Thanksgiving

Many people have been sharing the things for which they are thankful. My heart is full indeed. I have many things to be thankful for, provision, protection, promotion, instruction, lightness of heart, freedom of spirit, and fullness of heart.

But, the greatest blessing God has granted me is my two children, their spouses, and my four wonderful grandchildren.

My childhood home was not religious. My parents were not happy for me when I married, nor were they very pleased when I announced coming grandchildren. My mother said she only saw the upcoming burdens of adding children to our home since we were already struggling financially. My mother-in-law decided to copy her mother-in-law and say that she had too many grandchildren. Frankly, I’ve never heard such as thing as too many grandchildren. God’s word says that children and grandchildren are a blessing both in our youth and our old age.

My father was orphaned as a child and grew up in an orphanage, so much of my ancestry has been misplaced in various public records. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the time or the resources to find any of my Grandmother Mina Frost’s history or her family’s history. I know I’ve enjoyed having her name, my only connection to her. I’ve always loved her father’s name, unusual to my generation, but probably common to his. My great-grandfather’s name was Major Frost.

My mother’s family is large, but was never close, at least not close to us. My ex-husband’s family was not loving or kind, at least not to me and my children, especially after the divorce. We were forgotten to them.

Many in my former church family were not supportive of me and my children after the divorce. I can’t worry about them. They must walk their own path. But, there were a group of brothers and sisters in the Lord who stood with me and my children. Some of those have gone to be with the Lord in Heaven. But, those who remain have stayed as true friends to me and my family. Thankfully, God has also blessed us with many brand new friends in the last year.

But, in all of this, I am most thankful that God received this little girl from a family that wanted no part of him. He called me out of generations of unbelief. He made a place for me in His family. Then, despite the fact my husband and the father of my children also rejected him, God blessed me with two wonderful children. That son and daughter married. My son and his wife have three children and my daughter and her husband have one child. Now, it is not just me standing alone serving God. Now it is me, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren, standing together in the Spirit of God and serving him. We may be in different geographic locations, but we stand in agreement in our service to God, our Father.

 

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Book Review: Cherished Mercy

Tracie Peterson wraps up her series Heart of the Frontier series with Cherished Mercy. The youngest of three sisters, Mercy has grown up on the frontier. She survived the wagon train west. She survived the Whitman Massacre. Now a young woman she has a desire for peace between the natives and the white man, while many only want the natives gone. Travel with this brave young woman who goes to live with a missionary couple to help the wife with a difficult pregnancy. While there she survives the hardships and the loss of her friends but develops a relationship with the couple’s adopted child and the brother of the missionary. Walk with her as she grows as a woman and a missionary in her own right. A wonderful historical read by Peterson.

Disclosure: Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book to give an honest review.

Book Review

As a mother and grandmother, I am always on the lookout for a good devotional for mothers. I found just that in, Praying for Girls, Asking God for the Things They Need Most, by Teri Lynne Underwood. She offers a devotional and prayers for a daughter’s identity, heart, mind, relationships, and her purpose. She then speaks a little wisdom to mom for herself and how to speak to her daughter whether she’s a little girl, middle girl, and older girl. She finishes it off with two special sections just for Mom, something many devotionals don’t consider. I’ll be gifting this book to my own daughter and her little girl.

Parents as Educators

Parents as Educators – First published in the Church of God Evangel Magazine August 2006

There has been much controversy regarding the type and quality of education our children receive. The public schools complain that the parents take no interest in their children’s education and blame low grades, truancy, and delinquency on that belief. The parents, in turn, blame the schools, citing lack of discipline, lack of dedicated teachers, and poor teaching methods as the reason for low grades, truancy, delinquency, and adult illiteracy.

Some parents have chosen either to homeschool or to enroll their children in private schools as their solutions. Most parents, due to finances, job demands or larger families, have had no choice but to keep their children in public schools. The parents demand a better education for their children. The schools cry out for more money, even though many question the allocation of current funding. This has become a vicious cycle with parents and schools on opposing sides, and the children are stuck in the middle, without voice or empowerment regarding their own education.

I am a single parent of two grown children and have dealt directly with public schools and private schools on these issues. I decided upon a different course of action with each of my children when the situation became intolerable in our public school system. This was done after much prayer and research based on their individual personalities, gifts, talents, and future plans.

I pulled my son out of public school in his junior year due to an assault and battery in the classroom between classes. I homeschooled him for the remainder of the school year, and he earned his GED at age 17. He went to work full-time and soon found a job with a small computer manufacturer, where he learned how to build computers. He later moved to a larger computer company, where he studied and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) at age 21.

The counselors at our public school had wanted to push him toward a college-prep program, but I knew my son has always been a hands-on learner with no desire to attend a four-year college. What this large, inner city school was not able to do was give students individual attention for their specific learning styles and talents or to consider their future goals and plans.

