Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dad's big move - for the winter? for a while? for the best.

My dad just moved to an assisted living apartment.  I feel all alone, again, with Dad not being at his house right next door.  He's lived there since 1996, when Ray bought the house for Mom and Dad to live in.  Mom had Parkinson's and her home was getting to be too much for her.  When it came up for sale, Ray was the first, and without any hesitation, to say, "Would your folks like to live in that house?" and then, "We could buy it for them."  I remember that both Mom and Dad cried when we talked to them about it, and within about a month they had moved in.

After that time, Mom was only around for 5 short years, and I miss her.  Dad and I got more acquainted than we'd ever been.  He has helped me in so many ways - whether it was mowing grass, building a giant leaf-collector, or helping bury my pets.  We've talked about politics (even when we disagree), finances (all about municipal bonds), and after I finally told him why Ray left, he drew the conclusion that "gay people must be born that way."  His understanding, although it went against all he'd known previously, was HUGE.  It has helped me to know he was trying to understand both me and Ray.  The talks we've had have made it possible that I'm closer to Dad than I ever was as a kid.

While Dad used to fix almost anything in his garage, he now has an electric scooter to get around, and walking over to my house for dinner is out of the question. At age 90, Dad is basically healthy, and he used to stand nearly six feet tall - even was imposing to some - he's now at least six inches shorter.  Macular degeneration has claimed one eye, and damaged the other.  He can no longer get around his home without a walker or cane, and preventing falls is continually a concern.  He has fallen, and twice he's been alone for hours before he could call someone for help. 

My house is pretty big just for one person.  Maybe not laid out too well, because there is no bedroom on the main floor, and I have two steps up to the kitchen, down to the living room, and a whole, long flight of stairs up to other bedrooms or to the basement.  It was never a serious solution to have him live in my house, but it did cross my mind.  Altogether, and for many reasons, my dad gave up his driving last summer, reluctantly abandoned plans to winter in Texas, and investigated "a respite" (for 3 months) in the assisted living apartment complex.  Whether it will be permanent depends on how Dad gets along, and I hope he's happy at the new place.

Yesterday was the big move, and my brother, Lee, had orchestrated most of the move.  He did such a good job of getting Dad's paperwork done, getting the required tests accomplished, arranging to have a truck, and organizing what Dad needed to take.

My other brother, Kenny, sister, Nancy, and I were all around to pitch in, plus we hired young people to haul the furniture to a truck. At one point I heard Dad say, "There were enough people helping me that they could have just carried everything here."   By evening - with a few more trips back and forth from house to apartment - Dad was set up.  His bedroom looks amazingly like his bedroom from home, the cable TV is working, and neighbors have stopped to make friends. I hope he likes it, I hope he makes friends, and he mentioned, "I might find a girlfriend." 

All this goes on, and I woke up today with a big ache, and all the while I was ignoring the fact that I can go and come as I please - ignoring the fact that I can see Dad whenever I stop by his place - ignoring the reality that my kids are all nearby - ignoring the fact that I've got health and strength on my side - and really, ignoring the fact that this is a good move for Dad.

I just missed having Dad right next door.  I felt so alone, and I miss him.  The emptiness of not having my dad for my neighbor just makes me hurt and cry like a wound has been scraped open.  I sure hope Dad isn't feeling alone, dumped or abandoned.  I know it is a safe place for him, but I'm aching the loss.  I don't want him to fail.  I don't want Dad to be old.

Winter 2011 - some of the family joined Dad for a visit on So. Padre Island. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Teen Mania revisited - a mom's account.

Last week MSNBC ran a piece on Teen Mania, and it showed a part that isn't too pretty.  They highlighted an event that goes on at Teen Mania, called ESOAL, and MSNBC edited vivid images together for sensationalism.  To get over the harm caused by Teen Mania, a blog was started by "Recovering Alumni.",  and the girl who started the blog was featured on the MSNBC program, as she and others spent a weekend "deprogramming" with cult experts.  It really isn't necessary to sensationalize any part of Teen Mania, because there's been enough planting of harmful seeds into lots of kids, that finally they are getting a decent harvest - except that it's rotten fruit.  As much as Teen Mania's leaders (Dave Hasz and Ron Luce, et. al.) don't want to admit it, their program needs a big makeover.

