Abuse Unmasked by “Eren”, our January Mama

“I can’t imagine what he did to you.” The older couple stood on the stoop of the tiny house in which the kids and I found haven, bringing us gifts from my (then) soon to be ex husband. This couple had spent a week with my ex husband, trying to show him what marriage should look like and be like, showing him videos, admonishing him, etc. I still didn’t feel safe with them because they thought there was still hope for our marriage. They were the kind of people who just believe that we should never give up on marriage, even at the expense of the children’s health and my safety and sanity. But, I could still tell that they got it. They saw it. Even if they thought I should go back to him. I can’t imagine what he did to you. I wanted to cry and tell them everything, but that would be vulnerable and I did not want to make myself vulnerable to them. I wanted to tell them but I could not form the words. I wanted to tell them exactly what he did to me.

We have already started helping mamas this month. We received a nomination that truly broke our hearts and, even though we have been wrapped up in end-of-the-year-non-profit-stuff for January, we just had to help this precious woman right away. Her alias is “Eren”.

Do you struggle with understanding just “what he did to her?” I remember not being able to put things into words when people would ask me, “What was it he did that was so bad?” When Eren was nominated, included in that nomination was a piece written by Eren that brought me to familiar & agonizing tears. Finally, someone could put into words was abuse looks like and feels like. We have chosen to pay $1500 of Eren’s bills to help her and her four children move forward in life. Eren has greater needs, however, than money. She needs to know that she is safe with us, and we are working on that. She needs to know that God loves her because . . . I am not sure she knows that. Your donations are going to help this lady know that Jesus adores her and that she is not forgotten. That He does not condemn her. This is so important. Thank you. Thank you for giving so we can help our sister. Read the following (and prepare yourselves) because it is rough. It is graphic and real. She doesn’t sugar-coat and I am glad. But, do note this trigger warning. If you have ever wanted to know what it is like living with an abuser and why we do the things we do, here you are. From Eren’s own hand:

You lied to me about who you really were. You sat in front of the pastor who was going to marry us and lied about your sexual sin. You withheld all of it until a few months into our marriage. You continued to lie to me about phone sex, porn, masturbation our entire marriage. You would tell me I was responsible for keeping you accountable and then lash out in anger if I would ask you questions, and if I didn’t ask you questions you would lash out in anger and say it was because of me not asking you that caused you to be in sin. You would yell and call me selfish if I showed any hurt from your sexual sin. You would constantly tell me that I had no idea all the things you had done and all the lies you had told me. You would tell me how dark and twisted your sexual sin was and how it needed more and more extreme things to get the arousal because you had been doing these things your entire life. 

 

The constant lies and threats of me not knowing the extent of your sexual sin caused me to take an HIV test when I was pregnant with my son. They would allow me to take it without you knowing. You caused me to be fearful for my health and the health of our unborn baby. 

 

When our daughters were very little you would ask me if I ever thought you would do something sexual against them. I didn’t dare answer you honestly. But I did live in this fear because of the depth of your lies and perverseness of your sin. I would talk to the girls privately about their bodies. I was fearful for their safety in their own home. 

 

You withheld my medicine from me after my C-sections. You would count the medicine before you left for work and then when you would get home. You accused me of taking them when I didn’t need them and wasn’t in pain. You wouldn’t give me the amount the doctor said I could have even when I was in severe pain. I had to go without medicine to drive and pick the girls up from school because you wouldn’t help. 

 

You stole money from me when I left my wallet at your apartment when we were engaged. 

 

You lied to me about your other daughter and because of that we spent our entire marriage paying 60,000 dollars in child support that you never paid. 

 

You yelled at me relentlessly when I was pregnant with my first child. And if I would cry you would yell even more. 

 

You called me stupid and dumb constantly. 

 

You would mock me in front of the kids and it caused them to think this is how they should also treat me.

 

You made fun of the size of my head, you made fun of the size of my ears, you made fun of the size of my chest, you made fun of the size of my feet, you made fun of the size of my legs. 

You made fun of my face,

You made me feel ugly.

You made me feel worthless.

You made me not even know why you married me because of all the things you said were wrong with me.

 

You told me I was mad at God for making me a woman. And told me I needed to deal with that and said I was hurting our marriage because I was lying about really desiring these things. 

 

You told people at church I was having affairs with other women. And that you thought I was gay when we first met. You put that on me. I NEVER did or said anything ever to warrant that accusation. NOTHING! You made me worthless. You put shame on me and made me feel guilty for something I never ever did! Do you know how horrible I felt as your wife to hear you say these things?

 

You threatened to have affairs. You told me if you ever did, I would be to blame because of how difficult I was to be married to.

 

You told me there were tons of women who wished they could be married to you and I better start realizing that. 

 

You threatened to leave me over and over again. 

 

You threatened to kill yourself over and over. You told me that I wished you were dead. You accused me of trying to kill you. 

 

You told me that you wanted to kill me.

 

You would try and scare me by acting like you were punching and kicking me and tell me you wished you could really punch me in the face as hard as you could. That my face just made you want to punch it. 

 

You would look at me and try to scare me by saying “kill, kill, kill” over and over again in a creepy voice. Then when I would get scared and ask you to stop you would get angry at me for being scared of you.

 

You would ask me if I was scared of you. If I answered no, then you would do something to try and scare me. If I said yes you would get angry and tell me I was crazy.

 

You didn’t let me have a bed to sleep in. You made our kids think the couch is where a wife and mom sleeps.

 

You would point to animals like gorillas and walruses on TV and tell the kids “look its mommy” then they would also do that on their own.

