Everything I Learned about Dating and Love, I Learned from Cinderella

cinderellaWhere did you learn about love?  Who taught you about dating?  If you had to answer this question, could you?  Maybe you don’t even realize where your concept of dating came from.  Perhaps you learned from your parents, family or friends.  Maybe you learned from watching Twilight or listening to Pink on the radio?  Commonsensemedia.org reports that for teens the main source of information about sex, dating and sexual health comes from what they see and hear in the media.  Quite possibly, your concept of love started at even a much earlier age.  For so many young girls, the first idea of a romantic relationship comes from fairy tales.

“Once upon a time” is a wistful, nostalgic phrase repeated countless times in the bedrooms of little girls around the world.  It sweeps children away into a fantasy land of imagination that helps foster creativity.  Fairy tales impart important morals and valuable life lessons.  They teach right from wrong and the consequences of making bad choices.  They demonstrate that bad things happen to good people, but through hope and perseverance, good will triumph over evil. Albert Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  But what do they teach children about love and relationships?

In Disney’s version of Cinderella, the heroine is possibly the sweetest creature that ever lived.  She works as a house servant for her mean stepmother and her nasty step sisters, Anastasia and Drizella.  Cinderella sings and dances her way through her daily chores, despite the constant demands of the household.  Yet, she dreams for her wish of the heart to come true.  Cinderella’s wishes are of course answered in the form of her fairy godmother.  With the wave of a magic wand, Cinderella is transformed.  She is no longer the servant in rags; she is now the belle of the ball.  Cue the prince to enter stage left.  He lifts his eyes to see Cinderella and falls in love at the sight of her beauty. A little dancing, a lost glass slipper and a little drama later, they go on to live happily ever after.

So what does this version of Cinderella potentially teach young girls about falling in love?

  • You are not worthy of love. But if you can magically transform; if you wear the right dress, the right shoes, you too can be loved.
  • You are not complete without your prince. The longing of your heart can only be filled if he loves you.
  • Without love, you are nothing. You are only a servant in rags.  But with his love you can become a princess.  All your troubles will be gone, and you will live happily ever after.

Here’s the truth about love.

  • You are already loved. You are rooted and established in the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:17)  The only transformation you need to make is to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.
  • The true longing of your heart can only be filled by the love of Christ. If only you could grasp how wide and long and high and deep is His love, and know that it is this love that completes you.  Then you will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
  • You are already a princess, a child able to do immeasurably more than you can ever imagine through your father, the one true King. (Ephesians 3:20)  This birthright, that you have only to accept, promises life ever after.

The parallels are so similar; one can’t help but wonder if Christ’s love was Disney’s intended message.  Yet, without the Christian context, it’s easy to be misled by the themes expressed in the story.  There is danger in continuing to seek fulfillment from another human being, instead of from the one who can truly provide it.  The danger is a life filled with disappointment and loneliness.   Constantly trying to transform into someone worthy of love in the eyes of world, leaves you incapable of loving yourself.  There is no true fulfillment apart from Christ’s love.

Originally posted in the FOCUS Ministries, Inc. Newsletter, Fall 2014.

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Did You Know?

Do you have a young woman in your life?  Maybe a daughter or a granddaughter?  If so, ask yourself the following questions, then challenge yourself to accept the reality.

Do you think she is too young to worry about dating violence?

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  • Nearly half of girls between 10 and 12 know friends who are verbally abused.1
  • 1 in 5 of girls aged 13 to 14 have a friend that is or has been a victim of dating violence.1
  • 72% of the girls in 8th or 9th are already dating and therefore at risk.2

 

Do you think dating violence doesn’t happen in the school she attends?

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  • It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in, teen dating violence runs across race, gender, and socioeconomic lines.3
  • 1 in 3 teens in the United States reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by their dating partner.4
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.5

 

Do you think she’s too mature to find herself caught in an abusive relationship?

