The Sharpe Logs

Rich Tatum: I'm about to head to lunch, but I thought I'd let you know about a good website where you can get discounted Christianbooks:

Kathi: awesome!
Kathi: how ya doin?

Rich Tatum: Good!

Kathi: I just got in the door from court … continued again<sigh>

Rich Tatum: Strangely sore, and sleepy.
Rich Tatum: Court?

Kathi: Did you know that we're trying to get custody of my stepdaughter?

Sore? Your back still?

Rich Tatum: No, I didn't..
Rich Tatum: Naw, my knees and calves.
Rich Tatum: Just tired-out.

Kathi: My stepdaughter's mother went to prison a while back … embezzlement. She's out now … living above a tattoo parlor with drug dealers and prostitutes outside … her husband is a druggie, just got committed involuntarily to the local dry-out the other day. Brandi was a 4.0 GPA student … now she's getting D's.
Kathi: So we're trying to get custody.

Rich Tatum: Yikes.
Rich Tatum: Criminey.

Kathi: you have a gift for understatement.

Rich Tatum: That sounds really tiring.
Rich Tatum: :-)
Rich Tatum: Well … yeah.
Rich Tatum: :-)

Kathi: We thought things would get better … they go to our church … people have tried to help … but she's really conning them out of their money :-(
Kathi: We've been to court monthly since May … have yet to actually get in front of the judge. Greensboro's court system is sorry.

See, I have a gift for understatement too!

Rich Tatum: Tempted to cuss, ain't ya?
Rich Tatum: Sounds like an exhausting, trying time.
Rich Tatum: Imagine going through this without Christ?

Kathi: It is … poor Brandi is really unable to cope with much more. I couldn't … but do you want to hear something interesting?

Our pastor is gone … in Russia still on the missions trip. So we've been having various people fill in.

Rich Tatum: Yeah?

Kathi: The guy who filled in last night for Bible study said something that upset me deeply … in fact, it rocked me to my core.

Can the devil work through preachers? That's a serious question.

Rich Tatum: Hmmm …
Rich Tatum: Jesus said "Get behind me Satan" when Peter said the wrong thing.

Kathi: Seven years ago last month, my best friend was murdered. Three weeks later, her boyfriend, who was also a close friend of mine, committed suicide. I've always blamed myself for that.
Kathi: Three weeks after that, another close friend did the same thing.
Kathi: I blame myself because I withdrew, even though I knew he needed support.

Rich Tatum: Okay.

Kathi: Last night, this guy was talking about something completely different … then all of a sudden started talking about people not doing anything to prevent suicides.
Kathi: I have been avoiding this subject in my mind, since my conversion. Before, I really believed that they would all have a second chance … reincarnation. But now, I have to accept that all 3 of them went to hell. None of them knew the Lord, or even wanted to.

Rich Tatum: Okay?
Rich Tatum: (Uh, strike the question mark.)

Kathi: So last night, I got slapped upside the head with this, out of the blue, and it was a real test of my faith.

Rich Tatum: I can imagine.

Kathi: <whew> betcha thought I'd never finish.

Rich Tatum: So, can you articulate what you've been turning over in your mind?
Rich Tatum: Are you reflecting on the possibility that you were somehow partly responsible for three deaths?

Kathi: yes, absolutely.

Rich Tatum: I am big on guilt. I should've been Jewish. :-) But I'm learning that my sense of guilt often persists even in the face of my awareness of how irrational I'm being.

Kathi: Amber was my best friend … she and Jimmy, the boyfriend, had quit drinking … both were really bad alcoholics. I should have known that she'd fall off the wagon and get in trouble. And after she was killed, I should have, in spite of my own pain, reached out to her other friends.

Rich Tatum: Is it possible for you to acknowledge that there is some irrationality in your self-perception of responsibility?

Kathi: Oh, of course … I've been round and round with this for seven years :-) Of course I'm irrational.

Rich Tatum: Okay.

