Before I begin, I would like to provide you with some important information. In my 47th year I learned the meaning of the scriptures of Eph. 2:14-17 “For He Himself is our shalom—He has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah (wall) which divided us by destroying in
His own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form or ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with Himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in Himself killing that enmity. Also, when He came, He announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby. News that through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
I have been studying under the teachings of Pastors Larry and Tiz Huch and Rabbi Jonathan Cahn about the Jewish roots of our faith since 2018 and have learned that when a person quickly and easily understands the verse above, along with understanding all the teachings of the Jewish faith, that means the person is called to teach it to others. I am one of those called to teach the Jewish roots of our Christian faith and to work to fulfill Eph. 2:14-17 because I do understand it quickly and believe it completely.
I stand with Israel, and I stand up for the Jewish people, they are God’s chosen people and I speak out against all antisemitism and a divided Israel state. I also do not believe that we Christians have replaced the Jewish people. Jesus Christ was a Jew who never stopped being a Jew, so were Mary and Joseph and all of Jesus’ disciples. I am thankful that because I have Jesus Christ as my Savior, I am counted among God’s precious children. I believe God’s Word, where the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans chapter 11 that we Gentiles are grafted into the vine to receive all of God’s marvelous blessings, but the Jewish people are never going to be replaced by Gentiles.
In addition to that I am called to reach the hearts of Jewish people who still do not know Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus Christ, is their Messiah, as well as working to reach the hearts who do not know God the Father or Jesus Christ, as their Savior.
It is because of this calling of God upon my life, and the choice I have made to live my life by the scriptures of God’s Holy Word, you will often see me listing scriptures from the Jewish Christian Bible in this testimony. Though there may be instances where I list other solid translations of scripture, the reason why I like to use the Jewish Christian translation is because it is the closest translation possible to the original Hebrew texts given from God to man thousands of years ago. The Word of God still stands just as true today as it did back then, and it always will forevermore.
With that information being given, I now begin.
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11 (NIV)
“Throw all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7 (Jewish Christian Bible)
I have spoken this verse, taught it, sung it in songs and yet… I have had a burden that I’ve continued to carry for the past forty-seven years. I turned fifty-one years old, August 2022, and the time has come for me to lay down this heavy burden of darkness down at the feet of my Savior of light so He can take it from me, continue to heal me, and use me for His specific mission that He has for me.
“Jesus said, ‘I AM the Way—and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
This is my testimony—part of it anyway. I have many more testimonies to share of God’s great love and miraculous power! But this one is special. It is about me and knowing I will stand before Christ upon Judgement Day, knowing God is truth and knows all which is true, I vow it is the truth. I believe Jesus Christ is truth and all truth stands with Him. He hears and sees all, even thoughts and feelings. Not one single thing is ever hidden from God. The time has come for me to put forward my personal testimony of all that Jesus Christ, my precious Lord, Savior, and very best Friend, has brought me through thus far.
Before I continue, some who are not familiar with the word “testimony” might be wondering what that is. As defined by the dictionary, a testimony is a “formal written or spoken statement especially one given in a court of law.” My definition of the word testimony as it applies to this formally written statement is to tell of the wonders, the greatness, the faithfulness, and the healing power of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so that others might bare witness to what He has done for me, is still doing for me and will continue to do for me for all the days of my life.
I am starting to write this testimony while still in my 50th year. I am quite sure it will take me a long time before I finish it and I will not be 50 years old when it is done. But I have learned that the Bible teaches about the year of Jubilee, which is only every fifty years for a person, place, or thing’s life. A Jubilee year is a time of return and restoration. So, it makes perfect sense to me why I would begin writing this during my year of Jubilee. Even if I don’t finish it in my 50th year, I know that the work God wants to do of restoration to my heart is beginning there.
There are those who don’t know God who often believe if a person follows Jesus, they shouldn’t have any more trouble in their life. While I believe it is true that a life lived for Jesus is absolutely, positively the BEST life a person can lead, that doesn’t mean a person will stop having troubles, but when we follow Jesus, and give our heart to Him, it does mean that Jesus will be with us, and He promises to help us through our troubles.
