Parents in the Basement….Anniversary Edition

About 100 years ago today these 2 kids got married…….

Okay, in all seriousness it was 56 years ago today (100 was just more fun to say).  For those who don’t know how they met here is a brief synopsis:

Dad was born and raised in a small town in Central Florida (Oxford, Florida).  His dad passed away when dad was 13 and his brother Lee was 5.  My grandmother raised those boys alone and was a school teacher for 44 years.  Dad enlisted in the military (Air Force) before he got drafted; that way he got to pick the branch of the military he went into.  Where did he get sent?  Anchorage, Alaska!

Mom was born in California but didn’t stay there long…..she lived all over the USA.  Florida, Washington DC, other places that I can’t remember.  But during high school she, along with my Grandparents and her siblings (mom was the oldest of four) lived in Anchorage, Alaska.

Dad got to Anchorage and didn’t know a living soul.  The first question he asked someone on base was…..”where do you meet girls here?”  He was told either the bars or church.  He opted for church and walked into church one Sunday morning, took one look at my mom and that was it.

They were engaged before my mom turned 18 and married after she graduated high school…..like I said…..KIDS!

Life took them to Iowa and then back to Oxford, Florida where mom said there was no way she was staying there!  LOL!  From there, if I have my facts straight they moved to Titusville, Florida where dad worked for NASA and mom was the secretary at their church.  Some of their dearest friends to this day were the friends they made living in Titusville.  That is where my brother was born and shortly thereafter dad got a job in Jacksonville, Florida where they moved and where I was born.

So that is their story…..some of the facts could be a little screwed up because let’s face it…..I didn’t live back then.  But, you get the idea.  Small-town country boy meets city girl in Alaska…..goes to show you can meet your soulmate anywhere.

They raised my brother and me in Jacksonville and there were times dad wanted to move.  I remember he was offered a job in Anchorage, Alaska right before I graduated high school and wanted to go but mom said no.  Mom loved Jacksonville and truly had no desire to ever leave…..UNTIL we did!  Now, since they have been up here in Birmingham with us they both wish they had left Jacksonville years ago. They love it here and that makes me so happy.

They are loving meeting new people, being in a new church, sight-seeing all over Alabama and Tennessee (they are currently in Nashville as I type this).  Dad is still working but mom is officially retired and they have more time to go and do things and we are encouraging them to do all they can while they can.  Let’s face it, they aren’t spring chickens anymore!  I think they have a trip planned for October and a cruise planned for December.  It makes me happy that they can still go and do things.  They just get a whim (like “hey let’s go to Nashville”) and they went.

All this to say, Happy Anniversary mom and dad.  I am glad you got married, because if you hadn’t either I wouldn’t exist or I guess I could be illegitimate, but regardless thanks for getting married and for having us kids (even though dad will tell you to this day that he never wanted us).  So, thanks mom!  Now hurry home and take care of your cat.  He threw up twice yesterday and I had to clean it up (Dennis refused); so I guess he is stressed out with y’all gone.  We are looking forward to going to our favorite restaurant here in Birmingham to celebrate tomorrow.

Here are some pictures through the years:

Until next time……..

Parents In The Basement

I have not updated my blog lately on my parents in the basement and thought this was a good opportunity.

It is so quiet and peaceful…..truly tranquil this week and it wasn’t until yesterday when I mentioned to Dennis how truly amazing it is to have my parents living in the basement with us that he reminded me….

THEY ARE IN FLORIDA!  

HA!

Just kidding y’all…..I knew they were out of town and yes, it is eerily quiet down there in “hell,” except for Simon….he has let me know often how lonely he is down there.  Dad said he had to go back to Jacksonville to “work.”  That is still a word he throws around a lot but I have caught him taking some “union breaks” during his work days.  He says that it is his lunch break……let me just say then, he eats A LOT!

So here are a few funnies for you from before they left:

Dad and mom went out to eat dinner.  Dad said, “We ate at a great BBQ place called Good News BBQ.”  Mom quickly corrected him and said, “No Jerry, it was Golden Rule BBQ.”

Dad’s secret code for me to buy him ice cream at Publix is “broccoli.”  So, when I ask them if they need anything from Publix and dad says “broccoli” I know that means Moose Tracks ice cream.  I now also have to buy dad “the good stuff” from the deli.  Mom won’t spend the money on good Boars Head deli meat like I do…..so, I get dad “the good stuff” that mom won’t buy.

Every time Hannah sees my mom or goes into the basement she says, “Hannah really hungry.”  She knows mom and dad keep cookies down there and she THINKS she is going to get one.  Problem is, Hannah can’t eat just one and she will run to the cookie jar quicker than you can say “NO,” open it up and grab a handful and shove them ALL in her mouth laughing hysterically.  I don’t let her go down in the basement and beg for food; yet my mom reminds me that when I was growing up every time we went to my grandparents house I would look at my Grandma and say, “my mommy never feeds me.”  Grandma would then see to it that I was fed…..I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Conversation with mom:

Mom:  “Tam did you know that Publix Corporation has 220 employees?”

Me:  “Mom, that isn’t very many for the whole corporation.  Do you mean our local Publix?”

Mom:  “Oh I forgot the thousand….220,000 employees.  Yes, that is better.”

I told mom we might have to take her out back and put her down like a horse with all her aches and pains.  Dad immediately said, “No, she can’t go without me.”  I replied, “That’s the truth as you would be too much maintenance without mom.”  Dad said, “What do you mean?”  So I asked him the following questions:

Who would do your laundry?

