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."



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Letter To My Daughters...

Dear Babies,

When the time comes for you to choose a man to marry, I pray you find a man like your Father.

You see, your daddy is a great man, a man whom I admire greatly.. A man of great integrity, wisdom, courage and strength.

I watch this man, my husband, whom you call daddy, tirelessly work day in and day out to provide us with the best life possible, all the while never asking for anything in return.

He never complains about our many shopping trips (the ones he knows about anyways), our exciting mostly crazy adventures (which usually end up with him bailing us out of some sort of a mess) or our lovely monthly sometimes daily mood swings (which is when he leaves to go to the deer lease).

I sit back and silently watch this man, your daddy, put his heart and soul into everything he does and pour himself into those around him... Family or not, he shows no favoritism.  His heart is pure and his actions show proof.  Just watch him with our dog Fergie... Before leaving the house or going to bed he must make sure that the TV is on and on something that she would enjoy... He usually ends up choosing Animal Planet because.. Well.. "She loves to watch other animals!"

He is a God fearing, God loving man and he lives his life accordingly. He is a true example of what Christ designed a husband and father to be.

"Love never gives up."
    He never gives up.. Quitting or throwing in the towel is not in his vocabulary.. It's just not an option.

"Love cares more for others than for self."
    He proves this daily... He would go without to make sure we were provided for.

"Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have."
    He would rather work to get it

"Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
    He is the total opposite.. He puts everyone before himself.. Family or not. He never brags, never boasts but instead lifts others up.

"Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel"
    He is the most patient, kind hearted man I know. He easily forgets wrongs and hurts done to him (something I wish I could do) and never gives them another thought.. He literally "turns the other cheek". I admire that about him.

"Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."

   Girls, these last few words describe my husband, your father the best. He is truthful and full of integrity. He continues to make God the head of our household and the head of our lives. He always looks for the positive in everything and everyone... He does not see the bad in others (this trait sometimes drives me insane) and always forgives, forgets and moves forward.  He never gives up.

In closing, I pray that you girls will find a man half as amazing as your father. I pray you find a man who loves God and others more than he loves himself and a man who can put up with someone like me.... Because we all know, you girls are a clone of me!

I pray that you adore this man as much as I adore your father and that your love for each other radiates through you both for others to see. I pray that when you or he messes up (because I promise you, you will) that you forgive each other quickly and move on, never looking back. Keep your heart, soul, spirit & mind focused solely on God and make Him the center of your life.

I love you girls and I pray you let God direct you to the perfect man when the time comes. Merry Christmas 2013 babies...

Love Your Momma

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Grace

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV “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 hope and a future.”

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

The story I am about to share with you is not for those who are not mentally and emotionally able to handle the raw details of abuse. My story is not a happy one and a lot of the things I will be talking about are not pleasant and you will be hearing very graphic details of childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence. With that being said…

You never know what goes on behind closed doors..

My girls and I have this "obsession".. 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 my husband 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

I was born to a mentally challenged mother whom physically abused me and allowed different men to physically and sexually abuse me as well. Back in 1984 it was one of the worst cases the Fort Worth Police Department had ever seen... As the CPS Investigator told my current mom... It was the worst in Tarrant County at the time. It was so bad it made the news..

My Bio logical Father and step father both sexually molested me over and over.. One of the earliest memories of my bio logical father was him laying me naked on the bed and taking pictures of me. He would then touch me while touching himself. My step father would rape me violently. He would rape my mother and make me watch then he would rape me and make her watch.. All the while video taping it all. I remember him sitting me in a chair in the corner of the room and saying “Laura watch what I’m going to do to your mommy” Then he would get on top of her, hold her down and rape her. My mother would scream at me to not look and he would tell me if I don’t then I would get it worse. He shoved a broom stick inside me and made me bleed.. he made me watch pornography with him and my mother. He would urinate and ejaculate in my mouth and beat me if I threw up. When my mother would leave to go to the store he would lock the doors and have his way with me.. I would scream so loud the neighbors would come and bang on the door.. We would run and hide then. He said he was making love to me and if I told he would kill me and my mother.

I remember a lady named Sheryl "befriended" my mother and my "step dad". She became my friend and I felt very comfortable talking to her about things that were happening to me. One day she came to our house and my mom told Sheryl that she needed to take me because she was fixing to kill me. Sheryl didn't know what to do but she knew she had to get me out of that house one way or another, so she "kidnapped" me and took me to her house. I don't remember how long I was at her house but I remember being woke up one night by screams and banging on all the doors and windows. Everyone was frantic and scared.. Next thing I knew the house was surrounded by cops, TV news crews and helicopters.. I was rushed out wrapped in a blanket handed to a woman who got in the back of a police car with me.

I awoke the next morning in a strange place, scared and alone... I was in a Foster home... My old life left behind... Mommy and all...

Strange as it may sound, considering all that I had endured... I loved my "Mommy" and I didn't want to leave her.. She was all I knew..

Actual Statements given to the FW Police Dept:

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 Laura 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 Laura and was beating her daily. She said they had to stay home from church for 2 weeks because Laura‘s face and back was marked so bad from being beat with a belt. She said her husband was also mean to Laura and he would punch and bite her.

