of focus.

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Remember this picture, Visitors? The so-called Clean Slate Gang. This group, the current Jeffco Board of Ed, was inserted by a campaign funded entirely by various teacher’s unions, all the while claiming to be parent-driven. This board instituted closed door meetings. Drastically curtailed parent input. Made unilateral budget choices. Ignored the achievement ghetto that is Jeffco- God help if you are a poor child of color or a special needs kid with this gang.

(For reference and fact checking, search the #NotAnotherDimeJeffco on this blog, The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, parts One and Two, and Education/Local Politics in the search bar above).

This gang has run out the surplus my brother, John Newkirk and the other recalled members developed. They have paid off the Jeffco Teacher’s Union with unmerited bonuses as a reward after the recall election. They have sat for a full calendar year of catastrophic achievement failure, which can be fairly laid at their feet. (See the previous column for the dismal achievement statistics that define Jeffco).

Most importantly, they are counting on the ignorance of you, Jeffco Visitors, to support this unprecedented money grab that is the Jeffco Bond Issue.

Focus on just the money with me, Visitors. This single aspect of this issue is very, very easy to understand.

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Meet Steve Bell, Jefferson County Schools Chief Operations Officer. Bell is the chief architect of this bond issue, which is run on the idea that Jeffco needs nearly a BILLION dollars to fix crumbling schools.

A chief operations officer is the one who is in charge of building projects. Bell has written bids to replace boilers, repave parking lots, replace concrete, roofs, and ‘general upgrades’. Are you tracking with me, Visitors? This is pretty easy to understand. We have school buildings, and school buildings fairly need to be maintained.

Here’s the stumper, friends. How often has Mr. Bell written an accurate bid in his 12 year plus tenure at Jeffco?

Never.

Not once has Steve Bell ever written an accurate bid for a building project in Jeffco. Never.

Anyone (like me, and most of you) who has even gotten a bid for a construction job knows that these things can be fluid. Fair enough, how far off would you allow, Visitors? If you got a bid for paving your driveway, would you accept a five percent variation? Ten? What would you allow?

Mr. Bell’s overruns have hit over TWO HUNDRED PERCENT, Visitors. Process that. What if you needed a new water heater in your house, and got a bid for six grand. After it was installed, you got a bill for twelve thousand? Would you stand for it?

Stick with me please, Visitors, be the informed electorate.  Here is a copy of a public document written by John detailing these STAGGERING overages-

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-31-07-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-31-29-pmLeslie Dahlkemper, one of the previous board members called Bell a ‘financial wizard’ who was ‘excellent’ at his job, and castigated John for insisting on accountability. What on earth is going on? Why is this financial incompetence accepted, even encouraged by the Jeffco BOE?

Visitors, I get why you’d be wearied of all of this. I certainly am. But, reasonable people that we are, we must consider the answers. There are only two.

  1. The Jeffco BOE is incompetent. They don’t know what they are doing. They encourage incompetence like Mr. Bell’s, they are not to be trusted with any more of our money.
  2. The Jeffco BOE is corrupt. These incredible, unaccounted for overages are going somewhere. To who? Jeffco BOE friends? Unaccounted-for payoffs for election advantages? Illicit payments for personal enrichment? Where?

Shawna Fritzler writes for the pro-union Support Jeffco Schools page, and refuses to answer these questions of accountability. Wendy McCord, who foisted this current board on us in a successful crusade of lies and deceit, will not address this issue either.

Therefore, it is up to us, Visitors. It is up to us to stand up and be counted, stand up and demand accountability for our children and vote NO on 3A and 3B. We must get answers.

#NotAnotherDimeJeffco.

Respectfully,

Victoria

What Happens To An Incompetent Teacher at Jeffco? Sadly, Very Little. #NotAnotherDimeJeffco


Visitors, last month I published a column detailing the flagrant incompetence of two teachers that my children had to endure at Evergreen Senior High.

