A Former Victim’s Need for Self-Compassion

When I sit down to have coffee with a brave, brave woman who has left an abuser, one of the recurring themes in her lament is, “How could I have gotten myself into this? I saw the red flags and I married him, anyway. I should have known. I’m educated and smart. I never thought I would find myself in this position.” Listen, I understand. I will never forget standing in the middle of my mess and saying to myself, “I have a counseling degree and here I am . . . ” And the comments that others make about how they would never have put up with abuse for so long . . . or that they would never have been in that situation in the first place . . . these things hurt. They make it all worse. Its just a little bit more of re-victimization and a lot more judging.

So, here are the thoughts I have regarding self-compassion and the entanglement of “I should have’s” for former victims of abuse:

  1. Anyone who feels the need to tell you they would have never ended up in an abusive relationship is simply not your friend and not worth your time. We have the Holy Spirit, thank you very much, and we do not need people to point their fingers our way to tell us, right upon our leaving, how foolish we were to marry this person, in the first place. If there are extenuating circumstances, we know what they are. People who say foolish things about abuse are not educated in how abuse works (thought-reform).  They have not been in your shoes, in your home or in your difficult relationships. They do not get to judge. Let them go. In these vulnerable moments, our need is support and empathy. Period.
  2. If you park your emotional car in the parking lot of “I can’t believe I am finding myself in this position . . . “, you will stay stuck. There is plenty of time, later, for allowing the Lord to help you to understand what happened. But, for now, it is not your job to condemn yourself. Don’t you think you have had enough of that? Sadly, it seems the Church’s default is legalism. There is some tough condemnation there. Then, there are the lingering and ever-present words of your abuser(s). A cornucopia of finger-pointing and blame. Friend, be your friend. You need a friend, right now. And move forward. Be proactive. Do what needs to be done.
  3. There is not some deficiency in you that would cause the abuse to have occurred. Do you hear me? It is not you. It is your abuser’s psycho-pathology. He has used everything possible to abuse you — your loves, your vulnerabilities, your pain and fears, the Bible — because of his sickness. No more self-blame. NO one deserves to be treated that way.
  4. You got out of it is as quickly as you could. I know, I know . . . we all wish we had not stayed as long as we could. But, considering the kind of oppression we were all under (from all sides!), the fact that we escaped or walked away is nothing short of a miracle. As soon as you could understand the full extent of the abuse and pain, you left. You are to be commended. We all know the courage that entails.
  5. Look how far you’ve come. Do it! Just look back, over the past weeks or months or years and be amazed and wonder-filled. I mean, you have choices now. You did not have those choices before. You can make a decision, right now, about what you will do with all you have learned. That’s exciting! What you have accomplished, in the face of perceived hopelessness, is incredible. You have been brave, in the presence of intense fear. Each time you choose to stand up a little bit straighter and look people in the eye . . . each time you do not give into terror but breathe through those panic-attacks . . . each time you take one, tiny step toward independence or self-improvement, you are looking evil in the face and saying, “You will not conquer me.”
  6. The Christian life does not work this way: If I do thus and such, I will have a good marriage and a good life. This is the fallacy that is rooted in legalism and is can cause severe depression. Affliction happens to the best and shiniest of Christians because Jesus told us affliction would happen. The promise is that He will not leave us when affliction occurs. So, rather than beat yourself up, trying to figure out where you went wrong when you were trying, so hard, to make the right decisions before God, accept that life is messy. It always has been! And then look at the mess, knowing that Jesus loves you and is with you in the mess, and figure out what to do with it all.

Listen friends, treat yourself with compassion. In Jordan Peterson’s incredibly successful book, “12 Rules for Life: and Antidote for Chaos”, the very second rule is “Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping.” But, for an even more meaningful reason, consider this: Jesus cares for you, for your heart, soul and body. He adores you. His desire for you, beautiful and broken one, is that you live in a whole relationship with Him and others. In order to do this, you must start with being in a whole relationship with yourself. Jesus feels strongly about how you are treated — by others — but, also by you. You belong to Him! Show yourself compassion because, dear one, that is what Jesus shows you, every day. Be like Him.





Happy Galentine’s Day!!

Dear Friends,

One of the things we strive to do for our mamas is give them the assurance that they are loved, cared for and appreciated!  This year our precious team member Audrey spent hours putting together these beautiful picture cubes for our mamas along with a beautiful sentiment and of course…chocolate!!!

We hope you’ll help us fund these gifts to help remind our mamas how special they are!  They are are special gals…our Galentine’s!  For just a single $10 donation, you can be part of making this day special for them!

Thank you for your support of this ministry and of our precious, beloved mamas!

Q&A: How Do You Hold Onto Faith in the Midst of Unjust Affliction?

For Megan (and/or other survivors): how did you keep your faith while divorcing your abuser, and watching your child suffer as the courts give generous access to an abuser? I’m exhausted. Battle weary and burnt out. I am losing my faith. I don’t want to but I am and don’t know what to do anymore. Any tips you have would be appreciated. (I’m in therapy with a wonderful counsellor, but I’m still so exhausted).