 

You called me gay, and accused me of having affairs with women our entire marriage. You told me over and over that you knew I was going to tell you I was gay one day and run off with another woman. You treated me as if I had already done this. I told you to stop and I didn’t like that and you wouldn’t stop. You just accused me more saying I wouldn’t be bothered by it if it wasn’t true. 

 

You accused me of having affairs with other men our entire marriage. 

 

You accused me of being attracted to any man or woman that I spoke to at church, and made it nearly impossible to have any sort of friendship. 

 

You kept me from being able to see my family. You restricted relationships with my family so much that I missed out on knowing my nieces and nephews. You wouldn’t let them come over, you wouldn’t let me go see them. You told me it was sinful to desire to see my family and want to be around them. You told me that I was your wife and not part of that family anymore. Because of this my family was kept from their daughter, sister and aunt and our kids grew up without family in their lives. 

 

You destroyed any friendship that I sought out during our marriage. You would say I was sinfully trying to get something from these women. You told me you were supposed to be enough for me, and I shouldn’t need any other relationships outside of you and if I did then it was sin on my part. Then you would make it even worse by asking me all the time how come I didn’t have any friends and never wanted to do anything with any of the women at church. You told me lies and said other women I knew from church had come to you and said awful things about me. They thought I was arrogant and better than everyone and cold and mean and judgmental. No one ever really said these things, but you told me they did and you made me feel awful and cry and think I was really making people feel like this. You let me think this for months and months and then you just laughed and said you were lying to me. 

 

You told me you didn’t think I was really saved because of what you saw in my life. You told me all the sin you saw and that I should question whether I really knew Jesus or not. You were supposed to lead me and keep me safe. All the sin you were accusing me of never happened. You made me feel guilty when I didn’t do anything you were saying. 

 

You would go into my email and read everything and send messages out, like it was from me. You would demand to know all my passwords and if I changed them you would yell at me and demand to know what I was hiding from you. You set up Facebook profiles for me without my knowledge. 

 

You wouldn’t speak to me for days at a time. 

 

You would call me all throughout the day and if I missed your call you would leave mean voicemails and swear at me. 

 

You would just hang up on me if I was trying to talk to you on the phone and then wouldn’t answer my calls again.

 

If I forgot something at the grocery store you would tell me I did it on purpose because I hated, you. When I would try, and tell you it was an accident you would say there’s no way I could be that stupid, so I was lying. 

 

You lied and told me my dad had an affair. 

 

You would tell the kids mommy shouldn’t treat you the way I do, and that I was in sin and it was right for you to yell at me and get angry. 

 

You made the kids feel scared for me and want to try and protect me and comfort me. Our 7-year-old daughter would come whisper “what daddy said isn’t true mommy.” 

 

You caused our kids to start wetting the bed again because of the fear and stress they were living in. I was awakened multiple times a night because they would have nightmares that they lost me or I was killed. 

 

The kids were scared of you. Our son would ask me over and over, why daddy didn’t love him. 

 

You rejected our kids.

 

You asked one of our sons who his dad was, and told me I had cheated on you and got pregnant. 

 

You made it so the boys couldn’t even play in their room in the morning. You would get so angry and yell and call me selfish if you were awakened by the kids. We had to whisper and not go upstairs till you would get up. 

 

You neglected the kids and I and wouldn’t leave your bedroom for days or weeks. 

 

The kids would have to ask permission to just open the door and say hi or goodnight from the doorway. 

 

They would ask me if they could slip notes to you under the door. Sometimes you wouldn’t see the kids for days at a time when you were in the same house as them. This made my son cry inconsolably for three days in row. He wouldn’t eat, would barely walk, wouldn’t leave my side. He was crushed by you. 

 

You treated me like a prostitute. You called me a prude in our bedroom. You laid there like you were dead, naked in the bed and told me to get to it and do my womanly duties. 

 

You told me to go upstairs so you could “bed me”.

 

When I told, you it was painful to have intercourse after the C-sections you called me a liar and said I was making excuses to not have sex with you. 

 

You accused me of thinking of other men and woman while we were having sex.

 

You told me I had to ask you to have sex. If I didn’t ask enough you would blame me for you looking at porn and masturbating. Almost every time I asked you would say no, when you did agree you would make it seem like you were having to do the most disgusting thing ever. You would say fine, let’s get it over with. 

 

You told me multiple times to get out of the bed and sent me out of the bedroom naked because you would get angry at me and say I wasn’t making you feel good and I wasn’t doing what you wanted. You humiliated me. You rejected me. 

 

You would tell me to “clean up my mess” after we would have sex. You would send me out of the room to go make you food and bring it to you in bed after we were done and continue playing video games or watching movies while I went downstairs to sleep on the couch. You made me feel dirty and used by you. 

 

You slammed your fist on the table and chair and couch and threw the clock across the room and it smashed into the wall. You did these things and blamed me for causing it. You yelled at me in anger and told me to shut up. You pointed your finger right in my face and threatened me to start respecting you or you were going to take the kids and leave me.

 

You told me you were going to tell the pastors at church what type of wife I really was and you weren’t going to put up with me any longer. You told me the pastors would believe you and would take away my leadership roles at church. 

 

You called me the most selfish human being you have ever known.

You lied about our entire marriage and your treatment of me and the kids in court! Over and over and over you lied to your attorney and the judge and other people involved. 

You lied to our children. You lied to them about me. You lied to them about church. You lied to them about other people. You lied to them about what you had done. The impact of this in unending. I see it and hear it and feel it every single day!

You’ve continued to this day your torment of me through email. Even though you have said repeatedly that you know you’re not supposed to send me personal messages. You have continued your lies toward me. You have said you would stop sending me messages, but you haven’t. You threaten, intimidate, manipulate, control and hurt through your messages to me. 

