Chapter 17, Welcome to the Fall Out

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“Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence, everyone’s here everyone’s here everybody is watching you now. Everybody waits for you now, what happens next? What happens next?” Switchfoot

I will always say that teaching is, by far, the hardest job I have ever had. Unless you have stood in front of hundreds of kids who’s educational futures depend on you; you can not imagine the amount of energy necessary to stretch the young minds and hearts of high school students. Work sits on your dining room table, it is hiding in your laptop, on your voicemail or text and in the supermarket when you run into parents.

It was April of 2009 and we were in the home stretch to finish out the school year.  I oftentimes fell asleep 45 minutes before my alarm would go off to go to work.  If any of you have ever experienced any form of insomnia or sleep deprivation, you know that you are not capable of making logical choices, or engaging in conversations.   You are especially unable to hang toe to toe with high school students, in any arena.

Most people like to think that if you experience a hospitalization like I did that everything should be “all good”.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Think of a hospitalization like that as triage, meant to stop the bleeding.  Think of the time after that as corrective surgery after corrective surgery.  Each surgery unearths more things to be fixed.  Trusting the Surgeon is hard if not impossible as there is just so much to fix.

“It has been said ‘Time heals all wounds’, yet for the untreated or poorly treated wound, time will infect, then scar. For the unset or improperly set bone, time will knit, then lame. Treat the wound properly, set the bone aright, then time becomes the servant of healing and ceases to be its enemy. As it with the body, so it is with the soul, the interaction, the conversation, the relationship” Dr. Tom Petit

CCHS continued to be a strong pillar for me.  Parents, students and leadership did everything they could to help me.  At some point it became obvious that I still needed time.  I needed sleep.  And the kids needed a teacher.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart” Psalm 72:26

This part of this story is so hard to write because my world got turned upside down, again.  But, it was exactly what needed to happen.  Because the administration of CCHS  loves and cares for people over rules and sometimes logic–they let me take the rest of the year (which was about 30 days) to rest.

“Welcome to the fall out welcome to resistance the tension is here the tension is here in between who you are and who you could be between how it is and how it should be.” Switchfoot

I have worked, in some form, since I was 12 years old.  It didn’t matter if I was selling boiled peanuts, thriving in a start-up business or teaching school.  I had never spent one day in my adult life without a job–without a purpose.  That day, I was stunned.  And, for some reason I didn’t have my car and had to have Crissy come pick me up.  I was unable to see that they were helping me–I wanted to vanish in thin air.  I threw my stuff in a box, slipped out of the back of the school and waited for Crissy to pick me up.  Still unable to cry, I just felt, so lost, and so confused.  What now?  What will distract me?  Where will I find purpose?  What will people say?  What will they think?  What was the administration doing?

“Dare you to move, dare you to move, dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.  I dare you to move, I dare you to move, like today never happened, today never happened before”  Switchfoot 

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and his wrestling match with the angel. Sometimes I feel like Jacob when he said “I will not let go until You call me blessed” Like Jacob, I am pretty stubborn.  His fight  was a long and arduous fight, but Jacob got his blessing–and a life-long limp.  

Fights like that leave scars and I don’t think I realized I was engaged in a battle to live–not giving up until I received a purpose for all the pain and trauma.  As long as I put that job, those kids, that purpose in front of what was necessary for me to live–I was in sinking sand.

I did not want to let my ministry go–I wanted to go there everyday.  People who choose to fight these fights will never be the same–people who fight these fights don’t want to ever be the same.  I will go to my grave eternally grateful for this time in my life.  There is so much to say and hindsight is perfect.  But, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you CCHS, you know who you are.

Next up, getting better and for the first time, maybe ever, living with only one expectation.  Breathe.  Yet even that proved sometimes impossible and my heart was literally failing me.  Everybody that knew and loved me knew we were in a critical period; and I gathered an army and we marched up the hill.  There was just so much to conquer.