That column has netted me several ugly comments, a couple of near threats, and several anonymous, cowardly reviews on Google regarding my early childhood facility, Evergreen Academy.

Regarding the comments, well, words have consequences, but if criticizing me for writing the truth is all you can do, then have at it. Regarding the threats? My course of graduate study could not have been better timed. I’m studying Criminology and Behavioral Deviance at a local university, and a very good name for the McCord-Fritzler-Kwasny crowd (who I am certain are behind the words) is “deviants”. It gives me great joy to now possess the digital forensic tools to track down these criminals, especially if they choose to escalate their behavior beyond harassing me. Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny, Michael Blanton, Tina Gurdikian? I’m warning you off, so behave yourself.

Regarding the deceitful attacks through Google reviews? After my brother, John Newkirk, had the safety of his children and family threatened in Evergreen, I stopped being amazed at the lengths this crowd will stoop force their agenda on the Jeffco public. Evergreen Academy isn’t bulletproof, nothing is, but it’s a place full of love, kindness and skilled care for the youngest and most vulnerable in Evergreen. Keep up the lying reviews, anti-reformers, and you’ll likely find yourself at the mercy of a crowd of young parents who love what we do at EA.

Now, to the topic at hand. I’d like you to lean in with me here, Visitors, this is a little complicated, but I have faith in you. Colorado recently enacted a teacher effectiveness law, Senate Bill 191, in an effort to address teacher effectiveness.

In Jefferson County, new teachers are hired on a ‘probationary’ status for three years. Their contracts are year to year, and at the end of each year they can be dismissed for any reason allowed by law.

(For us civilians, that means that budget issues, student shifts, or poor fashion choices could lead to a dismissal during the three ‘probationary years’. Virtually any reason.) According to this law, probationary teachers must have three ‘effective’ evaluations to be considered for tenure.

“Ineffective” evaluations can be appealed, often at Union expense. You can appeal a poor evaluation and keep your job, and this can take months.

So, it hangs on the evaluations. Here’s where it gets interesting, Visitors. According to Senate Bill 191, HALF of the evaluation has to be based on student achievement. Seems reasonable, no? You are rated on all kinds of things: lesson planning, classroom structure, classroom conduct, can you play nice in the sandbox with other staff, and ARE YOUR STUDENTS MASTERING YOUR MATERIAL. Are they even close? Are they making progress from the beginning of the year to the end?

You have three years, THREE, to prove that you know your craft. Regarding effectiveness, achievement scores are NOT available to be included in your annual evaluation. Why is that? Generally, because the scores are returned to schools in July, long after ratings are completed. So, principals and fellow teachers who rate you, do NOT include effectiveness in your scores, even though they are required to by law. Here’s why that should concern you greatly.

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Where is the emphasis on achievement? Where?! Jeffco has 87,000 of our children, and is UTTERLY ineffective in teaching them math. Grade schoolers, (my favorite population and area of specialty) start out well, likely because of their natural eagerness to learn. Please, Visitors, I’m pleading with you, note the terrible, precipitous drop by high school.

How will we advance? How will our children gain the technology oriented skills they must have without foundational math? Reading and science scores are similarly terrible.

By tenth grade, FAR less than half of our children are NOT proficient in math. Where else can we look besides disinterested teachers? Yet, out of 4,700 teachers in Jeffco, not ONE teacher will lose their tenure do to ineffective teaching. (http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2016/07/14/denver-public-schools-set-to-strip-nearly-50-teachers-of-tenure-protections-after-poor-evaluations/#.V_AUGJMrJE5)

Cheryl Manning is safe.

Dave Myers will keep his job.

Effective teachers, of which there are many, will continue to get lost in a crowd of disinterested, lectern-pounding, ineffective teachers who will keep their jobs until retirement. This must stop.

Again, Visitors, this is just exhausting. Jeffco is a mess.

Here’s what you can do, in fact, this is the only moral thing you can do.