Because I'm a parent of an Honor Academy (Teen Mania Internship) graduate, and because my four kids went on about 12 summer trips, and because I volunteered with Teen Mania in Miami and Garden Valley, and because I sponsored ministry teams who put on Acquire the Fire events, I feel I have the experience necessary to comment.  Because I've raised money for Teen Mania, in the past I've encouraged and supported the Teen Mania "machine," as well as having been part of many "behind the scenes" venues and I've had Ron Luce in my home, I am familiar with the organization and have credibility for what I've witnessed.  I feel I can surely speak out. 

Granted my kids loved their exciting trips, loved the friends they made, loved being part of what they considered God's work.  However, they were exposed to legalistic thought, elitist attitudes in regards to other Christian groups (much less non-Christians), and they experienced judgmental attitudes toward anyone who didn't agree with all they thought should be adhered to in order to be Christian. 

In addition, dangerous things happened while on the trips or when my son attended the Honor Academy, some of which I will list here: 

In the summer of 1997, my son had appendicitis in India and had surgery there.  He contracted MRSA, and nearly died.  He was 17.  While he was recovering from the surgery, still in India, I was told he was "fine," by his team leaders.  I was told by leaders in Garden Valley that all was well - not to worry.  This was not true, and when my son arrived back to Dallas, he was still so sick that he was in the hospital there for another two weeks. 

When at the Honor Academy ('98-'99), he got sick with asthma, bronchitis, and ear infections - all at the same time.  His fever was over 102*, but he had no medical care available on site, nor was there provision for him to get to a doctor.  He was still expected to be at work for his entire shift, as being sick was being weak.

On overseas trips, my kids were not fed adequately, and my daughter's hair fell out because of protein deficiency.  It has never come back.  (I have talked personally with the local contact who was to set up the food for the group.  TM canceled plans for good food to be provided.  This not only hurt the kids on the team, but the locals that had planned to have work through this, were left high and dry.  They said they never wanted to work with Teen Mania again.)

My daughter was left alone on the way to her team's "home" on the first hike there.  Details are too long to list, but it was definitely the opposite of the "we never leave your child on their own" claim of Teen Mania.

While interning for Teen Mania, my son worked in the call center by day, and as summer trips approached and housing was needed for the "missionaries," he was required to pour cement until after dark.  The work went on 7 days a week to get it completed.  

There are numerous details concerning how he went to his supervisors to appeal decisions that affected him.  It cannot be shown that going to his supervisors was ever a help, and it was very much a discouragement to him.  He tells his story here, here, and here

My daughter, Liz, wrote an entire Masters thesis on how her Teen Mania experience has affected her faith.  She blogs about it from time to time, and here is an entry on her changes.

The accounts I'm hearing nowadays are not surprising.  Those who once were kids are coming forward to reflect on experiences that are being discounted by both Dave and Ron.  These stories are NOT disregardable, which is how they (Ron/Dave) and the Board of Directors have responded.  

No, Teen Mania isn't all bad.  But it is not a place I recommend for impressionable youth.  It's not a place I recommend for any youth or adult.  My opinion:  Don't send your kids, and don't pay to fund this organization.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a pretty good thing has happened...

I'm amazed at how some changes have come about, and I like these things:  Both my son, Phil, and my daughter, Liz, have accepted positions to teach college courses.  And get this:  BOTH of my kids are moving locally!  BOTH of my kids are bringing grandchildren to live NEARBY!  wow. 

When my son, Phil, was pretty young, he couldn't wait to leave home to be a teen missionary.  We made him wait until he was 14 - and he got to travel every summer away from home.  For college he moved, and even though I saw him often, he never lived "at home," after high school.  When he finished college, he went to a city about 2 1/2 hours away to work, be near friends, and where he eventually found a wonderful wife.  Who would have guessed he would take a position at my own alma mater, BSU?  That's pretty amazing!

In Phil's pursuit of a job for his wife, he came across a teaching job in the smaller, next-door-neighbor city of Anderson.  My daughter, Liz, just completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Hampshire.  She had a baby, "Chuck," while she and husband, Ben, lived out there, and they told me that "someday, before Chuck goes to school," they wanted to move back to the midwest.  Because of the opening that Phil discovered,  Liz applied, interviewed, and got THAT job. 

