We are about to ask for a lot from our donors. I admit to you all that I have put off writing this newsletter because one of my greatest weaknesses is fear that we will not raise the money that we need for our mamas, who are so destitute. By the time their story reaches your inboxes, we have vetted them on the phone, in person, and had several conversations with them in an effort to remind them of God’s love and His care for their lives. They hope that we will come through, financially, and so do we. I get so scared that we won’t be able to help the most fragile person in my life right now. But we had also set aside April for our new food pantry campaign, to provide basic, healthy necessities for the mamas we are serving (watch for that campaign coming soon!). It is all set to launch.
But then . . . this mama. This amazing woman who has birthed 12 children . . . this woman who is peacefully and amazingly serving her babies at her home while wondering if her ex husband will ever provide what they need . . . this woman who has too many tiny children to be able to work and provide for daycare. I can’t turn away, friends. I’ve talked with her on the phone and a wonderful ambassador for Give Her Wings (Sabrina Scheerer) took the winding, long journey to meet with this mama. When I spoke and prayed with Sabrina on her way home, she was hit by the truth of what Give Her Wings does. Sabrina has always known and supported our ministry, but she saw, firsthand, what the devastation of abuse can do to a mother and her little lambs. She was shocked by the story of how this man had affair after affair on his wife . . . how he abused her in every single way possible, leaving her vulnerable constantly with pregnancy after pregnancy. This beautiful woman, Sabrina said, was still somehow exuding Christ’s peace. I told her I had sensed the same thing on the phone with her! So, we have decided to name her “Fresh Waters”. For so many years, she was drowning in dirty water, all the while, trusting that God would set her free some day. She is ready to drink the long, slow and satisfying waters of God’s grace that only He can give. After years of horrific, unspeakable abuse . . . she is waiting on the Lord.
She needs us to come alongside her to help her pay her mortgage. Rent would be higher than her mortgage so we want to help her keep her home. Her ex husband has been ordered to pay a minimal child support (MINIMAL) . . . and he lets it come to her $40 here . . . $50 there. It is ridiculous.
So . . . we are going to ask our supporters to help us to help the beautiful Fresh Waters find hope and some financial peace as she continues to raise her babies. Just for a month. One month’s rent will give her hope for the next month. And she will know that, even though her ex husband paints a picture to all of those around him as a godly and wonderful, charming man . . . Give Her Wings is willing to see the evil he has done to her, acknowledge it and help her to heal. Please pray about donating. We are going to be raising $1500 for this mama throughout the month of April. Click here to give. And thank you for loving her with us.
When we asked for her story in writing, she sent us the most powerful words that she wishes she could send to her ex husband. No one can improve on her incredible story. The first time I read it, I had a literal, guttural reaction. I cried out on her behalf. I wept. My body ached. I know her pain. I feel it . . . and that awful accompanying extra layer of pain knowing that he will never, ever get it nor care about what he has done to her and her children. I know that pain.
She can’t send the words because, as so many of us know, they wouldn’t be heard. He won’t hear her cries. He ignored her pain for decades. But we always want to try to “get them out”, anyway. For our own healing. Please read her amazing story . . . it is painful but beautiful. And please accept this trigger warning, as it is very graphic. It is complicated grief spilled out onto the paper. It is going to be redeemed. See below.
From our April mama, “Fresh Waters”:
How I’ve been impacted by you is difficult to begin to sum up. I’ve been traumatized my entire life. From childhood through the present. I’m just now realizing the bar was set so low for me as to what true love would look like, feel like, and inevitably turn out to be for me.
I felt loved just because someone said so, I felt loved when you would control or manipulate me into certain things because I thought that must mean you cared about me enough to have rules.
My bar for love was so low. It’s still so low. But the difference is now I know it, and what that says about me and my health as a person.
I’ve been a survivor my whole life. I survived a mother who beat the crap out of me. Who literally beat me till I couldn’t breathe at times. Who told me what kind of person she thought I was in four letter words. She never praised me. She never hugged me. She never gave me any type of physical affection as a mom growing up. She never told me she loved me. So when you didn’t do those things I didn’t bat an eye. After all, love wasn’t a feeling. Isn’t that what we evangelicals are taught as we grow and move towards relationship? It may not be a feeling, and love may very well be a choice like they say it is, but I’ve been cut short of the real deal. I’ve been cheapened along the way. I’ve been a means to an end that has always disappointed you in the end. You never had to work for my affection, you had it from the start. You began taking shortcuts before we ever said I do. And I let you. I knew it then deep down, but I was so afraid no one else would ever come along and love me. Oh, how I short-changed myself and my worth.
