What Christmas May Be Like for Our Mamas

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.

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.

This month, Give Her Wings wants to do something similar for all our mamas and their sweet children. We have contacted 17 mothers who are struggling greatly this Christmas. They have sweet babies who will not be getting much for Christmas this year (if anything). 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. Heart-break-ing-ly, most of them told us that their kids need warm clothes . . . or shoes . . . The team at Give Her Wings is compiling 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. Some of the gifts are fun (a little girl’s tea-set or a loom bracelet maker) and some of them are necessities. 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. I am going to ask our entire church choir to participate. 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 soon. We want to help this Christmas season. Be generous in spirit. Join us.


Committing to the Journey — by Michael Ramsey

We celebrate when someone we love is able to escape an abusive relationship. We are relieved that such a painful part of their journey has ended, and we are optimistic about what the road ahead will look like for them.  While it may feel that they have reached the climax and resolution in their story, there are still important days ahead. In fact, the first few months after leaving an abusive relationship are critical for that person’s future relational success and satisfaction.  Remembering a couple of key facts will allow us to support and care for those we love after they have escaped a toxic relationship.

Reminder #1: We can do life with them, but never for them.

Most people who have been abused have been stripped of their sense of self-worth and significance. Establishing a relationship with them in which you constantly give and they are constantly receiving (time, advice, financial support, etc…) only worsens the problem. Persons who have faced abuse in the past have tons to offer the world, but it may take them time to rediscover what that might look like. They will need for you to give at times, but will also need you to step back and allow them to give as well.  Ask them for their advice about something going on in your life, allow them to buy lunch for you if they offer, it’s amazing how such small gestures can help rebuild someone’s confidence.

Reminder #2: They may initially be in greater pain or discomfort than they were while in their abusive relationship.

This one is easy to miss. It would seem that escaping the nightmares of abuse would immediately increase someone’s quality of life. Leaving the relationship is an incredibly healthy step, but it won’t always feel good right away. It’s not uncommon for people to experience increased anxiety and deeper depression for the first several weeks or even months after leaving a toxic relationship. A common and especially hideous lie that abusers tell their spouses is that they could never live life on their own. They are told that they are not strong or smart enough to handle life alone. These lies often sink down deep inside of an abused person, creating levels of self-doubt and fear that can feel suffocating. Over time as the lies are replaced by the truth of their worth, they will begin to experience greater relief and satisfaction.

Reminder #3: Their perception of relationships might be skewed for a while.

For those who are being worn down by loneliness and fear a new relationship to replace the old one will be incredibly tempting. This is a fragile and dangerous time for them to enter into a new relationship, however. It’s not impossible to enter a relationship that is healthy at this point, but it can be difficult and a bit tricky. The stronger they become the more ready they will be to choose relationship partners well, and to be healthy in a relationship. Strength takes time.  Be patient with them, but remind them often of the temptations of jumping into something too quickly. Some may feel a great distaste or even dread concerning a future relationship. They have been hurt before and they have determined to never allow it to happen again. This opposite reaction can be very unhealthy as well over time. They are throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Again this person needs time to heal, so tread lightly. Remind them that relationships can be beautiful. Our heart for those who have been abused is that they will have the ability to choose or not choose a relationship in the future, freely and without compulsion. Your love and support will remind them that they can be cared for, and that it is safe to care for someone else.

Above all remember that caring for someone who is hurting isn’t always easy. You are making an incredible difference even when your impact isn’t visible. Investing in others is always a good choice!


October Fundraiser for “Faithful in Trials”

We know you’ve been waiting to find out about our fundraiser for October.  Wait no longer.

In a Give Her Wings first, we have a pair of exciting fundraisers.

First up, we have three online concerts.  Three artists – Steady On, Jeremy Cain and Laura Sully – are donating the proceeds from ticket sales and tips to Give Her Wings.  The shows are Oct 14, 21, & 28 respectively at 9pm EST.

Steady On, Jeremy Cain, Laura Sully - Online Benefit Concerts for Give Her Wings

And what pairs better with concerts than T-shirts?  Nothing?  Exactly what we thought.

So, we have two designs.  One for Men.  One for Women.
$26 each (+shipping)

Give Her Wings T's.  One for Her.  One for Him.

If you’re ready to buy T’s or tickets right now, here are the links:

Ladies T
Men’s T
Steady On Concert (Oct 14)
Jeremy Cain Concert (Oct 21)
Laura Sully Concert (Oct 28) – link coming soon

For further information on both T’s and concerts, go to our Current Fundraiser page.