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  • Girls between the ages of 16 and 24 experiences the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.6
  • Nearly half of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.7
  • 1 in 6 college women have been sexually abused in a dating relationship.7

 

Now you know.  The reality is that dating violence can affect you or someone you love.

  • No matter how rich or poor your family is
  • No matter what type of home you come from
  • No matter what color your skin is
  • No matter how old you are
  • No matter what gender you are
  • No matter what level of education you have reached
  • No matter what religion you are
  • No matter whether you are on your first date or have been dating for a year

 

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If you are ready to learn how to start the conversation about dating violence with the young women in your life, consider inviting Teen FOCUS to speak to your group.  Learn more about the workshops we offer here.

Many of you will even have experienced some form of relationship abuse in your past. Others of you will know someone at work, in your family, or your church who has or is experiencing abuse.  If you need help for yourself or for someone you know, please contact us at FOCUS Ministries.

 

 Sources:

  1. TRU study for Liz Claibourne, Inc. & Nat’l NTDA Helpline, (2008)
  2. Foshee VA, Linder GF, Bauman KE, et al.The Safe Dates Project: theoretical basis, evaluation design, and selected baseline findings. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1996; 12(2):39-47
  3. “Teen Victim Project,” National Center for Victims of Crime, 2004
  4. Liz Claiborne Inc., Conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, (February 2005)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003,”Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19
  6. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice and Statistics,Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, 1993-2004.  2006
  7. Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll”

 

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It Can’t Happen to Me

I am quite simply the poster child for “This Can’t Happen to Me.”  I was raised in a stable Christian home.  My mom and dad just recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.  Both of my parents were raised in loving Christian homes, and so on and so forth for generations.  I am the baby of the family, the only girl.  I have two older brothers.  One was my partner in crime, while the other was more like a father figure.  In high school, I was the president of the debate team and floor captain of the volleyball team.  I was in all honors courses and got pretty much straight A’s.

Can you see the picture of the perfect middle class upbringing?  Of course, my childhood was far from perfect, but it definitely doesn’t fit most people’s picture of where an abuse victim would come from.  Yet, it did happen to me.

In college, I began dating a Christian guy, from a good Christian home.  After just two dates he wanted a commitment.  It was every girl’s dream, right?!  He was so attentive and made an effort to listen to the music I liked, study with me, take me dancing, and hang out with my friends.  We spent every possible free moment together.  When he felt we didn’t get to spend enough time together between school and both of us having part time jobs, I quit my job.  He kept his.  We’d see another girl walking down the street, and he’d suggest I wear an outfit like hers.  Suddenly he didn’t like to dance, and he didn’t like me dancing with anyone else.  I stopped going to the places I had gone before I met him.  I spent less and less time with my friends.

Over time things escalated even more.  My internal warning bells would start to go off.  But he said he loved me, so I would ignore them.  No one had ever paid this much attention to me before.  I was caught between feeling loved by him and being suffocated by him.  I desperately wanted him to love me, and I found myself willing to do what I had to do to keep him loving me.

The name calling got worse.  He called me things I wouldn’t call my worst enemy.  He constantly insisted that I wasn’t a normal girl.  A normal girl would do this or that, especially if it related to sex.  When he’d get extremely frustrated, he’d put his fist through the wall.  His jealousy became all consuming.

After 2 years of dating, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes.  A year later, we were married.  A month later, he hit me for the first time.

It didn’t matter that I had come from a Christian home or not.  It didn’t matter whether I came from a stable home environment or not.  It didn’t matter that I came from a middle class family in a good community or not.  It still happened to me.  It didn’t matter that I managed to complete 2 Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree.  It didn’t matter that I was the bread winner for our family.  It didn’t matter that we had the perfect house in the perfect suburban neighborhood and 2 kids.  It still happened to me.

