All Is Forgiven

 

Below is the email I sent the guy I had been dating, who also had raped me (date rape). A side note: There are a few things underlined, that I only noticed after having written this. I saw God through the writing of this email and I will share those insights with you, as to why certain things are underlined. His name is James and his initials are JC. His bday is Oct 10th, as in 10:10. Also, the last email I had sent to him while we were dating was sent on Sept 10, 2009. Something I didn’t realize until sending the below email to him today, September 10, 2019 – exactly 10 years apart.  As you read this email of forgiveness and Christ love, know that though it might seem hard to believe that I am responding to his past violence in a Christ-like way, that may be hard to understand. Remember I could not respond this way on my own. The words and peace to write this came from Christ alone. **Please reach out to me if you have questions regarding the email.**

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Jimmy,

Sept 19, 2019, marks 10 years since you raped me! Since I had to go back to the hospital less than 48 hours later for bleeding from the injuries your violence left me with. I said no and stop more than 30 times. But you didn’t stop until injury had been inflicted. The aftermath from the rape over the last 10 years has left me reeling as I tried to process what I endured. The nightmares and triggers crippled me, leading me further into a downward spiral of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and depression. This has caused me to push others away, not to know who trust, and has kept me from forming lasting relationships, healthy relationships. You broke me! This broke me! Thankfully, this also led me on a journey of healing that God has redeemed and continues to restore.

Though I carried the pain, bitterness, and anger towards you and God with me over the years. You need to know that I no longer harbor anger, bitterness, or resentment towards you. In fact, I forgave you a long time ago, actually on Nov 2, 2009. Now, as the 10-year anniversary of when my life changed approaches, as well as my birthday (Sept 26) the following week. I want to tell you that I Forgive You, Jimmy! You’re Forgiven! I’ve even prayed for you over the years! I used to think you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I truly believe now that you were just a lost sheep, whom satan used for his evil scheme – to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). For the longest time, it worked! My world had been turned upside down. I felt the pain deep within the depths of my soul, my life was destroyed! My joy had been stolen. Any dreams I had for the future seemed to die that day, all hope seemed lost. Except, God had other plans. Genesis 50:20, “What satan intended to harm me, God intended for my good. The saving of many lives.”  

See, there are things I couldn’t understand a decade ago, that I do now! I knew that as followers of Christ, that God had never promised us a life without trials or trauma. I just never thought life could be this hard, this sad, filled with so much pain, with so much evilness. A life where there is more injustice than there is justice.  I just wasn’t prepared for the crosses I’d have to carry. But, God tries to prepare us, He had told us through scripture, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Suffering is not a curse or punishment, but a gift and a blessing because through it God will redeem it for His greater glory, to further His kingdom. I understand that now!

Though this is not the life, the story I would have chosen for myself. Knowing what I know now. If I had been given a choice. I would choose to walk this valley of hell again because I’ve witnessed how much good has come out of it. God has used my testimony, this part of my story to help so many. Though these years have been difficult, with each passing day, I’m becoming the woman God created me to be. As I look back on this last decade, it’s hard to believe that there was actually a time when I had thought these years were just a loss. I had even been told by Christians that God couldn’t use me because this had happened to me. But, with God, everything has a purpose and I’ve gained more this last decade than I had ever lost. Through it all, I’ve grown, come out of it stronger, thriving, and have found acceptance and unconditional love with my Heavenly Father that I had never experienced before.

Thank you, Jimmy, for being part of my story. You might have brought me to my knees, but every tear, nightmare, trigger, and painful memory only drew me closer to Christ! Out of rape came a relationship with Jesus Christ that was worth it all! I pray that you experience the same acceptance, forgiveness, and unconditional love with our Heavenly Father that I have. He desires to have that with you, His beloved son.

I forgive you. He forgives you. I only hope that you can forgive yourself.

All is forgiven, Jimmy!

 

 

 

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Preparing Your Heart For God’s Best

This is the much anticipated Part two of the Valentine’s post. Click on the link to read Part one, Galentine’s Day Heart to Heart. For all the Gals and Guys out there, I hope these posts will be encouraging and inspiring to all of you currently in the season of singleness or whom Valentine’s Day may have been hard for. I know that Holiday’s like that can be a difficult reminder of one’s single status and can cause one to have feelings of loneliness. I understand, especially with 2018 being a year of heartache for me. I spent this Valentine’s Day single, but I was not lonely! In fact I was filled with joy! Which I will share with you in another upcoming post…so stay tuned for that!

For now, I want to introduce you to these three men of God who have encouraged me with their faith and love for their wives, families, and especially their daughters. Between the three of them, they are raising more than half a dozen Girls of Grace/Women of Faith. Which is amazing! Check out below the interview, bios, and their pictures with their beautiful Proverbs 31 wives.

 


Ronnie Olstad 
is Vice President for 98 Food Co., Husband to Jessica, and Father to three (Swayzie, Lewiston, and baby on the way). Ronnie, along with his family founded the Love for Lewiston Foundation in their son’s honour, to raise awareness in Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Their family was previously featured in another post, “Life After Loss“. To learn more about the incredible work the Foundation is doing,  please click on their Foundation’s link here:  loveforlewiston.ca .

Nathan Kinzinger is a well-respected entrepreneur and member of the Chicago business community. Nathan also serves his community through his involvement in leading fundraising initiatives for organizations as well as serving on the board of Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS).  Nathan is the happy husband to Gina and together they’re raising four powerful kids and two crazy dogs!  You can connect with Nathan via Instagram or his Website.

 

Seborn Yancy is Husband to Meghan JoyFather to six, an Educator, and  RE/MAX Realtor in Minnesota. He loves hard, plays hard, and works hard. His family and faith being his top priority. He is involved in numerous endeavors with his wife, including their YouTube channel, Living the Yancy Life. The Yancy family has been featured in two previous posts, “Hearts Full At CHRISTmas” and “How To Balance It All“. You can connect with Seborn via Facebook and Instagram.

 

What are character qualities men and women of faith should be looking for in a future mate?