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Unbelievably grateful of all who take turns at the life-guard stand for me.  And for sometimes swimming in the deep with me.

 

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The Making of a Broken Wife

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My mama, daddy and me, 24 days old

There have been 2 people in my life, who were bound by the laws of the state of Florida to take care of me.  The first?  Yeah, that would be my mama who had me when she was 38 years old.  I did not ask to be born into this world, it was her responsibility to get me from the cradle to independence, and well, she didn’t do that.

She walked away from that responsibility; free and clear from the 4th or 4 of her children, and probably the one that needed her, and loved her the most.

I have very few memories of my mama.  I do know I loved her with everything that was inside of me.  She never wanted to be around us.  We were always at somebody else’s house.  I could take you, to this day, to the house of Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole.  They are convicted serial killers.  Otis Toole took responsibility for killing Adam Walsh.  Henry Lee Lucas died in prison after admitting to countless murders.  My step-sister (I barely knew her) Freda was one of those people.  He dismembered her body from Texas to Florida and ultimately admitted her murder while in prison for the murders of other people.  My mom used them as baby-sitters.  I remember cleaning their house for $32.  They never harmed me.  Thank God.

The only way I got her attention was to do well in school.  I hated then, and do hate now, math.  She was good at math.  When it came time to conquer long division, we had some quality time.  I still hate long division.  Thank God for calculators.  Since she never wanted us around, it literally took a village to provide our needs as it pertains to food, clothes and an education.  So, the village, any village, raised us.  It wasn’t always a good village.  Those years, some of it, if not most of it, are not appropriate for a post for the world to see.  If it were in a movie you would walk out–it if were in print, you would stop reading.

Ray and Gayle Dunning were serving at Victory Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.  They have 3 children of their own, but that did not stop them from giving me a place to stay and somehow get some stability in my life.  I have such vivid memories of long walks with Gayle where she would listen for endless hours and advised me from bitterness to dating.  She was the first person to show me what a mom is; or should be–and that description was not my mom.

When Ray & Gayle stepped in, I had a bed that was mine and an address that didn’t change.  I remember my first Christmas (or maybe it was a birthday? –both in December) with them I got a bike, a pink bike, I still don’t know where that bike is to this day–but it was like giving me ounces or pounds of gold.  It was mine and nobody was gonna take it from me.  They filled in an important gap time for me before ultimately deciding to place me in a children’s home in Tampa, Florida.  I had never been so heartbroken.  And I wondered, at 15 years old, “why don’t people want me?”

This started a pattern in my life where I began to over-compensate, over-perform, strive for protection.  I was in search for anything, any body that would pour into my life; and not leave me.  What happened next still gives me chills to this day; as God clearly heard the breaking of my heart that hot day in June of 1987 when I arrived on the property of Faith Children’s Home.

 

Chapter 15, Broken Praise in the Storm

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Here we are, at the point in my story where I want to stop, stop the madness, stop the remembering, stop the writing.  UGH.  Where were we?

“I was sure by now that you would have reached out your hand and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say ‘Amen’ and it’s still raining”  Casting Crowns 

It was November of 2008 and I was back in the classroom after my 30 day hiatus that CCHS was so generous to give me.  My new attorney and I were successful in court, and I remember the day that we got that word, December 2, 2008.  It was a day after my birthday, Happy Birthday to me!  The year of 2008 had not been my friend, but looking back, maybe it was in the end.?  Anyway, our victory was that the motion to dismiss the case or to move to St. Augustine was dismissed.  Now we still had to go back to court to get the judge to actually rule on the order of protection.  And I caved.  

That is really the easiest way to explain it; and probably the most popular occurrence in these situations.  Seeing him that day in court unearthed something in me.  You would think those emotions would be hate, anger and fear.  And I certainly had fear, but mainly I was hurt; I was hurt to my core.  And I wanted to fix it.  The pain was too much and going through the process of going back to court seemed similar to climbing Mt. Everest.  So, I decided I needed closure.  I dropped the petition for a restraining order…and I did that for a few reasons.  None of them advisable, and all of them without any of the wise counsel I had all around me.