Who would vacuum/mop your floors?

Who would cook for you?

Who would dust?

Who would feed the cat?

Who would scoop the cats litter-box?

Who would iron your clothes?

Who would lay your clothes out for you to wear?

Who would clean your bathroom?

Who would make your bed?

Who would wash your sheets and towels?

Who would clean your windows and baseboards?

Who would buy your groceries?

Who would pay your bills?

Who would balance your checkbook?  (Yes, you read that correctly)

He answered each question by saying…..are you ready for this…..”YOU WOULD.”

I then said….”The ONLY thing we would have to do for mom is put gas in her car.”  Yes you read that correctly also…..mom doesn’t pump gas…..like EVER!

But, even with that….mom is mostly self sufficient (except the car maintenance and gas) and dad is completely co-dependent.  I did inform them both that they have enabled each other’s dependency and it is time to let dad do things for himself…..that didn’t go over well at all!  I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks after-all!

Until next time……..

 

Be Still and What Color Is Your Heart

I have been silent on purpose…..I have been still and through that stillness I have gathered my thoughts and perspective.  Being still and silent is not my strong-suite; but I felt it necessary with all that is happening in our country.  I didn’t want to speak without really thinking and praying about what to say.

I have been drinking coffee out of this mug for a few days now. It is a good reminder each morning.

Let’s face it, does it even matter what I say?  Does it matter what you say?  Does it matter what anyone says?  We all know in our hearts, minds and souls how we feel and the bottom line is I am not going to change anyone’s mind or thought process.

But…..here is my heart:

I was mortified, saddened and grieved about the murder of Mr. George Floyd.  It was murder, plain and simple and the officer(s) involved should be held accountable and pay dearly for their heinous crime.  I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on that.  I know we are all watching and waiting to see what will transpire in the days/weeks/months ahead for those who killed Mr. Floyd.

I have dear friends…..red, yellow, black and white.  Male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor, old, young, Christian, non-christian, atheist, Democrat and Republican.  When I look at those friends I don’t see skin color, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion or political affliation.  I see human beings who I care about deeply.  When I see someone I don’t know I don’t look at the color of their skin; I only see another human being just like me.

I cannot understand what a person of color feels when it comes to discrimination.  I won’t pretend or try to; that would be unfair of me.  My heart is breaking for ALL of us.  Peaceful protesting is a right, we all have it.  I have personally never participated in a protest and I am just not sure what they will accomplish.  I know that the protests of 1968 accomplished quite a bit with the Civil Rights Act, but what is the endgame here in 2020?  Again, it is our right to protest with the hopes that the right people are listening and postitive changes can be made.

What I cannot wrap my head around are the riots, looting, fires, violence, destruction of property, hate speech, nasty graffiti, the fear and intimidation used and the physical attacks on business owners and police officers.  I cannot and will never think that is okay.  I would have stood with ANYONE peacefully over the murder of Mr. Floyd but sitting here watching the destruction and the violence is sickening to me.  WHAT does it accomplish?  WHAT is the end goal?  WHAT does it do but put others on the defensive and WHEN does it end?  HOW does it end?  So many questions and no answers.  I don’t have the answers and so far I have yet to hear from anyone who does.

The absolute craziest thing I have heard so far is people wanting to defund the police (which is asinine)….I mean, do you want a lawless society?  I know I don’t.  Of course, I am hearing that from celebrities and taking their advice on political stances or social injustices is like taking advice from Bill Gates on medical issues.  I am not listening to any of them.  I just know that more violence and destruction doesn’t help anything.  Again, I don’t know the answers but I do know that this doesn’t solve anything and it only makes matters worse.  How would those who are supporting the violence and destruction feel if those things touched them?  How would you feel if it was your business being destroyed, your wife, mom, sister, friend, daughter being beaten for trying to protect her property, your husband being attacked for doing his job?  So many scenarios that could happen to YOU or ME and it is unacceptable.  The violence is barbaric.  Now, before you say, “but what happened to Mr. Floyd was barbaric” you won’t get an argument from me, but does continuing the hate and evil-doing help anyone?  The answer is no in case you didn’t know.

For those who have read my blog you know I am pro-police.  I always have been and I always will be.  I have blue running through my veins and I will never be ashamed of that.  I know MANY police officers…..NONE of them would condone what happened to Mr. Floyd and NONE of them would have done what the officers responsible did.  I can guarantee you that.  So, for those who think we have to choose to either see and hear the outcry from the black community about racial divide OR support our men and women in blue you are wrong.  YOU can do BOTH because I do.  I hear the outcry from the black community.  I see your pain and hurt and I am willing to stand with you to see that resolved; but I also know and see the men and women in blue standing with us all, fighting for us all and willing to sacrifice for us ALL!

I personally think our society has a heart problem.  Instead of loving and accepting each other for who God created us to be, we are filled with hate, anger, jealously and sin.  Why is it so hard to love your neighbor?  Why is it so hard to live in peace?  The only thing I could figure out in my stillness is because we have removed God from our country and our lives.  Know Jesus, Know Peace…..that is all I know for sure.  I wish we all would just BE STILL and allow the Lord to have a place in our lives, hearts, soul and in our country.  My biggest fear is what happens if we don’t all turn back to Him…..God help us all!   I can guarantee you that the God who created EACH OF US isn’t looking at our skin color, He is looking at our hearts.

What color is your heart?  It is filled with hate, envy, bitterness and anger or is it filled with love, acceptance, peace and mercy?  Only each of us can answer that question about ourselves; but we portray that answer in what we do and how we live.  May I encourage EACH of us to be still and take a deep look into our own hearts and respond to each other in love, acceptance, peace and mercy……..