I don’t even know how to try and put into words the cruel and twisted and manipulative and scary place you made our marriage and home. It was so awful I wanted to die instead of trying to endure another day. Evil is the best word I can use to describe it. But you made it even worse because you kept telling me and everyone else it was good. What went on in our marriage can’t be described fully to someone outside of it because most people can’t fathom treating another human being the way you treated me. Their mind doesn’t go to the dark places yours did. You sucked the life out of me and crushed me. I am terrified of you. 

~Eren 

“Rising Above” by Megan D Cox

Black and White Thinking < -------- Its Got to Go!

So many of “our” mamas suffer from depression and I am discovering that some of it is (at least) related to what psychologists call “black and white thinking”. It is a real problem, especially for those with fundamental Christian backgrounds, and I want to call it out for what it is (distortive thinking) because I used to suffer with so many of the same damaging thoughts.

Black and white thinking is the thought process that accompanies “all or nothing” beliefs, and is a form of cognitive distortion. Now, I want to be very careful here because, as a Christian, I do believe there are some things that are true — whether we believe them or not. Basic, doctrinal truths are not what I’m talking about. I want to discuss the distortion that, because you are tired, you are exhausted. Or, because you fell at the skating rink, you are a total klutz. Or, because you have a checkered past, you are a complete failure. This thinking has crept into the church and is a danger to emotional health. Yes . . . we sin. We are sinners. But, we are also saints. And our pasts are part of the tapestry of our lives that God (yes, God) has been weaving together. And, my fear is that, if we do not embrace ALL of it, we will never be whole. This embracing is difficult in the church because we are supposed to be super-holy. Or, at least, our mistakes should have been made before we came to Christ. Right? I don’t agree.

For people with abusive pasts, all or nothing thinking is particularly harmful because it triggers a fight or flight response that causes anxiety (sometimes) several times a day. An abusive past plus a fundamental past equals extreme anxiety. For women who were in abusive marriages for years and years (or grew up in abusive families), they faced life-threatening situations every day. Compounded by that is the prevalent belief that we are either good or bad inside. That belief produces shame (not true moral guilt). And down the spiral we glide. Statements like, “I’m a terrible person!” “She has a perfect marriage!” “I deserve this bad thing that is happening to me!” and so on over-generalize our very life and can cause massive mood shifts.

A lot of things are massive disasters. But, a lot of things are not massive disasters. A lot of things are grey . . . or blue or yellow and it is OK to acknowledge that. The abuse you endured when you were a child was bad. Very bad. But, that doest mean that you are bad. And it doesn’t mean that you must hate yourself. The self-harm you are partaking in does not make you “ruined” . . . it reveals a symptom, in yourself, of a greater problem that God wants to address. It is only a symptom; it is not who you are.

These are some words that reveal black and white thinking, as noted by the clinical depression blog of the UK:

 

Always
Never
Perfect
Impossible
Awful
Terrible
Ruined
Disastrous
Furious

 

Do you recognize these? The more we polarize our thinking, the more we risk emotional ups and downs throughout the day, triggering that fight or flight response. It might be more boring to be “a little tired” or to say, “Today was a little rough but it ended well.” . . .  But, that’s OK. Practice seeing things for what they are. Because when we see ourselves in black and white, all or nothing terms, we see others that way, further breaking down relationships around us. We don’t accept differing opinions and we have less compassion for others.

I found that, five years ago when I left several unhealthy situations, I was somewhat addicted to drama. Not because I loved it or anything. It was simply what I knew and was used to. It was wearing me out in all areas of life. And it was exacerbating my PTSD. I love this quote from Brennan Manning (my fave author):

As psychoanalist Eric Erikson once noted, there are only two choices: integration and acceptance of our whole life-story, or despair. Thus, the apostle Paul writes, “For all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.” ( 1 Thess. 5:18) (Ruthless Trust p. 31)

Are you like me? Do you look at your life, wondering how it could have taken so many twists and turns that you never ever could have imagined? Its OK. Because, as much as we would like to believe we have power in our lives, we really don’t have the kind of power to snatch ourselves out of God’s hands and do what we please. Our lives are not one big blight because they did not turn out the way we thought they would. Your life is a beautiful, colorful quilting that has had incredible purpose and will continue to. He is always there . . . always has been. There is so much evil that I’ve done and that has been done to me. There is so much good that I have done and that has been done to me. It is all working together. These are our lives . . . our stories. Embrace, re-think, grow and live in the color and joy of your history and future. God will take all of it and use it for good, somehow. And it will be beautiful.

 

Love,

 

Megan

 

“Water of Life” by Megan D Cox

 

Confessions of a Colossal Mama Bear by Meg

My Camden

When I first left my ex husband in 2011, I kept having this recurring dream. We were all in the pool. It was a large outdoor pool and there were hordes of people. My youngest son, Camden, was in the pool and he was carrying his (then) beloved blue blanket and wearing his (adorable) footie-pajamas. He was barely four years old when we left. At that time, our children did not know how to swim. I was distracted and I looked around and I realized that my little boy was at the bottom of the pool in his red jammies. I started screaming for someone to help me. I could not seem to get to him and no. one. cared. No one could hear my voice. I had no voice. And my little guy was dying. I was hysterical. I could not help my son. I woke up crying.

I had this same dream over and over again. I believe that my dreams, during that time, were simply revealing my fears. I wondered, later, why it was just Camden I would dream about like that when I wanted to save all four of my children. I finally concluded that he was in the most danger of being lost in the abuse. My ex husband was already scaring him pretty badly. He also called him a “mama’s boy” over and over. It was like my ex husband had already decided (consciously or unconsciously, I don’t know) that Camden’s esteem would be damaged beyond repair.