DON’T VOTE FOR THE JEFFCO BOND ISSUE #NOTANOTHERDIMEJEFFCO

VOTE NO! This is a 565$ Million dollar ask for a system that is completely broken, disinterested in student achievement and thoroughly infested with corruption and inefficiency. More on that later.

IT REALLY IS A BILLION DOLLARS

You must, simply must, demand that Jeffco do its job, and that is to educate! This bond issue will take ONE BILLION DOLLARS to repay, while student achievement will continue to decline.

This simply makes no sense. Demand it, visitors. Demand accountability.

We owe it to our kids.

Much respect,

 

Victoria

 

Evergreen Senior High: The Good, The Bad, The Completely Unacceptable


#NotAnotherDimeJeffco 

Visitors, now that election season is drawing near, it’s time to highlight some of the pressing issues regarding Jefferson County ballot in November. Jeffco Visitors, this is particularly relevant to you, but general Visitors, I’d like you to track with me here. Sometimes sacred mantras -“Teachers Are Untouchable“- deserve to be debunked. 

I have been a bit apprehensive about publishing this particular column, because it’s important to me not to stoop to the levels I’m about to show you. However, teachers in Jeffco are not a special breed, they are human, with flaws and strengths, just like everyone else. Jeffco as a school system is deeply flawed, and it is troubling to me that we have zero recourse against the incompetence I am about to describe.

Toward that end, I’d like you to meet two Evergreen Senior High School science teachers, the two reasons I banned my last child from attending ANY science classes at EHS. 

Meet Cheryl Manning

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Photo credit:  http://www.ehs-manning.net/

When my first child started at EHS, he had had nine years of demanding Christian schooling. Classes were small, expectations were high, and children were trained to treat teachers with the utmost respect. I brought him to public school with great trepidation. I’ve been a teacher for years, and had my doubts about the consistency of delivery he would receive there. 

Imagine my surprise when I got a robotic “D and F” call from the district his very first quarter of attendance. The automated call informed me that my child was currently receiving a D or F in one or more classes. With minimal work, I tracked it down and discovered that it was in Cheryl Manning’s ninth grade life science course.

I was furious. My child was an exemplary student, why is he slacking off now?  Bright, verbal, attentive in class, and his first quarter he was getting an F in Science? I confronted him sternly. No child of MINE was going to fail in a lower-performing public school. 

“Mom! I do all of my homework! I do! I turn everything in on time! I promise!” Mrs. Manning missed something! She tells everyone she’s behind on homework all the time! “

I dragged him in on Parent Teacher Conference night and had him stand in front of Mrs. Manning-

“Explain yourself!” I demanded. 

 His face reddened at my embarrassing demand. 

“Mrs. Manning, I turn in all my homework. It must be in that pile somewhere?” He pointed to an unkempt, large stack of homework on her desk.

Manning poked through the stack, and retrieved several pieces of paper. She reviewed them, and entered some scores on her computer. “Oh, sorry, his average is actually an 86. ”

A solid B average. My bright, able son was performing consistently. I had to apologize to him right there.

After that trouble, I mistakenly allowed my girls to take the course when they entered ninth grade, as I thought they had no choice.  (My girls are six months apart. One is adopted, so they took a lot of classes together.) Manning kept up with the homework, but I was regaled, sometimes daily, with off-topic stories of Mrs. Manning’s opinion about things. Her opinion about ADD drugs, her thoughts on name calling, her thoughts about her own upbringing, with emphasis on the abuse she endured as a child. Her opinion on science education, and most aggravating of all, her take on any education-related political issue of the day, which was as left-wing as can be. All of Ms. Manning’s opinions were presented as rock-solid, inarguable facts to these fourteen year old children.  This is completely unacceptable. Teachers are to teach, not preach.

How ANY of this related to ninth grade biology concepts completely escaped me. There was no alternative to Ms. Manning’s class. My children were stuck, or so I thought. I gritted my teeth through Manning’s class, and my girls ended up in the next biology class. Again, no alternative, or so I thought.