Your question is incredibly honest and I find that to be beautiful. I understand — I really do. There have been a few times, in my life, where my faith was hanging by a thread — A THREAD. And it felt like it was going to be impossible to ever move forward with Jesus again.  After I left my ex husband, my family kind of joined forces with him and seemed to turn against me. I have never been so alone, in my life, and I just could not understand why God would allow all that was happening. And the exhaustion. Further, I felt like my life was in a fish bowl and I could not find freedom nor protection. It was like their hobby, for a few years, was to try to destroy me and take away anything or anyone that I had or trusted. There is so much more to the story but, here is the bottom line: I found that the faith I was losing was not my faith in God, but my faith in people (which I decided was OK during that time). Further, a lot of the faith I had was connected to false beliefs I had about God. My faith was actually about to receive a complete overhaul. And what I discovered . . . . was that God was taking me into a very deep (and often dark) place where He would reveal Himself to me in ways I could never imagine. His Words would begin to jump off of the page and into my heart and light a fire there. What I thought was faith before was nothing more than rule-following . . . striving . . . a shallow, black and white imposter of a vibrant, life-giving, love-of-my-life interconnectedness with Jesus.

I was holding onto a faith that wasn’t really real and holding God accountable to be doing the things I thought He should do.

Here are the things I falsely believed, at the time:

1. That things would always go well for God’s children if they did what He asked (lived a godly life, etc.)

2. That affliction was a sign of a lack of trust, on my part.

3. That if I made the right decisions,  my children would not suffer and be protected.

4. That God’s people would always be there for me.

5. That I could overcome trauma (death of my parents at a young age, abuse, etc) by having enough faith and that I did not need any intense therapy to overcome.

6. That I was now a “second-class citizen” because I had to divorce.

7. That God would not use me, since I was divorced.

8. That my children would be scarred, because of my divorce.

9. That women were God’s “afterthought” and were created to serve men.

10. That I was supposed to put all of my desires, gifts, time and energy toward my husband’s calling (bury my talents for fear).

These were my “faith”. And that “faith” actually needed to go. I confessed to God, in tears, that I believed these lies. And I only found mercy from Him. All He did was love me! Once that old stuff was gone, I was free to take a deep breath and tell God that I wanted to know HIM. Not through His people, but through a deep and abiding, every day relationship with Christ. Not through what I heard preached in former fundamentalist churches and seminaries . . . but through reading the Bible, myself, and getting to know Him, as a Person. And everything changed. I wouldn’t go back to that old “faith” for a million dollars. Now, I know God. And He knows me. And we have this thing together. And I work from THAT place.

Now, I am nearly-thankful for the rejection I suffered, because it drove me right into Jesus’ arms. I am kindred spirits with the man thrown out of the temple (John 9) . . . the one Jesus came to look for so He could make the man His. I relate to that. And the people who rejected me? They probably need each other and I am glad they have one another.

I go to church, where my husband serves as Lead Pastor. And I love the people there. I go healed; I go solid; I go, knowing what I believe and in Whom I believe.  And I hope to love . . . and love and love. From a place of health and healing. Faith is simple and utterly intricate. It breathes and moves and revives and uplifts. It says, “Here, beautiful child of God. I’m going to shake your world . . . it will come down crashing until you only have me. Now, its just the two of us. What will you do?” Faith calls us to dig into Scripture, with everything in us, leaving the old, broken faith that did not work behind. It challenges us. Faith dares us to put away the comfortable things and embrace the counter-intuitive. And we trust, and we do. We do ministry. Real ministry now.

“Jesus doesn’t call us to simple. He calls us into complexity. The human soul, psyche, mind, and emotions are complicated. And if he calls us to anything, it’s to enter into the mess that is day-to-day life alongside broken people in the midst of chaotic circumstances. Scott”
Scott Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides

So, my sister. Do not give up. Shake off that old snakeskin and move, now, into what is real — what will last. Move into that awesome plan that God has for you. This is your race. It is not fair, nor is it just. But, it is the path Christ has put you on, and only you. And it is your calling to grip the hands of both Suffering and Sorrow and climb that impossible mountain. God believes in you. We believe in you.



Hinds Feet on High Places


Our January Mamas! “Hope & Healing” and “Forgotten Dragonfly”

We are so excited to be able to help two precious mamas, properly vetted and ready to soar! We spent time in December working on getting to know these precious ladies while visiting with them. They are so worth helping! Meet “Hope and Healing” and “Forgotten Dragonfly”.

Hope and Healing: “Hope” is an incredibly strong mama with seven beautiful children. Her husband struggled with mental illness and Hope did all she could to stay (mostly, she admits, out of guilt). Her husband was diagnosed with a heavy (yet treatable) diagnosis but he resisted treatment. Unable to endure the abuse any further, Hope left and was awarded a 50-year protection order from the judge who handled their divorce. Due to the instability of her ex husband and his violent temper, Hope does not receive the support she needs to press on. We are over-joyed to be able to pay for $1500 of Hope’s bills to keep her and her little lambs afloat, beginning in 2018. “I don’t know how people can do this without God. I know I couldn’t,” Hope explained to team mentor Lori. Hope is asking for prayer for her children and for herself. Many of them suffer from PTSD and the ongoing, full-time work drains Hope.

Forgotten Dragonfly: I was blessed to be able to talk with “Dragonfly” and her precious son (who nominated her). Our dear ministry friends, Marisabel Matta and Mellisa Procter were kind enough to drive out and see this precious mama and her two little lambs! Thank you, ladies! (See photo below!) Dragonfly’s ex husband is a military man who has kept Forgotten fearful and looking-over-her-shoulder for years now. She feels as though she never knows when he will hurt her, again. This dear lady works but struggles, as she has survived several Traumatic Brain Injuries. She is making it, though, and we are privileged to be able to help her pay some bills and (hopefully) get her moved into a better situation. We adore this mama. Please pray for her. Life is hard . . . all the time. Dragonfly and her children have not been able to go to church or talk with many believers. The hurt they have experienced, at the hands of church-people, has made it difficult. She and I prayed, on the phone, and her heart was deeply moved. Jesus has plans for this lady . . . no doubt in my mind.