“I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have shalom (peace). In the world, you have trials. But be brave! I have conquered the world!” John 16:33 (JCB)
“Keep your lives free from the love of money; and be satisfied with what you have; for God Himself has said, ‘I will never fail you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we say with confidence, ‘Adonai is my helper’ I will not be afraid—what can a human being do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 (JCB)
The truth is, we live in a beautiful world that is unfortunately also a place where the devil, Satan, our enemy dwells. Quite often, when a person gives their heart to Jesus Christ and devotes their life to serving Him, they may see more hardships come along than others do. It is because Satan is the great deceiver and he hates everyone, especially those who serve Jesus. The truth is, Satan wants to destroy us all.
“Stay sober, stay alert! Your enemy, the devil, stalk about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I can boldly say, with all confidence, that if we place all our trust in God, study, believe. speak and stand up for His Word, obey what He commands us, and love Him as He longs for us to, God will pour out blessings upon our lives more than we could ask or imagine.
“Now to Him who by His power working in us is able to do far beyond anything we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Messianic Community, the church and in the Messiah Yeshua from generation to generation forever. Amen.” Eph. 3:20
I have learned through my years that God’s great love for us is an unfathomable constant. His love is an all-powerful guiding light to give us help, healing, peace, everything we need, He is. When we reach out to Jesus, Jesus is always there for us, just as He promised.
“I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (JCB)
I hope as you read, you will see that without Jesus being with me, my life as it is now, would look very different. It is because of Jesus, Yeshua, that I am who I am. It is because of God’s Word that I know who He says I am and that is how I define myself. I do not define myself by what people say of me, but by what my Creator, my Heavenly Father God, Adonai, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, say of me. It is because of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, being with me, leading and guiding me, teaching me through His still small voice that whispers to me which way to go that I have made it thus far on my life’s journey. It is the Holy Trinity, Adonai, God the Father, Yeshua, the Son and Messiah, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that daily seek to please with my life and I know and trust that They will guide me.
“With your ears you will hear a word from behind you: ‘This is the way; stay on it, whether you go to the right or the left.’” Isaiah 30:21 (JCB)
There is no easy way to begin telling this, so I will just say it.
I was a victim of sexual, mental, and emotional abuse that began in my life when I was a little girl of four years old.
When you have suppressed things which wounded your soul, heart, and mind and didn’t get help for those things but placed them somewhere deep down inside you, locking them up in secret places so others wouldn’t know, it is very challenging to suddenly open those doors and let those things out. Just like any other earthly door that remains sealed for many years, things get dusty and rusty, and hinges become extremely difficult to open.
I have kept this information closed off from most people. Only my God knows all that has taken place and few others know some of what I have experienced. I have found that by keeping this closed off in the secret places of my heart, mind, and soul, it has become a hinderance for others to truly understand who I am and why I do what I do, and it has become a hinderance to myself. It is too much weight for me to bare any longer.
It was out of pure fear of what others would say or do to me if I came forward with my story that I have not done so until this time. But I have learned that fear does not come from God.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
“Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I also know that God’s timing is always perfect and so I trust that He has brought me to this place, space, and moment of time, and is blessing me with the courage to write this testimony today because it is all part of His plan for my life and His mission for me in this world.
“For everything there is a season, a right time for every intention under heaven…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (JCB)
Thank You, Jesus, I can honestly say that I am a victim of abuse no more!
I used to call myself a survivor but now I am going to start calling myself a Victor. It is through laying down this burden and finally addressing it publicly, to give my testimony of how Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, saved me and brought me through it all that I can claim that victory!
I have heard it said that ‘your pain can be your prison or your platform’.
Although I did not understand the things I endured at the time, mostly because I was so young, I can now clearly see how God is taking everything that happened to me which was wicked, and full of darkness and through His saving grace and power, He is transforming me and is turning my pain into my driving force to do good, holy works of light in this world! He has placed me upon His solid rock. His Holy Word, the Bible, is my platform. God is giving me my voice to teach others that it is okay for you to speak up for yourself when you must. Only God, Adonai could do that! Our God is an awesome God!