Meet Dave Myers

(Jeffco Visitors, Myers has a secure public digital footprint. I couldn’t find a picture to show you. If you attend EHS, be very, very careful. Myers teaches biology there.)

Seven months before my husband died of metastatic colon cancer, Dave Myers gave a three day lecture on cancer processes. The lecture was filled with out of date, poorly referenced, inaccurate information. My girls, having a front-row seat to the suffering of their father, came home tearful and wide eyed after each day of the lecture. I reviewed their notes, and pointed out to the girls where Myers had lectured on wrong information. Naturally, my girls were upset and confused, particularly where Myers had pronounced metastatic cancers a ‘certain death sentence’. (To date, metastatic colon cancer has an 11 percent survival rate. Other metastatic cancer survival rates are all over the map, Myers was incredibly irresponsible for making such a pronouncement. Cruel to make it in the presence of students who were dealing with such a situation, and yes, he knew.)

Frustrated beyond words, I made an appointment with the administrator at the time. I had had issues with Myers before, brought things to his attention, and Myers had rejected my concerns outright. I did not have high hopes for this session. I asked for the administrator to mediate.

I brought my girls’ notes in to Myers. The administrator asked for Myers to give an accounting, and Myers stated that he was ‘teaching to the standard’ during a twenty-minute lecture. I pointed out to Myers that my girls EACH had three days of dated notes.  A “twenty minute lecture” was certainly not the case.

I asked Myers about various cancer processes that he had taught about. I reminded him that my husband was in a fierce cancer battle, and would he like me to ask our oncologist to come and lecture to the class, and get the most cutting-edge information possible?

Myers launched into a disgraceful display.  I was, according to Myers, a “harpy” who had “zero reason” to come in and criticize him for “teaching to the standards”.

Visitors, I’m afraid I was less than tactful. I was also completely traumatized by the impending death of my husband. I burst into tears.

“Who the HELL do you think you are, Myers? If you are ‘teaching to the standard’, understand the standard is WRONG! I am offering you the chance to get some current, up to date information, and you are NOT INTERESTED!”

The administrator hustled me out of there.

Visitors, this is just wearisome. What I want to point out to you next is the depth to which teachers like Manning and Myers will stoop to accomplish their non-academic political agenda.

Check this out.

This is a screen shot from a web page that an pro-union, anti-reform organization called Jefferson County School Board Watch posted during the recall battle for my brother’s seat, last year. Typical of the Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny crowd, this thing was a tissue of lies from beginning to end. What’s really incredible though, is this part.

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We’ve come to expect complete and total deceit from Wendy McCord and her crowd.  (See “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord”  and “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0” both parts, on this blog)

What completely flabbergasted me is that Cheryl Manning, Board Certified Teacher of Science at Evergreen Senior High, would make this up.

I was visiting my 96 year old dad that day, Visitors. Taking him out for ice cream, in fact. This is verifiable with his care providers. I was nowhere near Manning or McCord that day. But, as we know, the truth doesn’t matter to this particular wing of rabid Jeffco faculty, they make it up as they go along. (See, “The Lying Mouthpiece Of Jeffco Teacher’s Union: Meet Scott Kwasny” on this blog)  Manning, however,  was vicious, libelous, and relentless. And, she’s teaching your children.

I conferenced with my brother about this mess. John Newkirk, as you know, lost his seat under a successful tide of union-funded lies last fall.

John is a scholar and a gentleman. He was one of the few politicians who put up with harassment, criminal threats, union-sponsored hate speech to advance a truly altruistic agenda. He was for Jeffco kids, period, and paid an incredible price for his efforts.

His counsel to me was restrained. There is nothing you can do, Victoria. Incompetent teachers like Manning and Myers are protected. That’s one of the long list of things the reformers Williams-Newkirk- Witt were trying to change, and the voters voted FOR this kind of incompetence.

Visitors, there is something you can do, in fact, there are a lot of things. However, this column has run long.

