3 Pivotal Words (Guest Post)

3 Pivotal Words

I’m so excited to introduce you to my dear friend, Kendall Wolz. I first became aware of Kendall and her blog “Brave Girl, Speak” last year while preparing for the annual fundraising gala for Triad Ladder of Hope where she was the featured guest speaker. I’ve invited Kendall to share her most recent blog post here in an effort to equip you to help—not hurt—any child who reaches out to you with a disclosure of abuse. 

3 Pivotal Words. Could You Say Them?

Guest Post by Blogger Kendall Wolz

We can all say three words, right? Seems pretty simple. What if I tell you these three words could be the most arduous words you may need to say? What if I say these three words could mean the difference between hope and despair, security and endangerment, and possibly even life and death? Could you still say them even if they may wreak havoc on life as you know it?

When the pain and distress of facing my abuser each day at home outweighed my fear of his threats, I made my first disclosure of the abuse. I wonder how often this is true. When the pain is so great and the threats no longer seem to be the worst thing that can happen, how often is that the point that disclosures occur? It makes sense. I can remember thinking that if my abuser killed me (as his threat implied) at least I would be free. It felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose when I wrote that letter in the fifth grade.

I remember that day (although I don’t know the date) as clear as yesterday. My abuser and I had been in an argument over something likely trivial, but it was the breaking point. It just could not get any worse in my child mind. I went to my room and scribbled a letter that began with an apology before detailing incidents of abuse. I delivered the letter to an adult in my life. In that moment, it felt like I was putting my life in someone else’s hands.

Could you say 3 words

Unfortunately, for the person who received the letter, it was just too hard to believe that someone like my abuser could actually be an abuser, and the things I wrote simply could not be true. Therefore, no action was taken to end the abuse. My abuser later learned of my disclosure. Instead of hurting or killing me or my loved ones, my abuser learned that he had total control of me. Because now, I had said something, but no one believed me (abusers often warn that this will happen).

In that moment following my disclosure, the only three words I needed to hear were, “I believe you.”

I. Believe. You.

So, here’s what happens when the words “I believe you” do not follow a disclosure. I learned my abuser was right… in so many ways. I learned the abusive acts were not bad or wrong, they must be normal because no one said otherwise. I learned my abuser was right, no one would believe me. I learned my abuser was right, this is what I was made for and what I was supposed to do.

I don’t write this post to blame or bash people who don’t or haven’t immediately acted on an abuse disclosure. I have forgiven the person who received my first letter and have a relationship with that person to this day.

I write this post to challenge you to commit to the response a child needs even when those three words take every ounce of strength in you to voice.

Take this journey with me. It is not going to be easy. It will be uncomfortable. It may be the most difficult thing you do today.

Imagine receiving a letter from a child that your best friend or your sibling or husband or child’s coach or pastor has been abusing said child. Take a moment and imagine that that.

I know it’s incredibly hard. It is not something anyone wants to imagine. It is something we usually believe will never happen or could not happen.

Then decide, in that moment, what words, if any, are going to flow from your mouth.

Will you question the child’s truthfulness? Will you say, “No way, he/she could never do such as thing.” Will you push the letter away and say tell someone else? Will you say, “If this is true, then…” Will you begin digging into the who, what, when, where, how, and why?

I have made a commitment to myself (and I hope you will too), that if I ever encounter such a situation, the three words from my mouth will be “I believe you.”

It is my belief that if a child has trusted me enough and/or has reached a place of seeing no other way out it is my responsibility to believe them in that moment. I know a lot can happen in the days, weeks, months, and years after disclosure, but in that moment, I am going to fight for that child with every ounce of my being.

Kendall WolzKendall Wolz is the Assistant Director at Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, LA. Having earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of New Orleans, she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Kendall is passionate about helping women and children impacted by human trafficking and childhood sexual abuse. Kendall has chosen to redeem her own history of being sexually abused by helping others to be brave as well.  The impact of her experiences continues to embolden and protect others through her work and her new blog “Brave Girl, Speak” (www.notjustalist.wordpress.com).

Real Men Report Sex Trafficking

Real Men Report Sex Trafficking

I honestly do not get it: WHY does it seem as though some people CANNOT control themselves sexually? WHY do many of them purchase sex?