It is difficult to put into words the pain.  Human beings are wired to avoid pain at all costs, and it always means something is wrong…right?  So, I called him.  And I asked him if he would be part of a telephone counseling session with Dr. Petit.  Of course he agreed (it meant dropping the petition), and the date was set.  The judge threw out the petition (after all of that) and I had questions and I wanted answers.  Some how I thought that would ease the gaping wound still left in my heart and on the very deepest part of my soul.  He was a no show on the call.  I was devastated.  I am not sure what I thought that 1 hour phone call would do; but I can tell you what not having it did–sent me reeling and it was like 3 steps forward and 5 back.  By now it was almost Christmas and I planned to spend that Christmas in Maine and in Toronto, and that might have saved us from another involuntary hospital visit.

The first year after a divorce, you have to get through all the “firsts”–the first birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  I made the mistake of not planning well for the first year.  I spent my first Thanksgiving with a very dear friend of mine in PA, and that was fun, but I ended up in the ER after having a seizure in front of her whole family.  That was good times! Apparently, you get one free pass on seizures, I never had another one.  We think it was stress, who knows.  The first Christmas was in Jacksonville and while I was with my sister and her family, that was just stupid.  Jacksonville is my hometown and very close to my heart, but I needed separation from every inch of that city–and my family and friends were spoils of war for a little while.

 I decided this time I was going to be far from Florida, far from memories and far from stress.  And for the first time ever I had a white Christmas!  Gabe and Beatrice were just over a year old and it was so much fun watching them.  I have an awesome family–well what is left of them.  My cousin Em is probably my very best friend on this planet.  She held my heart that Christmas by doing nothing but making me laugh and feeding me insane amounts of homemade food.  Her mama, my first cousin, loves me like I am her daughter, so I was in good hands.  Before Toronto, I spent a few days with Cris and her parents in Maine.  I was loved so well then by these two groups of people–kind of like now.  They all saved me that Christmas.  Christmas carols, hot chocolate, funny stories and snow, lots and lots of snow–that is my memory of Christmas of 2008.  

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Gabe and me.  Christmas 2008

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Bedo and me.  Clearly she wanted somebody else. 🙂

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I roamed out one day with my camera.  I loved this house, and still do.  Don’t know who lives there though!  Ottawa Christmas 2008

 

I flew back to Clearwater on December 30th and I remember that because I was scheduled for ear surgery on New Years Eve–beating the system, and my deductible.  It was significant though, because it was the second surgery I needed to repair an injury sustained in a fit of anger at the hands of the love of my life.  The days were so dark and it seemed as though I was going from one dark time to another.  Still pretty heavily medicated, I was sleeping better but would still have fierce flashbacks at night.  All of the trauma had unearthed childhood stuff that I never remembered until dark nights in that bright yellow room in Crissy’s house.  She would come running across the house just to tell me I was 36 not 7 or 14 or 25 or 29.  It was awful.  Still is sometimes.

School was back in session and I was to be front and center of a sophomore Chemistry class at 7:45.  The second semester was more difficult for a lot of reasons.  The subject matter was harder, the days were busier and I was unraveling, quickly.  Still by my side, Cheryl fed me every day at lunch cheese and crackers and when I got home Crissy would do just about anything or go anywhere to get me to eat anything.  I drank a lot of red Kool-Aid.  I have no idea what that comforted me, but it did.  I managed to get from weekend to weekend and Sundays were my favorite.  I had the best life group at Calvary.  I got to teach sometimes and that was good for my soul.  During the week, I loved the kids and they made me laugh everyday–I will always say they were my bright spots in dark times  They thought I was a rock-star (we don’t need to tell them differently) and that felt good.  I had some ministry opportunities and that fed me too.  

