Somewhere between middle-age-white-men and #me too

There was a paradigm shift in our home this week, a choice we have never made before but may become the new norm because my husband is a middle-aged white man.

It started with a text from Tim letting me know he had been asked to coach the girls high school basketball team because they no longer had a coach. Usually, I just ask the details and then we have a quick conversation about how it will affect our lives. And then we say yes…always yes.
Small Christian schools often need their teachers to help with extracurricular activities and Tim has coached many times in the past including middle school girls’ volleyball with the help of a Mom to assist. I sent him a text back and told him this time I wanted to discuss it at home. What I really wanted was time to think about this decision.

We finally had a minute and instead of discussing it I just said “No, I don’t want you coaching girls of any age anymore, not because I don’t trust you because I do completely. I don’t trust the world we live in any longer. All it would take is for a girl who is not getting enough playing time or some other slight to make an accusation and our whole life could be turned upside down.” I started to defend my statement, but he just looked at me and said “That’s enough, Kim your no is enough for me. I have always trusted your instincts and made whatever adjustments you felt like I should and that has always served me well and that is enough.” My husband has taught, coached and pastored adolescent girls, counseled, pastored single adult women and pastored women of all ages in his ministerial career. The girls in our youth group used to say that when Tim hugged them “it was like hugging their Dad, not creepy like when some other older men hugged them.” Women in our churches have often told me they admired the way Tim conducts himself around them and how often he brings me into the room even when I cannot physically be there.

But I am in a season of life that I do not want to take any chances with this life we have built after the trauma of having our lives destroyed by people who lied about us and smeared our good name. We are both teaching, both on the preaching team at our church and we are beginning to have the time and resources to invest in our grandbabies. I am not willing to put any of that risk any more.

Now before you burn me at the stake and begin to say I am defending someone I shouldn’t, let me be clear I am not defending anyone but merely pondering all the aspects of what is happening in our culture in a very real and personal way.
Although I did not respond to the #metoo movement on social media or any media for that matter it wasn’t because I didn’t agree with or applaud it. Because I did and do. It felt in the beginning like it was a reckoning a much needed and timely reckoning. Organic, authentic and freeing for many women. Finally, consequence, meaningful consequence for those that so deserved it. The kind of real consequence that matters where the money hits the road. Even beloved icons were not safe, and even though I grieved that loss the evidence was too much to ignore.

I too have had my #metoo moments. There have been a handful in my life, but I will only share two because they serve the purpose of illustrating the thoughts I have been pondering.

The first happened when I was in High School and the details are kinda fuzzy regarding who was there and where we were exactly, but the event itself is crystal clear. We were playing hide-n-seek in couples. My partner was a cute boy and I thought it would be fun to hide with him somewhere in the dark. We found a cozy place in some bushes and I was sitting on the ground in front of him. We were talking, laughing and waiting to be found when all of the sudden I felt his arms come around me and he planted his hands right on my breasts!
Not just a touch but fully covering them with each hand. NO one in my life had ever touched me in that way or there, ever. I pushed him back with all my strength and he fell backwards and away from me. I stood up and asked him what he thought he was doing; his response was classic “I just thought I would give it a shot?!” Coy smile and all. I am pretty sure I kicked him, and I took off. I left and never saw him again. I don’t even remember his name, nor can I recall what he looks like but when my mind goes back to that moment I can literally still feel his hands on me. Violation does that it imprints itself on you.

Did I tell anyone? NO, I did not! Why? Because I knew the question that would follow, what were you doing hiding in the bushes with a boy anyway? Was I really wanting to play Hide-seek? No, I wanted to kiss a cute boy in the dark away from prying eyes, but I did not sign up for the violation that occurred. I had however willingly put myself in the moment, so I understand the confusion and embarrassment that comes from the thought of telling anyone about what happened and if the violation were worse the self-doubt and self-recrimination that could keep you silent until maybe in the right moment you would be willing to speak out.
This is the first time I have ever told (written) this story.

