Sunday, November 25, 2012

My story...

I've been wanting to write this piece for quite some time now, but to be honest, it's been the most challenging to write. It's one of those touchy subjects that I really hate to talk about at all, but I believe God uses trials for His glory. My purpose in writing this is to share what God has done in and through me these past 7 years, and that maybe my story will help someone else get to where God wants them to be. It's been the hardest 7 years of my life, but it's made me into the person God intended me to be even though it may not be the path He chose.

April 2004- I started dating this guy I met at church. To protect identities I will call him Joe. He was nice, friendly; he was a Christian and he asked me out on a date. June 2005- We got married.

I've gone back to those days and months time and time again and wondered if there was something I missed. Was there something I should have seen? I still can't answer that. He had said he was a Christian, but was he producing fruit? I'm not sure I'll ever know those answers. There is so much that happened in such a short time. I kept journals and wrote everything down. The good, the bad and everything in between.

The abuse began immediately after we got married. On our honeymoon in fact. Joe would hold me down, restrain me...he threatened to leave me in a parking lot and locked me out of our car. He said it was for my own good; that he was only helping me. It was a lie and I knew it. It happened over and over again. He would squeeze me so hard that I couldn't breath. I would leave him for a few days after that so he could cool down. He always begged me to come home and promised it would never happen again. And I listened to him.

Thanksgiving morning 2005, I found out I was pregnant with my beautiful baby girl Savannah. It wasn't much longer until the abuse became worse and he started hitting me. He spent a night in jail, and I had to call the police multiple times. On top of that, I found out that Joe had become addicted to internet pornography. He tried to hide it, and he even denied it for the longest time. In December 2006, I left him for good. I'm not sure if I ever would have done it if it weren't for my baby girl. I knew she deserved so much better than an abusive father, and I was never going to let him hurt her.

I told Joe that if he wanted me to come home, then he needed to get help. I wanted him to go to counseling for his anger issues and abuse, and to seek help for his addiction to pornography. He still felt that I was making a big deal out of nothing and that I was the one who needed to change. He told me maybe he wouldn't hit me so much if I would just show him a little respect.

So I moved back in with my parents. I can still remember how my heart felt like it was breaking into a million pieces. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I was terrified for my daughter. If he had hit me, what would stop him from hitting her? How was I going to keep her safe if Joe refused to get help?

I never thought that I would ever actually meet my little girl face to face. Joe would call me literally 60 times in one day and leave threatening voicemails calling me all kinds of horrible names. We went to counseling together, which was a big mistake. In going together, Joe tried to pin a lot of the guilt from the abuse on me. The counselor we saw was a nice man, but clearly not experienced with dealing with domestic violence. So I began seeing an accountability partner to help me in my walk with God, and continued to attend Bible studies and church services at my church.

I waited for what seemed like forever. Two years passed and Joe was exactly the same as when I had left him, if not worse. He came to my parents house to see Savannah maybe once a month and for a half hour at a time, and he would fall asleep on the floor instead of playing with her. This was no life for my little girl. Joe still had angry outbursts and I did my best to keep her from seeing any of it. I also found out that during the 2 years I lived at my parents, Joe had been having affairs. It was time for one final act on my part in an attempt to get Joe to want to turn his life around. I filed for divorce.

I remember hearing "The Good Life" by Audio Adrenaline with tears rolling down my cheeks because it perfectly described me. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I had lost everything but I had gained everything I will ever need.. It was just me and my little girl. Yes, I had amazing family and friends who stood behind me 100%, but in the end, there was nothing they could do for me except just to pray. They couldn't take the hurt away even though I know they were hurting for me. I know sometimes when we experience trials, it's so hard to trust God to get us through. But I did. I grew closer to God than I had ever been in my entire life.



I prayed every day for my little girl and her safety.There were days that I struggled with trusting God with all of my worrying. I had Bible verses written on 3 x 5 index cards and placed around my room as reminders. When I felt the worry creeping back in, I read those Bible verses out loud. Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I prayed over and over again to God to keep Savannah safe.



A lot has happened since then. In the final stages of the divorce, I saw an amazing counselor to help me deal with the grief. She helped me put my life back together. I had the privilege of getting to know a very sweet and godly man named Aaron. We became best friends and he treated Savannah with such love and kindness. It was better than I could have ever dreamed. I am blessed to say that he is now my husband and we are approaching our second wedding anniversary. We have another baby girl, Scarlette who is 2 weeks shy of her first birthday.

And two months ago, our prayers were answered when Joe signed off his parental rights for my beautiful baby girl, Savannah and she is now legally Aaron's daughter. God answers prayer. My life is proof of this! There is so much that God has taught me these past 7 years. My prayer is that God will use me to help others who may have gone through the same circumstances.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Havah

Not too long ago I read a book by Tosca Lee entitled, "Havah". I was introduced to Tosca Lee's writings by a book that she and Ted Dekker wrote together (Forbidden). I was instantly a fan.

Havah is a tale spun about Eve in the garden of Eden. It contains a little bit of truth that we know from reading the Bible, but mostly just speculated fiction suggesting what might have happened. How many children did Adam and Eve have? Did they ever try to find their way back to the garden? I think so many people (myself included) have unintentionally looked at Eve as a horrible person who began the fall of mankind, when really she is no different than you or I. We are all guilty of the same thing. Sin. I do not believe that Tosca Lee is trying to make Eve out to be a heroine by any means, but it certainly makes you think about what it must have been like to be Eve.
I found it hard to put the book down once I began reading. I read many fast-paced, page-turning books (you know my favorite author is Ted Dekker) and this book was no exception. Tosca Lee is set to release "Iscariot" in February 2013 and I am eager to read that book as well. I am sure it will not disappoint. 