When I lived in Nevada (where prostitution is legal), I learned a lot about “brothels.” In Nevada, some women choose to go into prostitution because they can earn money doing it. For the most part, women employed at the brothels are paid, frequently tested for STDs, and some of their “bosses” make sure they have access to medical care, food, and shelter. It’s not a life I would choose, but it is legal.

Sex trafficking, however, is NOT legal. Although you may find sex trafficking victims in well-run legal brothels in Nevada, you’re more likely to see them victims at cheap hotels all over the United States where prostitution is illegal and generally frowned upon.

If you suspect sex trafficking, report it!
Call the National Trafficking Hotline 24/7/365:
Callers are anonymous. 

Many trafficking victims are being sold for sex—often MULTIPLE times a night—on the dark web. This goes on 24/7/365.

If you’re purchasing sex, have you ever considered that you might be #3 that night? Or #5? Or #20 that week? Doesn’t that concern you? How do you know the person whom you touch is not going to infect you with an STD or worse? Are you really that desperate for sex? Really? You can’t control the urge? Really? You have a spouse and children at home, but you’re paying someone else for sex? What if the girl you’re with were your own daughter being forced to have sex with someone else’s daddy? What if the little boy was your own son being forced to do the unthinkable with some stranger? Over and over again?

Or maybe they’re addicted to drugs! What fun is that? Having sex with someone who is drugged or numb to the experience? Putting your own health at risk for a lethal combo of STDs? WHY would someone pay to do this? Is his or her self-esteem that low that they can’t find love? A healthy relationship? Are they so horny they just can’t control themselves? Hedonism as a way of life is ultimately DESTRUCTIVE!

The real question I have is this: WHY would you want to have sex with a victim of human trafficking? With someone’s daughter or son who is being held against her or his will, FORCED to be with you. How is that even remotely pleasurable? Look within. What is it that makes you think you need to force yourself on someone who is unwilling? If you’re addicted to sex, you can get help by calling the Sex Addicts Anonymous at 1-800-477-8191. You can visit their website here: https://saa-recovery.org. Getting help for sexual addiction doesn’t mean you’ll never have sex again. What it does mean is that you’ll get back to a healthy lifestyle with freedom from addiction.

Remember, if you suspect sex trafficking, report it by calling the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Callers remain anonymous. 

PSA about Sex Trafficking of Minors

Human Trafficking Awareness

In case you were wondering:

  • It is NOT okay to obtain sex with a minor;
  • It is NOT okay to watch a video featuring someone else having sex with a minor;.

Sexually exploited youth are VICTIMS of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.

It is illegal both to offer and to obtain a child, and cause that child to engage in any kind of sexual activity in exchange for anything of value, whether it be money, goods, personal benefit, in-kind favors, or some other kind of benefit.” Citizen’s Guide to the U.S. Law on the Prostitution of Children

If you respond to an online ad with the intention of obtaining sex, and you have a gut-check that the person is a minor, you need to know:

  • According to U.S. Law, the minor IS BEING TRAFFICKED;
  • If you have sex with the minor, even though you paid for it, you are committing a FEDERAL CRIME;
  • The MINIMUM sentence for obtaining sex with a minor is 10 years in prison (15 years if they were under the age of 14);
  • For more info: Citizen’s Guide to the U.S. Law on the Prostitution of Children

Rather than go through with your plans, do this instead:

  1. Call the National Human Trafficking hotline number and let them know what just happened. You can remain anonymous. Call Now: 1-888-373-7888 
  2. Then, would you consider reading through this article about sexual desperation. You are not alone in your fight.

Did you know?
When you watch pornography featuring sex with a minor, that child was sexually exploited for your entertainment. Whoever made the film has committed a FEDERAL CRIME. Do you really want to be a part of exploitation of children? Children cannot consent to sexual activities. They are too young. It’s a crime, and it’s not okay to watch.

The best way to fight sex trafficking is to stop the demand. You can help.

#raisingawareness #humantrafficking #stopthedemand

Think Tank Needed to Strategize a Solution

We need a new solution. Race relations.

A black man with a gun died yesterday in Charlotte because another black man with a gun shot him. This is an emotionally-charged topic for which there is no easy solution, but I cannot remain silent. The more I process these issues, the more I am learning about myself and my core beliefs. Here’s one of them: It’s okay not to be perfect. We all make mistakes and stupid decisions from time to time. Some people make a lot more mistakes than others. Some learn. Some never do.