First off, if you are a Jeffco voter who mistakenly voted FOR this mess, pay attention to the monstrous Jeffco bond issue this fall.

Vote Against It! This is over half a BILLION dollars for a district that simply will not take steps to advance the educational picture in Jeffco. The problems and corruption in Jeffco are far, far more entrenched then the ones I have described here. More on that later.

#NotAnotherDimeJeffco

Secondly, if you have children like mine, understand how concurrent enrollment works. This is what you can do – when my last child entered EHS in 2011, I refused to let the EHS science staff anywhere near her. Go to the high school counseling office, and get the forms for “Concurrent Enrollment”.  Go to Red Rocks, or the community college nearest you, and sign your child up for whatever you please. My daughter was 15, and we had to get a special permission for her to attend because the policy is usually 16. This was EASY. She then sailed through collegiate biology, anatomy and astronomy, which was taught in an objective, unbiased way. Yes, transporting her was difficult, but it was worth figuring it out.  She graduated with her class at EHS, with substantially less damage then my other three endured.

You’ve got this.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

What’s The Surplus For?


Check out this shot from my ‘surplus years’, Visitors.

Chris and me black and white

This portrait was ten years ago. I was 42, and Chris was the picture of brawny health. A mere four years later, heartache of the most enormous magnitude would be forced on me. My kids would lose a terrific dad, the world lost a funny and talented teacher, and frankly, I would lose a pretty smooth life.

I traded it for scarred and resilient children. I traded it for working all the time with a high degree of focussed intensity, and I traded it for some hard won successes.  In recent years, my inner emotional ‘bank balance’ has been getting pretty hefty. EA is going swimmingly, my dad is OK and my kids are making terrific life choices. Life is good, and I rejoice in this stretch of peaceful sailing.

Lately, it seems a though my situation has been an ‘anguish attractor’. I can’t figure it out. For my Christian visitors, one might ask “What is God doing here?”.

Heartache of all sorts has rained down around me. A dear friend is divorcing an addicted and abusive wife, and asked for my help to rent out his house. Another dear,  close friend lost a relative to a freak accident. Another was just hospitalized for a heart  issue, third time this year. Another has a child who was just diagnosed with bone cancer, stage 3. Yet another has joined the absolute legion of folks my age getting rejected by their spouses and enduring a bitter divorce. All have come to me, seeking counsel from me or merely a listening, supportive ear. I am happy to do what I can.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Chris and I were steered to some wise, Biblically grounded budgeting advice by our pastor. The late Larry Burkett ran a wonderful ministry devoted to helping God’s people learn wise money management according to Scripture. Nearly thirty years later I am reaping what I sowed, and often have a budgetary surplus to share with folks who have less than me.

It occurs to me, Visitors, that surpluses, or ‘extra’ can take many forms. None of my wounded friends are asking me for money, this is Evergreen, after all. But did you ever notice, as time goes on, that the essence of loss is lack?

Ponder that one with me for a minute, Visitors. I lost Chris, the most heartwrenching life experience I’ve had to endure, thus far. In the years he’s been gone, I felt the lack of a friendly companion, a useful partner, a father to these kids, and warm feet under the covers.

The people around me are lacking. Lacking health, lacking loved ones, lacking direction. Our society answers that in curious ways. It frosts my cookies more than I can tell you to listen to the myriad of predators out there who promise the moon to hurting people. I see it with every single hurting situation around me, these days. Take this vacation! Buy these clothes! Eat this product! Use this cosmetic! Do these things and that lack in your soul will be filled! What nonsense.  Listening to these types tell my people that the holes in their souls can be filled by emptying their pocketbooks nearly incites me to violence.

(Perhaps you’ve noticed, Visitors, one thing I lack is tactful diplomacy. My people can’t take this sort of directness. )

See, Visitors, I lost the burning desire to ‘be right’ a long time ago. What drives me now is the desire to be useful. Evergreen Academy is a great example of this. I get the privilege of guiding new parents every day in my job. Most of my clients are self-directed and accomplished, and most are self-aware enough to face their cluelessness head on (My clients are pretty endearing). New parents are easy enough to guide, usually they’re a pretty open bunch.