It happened to me because I did not know any better.  Dating violence was not something that happened to someone like me.  If it didn’t happen to girls like me, then why should I be aware of it?  Why should I know what the warning signs were?  Why should I be taught what constituted a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one?  I went to Sunday school.  I went to youth group every Sunday.  Didn’t I understand just how much God loved me?  Didn’t I find myself worthy of that love?  Why would I let someone abuse me if I did?

If I had known all of these things, this wouldn’t have happened to me. 

Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves.

Ezekiel 33:5

Hindsight is truly 20/20.  So let me give you the benefit of my 20/20 vision.  You do need to worry about dating violence.  Intimate partner violence can affect you, your child, your friend, your neighbor or your parent.

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The Dating Bill of Rights

You Have the Right…

  • To refuse a date without feeling guilty.
  • To end a relationship.
  • To have an equal relationship.
  • To have friends other than your dating partner.
  • To participate in activities that do not include your partner.
  • To disagree.
  • To have your own thoughts and feelings and be able to express them without fear of repercussion.
  • To say no to physical closeness.
  • To say “I Love You” without having sex.
  • To change your mind at any time.
  • To be treated with respect.
  • To be yourself, even if it is different from everyone else or from what others want you to be.

Be yourself

Without apology

From the start

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His Glory is Revealed

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When Christians gather, the devil goes to work.  When we gather in the name of Christ, the power of Christ of present.  The Kingdom of God grows in strength and numbers, and the constant battle of good and evil is claimed for the side of good.
So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present.  1 Corinthians 5:4
The devil reigns where Christ does not, so he works hard to destroy those that gather in the name of Christ.  He launches attacks  to weaken our faith in Christ by turning us on each other.  If we allow the devil to be successful in undermining our efforts to grow the Kingdom, the constant battle will be claimed for evil.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.   1 Peter 5:8 
I experienced an attack while preparing for a gathering in Nashville a few years ago.  I had been asked to share my story and rejoice in the works of God in the stories of others.   In the week leading up to the event, my anxiety and stress began to overwhelm me.  I was unable to truly pinpoint what had me worried.  Retaliation from ex was definitely a concern.  Although I’ve been very open about my story, this event offered a much larger platform.  I felt the immense pressure the impact my story could have.  I had the opportunity to reach thousands of women in abusive situations.  I shuddered under the weight of being the one called to deliver Christ’s message of hope and healing to these women.  But I had to let them know that they were not alone,  I could show them there was a way out.  My mind swirled with self doubt and worry.  I reached out for support as the negative tape of self loathing tried to play over and over in my head.
My stress level was escalated as this full time working single mom struggled to find care for my boys who were not yet back in school.  Our district had (and still does have) the latest start date in our area.  This meant all the day camps had closed for the summer.   The inevitable answer was  me to work from home, while walking the tightrope of trying to make my boss, my client, and my children happy.
As the tightening in my throat increased, I continued to take one step at a time… right into a size 7 high top.  The aftermath was a very large, dark purple and black toe that the doctor insisted required x-rays.  Hours of waiting room waiting with two rambunctious boys later, much to the orthopedic’s surprise, there was no fracture.  Surely my week was looking up!
By Wednesday though, it appeared to not be the case.  My daycare dilemma for the boys had not been resolved and arrangements for a sitter that evening fell through.  Unwilling to miss an opportunity to enjoy dinner, dancing and fireworks while sailing around Lake Michigan with my co-workers, I brought the boys along.  As spouses and families had been invited to attend, they were not the only children on board and soon they had made fast friends and were off enjoying themselves.  The ever distracted mommy in me did my best to keep tabs on them.  While peering through a window into the lower cabin to check on them, I slipped and hit the deck hard.  Praise God there was really no one around to see; just my friend and the boat staff.  Despite a wicked bruise on my arm and a blow to my pride, I was fine.  At this point I should probably allow that I can’t really give the devil credit for the bruised toe and arm.  Anyone who knows me in the least bit, knows I’m an accident waiting to happen.  But these clumsy moments definitely weren’t helping my overall state of mind.
 As the boat docked at Navy Pier, and we all were saying our good-byes, my world stood still for a minute or two.  A highly intoxicated co-worker began to verbally assault my oldest son.  After threatening him multiple times that he would throw him overboard, he insisted on a hug.  So frightened by what was happening,  my son refused the hug.  At which point, I intervened and asked the boys to head down the stairs to exit the boat.  However, before they could make it down the stairs, my co-worker ran after them and started cursing at my oldest son, specifically calling him by name.
I just stood there.  I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t stop it.  I didn’t say anything.  I simply watched in silence.
When his tirade was finally over, I ran down the stairs after the boys, and we left.
I don’t know what hurts most.  The fact that I stood there and let it happen, or the fact that it happened at all.  No attack could have been deeper, more sliced to the bone than watching my son be assaulted.  No shame more relentless than facing the reality that I had not stopped it.
Do you see the lengths the devil will go to?  He tried to break me, but he did not succeed.  He tried to silence me once again through the fear of abuse. but I was not silenced.
My first day in Nashville, I sat down on a bus beside a man whose story is no easier than mine.  He looked straight into my heart and spoke this verse.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.    1 Peter 4:12-13 12
The DVD made that weekend is powerful, and my story is right there exactly as God scripted it.
I’m chalking this battle up to good.
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Intimate Partner Sexual Violence/Abuse (aka IPSV) – Part 1: What is it?

