People will no doubt go round and round for the rest of all time about guilt or innocence of Bill Heybels, lead pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. We have been extremely close to the leadership of Willow Creek church over the past 25yrs. We love them deeply. We hurt with them and for them.
I have thought long and hard, as you probably know, about the #metoo movement within the context of church culture.
Sexual impropriety is a part of human nature. Just because someone is in church leadership doesn’t exempt them from being a part of what the rest of the world is drawing attention to.
I absolutely have been treated in the most respectful manor by 90% of men I have known in church leadership over the years.
Working and living close to the center of the circle of church staff leadership for 30yrs, I can say without shame or doubt that absolutely sexual harassment has happened in just about every church I’ve ever been a part of.
Nothing turns my stomach more than when I hear about a pastors or church leaders messing up. It’s just awful and sad. I’ve seen time & again what happens to the accused, their spouse, their & children—So incredibly devastating for everyone involved.
With that said, know how firmly I believe that PASTORS ARE PEOPLE TOO! They are imperfect just like you and I. They make mistakes. Give grace, give hope to them and their families. Give them privacy and space to heal.
Because they are not super human as many might think, please, please, hold them accountable just as anyone else you might care or worry about.
Love people who mess up. Don’t gossip. Don’t gossip about people that write or talk about their #metoo experiences within the walls of the church or out. Nothing is more hurtful to a victim than to be shamed for sharing their experience.
We moved from Indiana to Kansas on May 2. Every single day since then, I have had a lesson in the form of humility from one source or another. Every place I go, I have to rely on Siri or my instincts to figure out where I am and where I am going, and how to get there. The days I rely on my instincts, I get lost.
Other than daily getting lost or finding myself driving down the wrong way on a one way street, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Kansas. Our new church family, Westside Family Church, has welcomed us with grace and peace and so, so much kindness.
Every day is a new introduction. A new something somewhere. I am a deeply settled person. I enjoy roots, predictability, and the peace that comes from knowing what happens next. Learning the in’s and outs and shortcuts will take time, I’m sure.
As I am being humbled by learning all things new, I thought I’d take a minute to blog about what I DO know. These are the people I know best in the world–their in’s and out’s, their shortcuts, what makes them who they are. I’d like to introduce my family. Understand these are bird’s-eye-view introductions. Each one of us is incredibly complex. Our girls are very spirited–The dynamics of raising three girls in one family are intense, insanely fun, and keep Rob and I on an incredibly high learning curve .
Rob and got married 21 years ago when he was 21 and I was 19. We were close friends from the time I was 12 and he was 14. I still remember clear as day the first time I saw him. He radiated joy and warmth and he was the funniest person I knew (besides myself, of course)
Rob is a phenomenally gifted communicator and teacher of Jesus and His ways. He is a wonderful husband and amazing father to our three girls. He is patient and kind with them, leading them by his example and courage to follow Jesus wherever He leads. Rob is a guitarist and musician. Music oozes out of him wherever he goes. It’s in his soul and spirit. He’s a dreamer of really big dreams, and a huge believer in helping others implement their own. I’m proud to be his wife.
Maddie is 15. She is an old soul in a young body. She’s an introvert, a Noticer, and deeply compassionate. Maddie is wise beyond her years and can spot a faker in a second (someone who says they are one thing but really are not who they say they are). She’s deeply intuitive and an amazing photographer. She’s hilarious and fun, practical and precise. She is a wonderful role model to her younger sisters. I am so proud to be her mom.
Whitney is 14. She is the tallest of our girls, and is made of solid muscle. She’s a strawberry blonde beauty. She’s intense, incredibly fun, an extremely strong leader, bold, loud, confident, and courageous. Whit is the kind of kid who is a friend to literally everyone she knows and an underdog for the outcast kind of kids. She has a gift for making those around her feel loved, included and important. Whitney makes me laugh every day. I’m so proud to be her Mamma.
Isabelle Joy(Belle, Isabob, Corndog, LIttle Mac, Is., Peanut)
Belle is 10. She exudes joy and life like no one I’ve ever known. From the minute she wakes up until her head hits the pillow at night, she oozes life and radiates joy. She is so much fun, non-stop. She is a Rainbow Loom genius, making bracelets and crafts several hours a day. She is deeply sensitive, is easily hurt, but comes alongside those who hurt because she knows how it feels. Belle is a best friend and buddy to whomever she is with. She is the definition of joy. Her smile and laugh light up a room like magic. I’m so proud to be Belle’s Mamma.
Me – I’m 41. I’ve written for several magazine publications over the past 10 or so years about family life and spiritual matters. I am a mega introvert. I need lots and lots of time alone, and people often misunderstand this part of me as snobbishness or aloofness. I promise I am neither of those. I love people. I love Jesus.
I love my family with all of my heart. I love anything artsy or creative or fun. Driving my Jeep with the top down, taking photos along the way with the sun on my face (or even in the pouring rain) fills me up. I’m often in nature alone, photographing stuff that point me to my Creator. I see Him through my camera lens, and hear His voice in the wind.