The newly grieved, though, are an entirely different matter.  The haze of grief is often impenetrable, and is often perceived as permanent. How to be useful to the ones that end up weeping on my shoulder, or slogging through a seemingly endless grief-stricken marsh, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings?

Christian and non- Christian visitors alike, I think the answer to this is found somewhere in the idea of community. Someone I respect once told me that ‘just showing up’ is critical to the meeting of any need. Reaching out in the real and digital domains, a simple “Are you ok? Just checking up on you” enhances the idea that we are not alone, there is a long chain of hands pulling even the saddest of us back from the brink.

I have a surplus of emotional energy now. I’m sure someday that will change, but in the mean time, I’m giving it away. It helps my little community around me, and honestly, it’s the least I can do.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Time To Ditch The Term “Sexual Purity”.


I’d like you to meet someone, Visitors.

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This is Beauty Beyond Bones. (beautybeyondbones.com) She’s a stunning, young Christian woman who writes a blog about her life, which starts with a very dark description of her bout with anorexia.

Visitors, her story is friggin’ terrifying. I had no idea. For those of us in helping professions, I’d like to steer you to her blog, where she eloquently writes about the depth of self-loathing, self-hatred and utter despair that lashed her mercilessly during her battle for her life. Beauty, as we shall call her, entered an inpatient eating disorders clinic at 5′ 6″ and 78 lbs. She was so skeletal that all of her inpatient medical personnel were on a death watch for this kid, and were surprised when she woke up each morning. She had depleted ALL of her fat stores, including the ones that protected her brain and vital organs. Her body was feeding on her muscles- the biggest concern being that her body would start to devour her heart, and it would stop. Horrifying.

Read here for a heartwrenching description of Beauty’s raging battle with profound dysmorphia. (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2015/03/) Brace yourself, this is a very difficult read. She’s a victorious delight now, and writes about her artistic endeavors in NYC.

Beauty is a true, powerful warrior of the Lord. With the help of the Spirit of God, daily she vanquishes the inner voice of torment that works so hard to convince her that she is unloved, a burden, a parasite, and the world would be a better place without her.

Beauty recently wrote a  troubling column detailing her commitment to her future husband. She wants to preserve her sexuality as a magnificent gift reserved only for the man God is preparing for her.

Read this one, Visitors, there’s something off here.  (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2016/06/13/v-card/.)  Did you catch that? Beauty is a committed Christian woman, yet somehow she’s saddled with the idea that obedience to God’s direction for sexual exclusivity is somehow weird. Granny panties-orthopedic shoes- six cats at home weird. Conspicuous, somehow unnatural, weird.

What’s up with that? What did we, fellow Christians, have to do with adding to, or lightening that burden that weighs on Beauty?

I’d like you to meet someone else, Visitors. Her name is Diane, and I met her through a shared interest in dance.

Diane was blindsided by a recent divorce. She’s the same age as me, and had been married for the same 23 years. Diane was very engaging to me for many reasons. One of which was that her husband presented as if he were an abuse survivor, a topic that they never broached during their marriage. Predictably, physical intimacy was a challenge for Diane and her husband,  one that became insurmountable and eventually was the tipping point that ended the marriage.

Diane was devastated by this. She simply didn’t see it coming. When her husband abruptly had her served with papers, she was plunged into an ice-cold, isolating eddy of despair.

Physically, Diane is one of the most stunning examples of humanity I have seen. She’s an eight time IronMan athlete, her full head of chestnut hair sprinkled with becoming touches of grey. Running is her specialty, she habitually brings home Firsts in her age group in any race she participates. She’s nationally ranked, and coaches running groups of lesser athletes with humor and grace.