Kathi: But until last night … I didn't have the concept of hell as an additional weight.

Rich Tatum: Well, that's important to remember.
Rich Tatum: Yes.
Rich Tatum: Okay.

Kathi: So … I really had to wrestle with that … and came to the conclusion that they all made choices in their lives, and those choices were things I had no power over.

Rich Tatum: I have just concluded that I have no clue as to how to help you with this — I don't really know what you're going through here. I can only imagine, but I'm sure my imagination doesn't really hold a candle to the reality of your anguish.
Rich Tatum: But I do think that there is help for you.
Rich Tatum: Yes, you're right.
Rich Tatum: This is one of the things that I was going to say.

Kathi: I prayed about it all night … but as I was praying, I realized that this was taking my focus away from what I should have been praying about … court today.

Rich Tatum: "It is appointed to man once to die, then after that, the judgement." (Paraphrase of a verse from Ecclesiastes, I think.)

Kathi: At what better time for the devil to come and screw things up than this?
Kathi: But I'm resolved not to let any more friends go to hell without me kicking and screaming all the way.

Rich Tatum: One thing to remember is that no matter what, God will judge justly. There will never be a more appropriate judge than God about where a person will spend eternity. Ultimately, people choose their own destinations — whether or not their life ended at their own hands or otherwise.
Rich Tatum: You're right.
Rich Tatum: You gotta remember Phillippians …. think on these things and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Rich Tatum: Paul said "This one thing I do, I put my past behind me, and I run the race before me." (paraphrase.)

Kathi: :::nodding:::

Rich Tatum: This is one of the really hard parts of becoming a Christian, is knowing what, from your past, is worth reflecting on joyfully, and what is worth looking to God for healing over.
Rich Tatum: The truth is, no matter how God might heal you physically, he'll never change your past.
Rich Tatum: Your past will always be with you.
Rich Tatum: That will never change.

Kathi: No … but He's done a lot of changing how I look at things. The difference between a weed and a flower is a judgement :-)

Rich Tatum: What must change is how you view your past, as a lost child, and how you use that to grow today.
Rich Tatum: When the Children of God were taken out of Egypt, they couldn't stop looking back — both at the good and bad that had happened while two or three generations of their friends and relatives grew up and died.
Rich Tatum: Those years in Egypt generated a lot of mixed feelings, and as a result they all wound up wandering around in the wilderness for forty years until everyone who couldn't truly leave Egypt behind was dead.
Rich Tatum: This is a challenge for the adult convert.

Kathi: So many things have happened in my life … so many terrible things … I have often wondered why.

Rich Tatum: To truly leave Egypt behind you and make it through the wilderness where God wants you to learn to totally rely on him and to allow him to be your sustenance.
Rich Tatum: Unfortunately, being a Christian won't prevent new terrible things from happening to you again.

Kathi: It's taken years to get to the point where it's not ME wanting to commit suicide. I've overcome, I've learned from it.

Because of what's happened to me, though, I now have a powerful way to relate to people … that most folks don't have.

Kathi: This is true …

Rich Tatum: One of the things that changes for you as a child of God is your awareness of how near he is to you, that he is ultimately in charge, and that your view of eternity makes the time you spend here on Earth pale by comparison.
Rich Tatum: Look at life as though you were a Jewish concentration camp survivor.
Rich Tatum: I have often thought that their survivor skills are lessons in hardship for all Christians.
Rich Tatum: The awareness that there is more beyond the fences you see now that is greater and more important than any pain or experience you currently are going through.

Kathi: :::nodding:::

Rich Tatum: No matter what happens to you, to your body, to your family or friends, God is in charge and your job is to live in peace with fellow believers, to warn those who are idle, to encourage the timid, to help the weak, to be patient with everyone, to make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong and to always try to be kind to fellow believers and with everyone else. To be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances.