But mostly I was not good.  We started 2009 hopeful, but it was not showing signs of being much better.  I clung to music at the time.  It was the only thing that made any sense to me and it was the only thing that comforted me.  My days were so groggy because the nights were so hard.  It was only a matter of time before I completely melted down again.  Except this time those who loved me and knew me saved me from myself–except you know that painful way people help you?  Yeah, it was that kind of help.  God was determined to get my attention and would continue to systematically remove anything I put before Him, even if it was clothed in ministry as a Christian school teacher.

“I will praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands for Who You are.  No matter where I am.  And every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hand, You never left my side.  And though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm” Casting Crowns

 

Why Should I Write & Why Should You Read?

It is a valid question.  The things I write here are hard to write.  Those close to me tell me it is hard to read.  However, there is so much to gain from the pain of another–especially if somebody is willing to share with you.  Most people who read this blog have either been helped, or they know somebody who they can help because of information shared here.  This is not meant to make me famous or this blog famous.  The purpose of this blog is to shed light on a very dark subject; and to help anybody who finds themselves in this situation.  Does that answer the question, though? 🙂

Prelude*

Her voice still pierces through my mind.

“Did you call the cops?”

It is a well-meaning question, but to a victim of domestic violence, it serves as an indictment.  If you are asking the question the answer doesn’t really matter.

It seems like a logical question–a question meant more to gain information rather than judge.  Still,  it feels like judgement.

For the second time after leaving, I sat in an office in a county courthouse reliving my nightmare that was a 12 year abusive marriage.  After SIX years, apparently, I still needed protection from the person I vowed before God & our families to love forever.  The deputy clerk asked the “question” and I starred at her unable to speak.  There was no energy to speak.  I felt salty tears running down my cheek.  I couldn’t speak; there was this lump in my throat.  I could hear my heart beat, and found myself comforted by the consistent sound.  It was the sound of brokenness.

I stared over her shoulder and out the window and then turned my head to look at Crissy; I wondered if this time was going to take me down for good.  The tears turned into a racing heart and I could feel the heat in my face.  Suddenly, tears gave way to anger.  The courthouse staffer had her eyes locked on me waiting for an answer to her question.  “No, I did not call”

While not uncommon for victims to report abuse, every victim has reasons.  The entirety of my marriage, I kept thinking it would be the last hit, the last punch, or the last verbal beat down.  I prayed every night that my God would fix it.  I had nowhere to go.   My job was tied up in this marriage.  He was everything to me.  But, he turned into a monster and I was frequently fearful for my life.  Calling the cops, I felt, would make it worse.  I wanted to slap that lady for asking the question when the answer, at that moment, didn’t matter, nor was it any of her business as she was just the paper pusher, not the judge.

My marriage was filled with days I couldn’t name many reasons to live.  I didn’t feel valuable, I tried to out wait it; I knew if I could just not make him mad, the abuse would stop.  I wanted so badly for the man I married to come back, and the monster that slept next to me to stop.  Just stop.

I knew reporting my cases of domestic violence would mean, literally, becoming homeless and jobless.  It doesn’t matter if that decision was logical, I was not in any position to take more beatings after the cops came and saw no bruises, scrapes or scratches.  He knew how to hit me without leaving a single mark.

I hated that lady that day for judging me for not reporting my incidences of domestic violence.  Operating under the information I had and the lies I believed, I am not sure I would do anything differently today.  But, that was then, and this was now,  and sometimes, “when you know better you do better”.

The turn then came for me came when church friends, lifelong friends and finally family told me to leave.  This was not a short progress as it took several months.  I knew, that for me, there would be no turning back.  I had to make sure I understood the ramifications of a decision to leave.  Finally, a very special friend and my cousin made that decision for me.

Six years later I still had to deal with this person who wished harm on me.

However, six years is a long time to rebuild that which was stolen from me.  I was no longer that person, on this day.  Filing for this restraining order was the second time in six years.  The first time, I was a mere shell of a person, and had no fight.  I didn’t even want to live.

This time, my decision to go file the paperwork was based on one basic truth: I deserved better.  So, I decided to fight.