“Yeshua (Jesus) answered him, ‘You don’t understand yet what I am doing, but in time you will understand.’” John 13:7 (JCB)
I want to be very clear that I am not writing this testimony as any form of revenge toward anyone. I am not lashing out, being harsh and judgmental or trying to cause harm or damage to a single soul as some may think. If I were a vengeful, harsh, and judgmental person, who lashes out, I wouldn’t have waited as long as I have to come forward with this story and I wouldn’t write it as I am about to now.
I believe you will learn that hatred holds no place in my heart. I do not hate anyone. I hate come people’s actions and some people’s words, but I know I cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven with hate in my heart toward others. I have no roots of bitterness in my heart either. I am sure there are those out there who might accuse me of writing this for other intentions, but I take my comfort knowing God sees and knows my heart inside out. He know all my thoughts, hears all my words and sees all my actions.
I have so many reasons why I write tell this testimony and the most important reason is because I cannot tell you about how the amazing power of Jesus Christ is healing me, unless I tell you what injured me. The bad parts must be told for you to understand all the goodness of God and see the evidence of His hand in my life. My hope is that by your reading my story, if you don’t yet know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you may want to.
I do not wish to have the same old aromas of my past on me anymore. I wish to shed the darkness of my past and step fully into the marvelous and healing light of Jesus Christ.
I have read so many times in the Bible where people would set up a stone as a testimony and marking of a place where something important happened. Their story will always be part of their lives, but once they placed that stone as a reminder and testimony of what God brought them through, they moved forward. They moved past it.
I believe for the things that haunt a person’s past which are of darkness, the person must lay the burden down at the feet of light of Jesus Christ. It is then and only then that they can begin to move forward with their life and not carry the darkness with them everywhere they go. Abuse of any kind, but especially sexual abuse is something that a person carries with them everywhere they go. This is my representation of my laying this burden down at the feet of my Savior and setting up a stone as my personal testimony of what God has done in my life regarding abuse. I know there will be more “stones” I will set up as testimonies of circumstances that God will bring me through as I continue my life’s journey, but this one is quite significant for me and the most difficult to tell.
This story is mine and always will be, but the burdens of pain, confusion, and frustration from so many incidents of abuse in my past can remain at the feet of my Savior so I can move forward with His plans for my life and not carry it into my future.
I believe completely and totally in the healing power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I understand that in order to receive forgiveness of sins from Jesus Christ, we must confess Him as our Lord and Savior, and we must confess those sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16 (ESV)
I believe we must also forgive others to receive forgiveness. When we forgive, especially the things which have broken us severely, that is when the healing power of Jesus Christ begins to flow!
“And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your offenses.” Mark 11:25 (JBC)
This is a story about the healing power of forgiveness, learning to trust God in all things, and taking steps to move forward. Not only that, but my testimony will prove how God can take something– anything which is full of darkness and turn it to light. He brings beauty from ashes and turns mourning into dancing!
“Yes, provide for those in Zion who mourn, giving them garlands instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a cloak of praise instead of a heavy spirit, so that they will be called oaks of righteousness planted by Adonai, in which He takes pride.” Isaiah 61:3 (JCB)
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” Psalm 30:11 (ESV)
And He brings His sweetness to those who are broken.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (ESV)
God works all things together for the good of those who serve Him!
“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (JCB)
The first reason I write is out of obedience to God who has been speaking to my heart about writing this for some time. Years in fact.
When someone says they were told to do something by God, or they ‘talk to God’, I know there are many people who either think they are crazy, or they mock it and don’t believe them at all. Then there are those out there who think it is God speaking to them, but if what they are being spoken is not in accordance with the scriptures of God’s Word, it isn’t God who is speaking to them. The Word of God is God and what He speaks comes to pass. That is why it is sacred and Holy.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through Him and without Him nothing made had being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.” John 1:1-5 (JCB)
The Bible is God’s voice, it is an extension of Him and one of the most powerful ways He communicates, teaches, and guides us.