Recommended reading age: Teenager and up.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

75 Things I want my daughters to know

I recently read a post by lisajobaker entitled "100 Things I want to teach my daughter" and it inspired me to create my own list for my daughters. I began quite ambitiously and called it "100 Things I want my daughters to know" but working on it this week it is now:




75 Things I want my daughters to know


  1. No boy is worth your tears, because the one who is won’t make you cry. 

2. You don’t need to wear makeup to be beautiful. You are beautiful the way God made you!

3. Your daddy and I will always love you no matter what. Always.

4. Sometimes you just need a good cry, and that’s okay.

5Never be afraid to do the right thing. You won’t regret it.

6. Jesus is the best friend you will ever have. He’s always there to listen and He’ll pick you up when you fall. Learn to trust Him and give your heart completely to Him.

7I think we both know I am not a fashionista. You may have to recruit your Aunt Cassie in that department.

8. Get back up when you fail. Nothing worth having comes easily.

9.  I know this one is tough, and I’ll admit that sometimes I struggle with it too, but it really doesn’t matter what other people think about you as long as you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing, and that you’re doing what God wants you to do.

10. You really can live happily ever after. It just doesn’t look like what you might expect.

11.  You taught me what unconditional love really is.

12.  If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.

13.  You can always come home.

14.  You will always be my little girl.

15.  When you hurt, I hurt too.

16.  My body will never look the same after having you and your sister, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

17.  You’re just as good as any boy. In sports, smarts or anything you put your mind to.

18.  Be a Proverbs 31 woman.

19.  Smart girls never finish last.

20.  Boys will come and go but girlfriends are forever. Don’t let a boy come between your friendship.

21.  Your sister will be your best ally in life. Stick together.

22.  The first time any guy cheats on you, treats you disrespectfully, or even THINKS about hurting you, will be the last time he ever sees you. Your daddy will make sure of that. Marry someone who treats you with respect, love and kindness and who loves God more than He loves you.

23.  You don’t need a boyfriend to make you feel good about yourself. You are beautiful and smart, and the right guy will come along when you are ready.

24.  They say girls often marry a guy just like their dad. You’ll love having a husband who loves to make you laugh and takes you to comic book conventions. ;)

25.  Don’t listen when the boys say you aren’t allowed to like superheroes. Where would the great Superman be without his Lois Lane? 

26.  It’s okay to disagree with people. Stand up for what you believe in.

27.  Being your mommy is the best job ever.

28.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (I’m still learning this too.)

29.  As much as I try to teach you things, you’ve taught me so much about life and love.

30.  You are my favorite reason to lose sleep.

31.  Never let anyone steal your Joy. (Something I learned from your Great Grandma Cook.)

32.  I love you to the moon and back.

33.  If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

34.  A man without God is a man you can live without.

35.  God’s timing is perfect. Never forget that.

36.  I’m not sure what fashion and trends will look like when you’re a teenager, but tights are not pants. Trust me on this.

37.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.” Joshua 1:9

38.  The book is always better.

39.  You are my favorite works of art.

40.  I’m sorry if you’ve inherited my thick hair that is impossible to curl. Someday you’ll learn to embrace it….or tolerate it. ;)

41.  Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. Do the right thing even if it means you’re doing it alone.

42.  You are my sunshine.

43.  “Her mouth speaks from that which fills her heart.” Luke 6:45

44.  You will never be too big for my lap.

45.  I love it when you giggle.

46.  You put the color inside of my world.

47.  Don’t be afraid to say sorry and admit your mistakes.

48.  Boys have cooties.

49.  It’s ok to have ice cream for breakfast sometimes.

50.  God is good. All the time.

51.  You will always be your daddy’s little girl.

52.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

53.  You are never too old to play dress up.

54.  There is always something to be thankful for.

55.  If you need me, I’ll always be here. I don’t care if I’m sleeping, sick, or dealing with my own problems…I will always be here for you.

56.  Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.

57.  Live a life that you wouldn’t be ashamed to tell your dad and I about.

58.  Walk the road less traveled….and read Robert Frost

59.  Enjoy your childhood. There will be plenty of time for jobs, boyfriends and responsibilities.

60.  You aren’t allowed to date until you’re 30. Just kidding, ok maybe 18.

61.  Please choose your role models carefully.  I’m so happy that at this moment you have no idea who Katy Perry or Lady Gaga is.

62.  I will always be your biggest fan.

63.  I have no idea if Facebook will still be around when you’re teenagers, but I imagine there will be some sort of social networking. Please don’t facebook your problems. Face them head-on. Some adults still have yet to learn this.

64.  You will probably never use algebra in real life but you must learn it anyway.

65.  You are beautiful.

66.  Don’t try to be like someone else. God made you special and unique, and He has a purpose for you.

67.  You can tell me anything.

68.  You will never understand quite how much I love you until you have your own child.

69.  If you wait for the time to be perfect, it may never happen.

70.  Read books.

71.  You can’t control how other people act, but you can control how you respond.

72.  Always keep God at the center of everything you do and every choice you make.

73.  Tomorrow is a new day.

74.  You can’t change other people.

75.  It always seems impossible until it’s done.



To my daughters, Savannah and Scarlette. I love you.