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One of the individuals that approached me this past weekend and told me her story, was a young woman who was a victim of rape at the hands of her boyfriend.  She has continued to inspire me with her strength and fortitude to persevere despite not being believed and continued exposure to the young man that raped her.  She has also inspired me to look deeper into the incidence of IPSV and acknowledge my personal experience of being repeatedly raped during my ten year marriage.  What started out initially as one post devoted to IPSV has become potentially a 5 part series.

The most important thing to realize about IPSV is that one does not have to have physically fought off or said “no” for an act to be regarded as sexual assault. Tears or other expressions of discomfort are reasonable indicators that sexual activity is not desired.  Simply put, submission is NEVER the same as consent.

Perpetrators of IPSV use various methods to manipulate or force their partner into having sex.  They may use only one or a combination of the following to coerce you into submission:

  • Threats of violence towards you, your property, pets, family, or friends
  • Threaten to rape you if you don’t submit
  • Making you feel guilty for not submitting
  • Constant, repeated pressure to engage in sex
  • Interpersonal coercion; such as sulking, anger, blackmail, threats to leave or have affairs
  • Having affairs and flaunting it
  • Repeatedly making false accusations of affairs
  • Pressure to perform acts which make you uncomfortable
  • Use of physical violence or force such as hitting, choking, or use of weapons
  • Overpowering you with physical strength, restraining, or holding you down
  • Continuing a sexual activity after you have indicated you wish it to stop, even if there was initial consent
  • Withholding affection or freedom until demands of sexual activity are met; “You are not going anywhere until my demands are met.”
  • Sexual intercourse while asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol
  • Forcing you to have unprotected sex
  • Filming or photographing sexual acts without consent
  • Making sexually degrading comments or name calling, alone or in front of others; “slut” “whore”
  • Verbally objectifying or degrading your body
  • Controlling what you wear; pressure to wear revealing lingerie
  • Minimizing past incidences of rape, denying it was rape or implying that you liked it
  • Denying sleep until sexual demands are met; sleep deprivation
  • Forcing you to choose one form of sexual activity in order to avoid something worse
  • Implying there is something “wrong” with you for choosing not to participate in certain acts; “You’re not normal.”
  • Demanding details on all past sexual partners; judging your sexual history

At some point in my years of therapy, someone actually acknowledged that I had experienced sexual abuse in addition to the verbal, emotional and physical domestic abuse I had experienced.  But that’s where any reference to the sexual abuse ended, let alone ever referring to it as rape.  It is very hard for me to reconcile what had become known to me as normal sex in my marriage to rape.  But it was rape.