I also realize that I felt I did not have a voice and I could not get anyone within arm’s length to listen to our plight, at the time. I was grasping for someone to hear me and to see and understand what the children and I were going through. It was as though I was screaming, “My children and I are drowning! We are dying! Please, someone see us!!!” And, at the time, no one would. It was a desperate place.

I sometimes feel like I grabbed my children with all of my grip and I would. not. let. go. I was solely responsible for their safety and, while the responsibility was overwhelming most of the time, I was not about to let them drift. I felt like no one else would love them; no one else would see what we were going through and no one else would help them. I was the only one.

You know exactly what I’m talking about, mama. You have had to protect them. You have had to be the only one. Gathering your cubs around you and holding them hard while looking over your shoulder to protect them from evil has been an exhausting way of life. Believe me, I do know this. 

Last week, we had a snow day, right after coming off of an 18-day Christmas break. I could NOT believe it. I was worn out from being the “only one” over break and here we were, stuck inside in 5-degree weather. I woke up, realized it, and cried. I was weary to my bones and I called upon my Give Her Wings ladies to pray for me. Right away, Carrie knew what the issue was. So did Michelle. And Bekah and Laura. And all of them (I’m pretty transparent, I guess). Michelle told me that she loves how much I do with the children but they might enjoy a little bit of independence. Carrie pointed out that she understands how the need to protect them all and be with them all the time is great, in my life, since I spent so many years in my first marriage having to be the mama bear. She said, “You are safe now. You don’t have to do that, anymore.” Bingo. So much of my stress has been due to the fact that I often still live like I am their sole protector.

Oh, yes, I am, girl. Oh, yes, I am.

This is why it was so incredibly hard for me to give up homeschooling several years back. Who would protect them? They were so vulnerable and small. How could I send them out as sheep among the wolves? Eventually, I did release them from home schooling because I had to work, as a single mama, and, guess what? They did great. In fact, they started to thrive.

I’m still learning. I’m still the world’s biggest mama bear (just hurt one of my children and watch what happens, if you don’t believe me.) But, I realized that my stress level over protecting them quite that much was causing them stress and was not fabulous for my PTSD. Not fabulous, at all. My children have proven to be fantastically resilient and I need to pretty much just get out of their way a whole lot more. They need room to breathe and to just be. And they need to figure out how to navigate the tough stuff. Most importantly, they need to see that mama is not a wreck . . . that she is calm and she believes in their abilities to protect themselves and each other. And shine and be beautiful and all that vibrant goodness. And one of the perks? They have watched mama believe in them. And when I am at peace, they seem more at peace, as well. I cannot live out of a place of fear, anymore.

Mamas who have left, try (if you can) to relax a little bit. Your children and my children have been in the palm of His hand all of this time. I think that, when we don’t feel safe, we don’t feel like our children are safe. But, the truth is, they are so incredibly safe in Christ. Sure, they have struggles because maybe they have been traumatized. I get that. But, they are going to be amazing adults because they are working through it. Even without you. The problems are big, I know, but they are not bigger than Jesus. Breathe, dear mama. Find your voice; it is in there. Give some room for Jesus to work, as well, in their lives. It is going to be OK, even if it is so hard to see right now, it is going to be OK.

 

Love,

 

Megan

 

 

Possessiveness is Not Love

A sweet mama that I know, who is in a lot of pain due to her husband’s abuse, recently said to me ,”He said he doesn’t want me to leave because I am all he has.” Somehow, that did not make her feel like staying. He has her; he is comfortable with her; he knows how to push her buttons. She cooks for him; she is a warm body in the home; she takes care of the children. He “has” her. She is his. So, he doesn’t want her to leave, even though they both know that the abuse is heating up to an unbearable temperature.

I remember when I first met my ex husband. He was super-possessive and, in my naïveté, I mistook that for love. I thought, “Oh, he cherishes me! He is protecting me!” I should have heeded the red flags. Later, I experienced much anger from him if another man spoke to me. In fact, when I first left my first marriage, I could not look a man in the eye. I had spent years training myself to stay away from other men, lest I roused anger in my spouse.

In my book, I talk about how love and freedom are inter-twined, like strands of licorice (the good kind — the red kind because it tastes better and love and red go together). Love and liberty cannot be separated. Love is not control. Love loves toward freedom. Love does not give a bit while it hurts a lot. Love does not take, then take some more while offering a crumb of hope. Love is extravagant and healing in its generosity.

For the former victim of abuse, she stands at a crossroads. She may not understand what love truly is . . . . she may have never experienced love. This may help:

Love is creatively discovering what is best for another person and then carrying it through. Love is sacrificial. Love gives freedom. Love is looking outside oneself to help another. Love is helping others to become all the can be for God’s glory with no expectations of a return. 

The reason my young friend does not feel love is because the abuser, in her life, did not tell her that he loves her and wants the best for her. He told her that she belongs to him. Abusers always see others as an extension of themselves or as a person to be used. If you are a victim of abuse and you have left, the anger that you are experiencing is the same kind of anger as though someone took away his favorite play-thing. You are his and no one else can have you.

Abusers are takers. Look back over your life with him. What were your prospects before he came into your life? What were your dreams and plans? What talents and gifts did you have, just waiting to be used? What material possessions did you have? Did he take it all? Maybe he did. And for that, we all grieve. But, if you have gotten away and you are free, then he really truly did not take it all. He couldn’t. That dreamy little girl is still inside you, no matter how old you are. And, even better, you have freedom in Christ. A freedom intertwined with His love for you. In fact, He is in the business of freedom . . . freedom from slavery, freedom from abuse, freedom from sin, freedom from our own chains, freedom from unhealthy relationships, freedom from our own selfishness. I could go on and on. You are free! And He paid a high price for your freedom . . . Oh, did He ever. Do not give that up nor give it away. It is your gift. Do with it what you want. I choose to follow Christ and belong to Him. But, not as a slave . . . as a friend. He calls me friend. He calls you friend.