Ronnie: Very, Very critical to have the same faith and beliefs. Life is going to throw devastation your way, and if you don’t have a strong foundation and the same perspective on how to handle challenges, it just makes it that much harder. They need to have a sense of loyalty and have loyalty as a part of their core values. You have to be on the same team. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you have to be loyal and have each others back. Argue and debate in private, but always be in each others corners. Look for a girl who values loyalty.

Before you marry someone, ensure they want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. Marriage and relationships is about sacrifice. If everyone involved in the relationship is being selfless, the love and giving comes back around. The wife has a responsibility to give her all to the husband and also to her kids. If she’s not okay with this, stay away. However, the man is just as responsible to reciprocate. If both of you understand this, this is how you will make it to your 50thwedding anniversary with a relationship that is so rich, nothing can break it apart. You will change the world if it isn’t just about you. Find a girl that doesn’t just make it about her.

Sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laughing makes good times better and hard times easier. Also what’s the point of marrying someone that wont be around that long? Find a girl that eats right, exercises, works on her mental health, and spiritual health. Very important they don’t drink excessively, smoke, are obese, etc… otherwise you will not enjoy all the things life has to offer together. Pick a girl that inspires you. Personally I like farm girls, with blonde hair, and a nice tan ; )

Nathan: God made us in His image – and so in dating and marriage this can get tricky. A man can look like God to a woman and vice versa. But what my wife and I found to be fundamental to our ability to love each other – is to expect only God to be God. Over our 12 years of dating and married life, Queen G (that’s what I call her) has trained herself to go to God for her love, for her joy and for her peace. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t soak up my love of her, my friendship, and my affection for it. It just means she does not require me to walk perfectly in her presence for her to have a good day.

Seborn: Purpose before Type.. After only dating Meghan for 4 months, I knew she was the one because she fit my purpose in life. I wanted to be a good father, husband, friend, brother, man of God, etc. Meghan was a woman of God, joyful, encouraging, caring, patient, kind, etc.  She was a better person than I was and she stretched me and helped me become a better person. While a person’s type may be important when looking for a significant other, the most important aspect to finding the person you will do forever with, is finding someone that will best fit your purpose in life.

What are some misconceptions that women believe about men? What advice would you give your daughters about relationships? 

Ronnie:   Obviously all the points above. Ensure you find someone that puts God first and you second, kids third, and everything else fourth…Find someone you can have fun with, without doing anything. Ensure he understands you are not responsible for his happiness and vice versa. Know his opinion on kids and how you will grow your family together. If you are unable to have kids, are you both willing and open to adopt? Ensure he is okay with saving 10% and tithing 10%. The man’s responsibility is to manage the families finances. He needs to be okay with this. Doesn’t need to be an expert, but has to be willing to learn. Choose a man with a heart you love.

Nathan: For me, the freedom to love her and be an imperfect husband – has nourished me as a man and given me the freedom and confidence to love her well. That’s a big reason why she’s my Queen!”

Seborn: I’ve mostly heard that men don’t express their feelings. While there are guys that struggle with this area, it’s not the norm and shouldn’t be seen as such. I would stress to my daughters that communication is so important in a relationship. Having someone that is emotionally available to you is so important to sustaining a healthy and thriving relationship. Men have emotions and men can communicate their feelings as good as any woman, if they are willing.

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Galentine’s Day Heart to Heart

 

For Valentine’s Day, I’m posting a two-part post made up of female perspectives on finding love and what to look for in a future husband. While part two will consist of a few men  giving their perspective of what men of character and faith are looking for in a potential mate, as well as debunking some myths women believe about men and advice they’d give their own daughters. The men’s post will post on Monday, Feb 18, so stay tuned.

Now let me introduce you to these three amazing women who have inspired me. They are women of faith whom are not only beautiful on the outside but even more beautiful on the inside.

Jessica Janzen Olstad  is the founder of the Love for Lewiston Olstad Foundation, based out of Calgary, AB. The Foundation was established after Jessica suffered the loss of her infant son, Lewiston to Spinal Muscle Atrophy  – Type 1 (SMA). Jessica, with her husband, Ronnie, and their daughter, Swayzie have created their Foundation to carry on Lewiston’s legacy by raising awareness and working towards finding  a cure to fight SMA. Jessica was previously featured in another post, “Life After Loss“. To learn more about the incredible work the Foundation is doing,  please click on their Foundation’s link here:  loveforlewiston.ca .

Olivia Louise Stear is a wife, mother, and Catholic missionary. Currently living in Southern California with her husband and four children.  Her and her family’s mission is to share life with the ones they love and invite them on a journey toward heaven. Life is full of twists and turns. If you want to see more of what life looks like making disciples in a Catholic Parish with a missionary mom, you can connect with her at oliviastear.com.

Meghan Joy Yancy lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota with her husband and their 6 kids. Meghan Joy homeschools their children while running a few businesses from home and keeping up with her Blog. They love family dinners, lazy Sundays after church, and random dance parties. She is passionate  about healthy living, essential oils, family, homeschooling, and her faith. She has been featured in two previous posts, “Hearts Full At CHRISTmas” and “How To Balance It All“. You can connect with Meghan Joy via her social media accounts either through her Website, Instagram, and Blog.

 

How did you know your husband was the right one?

Jessica: My heart just knew. There was a nudge from God saying this is your guy. I just knew I couldn’t give up on him. I had never met anyone like him – who had as big a heart as he did, loved Jesus like he did, and truly cared for me. There was a peace that I had with him that I had never had with any other relationship.

Olivia Louise:  In one of my earliest conversations with my husband, God said to my heart, this is your husband.  It was so strange but over the course of the next 6 months the biggest indicator that this was true was the initiative my husband took to court me.

Meghan Joy: I didn’t. I mean, at the time I thought I did. I was 21 years old and it just felt right with him. (But… feelings.) And then, the first 3 years of our marriage were HARD and I honestly just wanted to give up. But he didn’t. And God is greater. And here we are, 10 years in with 6 kids and now I know he is the right one. And I also know that we wake up every day and chose eachother. Choose to love one another and put eachother first.

