Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares The Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Monday, August 13, 2012

God's Purpose for Us

I've come to realize recently that God does have an amazing plan for my life. Although I must admit that I couldn't always see nor understand that plan. His plans are to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. Not to harm us. We must walk by faith and not by sight. We have to step out of the boat into the raging sea, to see that God will meet us right where we are. 

There have been many times in the years following all of my "challenges" in life that I've felt completely uncertain of what God had in store for my life and I tried really hard to make things happen in my own timing.  I have tried to take things into my own hands only to have them crumble apart right before me. Isaiah 55: 8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." In other words... Move out of the way and let God work.. That is one of the hardest things for me to do.  I am a "fixer".. I try and "fix" everything . God can't work if I'm running around trying to do His job!

I have made over a million mistakes in my life and I by no means claim to be perfect but I still know that God has an awesome plan for me and wants me to be all that He has called me to be.... In His timing.. I am a forgiven Child of God who He has called for a purpose and so are each of you. We can choose to sit around and wallow in self pity or spiritual arrogance or we can choose to put our flesh aside and live up to His calling. There is not one person who is more righteous than the other.. We all have sinned and fallen short.. None of us deserve the grace that God has extended to us. We must realize we are being called for a purpose and that is to lift each other up, give our lives over to Him and let Him have control of our thoughts, decisions and lives... Not to judge and belittle anyone who doesn't measure up to our measuring stick. You can sit in church all your life and still not go to Heaven.. Sitting in church does NOT make you a Christian.. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and striving everyday to be more and more like Him is what makes you a Christian.

The scary thing is... Just because you die doesn't mean you will go to Heaven. We hear it said at funerals time and time again "Well we know they are up in Heaven now"... Do we? I mean do we REALLY know this? Did we ever take the time to sit and talk with that person about their spiritual life? Did we ever be bold enough to ask them if they knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and let God move? Sad thing is... no...we probably never even questioned it. I'm guilty of it too..

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

In other words... If you believe this with your whole being and pray this prayer to God.. Telling Him you acknowledge who He is and what He has done for you, you acknowledge you don't deserve any of it but you still ask Him to come and reign in your heart, in your life and to forgive you of your sins.... You will be saved.. That simple..

He never promised the road would be easy, He never promised everything will be smooth sailing.. It will actually be like a bed of roses once you decide to pick up your cross and follow Him..You will have easy beautiful times followed by the rough thorns.. The enemy will start attacking.. Probably within the first 10 minutes after you said this prayer... But know now that you have an advocate.. You have a BFF you can go to at any given moment with anything.. He will never leave nor forsake you.. You are now His.. He bought you by laying His life down for you. Don't steal from God by trying to carry the load and burdens alone.

I hear people say that "Church isn't what it used to be" "People just don't go to church anymore.. times have changed" "This church doesn't meet my standards" the list goes on.. Since when did Church become about the people? Church should be about God... When we realize it is not about us, then God has room to move.

It seems right now that everyone is under attack... You may be being attacked for your beliefs, your religion, the way you raise your children or live your life. The reality is we all only have one person to answer to and that is God... not man. Each one of us needs to take a step back and realize we are not the Judge of anyone. We have no room to be talking or judging anyone's lifestyle.. Quite frankly it is none of our business. We should be spreading the real message of Jesus and loving each other as Jesus loves us. If we call ourselves a Christian then we really need to examine what that means and make sure that our life is a living example of the true meaning.. Not some made up definition that fits our life at the moment.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Behind Closed Doors..

You never know what goes on behind closed doors..

My girls and I have this "obession".. well its actually out of curiosity and just being nosy.. but its still an "obsession"..  We drive by homes and look for the ones with their blinds or curtains open.  When we find one, we love to look through the windows (as fast as we can because Greg usually speeds up when he realizes what we are doing) and wonder what kind of people live there. If there is a cross hanging on the wall or the door we automatically assume they go to church and if we see huge crystal light fixtures hanging from the ceiling we assume they are wealthy. Looks can be very deceiving though.. Just because the outside of the house looks really bad.. doesn't mean the inside does too or that the people living there are bad people and vice versa. Just because the people living in the homes, by all "appearances" seem perfectly normal and happy.. doesn't mean they are.