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
 I will be exalted among the nations,
 I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Until next time……..

 

Forgive Me and Scars

I have heard 2 words on repeat since Hannah woke up from surgery on Monday.

 

“FORGIVE ME”

 

If you ask her why she needs forgiveness she touches her heart and says “Forgive me for bad heart.”  How heartwrenching is that?  She did well in surgery (better than we expected) and her amazing surgeon was able to get to her heart without breaking her sternum which was a HUGE answer to prayer.  We still have to be careful as she has a long incision that we don’t want to rip open or get infected.  Her attitude is sweet and loving but when she takes her shirt off to change clothes or bathe the tears flow.  She says, “Heart really bad…..forgive me.”  Randomly throughout the day (multiple times) she will ask us to forgive her for her heart.

Last night she was fixing to get in the tub and she asked me to forgive her.  I told her, “Sweet girl, you are the bravest girl I know and you have nothing to be forgiven for.  It isn’t your fault.  God made you exactly the way He wanted you, even with a sick heart.  He knew that you could handle it and He knew that through you others would see what being brave and smiling through your circumstances looks like.”  She then pointed to her incision and said, “Cut, cut blood, boo-boo.”  I hugged her and said, “Yes, you have lots of scars.  Scars from 3 open-heart surgeries, scars from pacemaker surgery, scars from chest tubes and g-tubes and all kinds of things but those scars tell a story.  Those scars show where you have been and what you have endured.  Those scars show us most importantly the miracle you are and all that The Lord has carried you through.  Those scars are the most amazing things because they remind us how faithful and how big OUR GOD is.”  As she sat there intently listening to me I then said, “Do you want to hear the best part?”  She said, “Yes ma’am.”  I said, “One day all of those scars, all of the pain, all of the sickness is going to be gone and you will have a new and perfect body.”  She smiled the biggest, prettiest smile I had ever seen and said, “In Heaven with Jesus, happy all the time.”  Cue the tears…..she gets it, she really gets it.

I type all of this today to encourage you.  If you are going through a difficult time (so many in the world are right now especially), hold fast to the promises that God gave us about Heaven.  I know Hannah and I are.

There is a song called “Scars” I will print the lyrics here but I encourage you to google it and take a listen.  We all have scars.  Some are visible, some are not; but those scars tell stories.  Some stories we wish we could forget (I have quite a few of those) but because of those scars I am who I am today.  I am tougher than I ever dreamed possible.  I will fight for those I love and care about.  I will advocate for those who can’t do it for themselves.  I have a passion that drives me for helping others.  Sometimes that passion drives me to do unpopular things; but I am fighting for the good.  The bottom line is we all have scars.  Those scars have stories to tell.  Tell your stories, don’t apologize for your scars. Own them, let those scars (whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) guide you to help others as they experience the same scars you have faced.  I am a firm believer that we go through things in our life so that we can help others who will be going through the same (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).  We go through things so we can comfort others the way God comforts us.  I also believe that through our own struggles and difficulties we can help others not make the same mistakes we did and suffer the same consequences.  We can use our scars to tell stories that God can use for His glory.  How amazing is that?  Beauty from ashes……talk about your scars, tell your stories, BE BRAVE like Hannah and share your scars, don’t apologize for them.  You might just be saving someone else….

 

Here are the lyrics to “Scars”

Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars
Now I’m standing in confidence
With the strength of Your faithfulness
And I’m not who I was before
No, I don’t have to fear anymore
So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scarsI can see, I can see
How You delivered me
In Your hands, In Your feet
I found my victory
I can see, I can see
How You delivered me
In Your hands, In Your feet
I found my victory
I’m thankful for Your scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And with my life I’ll tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful
I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars
So forever I am thankful for the scars

 

Before surgery….she told the doctors and nurses, “let’s rock and roll.”

 

Right after surgery and waking up in ICU

 

Taking her first steps in ICU (only about 4 hours post-op)

 

Leaving ICU and heading to a regular room in the cardiac unit

 

Happy girl

Until next time………

Parents In The Basement – Quarantine Edition

Now that it appears this quarantine is ending I thought it was time to share.  Even through a Pandemic Pat and Jerry kept us laughing.  Sadly, there are some really funny stories that would be totally mortifying for them if I shared; so I will refrain from those (at least for now) but here are a few of the latest from my parents in the basement:

Dad sends me pictures of he and Simon watching TV together: 

Dad and Simon watching Andy Griffith

 

Dad and Simon watching Gunsmoke

 

Dad and Simon….well….perhaps we caught dad snoozing.  Look how his phone is still lit up too.  I guess he was mid-text and decided to take a nap.

Mom and dad are the only 2 people who drive an hour to look for a place to walk. Then they end up driving home and walking around the clubhouse parking lot.

They have a habit of leaving and not locking their door or closing the garage. I told dad if he can’t be more responsible I’m taking his car keys away.  He didn’t like me saying that.  He called me an “idiot.”

If I had a dollar for every time my dad has called me an idiot since he moved here I would be a millionaire.

Hannah is really loud.  We have tried to get her to use her inside voice to no avail.  Her speech therapist in Jacksonville came up with Red voice, Green voice and Yellow voice.  We tell Hannah which voice to use.  We are now trying to implement the same with dad but it is a lot more difficult.  In the still of the night when Hannah is asleep and Dennis has gone to bed I can mute my TV upstairs and hear Pat and Jerry’s conversations word for word (at least dad’s side of it anyway).