What are some character qualities your husband has that other women should look for in the right guy, a potential mate?

Jessica: He is driven, kind, and focuses on growth and one of his key values is family. Look to see where they spend their time, their money – what is important to them. It truly tells a lot about a person.

Olivia Louise: He was marriage minded and didn’t waste time.  He was from a loving family and prayed daily.

Meghan Joy: He is a provider at heart. He yearns to work hard, constantly better himself and provide for his family. He spends time with God and leaves his Bible all over the house because he wants the kids to see as an example of time spent with God. He is willing to be goofy with me. He loves making me laugh. He is a really hard worker. Isn’t afraid to get a little sweaty and dirty. He is super honest with me and that may have been harder to swallow at first but through the years, I have come to really appreciate his honesty. I know that if I come to him, I will get the real deal.

During the waiting period of singleness for women, what’s the most important thing you’d like women to remember or focus on?

Jessica: I was single for over 5 and half years with only a handful of dates. It was down right depressing at times and totally took a hit on my confidence. I questioned what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong with me God was just preparing me to be the best I could for the most important relationship. Use that time wisely and trust that the right partner will come along. Enjoy your singleness and freedom – marriage is a game changer in the best way possible but appreciate what you have now. Focus on your personal growth, be open to dates and that meeting your spouse might not look the way you dreamt it and also be open to heart ache – it is how you find the one. My 5 year single streak was worth every moment. I could not ask for a better partner.

Olivia Louise: In the waiting I focused on inviting Jesus into my longing heart.  Any desire I had for marriage was always directed at Jesus and he fulfilled my heart.  I surrounded myself with friends, work and service so I kept a very full schedule.  I focused on God’s calling for me instead of who I was going to date.  I actually stopped dating and it gave me time to rest and heal from the hook up culture.  After six years of prayer and rest I met my husband.

Meghan Joy: Surrender. I think so often we try to control our situations into what we want it to look like and God might have a completely different path for us. And also in that surrender, putting yourself out there for new possibilities and adventures. Being open to that different path, and what it may look like. When I first met my husband, I wasn’t very interested in him. After a few “dates,” I was like, “nah…. I’m good.” But he continued to pursue me and in round 2, I fell in love and am now happily married to quite the incredible man. I could have checked him off and missed out on this beautiful journey with him. You never know what God has in store.

 

 

 

 

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But I Love Him

Michelle Jewsbury is an author, actress, speaker, and humanitarian.  She is passionate about using her natural talents to make the world a better place by combating domestic violence worldwide. May 2014, she took her first humanitarian trip to Guatemala and has been to many countries since, helping underprivileged youth and women.  In 2015, she embarked in a career as Vice President for Young Vision Africa (YVA), a non-profit organization doing humanitarian work in Sierra Leone.  She stayed with YVA until August 2016 when she decided to leave the organization to focus her efforts on ending domestic violence.

July 2017, Michelle founded Unsilenced Voices, a nonprofit focused on inspiring change in communities around the world by encouraging victims to break free and survivors to speak up about domestic violence and sexual assault.  The organization is developing shelters for women and children internationally and has created sensitization programs to educate communities around the globe.

In the entertainment industry, she has worked in casting, as an agent, producer, and actress in television, film, and on the stage.  She is known for her acclaimed one-person play But I Love Him, loosely based on her past experience in an abusive relationship.  Her memoir was recently published of the same title. You can check out her website for updates on her book launch party and purchase details.

She has also had numerous appearances on talk shows and stages throughout the world. Michelle’s hope is that through her bravery and boldness she will inspire others to take charge and participate in ending domestic violence and sexual assault. Through her book, she hopes to tell the truth of what happened to her and show others it’s ok for them to tell their truth.  Readers will recognize themselves throughout the pages of her book, which is why it’s essential and needs to be out there.

To learn more about the work her organization is doing or to connect with Michelle you can visit the following social media accounts: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

1) Tell me about your story and what brought you to start your organization, Unsilenced Voices?

From a young age I had dreams of myself surrounded by African children though I never knew the meaning of the dreams. Years later in 2012 was when I found myself in an abusive relationship, it was during that time that I expressed wanting to help people. Around that time was when I began my humanitarian trips to Guatemala and Kenya, Africa. Upon leaving my abusive relationship I had become vice president of a non-profit organization called Young Vision Africa (YVA), their mission work was based in Sierra Leone, where I spoke with groups of women and shared my story for the first time of what I had gone through and about the domestic and sexual violence that takes place within their community.

After returning from my trip, I started working for another organization while volunteering at a women’s shelter on skid row. It was during a trip to San Francisco to interview for the organization Art and Abolition, that I felt God’s presence and received a sign from Him by ways of a complete stranger who I shared my story with and he told me to start my own organization. That was not the first time I’d heard that, but this time I was listening. With previously establishing roots in Sierra Leone, I was drawn back there. God also opened the door for me to also spend time in Ghana as I had met a Ghanaian man in LA by the name of Dr. Bennett whose family lives in Ghana. He told me I could stay at his family home which opened the door for me to do work there as well.

2) What difference are you making in Ghana and Sierra Leone?

Within the community we hold open forum sensitization meetings, where we invite both male and female community members to attend. During the meetings we teach them what is legally and morally wrong with domestic and sexual violence. What’s surprised me with these communities was the taboo aspect where women are in a position to have to appease their husbands and be submissive to them in all ways. These women are often raped, and the husbands strongly encouraged to marry numerous times if their first wife does not sexually satisfy them. These women often lack a voice. So, encouraging them that they don’t have to take this treatment and stay in this marriage, gives these women their voice back.  By sharing my own story of staying with an abuser who beat and raped me, it helped them to look at spousal rape as the violent act it is, no longer the norm that they have grown up being exposed to and witnessing. In fact, they didn’t even realize what they were doing was wrong, because it’s all they’ve ever know.