Stay tuned, we may even have a giveaway coming 🙂


Faithful in Trials — Our October Mother

Dear Friends . . . . It is with deep excitement that I write about our new mama. The reason I feel such great joy is because we have already been able to help her and the month has barely begun. Last month, we collected almost $1000 for “Walking in Integrity”. It was not what we had hoped for (we always try to raise $1500), but we were happy with it, trusting that God has got this entire little operation in His mighty hand. So, no sooner had we raised the funds than “Walking” let us know that she had received an unexpected check in the mail. Not only is she able to get on her feet, but she was even able to use some of it for a mission trip to Africa! (gasp!)

In keeping with the spirit and purpose of Give Her Wings, and in keeping with “Walking’s” reputation for integrity, we no longer saw this dear mama as a viable candidate. See, Give Her Wings is all about giving a woman a “breather” in the middle of extreme distress. Not only is her world turned upside down by leaving an abusive man and doing what she never thought she would have to do (divorce), she has children who desperately need her. Often, these spiritual widows are destitute. There is no chance to heal or even think about what to do when one has no support and is terrified of not being able to provide for her children. We cannot help long-term. But, we can give her the relief of having her bills paid . . . or a down-payment on a car . . . or gas to be able to find a job . . . or food money — the necessities.

Just as soon as we lost our candidate, another one fell into our laps. Prayerfully and carefully, we discovered that “Faithful in Trials” is living in a very small space with no heat in a mountainous region. She is turning her cooking stove on and gathering the children into the kitchen to get warm. She has no gas for her car. She cannot pay her rent this month. And . . . need I say it? They are cold.

“Faithful” has no family support and no child support from the man who left her in a lurch with her three children . . . after 17 years of extreme psychological and emotional abuse. All three of Faithful’s children are ADHD and have Asberger’s. And yet, this woman does not give up. She is loving her children . . . she is trying; She is on food stamps; She is working toward getting a job. I am not sure I have ever seen a woman who is striving as hard to provide for her children as Faithful is. That is why we call her “Faithful in Trials”. That is the name we have chosen for her. She deserves it.

Here is the incredible news. With the money you have donated (and, rest assured, we have contacted all those who have donated to be sure they are OK with giving the monies to our new lady), we are able to send her a check this week to pay for her rent, some of her bills and one cord of wood. Our sister needs 8 cords of wood to get through the winter but this is a start. We are hoping, with our new October campaign, to be able to send money for more firewood (could we raise another $1500? I know that God can do it. We could cover all of her firewood!). More good news is that there is a wonderful group of ladies up in Maine who have put together outerwear, boots and warm clothes for Faithful and her children. God loves this woman.

Faithful still needs money for smaller bills like internet. She needs money for gas and she needs money for medication for her children. Please consider donating. But, also, watch our new campaign this month. We have something really neat lined up. I know God is in this . . . please help and give.

Warmly and with a Hopeful Heart, Megan

Jesus was Hurt Over Betrayal

I recently read a series of articles by George K. Simon on the “Aftermath of Toxic Relationships.” I also had a deep and interesting conversation with a very compassionate friend about how those who hurt us . . . are often more hurt themselves than we can imagine. People are broken. We ALL are broken, really. And, as I say often, there is much beauty in brokeness. Or, at least, there is beauty in the brokeness of a believer in Christ. If a believer admits his or her brokeness and yet desires to obey God, he or she will be working toward wholeness. That kernel of wheat that has fallen to the ground will spill out . . . and bear fruit in that brokeness. And restoration and redemption will set in. It won’t be pretty . . . but it is necessary.

However, there are those who are broken who are never restored. There are those who betray us who never (or do not, yet) turn to Christ, repent and receive the blessing of humility and grace. Judas Iscariot was (obviously) one of those people. Surely, he was remorseful. He was sorry. But, he did not choose to then turn around and “feed His lambs” like Peter did. And, do you know what I find interesting? It hurt Jesus’ heart. After Jesus washed the disciples feet, Scripture says this:

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ John 13:21

This intrigues me to no end. We know that Jesus wept when Lazarus died. All sorts of commentators love to explain away that emotion in a super holy way . . . explaining Jesus more in more-than-necessary ways because . . . well, because it almost seems as though emotion is weakness . . . tears are weakness . . . right? So, out of fear that Jesus will not fit in our box, otherwise, we say things like: “Jesus was sad over their lack of faith”. Whaaaa  . . . ? I’m sorry. Is Jesus not allowed to just be sad? ‘Cause it is sad when someone dies and people are crying at your feet. What about when Jesus was sorrowful because He was about to die for the sins of the world? We can explain that away. He seems more fully God here and less fully man because of the undertaking before Him. But, John 13:21 might be a little more difficult. Sure, some could certainly say that Jesus was sad over the hypocrisy of Judas. That is maddening. But, the Bible doesn’t really say that. It says Jesus is troubled . . . he was troubled in spirit; in his soul, which shows him to be truly and really man, and to have a fully human soul . . . like ours. He shares in our emotion and in our passions. And, you know what else? Jesus knew what was going to happen to Judas. He knew the man’s fate. Repentance was not on its way. Time was not going to heal Judas. No amount of compassion on anyone’s part was going to win Judas back to the Lord. It was over for this man. And it was deeply troubling to our Savior.

We are betrayed. It is not “all in our head”. We are not paranoid. An abusive spouse betrays his wife over and over. Perhaps family has, as well. We are allowed to be “deeply troubled” in our spirits. Our sinless Messiah was. It hurts to be betrayed by a friend . . . or by our inner circle . . . by someone we have loved, served, shared meals with . . . by someone we have given ourselves to over and over. Feel it; grieve it. And then move on. But, for heaven’s sake . . . don’t let anyone mute your pain by telling you that you must just love that person through it. Sometimes you can’t. Jesus knew this. We would be wise to know it, too.

Blessed are Those Who Mourn

The pastor of the local church fellowship that I attend has just begun a sermon series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7).  He will be preaching through it over the next 6 months.  Meanwhile, we are to be working on memorizing it in small portions.

On this, the national day of remembrance of the terror attacks of 9-11-01, and the 8 month marker of the death of my own father, I find it so appropriate that our next verse is Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn | Dawn S.

I’ve had losses in my life before, but I’ve never known mourning quite the way I have in this past year.  Sometimes it feels quite like the picture above: cold, grey, just barely alive, lonely, but covered in the “snow” that makes everything look beautiful to the onlooker. It’s hard.

But, you know what?  (This is where the cool part comes in. Don’t miss it.)

Jesus knew that we would experience loss.  He knew it would difficult.  He promised that we would be comforted in the midst of it.  And that comforting?  It doesn’t come from a person who will fail you. It comes from the God of the Universe.  How cool is that?

The Message version of the Bible really drives the point home for me:  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

No matter what you mourn (someone you love dearly, your marriage or family, a relationship with a friend, or a grand-scale loss like the national loss we all experienced 12 years ago), be encouraged with me today that God sees you.  He knows you.  He understands you.  And He longs to embrace you and comfort you through your mourning.


A Message From “A New Free Life” or, “Anew” (affectionately)

Friends and supporters,

This is a message from the first lady that we helped (“A New Free Life”). I feel that this letter is vital for giving all of you precious donators an understanding of just what our goals at Give Her Wings are. We hope and pray that we can be a springboard to financial health and restoration. We hope to provide a buffer. But, as you can see, we desire to do more than that. We wish to keep dignity intact for spiritual widows and orphans who have already left abusive situations . . . and to show them that they are “God’s girls”. It is not unusual for one of us to write “You are God’s princess” on a gift card or package sent to one of these precious mamas. I know that I desperately needed to know that I was still valuable to God when I was in the trenches. We want “our” mamas to know God loves them, still . . . and is walking with them . . . even in the depths of hell. Please read:

I was very surprised when Megan told me that I would be included in last month’s fundraiser.  I am struggling, but I’m not destitute.  GHW lifted me up and out of that horrible pit this past spring, and it gave me the ability to keep going with that momentum.  It changed the way I thought of myself and provided me with the encouragement to look differently at where my life was going.  I feel like it pushed me into the next phase of recovery from abuse.  So, I just assumed I was moving on, and so was GHW.  

I have been so touched by the continued generosity and concern shown to my children and me by those at GHW.  In general, we do feel forgotten as we are moving on.  Others are asking me for help with things.  We have found a new church.  I’m creating work for myself.  The children are thinking about activities and longing for friendships.  We’re starting to think about being normal again.  But, life is still hard.  Sometimes I think those around us here locally just don’t understand how long and difficult this road is.  It is such a comfort to have those of you at GHW come alongside us and remind us that someone does understand.  Someone cares about our continued struggles.  