The question is this: Who or what circumstance determines that one’s mistake is his (or her) last? What gives one human the right to make that determination for another human? And, to quote my late friend Keith Chesterman, “Where do you draw the line?”

I really struggle with this, because I believe God can take the most messed-up life and flip it to something extraordinary. I’ve seen it—for real! I’ve seen drug sellers and addicts transform into law-abiding citizens who are making a positive difference in the world, who love their families, who have completely turned their lives around. In fact, one of them was my Sunday School teacher when I was a teenager. I knew him when he was coming out of the drug scene, and I watched God completely transform his life, his marriage, and the lives of his family. I know it can happen, and I hate to see someone robbed of that opportunity.

I wrote the following blog post last night while I was watching rioting live-streaming from Charlotte on Twitter. (The post has since been updated.)

I had a WONDERFUL group of amazing and hard-working women over to my house tonight (September 20, 2016). Moms with children of all ages who have taken the road less-traveled to home educate at least one of them. I’m so blessed to know them, to learn from them, and to be able to encourage them now that I’m in my eighth year of this journey.

Sadly, while we were busy swapping homeschooling stories, another AFRICAN-AMERICAN CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES was shot and killed by police in #Charlotte. What the heck is going on?! This is ridiculous! We have a JUSTICE SYSTEM for a reason! According to the Charlotte Observer:

Police said they approached the man [Keith Lamont Scott] after he got back into the vehicle. The man got out again armed with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in a statement. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”

Scott was not the person officers were searching for to arrest on the outstanding warrants, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told reporters at the scene.

This man, now D.E.A.D., was NOT even the man they were looking for! And apparently, there are questions being raised about whether or not he was armed in the first place.

Police said they recovered the firearm Scott was holding when police shot him shortly before 4 p.m. Police were also interviewing witnesses. [HOWEVER,] a woman who said she is Scott’s daughter claimed that the man was unarmed when he was shot. (Charlotte Observer)

While I join the rest of the world waiting for official details and body camera video—and I hope they release it soon—I wonder how I would have felt as a black man being approached by police today: the day after Terence Crutcher was shot and killed in Tulsa with his hands in the air near his broken down vehicle.

News Update September 21, 2016:
Police are confirming that Keith Thomas Scott was in possession of a firearm, and he did not comply with repeated requests to drop the gun.

Here is a link to the brief with Charlotte’s Chief of Police: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/charlotte-police-claim-keith-lamont-scott-had-handgun-prior-to-fatal-shooting-770135619660

Here is a link to the timeline of how events unfolded on social media and in real life:

Blog Update September 21, 2016:
Again. We wait for further details regarding the Keith Lamont Scott story, but my conviction remains: LEOs should not shoot-to-kill.

“We need to create a ‘Think Tank’ to strategize new solutions and a new protocol for the innocent.”

I UNDERSTAND that police have a really tough job, and I SUPPORT and RESPECT law enforcement. I’m GRATEFUL for protection. BUT, I do NOT support the shoot-to-kill response.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND how a suspected TERRORIST who KILLED people —and was trying to kill more—was taken ALIVE while these other men were shot dead for reasons TBD…like, really. I don’t get it. Is it just a difference in officer training? How are some restrained and others seemingly not?

I have almost been shamed into silence by my law enforcement friends. These are men I know in real life whom I love and respect. But when I posted on Facebook about the shooting of Philando Castile, my timeline exploded with debate, and at one point, I was told that rather than speak out against this type of violence—and it is violence—I should keep my uninformed opinion to myself and instead do a ride-along with a police officer just so I could personally experience what they go through on a nightly basis. I guess the idea is that I would be transformed by this experience and conclude that since they have a tough job, I should trust them implicitly. That will never happen, because it’s not who I am. I’m an INTJ Rational, and I don’t categorically endorse anything or anyone. Ever.