The most common method used to pressure me into having sex was sleep deprivation.  I was expected to have sex 2 to 3 times a week.  Refusing to submit any less than that was almost unbearable.  I was constantly demeaned for my lack of interest in wanting to have sex and for not wanting to be more experimental.  There were times that I was pushed out of bed or spit on for not welcoming his advances with open arms.  I was called sexually degrading names on pretty much a daily basis.  I was constantly accused of touching myself in my sleep.  I would lay awake afraid, just waiting for the next wave of assault to begin.  Punching holes in the wall, throwing things, they were all ways for him to release his sexual tension when he did not have his expected release.  He boiled the entire problem in our marriage down to sex.  If I would just have sex, more often, was more into it, wore sexier underwear, allowed him to touch me more, etc., everything would be fine and he wouldn’t be so angry all the time.

After years of this abuse, I could barely stand to kiss him.  His touch literally made my skin crawl.  Yet I stayed.  He was my husband; I was supposed to have sex with him.  There were times, especially in the beginning, when I even wanted to have sex with him.  He never physically held me down to have sex.   Yet I had sex more often than I can count with tears streaming down my face.  I may never haven been physically forced, but I WAS forced, and that is by definition rape.

Rape is a crime.  It is NOT the victim’s fault.  As with other forms of domestic abuse, it is about power.  No matter how short your skirt is, whether you’re married or living together, how many times you’ve had sex with them before, or how many dinners they’ve bought for you; no one has the right to force you to engage in sexual activity.  And just because you didn’t scream or fight them off, doesn’t mean it isn’t rape.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to admit what has happened, even to your self.  It takes an even greater amount of courage to admit it to someone else.  I challenge you to break the silence.  Discuss the assault with a friend, a parent, a teacher, a counselor, a hotline, the police.  If we break the silence, we take back the power.

I also encourage others to learn more about IPSV and include it when addressing issues of domestic violence and dating violence.  IPSV is not just another form of abuse; it’s another form of rape.

Sources:

http://www.aphroditewounded.org

http://www.pandys.org

http://www.bandbacktogether.com/intimate-partner-rape-resources

 

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They cried out to the Lord, and He saved them…

This past weekend, I had the honor of presenting two workshops on God’s Design for Healthy Relationships at the Ignite Shout youth conference in Des Moines, Iowa.  Encouraged by my story, one by one, others came forward and shared their stories with me.  One of those brave enough to step into the light shared the following story with me.

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I am the oldest of four kids. My family home life was awesome.  My mom and dad didn’t have a lot, but we had a great family.  Mom and dad were always in love and showing us how love should be.  We never, ever saw them fight, just love each other. It was great.

But there was always tension between my mom and I.  I was the result of a teen pregnancy.  My parents married a week after graduating high school.  Maybe my mom felt that I had taken away her youth.

I was always happy as a child, always smiling – you would never see me sad.  But when it came to boys – I was scared to death.  I dated in high school but was a “goody”.  Out of all the boys I dated in high school, I only kissed one.  I remember in high school I said “I would never get a divorce”.  I have now been divorced 3 times.  It kills me to even see that number. It leaves a huge pit in my stomach.  Here is my story..

After my first kiss broke my heart in college, I met husband number 1.  It was destined to be a disaster from the very start.  He was the first person that I gave myself to.  Even then I wasn’t sure if he was the one I should marry, we graduated from college and got engaged on my 20th birthday.