 

Love,

 

Megan

 

 

 

Blitz End of the Year Matching Campaign December 26-January 1!!

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We are incredibly grateful to Leslie Vernick and her CONQUER group, one of our valuable supporters and “angels” for her generous offer of matching every gift that is given to Give Her Wings, Inc. (all tax-deductible) for one week (December 26, 2016 to January 1, 2017). Wow! We are so excited, friends! We got busy vetting some of the mamas who were nominated. Friends, it would have been “safe” to support only one mama this month but we found that there were two in dire situations and so, we prayed . . . and stepped out in faith . . . and we are supporting two mamas who desperately need help. For only one week, we are asking people to donate to help raise $3000 to pay the bills for these two mamas. EVERY DOLLAR YOU DONATE WILL BE MATCHED BY LESLIE AND HER CONQUER GROUP. In finding out just how desperate they are, our team has already sent (ou of the goodness of their hearts) grocery money, warm blankets, fuzzy warm socks and a few Christmas gifts. But, they need more than this. They need their rent paid. They need to get on their feet somehow, and they need (more than anything) to know that they are loved and not forgotten. Does your business need to give a quick end of the year gift? Please consider giving to Give Her Wings and donate here. Your gift is life-changing and life-saving to these precious women. Here are their stories:

1. “Free To Breathe’s” husband is a chaplain and they have been married for 21 years. They make precious little money to support their children. “Free’s” husband is highly spiritually and emotionally abusive. I have seen several emails and texts that he has sent to their church, as he hopes the church will exercise “church discipline” upon Free. It was more than sickening, friends. When I spoke with Free, she was incredibly fragile, as she had just fled with her three children (5 year old twins and a 10 year old) to her elderly mother’s house. Free was really smart. She fled with the kids while he was gone, left a note for him that he could speak with her attorney and had him served with divorce papers the next day! She is shaky and afraid (understandable) but she is firm in her decision to be free. He is highly manipulative and causes the children a great deal of psychological harm. She simply could not allow him to ruin the children. She has also had concern that it seems her husband is grooming their daughter for future abuse. Free’s plan is to stay with her mother for a month and file to be able to stay in their rental home. She has no church support, as it seems her husband has completely infiltrated that arena, and she has a wonderful mother who is elderly. When Free returns to her home, she will need to find a way to bridge the gap, financially, until she can figure out work. She and I wept a lot on the phone. Her voice would have broken your hearts. She told me that she knows that God opened the way for them to leave. She is incredibly brave. Love, Megan

2. Eleanor Jones (there is a fun story behind her alias!) was married for 25 years and has four children. Eleanor explained that her ex showed signs of being a pedophile early in their marriage. Her ex was a deacon and very respected, he was also a Boy Scout Master. Eleanor experienced extreme sexual abuse during the marriage and was aware of sexual abuse toward children. Once Eleanor decided to divorce, she told the church what he had done to her. The church did not support her and she left. Eleanor homeschooled and did not work outside the home, except for tutoring. She has been divorced since 2014 and is having trouble finding work due to having no work experience. Eleanor has sold everything she can in order to keep herself afloat but she is struggling, deeply, financially.

Eleanor struggles to connect and trust people still. She does not have family support and she has had a few friends help here and there, financially. They were living in their car last Christmas and this is their first apartment, which they hope to keep.

Eleanor’s most urgent needs are for rent. We hope to be able to help her as soon as possible so she can stay in her home. She asked for prayer for healing, for work, for her children and for friendships. Love, Lori

 

Please donate, friends. Please help us to help these mamas and their babies.

 

Warmly,

The Team of Give Her Wings & Leslie Vernick and her Conquer group

 

 

 

Spiritual Abuse, Part 1

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This morning, Jesus and I had a talk. It was a pretty big deal. I was hurting and angry because I spoke to a dear mama, yesterday, who has massive confusion about who Jesus is because of the cult-like religion that has saturated her life from the time she was tiny. And I thought of all the people I know who have experienced spiritual abuse. It is so bad. It is so so bad. It is easier to forgive someone because they are wicked and everyone knows it and they admire you because you are forgiving this famously wicked person who has done wicked to you. But, what about the people with “Christians” platforms who have hurt you in the name of Jesus? What about the people who use their platforms to hurt you? What about the men who claim to be special-called-by-God-ministers who have hurt you . . . in the name of Jesus?

Oh, my heart. Father . . . . they have taken their long, awful fingernails and scratched marks across Your face and have marred Your image so that Your Children cannot see Your beauty. 

And why? We don’t know why, exactly. Power? Control? Fear of their bubble being burst?

I don’t know.

But, in my tears, this morning, He spoke to me . . . This is what He said,

They do not speak for Me.

How do I know? Because spiritual abuse produces darkness. Dark feelings. Dark thoughts. They accuse and they blame and you have become their scapegoat. That is not of God. They are using you to work out their own pain. But, it is not of God.

Christ’s words produce life. Freedom. Beauty. Christ’s words leave behind a lovely fragrance that sparks hope and joy and purity in their hearts of those who love Him!

God spoke more things to me. This is what He said:

Everyone needs mercy at some point in their lives. Would you be ready and willing to give it if those people who abused you needed it? 

Would I? I think, at this point, I would. And, how can I so boldly state that? Because their lack of mercy for me, when I was at my lowest, most painful state, is the exact thing that made me a merciful person. And, for that, I will always be thankful.

