Our Two July Mamas — “Junia” and “Held by Jesus”

We are so grateful to the family of God for their continued support of our ministry! Because of your donations, we have been able to pay bills for these two precious ladies in the amount of $3000! (see below) You gave them hope and you gave them joy and you helped remind them that they are not alone because the Bride of Christ really does love them. 

Here are the two powerful stories of our two July mamas:

“Junia” chose her name because discovering a dynamic woman in Scripture was life changing for her and for her daughter. Having lived in oppression for so long, it was a cool drink of water for their souls to discover this amazing lady in the Word of God. Junia said to us,

Early in the separation process, my oldest daughter and I happened to read in the that the usual translation of the apostle “Junius” in the Bible is actually incorrect, and should be Junia. That was huge for us, and felt like a stepping stone away from feeling like we were trapped in a religion where women were second-class citizens, and not truly full children of God. For me, that was the first step towards rethinking a lot of what I’d been taught and finding my way back to God for myself. I’m still on that path now.
Wow! Oh, YES YOU ARE A FULL-FLEDGED CHILD OF GOD, dear lady! And He cares about you so much, that He sent Give Her Wings to tell you so!
Junia has 3 children, all of them high-needs. When our ambassador, Bethany Shields, went to meet with her, she found that Junia’s rent is very reasonable but the stress level, in their home, is too much to allow for Junia to work full-time. Bethany also discovered that Junia has been alienated from her church home, as her ex husband still attends there. (Sidebar: We hear about this al the time. And it saddens us, deeply) Junia has much to sort through and we want to help her with this! After spiritual and emotional abuse for decades, there is bound to be some deep pain and scarring. But, we were so happy to be able to pay her July rent and some car repairs to help Junia press through. Please continue to pray for these precious lady and her three little lambs. And pray for us, as we minister to these brave folks!

Held by Jesus” has one of the sweetest dispositions any of us have ever encountered! Teammate Lori and ambassador Millie Wilhelmson spoke incredibly highly of her character! We were so happy to be able to help Held and her eight children (yes, you read that right!). Held was married to an abusive man for 27 years and has recently escaped. She suffered psychological, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse at the hands of the one who was supposed to love her and protect her. Held did go to the church for help and they stepped in to provide counseling. After another physical injury from him, Held went to get a protection order. The church found out and asked her to drop it and continue counseling. She did as they asked. His issue with pornography and alcohol abuse continued, with him getting two DUI’s. After counseling failed, the church backed off and, naturally, the abuse resumed.

After Held suffered a more severe injury, she was able to get a court order and she has been released from the horror that was her marriage. Held is in the very early stages of leaving so she needs tremendous support. We want to give that support!
We have been tremendously blessed to be able to pay for her electric bill and other utilities to keep her household running this month. Please continue to pray for us and for her as we discover how we can best minister to her.
As always, your donations are making a life-altering difference in the lives of “our” mamas and their babies! If you would like to sign up to be an angel, please go here. If you would like to check our our July House-warming party, please go here. We need all of your help!
The Team of Give Her Wings (David, Megan, Carrie, Tammy, Laura, Bekah, Michelle, Lori, Adam, Audrey & Chuck)
Artwork Credit: “Aspens” by Megan D Cox

Parenting with PTSD — When Your Children Trigger You

As promised, I have spent a lot of time thinking about being triggered, as a parent. When I posed the question (on our Facebook page) about whether or not other moms are triggered when they sense similarities between their child and his/her abusive father, I could not believe the tremendous response! Right away, I knew I had to do some research. It makes sense that mothers who have been traumatized by an abusive husband would struggle, as they look into the eyes of the child who has . . . his eyes. However, I don’t believe many former targets of abuse are warned of that phenomenon. And they certainly are not equipped to cope with suffering PTSD and raising their children all at once.

Survivors process things differently. So many normal situations, in life, become venues of panic, fear and intensity for a person suffering with PTSD. My ex husband used to come home and “dump” (for lack of a better term) on me, after work or seminary, every single day. He would fill me with insecurity, as he wondered aloud if he would be able to keep his job or we would be able to make ends meet. He would tell me things that kept me on edge and fearful. When he was a pastor, he would tell me all the bad things people were saying about me (Megan) and how I seemed to be failing, as a pastor’s wife (I found out, years later, that none of this was true). He kept me isolated in a miserable existence and left alone to question myself (and our place) in this awful, awful world that he created.

As a result of years of these kinds of repeated experiences with my ex husband, when my children were smaller and would come home from school and tell me about their day, I was filled with panic. It was disproportionate to what was happening. But, my heart would race as I would listen and my voice would get high-pitched and I would be filled with terror (I am sure that my response was very strange to my children). I was, somehow, relating what my ex husband would do to me with the normal, every day child-talks about school days. It did not make sense. But, triggers rarely do.