I sat down with Laura 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. 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. Laura would tell her mommy and her daddy would laugh and tell Laura he would do it to her again for telling.

Now the original statement from Laura:

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 daddy 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 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 “Laura 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 far away. 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... 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.

I was adopted at the age of 5 by my birth mothers cousin and her husband and they loved me as their own..

I lived with them until the age of 17 when I decided I knew it all.. I knew EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and could not be told different..

I met a guy and fell madly "in love" and since I knew everything I decided to run away and go live with him. We moved into a drug infested neighborhood which in turn led me to become addicted to drugs... Methamphetamines to be exact..

The beatings started the second night of us living together..

He would beat me so bad I thought he would kill me. He would punch, slap, kick, bite me etc etc... All because he loved me... I thought this was what love really was... I mean after all... My biological mom and dad loved me and they did all those things.. This is what love is so I might as well get used to it..

I was knocked out, hung off a bridge, beat with anything he could find, had knives to my throat and stomach, my throat slammed in a car door.... All because he "loved" me...

He loved to beat me with electrical cords and metal coat hangers..

He would drive me out to the country... Beat me until I was almost unconscious then rape me repeatedly.. On the way back into town he would tell me how much he loved me and that he only did these things because he was so scared of loosing me.

At the end he was beating me almost 24 /7. He installed a dead bolt on our door that could only be locked and unlocked with a key, and he had that key. He screwed all of our windows shut and put black trash bags over them so no one could see in. During one beating he forgot to lock the dead bolt and I escaped.. I got across the gravel parking lot and up the stairs to my neighbors apartment when I felt my hair being ripped out of my head. He drug me back down the stairs, back across the parking lot and inside to finish what he started.

I left him numerous times, called the cops and had him arrested, put restraining orders on him and even moved back home… but I still took him back each and every time he said he was sorry. I believed him..

Why did I stay you ask... "Your stupid for putting up with it" you might say "You deserved what you got for not leaving" you might think.... But you see leaving takes careful planning.. Or you might just get killed.. It takes so much strength and courage to leave and I didn't have either of those.. He had sucked all my strength, courage, self esteem and self worth right out of me... He LOVED me... I mean he told me so, He told me each time how sorry he was... I thought I could change him... I could make him love me... I was dead wrong and almost died trying...

I did finally get the courage to leave... And get help… after 7 long years...

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

Help can come in many forms.. But YOU choose to either be the "helper" or the one receiving 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..

If I found a way to survive all that I've endured and make an amazing life for myself... others can too.. We can’t use our past as a stumbling block and a crutch.. You must use it as a stepping stone, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving... Seek Help…

It is only by the grace of God that I am here today... nothing more and nothing less... The night I was able to break free, things happened that could only have been because of God. It was supernatural..

The night I left he had just finished beating me so badly I could barely move.. He pushed me onto the floor and started kicking and punching me anywhere he could.. I was so out of it all I could do was moan and pray for death to come quickly.. We only had one set of keys to our apartment and he left to go get more drugs, locking me in and taking the keys with him.. I was crying and begging God to please help me, to please save me from this life I was living.. I knew if I didn’t find a way to get out right then and there I was going to be killed very soon.. But I also knew I had no way out.. He had the keys.. I remember laying in a fetal position sobbing on the cold floor when I got the strength to get up.. Something told me to start looking.. Looking for a key.. I remember the pure terror I was feeling as I was looking and having no luck… All along knowing we only had one key.. I tore the apartment up looking when all of a sudden a voice ordered me to “Look in front of you” I raised my eyes and looked straight ahead of me and sitting in plain sight on my kitchen counter was a key! Not just any key but the key to the door that was holding me in my prison.. I grabbed that key and ran to the door frantically unlocking it and running as fast as I could to the pay phone down the road. I had no idea who I was going to call until I looked above the phone and there was a phone number for the national domestic violence hotline.. Tell me God wasn’t with me that night.. In my darkest hour.. He was there.

God was always there, even when I was a small child I knew there was a God, a loving merciful God and I knew He was with me. I prayed He would come and take me. As I grew older and ran from Him He was still there, patiently waiting on me to return. He gave me a burning desire to seek Him in my darkest hours, read His word and pray.

When I allowed myself to be broken… That’s when God was allowed to work in my life..

I am now married to a wonderful man and have been for going on 13 years. We Pastor a small church in Pilot Point called The Diffrence (spelled wrong on purpose)… We are striving to be difference makers and to make a difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with. WE are ALL called for a purpose..

I've come to realize 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. 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…. But He still extended it.



 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whitney's Story..

Whitney Delcourt and I met a little over a year ago and quickly became friends.  We had a lot in common so it made it easy!  As our friendship grew, we realized we had more in common than we first thought.... We both had a history touched by Domestic Violence..  You see, Whitney had a sister... A beautiful 105 pound, 27 year old Real Estate Agent named Kendall Dodson.  Kendall was Whitney's best friend and at times, her worst enemy.. they were sisters. 