Trying to get dad to put a clip on his lips

We were all downstairs talking and all of a sudden mom says, “let me see what’s going on with my story” as she turns the volume up on a Hallmark movie.

I asked dad…”Dad, if you don’t want your feet exposed or touched how would you have a pedicure? Dad responded…..“I’d leave my socks on”

 

Dad said, “I love that show on Hallmark called “When the Heart Calls”. I replied, “Dad you mean When Calls The Heart!”  He responded, “That’s what I said.”

If you need something ask Pat, she has one of everything. Our neighborhood did luminaries to show unity and support for those who are facing this COVID-19 virus and the doctors, nurses, law enforcement, fire, rescue, and all essential employees. Well, we didn’t have white paper bags so I told Dennis “let’s just put some candles out.” He said, “what about your mom, would she have paper bags?” I’m like “who keeps a stash of white paper bags?” Well we found out that Pat does 🤷🏼‍♀️

Watching Valleydale Church this past Easter Sunday.  We are all sitting in my living room.  Dad looks at me and says, “Is this live?  Can they hear us?  Is this one of those Zoom calls?”  We just looked at him and say, “Yes, they can hear you….no talking.”  Then, Dr. Brunson did communion so I had poured shot glasses of grape juice and wine and had some little cauliflower crackers so we could participate.  Dad, at first was skeptical that his was really grape juice (he doesn’t like wine) but once he got the first swig, he said, “that was good and you give more than church usually does.”  At this point, I thought he might ask for a refill!

Pat and Jerry’s feet

Mom and dad after reading my last blog post…..

Dad – “Tam, you are an idiot.  You are ruining our reputations.” As he is laughing hysterically and tears running down his cheeks.

Mom – “I look like I’ve been crying.”

Mom –  “Tamara, you will be 50 in 2 years.  We need to have a huge birthday celebration.”

Tamara –  “Mom, I agree….I am thinking about a Hawaiian vacation or an Alaskan cruise.”

Mom – “Oh yes, an Alaskan cruise.  The cruise ships will be cleaned from this Coronavirus by then.”

So, dad’s new favorite form of entertainment is trying to get Simon the cat to hiss at him.  He has taught Simon that if he wants out of his lap and doesn’t want dad holding him, he has to hiss to get down.  Mom is not happy when dad does this, so obviously dad does it really often.  The other night after a really big hiss from Simon mom says, “That poor baby….Jerry, you need to stop.  Hissing might hurt his throat.”

Dad when he leaves the house

Simon, just because we are mean

I had to document dad actually doing the dishes

Having a conversation with mom and dad about the effects that drinking alcohol has on people.  Mom didn’t realize that people respond differently when drinking.  I explained, some people get angry, some get happy, some get talkative, some get quiet, some it is their “liquid courage” and some are more huggie and affectionate.  Mom immediately said, “maybe I need to start drinking.  It sounds wonderful.”  Then she threw her hands over her face when she realized I would blog about that!  Hysterical laughter ensued and she said….”Tamara Chyleen (yes that is my middle name, mom was on crack when she named me obviously) don’t you dare put that in your blog….well, you know that was going to stop me, right?!?!
For the past few weeks often times when I go downstairs to the basement this is what I see:
I finally got a pic of it.  This is how mom relaxes!  No, seriously she is doing her back exercises but what a sight to behold!

She had no clue I was standing there taking her picture.

She finally saw me and said, “don’t you post that on Facebook.” Okay mom….I won’t!

I walked downstairs yesterday and watched dad make his lunch….his slice of onion was bigger than the bread!

Where’s the bun?

That onion slice is bigger than his head!

 

So anyone else out there who uses their cat as a back brace? Any cat out there who would be okay with this besides Simon?

 

I will be honest I do not remember what he was praying here….but most likely it had to do with me leaving him alone or asking God WHY did He move them up here to live with us.

 

When she isn’t laying on top of the cat they share the loveseat. These 2 are joined at the hip.

Last, but certainly not least since the Barber shops have been closed we tried out some new hairdos for dad.  Which is your favorite?

Until next time…….

For Such A Time As This

I wasn’t going to write about this or post it (I was seriously considering just telling our closest friends/family) but a dear friend encouraged me to share.  I know some people won’t care and that is fine but so many will; so here is the latest on Hannah (the reason I started this blog back in 2012 in the first place).

Back in February, Hannah went into the hospital to have her heart loop recorder removed because we were told in Jacksonville that no “events” (which consists of heart rate drops and pauses) had been recorded.  When we moved up here to Birmingham, we told our new Cardiologist that and we decided to remove the loop recorder since there seemed to be no reason it was there.  Before the Cardiologist removed the loop recorder, after he got Hannah under anesthesia, he decided to read the loop recorder before removing it!  THANK GOD he did!  There were 37 “events” recorded with heart pauses up to 8 seconds long!  The plan then was to leave the loop recorder in and see if any other events were recorded.

A couple weeks ago we received a phone call from our Cardiologist telling us that Hannah had some significant heart rate drops and pauses and asked us to come in.  We did and when they read the loop monitor further it revealed heart pauses early in the morning hours of up to 15 seconds long with significant heart rate drops.  He put Hannah in a halter monitor the weekend before last to see what her heart did in a 24-hour period of time.