It is important to insert a caveat, at this point. Sometimes, your child really does emulate abusive behavior. If this happens, it needs to be pointed out and dealt with in a great big way. Children do not get to display abusive behavior. Help them to wrestle through it and remind them that they can break cycles, as well. The truth is, your children will remind you of their biological father. But, that does not mean they are going to grow up to be abusers. They have a chance, because of you, mama. You are fighting the good fight of helping your children turn to Christ and become amazing and responsible people. They do not have to be like your ex husband.

The thing about triggers is that they seem uncontrollable, at the time. Hindsight is always fabulous. But, the reason triggers are called “triggers” is that there is a knee-jerk and helpless reaction that occurs — and quickly. I believe, however, there are ways to feel a bit less helpless and a bit more controlled, when it comes to triggers. I want this for you! Understanding what triggers are and why they occur has allowed me to parent in a break-the-cycle fashion. It has allowed me to use the triggers to assist in my recovery, and no longer hinder it. Here are my findings (as modified from author Elizabeth Corey):

  1. We need to understand the triggers as they are happening. It is alright if it is mid-crazy. Stop. Take a moment and back away. Do not be frustrated if it takes several times of stopping, mid-melt-down, until things “click”. It is also OK for you to have the melt-down and realize what happened later. Each time you connect the dots, you are actually creating new neural pathways in your mind to begin the process of changing your thinking. If you need to explain and apologize to your child, do so. I believe it is always valuable for a child to see his or her parent taking responsibility and revealing the intent to change.
  2. We must work to stay in the present. A very large part of being able to cope, with PTSD, is mastering the art of staying grounded. Triggers have to do with the past and not the present. In the moment, stop and look around. What is happening, this very second? Where am I? Look around you and begin naming what you see. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Touch your face. Find yourself in the here and now and remember that what is happening, right this second, is not what happened years ago when you were being abused. Take deep breaths. And repeat your “anchor thoughts” to yourself. It is OK to walk away, get yourself grounded, and then return to the child to work things out. Your child will respect your desire to control yourself. Remember this always: Your child is not your abuser. Your child needs mama to love him/her. It is your calling.
  3. We must take steps to understand our reactions. This is the tough stuff. If you have found yourself panicking and struggling and triggered, take some time to try to understand where the trigger response came from. Keep a journal and write these things down. Go to therapy. Figure it out. Challenge your own thinking. For me, I can say that what my ex husband did to me was wrong . . . but my children talking about their day is perfectly normal and is not wrong. I love what Elizabeth Corey writes on her website (BeatingTrauma.com):

This awareness work is hard.  There will be painful emotions to be processed. (I recommend a therapeutic relationship to help with the coping.)  There will be physical reactions, too.  It takes a level of commitment that rivals our commitment to our children.  But that is just the point.  It is the commitment to our children, to bringing them up in a different world with different beliefs that motivates us to do this work.

It is so important for us to crush our Goliath’s so our children do not have to. This is hard work. I know this. It seems to take every ounce of energy to raise our children and then we are expected to deal with our own emotional trauma, as well. But, I do believe it can be done. It will be a difficult balance. I know you don’t have time, mama. I know that you are just trying to make ends meet. But, I also know that you can take snippets, here and there, to observe your feelings, emotions and reactions until things get better and you can obtain more therapeutic help. My children were worth it for me to go to EMDR (one of the many ways therapists can aid PTSD-sufferers) to help heal my PTSD and learn skills to cope. And you and your children are worth it, as well. I would welcome more ideas and thoughts about this topic, as I am just now exploring it, myself. For now, please click here for a great resource page recommended by “Trigger Points Anthology”.





The Other Kind of Radical — A Guest Post by Rebecca Davis

We are thankful to Rebecca Davis (author of  Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind), for this guest post today. You can connect with Rebecca on her own blog at www.heresthejoy.com.

The other kind of radical

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Last September for my Birthday Reflections post (an annual tradition), I wrote about going down into the dark valley called The Valley of Weeping. Today, though, I want to express my boundless praise for the gift God has given me in that valley, the people I’ve been privileged to get to know there. I want to shout out my thanksgiving to God for the faithful trauma survivors He has put in my life. Most of them were traumatized by people who claimed to be Christians, even Christian leaders. But in spite of that, these women are still following, or longing to follow, God in faith.

Many of them will never stand at a microphone and speak. Many of them will never write a book. Many of them will not have any sort of following at all, because they are simply trying to live their lives. If we take David Platt’s Radical as a mantra, then the Radical for these people is simply that they have not turned their back on God. The Radical for many of them is that they are still alive. The Radical for them is that they still hope.