“All Scripture is God breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth conviction of sin, correcting faults and training in right living: thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (JCB)
God must be true to His Word and so if the person is saying something which is not in alignment with God’s Word, then it is not from God. God will never go against His Word because He cannot go against Himself. And what is written in His Word, whether it be promises, instruction or warnings of judgement, they will always take place.
“For just as rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return there, but water the earth, causing it to bud and produce, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so is My Word that goes out from My mouth—it will not return to me unfulfilled but it will accomplish what I intend, and cause to succeed what I sent it to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 JCB)
Of course, a person also needs to know God’s Word and the context in which it was written to identify the differences. People must be careful and ask God for discernment when listening to someone share about what they say God is speaking to them. There are so many false teachers in the world who know a bit about the Bible and often use it to serve their purposes. They like to fit God into their teachings instead of them obeying His teachings. There are so many New Age, self-help programs that are filled with spiritual teachings out there which are not in alignment with the scriptures. The Bible warns us of these things. So, it is so important to have a Bible– of a solid translation, and study it so that you can understand what those differences are.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching but will cater to their passions and father around themselves teachers who say whatever their ear itch to hear. Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (JCB)
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguise himself and an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NIV)
I do understand what it is like to have God speak to you because God does speak to me and how I know it is Him is because what He speaks is always in accordance with His Word. God never speaks anything that goes against His Word. That’s how I know it is God. I also understand what it is like to talk to God because I talk to Him through prayer and singing worship to Him every single day, throughout my days and nights. I don’t say this to bran, I say it to declare that I LOVE it! I love worshiping God so much! It brings me so much peace, joy, wisdom, and healing! Adonai, God the Father, Yeshua, Jesus Christ the Son, and our Friend and Comforter, the Holy Spirit, I love and worship the Godhead trinity. I love Them and need Them all day, every day. I cannot live without them. I won’t live without Them.
Praying to God, is just talking to God. You close your eyes and picture Him there with you, because His Holy Spirit is there, and you can talk to Him like you would talk to a very precious, faithful friend who cherishes you. Because He is.
The truth is, God calls and speaks to all of us because He wants to have a relationship with all His children. The evidence of that is written in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life instead of being utterly destroyed.” (JCB)
The difference for those who hear God and those who don’t is because some of us are ready and willing to listen and others are not there yet. According to the scriptures, there are some who never will be.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
So, the questions a non-believer may ask might be, “How do you know God is speaking to you?” “Do you hear an audible voice?” “How do you know the difference between God and your own thoughts?” Those are all excellent questions, and my answer would be: it all depends upon your personal relationship with God.
For me, God speaks very clearly through His Word, through solid teachings of others in alignment with His Word and Holy Spirit, through worship, in dreams, and at times, He also gives me very clear, detailed ideas while I’m awake. These are ideas that randomly pop into my conscious mind while I am thinking about something totally different which is not at all connected to the idea. I know that is Adonai getting my attention. God also likes to speak to me while I do housework. I have had many scenes for my Intercessors books come while doing the dishes or vacuuming… which makes my housework much more exciting! For example, when I am doing the dishes and scrubbing a pot from cooking dinner that night and suddenly, I see before me a scene between Jace and Rateesh, (characters from The Intercessors) and it brings me to a standstill, I know that’s God! (Yes, that really happened!)
There are also times when God will use people of His choosing to tell me something. Sometimes He speaks through them to give me new information He wants me to know and sometimes he speaks through them to confirm something He already told me. God uses my husband, Josh, for this quite often and some of my precious friends who walk in the Holy Spirit, especially my beautiful friends, Rhona Mullins, and Doug and Shay Patterson. But there are times when God has used people I don’t know very well or know at all to give me a confirmation of something He spoke to me, and I know this is God as well. After all, if it wasn’t God how would they even know about it in the first place?
I wrote a very powerful and true story that is on my blog sit about my name and how God used a woman named Marilyn Leininger, who is now a dear friend, but at the time, I did not know her at all, to give me information about myself and confirm a work that He wanted me to do. If you would like to read this story sometime, you can find it here: https://angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/?s=JOurney+to+my+name
The first way God spoke to me about coming forward with this story was after Josh and I had watched a documentary on Netflix called “The Keepers”. This is a series about a nun who learned about sexual abuse of young girls in a school where she taught and then was mysteriously murdered after trying to help the children.