The 2nd #metoo moment in my life happened when I was 20 and working at Taco Bell during the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years at Bethany College. Because I was 20 I worked the night shift and there was a male assistant manager that had a little crush on me.
I was professionally pleasant, but I did not encourage him at all because he was a lot older, not a Christian and I had no interest. One night after weeks of working together when he walked past me on the way to his office he slapped me on the butt and let his hand linger while he did it. I immediately turned and told him that was not OK, and he better never touch me like that again and just who did he think he was? He apologized and walked into the office, a girl I went to High School with was working the same shift as me that night and observed what happened.
At the end of the week I came into get my schedule for the next work week and he was the only manager on duty, so he read me the schedule. The next day I was scheduled to work I arrived 2 hours late thinking I was on time. He had told me the wrong times on purpose. The female store manager could tell by my demeanor that I didn’t know I was late. She called me into her office and asked me if I was Ok? So, I told her everything that had happened and that the assistance manager had given me the hours and I showed her what I had written down. She listened and took in every word and asked some other relevant questions.
The girl I had worked with that night was also working that day and on her own told the store manager what she had witnessed. The assistant manager was fired immediately. The validation of being heard and believed is powerful and healing. If I had been working for a male store manager or didn’t have a witness, could my job have been in jeopardy?
A job I desperately needed because I was putting myself through college.

I understand not telling because you wonder if maybe you invited the violation, I understand not telling because you are afraid of the ramifications. I understand that the more horrific the violation, the bigger the fear of revelation and consequence can be.

I think that maybe like many people I have understanding and concern on both fronts. As someone who has experienced violation and as a woman married to an amazing middle-age-white-man and the mother of 2 sons who will someday be just that. I like many others ponder the validity of the timing of accusations and the paralyzing fear that can finally be unlocked in a moment of freedom and safety. I have no idea what the solution is, but I do know that we need to value authentic testimony and a woman’s personal truth, but we should also be thoroughly fair in our investigation of the accused.

Maybe reading The Crucible would be wise for us all, the lessons of an older man, John Procter taking an advantage and having an affair with a young impressionable girl, Abagail Williams and the witch hunt that follows is a tale for today. This story has connections to the actual Salem Witch trials where young girls lied about the conduct of people in the community and those people were convicted and lost their lives. The testimony of young girls that had to be believed because of their age and assumed innocence.

We need to proceed with caution and wisdom because victims need to be heard and respected. A victim has the right to vindication, justice and to be able to heal from the trauma they have experienced. We need #metoo to send a warning note to men that they do not get to violate a woman in any way they want and expect to avoid consequence.
Let the reckoning continue, we need it.

At the same time let’s not destroy a good man’s reputation simply based on his age, skin color and because he holds a place of authority or power. If a man’s conducted has been historically appropriate, can we not allow for some grace while he is being investigated. Can we withhold judgement in the court of public opinion until a definitive outcome is reached?

I have a grandson and a granddaughter, I want a calm, safe, rational world for both. I don’t want either of them violated because of someone’s selfish sick desires. And I would like to have a world where we can discuss these issues in a way that brings truth where it is needed and understanding where it is needed without sensationalism or brutalization.

These are the quiet thoughts I have been thinking about this week while trying to maneuver the world I live in…


For my grands…

The Garage

The Garage

It was early, and I was on my way to work when I noticed the neighbor down the streets open garage door, it was full from floor to ceiling and all the way across I felt overwhelmed and tired just looking at it and wondered who will eventually have to go through all of that someday. It reminded me of the row of boxes I wanted to clean out in my own garage and all the sorting that had gone on in the loss of my Mom and both of Tim’s parents. I thought about the choices we make as we age and who eventually will have to deal with results of those choices. I had cleaned through all the closets in my house during Christmas Break but now driving to work I couldn’t help but think through the losses we have faced and all there is to learn from it.