My heart swells in even thinking about them. I would far rather sit at their feet than at the feet of the most popular speaker.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who as a child was prostituted by a relative and used for child pornography. She has several children in heaven, but only a few of us know to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She lives the life of the mundane, working a regular job and going to church where almost no one knows her story. She suffers the physical effects of the abuse to this day, and together we pray for her physical healing. She continues to hope in God.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who took her six children to escape from a man who was sexually abusing them (I need to say allegedly, even though she saw it happening), only to find that she has to share custody with him. She works to give her children tools to fight spiritual battles while she continues to hope in the goodness of God and His rescue from this Egypt, and together we pray that her young ones will be delivered and be able to recover from the effects of this great harm.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who, having been horrifically abused as a child, tried and tried and tried again to get help. She didn’t give up. She didn’t give up, in the face of blamers and shamers and bumblers. And now, in a good church where she is finally receiving help, she is learning to know the presence of God.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one whose charming pastor husband walked out on her into the arms of another, who finally came to see that her husband was a narcissist and an abuser, who speaks about how God has given her grace and will redeem her story.

I’m filled with thanksgiving for the one who came to the Lord in salvation only months before she married Mr. SuperChristian who turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing extreme abuser. When she finally was able to get her children away, she was worn, haggard, sick, and traumatized. She never ceased hoping in the God she had just gotten to know and was finally able to spend time getting to know again, and continues to trust Him with her head until her heart can fully feel.

I’m thanking God for the one whose life for 25 years was like living in a concentration camp, whose haggard face, when I met her, still shone with the light of Christ. I’m thanking God for the one who, in a controlling patriarchal family was taught to study the Bible by her father, who truly did study it and there found out who Jesus Christ really was. I’m thanking God for the one who got out of her abusive marriage and went on to establish a Christian ministry to help others coming out of abusive marriages. I’m thanking God for the one who said, “If I can just know who God is at the end of all this, it will be worth it.”

These are the Radicals to me because they get up each day to care for their children or their clients. For some of my friends, their “not wasting their lives” takes the form of not committing suicide today and living to see tomorrow. These are the ones who, like the saints in Hebrews 12, may not see fulfillment of the promise right now, but they dimly see something in the future, and hope in God that it will come to pass.

There is no preaching conference with a stellar line-up, no stack of books by big-name authors, that I would trade for the friendships God has given me with these women who are simply living unwasted, hopeful, mundane, radical lives right where they are.

Though this song was posted for those who have suffered persecution in other lands, I post it now for my friends right here, around me, around you. This is dedicated to them.

Beautiful Scars

Words and music by Amy Shreve


I’ve heard your story. 

I think you are brave.

And I can’t imagine 

Half of your pain.

Your eyes bear the mark of a child of God.

Whether near or far, you’re here in my heart.

Whether near or far, you’re here in my heart.

And I cry 

When you have been wounded.

And I die 

When your blood is shed.

I am a part of you,

And I can see Jesus through

The beautiful scars you wear.

So don’t think it’s hopeless 

Or yield to despair,

Cause I want to help you, 

And God hears our prayers.

The morning will come when there’ll be no more harm.

Till then I’ll hold you here in my heart.

Till then I’ll hold you here in my heart.

And I cry 

When you have been wounded.

And I die 

When your blood is shed.

I am a part of you,

And I can see Jesus through

The beautiful scars you wear.

You are Beautiful and You Don’t Even Know It

It is fun to watch “our” mamas bloom. We kind of get to see the stories of their healing and health via social media. We have seem mamas go from barely posting anything to posting photos of their poems, their art and their gorgeous selves. The children are laughing and these mamas are having FUN. Reckless, extravagant fun. And it is beautiful. Over the past several years, we have noticed a ton more selfies from these precious ladies as they discover their beauty. And we love it. Take more selfies, mama. You are gorgeous. I mean, really gorgeous. In fact, I think that’s why he tried to keep you down.

I remember telling my ex husband that he was the only person, in this world, that I had, in my life, to tell me that I was beautiful. He wasn’t moved. In fact, there was a time that he was honest. He said words I will never forget, “Megan, I didn’t want to tell you you are beautiful because I thought you would become vain.” There you have it. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell me something nice on my wedding day. I felt ugly. I must have been ugly because it was acceptable to treat me like I was ugly. And the porn . . . there was no way for me to compete. I obviously wasn’t enough. Right?

No. Of course not. We are enough, in and of ourselves, because we are created by a Master’s artist-hand. We are His works. Ladies, we are beautiful. I think that God smiled as he crafted your sweet face, those lovely eyes, that hair . . . and then, when He breathed that deep soul into your body, I can imagine that His exhale must have been one of incredible emotion. And He looked at you and was so pleased. I’m sure, in His mysterious and unfathomable mind, He knew that, someday, someone would try to crush your feminine beauty. But, what He made would pass the test. No one can take your beauty away from you. Because when He breathed into you, it was an eternal breath. And that lovely, unique soul shines. And the longer you are away from the abuse, the more it shines. And we get to witness this.

One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “Do you think that I could ever find a man who would love me the way I am?” Oh my word . . . Obviously, these sweet ladies don’t know how exquisite they are — inside and out! But, I remember thinking I would never remarry. How could any man want this woman who had four children, felt “used up” and worn out and was exhausted all the time? It took me quite a time to accept my beauty, as a child of God. As His girl. So, let me just answer this now, mamas: Yes. You are beautiful. Every single one of you. Your smiles shine with your love for Jesus, for your children and I want to see it shine for the love you have for your sweet selves. You honor God. You are the bravest people I know. You haven’t given up on God, even though (because of what you’ve been through), it would be understandable. You have a hope and a future. Divorce and trauma do not signal the end of life! God loves new beginnings. You know how He is.