In these cultures, often, times rape is used to weaken the women, it’s a taboo subject that is rarely if ever broached. So, these meetings are not only eye opening but also a learning lesson for them. We usually have anywhere from between 35-125 community members attending these educational meetings. In Sierra Leone we’ve also partnered with a vocational training center where to date, we’ve helped four young girls who worked as sex workers also known as prostitution. These four girls are no longer on the street and are now going through the vocational training center to learn a skill, like creating the beautiful skirts we buy from them and sell on our website.  The reason most women become sex workers is because they are starving. Even children as young as six and seven years old are selling themselves for as little as fifty cents for a bag of rice.

3) How at such a young age do these children even know what they are selling themselves for?

In America a lot of us get to grow up as children. Yet if you grew up in the foster care system or the slums of America or had a harder life, you understand at a very young age how you have to take care of yourself. So, in the US you see children joining gangs because there is a need within their home within their selves and they know that the gang is going to support them. Overseas when parents are starving, a family member is dying from AIDS, grandparents can’t see or walk these children sell themselves on the street to help their family.

4) Are there future plans to expand the products these girls can create and make something like jewelry?
Yes, of course. Every non-profit organization has a shop section.  Some organizations may outsource the products they sell in their shops. Unsilenced Voices not only does the work but is now also in the fashion industry, though we really want to be known as an industry that helps people.


5) A hot topic within society has been submission within marriage. There seems to be a lot of opinions and misunderstandings as to what the biblical definition is and different cultural interpretations. With being a woman of faith can you explain the biblical truth behind submitting to your husband and why it’s important?          

In the Bible it says in Ephesians 5:22-24, 
“That women must submit to their husbands and that husbands need to love their wives as Jesus loved the church”.  Unfortunately, that last verse is usually negated and ignored, which has hurt the church and is the problem. That’s where people get confused. The verse asking men to love their wives like Christ loves the church is about love and respect. The church was the most important thing to Jesus and that’s how women are to be to their husbands – the most important thing. The husband is to protect his wife and not hurt her. Men and women are to co-exist and help each other, being the other’s helpmate. A relationship of mutual respect and submission. Husbands are to submit to their wives as well. Men will still be leaders of the household. The Biblical meaning of submission does not take anything away from a man still being able to be a man.

Though submission is not entirely the problem, people these days are stuck in the old ways and old mindset of how things should still be the way, they were decades ago. Yet we’re supposed to be advanced as a nation, but places like Sierra Leone are 100-150 years still behind the United States.  The culture and mindset are as backwards as in the 1900’s. We really need to take a stand. To me, what’s upsetting is when women lie about what happened to them. It takes away from the horrible epidemic that real survivors and victims have been through, lessening the severity of the violence they endured.
 
6) What strides are you making within the domestic violence movement.
Before the Me Too movement and politics got involved, I went through the process of pressing charges against my abuser. What Me Too has done for us and this movement is bringing more awareness to this. What we are doing as an organization is riding that wave, speaking up, and encouraging other women to speak up. We are going to be having a Speak Up campaign, asking women survivors nationwide to tell their story and send it into us for the campaign. Their stories will bring more awareness to this mainstream topic that Me Too has shined a light on and made more prevalent.

7) Was reporting your abuser an easy or hard decision?

 Very difficult! Even after I left that relationship, we were still in communication and during that time he was still emotionally and financially abusing me. That is when I started to document what had happened to me. After documenting everything, that is when I realized how bad my situation was. I used to sit in the back of church, crying because I didn’t want him to do this again to someone else. I wanted to do something, but I also didn’t want to hurt him. I had a very difficult time processing what it was I was supposed to do. I wanted to press charges, but I heard God tell me no, so I listened. At the end of 2015 I received a Facebook message from his current girlfriend whose head he had put through a glass wall, she was pressing criminal charges. At that point I felt more secure moving forward with the process of pressing charges. Though my statute of limitations ran out criminally, I was able to sue him civilly. That statute is something that we need to change because most women are not able to speak up or even process what has happened until years later after that short two-year statute of limitations run outs.

8) Society often looks at the victim reporting a crime, as a crime in and of itself. Often blaming and shaming the victim. Would you explain the importance of justice from an accoutability stand point, but also criminally why justice is so important?

This is a hard question. With my abuser it’s hard for me knowing that my testimony could have huge implications on the trajectory of his life and his livelihood. I do believe you need to forgive. Forgiveness is key to healing for yourself. The thing that I struggle with and what I talk with my therapist about is, at what point does your abuser need to have justice served? Your abuser should be accountable for what he did to you. It is not right what happened, it is wrong, it is evil, it is unhealthy, and potentially deadly. I believe moving forward and pressing charges brings accountability on your abuser. So, the most important thing is to make sure your abuser takes responsibility for his actions. My abuser went through therapy and said he was changing, and I believed him. We went almost a year without him assaulting me physically though he would still abuse me in other ways. When he did assault me again, at that point I knew it wasn’t ever going to change. Moving forward with the process is difficult. I recently sat across from him at the deposition. I was torn as I felt sympathy for him, but I also never want anyone to experience what I’ve gone through. If he gets sentenced and spends time in prison. I know what happens to men who beat on women. I know what happens to them and I don’t want that to happen to him, but it’s also not up to me. I’m just moving forward in the legal process and making sure he takes responsibility for his actions and that there is some type of consequence and repercussion. 

9) So, seeking justice doesn’t mean there isn’t forgiveness and forgiveness doesn’t mean that there can’t be justice, is that correct?
 Yes, that’s correct.

10) Would you further detail why  it’s not easy to leave your abuser? 

You really liked the person you’re with. He puts your head through a wall, spits on you, rapes you, then he looks at you, and tells you how sorry he is while he cries. There is a cycle, a pattern that begins to happen. It start’s from walking on egg shells to him blowing up either emotionally, mentally, physically, or sexually. After that is the apology stage, which is the reason why most victims stay in the relationship. He will vow he loves you and that he’s sorry and that he will never do it again. Because of your feelings toward him and the connection you share with him, you’ll believe him. You truly believe that he will become the man you always dreamed he could be or who he tells you he is. You believe his apologies and you believe that he won’t hurt you again. So, you believe his lies. Though in most cases he will do it again.

