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I hesitated to share my self-reflection for 2018. But as I look back, I see that gratitude builds faith. Writing down what I am grateful for and recounting all the wonderful things Jesus has done for me has been a source of comfort and hope when I get stuck in life’s difficult challenges. Remembering what God has accomplished for my life renews my commitment to hold on to my faith as a Christian.

Follow Me

I want to share what I am thankful for as I enter into 2019. Frist, sharing fills my soul with gratitude and shuts out the negative voices that say that my efforts are not working. My mindset has always focused on the future—on what I should be doing and what I am not doing. As a result, I missed a few opportunities along the way. Some might say I missed the mark and got stuck in “what I should have done.”

Being grateful for what has already occurred validates that I am on the right track. It redirects me to look at the present to see what is already there rather than looking back at what should have been. It reminds me not to be discouraged and to continue with what I am doing. Sharing my successes not only strengthens my faith, but it might also help others to self-reflect and fill themselves with gratitude for what God is doing in their lives.

Thankful for Blessings

As I look back, a lot of great things have happened that I should be thankful for. I will list a few and will also share some of my hopes and dreams for 2019. First, I thank God for giving up his only son so that I could be a part of his family. It is in his family that I can receive his love and grace. I am very privileged to be in a church family that loves me for who I am and encourages me to keep making Jesus the Lord of my life. I am thankful for their love, their physical care, their spiritual and emotional support over the years.

I am thankful for my children. Their love for others and willingness to help others fill my heart with joy. They are navigating their path to discover who they are and who they are meant to be. It takes maturity to have the insight in knowing your strengths and limits and confronting the barriers to self-discovery.  And that’s what they have been doing from an early age. I am very proud of who they are and who they will become. At times I feel guilty for pulling them into my world. I know I don’t have the power to protect them from the negativity I might encounter as a domestic violence advocate, but I am thankful for their support as I continue to walk this path.

I am Here

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” applies to my experience as a divorced and single mother taking care of three children. I am often asked, “How do you do it?” The answer is simple: I’m not doing it alone. Church family, in-laws, and biological relatives have all played a role. Today I want to thank the Bernards for standing in as my maternal family. (I am withholding first names to protect their privacy). To the Bernards, the Dennises, the Johnsons, and the Sirleafs, I thank God for giving you wisdom and compassion to provide, physical, emotional, and financial support for my family. As I reflect, you all have been a part of most of my adult life. I will always cherish the memories I make with you all as long as I live.

My Village

I am thankful for my book, A Path to Hope. To be honest, I have experienced a lot of discouragement due to difficulties in marketing the book. I didn’t write the book to make money, although an increase in sales would repay some of the hard work that was done to make the book a reality. At times I can get stuck in what should have happened with the book when I should be celebrating the little successes. For example, a few days ago I received an email from a reader who told me that my “blog and book was invaluable.” I was excited at first, but instead of rejoicing, my mind shifted to the “what should have been.” This 2019, I am going to embrace small successes like that because they help me break down the walls of negative thoughts that distract me from my goals.

rosesaad.com

I will strive to put into practice Zechariah 4:10 that states, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin” (New Living Translation). Yes, I will celebrate every little step because God rejoices when he sees that I am doing his work.

Embrace Small Steps

I am filled with gratitude for the Path to Hope first event in 2018, A Cry for Help. It was a very successful workshop!  As I have stated in previous posts, my mission is to increase awareness of domestic violence and its effects on families and to share information about resources that can be used to help victims. That was the goal of the workshop, and I am pleased to say that it was achieved! 

A Path to Hope

I will be organizing another workshop this year. This will be a small step towards my desire to create a non-profit to empower the lives of Christian women who have experienced domestic violence, through education, peer and spiritual support.

I am also excited to announce the first A Path to Hope support group will be launched in February! More information to come soon.

All these experiences reinforced that God is taking care of me and will continue to meet my needs. He will send the people and resources I need to keep doing his will. As I speak, he is actively sending emotional support as evidenced by new relationships on social media and though other contacts with people with the same passion and mission as mine. I am thankful for my new friendships.