When my daughter was in middle school and planning for high school, this same school district took a very different approach. She was put into the traditional, general program, even though her grades were high, her work was always done early, and she had declared her major and college choice at ten years old. When she asked for more challenging work, they told her to “read a book.” My daughter actually lost interest in reading because of this forced, dry, continual excuse for not challenging her academically.

When I tried to withdraw her on open enrollment, the school refused to release her, based on some measurement of racial balance. Since I knew the violence there was not a temporary problem but a long-term one, I decided to homeschool her for one year and then I enrolled her in a Christian high school in a neighboring city. This school is a long-established, college prep, fine arts school that made it possible for my daughter to attend with the help of financial aid. My daughter went on to earn her education at her college of choice and is now a music teacher at a music studio.

She would never have been properly prepared for this by our local public school because they had pigeonholed her in the wrong category in middle school. Throughout this decision-making process, I researched at great lengths the pros and cons of home education and private schools versus public schools, based on the options available to me. I believe I made the best, most informed decision for my family.

For those who are still facing these decisions, there are many things to consider. Some strong proponents of public school argue that only public schools offer the best opportunities for extracurricular activities. I found that this Christian school offered the same extracurricular opportunities. Also, some homeschool groups join together to offer their children these same opportunities.

Some say public schools do offer their high academic standards, and I agree. I have found, both in my personal experience and in my research that academic standards vary with each individual school, whether it’s public, private, or homeschool. I also found that fine arts opportunities are rare in anything but a private school.

Finally, some argue that parents who choose private schools or home education are overprotecting their children by sheltering them from unsavory conditions that they likely will eventually have to face in the world. To this argument, I answer an adamant, yes! Our children are precious gifts from God. He has given us our children as a heritage and a reward (Psalm 127:3-5). They come to us as tender, innocent lambs, and it is the parents’ responsibility to protect them and shield them from as much danger and evil as possible. Parents are their children’s first and most lasting teachers (Proverbs 1:8, 9).

God has commanded us as parents to train, teach, and protect our children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In all things, we are to demonstrate our love for them. This is a mirror of God’s love for us. God created each human being in His image, and our children are the most precious fruit of the Kingdom. They are the only things of this life that we can take to Heaven with us. We must pass down a Godly heritage to them if they are to continue to carry God’s Word to the world and enjoy His blessings. We must teach them that no matter what wind of doctrine is presented, the final authority is God, and this authority is found in God’s Word.

Each family must choose the best education for their individual children based on their needs and their situation. This must be done prayerfully. Some families may find they are blessed with good, quality, public schools with many opportunities. Others may be stuck in an inner-city school with no other options. Still others may be able to utilize home-schooling or private schools.

Whatever decision is made, we must actively teach basic Biblical foundation at home. God never intended the church or school to be parents. We need to instill in our children their rightful identity and heritage. They are created by God, in His image. We and our children are not simply higher forms of animals that are bound by uncontrollable physical desires. Neither are we our own gods or creators, able to improve ourselves by our own power or override God’s laws.

Let us pray constantly for our children’s protection and for God’s wisdom and guidance for the wondrous task of training them to reflect the image of Christ in their lives. Then, when our children are properly equipped, they will be able to go out into the world and carry out the Great Commission, which was given to us by Christ just before His ascension into Heaven.

Why I Continue to Tell My Story

Ever since God healed and delivered me many years ago I have made a point to tell my story, to give my personal testimony. Despite the fact that it occurred many years ago, my story is ongoing. My life is nothing today like it would have been had I remained broken and under the control of my abuser.

But God! Although I was saved at 13, at 19 I was completely untrained in how to choose a husband, completely naïve in male/female interactions, and totally inexperienced in using my gift of discernment. Add to that abusers are known to be charming beyond belief during the dating phase and only gradually build their control, manipulation, and abuse over time. I was married for several months before I saw any inkling of his manipulation, control or abuse. Being a Christian I was not one to simply give up and run home to mommy, not that I’d have been received by mommy.

After spending 14 years doing everything humanly and Biblically possible to save my marriage, I was finally forced to divorce my husband for the safety of me and my children. I spent the next 4 years suffering from PTSD even though it was diagnosed as such back then. In interviewing counselors for my ministry and my book I’ve been assured that the symptoms I experienced were indeed PTSD. I was a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual basket case. And, then God reached down and healed and delivered me.

For those of you who still want to show me pity, take a fresh look at me. I’m no longer broken. God has recreated me and given me a new life filled with his presence, one of joy, peace, and freedom of fear.

For those of you who only want to hear the happy ending, I have some questions for you.

How can you appreciate the Victory over Japan without knowing about Pearl Harbor?

How can you appreciate the Victory in Europe without knowing about D-Day, Normandy, or the Jewish Holocaust?

How can you appreciate the Resurrection of Christ without knowing about the Crucifixion?

And how can you possibly appreciate the work God did in my life until you know something of the hell I lived?