**Click on the links for resources on red flags and the pattern of abuse chart  that Michelle references when speaking. 

 

11) Take us through the process of pressing charges. 

At the end of 2015, I sought the help of an attorney. I thought the process would be quick but am still going through it three years later. This is not a short process, it’s very emotional and painful. I’ve had to retell my story many times during police interviews and court interrogations. I’ve had to remember dates, times, and even what I was wearing. You need to make sure you have everything documented and that you remember things correctly. It is a long process and a lot of times victims are not ready or even capable to go through the process. 

12) Where are you at in the process for your case?

We’re at the end. The whole process has taken about three years. Total in is eight years, because of four years in the relationship, about a year of doing nothing, and three years for the legal process. 

13)  Do you think there are any safety measures that could prevent domestic violence from ever happening? 

So, you could drive the speed limit, not text while driving, and pay attention while you drive. But that does not 100% guarantee you will not get into an accident. So, my perspective is you need to take care of yourself, take precautions, and look for red flags. If domestic violence is happening in your home, you need to find a safe way to get out. I don’t agree that staying in an abusive relationship is good for you or your children. However, I do understand how difficult it is to leave and why victims don’t. There are red flags to look for before you commit to a husband or an relationship. There are ways to prevent being assaulted, you can carry pepper spray, not walk to your car late at night by yourself, and if you meet a man who is too controlling, don’t stay with him.

 
14) Explain what is the aftermath of trauma.

I still have nightmares. After my abuser and I stopped communication I used to think that there would be someone waiting to shoot me as I walked out of the elevator in my building. My abuser has a lot of power and a lot of money. So, I definitely thought it was a possibility. Now I understand that I’m still going to have nightmares and be scared when I walk the streets alone. Even be nervous when there is a male passenger in my car because my abuser would scream profanities at me and be very critical of what I was doing wrong when driving. Eventually I wouldn’t drive with him in the car, he’d drive instead. I still get apprehensive regarding the situation but there is hope and healing. The nightmares aren’t as frequent. I’m able to move forward and have healthier relationships. Also, I’ve found that the more you speak the better it makes you feel, so be open and don’t hide things. It’s not your fault. It’s good to speak up because 1 in 4 women in the United States will experience this. 

15) What advice would you give to  someone whose abuser is in a position of power?
 Get out as soon as you can. Don’t stay just because he has power.  I had read a book that talked about elite women staying in relationships, because they don’t want people to think they don’t have it all together.  Regardless get out, you need to get out. You need to stand up for your rights and it can be difficult because you may love your husband who is a huge political figure or celebrity or has tons of power. If you stay they will think you’re condoning that kind of relationship even though you’re not and it will just continue. If you want to press charges against your abuser, know what you’re up against. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row. If you don’t have enough evidence do yourself a favor and just get out.

16) Has your story been well received within the church community.
Mine has but I know people whose stories have not been. A lot of people misuse the bible to justify their actions. But it’s very misconstrued. I’m very close to God, He is my best friend. I did not find him the conventional way. I abused drugs for many years and found him as I was lying on my back strung out from cocaine and talking to a ceiling fan. After that I started going to church and was baptized in 2011.
17) What has helped you the most in the healing process?
 I’m a huge advocate for writing therapy. If I hadn’t written my play I wouldn’t be able to openly discuss things that happened to me as much. I’m still a strong woman but rehearsing for that play brought a lot of healing. Write everything you’ve been through down on paper, just details and dates without an emotional attachment. Which can make it harder to go through when recounting the trauma. Also, being able to talk to a trusted therapist or counselor about what happened in a confidential and non-judgement environment. This is very important because often times girls will try to talk to their friends and those friends won’t understand or they’ll judge you.

18) Society’s perspective regarding therapy or 
counseling is that it’s for someone with issues or whose mentally sick. Do you agree?

Who doesn’t have issues. I think people who go to therapy do much better than those who don’t go to therapy. LA is pretty open and accepting where the south and other parts may be less open to talking about one’s feelings. I say screw it and talk about it anyways. If you’re worried about being judged, know that the person you’re speaking to is not the person who is going to judge you, God above is going to judge you. If you’re worried about getting judged for going to therapy, try to look at it from a different point of view. I’m going to therapy to deal with this, so I can have healthy relationships and move on with my life. Those people that come back and say you’re an idiot, or that you have issues do not need to be in your life. If those close to you think you’re crazy for going to therapy, just don’t talk to them about it. People can be very closed minded, especially in our country right now.

 19) Is it possible to thrive after trauma?                                                                  Oh yeah, 100%. So, I’ve decided that through my story, I’m going to help other people and just thrive in general.  I’ve written a book, I’ve started a successful non-profit, I have two jobs, I speak to other women who have experienced similar violence, and I coach women. I also have traveled all over the world. I’ve learned new things like scuba diving, which is now my favorite thing to do. I live in a lovely house with two great roommates. I laugh, I go out with my friends, and have cocktails. Yes, you can still thrive and there is hope.  This does not define you. Your experiences do not define you.

 

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A New Year…

It’s a new year!

From start to finish of 2018 it was a bittersweet year of love, loss, new life, heartache,  joy, change, tears, growth, fear, traveling, & faith. For some 2018 marked their last year on earth, while for others their first. In the midst of chaos and tragedy there was healing, we grew closer as a family, and we came out stronger because of it. The year might have begun with a funeral but it ended with a lovely wedding. At this time last year, we had no idea of what all 2018 would bring. We were all surprised at the course of events, both good and bad. Yet as one year comes to a end, another begins.

I’m going into 2019, hopeful and confident! Knowing that whatever this year entails, God will bring us through it, just like he did in 2018.

My word for 2019 is: LIMITLESS

Think about it…God with His power and resources is limitless. I’m embracing this year and being mindful that my ability to accomplish so much comes from a Heavenly Father who can make the impossible possible, with Him by my side – guiding me there are no limits!

We all have a purpose, are capable of making a difference, and can defy odds. Just remember to “Live Each Day With Purpose”…”Making a difference one day, one life at a time.”