Thank you, Mari & Mel, for traveling to vet a mama!!

YOUR DONATIONS go toward helping these precious ladies and their families! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of our angels for the tremendous gifts you send our way! Because of you all, we will pay $3000 worth of bills and help these ladies find their wings! If you would like to donate, please go to our website and make a tax-deductible donation. In the meantime, please join us in praying for these mamas and ALL of our mamas!




Thoughts on Mercy and Forgiveness by Megan

“Mercy means compassion, empathy, a heart for someone’s troubles. It’s not something you do – it is something in you, accessed, revealed, or cultivated through use, like a muscle. We find it in the most unlikely places, never where we first look.”
― Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Anne Lamott, in her acclaimed book, Hallelujah Anyway, describes mercy as something that we may have always had. She describes it as something she began with, as a small child, but it was folded up and put in a drawer, as her family saw mercy as weakness and would not tolerate such radical forgiveness in a small child. Her upbringing was very much about how things looked. Oh, can I relate to that. One of my sisters wrote of me as being “embarrassing”, when I was hurting, at my most . . . desperate to find help and healing, reaching out, grasping at unreachable solace, drowning in single-motherness, painfully aware of the post-separation abuse I was suffering, at a loss as to where to live.  It was “messy” to them. And embarrassing. The cruelty of that word when a person is suffering is unconscionable. It did not look good for an Owen girl to be in so much pain. And no one knew how to handle it.

For years, I have wondered if I could be like Joseph, when his brothers came back and found him there, stately and unrecognizable. Would I cry? If my family came back and said, “Wow, Megan . . . DID WE EVER handle that badly! Could you forgive us for the ways in which we hurt you? And then tried to cover it up by making you out to be unstable? All the ways we justified our bad behavior . . . I’m sorry.” Would I cry, like Joseph? Would I be gracious? Would I want to bless them, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure they would have been happy if I had just died? 

I think I know now. I remember that child . . . that little girl that just wanted to forgive. I even remember my Mother smiling at me, once, as a preteen and saying, “Megan is the one who doesn’t hold grudges.” What happened to that girl? I wasn’t sure, for so long, if she was in there. I wasn’t sure that I could ever find her, amidst the rubble of scars and pain and brokenness that just wouldn’t heal. But, she’s there. I’m sure she is there, like a deep and underlying lake that has been buried under thick, red, caked-over mud. This week, I could feel her, sense her, and lean into her. And oh, what consolation. It is so true, what they say about how forgiveness releases the forgiver. For years, I have wanted to reach out, make amends, fix relationships that seemed forever broken. It is in me to do that. But, the vulnerability to people who have only harmed me for so long was simply too much. I may never have relationships with said folks again. And that is OK. All I needed was to lean into that merciful Megan that I had missed so much. For my sake. From my vantage point and for my heart. And so,

For putting me on a pedestal that I could never live up to . . . . I forgive you.

For the character assassination . . . . I forgive you.

For the brutal, ongoing and relentless judgment . . . . I forgive you.

For not seeing me as a person . . . . I forgive you.

For not respecting me, as a mother . . . . I forgive you.

For not knowing how to help me . . . . I forgive you.

For trying to keep a relationship with my children while disparaging me publicly . . . . I forgive you.

For choosing sides with a man who tried to murder my soul . . . . I forgive you.

For wishing ill for me and justifying it with piety . . . . I forgive you.

For the gossip and rumors and slander and mob-mentality . . . . I forgive you.

For not knowing me because I am not a person deserving respect to you . . . . I forgive you. 

For the jealousy and envy . . . . I forgive you.

For lying and twisting the past . . . . I forgive you.

For screaming at me, throwing things, blaming me for all of life’s troubles . . . . I forgive you.

For trying to ruin every day that was special and/or precious to me. . . . I forgive you.

For what felt like pure hatred against me . . . I forgive you.

For not having any mercy for me . . . I forgive you.

Oh, the relief.

Release, release, release. Releasing them to Jesus. Letting Him deal with it all. Dropping the burden. They are no longer judged by me or accused by me, in my heart. This is not for them. I doubt that they care. This is what I need. 

And I will never bring it up again.

And I have mercy. I have a heart for their troubles. Because I believe we are all human and that none of us deserve mercy and so we all deserve mercy because of the Great Mercy Giver. It is who God is . . . and I want, so badly, to be like Him. They could not make Him hard-hearted, no matter how many times they slapped Him, spit on him and tore at Him. And I will not allow them to make me hard, either. This is how I know God IS . . . because He could keep me soft-hearted in the midst of hatred all around me. That is a miracle. That makes Him very very real to me.

And people hurt out of their hurt. I get that, too.

Those who injured me do not know how to help, to love, to be vulnerable and show kindness to me. To others — yes, sometimes. But, not to me. It was a habit not to. I see it now. It was what started, after our parents died. Or maybe it was before. It was all the relatives growing uncomfortable when you “let me have it”. But they did not speak up. It was how you all coped. You needed someone to blame for your peacelessness. And that is all forgiven. I have compassion for that. Because I am so, incredibly free now. I am loved by the One who loves me enough. He fills the holes that were left there by the bullets of hate and soul-crushing that you did and that I did to myself.  And I forgive me, too. Thank you, Jesus.