I am thankful for those who hurt me on a continual basis. I can’t believe I am even saying it. 

And, therein, I find the joy that God has given me.

Brennan Manning is my fave. And he says, in many of his books, that when you begin to doubt, to repeat these words, over and over: Abba, I belong to You. And I do that a lot. But, I believe we can take it further . . .

Abba, I belong to You . . . even when they say I do not.

Abba, I belong to You . . . even when they say horrible things about me.

Abba, I belong to You . . . even when they persecute me.

Abba, I belong to You . . . even when they do all kinds of evil to me.

Abba, I belong to You . . .

You belong to Him. You know this because (1) You are growing (2) You are forgiving (3) You love Him and you love His Word (4) You are able to see the hurt of those who hurt you (5)  You hear His voice. These are all qualities of a follower of Christ as outlined in First John.

Say it with me . . . . Abba, I belong to You. No one can take that away from you. Nothing and no how. No one . . . NO ONE can snatch you out of His hand.

 

Love,

 

Megan

 

A Special Account from Christopher — Don’t Miss This

Hey everyone!  My name is Christopher and Id like to briefly share my experience of my parents divorce and the ways that Give Her Wings had immeasurably provided hope for my life in a very dark time.  All divorces are terrible for many reasons. First, its the tearing apart of two people who initially loved each other but let life’s difficulties creep between them.  Second, the process of splitting up the things, kids, pets, houses, time, and money can be an incredibly dehumanizing process.  It essentially drains the life from all involved.  I happen to think that the divorce of my parents in 2011 was a particularly draining one that could have resulted in mental catastrophe for my brothers and me had it not been for my mothers strength and numerous philanthropists the Lord had sent to us.  Most notably, Give Her Wings.

I learned about my parents divorce in an abrupt manner.  From the moment I was picked up after a movie date with my seventh grade girlfriend, my father broke the news to me in the most fantastically immature way possible.  Before we said two words to each other, he handed me my mothers wedding ring and said to me, Your mother wants a divorce.  I need you to tell her to stay with me.”  As a thirteen year old boy, what was I to do?  I was both distraught by the news and crushed by the responsibility that was placed on my young shoulders.  Above all, my emotions were conflicted in two directions:  relief and sorrow.  It sounds strange to admit that there was relief accompanying the sorrow.  However, there had been innumerable nights where my father did something that sent me to bed crying.  Most of the time it was because of how mean he just had to be when he had a command to give such as go clean the yardor you need to do the trash!”  It was emotional abuse most of the time, something my mother and I both had to deal with on the nights she’d come up to comfort me . . . never letting me go to bed upset.  The thought of escaping that reality comforted me to some degree.  

So as I sat there in the passenger seat of the black Silverado, in a silence so thick you could move your hand and watch it move about like fog, I tried to figure out what to do.  How can a thirteen year old sift through such a wide array of emotions after receiving the most contentious news imaginable?  Ill never know, and it didnt matter what I did anyway.  My mother decided she’s had enough of the infidelity and no amount of pleading from me could stop her.  I’m glad I couldn’t.  Much like a Hollywood blockbuster film, the opening scene of this horror movie, from seat of the Silverado, set precedence for the remaining five years of the film; unfair responsibility placed on me and the predatory uncertainty we would come to know intimately.  

Change became the only stable part of my familys life.  My mom, two younger brothers and I, between 2011 and 2015, had moved to a total of 18 different houses/rooms and 3 different schools.  In many cases, the moves weren’t based on any sort of plan.  Most of the time, they were the spurred by absolute necessity.  Be it to gain leverage on a PFA hearing, to win a custody war, to satisfy eviction notices, or to simply have a place to go when our stability was taken from us by any number of new characters.  The fact was change (and his companion, stress) were the two foes we used all our energy to deal with.  I know that it drained me and I know that (with even more certainty) it constantly drained my mothers mental, emotional, and physical energy.  Still, she managed to escape that nightmare with her sanity and achieved her ultimate goal of making sure that Zachary, Nicholas and I didnt become mentally compromised by the stress.  Without her steadfast philosophy of the importance of caring for us, we would have certainly come out of this reliant on unhealthy coping methods like drugs and alcohol rather than strengthened by our afflictions.  In fact, Psalm 66:10-12 phrases it best, For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”  

Although the trials and tribulations from this divorce definitely benefited me in the long run, it would be irresponsible for me to write this acting like I enjoyed it now that I’ve come out stronger.  In all honesty, it was terrible most of the time.  Of the many times that my mother and I were distraught and borderline hopeless, one stands out in my mind the most right now.  In October of 2014 I was promoted to a bus boy at my job and I worked every night after school except Mondays and Tuesdays through the months of September and October.  I was trying to save up to buy a car from my aunt.  I eventually saved up about $2600 through that time which is really good for a 16 year old still in school during the week.  I was super excited because it was the most money that I had saved up ever and it also meant I had the money to buy my car for when I got my license!  However, following a very prevalent theme of injustice and uncertainty, we received an eviction notice for the end of the month in October.  We scrambled to find another house and my mom eventually landed on one that was $1500 per month not including any utilities.  You must understand that this was way outside our financial scope.  However, in the wake of necessity, it was our only option.

Somehow we got accepted to rent after my mom pulled a few strings but we needed the first months rent and a security deposit before we could move in.  My mom was completely broke, my family couldnt help and my brothers didn’t have jobs yet.  So with the threat of homelessness stalking us, I used my money that I had saved up to get us in.  Thank God that I had been promoted and been spurred to start saving when I did. Otherwise things could have been a lot worse.  The whole time that we were moving our stuff in the 1998 Corolla, I was trying to figure out how we would be able to stay there. Our total household income was $1100 per month to pay for everything after I finished working that November 1.  Sure enough, come Christmas time, we had already missed a payment and had the landlord knocking on our door again.  The beginning of another hopeless situation infested by stress.  This is precisely when Give Her Wings came into our lives.  