This 2019, as I stated earlier, I am going to enjoy living in the moment, the now, and will celebrate every little success along the way as I walk the path that God has set for me. With a thankful heart, I can move mountains.  

What about you? What are you grateful for? You probably have your own list of what God has done and is doing to help build your faith. 

As Psalm 106:1 reminds us, “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

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January 13, 2019 0 comment
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I first heard about Dr. Tamara O’Neil’s brutal slaying from my daughter. She called to ask me if I was part of the conversation on Twitter. My response was, in effect (I didn’t verbalize my thoughts to her), “I don’t care.” But after a couple of minutes, my mind became flooded with emotions. These emotions were triggered by the fact that a lot of domestic violence cases are sensationalized on social media and in the news. When someone is killed by an abusive partner, that is when domestic violence is front-page news. After a couple of days, the topic is pushed back and forgotten. To prove my point, I am writing this blog a few weeks after O’Neil’s murder, and domestic violence is no longer a priority in the news.

This leads me to ask myself “Are most people really interested in bringing about change?” From my observation, some people use the dramatization of physical violence on the media to attract viewers to promote a particular political agenda, such as gun control. For example, the NewYork Times article about the death of Dr. O’Neil dealt mainly with gun control. She was mentioned only briefly.

I am not trying to dismiss the fact that, according to that article, women are five times more likely to be killed in a domestic violence relationship when guns are present.

Yes, I do agree we need gun control. It doesn’t make sense  to purchase guns whose primary purpose is to kill people and not animals. On the other hand, we need to remember that many abusers have killed their partners without the use of firearms. Therefore, not owning a gun will not stop abuse.

Discussing the issues around firearms is essential, but when someone is killed by their partner, domestic violence should be the primary focus. When the argument shifts to gun control or some other political interest, it diminishes the victim’s story.

For those social and commercial news media outlets who broadcast the story, listing links or numbers to call about domestic violence is not enough. I believe the media should have the responsibility of defining domestic violence and showing how it really looks like. Or they should interview experts who could inform the public about the dynamics of abuse. Don’t we as parents use a crisis to teach our children about the conflict at hand? For example, when our kids are bullied at school or experience racial inequality in our community, don’t we use those incidents to address what to do, or talkabout self-acceptance? That’s what I did.

I also believe that it’s crucial to consider the physical and psychological safety of the victims and their families and other survivors that are watching.

Take the case of Andrea Grinage. Her boyfriend poured a flammable liquid on her body and set her on fire, inflicting her with seventy-five percent burns. Andrea was seven months pregnant at the time of the incident. Months later wusa9 had a follow-up interview with her. What I found troubling about the interview, as in other cases like this, was its timing and lack of concern for the safety of the victim. Andrea was still in the process of physical healing. She was scheduled for more surgeries. Even though some of the operations were successful, she still faced a long and difficult path to full recovery. In my opinion, she needed more time to recover.

Second, during the time of her interview, her assailant’s trial was postponed due to pending DNA results. I am not a lawyer, but I cannot understand how a DNA test was going to change the fact that he set her on fire. The point here is that her safety was still at risk and she was being asked to share information that might compromise that safety. At one point during the interview, she was asked if her boyfriend had physically assaulted her before the incident. She refused to answer the question because his trial was still pending.

I understand Andrea wanted to share her story to help others, but the interviewer should have recognized that she needed time to heal. Telling her story in her present stage of recovery might not be helpful for many who are watching. For me, it created anger and a fear for her life. My anger was due to the insensitivity of the media for not allowing her the time she needed to process the impact of the violence as she sought physical and emotional healing.

When the media dramatize domestic violence to attract viewers, they are forsaking the opportunity to educate the public and inspire them to take action. For survivors who might be watching the dramatization of the assault, it might evoke fear, shame, and outrage. There are no real takeaways or answers that might help in understanding the impact of abuse on a person’s wellbeingand providing the resources to heal. However, it should be obvious that the sensational headlines are not helpful.