Now what’s your word for 2019??…

 

 

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The Blue Code of Silence Creates Systematic Injustice

(Here is the LINK to the recent blog post published by Rehumanize Intl.)

 

If you have read my Bio, you know I’m a pioneer for the rights of women, children and even men when it comes to violence and injustice within our world and justice system, though not always so just!

What I often don’t speak on a lot or go into depth regarding is the fact that six years ago I had to flee in the middle of the night after I had been assaulted by my ex, a cop on June 5, 2013 and was thus subsequently targeted, retaliated against, threatened, and deemed an enemy of the police by the police all because I turned him in for domestic violence and abusing his power as a law enforcement agent.

The last six years of living in hiding have been difficult, isolating, terrifying – with lots of sleepless nights. My rights have been violated over and over again, and extra safety measures have needed to be taken to not only keep myself safe, but also my loved ones. It’s not the way to live, in fact I haven’t really been able to live and the things most people take for granted, I’ve not been able to experience because of living in hiding for my safety from a corrupt dangerous cop who continues to be protected by our government.

Can you even imagine what it’s like to go up against one of the biggest giants in our world, our government and know they see you as an enemy because you spoke up when one of their own assaulted you? Being told I was now an enemy of the police is a threat I expereinced and a reality I face every day.

In fact several weeks ago, a member of the DOJ sent a message to me through   a local official, that came after I tried to take steps to come out of hiding for my safety and to seek justice, which I have tirelessly been seeking for the last five years,but in vain. The DOJ official stated that if I try to seek justice or come out of hiding, my ex is going to come after me and come out swinging and what’s worse is my ex has the support of the DOJ. Once again my rights are violated! So my choices are either to remain silent and continue to live in hiding. Or fight to regain my rights, freedoms, my life back, and he will do me harm and possibly others. Yet those aren’t choices at all!

Do you know what it’s like to look fear dead in the eye?  Your life is on the line, but you keep moving forward, keep fighting for your rights, you get knocked down and find the strength to still be standing, but you do it because you don’t have any other choice.  I’m not going to lie, of all the things I’ve endured – this is probably the scariest! But this is my reality day in and day out. I am standing on the battlefield alone, facing the biggest giant of the free world -our entire governmental system and its agencies and officials.

If my ex comes after me, I can’t call the police because he is the police and “The Blue Code of Silence” will go into effect! I have no one to turn to, to keep me safe, all I have is my story, my voice, and my truth! Thats is my only weapon of self defense that I have and I’m using it.

Why am I speaking out? In hopes that one day I can fully break free from these chains that keep me held captive, so I don’t have to always look over my shoulder, so I can finally get a good nights rest without being haunted of nightmares that he’s found me, to spread awareness on this issue that often is ignored, to educate others who have become desensitized to this injustice, to let other victims & survivors know they are not alone, and to prove to myself that regardless of what we go through our hardships are not in vain and can make a difference!

Which is what I’m trying to do to facilitate worldly and judicial change by choosing to “Live Each Day With Purpose” and “Making a difference one day, one life at a time”. At the end of the day, my life is on the line and I am going to fight like hell to overcome this. To not just survive it, but overcome by thriving in the most direst  of circumstances. I want to be a example, a role model to so many out there who may be considering giving up or staying silent,  inspiring them to find the courage to come forward and tell their stories. But I can’t encourage or tell anyone to do that, unless I break my silence first!

To find out more about my interview with Rehumanize Intl. Please click on the bold link in parentheses up above. This aspect of my story is real, it’s raw, and it’s my current reality. I hope it promotes awareness regarding this police perpetrated injustice for much needed, life saving change!

 

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The Power Of Trust

 

www.wbtv.com
WBTV is the CBS TV station in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Charlotte news, Charlotte weather, sports, traffic, North Carolina and South Carolina news, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR

(Click on the “Motivational MVP: The Power of Trust”, link above. )

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Coach LaMonte on the Morning Break Show on WBTV, for the Motivational MVP segment. We focused on “The Power of Trust” and how trust is the foundation for every relationship!

I shared my personal stories of struggling with trusting others after my trust had been violated and betrayed, in some of the most unthinkable ways. I was able to shed light on how to overcome trust issues, while also expressing it’s a learning process that I’ve even had to work through recently with relationships. This interview was raw and real. I’m sharing from personal experiences and lessons learned in hopes that this message of “The Power of Trust” will help you to work towards having successful relationships going forward.

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Making Long Distance Relationships Work

Long Distance Dating is not ideal, but can be worth it for the right person. For the most part long distance dating is full of so many unknowns and will take extra work by both partner’s. More so than a relationship where the two people live in the same place and get to have regular face to face contact. It can be an emotional roller coaster at times given the unknowns. Especially when you are mostly communicating via messages – things can get miscommunicated and become misunderstood pretty quickly.

So here are some tips to help navigate Long Distance Dating…

1. ) Establish Your Relationship and What You Want Out Of It:                 First be on the same page and define the kind of relationship you want to work towards, and how you’re going to achieve that. As it will take work to make it work!  Be aware of each others schedules, so that time (which is not on your side) is respected and that you make the most of whatever time you have during the day, week, or months to build your relationship. Making time for each other is pivotal. Even if it means dates via Skype. Just have fun!

2.) Communication Is Key: Be patient with one another. There can easily be frustrations, so really learn what each others communication styles are and respect each others different styles. Also find a style that works for both of you where each one is being heard and understood and any disagreements are resolved quickly. Because when you do get time to communicate whether it’s Skype, in person, texts, emails, letters/cards, etc,. You want to make the most of that time and not waste that time having to resolve issues. Agree to have open communication and once an issue or topic is addressed – squash it! Also communicate about your relationship with each other, not with outsiders  – unless there are red flags.