The reality is sexual and physical abuse takes place every where.. Even in respectable, loving, Christian homes. It occurs where you least expect it and it affects us all.

Here is a statement given to authorities and taken from actual court papers about a little girl who was being beaten and sexually assaulted daily... All before the age of 5.. I have removed names.. If you are easily offended or not emotionally able to handle raw details of abuse.. STOP READING NOW!!

April 23rd, 1983:  On April 3rd P called our home and asked me to come pick her up and take her for job interviews the next day, Monday. I told her I would but then called her back and told her I couldn't. When Monday came, I changed my mind because I had prayed and felt that I had to go there.  As the mother started putting in job applications "her little girl" started talking and snuggling up to me as if she was afraid. I started asking questions then and she said her mother had told her that morning that she was going to kill her. She told me she was afraid and asked Jesus to come and get her today. I told her to not be afraid that I would help her. When I took the mother home I asked her if she was OK and she broke down crying and said she felt guilty about all the things she had done. She had been so upset with "her child" and was beating her daily. She said they had to stay home from church for 2 weeks because "her child's" face and back was marked so bad from being beat with a belt.  She said her husband was also mean to "the child" and he would punch and bite "the child".

I sat down with "the child" and asked her why she was afraid of adults and she said her new daddy would, after her mommy went to the store, take off all her clothes and have "private" with her. (I will spare you all the very graphic details due to the age of readers this blog reaches). She said she would scream and the neighbors would come and knock on the door and her daddy and her would hide then. He would slap her mouth and tell her to shut up. She also said her daddy would tell her she better watch when him and her mommy had private.  "The child" would tell her mommy and her daddy would laugh and tell "the child" he would do it to her again for telling.

Now the original statement from "The child":

April 23rd, 1983:  My mommy's name is P and my daddy's name is W, My mommy said she was going to choke me, hit me and kill me.
My daddy hit me real hard
I have dreams of my old daddy. He locked me in the bathroom and outside. He told me he was going to let the dogs eat me because he hated me. He spanked me with a belt real hard
My daddy touches me between my legs. My old daddy and my new daddy did that
My dadddy sneaked in and got me one day while I was watching cartoons. He touched me and made me touch him. He touched my mommy there too and made me watch. (I again am removing very graphic details of sexual abuse)
I always told my mommy and she said "W if you don't stop that I'll call the courts"
When mommy came home from the store she said ""child" get those clothes on before I spank you!"
He takes all his clothes off and gets on top of my mommy. You call that making love. He doesn't do that to anyone but my mommy and me.
My old daddy lives in "City". I don't see him anymore and I'm glad. He's mean to me and doesn't love me. He told me.
No one loves me. They told me.

You see... the "child" referred to was me... All of this happened before I was 5 years old.. By all accounts we were a good "All American" family.. We went to Church every Sunday and had lots of friends from Church.. But no one ever knew what was going on behind closed doors...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Wonder..

Sometimes I wonder if what I say and do makes a difference.. I talk to ladies at different stages in their relationships, offer advice, support and if needed help.. But I sometimes don't know what the end result is... This lady is different...

Back in 2009 I received an email from a lady I will call "B".. You will see in our conversations that the abuse started out mild and then escalated..

From B, in her own words:
I don't know if anyone can help me. My sister was in an abusive relationship that progressively got worse as time went on and turned into extreme physical abuse. She is afraid that my husband is heading down the same path. He's become increasingly disrespectful, he calls me names daily like there's nothing wrong with... it. And just a few days ago while I was feeding out 8 month old son he punches the chair I was sitting in right next to my head. I need help and I'm not sure where to go. I love him and want him to go back to being the man I married.