Yesterday I received the phone call I have been dreading from our Cardiologist.  He had spoken with his team, including Dr. Dabal (the heart surgeon who has done all 3 of Hannah’s open-heart surgeries) and they all agreed Hannah needs a pacemaker.  Now, this is where it gets complicated.  For many reasons that I am not going to try and explain here they cannot put the pacemaker in the vein that they normally would in her shoulder/chest area.  Instead, unfortunately, Dr. Dabal will have to cut her chest open and most likely break her entire sternum to get to the heart and place the pacemaker on her heart.  Yes, so much more complicated and not the news we wanted to hear.  But, we know that it needs to be done and there is NO ONE WE TRUST MORE THAN THE LORD AND DR. DABAL.

So, with that said, I just got off the phone with Dr. Dabal and a tentative date for surgery is May 18th, pending insurance approval.  We are scared and devastated that once again Hannah has to endure another heart surgery (at least it isn’t open-heart) but it is still major surgery for her.  We knew this could happen back in February when we found out that all this time she has been having significant issues but the loop monitor was never read.   Which in all honesty, falls on our Cardiology group in Jacksonville which saddens me greatly. Somehow she fell through the cracks.  I feared this would be what she would face but I take comfort in the fact that God moved us here to Birmingham to receive the best care for her from the heart surgeon who knows her better than anyone.  We are finding our comfort in the fact we are exactly where God wants us to be for HER!

For those who want to come alongside of us and pray for Hannah, Dennis, me, Dr.Dabal and all the doctors/nursing staff that will be caring for her, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Until next time……..

An Open Letter To Pastor Heath Lambert

Dear Heath,

I am sure this letter doesn’t surprise you. I am certain that you knew I would have to respond to your email effort to stop anymore attention to the virus in your leadership that I exposed. Problem is you placed the blame on everyone except where it belongs. The only blame to be placed is on you. You took your attack on me publicly in response to my revealing the truth so you couldn’t possibly think I would not respond on the only platform I have. Yes, your platform is much broader than mine but I will not sit by and allow you to discredit “Mary,” myself or the others who you have lied about and to.  It truly grieves my heart to do this in this manner, but it has to be said.

You continue to do the same song and dance you always do. You place the blame on everyone except yourself. You threw your own Deacon’s and Associate Pastor under the bus. Then you had the audacity to call “Mary” a liar. The accounts of her story are true and accurate. Your staff did not spend 2 years loving on her and caring for her. She had minimal contact with your staff and the ones who she did (in ACBC Counseling) are NO LONGER employed there. I have to say you had some good things to say in your email regarding the way the letters were written and changes that needed to occur but that good was overshadowed by your necessity to discredit the TRUE story. You mentioned the letters briefly and then you had to do your best to discredit “Mary,” which in turn discredited me. You have this amazingly underhanded way of making sure you attack the people you think are guilty by making yourself appear completely innocent in all things. You take zero responsibility.

The staff that she did have minimal contact with was because they were questioning her on whether or not her divorce was Biblical. Number one, as a woman who has been in her shoes if ANYONE ever questioned me about my divorce being Biblical or not I would have said it was nobody’s business. THAT is between her and God! Not you, not your staff, not a Deacon….NOBODY! I would really like to see how you would feel if you were in her shoes; but alas you aren’t and you cannot fathom the pain, hurt, rejection, fear, sadness, grief and defeat a woman feels when going through a divorce. Your staff only seemed to care about her “sin” many MONTHS after her divorce and only 2 days before she was to be married again. Who does that? Why do that? But, wait, there’s more…..it was MONTHS later after she had already left First Baptist Church that she was contacted. She told the staff member that she would not be back and was attending Church of Eleven22. It was the next day that she received an email (my blog post said phone call but it was an email, I stand corrected…and yes I have the copy of it to prove it) from Sean Perron saying that new information had been brought to his attention and he wanted to care for her soul. A few weeks later the Discipline letter arrived and when she didn’t respond the Excommunication letter arrived (all by certified mail)….guess you mean serious business. So, I have to question….was her “sin” the divorce, the remarriage or the fact that you found out she left the church and this was one last jab of authority and power that you so desperately need and want?

In this letter you sent to your church membership you admitted to sitting on every committee; yet you had no clue about this particular “restoration case” (I prefer to call it what it is though…..discipline). If you sit on every committee wouldn’t you need and want to know what was happening? What kind of leader allows letters like that to be sent out with his “Senior Pastor” title on it and not know what it says or who it is going to?

You went on to say that the Restoration Committee did send the letters which I made public. The problem is I spoke to a few members of the Committee and NONE of them knew anything about what was in the letters and how cold and heartless they were. The letters lacked grace , love and mercy as you said but the Committee Members DID NOT KNOW THE LANGUAGE THAT WAS CONTAINED THEREIN. So, that leaves the letters coming from either the office of Sean Perron or you. I venture to say….YOU! If I am wrong and they came from Sean then HE should be disciplined.

You were correct in your assessment that the letters lacked the kind of love, grace and mercy that that Bible commands. The problem is you said that the Restoration Committee agreed that their communication in the letter did not meet the gracious standard set by Jesus and they committed on doing better. Again, I reiterate THEY DID NOT KNOW THE LANGUAGE THAT WAS CONTAINED IN THE LETTERS. So, how could they commit to do better when they didn’t have anything to do with it to begin with? What a sorry display of leadership coming from you. Why can’t you own your faults? Why can’t you own what you do instead of throwing your own people under the bus to keep your hands clean. You remind me of Pilate, washing your hands in betrayal.

