Today I Remember My Husband ~Guest Post by Stephanie Wagoner Cravens

When I was younger,

Memorial Day used to incite feelings of excitement and adventure.

When we were younger it meant the end of the school year,

the public pool opening for business

and the freedom of summer peeking its head around the corner.

Although, today I know and value the true meaning of this day of remembrance,

I secretly miss the innocence of Memorial Days past when all it meant was being one day closer in our chase for summer.

Enjoy the day off with your friends and family,

chase summer with your arms wide open

and make a million memories as you go.

But also take a moment to reflect and remember those who lost their chase for summer

and their freedom to make memories so you could.

Today I remember my husband.

A son,

a father,

a best friend,

and a Marine who loved his country fiercely.

In Honor of Jarod Cravens

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Mommy is a pole dancer for Daddy (and that is healthy)

I wanted to look sexier for myself and for my husband (even though he already likes the way I look and he’d never ask me to work out unless it was with him and for fun. He seems to have eyes that see me kinda the way God sees me. As beautiful.)

The best thing was to just tough it out and do regular work outs like regular people but working out is not one of my favorite things to do. Knowing I NEED to work out even though it’s torture

I chose to look for a more fun way to do it.

I found a pole dancing exercise place just for women. What a GREAT idea! I’d work out, feel sexier, look better, AND have a special private show for my husband.

Yes it really was a great idea but if I did this I knew I’d want to install poles in our bedroom so I could do my work outs at home for date nights also.

It may sound silly but this was heavy on my mind. I REALLY wanted to do this. But HOW could I install a pole in my bedroom when we have kids? WHAT would we tell them? Do I install two poles and say they are for support for our ceiling? Do we put a hammock hanging between them? “Oh kids, look at the metal trees.” Do we install one and say it’s a Maypole? (You know, those poles where children dance around it holding the ribbons.)

But we don’t lie to our kids. And some day they’ll eventually see a pole somewhere and they’ll know what the dancing is about and they may go into shock remembering

“that wedding anniversary when mommy and daddy installed the pole in their room.”

Lying on the counselor’s couch they’ll say, “So THAT’S what that was for! Say it isn‘t so!!”

I asked several girlfriends what they thought I should say to my kids about it. Nobody had the perfect answer that wouldn’t be dishonest. After a few months I gave up. I didn’t take the pole dancing class. I didn’t install a pole. I didn’t dance for my husband and I didn’t work out most of that year.

A while after that I was talking to my mother in law. She’s a preacher’s wife and a good, fun, God fearing mother and Grammy. She’s not afraid to give her opinion and we like that about her.

I told her it would be fun to take this class together if we lived closer to each other. I told her of the debating and agony I went through and that I’d want a pole in our bedroom if we did that exercise class.

I said THE reason I didn’t take the class is because I didn’t know what to tell her grandbabies about the pole. This sweet preacher’s wife had the best answer EVER. She said, “Well that’s easy. Tell them you had a REALLY FUN MARRIAGE!”

Time to sign up for that class!

Coffee, Donuts, and Carnations

When I was a little girl in elementary school my dad would take me to have coffee and donuts sometimes early in the morning before school. I loved it. We’d sit together sipping coffee.  He’d read the newspaper and I got a daddy daughter date.

I remember sitting there with all the business men and thinking how cool that was and what a lucky girl I was to get to do this with my dad.

We weren’t in a hurry.

And I got to get glazed donuts from my favorite donut place.  It didn’t cost much money.   Just a little of his time.  These memories are some of my favorite times I ever had with just me and my dad.

Then when I was in high school my dad would send me a carnation flower for Valentine’s Day and that meant so much to me. It made me feel important.  This was back when the school office would deliver all the flowers to the classrooms.  Many girls would get many flowers and I really appreciate that he took a few minutes to order that one flower just for me.  (Between you and me, I’m pretty sure my mom encouraged dad to do these things and that’s okay.  They created special memories.)

The important thing is that it really doesn’t take big gestures and whole days to make these memories with our kids.  Little girls need their daddies and good, healthy relationships with them.   If there is a healthy, close relationship between a girl and her daddy, then when a boy offers his “love” a daughter makes wiser choices and won’t fall for every boy who shows her attention.

Listen to your daughters speak.  Let them talk about whatever is important to them and engage in the conversation.  Take your daughters on dates to show them how they should be treated.