The day after we were married a letter came in the mail for him from a woman that he had been seeing – I had NO IDEA!!!! My stomach was just in knots, but I kept smiling and looking to God for help. I got pregnant about 4 months into marriage.  After I miscarried, I got pregnant again immediately.  When my daughter was born, he and his mother bought boy clothes and boy diapers.  He already knew we had a girl, but really wanted a boy. The first few months of my daughter’s life were hell.  She and I slept on the couch because he didn’t want her to hear her screaming.  She was born in January, and he was gone by August.  Despite having left us, he continued to insert himself in our lives.  He would threaten me, sometimes with a gun.  He hit me, just for trying to clean out his closet.  Over the years, he quit coming around, and my daughter refuses to have contact with him.

I knew my second husband for a few years before we started dating.  He moved in right away.  I didn’t ask him to, he just did.  I really loved him.  We were married for 8 years, and had 2 children. He was a military guy.  The first years were pretty good, but we frequently fought about money.  When I was pregnant with my second daughter, he needed help becoming aroused as he wasn’t attracted to me.  He turned to pornography.  As the years went by, he withdrew further from me and more and more “magazines” showed up.  Eventually, I discovered other women’s phone numbers and naked pictures.  He would frequent strip clubs with his buddies.  I felt so dirty.   That year for Valentines Day, he bought me porn.  I turned to God for refuge.  I started spending a lot of time at my church.  I would just go there and play the piano for hours.  However, I began to doubt God during this time as my second marriage was falling apart.  I yelled at God.  But he stayed with me, and I continued to pray.

While I was still married to my second husband, I met husband number 3 while out with a friend.  He pursued me against my wishes and despite knowing I was married.  It felt good to have someone want me.  I filed for divorce and started seeing him.  I felt so low for moving so fast into a relationship with him, but I felt as though I had too. After a few months, my kids and I moved in with him.  We were married a year later after I became pregnant.  I miscarried the day before the wedding.  He was good to me and the kids at first, although we fought constantly.  I got pregnant again.  The day I had my fourth child, he said I needed to get pregnant again.  I said no.  My doctor said no. He kept after me.

That year I lost my job due to cuts at the company.  He was angry at me for losing my job, and everything started to turn bad, really, really bad.  The kids and I started attending church again even though he hated it.  I loved it and so did the kids.  I felt God’s presence every time I walked through the doors.  I started playing the piano and then started singing.  I spent a lot of time in church. But things at home just got worse.  He constantly criticized and belittled me.  I continued to take it.  I thought that I deserved it.  When I started working with the youth group, he would accuse me of having an affair.  Then he began accusing me of having affairs with every guy I saw or ever talked about.  He called me a preacher woman that was a hypocrite. I started to believe it.  I hated myself so much.

He started abusing the children.  He took their Christmas presents and broke each one in front of them.  He broke so many things.  He would be remorseful but find a way to put the blame on me. We were married 12 years.  The kids were afraid of him.  Anything that brought me happiness he tried to ruin, and when that didn’t work, he would try and hurt them. When my oldest daughter graduated from high school, she informed me she had saved up $2000 for us to leave.  She had started saving when she was 16, by working 3 jobs.  And yet I stayed.  I didn’t want to fail another marriage.

I eventually hit bottom and I lay down on the floor of my church and cried out for God to help me.  My husband always reminded me he had a gun, so I hid it and the shells leaving only the case and left.  My last straw was watching him hold my son against the wall by placing his hands around my son’s throat.

We moved out the week of Easter, into a one bedroom across the street from the church.  I felt safe for the first time.  When the kids fell asleep I would run across the street and pray – for love – for peace – for happiness.

I have since found and married my best friend.  Our kids, all six of them, love each other like they were all meant to be brothers and sisters.  We will have been married a year in April.  He is a man of faith, a man who loves God before his family and me.  We pray together, worship together, and the day we were married, the whole world felt like it was at peace.  I know that God is blessing me.

I try hard to look at my past, but it burns my eyes.  I have to remember that it is part of what has shaped me into the woman that I have become. I know that God has amazing plans for me and for my husband. We are both led to help serve.  I want my story to help others.  I want to use my voice to make a difference.