I so deeply appreciate the gifts for two of my children.  I know my youngest will be delighted.  I put the toy up for Christmas and have it well hidden.  I did, however, tell my 17 year old about the gift card.  He was THRILLED!  And, wanted to kick me off the computer so he could start shopping!  I told him it is a Christmas gift from someone who wants him to have that lift and gift in December, so we’ll save it.  🙂  It also eases the burden on me of trying to provide gifts for all of the kids come Christmastime.  
My necklace is absolutely beautiful, and I will treasure it always.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put it on without crying.  It is a lovely, tangible reminder of all of you with big, loving hearts who stepped into our lives and loved us at our lowest point.  Even my boys just stopped and quietly stared at it when I opened it.  They realize the monumental difference that the individuals at GHW have made in our lives and what a special necklace it is.  
I used my coffee card to treat myself one afternoon last week, and it was like buttah (winky face at Megan!).  Soooo good!  I shared with Megan that I often envy those who walk around in the stores with their coffees.  I see the cars all lined up at the coffee stands as I head off to work with my water bottle and wish I was in that line.  It was wonderful to be one of them!  The amount on the ecard was very generous, so I can get quite a few coffees and have decided I’m going to ration them out and enjoy this as a monthly treat throughout fall and winter.  It will be a nice lift on the weekends I have to drop the kids off for visitation with my ex-abuser.  
Your expressions of kindness and your tangible assistance are also standing as a shining example for my children.  They’ve had selfishness, cruelty, neglect, and rejection modeled for them.  And, your deep concern for others gives them a perfect example of Christians expressing the love of Christ, the perfect example of how we should act.  You give them a better model to follow.  For that, too, I am eternally grateful to you all!
Thank you for caring about us.  Thank you for remembering us.  Thank you for continuing to lift us up.  May God bless you all richly for being the good Samaritans in our lives!  
With much love, ANFL

September with “Walking In Integrity”

We are entering a new month today . . . for us at Give Her Wings, this means that we have a new goal. I am nervous. We are all a bit nervous because we are going to ask for donations this month to cover $1500 of expenses for our new mama. I tend to believe we have maxed out our givers. I tend to doubt. This is not my favorite quality in myself. I know this woman we will be helping . . . I know her heart is golden. It is difficult for her to understand why she is in this situation when she had tried, all her life, to obey God. It never makes sense, does it? Nevertheless, she continues to work steadily, in the midst of great strife and heartache, to care for her two small children and do right by them. One can often hear her say, “Why is this happening to me when I have tried so hard to walk in integrity?” Because of this, we have named her “Walking In Integrity”. As you precious readers know, we do not reveal the identity of those who are in need. We work hard to preserve dignity . . . because each woman deserves dignity, as a child of the King.

Here is our September lady’s story:

I was married for almost 15 years to my high school sweetheart. His abuse escalated to physical violence several times and I was finally able to get a restraining order and custody of my children. I have been completely dependent on God’s provision, trying my best to walk in integrity and keep my hope, despite ongoing battles. I moved across the country to be near my grandparents. My ex refuses to support his children in any way. I was able to get a good job, but I could not afford rent and had to move back in with my grandfather (currently battling cancer). I am an hour from my job, I cannot afford childcare, and my car is breaking down. Every day is a struggle of prayer, hoping that God will lift us up. I know my friends’ hearts are with me in all of this!

It is heart-wrenching to hear about these day to day struggles because “Walking” really is doing all she can for her children and herself. She has  chosen the higher road by raising the children on her own, despite a gross lack of financial support from her ex husband. She is in need. And, taking my cues from a recent conversation with Kelley, I believe that God cares deeply about our girl and her children . . . and that He is big enough to provide for her.

Please donate this month. Anything you can give will help. Our goal for September is $1500. This may help with Walking’s car or her rent or help with childcare. Please join us. I know God can do this through His people. I just know He can.

Love, Megan

The Erroneous Idea that Leaving is “the easy way out”

Lately, I have seen little Facebook posts or blog posts that talk about the tough road of marriage. There have been discussions about how marriage is not a fairy tale . . . how you must stick it out and make it work. How it is worth it in the end. I do not doubt this. Almost everything worth having takes a tremendous amount of work. In fact, I believe this with such fervor that I tell it to my kids. Do you want something? Well, then, you are going to have to work for it. Oftentimes, these well-meaning-marriage-posts will then tack on something at the end to the effect of:

Don’t take the easy way out. Stay in. Fight for your marriage.