Aside: As an INTJ, it’s in my nature to be skeptical of authority figures—especially authority figures who expect to be treated a certain way just because of their position (even though they may have worked very hard to achieve that position). According to 16personalities.com, “Authority figures do not impress INTJs, nor do social conventions or tradition, and no matter how popular something is, if they have a better idea, INTJs will stand against anyone they have to in a bid to have it changed. Either an idea is the most rational or it’s wrong, and INTJs will apply this to their arguments as well as their own behavior, staying calm and detached from these sometimes emotionally charged conflicts.” And, yes, I realize that is as much a weakness as it is a strength.

The fact is: I am not a child. I’m a grown-up 48 year old woman, and a ride-along is not going to change my conviction that police should not be shooting-to-kill suspects. We have a justice system for a reason. Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful for the men and women who have taken an oath to protect us. I really am. I know they face a lot of CRAZY out there in the real world…in the ‘bad’ neighborhoods…but they are not immune to FEAR. Especially in dangerous, or perceived-dangerous, situations. And acting out of FEAR, while life-preserving for one could be life-ending for another.

Is there a solution? There has to be.

I would like to see a think-tank made up of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities work together and strategize a solution to this madness. I’d like to see them/us come up with a protocol for how to handle these unpredictable and quickly-escalated situations—one that yields an arrest (or not) without resulting in the permanent, physical, and irreversible death of the suspect.

OR …

If there is already a protocol in place, then re-educate the public.

“We need to create a ‘Think Tank’ to strategize new solutions and a new protocol for the innocent.”

My question is this: How should I respond when an officer starts out by treating me as a threat and assuming I’m a criminal when I know have done nothing wrong? But I also know that if I don’t comply, I could be injured. But if I do comply without speaking, am I agreeing with the false accusation? Am I allowed to question what is happening without being perceived as defiant? Do I comply with no opportunity to question the situation and/or defend myself? What about my personal integrity and sense of injustice that is rising up in my core? The desire to assert my innocence? What would be an acceptable way for me to present myself in such a way that the officer would give me the benefit of the doubt and lower his or her weapon versus assuming the absolute worst possibly resulting in my death? These are the questions we need to be addressing. 

UPDATE: September 21, 2016
As facts about the Keith Lamont Scott case come to light, each side is seeking evidence to support their views. What happens if we learn that Scott was breaking the law by possessing a gun in the first place? What happens if we learn that he was waving it in the air? What happens if we learn that he was in cahoots with the guy they were looking for? Would any of those facts change my opinion that he should not have been killed? No.

I believe in a system of justice for citizens of the United States that involves arresting suspected criminals and bringing them to court for a hearing followed by a jury trial, if necessary. Taking a man’s life because he refuses to comply with orders is wrong. Shoot to injure. Shoot to maim. Do not shoot to kill for non-compliance, a bad attitude, or even a verbal threat.

I’m wearing all black all day on Friday because the only way we’re ever going to find a solution to this problem is to work together. #weneedasolution

National Blackout

I wish we had eyes to see the way God sees:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Come, Lord Jesus! #Maranatha #BlackLivesMatter *

*Use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag does not indicate support of the Black Lives Matter organization.

“Make Peace with the Negatives!”

This blog post will explain how I finally made peace with the negatives in my life, and how you can, too!

Recently, I’ve  had the amazing opportunity to get a “behind the scenes” look at a book launch. As part of the process, I was invited to join a summer book club in which we read and discuss the truths in Rachael Carman’s new book How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? 

(Download a free sample chapter here: http://bit.ly/25hAHh0).

The goal of the book is to help increase our sensitivity to and awareness of God’s voice in our lives. How? By listening to the words coming out of our own mouths towards our own children, and then reflecting on them to see if maybe God is speaking to us, too.

In the introduction to her book, Rachael issues a dare:

“List the top ten things you hear yourself say most often to your kids. Then ask your kids to list the top ten things they hear you say most frequently. The resulting lists will give you a starting place to explore the things God wants you to hear.”