From me, word for word:
November 6, 2009
Photos-By Laura Laura Bradley
The cycle of Violence does get worse as time goes on, it will not get better without intervention. The being disrespectful, calling of names, belittling etc are all forms of abuse. The cycle usually starts with verbal and emotional (as you mentioned) then eventually leads to physical violence, which you also mentioned by him punching the chair. You have many options, but they all take CAREFULL thought and planning. I don't know where you are located but in Denton County there is a place called Denton County Friends of the Family and they offer help to victims of domestic Violence and counseling. I offer a support group for victims and you may call me ANYTIME at 940-390-3911. I can speak with or meet with you to help you decide what steps you want to take, or just to be support. The choice is yours, and the decison has to be yours, just remember you do have a child in the picture now and that child depends on you to keep him or her safe.  Also, you may call 911 if you are in immediate danger. Please take my number and call me if you need anything, even if it just someone to listen and offer support. I know you love him, but you must also love yourself. You do not deserve to be abused in any way, and he needs to seek help to help him overcome his abusive ways. Please keep in touch and take my advice to heart. I will be praying for you. Laura
From B:
November 9, 2009
I live in West Virginia. I feel so helpless... He yelled at me because i picked up one of our sons toys and put in on the table because it was in the walk way. My son was bouncing happily in his bouncy chair and "J" blew up. He said things like "Use your f*#@ing mind, I just cleaned that table!" and "I don't know why I married your stupid ass!" and he swore to God that he hated me. His yelling startled my son and made him cry so I tried to comfort him by taking him out of the chair and hugging him. "J" was in the laundry room and I sat down on the couch with my son, now better in his mommy's arms. "J" came back out to yell at me some more to use my "f@#*ing" brain. When he started yelling at me it startled my son again and made him jump and cringe on to me as he began to cry. The look on his face broke my heart and I can't get it out of my head. He looked at me like "Mommy I'm scared." I just want to break down in tears. I should be able to keep him from these things and I can't. I've spoken to "J's" mother and sister and they are going to try and talk him into getting help. If he refuses to get help then I've decided I'm not going to stay, I can't allow my son to go through this anymore or myself even. I've noticed my son is losing that playful side when "J" holds him and he looks at me for reassurance that its going to be okay. Eventually he relaxes and all seems normal, but it's not that instantaneous playful reaction that he used to have. My heart is really breaking thinking about what I might have to do to protect my son.

From me:
November 10, 2009
I pray that you have the strength to leave if he does not change. The more your child sees, the more withdrawn he will become out of fear. Please remember that none of this is your fault, even though you may be told that. You do what you can to take care of yourself and that baby and stay safe. Remember, he will NOT change without invervention and help. Please be safe and remember leaving takes careful planning!

That was the last time I had spoken with "B" in way over 2 years... I had often thought of her wondering if she was OK and if the abuse had indeed gotten worse.. I wondered if she was able to break free or if she became another statistic..

I wondered all of that up until January 6, 2012 when I received this...

From "B":
Its been so long since I've gotten back to you... I wanted u to know u were right there were several more instances that got worse each time including the physical aspect of abuse.. I left him for good in the early hours on January 1st 2010 when he tried to kill me in front of our son. I feel very fortunate to still be here today. We are now divorced and live a good distance away from each other.. thank u for ur words of support...

That right there validates everything I do.....

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Help...

The definition of Help is simple... to make it easier for (someone) to do something by offering aid.

Synonyms:  assist, aid, releive, support...

Help can come in many forms..  But YOU choose to either be the "helper" or the one receiveing the help... Never consider yourself "helpless". 

I at one time thought I was "helpless".  I was lost in a world of abuse and addiction with no easy way out.  I was as low as one could go and still sinking lower. 

I sought and found help because I knew I would die if I didn't.  In that instance I made a choice.. A choice to not be helpless anymore... A choice to change my destiny... change my legacy..

You can choose to stay right where you are for the rest of your life or you can choose to dig down as deep as you can go, and when you think your at the bottom and you still can't find it... dig deeper.. and find a thread of courage.. a thread of strength.... and get help..

I am an advocate for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence.. I am a form of "Help"... I work with, mentor and offer support for those in need.. I am not a Counselor, a legal guru or in any way affliated with law enforcement.. I am in simple terms.. The Help...

I offer a support group for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence and Abuse.  If you are in immediate danger and need help please contact 911 or your local law enforcement agency.  If you need someone to talk to or would like to get involved in a support group please contact me. 

I was once where you are and I know the struggles going on in your mind right now.. "It only happens a few times.... not all the time"  "He said He was sorry, he was just under so much stress"  "Well, I shouldn't have said that, I know he hates it when I say those things"...

The next time might just be the last...

Laura 940-390-3911