I can see that. And, boy . . . would I EVER fight for the marriage I have right now with my amazing husband, David. He is most definitely worth fighting for. I have the utmost respect for my man. And I hope and pray that we would never get to the point where there is even a question of whether or not one of us should stay or go. I have full confidence that that would never happen. We nip things in the bud; we stay on our toes; we do not allow little sins to enter into our marriage and grow and fester. My husband is a loving and model husband and . . . a man of God. For reals. I don’t have to cowboy up with him and press on as though I were in this dreadful thing called “marriage” and I hope that I can just “make it through” because “it will all be worth it in the end.”

Here is the thing . . . when a woman, who has shown signs of following the Lord . . . who has tried and tried and tried . . . . finally leaves an abusive marriage . . . most likely . . . it is not the easy way out. Good heavens! Do you know what she is facing? She faces divorce, court hearings, terrifying child custody issues and scares, loss of income, possibly having to go back to work for the first time in years or decades, the possible loss of support from her own family (depending on whether or not they were raised to believe that “divorce is not an option”) . . . she definitely loses his family, she may lose support from her local church, she faces single-mother-hood, she wonders if she will ever find love again. She wonders if her self-esteem and/or self image will ever grow from the minuscule dot it has become. She wonders if she will be rejected from church. She is looking at a failed marriage. And those around her are watching the marriage fail. She does not know if she will receive child support or alimony. Listen . . . Whatever small amount of security she may have had in her marriage will now be gone.

Whoever says that leaving a marriage is the “easy way out” . . . has never walked in her shoes; has never lived in her home; has never EVER had to face the kind of gut-wrenching decisions she has had to face for herself and her children.

Let’s not judge; let’s stop saying things like “don’t leave and take the easy way out”. Let’s have some compassion.

Clarity & Care by Michael Ramsey

In an effort to continue our question and answer series, we have asked Michael Ramsey to be a guest author on our blog. Michael is a youth pastor, currently residing in North Carolina. He has studied counseling and has a wonderful blog called “Faith, Film and Food” that you can find here. Michael has a great big heart and I am sure he will be guest-blogging often. Thank you, Michael! Read on:

The decisions made by abuse victims are often misunderstood by those closest to them. Many people wonder and sometimes openly ask questions like:

How could she have children with that man who has been abusive to her?

Why won’t she just leave him?

Why would anyone accept that sort of treatment?

These questions expose the fundamental misunderstanding of many family and friends who have not experienced abuse themselves. Abuse damages its victims in more ways than just physically and sexually (although that damage is very difficult). At a deeper level, abuse begins to alter the way the abused person perceives reality. The changes can be subtle and are often not visible in other parts of the person’s life. For instance, their performance at work may remain unchanged or their friendships can be very balanced and healthy. Inside the microcosm of the abusive relationship, however, the person who has been abused is filled with doubt and oftentimes feelings of guilt. Added to this is the fact that many abuse victims tend to be “givers” by nature. Wonderful character traits such as loyalty, devotion, and a willingness to sacrifice for others can be twisted and used against someone by an abusive person. In those settings, it doesn’t take long for someone to begin to lose clarity in how they perceive the abusive relationship they are in. Many people who have been abused believe things like: “If I were more careful with my words, he wouldn’t get so angry” or “I don’t understand why I can’t make him happy”. These thoughts betray an unhealthy shift in terms of her understanding of relational boundaries and responsibility. It’s even possible for the abused to believe that she is close to being “good enough” to make relationship work. At that point, she digs her heels in and works harder than ever to please her husband, protect her children, or whatever she feels is needed most.

It is often in the midst of this storm that family or friends step in and in an effort to “help”, push the person to make a change, or even criticize their decisions. It’s important to note that the family or friends may be right about the injustice the person is suffering in their relationship but, their callously spoken right answers will only cause the abused person to doubt themselves more and at times, like themselves less. So, if you have a friend or loved one who is suffering abuse, but is unable to escape it, keep these things in mind:

1)Unconditional love is better than uninvited advice.

What an abused person needs to know more than anything else is that she is loved, and that you believe in her as a person. Critical words and pressure only contribute to the dark place they are in, it doesn’t help.

2)Be honest.

If asked or given the opportunity, always be honest about the nature of what your friend is going through. Your love for her allows you to say that it is never ok for her to be physically harmed or degraded, but also that it doesn’t change the love that you have for her.

3)Be Patient.

People don’t normally make life altering changes overnight and those enduring abuse are no exception. Don’t begin to doubt yourself or the impact your friendship has in her life simply because visible changes don’t seem to be occurring. Hang in there! Your friendship means more than you could possibly know.

People who are enduring abuse need good people around them, and by remembering these three simple things, you will able to offer an honest, patient, and loving relationship to people who desperately need it.