Dee's Blog
Fri 12/30/2011
The Illusion of Power

We've all heard of the illusion of control.  Simply put, it means that we just think we are in control of everything and everybody around us.  Sounds nice, doesn't it? 

Of course, nobody can control everything all at once.  Life is filled with unknowns.  We share control with others on this planet, like it or not.  That includes the people who care more about causing trouble than not. 

Some people believe that God is in control of everything.  I was raised on that theology.  Many I know still espouse this.  Today,  I understand God to be a spirit, available to every human being.  Only if we were all perfect and constantly in tune with the Spirit would God be in perfect control of humanity.  We are not puppets!  God is not pulling our strings!

Of course, if you believe that God literally sends plagues and natural disasters, then there is no room for the element of chance.  "Everything happens for a reason," we frequently hear. 

By contrast, I believe that there are many things that do happen by chance.  Not everything is a part of "God's plan." Nature just goes amuck quite frequently in spite of the fact that it usually does not.  Accidents happen.  Not all illness is man-made, as some self-appointed "authorities" would have you believe.  Things just aren't that simple.  We don't need simple explanations for every complex problem that comes along.  In fact, simple explanations get in the way of truth!!  Yet we do well to seek ways of making a higher purpose out of the nonsense that comes our way.

Peter Pellulo, in his book Betrayal and the Beast , reveals a common illusion for survivors who have yet to face reality.    Though I've never heard anyone use the term "illusion of power," I dare say that's exactly what it is.  Very similar to the illusion of control. 

Under the false assumption that, by being in control, he was more powerful than the demons within him, Peter's addiction (in this case sexual addiction) was able to thrive.  The truth couldn't be spoken because it was so well hidden--not just from Peter, but from all he knew.  Like the little kid who experienced violent sexual abuse decades earlier, Peter had a need to feel more powerful than he actually was, even as an adult. His powerlessness was just too scary!

The powerful secret he was afraid to speak was in control of the person (ie. Peter) who was most interested in keeping the secret.  Yet, once he realized this, Peter was empowered to work for change--not just for himself but for many others!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:58 PM CST
Updated: Fri 12/30/2011 9:59 PM CST
Thu 12/29/2011
The Impossible Task of Weighing the Risk

Anyone who dares speak truth to power would do well to know the risk involved with speaking.  There's just one problem--knowing the risk with certainty is impossible.  Yes, there are just too many unknown's.  It is truly an act of faith.

Whether you see it as an act of faith in God, an act of faith in the future, an act of faith in the process or in all three of these, I'm convinced that it is absolutely vital that the speaker somehow be empowered to also have faith in herself/himself to endure the unknown consequences.  It's a tall order for a person who has been made to feel so small and defeated for years!

It also helps to have a dose of apathy.  The personal consequences become less important than keeping the secret.  One has to become more afraid of living with what one knows for certain than of facing the unknown set of surprises that comes when Pandora's box is open! One has to believe in the power of the truth more than in the fear of speaking it.

 Somehow that's what the Penn State survivors have all done, each in their own time.  Each time they contemplate speaking to anyone, they have to take stock once again.

They have been empowered by the media.  Yet they have also had reason to fear what the media and others will do with them and their words. 

A couple of weeks before the Penn State story broke, I was contacted by Peter Pelullo, founder of 'Let Go…Let Peace Come In, Foundation,' in anticipation of the release of his new book Betrayal and the Beast.   Peter asked me to consider reviewing his book before its publication.  I was honored and glad that I could make time to do so.   You will find my endorsement if you simply scroll on down the page that introduces you to the book and the amazing notoreity that Peter has already received because of his empathetic work of advocacy and personal support for the Penn State victims. 

Tomorrow, I will tell you something about why Pelullo was able to find the courage and power to speak of the horrors, as well as the process of healing that he has experienced because of violent child sexual abuse himself.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:17 PM CST
Wed 12/28/2011
Young Lady Stands Her Ground Here in Kansas
Topic: Power

How thrilled I am to be in Lawrence, a city where speaking one's mind seems to be refreshingly welcome.  It's an oasis in the desert of suppression that permeates so much of Kansas!

 A few weeks ago, a high school student--female, at that--was able to turn power on it's head here in Kansas. 

If you haven't heard the story, or even if you have, you may want to read this abc news blog

Thanks to the courage of Emma Sullivan, we should all be inspired to claim what is rightfully ours.  Our voice, that is.  This freedom carries with it a power that every individual deserves.

I keep wondering what this young lady is capable of accomplishing in the years to come.  Seems to me, the sky is her limit!

Sullivan's story shows that, through such courage, sometimes one individual CAN make a big impression that humbles those in places of great political power.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:51 PM CST
Tue 12/27/2011
Life's Challenges Provide New Insights
Topic: Power

 Christmas came early at our house!   A power wheelchair for my husband!  Yet I'm as glad to see it as he is.  It makes life easier and gives us the freedom to go more places.   The chair is just one of the positives in what has been a most challenging two years, since I last posted an entry on this blog.