Discover it . . . accept your beauty. Look into the mirror and smile and thank God for making you a beautiful, mystifying, attractive, lovely person. And learn to love your body. It is miraculous, how He made us, really. You are marvelous. Accept it.



“Flowers From Vincent” by Megan Cox



Our May Monthly Mama and Our May Encouragement Mama!

The stories were hear are often so similar, although none of us ever becomes jaded or used to hearing about abuse. But, being in the presence of a young single mother, as she shares her story of abuse is powerful. It reminds us, in a fresh way, of why we are doing what we are doing. And it fills us with awe. All of the mamas we help have done brave things. But each story is unique and we are overwhelmed by the steps these ladies have taken toward freedom — alone and in fear and with courage. Read about our May mamas below:

  1. Jenny. David and I were blessed to be able to meet with Jenny, here in Colorado. She sat across from us and tearfully shared her story of pain and courage, through tears. Young and afraid, she told us about how she left with her three babies and headed to a shelter, after finally realizing she was being severely abused (thanks to a pastor who helped open her eyes). She lived there for three months and then moved in with a relative for another three months. She finally obtained a housing voucher and moved into an apartment with her three children. Jenny is utterly overwhelmed. Her children are struggling with some emotional difficulties and learning disabilities. She is balancing survival with being all that the children need her to be, right now. And her voucher ends in September. At that point, she will have some decisions to make. Thankfully, she had mediation with her ex husband and will be able to have custody of their children. (It is rare that we hear such good news!) But, at this point, she will have to be able to make a living and find ways to care for her children. Her church has not known how to help and she has “run out” of family support. We want to do all that we can to help her, financially, and because of our faithful donors, we can!! We will be talking with her, soon, to allocate the $1500 we have set aside for her. We love Jenny and want to bless her. We prayed, after eating at Chipotle, that day, and the three of us wept. I kept picturing Jenny and her three little ones trying to get to safety and it broke my heart in two. She is brave . . . so so brave.
  2. Teresa. Teresa is our May encouragement mama. She is so special to us already! Teresa does not need financial help (right now) but we will be coming alongside her to support her and encourage her through the difficult process she is facing. Teresa filed for divorce 2 weeks ago. Her husband has been emotionally abusive their entire marriage,  and is currently involved with his affair partner from 6 yrs ago. He has now started being verbally abusive to Teresa and her sons, trying to intimidate and bully them, as his anger level has ramped up to a new level that they never seen before! You can only imagine the fear! Very often, an abusive (yet charming) husband shows his true colors when he realizes he has lost control of his victim. Teresa is concerned about what he might do, later this week, as further paperwork is served. Rest assured, Give Her Wings has asked Teresa to take special protective precautions. She and her sons are doing so. Teresa does have support of her four sons, and two daughters-in-law, as well as extended family and church, so she is blessed in that area — moreso than most of “our” mamas. Teresa asks for prayer for their protection, as she says, “I no longer know this man that I am married to, and that scares me a little.” Teresa wants to say “thank you” to our donors, supporters and to the team of Give Her Wings for adding her into our family!
    Painting by Megan D Cox

A Mother’s Day Post for our Single Mamas

There are one-hundred beautiful blog posts for mamas out there these days. And they are lovely. They speak about the difficult issues that only mamas can understand. The long days, the rough nights, the spit-up, the inability to get a shower ever in peace. But, our mamas have their own sets of challenges. And these ladies are my heroes. Every time I meet with, email or talk to a new mama we are helping, my soul gasps at what they have come through. And I know that people don’t know; they don’t see; they can’t imagine. But, mamas . . . we want you to know that we know, we see and we can imagine. So, here’s to you, strong single mamas. We love you:

Here’s to you, mama, when you are laying in bed alone and you wish there was another healthy adult around the house because you are afraid. Here’s to you for trusting in God through the tears.

Here’s to you, mama, when that three-year-old comes into your room every night because she is afraid and she needs cuddles. And you cuddle, even though you are beyond exhausted.

Here’s to you, mama, when your teens rage emotional because they feel insecure and you feel helpless and all you can tell them is that God is not like that man who hurts them.

Here’s to you, mama, when your heart breaks because your boys need a father and you burn with anger because the man you married just refuses to be a good man for their sake.

Here’s to you, mama, when you do the job of both parents, beyond exhaustion and with no money. And you are creative. And it is amazing.

Here’s to you, mama, when you go in to confront that mean teacher who feels like it is OK to pick on your kid because he knows there isn’t a father around.

Here’s to you, mama, when you look at the thirteen dollars in your checking account and you make it work. You are resourceful.

Here’s to you, mama, when you eat less and lose weight because there isn’t enough food and your children are growing.