So, I wasn’t supposed to be this person. Despite everything that happened, God has made me His Beloved. With all that has happened, I should be mean, unforgiving, callous, twisted, hateful, lonely, unable to to thrive, anxious, depressed, fearful, angry, distant and more. I should not be able to have sustainable relationships. I should be ruined. And yet . . . . here I am . . . . loving mercy. Truly, deeply, happily loving it. And thriving.

Isn’t that what God requires? Do justice, love mercy and walking humbly with Him? Oh, yes. I can do these things . . . I can do justice and I can love mercy because I walk humbly with Him. That is a very attainable standard, and quite quite different than the other standards I hear about. 

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for forgiving me so I could forgive them and I could forgive me, too. I can honestly say, I would be so so lost — so forlorn and hopeless — without You. Oh, how I love You for that. Oh, how I feel Your love and compassion for me and for others. And Your healing . . . every single day. Thank you for walking beside me, as I admit to You that I don’t know what I’m doing but that I want to take your light and easy burden. As I admit that my way doesn’t work and that Your way is better. Thank you. You are my Hero, the love of my life, my everything.








Why Churches Can’t Help Women Who Have Been Abused

OK . . . Not all churches. But so so so so many. Our church, where David pastors, is amazing with our precious mamas. But we hear, over and over and over and over (big breath) and over and over about churches that re-traumatize victims on a regular basis. And yet these precious former victims keep trying. They keep going back. Why? Because Church should be a place of healing. It should be the haven where we find respite after the storm. It should be. And we want it to be.

There are many reasons why church is (sadly) the last place a victim of abuse finds healing. Women who have been traumatized by abuse and whose husbands consider themselves to be believers in Christ, have most likely been abused spiritually, meaning that Scripture has been used against them to keep them oppressed. (I have mentioned, often, that I consider spiritual abuse to be the most wicked perversion of our Heavenly Father and a perversion that He does not take lightly.) Furthermore, in my experience, most women who have left an abusive relationship and sought healing, find that their core families of origin are dysfunctional, at best, and abusive, at worst. Many of these women have been objectified and de-personalized. She was not seen as a person, growing up, but as something to use to prop up an adult, older sibling or any combination, thereof. Then, she married someone who only wished to dominate her. These precious ladies were not seen as the amazing persons that they are. In short, they have been subjugated. And they are over being subjugated.

One mistake a trauma therapist could easily make is continuing to allow her to feel subjugated. She might believe that subjugating herself is the only way for her to be “loved”. This leads her to trying to please men by being a  “trite assistant”, a term I like to use for ladies who are still stuck in man-pleasing. They always offer to do little tasks, watching to see his pleasure in her. (this makes me want to weep) Writes Daniel Shaw, in his academic work, “Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation”,

The trauma of unrecognition could lead one to desperately seek connection through subjugation, and self-objectification. Loc. 518

Further, he writes:

A relationship in which one member is expected to change and grow, and the other considers himself exempt from those processes, is a relationship in which the one expected to change is being subjugated, to one degree or another, by the one claiming exemption. Loc. 1198

This means that, if you have a therapist who seems to “know it all”, has swallowed some sort of a magic pill and has arrived and resides in pristine and perfect emotional health, you do not have a good therapist.

But, that is not my main point. My main point is that women who have been victims of abuse and are believers in Christ are seeking and searching for healing. So, where do they go? To church. And they are told that women are to be submissive and that women cannot be in leadership positions and that women need to subject themselves to the authority of church leaders. Re-traumatization, at its finest. So, what do these precious daughters of the King do? Run away. And I don’t blame them. Not one bit. 

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

This just won’t do, Church. It won’t do because it is bad theology, in many many respects. But, it also won’t do because these ladies need healing and, instead of finding compassion, they find re-victimization. And they are afraid to challenge anything because . . . well, where has that ever gotten them, in the past?

So, what is the answer? Mutuality. Being honest. Not acting like a guru to these ladies. Acknowledging fallibility on all of our parts.  Not being frustrated when she struggles. Being a safe place where she can say the difficult things that need to be said. These reparative strategies (and, let’s be honest, just being real) can instill hope. I don’t know how many times I have heard something like, “Megan, it is so wonderful to hear that you still struggle with thus and such. You’ve come such a long way. You make me feel like I can get there, too.” We need to create a culture where people can be human. So, super-beautiful in their humanity. A place of healing. A place of recognition.

I recognize you, beautiful daughter of the King, as a person. A person created in the image of God. A person who was knit together in her mother’s womb. A person who has gifts and talents that are unique to you; a person who has a personality and character that is like no one else, in this world. We are not here to use you or to make you subject to us. You are on equal footing with everyone else here — a firstborn in Christ, privy to all of the gifts and inheritance of a firstborn child. You are valuable and you will receive love here . . . not because of what you do, but simply because you ARE. 

THAT is where we should be . . . . where I wish we could be. A haven; a home. If Jesus collects our tears in a bottle, should her tears not be precious to us? If Jesus is going to wipe every tear from our eyes, why would we not do the same for our sisters? Lord, make us this. Please.