I wish I could say that even six years later going to court wasn’t painful.  It hurt on so many levels.  I think the day I left I felt more betrayed by God than anybody.  I did not then, nor do I now understand why God didn’t just create the heart change I begged for night after night.  I thought if I forgave, and (literally) turned the other cheek that we could be an amazing story of restoration.  So, when none of that happened, I was, and still sometimes am, confused by God.  As the years go by, and I process all of it–not just him, but a lifetime of abuse and neglect, I find myself chalking these things up to things I will never understand.

Ken Gire writes, author of “North Face of God”, about a  father begging for healing for his son.  Finally, locked in a church and in a standoff with God, this is the message he received: “if I don’t heal your son, if I don’t do this thing you want me to do, can I still be your God?”

It didn’t take me long to answer that question in my situation.  “Yes, You can still be my God, please still be my God!”

This book started as a battle cry and high hopes of helping those who are or who have stood in my shoes.  The purpose of this book is for those of you who love victims of domestic violence.  The purpose of this book is to speak to those of you who don’t understand why it’s not “just a phone call”.  I want those same people to understand the importance of inserting yourself into your friends life and wait for the moment.  Stay with it.  Pray much.  She won’t make sense to you.  The decision to leave will seem easy to you.  But,  you  can’t trust a beat-down wife to call on her own, if there is nothing left of her then she has no ability to think logically.  Let her keep a suitcase at your house.  Be part of an emergency exit plan.  Pray with her.  Play with her.  Love her.  But please, please do not judge her.  It’s not as simple as folks would like to make it.

Domestic violence has always existed in society.  It is also true that God takes His hands off of those who constantly ignore Him.  It is in those people that true evil exists.
Please don’t misunderstand me, no woman should stay in an abusive relationship, no one should.  But matters of the heart and the wallet sometimes are screaming louder than logic.  And, with each punch, slap or kick, she dies a little.  Then there comes a time she hopes he will kill her because living with him is too painful.

And then there is God.

I know now that I had to be ready to leave.  I know now that it was God and my friends who gave me the strength to leave. So, with a a little money, a lot of friends and a little family, I left when he was on a trip.  I passed him on the road as he was coming home.  I have never looked back.

Recently, society has paid more attention to intimate partner abuse.  Those of us who got out have something to offer.  While I will take you through my journey of not only spousal abuse but childhood neglect, abuse and finally abandonment, my mission is clear.  I want my pain to matter.  I want to help you, because you matter.  You will find that I have a devout love of music and especially during this season of my life, many times my communication with God was through music.  I will often refer to lyrics of some of my favorite songs, the same ones that filled my heart and head when I was throwing my Bible across the room.

If I were standing in front of a group of women and they were asking my advice, I would say, do not pull away from your friends and your family.  This is what he wants.  Find somebody to trust and tell them, because then it makes you accountable.  This was the thing that saved me.  I told friends and family and they took over for me, and helped me get out.  Make that phone call to people you can trust, you can do that.  Don’t be silent.  Don’t let him own you.  I heard someone say once “the devil loves dark corners”.  Step out into the light and trust me the phone at the police station will eventually ring, because you will get strong enough, or one of your friends will love you enough to do it for you.  Don’t try to gage how dangerous he is, you really can’t trust your logic. I am lucky to have gotten out when I did.

To those of you who love victims of domestic violence, you have the hardest job of all.  Don’t be afraid to make the call on your friends behalf, because she may not be able to, she just can’t see it.  Be careful.  She has to be ready.   Don’t give up on her.  Don’t be angry with her.  Don’t push her.  She is getting enough of that already.

People ask me why I waited so long to leave.  I had my reasons and you have yours.  They don’t have to make sense.  Always try to make decisions based on your safety and well-being and not financial security.  Don’t stay in an abusive relationship because you can’t figure out how to do it.  You will be amazed at humanity and how most of us hate cowards who hurt women.  Don’t stay in silence.  Tell a friend.

