An Interesting Twist in a Child Custody Case

Although a bit apprehensive at first, I was recently asked to help a non-JW mom in a child custody hearing. Due to my story of Growing Up in Mama’s Club – A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she believed I could help convince the court that her three school-aged children should not be baptized as JWs, if that was their choice, until they were 18 years old.

She had married a disfellowshipped JW and early on made a non binding verbal agreement with her husband that the kids would not be raised as JWs. After their divorce, the dad had a change of heart. He was reinstated and began attending meetings sporadically. Several months ago, he started taking the kids to the Kingdom Hall on the Sundays he had custody. As soon as the mom found out, she filed a complaint.

The mom did her homework and provided good documentation to the court to support her concerns. And, she petitioned for me and another ex-Bethelite to be her expert witnesses. The questions and our testimony were to be as follows:
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Helen’s Response

My wife, Helen, walked out of her last Kingdom Hall meeting in 1986 after spending thirty years as a JW and has never looked back. While her story and more is told in an upcoming sequel that I’m writing, Ghosts from Mama’s Club, I want to share an event that happened to Helen two weeks ago. But first, I’ll need to share a little background information.

While Helen was never disfellowshipped, her JW siblings treated her departure like she was. When my step father passed away in 2001, Helen and her JW sister had a pleasant two-hour conversation after his funeral. Still miffed by the silliness of it all, Helen said sarcastically as her sister announced it was time to go, “See you in another fifteen years Esther.”

In July of this year, I organized a meeting with my JW brother, who is ironically married to Helen’s sister, to persuade my JW mother to move into an assisted living facility. Esther joined us and the hour-plus conversation preceding family business went well. Lots of laughs, hugs, and conversation you’d expect from family members. It prompted my mother to say to me later, “You could really see the love Helen and Esther have for each other.”

Two months later, Helen received a letter from Esther and a copy of the September 2006 Watchtower, featuring the article on page 17, “When a Loved One Leaves Jehovah.” Esther wrote, “My intentions in sending this is not to upset you, but rather is out of love and concern for you and Dick, (me) especially in view of the worsening world conditions and the nearness of Armageddon.” She went on to underline the following expressions:
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A Mini Vacation in Northern Arizona

My wife, Helen, and I celebrated our status as new Arizona residents by taking a 5-day, 1,300-mile mini vacation in order to feast ourselves on some of Mother Nature’s most scenic southwest canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rocks and monuments without going to the Grand Canyon or Sedona.

We started our journey on Sunday, June 13, and headed for Globe, a mining town so named because of a globe-shaped piece of almost pure silver found in the area in 1870. Several miles later, we were treated to a 30-minute drive through picturesque, 2,000-feet-deep Salt River Canyon. Here the colorful sedimentary rock layers are visible from the road for miles.

Then it was on to Show Low, elevation 6,500 feet, where Tucson Desert Rats like we’ve just become can escape the summer heat. Here you can bask under 100-foot-tall pine trees or fish for feisty trout in the pristine streams in the area, but this was not our destination for the day.

Our goal was the southern entrance—Rainbow Forest—of Petrified Forest National Park. And words can not describe the thrill of seeing so many brilliantly colored, petrified logs strewn over this first stop of what is a 93,533 acre park.

About 225 million years ago, these logs we could touch and see close up were giant trees clinging to an eroding riverbank before falling into a fast-moving stream that carried them to wet, swampy lowlands. They were finally submerged in water and buried under volcanic ash sediments rich in silica before time and Nature’s handiwork did its magic. Silica replaced the wood until the logs were virtually turned into stone, with iron oxide and other minerals staining the silica to produce rainbow colors.

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