Don’t Do to Yourself What He Did to You

Art Credit: Megan Cox “LionHeart”

I do believe that successful lives are lived on the brink of counter-intuitiveness, standing on the middle of a tall, open and narrow platform, all vulnerable-like, pushing away expectations, narrowing down what is important, doing exactly what you do not feel like doing and facing (indeed, even embracing) affliction, rather than shoving it back. Our nature, in this current, time-space narrative, is to be comfortable. Happiness somehow equals comfort and we are all a little guilty of this.  We want to avoid pain, not see it as a growing experience. That is counter-intuitive. We want to stick with “what we know”, not venture into something that challenges the thinking we grew up with. That would be counter-intuitive. We want to stay in the boat — not walk on the water. That would be counter-intuitive. And yet, Jesus has always been the Great Challenger. He was, when He walked this earth, and He continues to be. I’m so super-OK with that. I am finally learning to be comfortable with confrontation and stop evading; to buck the systems; to stand up to the stereotypes and simply be myself. I am willing to ask hard questions, if need be. But, it wasn’t always that way.

One of the most heart-breaking dynamics for us to watch, in ministering to former targets of abuse, is how often these precious women continue to hurt themselves long after they have left their abusers. It is natural, normal and very much what they are used to. I wonder if they even know they are doing it. The call, on their lives (and our call in exhorting them) is to press out of those pockets of abuse, in their minds. They are physically out, but not completely free. Some of our mamas are so steeped in the paradigm of abuse, that they carry on with it, themselves, because it is what they know. Here are some ways in which these precious ladies do this:

  1. Isolation. Oh, do I get this one. It is so much easier to hide away. Become an introvert. Do not let anyone hurt me, anymore. The belief is that the best way to protect oneself is to keep people as far away as possible. Yes. It will protect, in some ways. And, I believe it is necessary, for a time. Many have often heard me say that I wish I could give each of our mamas one year of healing, without pressure of finances, working, raising children alone and trauma-induced panic. I understand. But, for how long? Will you allow yourself to stay this way? When do you decide to struggle out of the cocoon and get real, life-changing healing? Being alone with your thoughts can be a dark place. After a while, everyone becomes dangerous. Your home was not a safe place, with him, and now your home is not a safe place . . . not really. Not with darkness looming. Not when people cannot fill it up with joy and laughter and peace. Now, look. He isolated you; you are isolating yourself.  One of the bravest things, in the world, that you can do is step out. Take a little leap . . . a small step. Test the people around you. Most of them are not abusive. Most of them are just like you and me . . . . just looking for relationships and love and health. I know you are scared. I know. But, move toward that fear. Don’t let him have this part of your life.
  2. Paralyzation. Similar to isolation, this is when we become paralyzed to relationships. Everything is dangerous and nothing feels safe. Everything is interpreted to mean something else. What if they mean to hurt me? What if they mean thus-and-such behind their words? The best thing for me to do is to stay stuck. And, once again, that stuckness that your abuser wanted for you? You are now doing his job for him (this makes me want to cry).
  3. Self-Harm. I realize that this is a complicated issue. Self-harm comes in so many forms and for so many different reasons. But, he is no longer there to hurt you. But, each time you hurt yourself, you are doing it for him. You are doing what he wanted to do to you. Oh, my dear sister . . . wouldn’t you rather get healing and FIGHT to stop the self-harm than to allow him this victory? This is not to put false guilt on anyone. We have all done things that we wish we had not and we have no choice but to learn, put it behind us and try again. There IS help for self-harm. But, only you can take the step to move forward and get the help that you need. You deserve it. After all you have been through.
  4. Loss of Identity. Abusers see other people as extensions of themselves — not as actual people. I understand that deep, dark feeling of being invisible and used. Abusers are users and takers — it is what they do. So, if I allow other people to see me as simply an accessory or as someone who is to be used (even “for the kingdom”), then I have stepped right back into that place my ex-abuser wanted me to live. I cannot give into this. I have to fight, every day, to keep my identity as Megan, beloved child of God. I will not and would not allow my abuser to have the satisfaction of believing that I had, somehow, “fallen in line”. No way; no how.
  5. Allowing the Drama In. No more drama for this mama. Abusers thrive (seriously, they live and breathe) on getting a reaction out of you. A control drama, as coined by James Redfield in his book, “The Celestine Prophecy,” is played by a person who is feeling low on power or energy, to manipulate and steal the energy of another. Control dramas are unconscious strategies all people use to gain power or energy from another person and to essentially, “get their way with others.” They get their way with others by making them pay attention to us and then elicit a certain reaction from them to make themselves feel fulfilled. The positive feelings they gain are won at the expense of the other person and this often causes imbalance and drama in interpersonal relationships. But, again, it is the “normal world” for the former victim of abuse. This has to be de-toxed out. Again, therapy will help with this. Intentional effort. Grit.

It IS a fight. It is a daily fight, for all of us. But, I would rather fight, with everything in me, to grow up and out, than to do to myself what he did to me. I have made a covenant, with myself and with God, to take specific steps to keep the drama out of my life, to keep from isolating and to keep myself growing and embracing affliction. I am actually happier, as I do these things. Avoiding pain will get us nowhere . . . pain is everywhere, especially in the recesses of the dark sides of ourselves that everyone has.

Will you fight? Will you decide, today, to find a way to stop doing these things? Explore options? Get counseling? Reach out to someone? Take a step to trust someone? I don’t want this life for you . . . it is time for a new life. Make a decision beyond the brave decision you made to leave, in the first place. Did you know it was only the first in a long line of decisions for your health?  Make a decision to climb out of the dark world he left you in, as well. Make a decision that he cannot influence you, anymore, in these ways. Make a decision to take care of yourself, so you can be the you that God means for you to be.