As far as everybody else, don’t ask if she called the cops, she will shut down and feel judged.  If what needs to happen is her removal from the situation, then gently prod and help her in that direction.  Remember, it feels like an indictment when you expect her to pull herself out all alone.
Domestic violence leaves life-long scars.  Healing comes in lots of fashions, but it does come.  As Tony Dungy said “life will never be the same, but it won’t always feel like this”.  Love yourself, value yourself and remember you are not alone.  I hope you find my journey, while often difficult to read and write about, gives you hope in dark times; I hope it gives you courage when you need it; I hope you get set free.

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Chapter 14: Heal the Wound, but Leave The Scar

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I stepped on a Greyhound bus in Jacksonville, Florida headed for Samson, Alabama.  I didn’t even know where that was.  Just weeks earlier I resigned at the children’s home, packed my stuff and started my life without the people who saved it.  Armed with a Walkman and a Billy Ray Cyrus tape (seriously??) I was headed for Camp Victory.  This was the beginning of my passion for kids, young people and anybody or anything that would make me laugh. This was the summer between my sophomore and junior year at Clearwater Christian College.  In many ways, that summer I would find out who I was absent of the children’s home or the sad orphan story.

I don’t remember where I was when I met a dynamic, funny, crazy and amazing girl from  Crestview, Florida.  We were instantly friends, we shared the same name, and the exact same sense of humor.  That summer Amy & I would spend countless hours talking about our futures and how we were gonna save the world.  A passion for Jesus is the other thing we shared and after that summer I went back to college with a bunch of stuff; a whole lot of memories and a friendship that would span years, denominations, marriages, divorce and a Facebook connect.

I reconnected with Amy about 4 years ago.  We occasionally would chat on Facebook and I saw them once when they came to Florida, but mainly, we both continued living our lives, hers full of it’s own illnesses and drama and mine, well, I don’t have to tell you about mine.

That random post solicited a bunch of interest from lots of people, but Amy’s response rocked my world, and brought into focus everything I knew God wanted from all this craziness.  At first, it was just a request to speak to some people she works with on a conference call.  I am not a domestic violence expert, but somehow I was talking to people who spend their careers taking care of this ever-growing segment of the population.  I thought it was a little weird, and I was constantly pushing from my mind what God was trying to bring to the forefront.  Ouch.

I received an email from Amy after another posting; “would you be willing to come and speak to our congregation about courage?  We are in a series about courage and Chuck (Amy’s husband) asked me to ask you.  Think about it, pray about it and please feel free to say no”.  I did none of that, I hit reply and said YES. Seriously, Watson…seriously?

The date was set for March and it was only January, so I had plenty of time to prepare, buy the plane ticket and pray about it.  Fail.

I blinked and I was on a plane to NE PA, headed straight into a snow storm.  Solid, just solid.  On the way to the airport, I texted Amy (let’s say I was at a stop light) asking if I should cancel because of the storm.  Her response?  “We are flexible, whatever you feel comfortable with; or what God is telling you”.  Ok, she could have left that last part out.  So I sent her a text “I am going to throw caution to the wind, see you in a few hours”. To which she responded “this is so why we are friends”.  Delta and I are good buddies, so I settled in my seat to, prepare?  Fail.

I got to Philadelphia and it was COLD.  Amy & Chuck picked me up from the airport and it was like no years, no divorces, no illnesses, no surgeries, no drama had happened, at all.  I slept so well that first night (thanks Robbie for your room) and if you know me, you know that is a miracle.  And the whole weekend was just like that, miracle after miracle after miracle.  The black cloud that seems to follow me?  Yeah it was over somebody else this weekend.

We watched the weather all weekend as it would dictate if and how much I would “get” to speak.  I never took my PJs off on Saturday.  I was doing some work on my laptop in front of this gorgeous window they have that overlooks mountains and snow.  And there it was.  A big giant ball of red and gorgeous yellow in the sky preparing to tuck itself in for the night.  I dropped my laptop, ran outside with no shoes, no coat and no common sense.  But I captured pictures of the sunset that night.  I drive my friends crazy with my love for sunsets.