I helped Diane pick out some clothes for a student production at her studio. For me, it was a blast to peruse shocking pinks and lively blues and talk about tailoring items to flatter her unusually fit physique.

Diane could hardly stand it. As we got to know each other better, I would be very direct with Diane.

“Di, look at this dress.  It makes your shoulders look great! Your legs look fabulous in this one, and this one makes you look smoking hot all the way around!”  With every observation, Diane seemed to withdraw, to pull farther into herself. It was as if, in her fifth decade, any aspect of healthy sexuality was somehow taboo, off limits for even adult women to discuss. What’s up with that? Two fellow Christians, talking about sexuality-related things. Why should this be hard?

Like all of my post-40, newly divorced friends, Diane was floundering. Everything she thought she knew to be true had been rocked by this profound rejection.  Diane was ashamed of her life,  ashamed of her failed marriage, and doubted God’s love for her.

Privately, sexual intimacy loomed in front of Diane as a solution. If she could find another man to ‘love’ her in this way, someone with whom she could share her most intimate desires, perhaps life would regain some sense of normalcy. Perhaps she would feel better.  Someone to fill her lonely days, someone to appreciate her athletic aspirations, maybe even someone with whom to share the second half of her life.

It is terribly hard for me to watch my divorced friends suffer like this.  Self deceit is a  trap like no other and Diane paid the price.

One freezing Colorado afternoon, I held her hand on the surgical table as the gentle doctor removed a portion of her intimate parts. I gave her tissues as she wept in lonely sorrow over another man who she thought had loved her, and had abandoned her to the ravages of a cancerous sexual infection he had given her.

Diane was alone, rejected,  again.

Christian Visitors,  how can we mitigate this, help ease this suffering of our own?  We simply must drop the shame, that will help.   We must unbind the language of cultural judgement, and attach our value to the word of God. ALL sin is created equal, ALL steps outside of God’s best break the heart of Jesus.  Beauty has enough on her plate without shame, and Diane is bone-tired and weary. We have to talk about these intimate things, and we have to do it in a healthy way.  Science and the Word of God tells us that sex is entangling, every single time. There is no such thing as ‘casual’ sex, ‘free’ sex, or ‘meaningless’ sex. That said, sexuality is a gift! ALL aspects of it!

Beauty, you are simply lovely in your slinky little  dress and stiletto heels. Your makeup is darling, and your fashion sense is impeccable! Diane, you’ve worked very hard on your body, and now, you are the picture of glowing health. Your athletic performance is reflected in your lovely form,  and  you are drop-dead gorgeous in cerulean blue.

American Christians, let’s look at this hurting population through the lens of unconditional love. There is no difference at all between Diane’s mistake and me holding a grudge, or getting angry for no good reason. We are ALL impure.  Jesus made us all righteous, if we allow it.  Let’s start looking at each other how Jesus does.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

Pornography. About as Bad As It Gets.


Don’t leave this piece standing for your reading child to see, Visitors. Adults Only.

Porn.com-Logo

Don’t Google this.

Pornography. We just can’t leave it alone in this country.

When I published the previous column, a reader looked at the thumbnail on Facebook. She saw the nude that I used to illustrate a point, and promptly lambasted me for publishing ‘pornography’ and contributing to the problem of lust among Christians.  (The fact that she didn’t bother to actually read the essay before criticizing is another discussion entirely.)

Most of you know that I have been in graduate school for Criminology for about the past year or so. The last class I had was a well-structured overview of digital crime, and pornography was highlighted. CHILD pornography, in particular, has simply exploded in the past 15 years, after we, as a country, had made great progress in stamping this one out. More on that later.

Visitors, how Christians treat sexual issues just exasperates me. See, all my life as a Christian, I have worked hard to separate Biblical Christianity from American Christianity. Nowhere is that dichotomy more apparent than in the area of sexuality. My allegiance is to the word of God, and not to American attitudes about sex and sexuality. In my growing years, in the area of sex, the emphasis was mainly on refusal skills like “True Love Waits” and other “No” tactics. The Biblical basis for this is sound. Sex is a promise, sex is ‘glue’ for married men and women, sex is part of the ‘becoming one’ process, sex is actually holy.  All true, all grounded in solid theology.