When you made me stay home instead of visiting my old high school friends who were guys, I should’ve gone. They were my friends, and if that threatened you, so be it. I would choose differently now.
When you manipulated me into choosing to have our reception at the chapel instead of what I wanted to do as the bride, and then told me you were so relieved that I was obedient and submissive. You weren’t sure what you would’ve done had I not relented. I would choose differently now.
When you broke up with me because of what someone said about me and my character, instead of trying to prove them wrong and instead of trying to explain the manipulation that was going on, I would choose differently now.
When you told me the morning after we were married that nothing was really any different than before…. I would choose differently now.
When you told me my pubic hair was less than attractive, (and now I know why. I was too naive to understand these comments 20 years ago.) I would choose differently now.
When you would take the time to comment on what you felt were my physical short-comings, but never take the time to comment about my body in a positive manner except maybe an occasional comment during sex, (but we know how often that was…) I would choose differently now.
When I tried to seduce you on our honeymoon and invite you to take a bath with me, but you chose to pleasure yourself by masturbation,
I would choose differently now.
When you would ignore my endless attempts the first several years of our marriage to get you in the mood and tell me… I’m too tired, it’s God punishment for us since we made out before marriage, I know better now, and I would choose differently now.
Every time I made advances toward you both in and out of bed, and you shut me down with silence, you pierced my heart. I thought I wasn’t sexy enough, thin enough, and I wasn’t submissive enough. You would tell me “if only you were more submissive, I would be more sexually attracted to you.” I know better now.
When you would make bets with your friend on who would be successful getting their wife into bed, you cheapened me, and made me nothing but your whore. You had no interest in me otherwise. You needed bets like these to up your interest and excite yourself enough to be willing to participate in sex with me.
But was it really intimacy? No. There were so many rules. No kissing with your mouth open. You weren’t a fan of that. You preferred manual stimulation with my hands when it came to an erection versus trying intercourse. That avenue didn’t go your way on our wedding night and you weren’t interested in it again. Your excuse was that “you didn’t want to hurt me.” I call bs. All you did was hurt me. Pushing my head down towards your penis trying to force me into oral sex which I wasn’t brave enough to tell you I wasn’t into until later on in our marriage. Intercourse hurt so much and I had so much anxiety about things like touch in that area that my ob insisted on pulling me aside and asking me if I had been raped after our child was born. She knew it wasn’t normal to have had two vaginal births and still still be in so much pain at an appt. But I wasn’t brave enough to tell her I had only had intercourse a handful of times and hadn’t even reached double digits 4 years into our marriage. I would choose differently now.
When I found out you were watching porn on our home computer, I would let you make your own choices, and I would choose differently for myself too.
When I was told repeatedly over the years, my sin was just as bad, I would… let you think that and choose differently for myself now.
When you pushed me in the stairwell up against the wall 5 months pregnant with one of our babies, I would choose differently now.
When you chose to leave me to fend for myself when in premature labor and leave me more than once over the years when I’ve been miscarrying, I have felt abandoned and embarrassed and have chosen to try and carry the pain alone as it felt easier to carry the pain alone without your knowledge, versus alone when you do know.
When you chose not to take off work when our babies were in the NICU, I fought alone for them.
So many memories, so many heartbreaks. So much abandonment in our marriage.
Without expelling the horrific truth for all to see, it’s hard for me to move on when nearly everyone still thinks you’re a golden husband. My desire isn’t to humiliate you or shame you. It’s to free me from and I hope you, from pretending that everything has always been ok when it has been so far from it.
I’m tired of living a lie. The lie where everyone thinks we must share something pretty special since we have 12 children and have been married for nearly 20 years.
When you chose to shop online via MySpace, Facebook, Craigslist, ect. throughout the years for women and what I’m sure were girls close to our daughters age, it cheapens them, it cheapens me, and most painfully, it makes me think some other man is out there doing the same thing to our daughters, and they’re no different than you.
You continually make excuses not to pull in $300 that our family desperately depends on for money for food. I know you’re busy. I know you’re tired. My kids are hungry. I am tired too.