That move bumped Phil up a notch on the mythical "favorite child list," and he's now riding his normal wave of familial popularity (because we all love Phil!).  Within three weeks, Liz heard of the position, procured it, has moved back to Indiana, and although her husband has to stay back in NH for a while, she is living in my basement with toddler "Chuck."  She has again become a Hoosier and is writing (like she always does) about all the adventures of her life "back home."

I recognize that these big changes are HUGE in the lives of my kids.  Neither family is able to make the move all together yet, with selling of houses, jobs, and insurance demands on the "take care of this first" list.  Being temporarily separated, leaving friends, churches, and replacing homes are things to tackle as they can, but I'm one happy mama!  Having ALL five grandkids growing up in the same county - that's so cool!  I've even brought up the fact that with all of my grown children gainfully employed, I have less of a chance to be put out on the street (any time soon).  I just think it's great.  Very, very great. 

Welcome home, Boltzes. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Phillip Hinkle, Wayne Co., IN representative

Representative Phillip Hinkle from Wayne County, Indiana, has just been "outed" in the Indianapolis Star, when he contacted a young man for sex. 

The article carries communication reports that involve Hinkle's wife, and I'm so sad for her.  If she is finding this information for the first time, it will be devastating to her life, her family, and her emotions.  I'm so sorry for her.

When will people live truthfully?  Why do gay men continue to hurt their wives in this way?  And for Hinkle to contact and pay for sex?...Well, there is no excuse for a married man to behave like this.  And to make it all worse, this state representative has voted to deny rights of marriage for gay people, while he secretly took advantage of HIS needs.

I don't want to hear that this guy is straight and has "strayed."  No, he's gay, he's married to a woman, he's voted against glbt people's rights, and he's hurt everyone involved.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011


All my life, my dad has been a strong man.  His career as a city fireman took him away from home for 24-hour shifts, and he worked long hours with his business as a heavy equipment operator.  Our home required the normal upkeep, plus we had a barn with horses, some beef cows (sometimes), and a big yard and a summer garden.  Granted, Dad always made sure that my brothers and I helped (mostly the brothers) outside, and Mom and my sister and I helped with "inside work" and summer canning.  (More stories later on how much we hated it then but wish we could do it all again with Mom.)  Always on his mind was that he had all of us, plus my two half-sisters, who depended on him.

Now Dad, who ran a strict household (understatement), is 90 years old.  He's a good dad, like always.  His time and his life was for work, but that work meant that we were cared for.  Mom was always the affectionate one, the sympathetic ear when we needed it.  But Dad made sure we all knew how to work, support ourselves, and live right in the real world.  His caring was shown in ways that meant discipline, rules, and responsibility. 

In 1996, my parents were getting ready to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  I was planning a celebration that spring at their church, and the house next door came up for sale.  Mom, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, was lonely and the 5-bedroom house was becoming more and more difficult for her to maintain.  When Ray came home from a weekend of concerts, heard from me that the house next door was for sale, he immediately said, "Would your parents consider living there?"   

We didn't even stop on the way from the airport, but went to Mom and Dad's big brick house to ask them!  Mom immediately said an enthusiastic "YES!", and Dad's eyes teared up with relief.  Within two months, we had purchased the house, Dad orchestrated the move, and Mom and Dad moved in next door.

Over the years I've been privileged to have my parents close to me.  Mom passed away almost 10 years ago today.  Dad and I have sat together so many times since then, and I've gotten to know my dad better than I ever would have in any other setting.  The things Dad has helped me with is HUGE, and too numerous to list.  We've discussed finances, religion, politics, and family, and many times we don't share the same views.  But sitting with my dad is a gift.

In January of this year, Dad turned 90 years old.  He's spent the winters since the '80s in Texas, and I'm still having a hard time convincing him that he has to change that tradition.  You see, Dad has to use a walker now, and he's been approved for a scooter by the Veterans, to replace the one that my brother, Lee, bought him a few years back.  Dad has a beautiful, shiny GMC truck, as well as a 1992 Lincoln, but he's decided to put up his keys and use the Lifestream bus to get himself to and from the senior citizen lunches each day.  He still cooks for himself, most of the time, but I share when I cook something.  Dad looks forward to the neighbor who brings in his newspaper and mail, and he's disappointed if the neighbor goes away for a trip and the paper has to wait until I come home from work.  It's all different than when I was a kid...and now I look out for Dad.