Kathi: I'm really starting to look at some of these things as … how can I say this … an asset? Yes, it was terrible that they happened. But it didn't kill me, it made me stronger, and it's given me ways to help other people going through things like that.

Rich Tatum: I believe you're right.

Kathi: I've thought seriously about going into work that's elated to my past … abuse recovery, rape crisis … but the opportunity has never presented itself.

Rich Tatum: That can be as therapeutic for you as for the people your helping.
Rich Tatum: You can talk to your pastor and let him know about your past. Let him know that you're available to meet with women that come to him to help — if that's okay with him.

Kathi: Yes … I've always wanted to "give back" … to help, as I was helped.

That's a good idea … hadn't thought of that.

Rich Tatum: To prepare for that kind of thing, you might want to get some training as a counselor, if you haven't already, to protect yourself and your church legally.
Rich Tatum: Men always appreciate women in the church who are willing to help counseling troubled women.
Rich Tatum: It helps protect the pastorate.
Rich Tatum: But, be careful that you not jump into deep ministry too quickly.

Kathi: I'd like to … takes time & money though :-)
Kathi: No, I'm being very careful about that …

Rich Tatum: You've grown terribly quickly, but it might also be a good idea to partner with another Christian woman as a mentor for this kind of thing.
Rich Tatum: Perhaps you can suggest a class for women who are struggling with these kinds of life issues, and you can assist the class leader.
Rich Tatum: Sometimes, helping other people is therapeutically humiliating. It's important to put our own pain and misery in the context of other people's experiences.

Kathi: My tendency is to leap in and take over … in ANY situation … and fake what I don't know. This had led to a number of rewarding experiences, and also to a number of … interesting … experiences as well :P I have asked several responsible people, including our pastor, to make sure that I don't leap before I'm ready to!

Rich Tatum: that
Rich Tatum: That's wise.
Rich Tatum: It makes you accountable.

Kathi: yes …
Kathi: In many things, I'll take a risk … in fact, that's how I got my current job <grinz> but not in this.

Rich Tatum: You might consider taking some Berean Bible courses …. something to ground you theologically or even WRT counseling.
Rich Tatum: There are some good Christian counseling texts out there.

Kathi: :::grabbing pen and paper:::

Rich Tatum: Good, solid correspondence courses are always useful. You might be able to reduce the cost by auditing. Check with the schools.
Rich Tatum: You already have an undergraduate degree, right?

Kathi: <gulp>

Rich Tatum: Or, not?

Kathi: I got my GED at 17, and I've taken a few college classes.


Rich Tatum: That's okay. You're obviously very bright, so not having a degree is not a bad thing.

Kathi: No, it's a terrible thing.

Rich Tatum: I know some graduate-school graduates that you have already put to shame.

Kathi: (here comes some more guilt)

Rich Tatum: Okay.

Kathi: I've felt like I'm trapped on a wheel for years. I don't have the money to go back to school, where I should have gone to begin with but getting pregnant with Bobby really dashed any tiny remaining hope I had for that. I don't have the money because I don't have a degree, so I can't get a decent job that pays enough for me to go back to school.
Kathi: I wanted to be a lawyer. </guilt>

Rich Tatum: :-)
Rich Tatum: Have you every thought seriously about distance education?

Kathi: I have.. in fact, last year I talked with a college that specializes in people like me.. except you have to have $ … it's not even a LOT of money … but way beyond my means.

Rich Tatum: Believe me, if you're going to work through college as an adult, it's almost better to do it through distance ed. If your husband could put you through college so you didn't have to work, that would be ideal, of course.
Rich Tatum: Are you set on a pre-law degree?

Kathi: The only reason I work at all is because he doesn't make enough to support us all. He's never been to college either.:-(
Kathi: At this point, I don't know what I really want to do. I have far too many interests :-)

Rich Tatum: :-)

Kathi: It's always been my problem. Jack of all trades, master of none. That's how I end up fixing so many problems at work. But do I get the fat paycheck? LOL

Rich Tatum: I know the feeling.