If the media are genuinely interested in bringing about change, then yes, domestic violence education is the first step. As they educate the public, they should also call upon the people to take action. Taking action against domestic violence is even more important as talking about it. Organizations that have the political and financial resources should support advocates who are diligently working to bring change. Organizations that are advocating to change the laws at the state and national level to protect the victims and hold perpetrators responsible should be given the resources they need to succeed.

Domestic violence awareness should not be a once-a-year topic or wait until someone dies. Every October the issue is addressed. The sad thing is that, even during that one month, the events that are organized by dedicated advocates are poorly attended. I can attest to that. I held a workshop that was specially geared towards educating the church about domestic violence. Thirty-five people attended that event. I have been to similar events hosted by local and state organizations that had even smaller numbers.

As we watch the stories of Dr. Tamara O’Neil and Andrea Grinage in the media, we can turn our outrage into resolve to bring about change. We can begin by educating ourselves about effective ways of helping victims. Check out my blogs A Call for Action and Who’s Going to Speak Up? and the links below to learn about the basic steps in helping survivors of domestic violence. 

https://www.thehotline.org/resources/victims-and-survivors/

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/12-things-everyone-help-victims-domestic-violence

https://www.thehotline.org/help/help-for-friends-and-family/

https://youtu.be/ElJxUVJ8blw
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December 18, 2018 2 comments
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My book, A Path to Hope: Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman, was published more than a year ago. I had anticipated a significant audience, speaking engagements, and collaborating with others who are working with victims of domestic violence. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be in a state where my purpose and mission was not defined, and experiencing difficulty navigating social media. I spent most of my time focusing on what others were doing and comparing their actions to what I was doing (or not doing). My hypercritical self-image led to feelings of disappointment and defeat.
I tell myself that I don’t want to be like everyone else, yet I am not sure of what my particular role is. I know what I don’t want to do. For example, I don’t want to spend all my time to have to advocate to change the laws for abuse victims. I would also prefer not to engage in intellectual or biblical debates about what the scriptures say about abuse. And yet I do want to be the abused woman’s voice, to be her advocate within and outside the church. The question is, How?
As I self-reflect, some questions demand answers. Questions like, “Why did you write a book?” “Why are you willing to share your heart with the public?” “Are you ready to risk your privacy and the privacy of your children?” These questions might seem simple at first, but the emotional strength that is required to answer them is overwhelming. To answer, I will have to expose a part of my inner being.
I believe that my answers should overcome the emotional risks and inspire me to stand firm even when life becomes overwhelming. The answer is that my core values, which include my beliefs and my desire to make a difference, should serve as a catalyst for my actions. I believe that every woman who is experiencing domestic violence has the moral and legal right to protect herself and her children against violence. I also believe that she has the God-given power to bring about change. Her power lies in her decision to break free.
I also believe that education is a powerful tool for change. For the woman of faith, education includes understanding the interpretations of her religious scriptures. Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and its physical and psychological impact was critical in helping me seek change. Studying the scriptures empowered me to change my perception of the abuse, which led to the conviction that God does not want me to be abused.
To return to the question, why did I write A Path to Hope? The answer is, I did it to educate female victims of violence and help lead them to God for emotional and spiritual healing. I also wanted to encourage them to have a voice within their faith communities.
Too often, women and girls who are experiencing violence do not have a voice. (I realize that men are also victimized, but my primary focus is on women.) Their voices are suppressed by the abusers and their communities, but when they learn about the dynamics of violence and tell others their stories, their voices will be heard. They will be catalysts for change. With united voices and God as the focus of their interactions, change is bound to happen. I wish to see this vision come to pass.
As part of making my vision a reality, I am going to write a series of blog posts called, “I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now.” They are based on my journey to find clarity and understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and how the scriptures helped me to break free. I am passionate about sharing my story because I want others to know that they, too, can break free.
Will you join me?
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
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September 8, 2017 3 comments
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