Then they cried out to the Lord because of their problems.
And he saved them from their troubles.
He brought them out of the deepest darkness.
He broke their chains off.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love.
Let them give thanks for the miracles he does for his people.

Psalm 107:13-15 (NIRV)

Will Jodi Arias make life harder for female victims of domestic violence?

I have found it hard to listen to anything about this trial. Something has always felt off for me. I can not say with any amount of certainty if she was truly abused or not. But I do believe her plight has set us back…

Even more than that I wonder why the media has so sensationalized the murder of an intimate partner by a woman.  Where is the outrage, extensive coverage, and awareness of the 3 women that are murdered each day in the US by their male intimate partner?

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Do you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?  If you don’t, you surely understand the concept of it.  If you pretend like you are in need of something, but you really aren’t, eventually people won’t pay attention to you any more.

While the boy in the story ultimately harmed himself because of his falsehood, it doesn’t always work that way.  There are times when others are placed in harm’s way because of the selfishness of others.

I believe this is going to be part of the ‘fall-out’ from the Jodi Arias murder trial.  Arias is on trial for the murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander.  After telling all sorts of stories about what happened on the day of Travis’ death, Jodi ran out of stories that involved other people.  Her narrative then switched to herself.  She claimed that she killed Travis out of necessity because she was…

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It was not for you that I mourned

While in in the shelter my case worker told me I needed to grieve.  That was the last think I wanted to do at that point in time.  I definitely felt an immense sense of loss, but it was overwhelmed by the freedom I felt.  I’m not sure I ever took time to mourn the loss of marriage.  Until last night.

 

I cried myself to sleep last night

I allowed myself to grieve

The space inside won the fight

That which was suppressed broke free

 

Do not find glee or joy from this fact

It was not for you that I mourned

But the loss of that onto which I held

For way to long

 

Any love once there died long ago

What it actually looked like

I don’t really know

 

But such a large part of my life

At one time even hopes and dreams

Were tangled up involving you

And that just doesn’t go away it seems

 

Your life moved on and yet here I sit

Not once having regretted my choice

For it was when I stepped out of your darkness

That I discovered my voice

 

When I awoke this morning

It seemed hope had bled through

I’m blessed and grateful for all I’ve been given

I need not shed another tear for you

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month – What Can You Do?

In honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, here is what you can do to help raise awareness and make a difference in your community.

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  • Become a prayer warrior to intercede for women in crisis and for the needs of FOCUS Ministries. You will receive a regular update of prayer requests from women worldwide who need to know someone is praying for them, and a list of specific needs relating to the operation of FOCUS Ministries.
  • Partner with us financially. We are supported by individual and church donations solely depending on the Lord’s provision to carry our work forward. Funding is needed to help us meet the physical needs of families, to continue free counseling and support groups, and to provide Homes of Refuge. As a 501(c)(3) organization, your gifts are tax-deductible.
  • Start a FOCUS Support Group in your area. Our Train the Trainer seminar will help you with the tools you need and a leader’s manual is available for purchase. Leaders are able to connect with FOCUS representatives to assist them in this process.
  • Represent FOCUS Ministries in your area. Partner with us in distributing information about the newsletter, support groups, and seminars. Help us with creative fundraising through garage sales, walkathons, etc.
  • Support our Homes of Refuge. Big needs require big dreams and FOCUS Ministries has some. Perhaps you can become an integral part to providing a safe place to a family who desperately needs one.
  • Contribute by clicking. Check out simple ways that you can to earn donations to FOCUS Ministries in conjunction with your regular Internet activity. Every click counts!
  • Purchase the Teen FOCUS Curriculum.  Whether you are a school counselor, youth pastor, educator, or volunteer who works with young people, this tool is a “don’t miss” resource in helping prevent today’s youth from experiencing destructive relationships that will destroy their spirit.
  • Support Teen FOCUS.  Show your support by wearing one of our buttons or ribbons.  Give them to your daughters and friends.

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