Those two years have brought adjustment after adjustment, involving:  several hospitalizations for Ron, the death of Ron's mother, the loss of one of his best friends to cancer, and the near-loss of the other best friend, who is waiting in hope of a new, life-saving liver and kidney, as I tried to stand by and offer support and carry on the routine that I had for years.  This blog was just one of those routines that I so enjoyed.


During the two years, we have made two major moves, the last one a very positive one for which we have been working and planning for years.


Only weeks after hanging the last picture, we learned why Ron was again going downhill, just when we thought he was ready to roll.  The news that he was already far into the process of becoming paraplegic, due to a rare condition of the spinal cord, really took the wind out of our sails!!  We reached far into ourselves and found what we knew was already there--the power to take charge of our lives as we searched for new resources.


Despite the shocking diagnosis and prognosis, we have had so many empowering gifts, including some of you dear readers.


New friends have helped sustain us, added to family and friends we've had for years--each providing a unique blend of encouragement, support, and a willingness to help us adapt to a new lifestyle that has forced us to slow down, reset priorities, and find ways to move forward.


The tangible gifts came in the form of equipment.  Most were gifts to ourselves.  We dug deep and found ways to make it happen.  In the process, we have gained a deep, new understanding of the very limited power that so many other-abled people, already living in poverty, face each day.   Ron has pledged to regain his independence as quickly as possible so that he can devote his life to empowering this group through advocacy.  This will be his new ministry here in this welcoming city of Lawrence, KS.  He's already started networking a lot to see where he can plug in. 


This new addition to our household is remarkable.  Weighing in at 400 pounds, it has a way of gaining respect wherever it goes.   No wonder they call it a power chair!!  What a smile it has brought to both of us!  Hills that would have been foreboding only weeks ago are no longer threatening.  Ron actually had to stop one day and wait for me to catch up! 


Oh, that we could so quickly reverse the institutional power imbalances that so many of us have encountered!  



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:26 PM CST
Sun 09/20/2009
Just Questioning Judgment
Topic: Judgment

The favorite verse used for proof-texting by people who don't want to consider accountability is "Judge not that ye be not judged."

Most of you know how I feel about proof-texting.  I refuse to stoop to the level of arrogancy that implies that the intended audience is wayward in forgetting some important scripture.  Proof-texting is used in the hope of changing people's minds.  It almost never works, except in cases where the minds of the hearers are so easily swayed that it's scary.

"Judge not that ye be not judged" is thrown my direction quite often.  I've heard it most often when I've asked someone to join my attempts to hold someone accountable for what people like to call "just a mistake."  Problem is that "just a mistake," in these instances, refers to illegal behavior or morally reprehensible behavior.  

Examples include drug abuse and distribution, behaviors that result from drug or alcohol abuse, and any form of violence and/or abuse.  The favorite place to use the "Judge not" platitude is in protecting a minister or church leader! 

Notice that I insist on sticking to behavior.   Not labelling a person as inherently "bad."  THAT would be judging.

Somehow, religious folks often stretch the theological concepts of grace and mercy to such an extreme that ALL determination of culpability on this earth would be thrown out.  The implication is:  "Let's just wait until God's Judgment Day." (ie. in the "sweet by and by")

The "Judge not" scolding is intended to stop all conversation.  To be honest, it often works with me.  I just give up because that's often the only wise thing to do.

Recently, however, I got creative.  In one very brief statement, I stopped all conversation myself:

"I'm not judging anyone.  Because you are refusing to hold this person accountable, I'm simply questioning your judgment."

To this, I could have added:  "Now, please stop judging me!"

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tue 09/22/2009 8:05 AM CDT
Tue 04/28/2009
Still Questioning
Topic: Holocaust

"Was I wrong?" Livia asked, now 70 years afterward, as she stood before one of many audiences she has addressed all over the world.  Perhaps I read her wrong, but I had a sense she wasn't just trying to spark some decision.  The question seemed to come from an unresolved insecurity.

At the age of 6, when their Hungarian oppressors had put out a decree that all Jews should wear the yellow star on EVERY single garment they wore, this little girl quietly rebelled.  She wasn't going to play their game!  Yet every other member of her family--all of them older-- did.

Livia did wear the stars to school, but would walk as close to the buildings as possible so her star wouldn't be readily visible to the public.  From the moment of the decree until they were put into train cars seven years later, Livia chose to give up many of the joys of her childhood and to isolate herself in her home, the only place where a star was not required. 

"How would YOU feel?"  she asked the audience, in an attempt to get us to formulate a reply to the first question.  "I felt so ashamed," she continued.

Soon, very timidly, some on the lower section began to raise their hands and to speak.  They could understand why a little girl would make such a choice.