3.) Trust Is Pivotal, Especially With Long Distance Relationships:  When you’re not regularly with the person you’re dating you will probably meet  and cross paths with members of the opposite sex pretty frequently and so will they. It would be very easy to immediately assume, if you don’t hear from them that they are with another member of the opposite sex. Try not to get into your head, and assume the worse as that can put a strain on your developing relationship. Try to let things just naturally progress. Not adding too much stress, especially when life is stressful as is, because being in a long distance relationship means you will be lacking their physical presence and support – which may make things harder. So don’t add any additional stress to the relationship. Also don’t give each other reasons to doubt or question your motives. Try to avoid any behavior or responses (including lack there of) that could create trust issues. Continually find ways to let the other know that you are thinking of them and how much they mean to you. Be complimentary. You’re dating and getting to know each other, so the guy should still be pursuing you. Also guys if you’re not pursuing, know other guys will whether your dating partner wants other guys to or not. Please remember to communicate, I can’t stress that enough! By communicating with each other especially how you feel about different issues that may arise, will save you a lot of heartache in the end!

4.) Your Words and Actions Should Build the Relationship: Despite the distance, be that fun and calming person to each other. Almost like a best friend. Encouraging more so than discouraging. I think the 5 Love Languages Test is good to take as you get to know each other as it helps you to know how to relate to the other because each person’s relational and communication styles are going to be vastly different. This is all part of the dating process. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Sometimes talking it out can help but again, be cognizant if talking it out too much does more harm than good. Also be careful of how things are phrased and the choice of words used, as things can be perceived incorrectly. Clarity is good. Just be patient with each other as you will both make mistakes in the relationship, so exercise forgiveness! At the end of the day be each other’s biggest supporter, even from afar.

5.) Take Your Dating Partner’s Needs Into Consideration:                       We all have things we go through in life, some more than others and that can impact relationships. It doesn’t mean you  aren’t capable of healthy and meaingful relationships, of course you are! But be mindful of any triggers that could make your dating partner uncomfortable or possibly upset them. As you build trust, you each should feel safe enough to be vulnerable and voice concerns with out having to walk on eggshells or worried how the other may respond.  If you are aware that a certain approach you may have might be harmful to the relationship or could be taken the wrong way or misunderstood by your dating partner, adjust your approach. Relationships are about compromise. Previous relationships could have left  one or both of you a bit jaded. So take things slow. You will make mistakes, learn form them – but don’t let them destroy your relationship. In fact grow from them together. Give each other lots of grace. Listen more than you talk, Laugh more than you cry – in fact laugh so hard you cry,  be passionate with each other, and show a lot of compassion while making the most of the limited time you have while dating long distance.

Also always come up with new ways to get to know each other, even if you’re just playing 20 questions via text. Always keep things lively and interesting. Enjoy each others company! Embrace who your dating partner is, flaws and all. In fact it’s those flaws that gives their personality the characteristics you adore and that made you want to date them in the first place. Men will be men and women will be women but accept that and like/love them for being who they are.

Below are some ways to stay connected in a long distance relationship. Good luck and Happy dating!

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How to Balance it All

Guest Post with Meghan Joy Yancy

Meghan Joy lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota with her husband and their 6 kids. Meghan Joy homeschools their children while running a few businesses from home and keeping up with her Blog. They love family dinners, lazy Sundays after church, and random dance parties. She is passionate  about healthy living, essential oils, family, homeschooling, and her faith. You can connect with Meghan Joy via her social media accounts either through Instagram and Blog.

 

As a family of 8, there can be a lot going on and a lot of personalities to interact with. Our 6 kids are all under the age of 9 and over the years we have learned the sweet art of balance. And we don’t always rock at it but we certainly strive to be better each day.

One of the biggest lessons for me to learn and integrate into our life has been saying “no.” The ability to not stretch myself too thin has been integral in finding balance and keeping things from getting overwhelming. And that includes even saying no to things that are good and fun. If I continue to take on too much and cram so many activities and events into our schedule, we will just be driving from place to place instead of truly living life to its full potential. And for me, that precious downtime is important and a priority. I cherish the days we’re home that are filled with playtime and imagination. I don’t want to be so busy “doing” that I forget to just “be.”

Everyone will find their own systems that work for them but I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that have made it easier for our family to find balance in each day. Also knowing that there will be different seasons of life and changes that come. I like to be flexible during those transitions so that we don’t let stress seep in. When we allow ourselves to be moldable, the different seasons of life can be more easily embraced instead of throwing us more out of balance.

In our family, we are entering a very different season of life. We just welcomed our 6th baby into the world on April 28 and have some very big changes occurring in the coming months as well. Things are going to look a little different than they have but our goal remains to stay balanced in all we do. I have firsthand felt the difference it makes in living a life of balance or not. My joy and peace is more abundant when I am making sure to keep all areas of my life a priority. One big difference maker for me has been Oola. It stems from an awesome book called: Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World-The Seven Areas You Need to Balance and Grow to Live the Life of Your Dreams. I’ve been following the OolaGuys for quite some time now, attended an OolaPalooza and have listened to many of their workshops on finding balance. One core concept that stuck with me is the notecard trick. Before bed each night, grab a notecard and write down 7 things you want to accomplish the next day. It may be “reply to emails” or “get bread at Target” or bigger things like “run 1 mile to train for half marathon” or “create website for business” but make sure you commit to them. And hey, if you don’t accomplish it all, just add it to the next days list and purpose to check them all off. This was a fun and simple way for me to stay on task and not let time slip away.

Let’s explore a few of the ways that we find balance in different areas of our particular family life.

* Health – my husband has always said, “Prevention is better than cure.” And it never really made sense to me until I needed to start going to the chiropractor after having my 2nd baby. Things were jacked up with my body and I was willing to pay any amount of money to fix it. If I could have been proactive, I wouldn’t have had to try and backtrack and fix what was messed up. Which has made me a firm believer in fully investing in our health.

* Fitness – we try to have a good compromise of allowing space and time for fitness because it’s an important aspect to our health. Both my husband and I run and so we normally tag team going for runs and the other one staying home with the kids during the others run. We try to do this every day, and if it doesn’t happen, we don’t beat ourselves up for it. While my husband goes to a gym, I workout at home. I put on a youtube video and do an exercise routine with all the kids. It becomes a fun family affair. We also try to do family walks every evening in the summers and create a habit of activity as a family.