The irksome thing about this, is that very little attention was paid to the wildness of sex, to the playfulness of sex, to the utter freedom that married couples have in the area of sexuality. Christianitytoday.com is a pretty good starting point for topical Bible studies for anyone curious about Godly sexuality. In paging through their offerings, and the offerings of other solid Christian resources, I discovered some interesting things. There are titles like “Confronting Sexual Addiction”,  “Understanding Lust”, “Too Intimate Too Soon” and “Living In A Culture of Sexual Immorality”.

All right, all of these deviant things are important topics, and deserve solid treatment. But how about the healthy topics? There’s this -“Romantic Sexuality”- sounds pretty good. “Sex From God’s Point Of View” -Hmm, better see some solid scripture there, and this one that looks great -“Crazy Good Sex” where a Christian psychologist addresses six pressing male sexuality issue with BOTH solid research and solid Scripture.

So, there is hope.

As I continued this bit of a research jag into Christian resources, I realized that the ratio was out of whack. The deviant sexual titles outnumbered the healthy ones by about 12 to 1. That’s incredible. Titles like “Stolen” and “God In A Brothel” and the scariest “In Our Backyard” alone expose the terrible evils of human sexual trafficking. Other sexually deviant titles abounded. Twelve deviant titles to every healthy, Scripture-based one. What’s up with that?

See, “Culture” to me, is like a living organism. Our national culture is vibrant, constantly changing, made up of vastly differing parts. It can be healthy, or it can get sick. As Christians, we have a call to minister to the sick, the weak and the powerless. This can get ugly. There is a tidal wave of flesh peddling and exploitation that is enveloping our culture, and we must, simply must, be aware of it before we can treat it.

Porn.com is a website referred to in my digital crime class last quarter. As part of a research project, I had to look at several snippets from this detestable site. At the beginning of the course, I made the mistake of Googling “porn.com” on Google Images, trying to find the logo for a powerpoint slide. Instead of the logo, I saw several revolting things that still make me queasy. With a SINGLE innocent query, I saw real-life pictures of vaginal sex, anal sex, anilingus, fellatio, polyamorous situations, and erotic asphyxia. Publishing images of these actions is legal, they are available to everyone with a computer, and we, Christians, make a sick world sicker by walking past them as if they don’t exist.

Visitors, particularly Christian ones, stay with me here. The number of internet porn sites in the Surface Web is difficult to pin down. According to http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html, there are about 4.2 million pornographic websites on the Surface Web or about 12 percent of Surface Web sites.  42 percent of all users have viewed porn at one time or another. 25 percent of ALL search requests are porn-related. One in four, Visitors.

Average age of first exposure to porn? 11.

Number of youths who have received an unwanted sexual solicitation? 1 in 7.

Number of youths who reveal to their parents or other adults that they have been solicited? 1 in 20.

Number of youths who repeatedly seek out internet porn? About 1 in 8.

Gracious. One might ask, what on earth can we do about all this? As a teacher? My very best advice is to address it. NOW. TONIGHT. If you don’t, some internet pornographer will, I promise.

Of course, you have to apply your adult judgement to the development of your child. You know them best, you can decide which words to use and how to address what issue. I completely land on the side of internet censorship, with as much education your child can possibly stand.

With that in mind, your child will be able to think more clearly than my critic that I referred to at the beginning of this piece. The idea that the nude in the previous column is pornographic, is, in a word, absurd. We simply must help our children see things as clearly as possible and give them the tools to navigate such desperately sick situations as authentic pornography. Educate them, NOW, about healthy sexuality, about the joy in God ordained mutual sexual giving. Doing this will help our children actually be salt and light in a terribly sick world.

Much love,

Victoria