Be empowered in all the right ways. Get the ex’s influence out of your life for good. Start today. If you have any questions about steps to take to do this, please ask us. We have trusted resources that can help (like Leslie Vernick’s Conquer Groups and others). Or, you can reach out to us. But, by all means, stop doing to yourself what he did to you. 

Be lion-hearted; Get healing. Be the opposite of the cowardly abuser. You are the brave one, here. You are the courageous one. You are the one who can take steps to freedom and gain your wings.




Our October Mama’s Story — “Safe in His Arms”

One of our October mamas was kind enough to write out her story. We like to share these precious broken-and-beautiful stories, now and then, to help our constituents understand more about what “our mamas” are facing. It will hurt you heart . . . but please read  the story of our October mama — “Safe in His Arms” —  below.

When I met him, I was divorced for nearly 2 years and had 2 small children.  Things seem to be leveling out in my life and I was getting used to this new “normal” of being a single mom of 2 kiddos.  I had reconnected with a local church in my community through a divorce class they offered for a semester and was glad to be a part of the church family.  It was through this church that I met him.  He was a leader, in our church.  He seemed like a good, Christian man with a big heart.  He acted like he loved my children, especially my son, who has special needs.  We somehow ended up a couple without it ever being said.  I was pressured by him into sleeping with him, which I found odd coming from a Christian man, and then when I did, he’d essentially blame me for it and for allowing him to “slip” and that I “needed to connect with Christian women in the church.”  I felt dirty and disgusting.  I would push away his advances when we hung out, but it would happen again and again.  Then, I was shamed again and again by him.  I prayed.  I read scripture.  I took notes while reading the Bible.  I journaled about how awful I was to cause him to slip into sin.

He then started controlling who I talked to.  I wasn’t allowed to have any male friends.  I was to make more of an effort to hang out with Christian women (which in his book did not include Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and so on…he said those aren’t Christians).  I complied.  I wanted to be a good Christian woman.  

Things changed as soon as we got married.  He moved into my home and when I came home after the first day back at work, he had completely “redecorated” my home.  He replaced all the stuff on the bedroom walls with his posters and pictures, changed our bedding to be to his liking, even took my things on the dresser and put them away.  Again, I wanted to be a good submissive wife and I laughed it off.  Surely, this was just him trying to be more comfortable in our home.  I noticed he drank a lot, something I didn’t notice before because he didn’t live with me before we got married.  He’d come over for dinner, hang out for a bit and then go back home.  He also smoked pot and pressured me to do it also.  I did it twice and told him never again.  He promised he wouldn’t either.  He lied.  I found out I was pregnant within a few months of our marriage.  For some reason, I was afraid to tell him (I found out when he was at work or was supposed to be at work).  When he got home that night, drunk and high, I told him and he said, “Are you sure it’s mine?”  I was floored.  I cried.  He said the next day he was joking, but that look in his eyes told me it was no joke.  That’s the first time I truly saw Satan in his eyes.

My first pregnancy with him was terrible.  He would drink starting at noon or so and be drunk by the time I got home.  He would berate me and verbally abuse me, sometimes when my 2 older kids were also home.  He was abusive (verbally and emotionally, physically) with my son.  I recorded him a few times when he was yelling at me and calling me every name in the book while I cowered in a corner, super pregnant, so he could hear himself.  He called me the “enemy” in his home.  Many times he told me to get the f out of his house and take my kids with me.  I spent several nights in hotels during that pregnancy.  He would then apologize and then we would restart the cycle.  I have no family near and his parents enabled his behavior.  I turned for help to them, but it was pointless.  His mother said he was the head of the household and that this didn’t sound like him, essentially saying I was lying.

A month prior to giving birth, he unleashed the worst of his verbal assaults on me.  It sent me into preterm labor and the doctors were able to stop it.  I knew I needed to get out.  This would be the first time I left him.  He knew I had reached out to our local DV shelter before this point by looking at phone records and then yelling at me about it, so I knew I couldn’t call them safely from my phone.  My friends took us in.  I ended up returning to him when he promised he would get help.  This was the cycle — the cycle that would happen for 2 more years before I left for good.

After the birth of our first child, he didn’t change his ways.  He seemed to drink even more, and I found out he was gambling (I didn’t know the extent of how bad the gambling was and how much he lost until a few days before I left him for good).  I had no access to finances at all.  He even proposed giving me an allowance (mind you, I work full time while he “worked from home”).  Having a child didn’t change him.  He was no help with her at all — often too drunk/hungover to help.  He would pass out on the couch or in bed.  There were times he stumbled into bed and missed the bed and hit the floor.  He urinated in the bed with our child and me in it.  At one point during this period, I suspected he was doing drugs again in the garage and when I went into the garage, I was overcome with the smell of marijuana.  I looked throughout the garage and found a huge bag of pot and  a six-pack of beer.  I brought them into the house and he got mad that I didn’t trust him instead of apologizing for doing these things.  

Every time the cycle got the explosion, it was always followed with signing up for classes, major apologies, love bombing, the whole works.  I kept praying to God that he would change.  I would pray that he could see what he was doing was wrong and hurting our family.  A year after the 1st time I left him, he got physically abusive.  He was under the influence and I didn’t want him holding our child in this state.  I needed to nurse her and he went to lay in bed with her while being buzzed.  I tried grabbing her from him and he shoved me into a dresser so hard, I bruised my arm, scratched my back and knocked the T.V. over.  My older kids were home.  He took my cell phone.  He kicked us out of the house.  