Now to the big part…..You and your staff owe “Mary” an apology. A PUBLIC apology. You called her a liar. You, in your own words said, “they PROFOUNDLY DISAGREE with the story that was told about the events surrounding the sending of those letters. Every one of the pastors, women on our ministry staff, and deacons involved have made clear to me that the facts of the situation are quite different than what has been publicly reported.” YOU called “Mary” a liar. I personally don’t care what you think or say about me. I learned many years ago that what people think about me doesn’t matter. I stand on truth. I stand on loyalty. I stand on a strong foundation of God’s grace and love for me. And, if you haven’t noticed I have a plethora of people who love and support me and my family.

You talk so often about your childhood and perhaps it is as you claim; but you have no clue, nor do you seem to care about the lives others have lived. If you did you would show more love, grace, mercy and compassion. Instead, you are on a self-imposed pedestal that for some reason makes you think you have the authority and power to do what you want, when you want, how you want and to anyone you want.

I won’t stand for your lies, manipulations and deceit. Other people might be scared to stand up to you but I am not. You have continued to prove to me that you are disqualified for ANY ministry. I could go all the way back to February of 2019 when you USED me to get to one of my best friends who you USED horrifically for your own agenda of continuing to erase the legacy and history of The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. You wounded an already wounded lady and knew exactly what you were doing.  I could expound further and I might in another post. Your manipulations don’t fool me and they don’t fool many other people either.

My recommendation to you is to stand before your church and confess the multitude of lies that you have told (starting with Dr. Brunson’s exit). Perhaps confessing and asking forgiveness would be a great start of healing in a church where you are the problem. If you aren’t going to do that, at least offer “Mary” a public apology for calling her a liar.  I truly hate this open letter was necessary but just like you I have to get “Mary’s” truth and the facts out to the masses.  I really wanted to be done with all of this; but you left me no choice.

In the closing words of your own discipline letter……
“With prayers for your soul,”

Tamara

What follows are the evidences:   The email from Sean Perron, Discipline Letter, Ex-communication Letter and Letter of Resignation from one of the Deacons from the Restoration Committee after reading my blog post.  It was the first time he saw the letters.  I also have included at the end the email that Heath sent to his church membership that SPAWNED me having to defend “Mary” and obviously his own Deacons!

 

Email from Sean Perron in October.  Three months AFTER “Mary” had left the church

 

Discipline Letter

 

Excommunication Letter

Letter from a Deacon resigning from “Restoration Committee” after reading my blog post on April 21st where the letters were revealed.

Email sent by Heath that spawned my open letter back.

 

**UPDATE** Disciplined, Abused and Excommunicated From the Church….One Woman’s Story **PLEASE READ**

I think it is very important to show the good that comes from having to share eye-opening negative situations.  Kind of the beauty from ashes….

THIS fight has NEVER been about my disdain for the church or dislike of any individual; although I have been accused of that.  I have been shown a tremendous amount of support for my advocacy for “Mary” but I also knew along with that would come some major criticism.  I expected it, I prepared for it and those who criticized me have no desire to hear the truth nor do they care anything about the abuse (emotional, spiritual and authoritarian) that “Mary” and others have endured and are STILL enduring. This isn’t about “the church.”  The church is the PEOPLE.  This is about the leadership.  Someone in leadership is responsible for choosing what “sins” get disciplined and which ones don’t.  Someone in leadership writes the letters and sends them out.  The church has the right to know what is happening.  I mean the letters going out for “restoration” are signed by the Deacon Member Care and Restoration Committee; yet I have heard from SO many Deacons and Members who knew NOTHING about these committees and/or letters.  That speaks volumes!

For the record…..MANY of those wounded and/or abused have gone privately to the “leadership” with all their concerns wanting answers, the truth and restoration but those concerns have fallen on deaf ears.  Hence the public outing.  I had the format and I had the readers.  I volunteered to use my resources, my format and my small platform to help make wrongs right.  If nothing else, to stand up for those so horribly wounded and abused.  That decision I did not make lightly but I have found so many hurting people through this that now I know I have a voice who can stand up and advocate for those who are hurt.

We all should care about and fight against ANY and ALL abuse in the church regardless of where that abuse stems from. Abuse can be mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual or authoritarian.

Today, was a good day.  Today I received a copy of a letter written by a Trustee who stood up for “Mary” and what was right.

 

THIS is the love of Christ
THIS is leadership
THIS is the church
THIS is what “Mary” deserves
THIS is Godly integrity and character

Thank you Ryan for taking a stand for what is true, honest, noble and right.  I am thankful for your love and dedication to THE CHURCH and to “Mary.”

Until next time……..

I Need You

This is a short post to say I need you….

If you have been wounded or abused by the present leadership at First Baptist Church Jacksonville and/or by ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counseling) I need you to reach out to me at the email address below and share your story.  You will remain 100% completely anonymous!  These stories need to get out there for others to see.  We don’t want the abuse to continue.  We want it to stop!  Will you help me?  Without your stories there is not much more that I can do.  If you will allow me to share your stories I will do that in a separate blog.  I will create a whole new blog dedicated just for YOU!  So we can keep what happened to you from happening to someone else!  Will you be brave and courageous like “Mary” was?

If so, email me at stoptheabuse124@yahoo.com

I will work with you to tell your story accurately and anonymously!  Let’s stop the abusive, authoritarian leadership and ACBC together!

Until next time……

Disciplined, Abused and Excommunicated From the Church….One Woman’s Story

The first few questions I am going to be asked from those who don’t understand is “Why are you doing this? Why does it matter to you? You don’t even live in Jacksonville anymore so what happens there shouldn’t matter.”