Kathi: I really enjoy the work I'm doing now … but …

Rich Tatum: That's why, despite my envy of people with real degrees, Bible College was probably the best avenue for me because despite my ultimate lack of interest in any given professional skill, I'm always interested in deepening my understanding of faith and God.

Kathi: I feel like I should be making a difference, and I'm not.

Indirectly, I am. Three of our AOL forums are support related(addiction & recovery, pain relief, depression) … but I'm not playing an active role in any of them.

Kathi: I'd love to go to Bible college.

Rich Tatum: Look into Berean: You can get started here fairly inexpensively. And while you're at it, please don't hesitate to talk to your pastor about this. (When you're talking to him about counseling :-) ) Your church will more likely be able to help you financially with Berean courses than with any other kind of education.
Rich Tatum: Many A/G churches actually offer extension education programs via Berean for very low costs.

Kathi: My husband thinks I should be a preacher …. did I tell you that?


Rich Tatum: This could be an incentive for your pastor to join the Berean program.
Rich Tatum: You didn't, but you'd make a good one, I think. Based on how I have observed you thinking and adapting.
Rich Tatum: Yes.
Rich Tatum: Don't be afraid to ask for your pastors advice. Tell him you can't afford an on-site education but that you're interested in pursuing a degree through Berean. Tell him you want to know if there are any programs available to help provide assistance if you also volunteer to help out around there church between courses of study.

Kathi signed off at 12:23:51 PM.

Kathi signed on at 12:25:20 PM.

Kathi: grrrrrrr want a computer?

Rich Tatum: <grin>

Kathi: can you send me that link again, to Berean (did I spell it right?)

Rich Tatum: Don't be afraid to ask for your pastors advice. Tell him you can't afford an on-site education but that you're interested in pursuing a degree through Berean. Tell him you want to know if there are any programs available to help provide assistance if you also volunteer to help out around there church between courses of study.

Perhaps you can volunteer to help lead some Berean study courses after you've earned a distance education degree from Berean.

Kathi: the guys took NT off my computer and put 98 on it … and it's been (at) % (at) #$% (at) #%! ever since.

Rich Tatum: Yes:
Rich Tatum: Or there might be another A/G church nearby offering on-site Berean courses during the week night or on Saturdays.
Rich Tatum: Your district office might know that.
Rich Tatum: Also, Berean offers distance education via the 'Net:"Berean has successfully implemented and delivered many of our Institute-level courses via the Internet into the homes of eager Bible students. These solutions have given students the interaction, accountability, and instruction to substantially increase their completion rate. "

Kathi signed off at 12:27:35 PM.

Kathi signed on at 12:28:50 PM.

Rich Tatum: Boy, you keep falling off the net like a drunken cowboy off a mule.

Kathi: :::growls:::

AOL doesn't like that website … that's what's crashing this$%#!#%$#!

Kathi: ROFL

Rich Tatum: Don't use AOL. Use explorer outside of AOL.
Rich Tatum: Or Netscrape.

Kathi: Actually, I'm not falling offline, I'm getting locked up and having to hit the off button.

Rich Tatum: is it AIM causing the problem?

Kathi: :::shudder::: I used to love Netscape … last time I used it, for some reason I hated it, and I've used IE ever since … couple years.
Kathi: No, I don't use AIM, I'm on regular AOL.

Rich Tatum: yeah, NS has really become a drooling idiot in the last couple of years — now that AOL owns it especially.

Kathi: It's partly that these IT guys have everything messed up on this computer. I'm tempted to come in after hours, and reformat it, start from scratch again …

Rich Tatum: Ah, well, that's your problem!
Rich Tatum: Gotta reboot … tech's here.
Rich Tatum: Talk later.
Rich Tatum:

Kathi: k

The Sharpe Logs: email and chat transcripts with Kathi Sharpe, ex-Wiccan
© 2001 by Richard A. Tatum Email
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