Sounds easy enough, right? So, I took the dare. First, I made my list, and then I cajoled my son (age 13-1/2) make his. My list included statements like, “I love you,” “Time to get off the technology,” and “Don’t forget your nightly routine” (that one is VERY important with an adolescent, #justsayin). My son’s list included things like, “Good morning,” “Good night,” and “Take out the trash.” What can I say? He’s normal! And while I’m sure God will speak to me through these statements as time goes on, there was one statement on both of our lists which has RESONATED with my soul:

“Make peace with the negatives!”
Negatives...negatives everywhere!You might be wondering if I’ve lost my mind. “Why would you say such a thing to your child?” I have two words: Saxon Math. Algebra 2, to be exact. My son is a couple years ahead in math, and for the most part, he does really well in this, his favorite subject. He just has one nemesis: negatives—not the numbers, just the symbol in front of negative numbers. You know: the dash! This thing:  ” 
It’s nothing personal; he just tends to ignore them…and that tends to cause problems when correcting homework due to, well, wrong answers! We figured out the “negative nemesis” last year when, after culling through a few assignments, we recognized a pattern: each of the incorrect answers involved a negative symbol that was ignored. He says, “Mom, you’ve always told me to be positive!” Um, no. This is not my fault! Good try.
Make peace with the negatives!
Since discovering this negative-aversion issue, my son pays closer attention (most of the time) to those little buggers, and he solves the problems correctly. HOWEVER, in times of stress when he’s attempting to rush the process, my son will inevitably fall back into the habit of disregarding the negative symbols. Later, when we’re in the middle of correcting his homework, he realizes his oversight and frustratedly blurts, “I hate negatives!” And my mama-teacher response? “I know you do, but Son, you need to make peace with the negatives!” I flash him a peace sign, and we laugh (well, I laugh, anyway—trying to lighten the mood). He reworks the problem, this time “accepting” the negatives, and voila! The correct answer is found.
“Make peace with the negatives!”
You might be wondering how God could possibly use something like math homework to speak to my heart and teach me a very-necessary and RELEVANT (perfect timing, btw) truth. Well, He’s God. He knows what my struggles are, and it’s the negatives. Let me clarify: I don’t struggle with the negative symbol, I struggle with negative people. Not just any negative people, mind you. No. My struggle is with a small handful of women who, despite their love of God, hold a negative influence in my life. “Christian women? Negative influences? Say it isn’t so!” I wish I could! But, I can’t. In my life, there is a small group of women—none of them know each other—who drain me. Their comments to my face and behind my back don’t add to me, they take away. They take away my confidence. They take away my sense of calling. They take away my enthusiasm. They take away my sense of purpose. I’d be lying if I said their comments didn’t affect me negatively. The truth is, when I’m around them whether physically or digitally, I am minimized, marginalized, and made to feel “not good enough.” Sadly, when this happens, I walk away doubting myself, doubting my calling, and wondering if God will ever be able to use someone like me for His glory. I feel smaller than I did before the encounter, and therefore, I do believe that I have a problem with negatives


And now, for the life lesson I believe God is teaching me through this experience of listening for HIS voice: I need to make peace with the negatives. As I explained to my son, “The negatives are not going anywhere. You’re going to keep having them in every math lesson, so you just need to make peace with them. They don’t hate you! They’re just there.” Wow. When I remembered that conversation, I had to take pause. To listen. And this is what I heard: 

The negatives are not going anywhere. They’re going to be around the rest of your life. They don’t hate you, but they will drag you down if you allow them to. Why not make peace with the negatives? By “make peace,” I mean you should rest in the knowledge that negative people are a part of life. You will never please everyone, nor should you try. Expect that certain Christian women will have vocal opinions—some positive, some negative—about what you do, how you do it, and even what you’re wearing while you’re doing it. Expect that some women (and men) will be threatened by you (your calling, your self-confidence, your abilities), and they are reacting out of their own insecurities. Make peace with these negatives, and then fix your eyes towards me, the Giver and Perfecter of your faith. 

As Paul wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

So, yeah, I guess I need to “make peace with the negatives!” I get it. I really do. And, it’s exciting! God’s still working on me. He’s shown me a bigger picture: God has shown me that focusing on the negatives actually robs me of the joy of the MANY positives He’s sent me: supportive family members, authentic friends, a loving church, and fantastic cyber-peeps (not to mention His continual presence in my life). He’s shown me that the “negatives” are far, far outweighed by the positives. There’s seriously NO COMPARISON! God has shown me that when my focus is on Him, I will have peace, in spite of the negatives. He is the source of my peace, and I no longer need to concern myself with trying to win over the nay-sayers. I need to do what He’s called me to do and stop living in fear of the negatives.

“Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27
How Many Times by Rachael Carman

Click here to order your copy of “How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?