This documentary is not easy to watch or hear. The stories of abuse are sickening to the soul.
But the women who came forward to tell their stories were so incredibly brave. They impacted my heart and moved my spirit deeply. When we finished the series, I told Josh I was so amazed at their courage and how much they inspired me. After watching the show, I began to pray and ask God to make me brave like the women I saw in “The Keepers” documentary because I wanted to do more to help children who are being abused in any form of abuse.
Josh and I have been happily serving children in need through our organization, unofficially since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and officially since June 5th, 2009, when The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. received its official stamp of approval from the IRS as a 501c3 organization. Some of those who read this story may be familiar with our work to serve children internationally, but if you are not, I invite you to visit our website at huggabears.org
In addition to that site we also have our family ministry website that you can visit at: lafoncox.com
I have happily served, taught, directed musically, and given to children all throughout my life and consider it the greatest work in the world to get to do what I do! I thank God every day for choosing me to do this work and I will do it as long as I have breath.
I believe another reason God wants me to come forward with my story is because He has been revealing more plans for me and has been speaking to me about expanding the work I do for children through HCP in addition to new works for adults that I never imagined possible.
In the month of July, God began speaking to me through dreams. Three times He gave me dreams where I was speaking before a group of people. In the first dream I had the understanding that they were a group of parents. In the second dream, I was speaking before state senators, and in the third dream I was speaking before Congress! In each dream I was speaking out for stronger child abuse laws, creating federally funded counseling programs which are easily accessible for children to receive counseling and professional help, and doing more for the protection of our greatest treasures ever to be found in this world… our children. I also want to do more to assist mothers who choose to give life to their child over abortion.
The dreams were so real and detailed, and I did not forget them when I woke up the next day. This is another way I know when a dream is from God or just a random dream. When they are Divine Dreams, instructing me about something I am to do, they are very detailed and deeply pressed into my memory. They are also felt deeply within my heart, and I wake up motivated to do the work God has placed before me. I don’t forget the dreams and I know that is God speaking to me, literally showing me what He is going to have me do.
After I had these dreams, I wasn’t sure how to begin to do what I had dreamt.
I prayed, “God, I don’t have any experience in this kind of thing. I have no idea where to start, what to do, what to say or who to contact. But I know You do. I trust You and ask You to show me where I should begin.”
This isn’t the first time I prayed this kind of prayer. God had spoken to both Josh and me about starting The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. a 501c3 when MaCaedyn was an infant baby. We had no idea how or where to start that… but God showed us and helped us. Then, after God gave me the vision for The Intercessors novels, again, I didn’t know where to start, so I prayed and as always, God answered and directed me to do that too!
It was about a week after having these dreams while I was at the post office one day. I was thinking about what I was going to cook for my family and what project I was going to work on that evening, when suddenly a very clear and precise idea came into my head: the first step I needed to take to speak out was to write this story.
It made perfect sense. If God wants to use me to speak up for stronger child abuse laws and doing more to protection the children in our nation and world, I will hold more credibility by telling my story. By telling this story others would understand that I am becoming a victorious survivor after personally experiencing sexual, mental, and emotional abuse as a child.
In order for me to speak about that publicly I had to begin speaking somewhere.
This story is my somewhere. My starting point.
The second reason I need to write is because when I write a story, it is very therapeutic for me. It’s kind of like the story is directly connected by a thread from my heart, mind, and soul to my laptop. When I write, it’s as if the laptop pulls the story out of me by an unseen thread. The story, of course, will always be mine and part of me, but it doesn’t clamor around inside of my thoughts all the time. In the case of this story, when it clamors around inside, and it clamors loudly, it also brings up very painful memories that surge through my whole being and can cause distraction in my life, as well as mental and physical exhaustion, sadness, and frustration. I believe God gave me the gift of writing to prevent me from battling depression.