It just matters.

[Note:  I am a girl so I am writing from a girl’s perspective about her dad.  There are maybe other writers who write from a son’s perspective with mom or dad.  All I know is that a few minutes of real genuine, involved conversation between parents and kids matters.]

You stole pieces of me and left me broken and afraid (Sexual molestation)

I was 9 years old.

You stole pieces of me and left me broken and afraid. I believed the lies that I was nothing. I believed that this was all I was good for. You belong in prison and you know it.

You took my innocence and my confidence. You are the lowest of low people and you have NO excuses for what you did. You say it’s because someone molested you so you molested others? That’s a bunch of lies!

You molested ME and I would NEVER hurt another person this way.

There IS a choice. It can stop with YOU.

I matter. You should have seen that I matter. You should have been someone good in my life. Instead you are someone who wrecked into my life and made me feel like nothing.

If you repent and are baptized and go to Heaven, that’s great. As for this life, you belong in prison. I forgive you because my heart needs to be free to love on other people and help them heal. I forgive you because God says to. I forgive you because you are so broken that you don’t even realize what you’ve done to so many people. I feel sorry for you.

You made me afraid for so many years. I thought you would come after me. You don’t even know that part. All those years I spent afraid that you would come after me, I now realize you were thinking nothing about me AND you were still molesting other kids and sleeping with anyone of “legal” age who would have sex with you. The damage you did was still happening and you just lived care free.

You are nothing but a coward. You will answer to God FOR EVERY THOUGHT you had about me and you will also answer just the same for all the other kids you molested. Yes, you have to answer to Him. He’s my Daddy and He is NOT happy about the way you think about me and what you’ve done.

Thank you for inspiring me to write this. I know it will help so many people.

See?

That’s the thing.

God is using the very thing that you used against me to help other people heal. I am NOT afraid anymore. I am very worthwhile and I matter.

And now I will spend the rest of my life telling other people that they matter.

Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now — life for many people.  -Genesis 50:20

I forgive you and, NO, you may NEVER be around my children. I forgive you. I’m not stupid.

Sincerely, Me

~

Let me tell you something.

There is NOTHING sexy about a 9 year old little girl. There is NOTHING sexy about a 3 year old or a 15 year old for that matter. Some of those years it’s just called puberty, you piece of trash. A 15 year old child is a child. She may have a body starting to look like a woman but her mind is nowhere near ready for sex or a “relationship.”

People who molest and rape children are lower than bill collector scum. They are NOTHING. God can love them and forgive them and that’s way beyond my understanding, because I do not see HOW He can, but that’s because I’m human and I have only limited understanding.

~

POEM – or whatever you want to call it.

Please let me be a kid.

Please let me get to play hide and seek, ride my bike and play on the playground without you looking at me like that. Please let me walk with my friends without worry that you’ll take me from my family or take away my childhood.

Please see that I’m a child of God and know that He’s gonna be really, REALLY mad about what you’re thinking. Please let me be a whole, confident, safe kid and grow to be a person who can help other people in the world find their talents and meet their goals.

Please let me just be a kid.

I only get one opportunity to be a kid and you can help make it a wonderful time or make it the most horrible memory for me.

Please just let me be a kid. Please do not take my pictures. Please do not have wrong intentions toward me. Please don’t bother me.

Please know that if you do anything to me that is against God, you will answer to Him for it. You will stand in God’s presence and He will ask you, “Why?” and you, alone, must tell Him, our Daddy, why you hurt me. I don’t know if He’ll take the excuse that someone touched you so that’s why you can’t control yourself. Please don’t make excuses at all. Please don’t touch me in a way that God would be sad about. Please just let me be healthy and please don’t introduce sex to me when I’m only a child. You don’t have the right to do that. You don’t have the right to hurt me. You don’t have the right to even think the things you are thinking about me.

I can tell. I will tell. If someone isn’t smart enough to help or hear me, then I will tell another grown up and another and another until someone is smart enough to help me get away from you. You do not have the right to make me a dirty, little secret. You do not have the right to take away my innocence.

I’m bigger than you. I’m braver than you. I’m braver because I pray for you now. I pray that you feel loved on enough at home and by God to not ever bully or hurt other people.

Please, please just let me be a kid. -Kerri Stites