Tim’s parents waited so long to make the retirement decision that when the circumstances regarding their health forced the issue it created a lot of stress and pressure on Tim’s brother Rod mainly, but all the sons were affected. Tim spent a weekend helping to pack and load the truck (at the end of the school year) and Rod and Joshua had to unload it in Chico, set up the new apartment and just a few months later Rod had to pack that apartment up and put its contents in storage at the passing of their Father and take on the placement of their Mother in a care facility which required more moving and packing and then finally he needed to make funeral arrangements in a matter of weeks for their Mother who passed as is often the case when someone looses a life long spouse. 60 years in my In-laws case. My BIL looked so tired at the funeral like he was at the end of a very long race. He is a very gracious and kind person, so he would never complain but he had been through an emotional marathon.

I was grateful my Dad finally made the decision to retire to take care of my Mom and that they could stay in their home until my Mom’s death. I am grateful that my Dad has removed my Mom’s things as he was ready and let us know when he was ready for us to go through the items that we might want. It did not need to be done in a pressurized situation but could be fit into my sister’s and I busy lives. We got to sit in my sister’s home and go through all my Mom’s costume jewelry sharing the moment deciding who should get what and savoring the process. When he was ready for her vast collection of dishes to be dispersed that also was done as we could fit it in and not in the rush of having to move out of a place by a certain time. All of these things were swirling around in my head after I saw that garage full of stuff. I thought I do not want to leave piles of things for my kids to have to clean out while they might be sad because one of us had passed. You can’t avoid some sorting and cleaning out at the end of life, but you can make it easier. Tim and I live in a rental now but somewhere down the road we have another move to face and this last one almost killed us, so sorting and purging now seemed to make more sense.

Tim and I have the same spring break this year and we had already decided to go down and bust Olivia Jo out of day care for 3 days during the 2nd week so I knew we had the time we would need to clean out the garage during the first week. I broached the idea with Tim and told him I would make room in the budget for new tubs (the ones we had were disintegrating) and whatever else we would need to make the items that we use more accessible. Tim was not excited about the sorting, but he was excited about building a little storage area, so the tubs would not be stacked on top of each other. He is always happy to set up the saw, pull out the hammer and nails to do man things and sorry if that is offensively sexist but, in my home, we have boy things and girl things and we are ok with that.

Last Saturday I started with our kids stuff the scrap books and other keepsakes ruthlessly deciding what  should be kept and what really needed to go. It is the decision making that really tires you out, what to keep and what to remove.
I found my own process after awhile of sorting. And really your adult children do not want all the things you think they might especially if they are boys. I kept things that told our story but not every little piece. Things I could pull out to show the grand kids and things they might want to play with someday. We kept a box full of hot wheel cars for Judah and I kept a box of crazy 80’s bridesmaid dresses that Olivia can dress up in, so we can play Tea Party someday.

This process has stages both emotional and physical and you will face all of them. The joy of finding pictures you didn’t even know you had and it feels like a treasure to find them. The laughter at seeing items you cannot figure out why you ever bought in the first place and all the warm family memories when sifting through baby clothes, toys and anything connected to the life you’ve built. You also face the moments of feeling overwhelmed by it all, the job is too big and how can you make so many decisions about what to keep and what to throw away or donate. Most couples consist of a saver and throw-everything-out person so there will be battles to be fought (mostly through laughter and some humorous disparaging remarks) won or lost. And invariably the desire to just throw it all out and forget the whole idea! I had one last box to sort through and transfer to a new tub if I was going to continue my process but I was dangerously close to just throwing it out after already completing 15 tubs.

As I stood in the garage and looking at the final disintegrating tub, I could see it had some of my journals in it which I never keep and wondered why they were in a tub but there was also a type of keepsake box with a lid inside that tub and I thought “probably just more journals but maybe I better look anyway” so I carried into the living room. I perused through the journals to see if I could identify why I had kept them and could find nothing of significance. My prayer journals are deeply personal, raw and brutally honest I would never want anyone who knows me to read through them those are between me and God only. My Gratitude Journals those I will be leaving for my kids to read some day. I finally got to the keepsake box and opened it to find the first leather Bible my parents had given me, the very first NIV Bible I bought at Bethany College, I didn’t know there were other versions of the Bible until I stood in line at the bookstore and saw them all on the wall behind the counter. There were a few other meaningful items and then I saw it a little piece of white cloth and my heart jumped into my throat…could it be?
I pulled it out and there it was my grandmother’s handkerchief. The tears were immediate alongside unmeasurable joy.