* Food – although organic food is more expensive, especially with large families, it is worth the investment to fill our bodies with nutritious and beneficial foods that will truly nourish us. Again, it’s all about balance. So, I’m not saying we don’t indulge in a delicious piece of chocolate cake on birthdays. But we also try to make healthier options more often and the “treats” are spread out and done on occasion. We are “grazers” by nature and so we tend to just snack all throughout the day and then sit down to a family meal in the evenings.

* Essential Oils – we live the oily life through and through in our home. Although I do run a business from home with essential oils, we would still be using them in our lives. We have basically replaced every single chemical-filled product in our home with that of essential oils and Young Living products. Every single day, we are bettering our health through these oils and healthy living choices.

* Family- our time as a family is truly cherished and because it is such a high priority for us, we don’t add much else into our schedule that would pull away from that. The open schedule to just spend each evening at home together is precious. When asked to do something or go somewhere or volunteer hours at this event or that activity, I can easily say “no” now. It wasn’t always that way but I have learned to protect what is important to me. I don’t have to have anything else going on, but can be confident that I do not want to add any other errand to our planner. When we have a more clear schedule, we’ve carved out time to make memories as a family.

* Homeschooling- has turned more into unschooling as this schoolyear has progressed. That does not mean that we do not do school. But it means that we allow the space and time for our children to naturally learn and explore. We still use some curriculum and we still teach the foundations and basics but we cut out the unneccesary logged hours to try and keep up with the rigorous schedule that most students have. And that’s just our personal viewpoint. We still value education and learning, but not at the expense of actually living life. Because that is where we truly learn… by living.

* Faith- is the biggest piece of our lives. And it’s not actually a “piece” of our lives, but our entire being. Everything revolves around our faith in Jesus Christ and serving Him in all we do. By teaching and by example, we want our children to realize the importance of spending time with God every day. That cultivating time for growing our relationship with Him is even more important that any other aspect of life. It’s all for Him in all we do. We pray together as a family, have time for devotions, and leave space for discussion, questions, and exploring God’s word together.

There are many other aspects to life and all the roles we each play. One thing I always try to remember is that my husband and I get to create the culture of our home. We don’t have to let the ways of the world or how “everyone else is doing it” to dictate how we run our lives. And when that is remembered, it gets a little easier to say “no” to all the extras and to truly take hold of our lives and live it by design, not by chance or by someone else’s schedule. You have to get to the point where you are going to decide how you want to live life and then start making your decisions to reflect that. And when you do, you will find so much freedom in it. So much adventure in the midst of peace. It’s a beautiful thing when you realize that balance is tangible. That it is within grasp. And that you can live a life of balance too.

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The OTHER SBC Sex Abuse Scandal

 

Currently within society it seems that when sex abuse happens within the church, the victim(s) are silenced! There are places like  The Wartburg Watch and GRACE that have been created to help, but just telling someone to leave a church is NOT helping nor standing with the victim. The body of Christ, those who claim to be christians, those who claim to have started organizations to help victims – need to start helping these victims! Not just saying they will help but also standing with them after they courageously leave the abusive church and are left with no church family or body of Christ to turn to!

In 2012 another sex abuse scandal took place at Scottsdale Bible Church. A young woman had just joined the worship team when an older male choir member (in his sixties) who was a leader within the church, a Deacon and a well established member of SBC – sexually abused her while attending a SBC choir trip in California. The sex abuse act was legally defined by California law as sexual battery.

When she got an OOP against this church member/leader, which removed him from attending church. Church leaders, including Senior Pastor Jamie Rasmussen did nothing to protect her, instead she was punished for getting an OOP against this abusive member/leader and was permanently removed from serving in any capacity within the church moving forward!

So as much as it might seem great that SBC has now hired GRACE to investigate this recent matter. For appearance sake it might appear that they care about the victims and doing the right thing, but that has not been the case in the past! In fact the sex abuse that occurred in 2012, was covered up and hidden by SBC Pastoral staff and they not only silenced her, but even pushed her out of the church, ex-communicating her in a way.  Even though Pastor Jamie Rasmussen recently spoke out against the abuse regarding Les Hughey, in A Letter From Pastor Jamie. SBC is only taking that action because this sex abuse scandal is now in the news and due to media attention the story, scandal is receiving, they are taking a stand only to save face! Because in the past, the steps that were taken with this victim in 2012 were orders that came from Pastor Jamie Rasmussen. He had silenced this previous victim who came forward about sex abuse within the church! The damage that victim has endured because of this sex abuse is on the SBC church staff and Pastor Jamie Rasmussen who all sinned along with the sex abuser by covering it up, by protecting the abuser, by shaming the victim, and by re-victimizing, marginalizing, and silencing the victim! Because of that Jamie Rasmussen should step down from his position as Pastor of Scottsdale Bible Church because of his hand in this past sex abuse scandal cover up!

Going forward there is nothing SBC or Pastor Jamie Rasmussen could ever do with this new sex abuse scandal that could redeem the abuse of power and the sins they have committed by covering up past sex abuse while continuing to expose more women to the dangers of this church member/leader ! The sex abuse from 2012 has been kept a secret by SBC and Pastor Jamie Rasmussen, until now!

Victims of “Me Too” or “Church Too” need support from christians, from organizations like GRACE and The Wartburg Watch, more so than the churches asking for their help to investigate a matter – when really its the churches and their staff who need to be investigated! In this case SBC and Pastoral staff (including Pastor Jamie Rasmussen) should be investigated for the sex abuse they were aware of, did nothing about – except cover it up, for exposing more women to the perpetrator of this 2012 sex abuse, and for re-victimizing and silencing the victim they should have always protected!

Shame on SBC and Pastor Jamie Rasmussen. Maybe the “S” in SBC should really stand for Scandal or in regards to the victims from 2012 – SBC = Sexual Battery Compound, not Scottsdale Bible Church as they do not deserve to be called a Church!

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