Notice how I am using past tense when I describe Kendall?  The sad reality is... Kendall was murdered on October 30th, 1991 by her boyfriend.  He shot her in the head.... Called 911... Admitted to shooting her, saying it was an "accident".... and got only days in jail... He literally got away with murder....

Kendall's father described her in these words at her funeral: "My wonderfull Kendall, a friendly puppy, instantly friends with anyone she met, whether executive or bus boy, beautiful, warm, witty, funny, smart with a mouth to match, pseudo-cynic, flippant, sometimes exasperating, benevolent con artist, cruise control set on 100.  She loved all others and desperately wanted to be loved in return but often constitutionally incapably of admitting it; insecure, always trusting and vulnerable, secretly frightened by a world in which ill will and meaness so often prevail.  We often silently communicated in a room full of people.  Our faults and our strengths were identical.  When we looked at one another, we saw a mirror.  She is me.  I am her.  One..."

The family saw a few signs of the abuse but as most vicitms are, Kendall was very good at explaining away the bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes etc.. She thought her abuser was her friend...

After the funeral, the family took a bouqet of yellow roses from her grave to Women's Haven with the following note:

In loving memory of our wonderful Kendall, 27 years old, who was murdered on
October 30th, 1991.  She thought her abuser was her friend.  Her family brought
these flowers from her grave to you.  Some of them are wilted, as are you.
Some are dead, as is she.  Please remember Kendall when you consider
returning to the man whose violence sent you to seek safety at Women's Haven.
 
If you are in an abusive relationship or you know someone who is, think about Kendall... Let her senseless murder help to save someone else's life, maybe even yours... Think about your family, your children, sitting at your funeral looking at the rose covered box that holds their precious loved one... Who will never come back to them.. Think about the feelings and the emotions they are feeling... Let it really sink in... because once it does.. Once you see it from their point of view.. Maybe it will give you the strength you need to make the most scariest decision you will ever make... Remember, it takes so much more strength to LEAVE an abusive relationship than it does to STAY...
 
YOU are an OVERCOMER... YOU can be a SURVIVOR... YOU WILL get through this...
 
Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me"
 
Notice it doesn't say "I can a FEW things".. No it says "I CAN DO ALL THINGS"...
 
Kendall (on the left) and Whitney... "I still remember when we took this picture. We were at Dave & Busters in the photo booth trying to get a cute picture...and we just could not keep from laughing. Never laughed so much....She taught me to not take myself so serious and to laugh." Whitney

In Loving Memory of Kendall Brett Dodson

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Curve Balls...

Do you ever watch baseball?  To be honest, I don't.. It bores me and my attention span is not long enough to sit for that long! BUT.. I do know about curve balls... In baseball, a curve ball is a ball that is pitched with the flick of the wrist causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer in the opposite direction. This leads the batter to "believe" the ball is coming his way and at the last second.. It veers the other direction leaving the batter wondering what the heck just happened! Wow... I think I've had a few of those thrown my way a few times.. but when I really stop and think about it, are they really curve balls or is it because I have stepped out of God's perfect will for my life?

It  never fails, I pray, seek God's will and ask Him to guide and direct my paths... but then the "human" in me wakes up, gets impatient and decides to "step in and take over the situation". That's when the curve balls come. Sometimes they are small and manageable but other times they are large and daunting leaving me trembling with fear. No matter the size, once they come my way I become fearful.

In that moment God never fails to gently remind me "I got this".. He just wants me (us) to totally, completely cast all our cares and fears upon Him and let Him take care of it.  Today was one of those days actually this last week has been one where I have been very uncertain of the events taking place in my life and I want to take control and "fix" the situations going on.. BUT I must decrease so He may increase.  I must seek Him, talk to Him, focus on Him and believe that He has a plan and He knows the path I am walking.. because He walked it before me. He sees all the nasty mud holes, pot holes, bumps in the road and the many road blocks.... but He went before me so He knows the way around them and through them.  If I allow Him to, He will guide me the way I should go. 

Today I got a gentle reminder while reading my devotion from Jesus Calling.  Usually I read it at 6:30 am but for some reason today I didn't, I read it about 12:30 pm and wished I had read it earlier..

"Do not give in to fear or worry, those robbers of abundant living. 
Trust Me enough to face problems as they come, rather than trying to
anticipate them.. Fix your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of your faith,
and many difficulties on the road ahead will vanish before you reach them.
Whenever you start to feel afraid, remember that I am holding you by your right hand.
Nothing can separate you from My Presence!"
 
God is a "People Person".. meaning He longs to have a real, personal relationship with us, not just a Sunday morning relationship.  He longs to be involved in every aspect of our lives.. if we would just let Him.  Having a relationship with Him is not about religious exercises, religious traditions or just going to Sunday morning church.. It's about talking to Him like you would your best friend, letting Him invade every part of your life and just spending time with Him, worhipping Him..
 
Worship is about saying "Thank you" to God, because He gave it all for us....  God's not into "appearances"....  He's into the "heart"... He knows our hearts way better than we do..