I was very close to my Grandmother Garcia, she was my person when I was a little girl. My Mom gave me one of her handkerchiefs to carry on my wedding day, it was all white with some simple embroidery so elegant and fragile I loved it. I didn’t have my grandmother with me on my wedding day, but I carried her down the aisle with me carrying that beautiful hanky. Several years later I loaned it to Tina Cluck to carry on her wedding day as she became Tina Lowell. She had lost her Mother just a year or 2 before she married, and I wanted her to have a very special Something Borrowed to carry with her down the aisle to her  groom. Tina had been our student, our youth kid and was becoming a daughter to us and I just wanted to do anything I could to help on that day as she faced it having recently lost her Mom.

I am not sure any more the exact time frame but some time later our home was robbed and they took my jewelry box and all of its contents, most of it costume jewelry but it did include my original wedding ring which I was devastated to loose, but real panic set in when I thought I had lost forever my grandmother’s handkerchief but then I remembered Tina had it still. Sweeping relief! When she finally returned it and apologized for keeping it so long I told her I was glad she had it because I always kept it my jewelry box and it would have been lost to me forever. When I got it back I thought I had put in a drawer or somewhere like that for
safe keeping but when we were robbed about 10 years later in Phoenix and again my jewelry box and some other items in my bedroom were taken I was sure it was gone, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in my room. I had grieved and mourned the loss but now here it was! I realized that I must have take this keepsake box filled it with some very special treasures and put the hanky way at the bottom, so it could never be found apparently not even by me!

I washed it, let it dry and ironed it into a little square and put it away again some place safe. Maybe Olivia will carry it on her wedding day, passed from Josefa (Josephine) Garcia to Gloria Jean and then to Kimberly Jo and hopefully to Olivia Jo.
Pieces of each woman passed along to the next and along with it all the strength, feistiness and beauty the women in my family possess. What a gift to find this beautiful treasure hidden away in a box I almost threw away without sorting through it because I was no longer enamored with the process.
Hard things can be so wearying, but perseverance has its own reward.

It is easy to put off hard things for another day, easy to ignore the attention some difficult tasks require because it feels too hard or we are afraid of what we will find. It is easier to just stay stuck and overwhelmed rather than take that first scary step toward something better. But getting to something better always require looking at what is and determining what needs to be discarded and what needs to be embraced. Now every time I walk into the garage I feel Joy at how easy it is to access what we I need for a trip, what I need for an activity or if I just want to share something from the past with someone who is my future like Judah and Olivia.

Buster and Eddie Buster too…

I had my feet up on the dash and I was immersed in the current summer novel of choice and Tim was lost in his thoughts as he sometimes likes to be when he is driving, companionable silence in our little Honda Fit as we buzzed across highway 152 on our way to Morgan Hill. We were meeting my college roommate and her husband to see Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs in Saratoga at the Paul Masson Mountain Winery (amazing venue) when you are older trips back to your younger days with friends and music of those days is always a wonderful way to end the summer. My cell phone rang breaking the quiet and I looked down to see Mychal’s name on the screen and immediately answered the phone, “Hey bud, what’s up? My phone was connected to the Bluetooth so we could both hear him and he answered  “I have a fun story to tell you…” Continue reading

Where 2 or 3

You could feel in the room that this is a place where the presence of God is cultivated, the aged saints sitting at the end of the table are people who have walked deep paths of faith and served long in the work of the Lord, Lay people who have helped in every arena of the church, who upheld the arms of those serving in the pastoral office and have lived a life of prayer. Continue reading