Im not sure of the exact way that Give Her Wings was introduced to our family . . . I believe it was through a concerned friend, but I do know that they came not a second too late.  This moment in our life represented a time when there were literally no other options for housing.  There was absolutely no way out from this mess and the bills were growing out of control.

 When Give Her Wings decided to sponsor my mother as a Mama for the month and as a part of their Christmas initiative, it gave us the one thing we needed more than anything: hope.  They helped us on a level that a lot of organizations tend to overlook.  When they decided to help my mother with bills and buy a bed for my brother they helped lift us up on a financial level.  But what my mom remembers most is their mental and spiritual contributionthoughtful gifts to remind her of her intrinsic value regardless of her situation.  My mother was lifted up by them by simply being treated with dignity.  She talks more about the emotional gift than the physical gifts they blessed us with; simply receiving a addressed with to the beautiful Carole…” gave her heart the encouragement it needed.  Rather than constantly giving her hearts energy away, she was charged up for once.  It helped alleviate the tension in the household that reverberated down through us all; built up over the previous four years; the years where I was supposed to be a kid.

I wasnt able to have a normal childhood.  I never had a chance to be a kid.”  I never partied.  I never went to the Friday night football games with friends or the homecoming parades or the preparatory activities for spirit week.  I was too busy doing my best to keep my sanity and be the same quality of support for my mother that she was for me.  This meant I worked a lot.  All week through the school year and all through the summer months, when my friends had time off.  On the Saturday nights my peers were at parties or football games while I was at work trying to help pay the bills.  On the days during vacation while others celebrated familial togetherness, we had to fight over where we were going to be on the day: mom or dads.  Give Her Wings has a special mission that needs more recognition.  They do so much for Their Mamas, mine included.  However, their manifest function to mend the tattered hearts of Their Mamas also has an incredibly empowering latent function for the kids.  I am living proof of this.

A lot of the time, many people assume that because kids shouldbe left out of adult business that they simply are.”  My Grandmother on my dads side used to say, you shouldn’t be lending your mother money” or “you shouldn’t have to be in the middle of it.”  In her utopian world, I wouldn’t have been.  In the realistic and borderline dystopian world, I was.  Ever since the moment that I stepped up into that truck.  This stark reality accompanies a realization that when you help a struggling mother, you help the kids equally so.  When you give your energy, money, or time, you charge these women with nothing but the determination to escape abuse, their kids, and the clothes on their backs, you also reverberate the energy into the next generation.  The preceding statement cannot be overemphasized; there is real power in benevolence.  

Give Her Wings is a special foundation.  They are impactful.  They are caring.  Above all, they are empowering.  After interviewing Megan for a school project I realized that God has some special things planned for them.  Had it not been for their help in our time of greatest need, I may not be as successful as I am right now.  In fact, we moved into a place that we could afford in July of 2015 and our lives have finally been stable.  I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their benevolence in giving us the hope to push through those last few months of despair and giving my mom the gift of hope and dignity.  Without their interjection, we might have continued our journey with instability and stress indefinitely.  Thanks to them we are safe, stable, and content once more.

 

Christopher

 

Our Merry Little Christmas Shoppe is Open!!!

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Friends . . . This is that time of year where we load up our Christmas store in hopes that friends like you will choose a gift, or two, or three for the children of the mamas we have done our best to support all year long. Carrie surveyed each family to find out what the hopes and dreams of these precious little ones are and then she built our shoppe around those Christmas desires! Each gift you see in our store has been carefully chosen. Each child can receive one or two gifts totaling $50.

In a lot of these cases, these are the only gifts these children will receive. This is our biggest campaign of the year . . . and the one we pray over the most because we ask God to provide three to four times the amount of money we normally collect in one month. It is a big step of faith and we need your help. A lot of families that donate allow their own children to pick a gift they think a child might like. This is a campaign that that can benefit your entire family and get everyone involved in giving! Please click the following to read Megan’s story of her first Christmas as a single mother and then click the following to choose from our Merry Little Christmas Shoppe. We need this . . . our mamas need this . . . their little lambs need this. Let’s be the Spirit of Christ this Christmas!

Click here to start shopping and bless a family in need!

My First Christmas as a Single Mama by Megan

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The first Christmas I had alone with the children was . . . bitter-sweet. It was (by far) the most peaceful time that we had together in, well  . .  . ever. We were calm. Two nights before Christmas, I turned down all the lights except the tree and allowed the two bigger kids to sleep in the living room. I sang them Christmas carols for 30 minutes. They slept sweetly. The next morning, on the 24th, we celebrated Christmas together. The children opened their presents. My friend, April, had taken the kids shopping to allow them to get gifts for me (so sweet). We had a precious morning.

Later that day, on the 24th, we packed all our things and went and “hid” at a friend’s house. My first husband was coming to town and he was hoping to see us . . . meet with us . . . he even insisted that he STAY with us. So, we took all the kids’ new toys and left for a week or more (I cannot remember). It was not ideal. But, we were OK. The children were happy. They had no idea of the anxiety I felt during that time. The fear (at least, that is what I hoped).

They also did not know that I was barely getting by. What money I did receive back then from my ex went to paying for food and the energy bill for the sweet little house we were borrowing in Nebraska. I was trying to work but it was very very difficult . . . I had four children. Stress was mounting.

Something that made me especially sad (and still does from time to time) is that the children lost all of their toys and books when we left. We had nothing except a week’s worth of (summer) clothes, our Bibles and one toy each child was allowed to bring.