Today Dad has a list of errands, and I'm heading to do them with him. WalMart, Lowe's, the Post Office, and a few more.  I'm going to be tied up for a few hours with some Dad-time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bring on the Light

Yes, Easter is this coming Sunday.  The celebration to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.  The day when Roman Catholic and Protestant churches celebrate with other believers the most significant day of the church calendar.  "Christ is risen!" and "Christ is risen, indeed."

I celebrate that day.  As a believer, still, I am glad for a time to include the symbols of new life and sing Alleluia, as well as make carrot cake and watch kids hunt for eggs.  I take seriously the gift of Communion, and I feel grateful for the forgiveness of sin.  I'm a Christian, and I believe in celebrating this day.

  My former husband, Ray, wrote extensively about transformation, which is symbolized wonderfully in his songs.  Our hearts are to be made into the likeness of Christ where Paul wrote: 
 Romans 12:2 "be transformed by the renewing of your minds",

Jesus himself taught his disciples to love God and love others:
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Ray continually sang of that change.

 Because of Easter and the fact that Ray's music often is highlighted for church celebrations (i.e. "Watch the Lamb" and others) that I've seen an increase in the hits of this blog.  (Heavens to betsy, I hardly even write any more!) as well as long e-mails trying to set me on the right path.  Some question if I remain a Christian.  No problem.  I understand that I've made myself public and fairly transparent, and for that reason, people can easily contact me and say what they will.  Anyone can ask what they will.  All of that is fine with me, and I don't harbor ill feelings toward others.  It's just that they don't see the light from my window.

From the place where God put me, I changed my heart (emotions) as well as my mind (thoughts), and I believe that God brought me to the point where I am.  God always knows the outcomes of lives, and I know that I have trusted God since I was very young.  When Ray "came out" to us (me and our four grown kids), I was a fundamentalist Christian, even if I was not the most conservative one.  Since that time I have changed - really, really changed. There is still a lot to sort, and I still have many, many questions. 

But I do have my own window, and I do know what I know.  If anything has made me see the light of Christ more fully, it's the fact that I had to be more inclusive in how I see God/Jesus, the Light of the World, and upon whom that Light is shining.  And I believe it shines on us ALL.

Happy Easter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Slipper mornings.

I have this non-routine routine when I'm off work, like today.  I get up at the normal time (crack of pre-dawn) and try to sleep late.  Thinking of the dog and how he needs to go out, I finally rouse myself and head downstairs.  I think of my dad and how I should go over early to visit him, but first I'll just check my e-mail, facebook, blog comments (if there are any), etc.  It is more like me (so I say) to get dressed first, but since the dog needs to go out, I stay in my jammies.  I think, "I won't put on slippers, so that will make me go back upstairs because my feet will be cold if I get on the computer too long..."

So, here I sit.  It's been over 90 minutes, and yes, my feet are FREEZING.  But the dog got out.  I have yet to see my dad (next door) and I've sent out an e-mail to organize meals for a family with a new baby.  I've written short replies to e-mails (nothing of much substance) and I'm getting ready to meet a dear friend, Kassie, and her partner, Joni, for lunch at the Indian restaurant, Sitara (of Muncie).

I say this is not routine, but I do it when I don't go to work.  I better learn to just put on my slippers. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

an e-mail from Brandon, and my reply

Wow, this is exhausting.  I've said the same things over and over, and here is the latest effort from a guy named Brandon, who wrote to me.  My reply to him follows, but I simply don't have the time or energy to dialogue with him. 

From: brandon

Date: Friday, February 11, 2011, 8:31 PM

Hello Carol,

My name is Brandon ********, I live in **************** and now
serve as a pastor at a little church.

I can't shake the burden I have for your husband.  I'm sure
you've gotten many letters that may be similar to this, however
I am sharing this with you in love.

My heart breaks for you first of all and your family.
My dad left my mom after being married 23 years,  it was
the hardest thing I ever went through in my life.  As an
8th grader to hear my mom lay her head on her pillow at night.
Many times I was the one who went in to try to console her.