So I am going to start this post with answering those questions:

I am doing this because I am sick and tired of seeing people abused by the church. Whether that is sexual abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and dare I say it spiritual and authoritarian abuse. I have watched it for far too long and it is time I use my voice, advocate and stand up for those without a voice or those who feel they can’t for one reason or another.

It matters to me, especially THIS story. It matters because an innocent woman has been accused of not being a believer. She has been told that she is willfully sinning and her soul is in jeopardy of going to hell. She has been told that she needs to repent of her sin and find restoration with her church and the Lord. But the problem with this is two things. First, she did nothing wrong and second, WHAT MAN has the power or self-created God-complex to even feel like they have the authority to tell anyone this? It also matters to me because I have walked in the shoes of this sweet lady. More on that in a minute.

You are correct, I don’t live in Jacksonville anymore. I do not attend First Baptist Church anymore; but as of right now (unless I have been excommunicated and not informed) I am still a member there. This affects me because that has been my church home for 48 years….I have many friends and loved ones who still attend and I plan to do everything in my power to open the eyes of those still there so they see the tyranny that is in the pulpit and the leadership he has in place.

As a woman who went through a divorce in 1999, I know how hard that is. It is a difficult road to travel paved with despair, anguish, heartache, sorrow and failure. It is not something you plan on happening but sometimes you have no other choice. Abuse happens. Adultery happens. Abandonment happens and no matter how hard you try you have no other choice than to walk away. I remember when I got to that place of having to walk away and file for divorce. It was devastating for me. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly but I knew it was my only option.  Had what happened to the lady in this story happened to me; I honestly have no clue what I would have done.  This is a true but dark story and it needs to be shared.

My “victim” has asked to remain anonymous so to honor her I have changed her name to protect her. So let’s call her Mary. This is her story……

Mary and her husband had been having issues. Her husband had some mental health issues and had secretly stopped taking his medication. Things started to decline rapidly and unfortunately some infidelities took place.

Mary wanted to save her family so she asked her husband to go to marital counseling with her. They began counseling with one of the Associate Pastors at First Baptist Church Jacksonville. It only lasted about 2 months though as Mary’s husband would not allow her to be totally honest with the pastor.

In December of 2017 Mary and her husband separated. The indiscretions had gone too far so she told him she was done and he needed to move out.

Mary started seeing a female counselor at FBC (for the record she is no longer employed there). She was able to be totally honest with the counselor and really liked her. She was able to work through a lot of her hurt and was helped a lot.  She continued through counseling from January 2018-May 2018. But by May she knew she had no other choice but to file for divorce. Another Pastor (who also is no longer employed at FBC) asked her not to divorce her husband and give it 6 more months. Even though they were separated she knew the marriage was damaged beyond repair so she decided to end it.

She filed for divorce and in July of 2018 her divorce was finalized.

During all of this she remained active in church. She attended all services, served in areas of the church and brought her child to church faithfully.

In November of 2018, Mary met a man and they started dating. They attended FBC together. Her church family met him and they were faithful to the church and The Lord. Not one negative thing was ever said by anyone from the church during their dating and engagement.

In April 2019, they were to be married.

Two days before the wedding Mary received a phone call from the Women’s Ministry Director who asked her “are you certain your divorce was Biblical?” Mary was mortified that the question was even asked….Yes, it was Biblical. The questioning caught her so off guard as her divorce had been final for almost a year and prior to this nothing had been said. The staff member continued to grill her even asking what Bible verses she found to confirm her divorce being Biblical. By this time Mary was in tears and she was flustered. She said, “I think it was Biblical.” She was confused at this point as she respected this lady so much; but she was hurt and so upset. Mary was told by the FBC staff member that she was being prayed for.

The next day, one day before her wedding she received a call from the Young Adults Pastor. She answered the phone and he said, “Do I know you?” She told him they had met a time or two and had several conversations. Then he said, “Well I want you to know that I love you but I am concerned for your mortal soul. You are sinning if you remarry. Willfully sinning and committing adultery which will send you to hell.” No grace….just matter-of-fact judgement. She was sobbing. She told him that she knows Jesus loves her and her sins are covered. She went on to explain that she did have Biblical grounds for divorce. He continued to berate her and she asked through her sobbing tears, “Do I need not to come back to church anymore.” To which he replied, “No we want you here. We will work through this with you and help bring you to restoration with the Lord and the church.” This was a devastating phone call for her but she put it aside and got married the next day.

The next week they went to church where the Pastors wife told her she saw her wedding pictures on Facebook, and how beautiful she was and how happy they were for her. That seemed to ease her mind.

Mary wanted to stay at FBC for her child mostly; it was the only church she had ever known and there had been so much change in her life. This was a stable environment and one she loved. So they kept going as a family….April, May and June of 2019. Things were going great and there had been NO follow up from the Women’s Ministry Leader or the Young Adult Pastor since the interaction prior to her wedding. In June, one of her best friends shared some things with her. They had decided to go to Church of Eleven22 and asked her to come with them. In July she and her husband decided to visit. They went to Church of Eleven22 and loved it and felt God call them there.

By September of 2019 they were going to Eleven22 faithfully. She didn’t say anything to anyone at FBC about their move other than they were looking at where God wanted them as a family so they were visiting around.

In October of 2019 the Children’s Music Leader texted her and asked if her child was going to be coming back to choir. She replied, “Oh I am so sorry but we are attending Eleven22 now so we won’t be back.”

The next day Mary received a call from the Associate Pastor. She didn’t answer because she was at work, but he left a message asking her to call him back. She saw no reason to call him back since she was no longer attending FBC, so she didn’t.