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We had an amazing dinner, and more laughter.  I went up to bed early to…prepare?  Fail.  I slept, like a newborn baby.  I woke up Sunday in a panic?  Nope.  A calm, weird, crazy peace about speaking and could have cared less about the weather forecasts of billions of inches of snow.

“I used to wish that I could rewrite history, I used to dream that each mistake would be erased, that I could just pretend that I never knew the me back then.  I used to pray that you could take this shame away, hide all the evidence of who I have been.  But it’s the memory of the place You brought me from that keeps me on my knees, even though I am free.” Point Of Grace

The first service was at 8AM.  And if you know me, I am not sure of my own name at 8AM, any 8AM on any day, ever.  Chuck and I had gone over a few questions, and I sort of knew what I wanted to say, I was using the famous Watson preparation, you know, just figure it out as you go along.  Except I was being bathed in prayer.  Mama Bootsie, Crissy, Cheryl–any of you would be lucky to have those people in your hip pocket–were praying.  And then God just took over.

Chuck’s very first question of me: “Amy, who are you now?  Tell us a little about yourself”–he had already told embarrassing children’s home stories about me–taking all my options to make them laugh.  What came out of my mouth were words that were not mine, nor are they now.  “I am the precious daughter of our King, who is loved so well”.  Wait, who said that?  And that was just how it went.  Question after question and answers that weren’t mine.  At one point I had to remember that Chuck was the preacher, not me.  The second service came around, and the same thing happened.  It didn’t quite catch me as off-guard this time.  A precious daughter of the King, wow, just wow.  Not an orphan, not a survivor of domestic abuse, not an over-comer, not brave, not courageous, not strong–just a precious, precious daughter of my King.

“Heal the wound but keep the scar, a reminder of how merciful You are.  I am broke and torn apart, take the pieces of this heart and heal the wound but leave the scar” Point of Grace

After church I took a deep breath, ate an amazing lunch, got back in my PJs and sat in front of that window again.  To prepare?  Fail.

When the big snow flakes started to come Chuck was on the phone with church leadership trying to determine if they should cancel Sunday night service.  I was scheduled to speak for 40 minutes–so I have to admit when I saw the snow coming, I was relieved.  I was nervous.  Amy kept saying “I don’t want Amy’s story to be wasted, I want as many people as possible to hear it”.  And just like that, the snow stopped.  So, I took the next 15 minutes to…prepare?  Fail.

We got to church and I was so nervous.  My heart was beating out of my chest.  I walked into the sanctuary and there was a podium and a microphone.  This was legit.  I fought the wave of nausea.  O, my gosh, I was so nervous.  And people started to pour into the sanctuary.  We gathered in a circle and we prayed.  These people had to be sick of me by then, so the introduction was short.  Then minute #1 was there.  I looked over the audience and saw everything that you would expect to see in a segment of any population.  There were people in that room who are much more gifted than I–there were people in that room who were missionaries for longer than I have been alive–there were young women in that room.  And there was my rapidly beating heart.  Thump, Thump, Thump.  Deep Breath…

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

Certainly, it was helpful that we are studying Romans in my Bible study.  But I knew that I didn’t want anybody to think that I have a corner on pain.  I wanted to tell a story of hope and peace–hope and peace and all it’s cousins.

The next 39 minutes are a bit of blur to me.  I know we talked about Grace that is so sufficient for our pain.  We talked about our God praying intercessory prayers for us; especially when we can not speak.  We talked about restraining orders and nervous breakdowns and redemption. We talked a lot about redemption.

“I will build a alter with the rubble that you found me in and every stone will say of what You can redeem” Point of Grace

None of those words were mine.  I fell asleep last night almost audibly saying “ok, ok, ok whatever You want”.  Indeed, whatever You want indeed.

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