Here’s to you, mama, when you hide in the bathroom and let the tears fall. The tears that fall because you are lonely . . . and you never thought life would turn out this way. Here’s to you for pressing on.

Here’s to you, mama, when you get your kids back from his house and they are leaky buckets and you love them and you hold them and you let them cry and you fill them back up again (somehow), even though you are running on empty.

Here’s to you, mama, when you pick up your kids, after a long day of work, and you are so so so tired but you make dinner and help with homework and get them to bed. And then you stay up late to catch up. Because you are strong.

Here’s to you, mama, when you ask for help. We know it is hard.

Here’s to you, mama, when you pray for money to buy shoes or warm pajamas.

Here’s to you, mama, when you have to undo the abuse your babies have suffered at his hands. When you have to correct the rotten mental abuse and convince your children that they are worth more than all of the stars in the sky.

Here’s to you, mama, when you use the gift card someone gave you all on your kids. Because you never seem to stop sacrificing.

Here’s to you, mama, when you fight off false guilt and ugly looks from others. When you take your kids to church, even though it is hard, and people don’t understand. We applaud you.

Here’s to you because you never gave up. You could have but you didn’t. So many others would have. And, someday, your children will rise up and call you blessed and will marvel over all that you did — on your own — with so little support. Someday, it will all be worth it. Those beautiful babies you have? They will be amazing adults because their mothers cared enough about them to remove them from the abuse. And loved them through the hard years. Happy Mother’s Day to you, special mamas. We love you and we believe in you.

“Heart of Fire” by Megan D Cox



Exciting news about a FREE webinar and TWO April mamas!

There is SO MUCH happening over at Give Her Wings! If it seems like we’ve been quiet, it is because we have been BUSY LITTLE BEES! And it is all such wonderful work, friends. We are so thankful for all the support we continue to receive to help so many mamas. In fact, we helped TWO mamas this month, already! But, more about that soon. First, we HAVE to share with you that one of our favorite people, Leslie Vernick, is doing a fabulous webinar called “5 Red Flags that You are in a Destructive Marriage”! HELLO! How important is this? We respect and admire Leslie and trust her whole-heartedly. She will help you to become “crystal clear” about whether or not you are in a destructive marriage AND what God says about this. In her webinar, you’ll learn where the Bible talks about these things and how abuse affects people. She will also give you steps to take if you find yourself in a destructive marriage. To sign up, please click here: 5 Red Flags that You are in a Destructive Marriage. She will also open it up for question and answer and there is a special bonus at the end! Sign up today! The awesome part? ITS FREE!!!

Second, we have two new mamas! Read about them below:

Lindsay lives in a state where we do not have a team member. We called upon the family of God (who has never let us down!) to help us to reach this sweet young girl. Victoria answered that call. Our dear friend, Victoria, drove to meet Lindsay in a small town in the mid-west. Victoria took her out to eat and ministered to her in an incredible way. Lindsay is only 25 years old and has two precious baby boys. One night, a few months ago, Lindsay left her abusive marriage with her two boys and $5 in her pocket. She headed straight for a shelter, which kept her safe for two months until she was able to find an apartment. We found out that Lindsay only had ONE BED for furniture, which she was sharing with her babies. We were able to help Lindsay furnish her new apartment and get back on her feet with some money for bills to spare! Hooray! Lindsay  now has a job and she ALSO has a college scholarship! Victoria is helping us to find a childcare voucher for Lindsay so she can plan, what looks to be, a bright future! Recently, her ex husband has been arrested for drug possession. He has been in and out of prison. We are confident that Lindsay will be able to have custody of her boys and be able to move forward. Please pray for her, though, as she is hurting. It is so hard to be a young single mama!

Natasha was also a mama who was “out of reach”. So, our dear friend and “angel”, Penny, went to see her on the East Coast! We are so grateful to Penny for what she did! Not only did Penny take her out to eat and bless her and her children, but Penny brought her own remedies to help one of Natasha’s sick babies. If you don’t know about Penny’s business, check it out here: Aromatic Insight and Inspiration. Penny has also donated (at cost) a BEAUTIFUL product going into our Mother’s Day packages for our mamas. But, shhhh. I don’t want to ruin the surprises! Penny fell in love with Natasha and so did we! Penny and Natasha discussed how we could best help this precious woman with a handful of children whose husband chose to abuse the gifts he once had. He, too, has been in prison due to the abuse and drug possession. He is coming out of prison soon, however, and Natasha is terrified that he will want custody of their youngest little lamb. We believe we can help Natasha to fight this. We also are going to help pay for some repairs that need to be done on her car so Natasha can  take a job as an uber-driver. Yay! Natasha is getting back on her feet and we are doing all we can to help.

Did you know that we also help these beautiful mamas with day-to-day stresses? We are available to them! And we love it. Look at this precious text we received from Natasha the day before Easter.

Carrie was able to zip a gift card over to her so she could do easter baskets for her little lambs! We love to help!