I raised my hand, too far away and perhaps too late for her to acknowledge practically.  So I may never find a way to say what I wanted to say.  It is this:  "Livia, you were courageous and making a choice to be different in a way that hurt you, but made a statement to the world through your testimony today!"  That's the life of a rebel.  Whether through a hunger strike or a decision not to follow along with the obedient.  I'm sorry for what it cost you, but I thank you for your courage."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:48 AM CDT
Sun 04/26/2009
Resourcefulness Required
Topic: Holocaust

When Livia Bitton-Jackson came on the stage last Tuesday night, all of us in the audience stood, without prompting, and applauded.   She was embarrassed, though gracious.  Told us that she didn't deserve this honor.  The real honor goes to those who did not survive, the ones she represented by telling her own story.

Her only request was that we go forth and tell her story.  She would be pleased to know that I have already done so several times this week--both in person and in writing.

I noted how many times I've asked people, as an author, to do exactly that with my own story.  It's certainly not a holocaust story.  Yet it is a story that is filled with some unique lessons about how people collude with evil in order to heap flaming coals on the head of one who is speaking truth about a problem that needs a lot of attention.

What I sense is fear.   I suppose it would be like Livia asking the German people to talk about her story at their family gatherings, to make it a part of their aubiographical dialogue. 

When people who are close to the church and have the need to "protect" the institution and it's "sacred" beliefs about itself and what it believes about God, there seems to be a huge disconnect, a refusal to "own" the story about complicity and collusion.

Why should I be surprised?  Like everyone and every culture, I am as prone as anyone to hide and ignore my own shadow side.  Yet hope is found only when we face our shadows and are transformed.

That's a very big job--one that all of us will do well to embrace as we learn to tell the stories of others for the greater good.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:41 AM CDT
Sat 04/25/2009
Meeting A Real Holocaust Survivor
Topic: Holocaust

Though I've read many stories, I've never been in the same room with a "real" Holocaust survivor until this week.  Dr. Livia Bitton-Jackson visited Omaha and spoke to a packed audience where I was privileged to be.  Livia has written three autobiographical books in order to tell her story of survival. 

The title of the first describes what she feels deeply:  I've Lived a Thousand Years (best priced as a paperback at Borders). 

Livia told many unique, personal stories.  A few were funny, thankfully, to break the gloom of the overall story.  Several told of how prejudice grows in an individual or in a society.

Today, I attended the funeral of Hugh Marshall, my 90-year-old former student.  That funeral had something in common with Livia Bitton-Jackson's speech about the Holocaust.  Both were reminders that when our lives are dynamic--and certainly both of these individual lives were--we have the sense of having lived "a thousand years."  That sense seems to be increased, whether our lives are made up of many horrors or of dramatically wonderful events.  Both have the potential for changing us in positive ways.

Some would say that Hugh was a rather common man compared to Livia.  Yet neither were common at all.  For both have overcome adversities, managed to survive monumental challenges and to be a tremendous blessing to others. 

May your "thousand years" be filled with increasing joys, as mine has!  May you find many people to inspire you along the way!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:47 PM CDT
Fri 04/24/2009
Living as if the Present is What Matters Most
Topic: Making Changes

Since I last posted in February, I've been learning the joy of living as if the present is what matters most.  I think I've always lived that way, to an extent.  Yet, the older I get, the more I tend to forget this.  There's something about aging that can keep one focused on the past more than is healthy.  OR be concerned about future needs that may appear to be somewhat threatened, by one issue or another.

This morning, I got up with my day all planned out.  Was gonna start with this blog.  I had a list of fun things and 1-2 not-so-fun.  Managed to get in a picnic with my hubby since spring has briefly arrived today.  Oh, how glorious!  

Then, the day got re-arranged with a frig problem that is reminding me of how much I depend on this freezing luxury.

Tomorrow, perhaps I'll get to something of more substance.

Yet as I was removing the magnets from my frig this afternoon, I stopped to contemplate a very deep thought.  The magnet says something about surviving being a good thing, but "thriving is elegant." 

As meaningful as this has been to me, I'm just wondering today.  Maybe it's a good thing to sometimes say:  "Thriving is a good thing, but "surviving is elegant."  I say this after visiting a 93-year-old neighbor today.  And just hours after getting the call that my oldest former student (also in his 90's) died yesterday.  I really think this is the important lesson that I've learned from him, come to think of it. 

So, I'll pass it on to you.  Surviving is NOT bad at all.  It's when we are striving to "thrive" that we often get into the valley of unrealistic expectations. 

For just today, try living in the present.   Enjoy the springtime!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:17 PM CDT
Wed 02/11/2009
Focusing on Podcasts

Some have written out of concern that I am either ill or abandoning my ministry of education and support to those who are wrestling with the questions of collusion with sexual and domestic abuse.

I want to assure you that neither is the case.  I simply have felt the need to use my time more efficiently and to focus on other avenues of this ministry. 

Much of my focus has been on preparing podcasts for the use of  that will be available to visitors on that site.  All of these can be found at   You'll also find each of these individual podcasts referred to at various locations throughout the site.  However, ALL podcasts can be accessed at

If you find any of these helpful, I'd like to know.  And I want to continue hearing from any visitor to the site who wishes to write.  I remain committed and hope you will take time to explore the topics that are found on this blog already.  Each one is as timely as the day it was written. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:29 PM CST

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