But, that Christmas . . . something happened that I will never, ever forget. A friend in Nebraska took me shopping and we picked out four BIG gifts for the children. Then, something even more amazing happened . . . I got a letter from a long-time friend, Taryn, telling me that she and a group of friends wanted to supply the children with gifts for Christmas. This was unbelievable. Unbelievable to this mama’s ears and heart. Overwhelming. And not only did they want to supply gifts, they wanted to be SURE that they got what the children needed and wanted. She asked me to make a list of what their little hearts desired. It was not easy for me because I felt like I was asking for something. But, she was kind and gracious and I sent her the list.

That Christmas, the children were flooded with wonderful gifts that they truly loved and wanted. Those gifts are still treasured in this household.

Beginning November 1st, Give Her Wings wants to do something similar for all our mamas and their sweet children. We have 21 mothers who are struggling greatly this year. They have sweet babies who will not be getting much for Christmas this year (if anything) — close to 50 children total. To make matters worse, these mamas have been abandoned by family and by church members and left to get through the holidays on their own.

When we contacted them, many of them sent us really sweet ideas for what their children want. Carrie has compiled a list of what each family needs and . . . we are asking you to consider adopting some of these precious children and mamas into your hearts and purchase something for them. Carrie has so carefully placed each gift in our shop (one or two gifts per child, totaling $50). Some of the gifts are fun (Disney’s Frozen Singing Sisters!) and some of them are necessities (gift cards for buying clothes). I am tearing up now thinking of what one mother wrote me:

It is difficult to think of wants when they are cold.

Children at Christmas should have a list of what they want. Some of our kiddos just want to feel warm.

Please join with us. Maybe you have a group at work who would help? Or maybe a church group or even a group of families could get together to make this Christmas somewhat joyful for mamas whose hearts are broken . . . especially for their own children. Please. Watch for our “store” that is coming up NOVEMBER 1st. We want to help this Christmas season. Be generous in spirit. Join us.

He Doesn’t Have to Wreck Your Life, Part 3

Our friend, Valerie Jacobsen, wrote an intelligent manifesto about how to care for those who are victims of covenant-breaking and, as a result, have found themselves divorced. It was wonderful and you can find it here. But, we loved loved LOVED this part:

As the Church, we have an obligation to believe and testify that God has promised grace to every fatherless child who takes refuge in him. We must not prophesy ruin for these children, whatever observational studies say about children of divorce generally. The confession of the Church to the covenant children of divorce should be faithfully filled with hope, a cheerful invitation to rest in the care of a good, good Father.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
–Psalm 27:10-14

This manifesto hit a nerve for so many of us (in a good way) who left our ex-husbands for their covenant breaking, be it adultery, abuse and what-have-you. People don’t want to “deal with” women OR men who are going through a divorce. A lot of times, it is for less-than-honorable reasons. It is too messy; it causes angst for their children (will they still call him their uncle?), it makes the family dynamic difficult. We get that. But, I really wish that people were more self-aware. Including myself. If we realized what we were doing and why we felt the way we do . . . if we only would just examine ourselves once in a while . . . so many things would not come out of our mouths. When I left my abusive ex-husband, I was told that I would “never be able to minister to anyone” (lol!), I was told that God would no longer bless me, I was told that I would no longer be respected as a woman of God and I was told . . . . that the divorce would ruin my children. What? Since when do we get to pronounce such prophesies over mothers and their children?

On the contrary, God cares deeply about the oppressed (Zech. 7:10), he cares deeply about a mother and her babies (Isa. 40:11) and God has never, ever said that divorce will ruin children. That’s just . . . . outside of Scripture! Now! Surely, a lot of divorce does ruin children. We do understand that. But, why would we ever decide that it is simply a fact? Especially for a God-honoring, God-adoring, God-fearing woman and her children? Does God simply abandon us like that? No. Of course not.

For our mamas, they had to make the grueling and agonizing decision of whether or not staying with their abusive husbands would ruin their children more or not as much. A lot of us left feeling as though we had chosen the lesser of the two evils. But, I’m here to tell you today, after having left five years ago . . . my children are amazing. I did not know it, at the time, but leaving was not the lesser of the two evils. It was victory.

Oh, God, thank you that I left. Thank you that you led me out of a deep wilderness. Thank you that my children had the chance to live a life of love and godliness. Thank you that I did not decide that staying in an abusive environment was better than the stigma of divorce. Thank you for setting us free. Thank you that I did not believe the people who told me my children would be “ruined”. Thank you.

My children are strong in so many ways. They have character. They are honest and hard-working. They are deeply and unusually compassionate. They love each other. They are wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Being away from the manipulation/mental abuse had set a clean canvas for us to be able to work on life together in a beautiful way. We could untangle; we could study; we could pray together in freedom and in peace. We could talk about life and how to handle life. We could talk about Jesus as a loving Savior. As our Abba Father. And, as a result . . . . my four beauties are remarkable. 

The truth is . . . children grow into amazing and godly adults because of Christ . . . not because their parents stayed together. All children have challenges. The idea that a “good marriage” makes or breaks children gives way too much power in the act of “staying together” and not enough where it belongs — squarely on God’s redemptive and redeeming power. 

Sadly, many of our mamas leave an abusive relationship with zero hope. They just know that the “bad outside” is better than the “bad inside”. Part of our job is to show them that there is hope. There is always hope with Jesus. Seek Him and you will find Him, mama, if you seek Him with all of your heart. And then teach that to your children. They are not lost causes, dear ones. They are beautiful in God’s sight and highly valued and treasured. And they are not lost to Him.

Love,

Megan