We are looking ahead . . . there is SO MUCH NEED, friends. The Give Her Wings team loves what we do and it is a lot of work. Please pray for Lindsay, Natasha, Leslie and our team as we press on and do what we are called to do — to love the widows and orphans, for this is true religion!



Fly Through the Storm by Megan Cox




Do You See My Broken Soul? — A Sketch on Emotional Abuse by Megan

Disclaimer: This is a sketch to help people understand what it feels like to go through an emotionally/mentally abusive relationship(s). It is not a description of where I am currently, but where I was several years ago. We focus, so much, on physical battering but many of our constituents suffer in a deeper, under-the-surface and very soul-killing way. May this open the eyes of those God chooses to bring to our community.

My soul is bruised . . . the deep, core, very real, eternal part of me has been crushed. I feel destroyed but I am not. Crushed but not destroyed. That vulnerable and guttural piece of my heart that trusts God loves me has been ripped out of me and exposed to lies. Oh, how I wish it would heal like a broken bone heals! How I long for hands of salve to come and to put me back together. But, no one can see. They don’t understand that I am so afraid . . . so afraid to look anyone in the eye; so afraid to speak; so afraid to raise my voice, to make a decision, to celebrate anything. I have been pushed down so incredibly far by people who tell me they love me. The confusion is astounding.

My soul feels small . . . I feel small. When my voice finally speaks, it angers those who are bent of my smallness and they dig in even deeper. “How dare she speak out? Who does she think she is?” The risk I took in opening my mouth results in even more pain. I took a daring, tiny step and they knocked the wind out of me and put me back into my place.

My soul is hiding . . . No one understands how difficult it is for me to be with people. What if they discover that maybe I really DID deserve the pain inflicted upon me? What if there is something about me that I do not see? What if I really AM all that they say I am? Each gathering is a victory. Every time I laugh, it is a song of mirth I put into my treasure box. Each time my children laugh, it is a cool drink of water to my soul that is oh-so-thirsty . . . a reminder of the decision I made to help them to be healthy.

My soul is grey and colorless. I remember, with longing, the desire of my youth. The music, art and beauty I had planned for my future. I remember the hopes of home and family . . . all used against me. Every vulnerable thought I shared in the early days of courtship  . . . used against me in my darkest hours. Every need that I had . . . used against me as a weapon of control. Every physical weakness . . . used against me in my exhaustion.

My soul has lost its dignity. I do not feel like a person but an extension of those who feel entitled to hurt me. I am no longer seen. How I long to be seen! I once had dreams and desires! I am an empty vessel, giving up her body and her hopes to those around her. Serve, serve, serve . . . it is seen as “noble” for me to be used. I am used. I am used up. I have lost my beauty, my youth, my dresses, my femininity, my hair, my body. I am no longer “happy day”; I am no longer the girl with the “pretty pretty smile”; I am no longer “guileless”. All those who were kind to me are gone. So long gone and I am left with their words and memories to fight against the hateful voices that pierce this black-and-blue soul.  I tell myself, “You are worthy because you are human.”

And I remember that He is El-Roi — the God who sees me.

They could beat my body but it would not have the same affect as the beating my soul has taken. I would rather have physical scars to show. If it were not for the white-knuckled grip that my Lord has always had on my heart, I would not have wanted to live. Rejection is invisible. I cannot show you the scars but you will sense the scars, if you spend time with me. You will sense them. My soul is scarred. My heart is cracked all over . . . but the oil of gladness was poured over to bring those tender parts together. Tissue has built up and my heart is well-loved, but no longer picture-perfect-pretty.

And, oh . . . how my soul has grown. Grown to love and grown to pour more into those around me, now . . . those around me who know how to love, also. And we grow together. And we heal together. And all I can do is be who I am. Broken, beautiful, aching-for-eternity, Jesus-loving, bad-ass-Christian, mothering, wifing, fighting, artsy, a-little-bit-crazy, often-weeping, expressive, full-of-mercy, honest Megan. My soul was beaten, yes. But, my soul is also loved by the One who said He would never leave my side. And, now, I am ready to walk through the Valley and call to those very ones who wanted to break my soul . . . calling to them, “Let the Shepherd take you to the High Places!”

I am ready to walk beside those whose souls are bruised.

I am ready.



“Broken Wings” a painting by Megan Cox



5 Differences Between Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

As I have mentioned to many, I love the idea of moving forward into health. I want, so badly, to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice can heal all of our twisted and corrupt relationships. I do believe that. But, I also believe that it simply does not always work out that way. We are a broken people moving through a broken world. Sometimes, the Enemy (or our own hurting self) has (have) ruined things so completely, there just will not be repair. It is a brutal truth. So, now and then, I read something that reminds me of what my former life was like, when infested with un-health — in myself and in others, and I’m shocked that I even used to live that way. In fact, I do not know that I could even recognize what health was, back then! And, so many of our hurting mamas do not know what a healthy relationship looks like, either. We receive countless emails from women, asking us if their situation is “normal”. A lot of the time, we have to say no, that is not normal for a Christian marriage or a Christian friendship. I am convinced that so many Christians no longer have a compass for the beautiful and life-giving relationships that we can have in Christ. So . . . here is a short-list for what is healthy and what is not. I hope that this helps:

  1. The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard cycle is NOT HEALTHY. Many are familiar with this common pattern of abuse. You are on a pedestal one minute (which is not healthy), then you find your most vulnerable traits being devalued. You start to be criticized and put down and then you are discarded — often publicly — in some of the most hurtful ways imaginable. In a healthy relationship, your secrets are considered precious, your story considered beautiful and your very self is considered valuable. This is normal. There is no silent treatment, no stone-walling and no withdrawing when you have failed to meet someone’s extreme “standards”.
  2. Gaslighting is NOT HEALTHY. This is a technique that character-disordered individuals use to convince you that your perception of a disturbing incident is inaccurate. This causes a person to feel confusion and a new mistrust of their own vision, hearing and the very sound minds that God has given. In a healthy relationship, misunderstandings are explained, there is healthy forgiveness and a lot (A LOT) of validation. And listening. This is normal.
  3. Smear campaigning is NOT HEALTHY. This usually comes during the “discard” stage. If you have reached this point, the relationship is over and finding a semblance of health with this person(s) may never happen. Let me be clear: finally speaking out about the abuse in your marriage is not a smear campaign. Friend, I know how long you kept this a secret. Sharing with safe people is empowering. And, if he didn’t want others to know about what he did to you, he shouldn’t have done it to you. Uplifting and empowering friends and spouses are normal. Loving each other into being the best “Megan” and the best “David” that we can be for God’s glory is the name of the game.
  4. Triangulation is NOT HEALTHY. This is the act of bringing in a third party to cause feelings of strife and a whole lotta’ drama. This doesn’t always mean that that person is even present. Maybe your husband raves about another woman’s beauty or talent. Or he speaks about his ex wife or girlfriend as though he doesn’t know if he should have left that relationship. Over and over, insecurity is bred as you never measure up. In a normal relationship, there is security. Exes are no longer a part of our lives (if you can help it!). There is no comparison. In fact, in Christian relationships, you know you are loved to your core. And you are free.
  5. “False selves” and “True selves” are an UNHEALTHY BINARY. “Charming guy” in public and “mean guy” at home is one of the most confusing and hurtful dynamics out there. It can cause distress, cognitive dissonance and PTSD (and the accompanying forms). A person who loves you will not ruin your special days, milestones and holidays. If you cannot understand why a person would or could be so kind to others but so unkind to you . . . if you truly believe that there is something inherently wrong, in you, and that you deserve this treatment, something is VERY wrong. In beautiful, life-giving relationships, people and milestones are celebrated! This is a biblical principal! Birthday parties are given! New life is a miracle! Even stepping stones need to be recognized! In normal relationships, we are the same in our homes as we are “out there”. There simply is no difference. We are the same “on the outside” as we are on the inside. 

As always, Jesus is our perfect example of relational health. He empowered, He forgave, He was kind, He blessed people a lot . . . in fact, I believe that His love was so deep that it almost hurt the objects of His affection. Do you know what I’m talking about? Where your heart strains, as you cling to his robe after His resurrection? Your hands shake because your heart is beating so hard because of Jesus’ love for you? The tears don’t stop because no one ever loved you like this God-Man? He knows everything about me . . . and He loves me. He does not use my secrets and pain against me. He does not exploit my weakness.  And He adores me. He smiles when I create; He delights in me and sings over me; He likes me, even. 

Oh, if we could only love like that. Oh, how I want to love like that.



“Water of Life” by Megan Cox


Spreading Your Wings – Even When They’re Broken By Marie O’Toole (formerly Notcheva)

We are so thankful to Marie for writing a guest post just for our ministry! We have long since supported and respected Marie for all she has endured. Marie is the author of “Redeemed from the Pit” and “Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age”. She is also a trained counselor, who is now focusing her ministry on helping emotionally abused women. She is currently writing a third book – on abuse women endure, and the Church’s failure to address it.

Fourteen months ago today, I stepped into the kitchen of my new home – a two-bedroom apartment – to find that my landlady had left me a case of rice pilaf, hot cocoa and eggnog mix, a bottle of steak sauce, and tins of chocolate cookies for my children. It was, by far, the kindest gesture any Christian made towards me during the painful month of my divorce.

My landlady, a woman approximately twenty years my senior, understood first-hand the stigma of being a divorced Christian woman. Happily married now to a loving man, Cheryl had also gone through the pain of betrayal and subsequent difficulty that comes with suddenly finding oneself a single mom.