You once again chose to explore your sexual options and spent money we didn’t have on pleasuring yourself at massage parlors and “other” places that service men sexually. As if this wouldn’t have been painful to any wife on a crushing level, you chose to deny me over and over again for nearly a year (again) after we moved here. Even choosing to watch a baseball game on TV over the muffled cries of your wife who had just finished begging for sexual intimacy after pouring out her heart to you. I died again that day. Just like I’ve died hundreds and hundreds of other times when you’ve chosen masturbation, movies, strip clubs, dirty online conversations, massage parlors, and basically hookers who are paid to sexually pleasure you.
You don’t have a clue as to the trauma you’ve caused and most often presently, still don’t seem to care enough about me, to attempt to repair or heal what you have broken down over and over and over again.
I’m a different person. You’ve changed me. I’ve chosen to change myself, but more importantly, God has changed me from the inside out. I’m not who you married. I won’t ever be her again. I don’t want to be. So if you aren’t interested in the new me, the person you tore down, the person who’s had to survive, the person who’s had to scrape everything she has and then some to make it through each day, then just move on in life. I’m not interested in waiting around for you to care enough to invest anymore. I’m worth so much more than that. I’m smart. I’m kind. I’m generous. I’m loyal, but not to the point of taking abuse anymore. And withholding affection IS abuse. It’s been a more painful thing to endure than any of the beatings I’ve had. I’m even beautiful in Christ’s eyes. And living alone had shown me it’s far less lonely living that way than living with someone who chooses to ignore you, to punish you by withholding affection, who chooses other women over you… I’ve been lonely since I left, but not as lonely as I’ve been the last 19 1/2 years. I hope to have a long life ahead of me. I hope you will begin choosing me over yourself, but I’m not going to wait forever. Christ thinks far more of me than that. Our marriage covenant isn’t as important as the woman behind it, the one who’s chosen to honor you despite the continual betrayal over and over again. I am worth living this life without any more betrayal, without any more abuse, but I’m also worth not just settling for no more of that, but truly living a life of oneness in a marriage that God originally intended. I absolutely deserve that. I won’t short change myself any longer.
After nearly 20 years, my prayer changed from “God, please save my marriage and restore it to something beautiful” to “Lord, please protect me and save me from more of the same abuse and anguish.”
And so He did. It was not the answer I wanted. It wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I had hoped my story would entail something along the lines of my husband truly repenting, turning away from his addictions, and choosing ME. We would renew our vows.. We would finally have a real honeymoon. Our children would finally see what a godly relationship looked like. That’s what I wanted my story of redemption to look like. It was possible. The Lord parted the Red Sea. He changed the hearts of wicked kings. He could mold our marriage into something beautiful for all to see. We would be that example of endurance and triumph to others.
But He chose to allow my husband to make his own choice. He gave him a free will. No amount of praying him into a right standing with the Lord was going to do the trick. No amount of counseling would change an already hardened heart.
But God DID answer my prayers. He does have a victory story for me and my 12 children. In September of this last year, my husband of 20 years chose to leave me and our 12 children ages 3-18 for another woman and her children. After years of pent up fear and overwhelming devastation and grief, I felt nothing but relief in his moment of decision. His problems, his addictions, and his emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse weren’t my problem any more. I was free. Free from trying to fix it all. Free from the responsibility to cover for him, free from the loneliness and despair that I had hidden behind closed doors for 20 years.. The Lord answered my prayer. He IS protecting me from more of the same. My redemption story may not look like I had originally hoped it would, but God has something far better for me. I don’t know quite what it looks like yet. I’m scared. I’m admittedly stressed. I’m anxious. I’m in the thick of the ick right now. I’m literally fighting for my children’s well being, having not being given child support and losing children to bribery and lives without rules and too much freedom. That is my greatest tragedy right now. Total alienation from two of my older children. The mind games, lies, and manipulation he has over them blows my mind, but all I can do is pray they see the truth eventually in His time.
I finally stood up to him and chose differently and I’m so very glad I did.
My redemption story isn’t over yet, and either is yours. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and the next. But right now, it’s all I can do to climb out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. I’m going to continue to choose differently because I’m worth it. And so are you sister. My redemption day is coming and so is yours. Let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other and just do the next right thing. We may be in the valley right now, but with Christ beside us, who can be against us?
“Be still, I will fight for you.” Exodus 3:20