In November of 2019 she received a certified letter in the mail dated Nov 7, 2019 from FBC stating that due to her sin and refusal to receive the Biblical Counsel she had been given she was needed to come to a meeting to discuss her situation. Ultimately, this restoration committee would determine if she remains in good standing or because of her actions of acting like an unbeliever be evangelized as an unbeliever with the goal of seeing her restored to a proper relationship with others including FBC and her Lord. If she did not come actions would be taken to remove her membership, she would not be allowed to participate in church ministry or receive communion. Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, and other leadership in the church will be made aware of the action that was taken out of concern for her soul. It was signed; Love in Christ, The Deacon Member Care and Restoration Committee.

After receiving that letter, she was so devastated that something like this could be said to her, she did not respond to the letter nor did she show up to the “Discipline Meeting.”

A few weeks later she received another certified letter dated Dec 10, 2019 stating that they have repeatedly endeavored to help her see the sin in her life. Because she has refused to repent and turn from her sin the following has taken place.

You are no longer a member since you have demonstrated you are not a follower of our Lord.

You are not to participate in the church’s communion service since communion is a reverent service where believers in Jesus Christ remember the body and blood of their Lord given in sacrifice for their sins.

You are not to participate in any church ministry activities that represent you as a follower of Christ since we believe you are acting as an unbeliever.

If another church contacts us for transfer of membership, we will make this information available to them.

It was signed; With prayer for your soul, The Member Care and Restoration Committee (Consisting of Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor and Deacons)

Now, you may ask….what was her sin? THAT is my question.

When I went through my divorce I too, saw a Christian therapist (not ACBC, thank God)! He told me that there were many Biblical grounds for divorce. Let me say that this same man, still to this day fights to save marriages. So, he doesn’t promote divorce. He knows though when there is no fight left. Abuse, Abandonment and Adultery; those are your Biblical grounds for divorce. But, let me be clear here….EVEN if you fall in the category of divorce under means other than Biblical….IF you know Jesus, IF you have accepted his FREE gift of salvation for ALL….NO UNBIBLICAL DIVORCE is going to keep you out of Heaven. Your soul is not in jeopardy of perishing in hell! YOU ARE SAFE….His grace covers you!

The downright mental, emotional and spiritual abuse these church leaders put Mary through is despicable. As I talked to Mary Saturday she said to me…..”I never said anything to anyone because I didn’t want to put a black mark on the church or cause anyone to stumble. I know people are not Jesus so when they act like this I have to be able to separate them from Him.” I was astounded by her grace and the way she looked at it. Through our talking though I told her that it is such an arrogant thought process to think you have the right to be the judge and jury on someone else’s soul. The bottom line is what you do, you will answer for one day to God Almighty….not to any other pastor or man alive…GOD ONLY!

Now my personal input so take this as you want:

There should be NO Disciplinary or Restoration Committees in churches. All that does is put a man in charge of the sins of church members. WHO does that? But I will take it a step further and ask WHY was it a woman picked on for this? Why didn’t Mary’s ex-husband get treated like this? This is very much abuse of power and in my personal opinion “preying on a woman.” Complete manipulation and completely disgusting!

This is the scripture the church uses to base their “Restoration Committee” on. I call it a Disciplinary Committee because ultimately that is what it is. Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

But the question that needs to be asked is….WHO among any church staff leadership has the authority to call out or point out sin? I am still wondering what sin Mary committed? Are these church leaders saying they don’t sin? We know that isn’t true, so who points out their sin? What about John 8:1-11….”He who is without sin cast the first stone?”

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

It is quite appalling to me that church leadership can pick and chose the scripture that fits their agenda when there are other scriptures in the Bible that need to be considered as well.

What about Matthew 7:1-5

Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

The bottom line is this……Mary was treated like the unbelieving sinner on the cross next to Jesus. She was scorned for a sin (we still don’t know what that sin is) that she was told would send her soul to hell. THAT is spiritual, mental and emotional abuse and it is abuse of power. Why are we giving ANY man in church leadership the power to abuse?

I will be scorned for writing Mary’s story. I don’t care. I am here to speak for women like Mary who have been abused and mistreated by the ONE Institution/Shepherd who should have protected her! It is a Pastor’s job to take care of the flock God ordained him for and has entrusted him with…..dare I say that perhaps MAN ordained and entrusted this particular preacher and God has removed HIS hand?

I hope people will take notice of this story. I hope people will see how horribly Mary was treated. I hope that someone with some power at FBC and other churches this same scenario is happening in will finally stand up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! That someone will decide it is more important to protect the sheep than it is to protect the image of the shepherd! It keeps happening all over America. It needs to stop. The CHURCH should stand up even if that means questioning the man in the pulpit for allowing abuse to happen. These are the things that are happening behind closed doors that the membership doesn’t see. This isn’t the only case of this at First Baptist Church Jacksonville but it SHOULD be the last case. Mary and her family deserve an apology for what they have been put through. THIS should never happen again.

Thank you Mary for being so brave and coming forward and allowing me the opportunity to stand with you and for you.

Until next time……..

**To my faithful blog readers…..I promise to get back to the more lighthearted and fun blog posts (especially the Parents in the Basement series) but this is too important not to post about.  I am sick and tired of the church not being a safe place; a place where God dwells and grace is present.  I am thankful I have found a church like that here in Birmingham.  I am thankful that I won’t have to ever endure abuse at the hands of a pastor or his staff.  Please join me in helping to spread the word and stop abuse in the church**