So, I will continue to share my story, as God leads me, to those who will listen. And, after I share my history I will tell them the miracle of healing and deliverance God did in my life and the joy, peace, and freedom from fear I now experience with God.

 

The Abuse Over Time

Growing up as I did in such an isolated family life I had little experience to draw from when it came to working out a relationship with a spouse. For that reason I sort of took things one day at a time, figuring that we would learn how to live together just as every married couple learns how to live together. I was wrong in so many ways.

From the beginning he was critical, controlling, and moody, nothing like he was while we dated. Nothing I did seemed to satisfy him. He criticized my mode of dress; he criticized my work schedule; he criticized the roughness of my hands caused by my job. All these may seem small alone, but the incidences built up until they were a daily occurrence. The first physical incident occurred on the night before our first Christmas Eve, a little more than six months after we got married.

I came home late from work and he was already in bed, being an early person. Since I had to unwind for a while after working late, I used the time to begin my Christmas baking. I figured it would be ok since the kitchen was at the other end of our narrow apartment. After a little bit, I heard my husband slam open the sliding door to the bedroom and come storming through the apartment, raging at me for making noise while he tried to sleep. Before I could respond he began throwing around my cooking bowls and utensils, smashing whatever he could, and ruining all my hard work. Then he grabbed me, ripped my shirt and shoved me to the floor and upturned an empty 30-gallon trash can on top of me. Then he stormed back to bed, leaving me in shock.

I had never experienced violence before and I had no idea what had really triggered it or how to react to it. A few minutes later I heard him having a severe asthma attack and when I checked on him he was struggling to breathe. I called the emergency squad and they took him to the hospital where he was admitted into ICU. So, in less than an hour I went from arriving home exhausted from a day at work and trying to unwind with a pleasant activity, to being beaten and tossed around, to spending the night before our first Christmas Eve in the ICU with my new husband. Honestly, my mind, heart, and soul didn’t know how to shift gears in so many directions so fast in so short a time. And since he was the one in the hospital my feelings seemed to get lost in all the confusion. It was all about him and his illness.

That is the way the next fourteen years played out. He would be nice and even sweet for a time. Then he would get sick and would develop severe mood swings that would eventually erupt into violence. Sometimes the cycle would be a few weeks or months. Sometimes the cycle might last a year or two. We did have a few good times or I wouldn’t have stayed for fourteen years and had two children with him. I was told by at least one doctor that he was sick and couldn’t help himself and I had to just understand. That was the same thing people told me about my mother’s mental illness. Somehow no matter who the person was, all the responsibility fell to me. I just kept praying, asking God to work it all out. And, I did everything I knew in the natural to be a good wife and make things work out. It wasn’t until near the end of the marriage that I realized he had a predictable cycle of violence, and it wasn’t getting better it was getting worse.

In my next entry I’ll explain the cycle of violence and tell you how I finally escaped.

My Testimony

So far this month I’ve posted a lot of entries about domestic violence that came from official sources and provided verifiable statistics. While facts and figures have their own meaning, real stories of real people usually carry greater weight. The Bible tells us in Revelation 12:11 that we will be victorious “by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony”, KJV. So, the next few articles will be some of my testimony.

When I met my husband I had no idea he would be abusive. I had no experience with prior abuse. My father would never have considered hitting a woman and I remember him teaching my older brother that it was never acceptable to hit a girl or woman. But, I also had very low self-esteem due to growing up with a mother who was mentally ill.

Due to her illness, I grew up at a young age. I was cooking and cleaning and taking a stand for my faith from the age of eight. When I was ten my brother left for the military and my dad began to work second shift. So, when my mom came home from her last hospitalization I became her companion. I learned quickly to finish my homework at school because my mother required I give her all my attention.

Due to my mom’s illness, she believed her child had been kidnapped and I was a replacement. Until the day she died she introduced me as “that girl she raised.” When my brother was still home, it seemed as if he do no wrong and had every privilege possible. His friends were always allowed in our home and he was allowed free reign in his activities. Over the years my parents celebrated his military service, his marriage and the birth of their child.

For me life was different. My friends were rarely allowed to visit and my parents totally rejected the faith which has kept me strong over my life. They also rejected most of my friends and forbid me to even consider college. When I met my husband all my friends were either married, in college or in the military. In both my family and my church I was more alone than I had ever been. So, when my husband began his pursuit of me his attention filled a deep well of loneliness.

All the time we were dating he was gentle, considerate and attentive. He attended my church and sang in the choir. Everything seemed fine and after a short courtship, despite my parent’s disapproval of him like they had all my other friends, we married. Our first few months together carried the normal stresses of two people learning how to be husband and wife, or at least that’s what I thought. I would soon begin to see the beginnings of the cycle of violence.

In my next article, I will share about how that cycle played out and how he manipulated me and played upon my low self-esteem. Please feel free to respond or ask questions.