I Know you must have dealt with some of that in the last 5 years,
have you not?

I was preparing a message for valentines day and considered singing
with my wife the song.  Let's begin again.

And then all the thoughts about Ray started burdening me again.

I would like to start a dialogue with you , if you would be willing
to talk between you and I.

I really have a burden that Ray has believed a lie from the father of lies.  How could it ever be God's will for Him to leave his wife and family and embrace and now endorse a lifestyle that is clearly frowned upon in scripture.

As you know, we live in a culture that wants to excuse sin as a disease or even a genetic inhereted state of being.

So let's follow that reasoning.  Let's say I've wrestled with pornography and know it's a sin to look at another woman lustfully,
instead of doing what scripture says and putting to death the misdeeds of my body, I begin to entertain the idea that pornography is ok, all of the men's magazines say it's ok, the culture says it's okay, and my lustful sinful heart says it's ok,  then I begin to believe the lie that it's okay, and instead of fight the good fight, I say, Oh I shouldn't fight this, I feel so inclined to it and it feels so natural and good, I begin to believe satan's lie that adultery (looking at a woman to lust after her is okay.  And instead of repenting and conforming myself to God's word, I begin to conform God's word to my own sinful desires.

I'm afraid that's what Ray has done.  He has believed a lie from satan, designed to render him ineffective and ruin his ministry to the Christian church.

And if you are okay now with His lifestyle, you also have believed the lie.

Are you okay with his lifestyle?  do you see it as sin or a state he just had to yield to.

The Bible says homosexuals and any unrepentant sinner, will not inherit the kingdom of God, does that trouble you.   

7 Therefore, it is already a total defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you act unjustly and cheat—and this to brothers! 9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:7-11 (HCSB)

I struggle with sinful lustful thoughts sometimes,  but that doesn't mean that I should yield to them and just admit that I have a drawing to these things, so I am coming out as a sinner and it's okay now, everyone says it's ok.  What a lie.

My heart breaks for you and Ray and your family.  I would be willing to fast and pray for Ray, that God may grant Him a repentant heart.

What are your thoughts on these matters?

Seeking His Face,

and my reply...

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for writing a kindhearted e-mail.  Yes, I've received many like yours, and I can tell you mean no disrespect.  Perhaps because you didn't hear from me right away you assumed I was avoiding you.  That wasn't it, but rather because I was out of town visiting a new grandbaby.  Your e-mail just was WAY down the list and I just now have seen it. 

I've heard your comparison of being gay to all kinds of sins, and I don't consider it a fair comparison.  I rather see sexual orientation as one of many characteristics that make up one's being.  These are characteristics that one doesn't decide upon - much like the color of one's eyes, or whether you are right- or left-handed. 

It is up to each person to determine how he or she will live one's life, that being with or without integrity.  Ray has always lived with integrity, except he hid from me his true sexual orientation for the first 30+ years of my knowing him.  He tried to be someone that nearly killed him, and I know he is now honest, both with himself and with me. 

People such as yourself think you have an answer, but you do not.  I don't say that flippantly or without thoughtful consideration.  It's not what you assume in comparing sexual orientation to lust or porn - although both straight and gay men use this for their own desires. 

I'm pretty sure you present as a straight male, and I assume that you have sexual relations with a wife of your choice.  Great for you. I won't even venture a guess on whether or not you were both virgins when you married.  Perhaps (or perhaps not) you were married prior to your existing marriage.  One way or the other, you have loved and had relations with a woman.  But can you tell me this?  Just when did you decide to be attracted to girls?  

Not one thing of what I think will probably change your mind.  I can guarantee you that Ray fasted over this, and his simple prayer every day of his life was that his orientation would change.  He did not live a gay life, nor did he get seduced by porn.  That was not our life.  It was not a change that overcame him, or a lie that took over.  It was that he could no longer live a lie, and that he had to come clean with the truth: he is gay. 

I don't wish to speak for only Ray.  I speak for hundreds for whom I've heard their stories.  And if God condemns these folks for being who they ARE, then I don't intend to hear from the ones who won't listen to the very people who have already prayed, fasted and bruised their knees begging God to change something that is inherent.  Considering this, I don't think we have a discussion. 

I respectfully decline your wish for further correspondence.

Carol B.