I know that once I write to get my thoughts and feelings pulled out of me and get them organized in written word, it helps my healing process continue. God has blessed me with writing as a source of expression and has taught me to use storytelling, musical composition, producing plays, and teaching through our Huggabear Friends YouTube show as my personal release to let out things He wants to remove from me. Then, He fills those places with His glorious healing, love, grace, and strength so I can do more good things for His glory!
I want to encourage others who read this story and may need to know, if you haven’t tried writing as a form of therapy, I highly recommend it.
That leads me to the next reason why I know it is important for me to write this story.
Sadly, I know my story is a much more common story than we may want to believe. In fact, I know there are millions of stories out there that are much, much worse, harder to tell, and harder to hear or read than mine. It is tremendously heartbreaking to know that there are so many children suffering so greatly in this world and knowing also drives me forward.
I was inspired by the amazing, courageous women who spoke out in “The Keepers” documentary, and I have been amazed and inspired by all those, male and female, who have come forward to tell their stories of surviving abuse. I am hoping that if you are taking the time to read this story and you have been struggling to cope with abuse you have endured, no matter what kind of abuse it was, and no matter how old you may now be, that you too will feel empowered to take the first step forward in your healing process. That first step is being able to acknowledge what happened to you, talk, or write about it, and seek professional help so that you can learn how to lay down your heavy burden. My hope is that you will bring it to the feet of Jesus because I know that He has more power than anyone or anything you will ever find in this world to help you. That is not an opinion, that is a genuine fact I know to be true!
Something else that I want to tell you, in case no one else has said it, what happened to you was not your fault. You did not bring it upon yourself, and you did not deserve it to happen. I also want to make myself available to you should you want to reach out and write to me. It is always a good thing to find people who have a similar understanding of what it is like to walk in your shoes and to have traveled similar paths. I am not a counselor, pastor, or rabbi, but I try to be a good listener and I love to encourage and pray for people. So, I just wanted to open that door to you should you need it.
The final reason I write this story, and the reason I believe God has spoken to me and has been nudging me along to do this, is so that hopefully, I can do much more to help children in the world who are suffering with abuse and to tell those who are still dealing with the wounds from abuse about the love and healing power of Jesus Christ.
Take a moment with me as you read this to pause and gain the grim understanding that in this moment while you are reading, millions of children all over the world are being abused, either with physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.
While research varies from study to study, I have discovered that it is believed 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused and 1 in 13 boys are sexually abused every year here in the United States and that over 90% of the time their abuser is a relative or someone close to the family that they know. What I find heartbreaking is that America has one of the worst records of industrialized nations for child abuse or child neglect deaths. Childhelp.org statistics list America losing five children a year to abuse or neglect.
For me, it is not just heartbreaking, it is unfathomable and totally unacceptable. It is unacceptable that even one child anywhere in the world should die due to abuse or neglect. When will people learn that our children are the greatest treasures of this world? They are beautiful, incredible, special, irreplaceable rewards from God! They must be loved, cherished, provided for, cared for, constantly in every way, and if need be, fiercely protected. God tells us in Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.“
If someone won an Oscar, a Superbowl ring, or a gold medal, they would take excellent care of it, display it with pride and want the world to know that it was their reward. Yet, how much greater are our children than something which cannot love, cannot create, cannot live, move or have its being, cannot laugh, cannot speak, sing, play and touch the lives and hearts of others? I can tell you; our children supersede by far anything else you could possibly win, buy, or have in your life. Children are priceless.
So, if God wants to use me to do more works as a child advocate for safety and speak out in this nation and anywhere else in the world where He may open the doors for stronger laws to protect our precious children, then I will go. And if writing this story is the first step to be taken on that journey… I’m on my way!
So now, to tell this testimony from the beginning until now. In order to do that, I must go back to my beginning when I was born… actually, I can go back even farther to the time when my mother was pregnant with me.
My father had given my mother Hepatitis in the early days of her pregnancy with me. She was quite ill and had been hospitalized for it. After many days in the hospital, she was released, and my father took her to her parents’ house. I was told he kissed her on the head, said he was going to get her suitcases and never came back.