Paying it Forward

I realize I am far, far more fortunate than the women helped by Give Her Wings. This is why I support their ministry, not only financially but also by speaking up for abused women and writing about the secondary abuse we often face from our churches. Where the Church has largely failed to help women who have had to escape abusive situations, ministries like Give Her Wings and secular programs have stood in the gap. Fortunately, I have never faced homelessness. I have two degrees; a rewarding and well-paying career as an interpreter, and my children are well beyond the age where they would need childcare. Following months of intimidation attempts by my ex-husband, I was able to hire a lawyer and am now receiving child support. The other “mamas” are not so lucky – I am painfully aware that Give Her Wings is often the only resource standing between them and abject poverty.

During the journey of the last year, however, what I’ve come to appreciate is that moral support and encouragement from other Christians is even more important to “getting back on my feet” than a steady paycheck. And by “feet”, I mean my spiritual groundings. The worst part of emotional abuse is that after time, you start to actually believe you deserve it. Even when we finally wake up, and realize that the abuser is the one with the problem (and not us), the struggle to leave is compounded by those who enable the abuser (and shame the victim, trying to paint her as the villain for standing up to the abuse). All too often, abused women’s churches are guilty of this. Secondary abuse by clergy is insidious, because we have been conditioned to believe these men speak for God. The all-too-common practice of trying to convince women to ‘reconcile’ with unrepentant abusers is a horrible sin, which only compounds the woman’s pain.

When you have left an abusive marriage, it is vitally important to get connected to a loving, Gospel-preaching faith community. Telling women that ‘abuse is never grounds for divorce’ is not biblical, nor is shunning or excommunicating them when they leave. Once the marriage covenant has been broken by abuse, women need godly counsel and compassion that will help restore their identity as daughters of the King. There are many good churches that will do that. Even if you have been hurt by a church, there are others that will help heal your wounds. My current pastor and many people in my church have done just that, and it has been vital both to my healing and to restoring my trust in Christians again.

Coffee and Compassion

Last year, my former pastor harassed me (mainly by email) for 10 straight months following my divorce. The harassment turned to blackmail three weeks before Christmas, when I was threatened with defamation if I refused to repent of the ‘sin’ of leaving my abuser (this was four months after I resigned membership from his church). Exhausted by the 50-60 hour weeks I was working in order to survive, and worn down by the pastor’s constant gas-lighting, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Without his knowing the details of my situation, my new pastor emailed me one morning simply to ask how I was (no one at my former church had ever done that). Alarmed by my answer, he and his wife arranged to meet me at Panera Bread that very afternoon…..where he let me cry and shared the Gospel with me for three straight hours. Two women in the church, around my mother’s age, subsequently ‘adopted’ me. They would often invite me over for coffee in weeks following. At Christmas, I learned that someone had anonymously donated a ‘love offering’ to me so that I could buy my children Christmas gifts.

Throughout the whole ordeal, I was surrounded by strong, Christian friends who lifted me up at my lowest points. Most of them are members of other churches, but all are strong believers. Yet the dichotomy was striking in how one church’s leadership took the stance that I was the one in sin, simply for standing up for myself; whilst another church emulated Christ’s role as a Protector and Defender of the innocent. It would have been impossible to hold onto my faith in God if I had not been embraced by His children in this way. Spiritual abuse can be the most damaging type of all, because it skews your view of God. If an institution claiming to act in His Name is systematically tormenting the weakest and most vulnerable members of His Body, the sheep will be so beaten down that eventually they will leave. In His mercy, Christ has provided true shepherds – like my current pastor – who continuously reveal Him to the hurting. Relentlessly, he takes me back to Scripture to show me how we are all a part of “His Story” and partakers of His grace.

Remembering Our True Identity

One of the most important things my pastor has taught me is simply a “refresher course” on what I’ve often counseled women myself: finding my identity in Christ; and not in the opinion of others. After 11 years serving and fellowshipping at Heritage Bible Chapel, I saw the side-long glances and heard the gossip started by women I had previously considered friends. None of them knew the real story, but at least a dozen women in that church had known (or suspected) I was in an abusive marriage. For months after I left, my former pastor continued to spin his version of the story, even going so far as to Facebook-message friends of mine invitations to have “conversations” about me with him. It seemed the torment would never end.

Yet Pastor David and my other spiritual mentors continuously reminded me that Jesus Himself was unjustly slandered, and to continue to focus on His opinion of me….not that of others. It is a hard lesson to learn, but nothing else will bring us the inner peace and lasting joy in Christ that we so desperately need in trials. He also counseled me to forgive my prior church leadership, who are simply deceived in their hearts. Like Paul massacring early Christians, they actually believe that what they are doing is an act of service to God.

The journey is long, and unexpected roadblocks often come up. The most difficult struggles are not always financial, but rather spiritual. Surviving after divorce, even absent spiritual abuse, is incredibly difficult. No one can do this alone and thrive. There are many who will try to break your wings; do not let them. Seek out instead those who will help you heal, and enable you to soar again on wings of eagles. If you are depressed, get help. Give Her Wings can help you find a safe, Bible-preaching church in your area, and is starting to compile a directory of trained counselors (including myself) equipped to help you. There are many soldiers in this battle, and you are not alone!



“Swept Away” by Megan Cox