We would repeat these cycles for another year before I left for the last time, in January, of this year. I left on a cold Friday morning, pregnant with 3 small children, and a dufflebag of clothing hiding in the trunk of my car.  He had no idea I was leaving and I acted like it was another day of daycare, school and work.  Since then, he’s stepped up abuse and nightmare.

 I have since been forced to obtain a protective order.  I am the sole provider for my family and am drowning.

But, when I think of what I left, where I am now, with all of its difficulties, is beyond better.  God will provide and he has shown this in many ways, most recently through Give Her Wings.  I keep having faith that the truth will come to light and little by little it truly has been.  I know God sees all and I know that he is caring for my babies and me.  The divorce still isn’t final but I have hope. 

Thank you to those of you who donate to Give Her Wings. I cannot tell you how much it has encouraged my children and myself. Please know that this is a worthy and integrous cause. They have already been able to help me with so much. In the meantime, please pray for us. We need it all.


“Safe in His Arms”




How I Met My David — Q&A Number 3

We reached out to our constituents and asked them to ask us questions for a blog post series. Some of the women wanted to know how to better educate their churches on abuse or what to do about a particularly painful situation. To my surprise, the most common question I received was, “How did you meet your husband?” (giggles!) At first, I kind of felt like it was a little bit invasive, but because I am currently reading the latest Brene Brown book, I decided I would oblige. So, here is my personal account of how I met David, the man of my dreams.

I was working really hard to keep my kiddos and myself going. I was afraid; I was shaking in my little boots; I was more alone than I have ever felt. I felt dejected, rejected, a little bit crazy, not myself and desperate for so much . . . for time alone just to pray, to feel like I belonged somewhere or to someone, for a sense of security and safety for myself and my children and so much more. My ex sent money a few times, which helped us. There was not a promise of more and, after that, it became a matter of “starving us out”: Come home and you can have money for the kids. (It wasn’t for another three years after that that we were able to obtain child support.) Ya’ll. I did not have time for “alone time”. I did manage to get up an hour before the kids and have a long, silent-sob quiet time in the bathroom with Jesus (only room in the house with a door). After that, it was very hard work. I was too afraid for my kids not to work hard. They were small. I had to be a busy mama and a working mama but, what was hardest, were the gnawing fears in the back of my mind . . . fears that almost broke me.

What will I do? When I move out of temporary housing, where will we go? Why won’t my family show compassion? Why am I being judged so harshly? Will the children grow up with their mother scorned by her entire family? How will that affect them? Will I ever have money to secure custody of my kids? Am I wrong for wanting them to be safe and loved and free from the abuse? Can I provide that for them on my own?

I always wish that I could give our mamas one year off after the finally take the bravest step, in the world, in leaving an abusive situation. Instead, they all have to jump into the unknown territory of having to be the main provider, when all they have known is being a wife and mother. The stress of the situation and their own pain and their children’s pain stretches their hearts to fracturing. I get that. We were really in poverty. People would leave canned goods on our doorstep. Someone dropped off bags of old clothes. I could not believe I was living that way.

Much-Afraid with Sorrow and Suffering

I honestly didn’t think I would ever remarry. Who would want to “take on” a woman and her four small children? I knew, when I left, that I would probably be alone for the rest of my life.

I guess God had other plans.

I was working on taking a third job as a church pianist. I had worked for David fifteen years ago, when he was a pastor and I was a pianist. I knew we were friends on Facebook. So, I wrote him and asked for a reference, of which he was happy to give. I believe that, a few weeks later, David re-thought about my message to him, wondering what I was doing in Nebraska when he had heard that my family and I had moved to Europe. And why was I working? David decided to re-visit our conversation and he asked me if I was alright. I told him I wasn’t. He asked if we could talk. I made a decision to be completely honest with David, as I knew I could trust him.  The rest is pretty much history. We talked on the phone once a week . . . then every night . . . and then, David came and got all of us, put us on a plane and brought us home — to him.

The day David picked us up from Nebraska. We will never forget it. March 13, 2012.

David wanted more children. He loved them, the first time he laid eyes on them. David was my Boaz. But, he would tell you that I was his Ruth. Those who truly know and love me (as in, have allowed me to be truly known and seen), know my character. Not perfection, please, but character.

“May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” —Ruth 3:10–11

David had known me before. Not super-well, but he would tell anyone who asked, “I saw Megan as a good wife to her husband, years ago. She was respectful and kind.” My testimony, as a good wife to my ex-husband (as an act of worship to God — not because he brought that out in me, by any means), was what David never forgot. And what he saw was a woman working hard for meager return. He did not see me as the desperate woman I felt I was because he had known me before. He knew that this place-of-my-heart was temporary.  He trusted in my solid-faith, which did not feel so solid, but it was there.

David rescued me. He would tell you I rescued him, as well. We rescued each other. Neither one of us wanted to be alone, anymore. We wanted to pour into a marriage (a second chance) that would honor and glorify God and teach our collective children what a beautiful marriage could look like.

We are so thankful for each other. And, oh, to have a marriage free from “roles”, from being held hostage, from loneliness, from pain and suffering every. single. day. To just love each other and want the best for each other. To grow together. To fall together; to get back up together. To give freedom and to meet felt needs and have someone be thankful for that.

I love my David. I want every woman to have a David. I waited so long for him. And my heart is full. And that’s our story.