That’s enough introducing for now. Your eyeballs are probably tired from this very, very long post. Go take a nap and give your eyes a break. It’s been so lovely getting to know you all. Thanks for being gracious and kind as we humbly get to know you back.
Joy comes in all shapes and sizes. I am constantly reminded of this as each girl in our family contributes joy and happiness in their own unique way. I am so very grateful for their specialness and the way they shine the love and light of God by just being who they are. I’m so blessed. So very thankful.
Parent teacher conferences were this week. Maddie and Whit were so impressive with their Yale and Harvard sweatshirts. They have high aspirations…can’t blame them! Whitney is in advanced honors math, which is so far beyond me that I really can’t help her all that much. They practice logic on levels that I am afraid would take me hours to unravel. . With her outgoing, bubbly personality, strong wit, sense of humor, etc, one would never guess that she is such a math and logic whiz. Grades are super important to her. She is doing phenomenally well her 1st semester of middle school.
Maddie is an extremely strong student across the board. She is getting all A’s at this point, and secretly loves learning. She is a very strong leader according to her teachers. One after the other talked about how she helps others and they depend on her to help interpret into tween language what the teacher just said.
The general consensus on both Maddie and Whit was: They are strong leaders, have strong opinions, are helpful and kind, and hard workers. I am so proud of them.
We had Belle’s conference this week too. Her teacher said that she is the most helpful student in class. She always helps the kids who have special needs. She LOVES them, protects them, and loves to look out for them. She is doing an amazing job at reading, and her strong suit is math. She loves numbers. Belle is also quite an artist. I joke with her all the time that I will write books and she can illustrate them. I honestly can see that happening some day in the future.
One common theme between all three girls is their strong verbal skills. Apparently they have the gift of gab, which they are learning to use in moderation.
I am so thankful for the school district we live in, the schools our girls attend, and the teachers that they have. We are so blessed, and it is so neat for us as parents to sit back and watch them thrive in these environments. Rob and I are saving our pennies for those ivy league schools…and praying for scholarships.
We are wrapping up our summer, the girls really are ready to head back to school. I feel as if this summer was about three weeks too long, as the girls are “bored” with the regular summer fun stuff. They miss their friends, the routine of school, and their minds are sharp and eager to learn all the new stuff their teachers have for them this year. Well, their little minds may be a little dulled by hours of meaningless television and iPod games, but I am sure they will be whipped back into shape in no time.
Miss Maddie will be a teenager in a few weeks, although it is no surprise since we always joke that she was born a teenager. She has a keen fashion sense, an eye for beauty, but most importantly, she has a very tender heart and loves Jesus and the world around her. Maddie went to middle school camp this summer and the Chicago mission trip with GSM, the youth ministry of our church. She was marked by both–each experience really making a difference in her life. I am excited for her as she starts her 7th grade year.
Whitney is starting middle school in two days. She’s excited and nervous as most middle schoolers are when they are not quite sure what to expect. Whitney is a fiery, passionate, full-of-life kid that brings laughter and happiness wherever she goes. She is a true friend to whomever crosses her path, no matter their social standing. Whit told us yesterday that she either wants to be a judge or a marine biologist. Funny thing is that I can completely see her going in either direction. She loves the outdoors and any kind of adventure, but has a strong sense of justice that influences the way she thinks and acts. I know she will be an amazing young woman whatever she chooses to do.
Miss Isabelle is starting first grade this year. She made leaps and bounds her Kindergarten year, and got amazing results on her test scores at the end of the school year. She is fiercely determined to keep up with her big sisters, is witty, intelligent, full of joy and laughter all of the time. Her sense of humor and spirit of joy and creativity keep our house buzzing with life and activity at all hours of the day (and night). She has more energy than anyone in our household. If we could somehow bottle that energy for sale, we’d be millionaires. 🙂 She is also excited and nervous about the school year. One of her best friends, Miah is in the same class as her this year, and she can hardly contain her excitement. She already said she knows they will talk a lot and get in trouble. I am sure their teacher will have her hands full!
Thanks for checking in on us. I hope you had a great summer and are looking forward to a glorious fall. I already see the leaves changing at the tops of the trees and can hardly believe summer is almost over.
About a year ago, Whitney decided on her own that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love. A few friends of ours have died of cancer in the past year, so it really brought it to the center of Whitney’s mind. She gets compliments on her amazingly beautiful hair all the time. She has the most beautifully perfect strawberry blonde hair. It’s almost golden and shimmers and shines just like on a shampoo commercial.
I keep thinking about what Amy says to Jo in the book “Little Women” when Jo cuts her hair off so she can raise money for their family. She says, “But Jo! your hair is your one true beauty!” Whitney truly gave the most beautiful gift she could at her 11 year old age, and I am so proud of her. My kids truly inspire me to be a better person.