The Cox Family, 2017 Credit: Shine Images Photography

And . . . just for fun . . . .

We’re pretty normal. 🙂 Credit: Shine Images Photography

When My Isolation Bubble Popped and I Watched It Happen

Since undergoing EMDR therapy (highly recommended for those who have experienced trauma), I would say that my triggers are about 75% relieved. This percentage was, most definitely, put to the test this past weekend when I went to visit my two closest friends in Wake Forest, NC. This is my old stomping ground. Wake Forest is the home of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there where I was more secluded than any time, in my life. It was there where I had all four of my babies, home schooled and had very little outside influence welcomed into my home, besides our church, because there is so much “evil in the world’ (sarcasm). It was there where I learned that women were (basically) created to please men, have babies and have a “quiet and gentle spirit” (more sarcasm).  It was there where I lived in the isolated bubble of a miserable existence. . . . where I used to cry, literally in the closet, believing that I was worthless . . . where I used to cry out to God with questions like, “Is this all I was created for? To be used? Do you even like women, God?”

I often equate all of this awful with the seminary and the Southern Baptist denomination. And, yes, I saw awful there — IN ABUNDANCE. And mamas who come to our ministry for help experience the awful. But, I know that not everyone there believes these lies. Surely, they don’t. I know my two besties don’t. At the time, though (and for so long), I thought that the seminary had a corner on God and that I was living amongst the people who had it right. We were arrogant. We knew, people. We knew and no one else did. And part of what we knew was that it is OK for a woman to be abused in every way, and the church would practically endorse that.

You can imagine how I felt being all over the places where I felt so crushed.

But, it wasn’t the place that crushed me. It wasn’t the doctrine (skewed though some of it is — let’s be honest — we are all NEVER ALL OF THE TIME RIGHT ABOUT DOCTRINE). It wasn’t the young pastor-to-be boys who relished the idea of being “specially called”. They weren’t the ones. It was the bubble in which I lived. And, when you are being abused or neglected at home, I think you kind of believe that it is normal and that other people think you should be abused and neglected, as well. And we cannot look people in the eye. But, this is one of the greatest lies in the world of abuse — the lie that says, “I must deserve it. And he says everyone else thinks I deserve it. So, I cannot get close to anyone. Not really. It will only reinforce what I deserve. And I cannot manage that right now.”

We walked into the Summit Church in Raleigh and that same, old sickening feeling came over me . . . the mild nausea associated with Southern Baptists. The preacher was a young man I had never seen. It goes without saying that I had a slightly bad attitude. I wondered, “Would this church have responded to me the same way my church did when I took my children and fled an abusive man? Would they insist that I stay in the marriage? Would they have made me feel smaller, telling me that God wanted me to be abused for the rest of my life?” But, I love my friends and this church is important to them so, there I was.

The young man preaching, decked out in super-cool clothes and an even superer-cooler beard started talking about Joseph. And, all of a sudden, it was all I could do to hold back tears (which I released, relentlessly, later with my friend Anna). It was good. It was not oppressive. This young man spoke about being stripped of everything you thought you were . . . a son, a brother, a young man full of hope (a daughter, a sister, a young mother full of hope). He spoke about being stripped of dignity . . . and then being given a new name and being given all of the dignity back and more. He said things like, “The brothers weren’t the ones who sent Joseph away . . . God was. And He did so for a purpose.” Ya’ll. How could I have given certain people, in my life, so much power as to think they were responsible for my banishment? Whoa. They didn’t do it. God did this. Why? I don’t know all of the reasons. But, I DO know that, if I hadn’t left my abusive marriage and if my family of origin did not judge me so harshly and if the church I had been attending hadn’t been so gossipy and hurtful, I would not be here, directing Give Her Wings, which impacts thousands of hurting mothers and provides for so many of them to be able to pay bills and get on their feet. That’s why.  This sermon was tailor-made for me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

We went to the Mexican restaurant I had visited so frequently while being married to an abusive man. And I looked around, as I sipped my margarita (that would have been scandalous years ago), and realized that these people are not abusive people. They are just people. My isolation bubble kept me from seeing these people . . . . people who simply need to be loved; people who may be hurting; people who may not be hurting; just normal, run-of-the-mill, extraordinary created-in-God’s-image people. They did not do to me what had been done to me, so many years earlier. And it no longer felt that way, either.

And more . . . the mall in which I used to push my babies around . . . the corner ice-cream shop, the pathways I used to take when I ran . . . they are just places. Just places.

My isolation bubble has popped and I can see outside of my painful situation, more than ever. This may have been a final stage of my healing and I am so grateful for it! So, come on . . . come at me with your bad theology. I’m not crippled by it, anymore. I am here to tell you that there is a better way, a freer way, the way in which Jesus said He wanted to pave to show us how to love and forgive our sins and make us these awesome, funky, original creations that He just adores. I won’t shy away. I hear stuff and it hurts my heart . . . but it no longer affects me. And that is huge.

Are you still triggered by certain places? I would love to hear about it. What about theology? Do you get edgy when people throw out those words that used to keep you shackled? Has your isolation bubble popped, yet?  I would love to hear from you. And, if the bubble hasn’t popped, yet, and you are isolated, all the more reason to reach out. We can help you with that! Jesus is allllll about relationships — good ones — not ones where someone has “authority” or the “upper hand” in your life. We will be your mutual, messy friends.

Warmly and Set Freely,


My book, my painting. MDC