As my mother’s pregnancy continued along with her illness, her doctor spoke to her about having an abortion as an “act of mercy” for my life. Her doctor explained that due to the severity of her illness I would be born with serious birth defects, such as my hands and feet being fused together, having possible brain damage and that I would never live a normal or long life.
I’m sure by now you understand by my love for children that I am a ProLife supporter, and this is just one of the reasons why. I am now and always will be thankful to my mother for choosing to let me have my life.
When I was born, I did have some issues to tend to and had to remain in the hospital for a few days, but it was nothing at all like the doctor had warned. I had a hearing condition, which Jesus miraculously healed when I was thirty years old. I had a small heart situation, which Jesus miraculously healed when I was a teenager. I had some trouble with my ligaments being too small, which Jesus healed through time and dance, and I battle asthma. I give praise to You, my Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me a strong and healthy body and mind! God had His mighty hand upon me then and He still has it on me now!
Because my mother was still recovering from hepatitis after I was born, she couldn’t work, and because she had been abandoned by her husband and needed help caring for me, my grandparents lovingly opened their arms and home to us.
There were some connected to us who did not like this arrangement. I have many times put myself in their place to see if I could understand why. My grandfather was not the same man in his elderly years that he had been in his youth. Jesus was the difference for him. My grandmother was raised in a home that loved and served Jesus. I don’t know whether my grandfather was raised in a home like that or not. I believe he surrendered his heart to Jesus a bit later in life. I know that he was quite hard and at times abusive to his own children. So, I could understand why it would be difficult for those to have known my grandfather as they did when they were younger and then see him, as a man saved by the grace of God, interact so differently with me.
While I tried to see things from their perspectives, I don’t believe that exchange was made for me. They seemed to have forgotten I was an innocent baby. I could do nothing to care for myself, or choose where I lived, or have any say in any matter whatsoever. I was so powerless for so many years over so many events that took place in my childhood.
For me, my grandfather, Samuel Boone, “Papa” as I called him, was all the father that I needed in my life. He and my grandmother, whom I called “Mema”, had endured a terrible car accident a couple of months before I was born. Papa’s leg was severely injured in the accident. He was stuck at home, could not work, and from what my grandmother told me, he was batting depression over his injury and situation. Then here we come, a baby and mother recovering from sickness and abandonment, needing a home, care, and love… and we found it. One of the most beautiful and precious relationships of my life was with my Papa and although I know there were those who were envious of it, I will for the rest of my days be so very thankful to God for having him in my life.
As time went on and I began to grow and communicate, I always knew there were those connected…related to me who did not like me, and they did not like my mother and I living with my grandparents. The feelings they had were not contained but were openly shared with others and taught to their children who began mimicking the example set before them on how I was to be treated, how I was spoken to, and the place in which I was to be kept… which was always firmly beneath them… like a doormat.
I have had this kind of “doormat” experience with other people through the years. Perhaps I still have to shed old ways of thinking about and seeing myself. Still, God has given me a heart that loves people and for many years I kept trying to be the person that would please them. The problem with that is, when there are people who just don’t like you, it doesn’t matter what you do, you will never please them. Joel Osteen once said, “Don’t waste your time with people who are determined not to understand you.” So, then you must make a choice, do I keep trying? Or do I move on and pour my love into others who will receive it?
I also learned that when a person places pleasing others higher in their goals of life than pleasing God, that is a form of idolatry for there is no one we should strive to please more than God. I always tell my children, “Strive each day to please God, our Father in Heaven, and by doing so, you will always please me.”
I don’t know what I would do without my Father, God, Adonai. I remember the first time I realized I didn’t have a father. It was Father’s Day. I was at church and all the children were making Father’s Day cards for their fathers. I made one for Papa. I was very young and could only write my name because I hadn’t started school yet. I remember the Sunday School room, the table I sat at, and the chair I sat at.
“Who did you make a Father’s Day card for?” I was asked by one of the children of those who did not like me.
“For Papa,” I answered.
“He’s not your father, he’s your grandpa. You don’t have a father,” was the reply I received.
I can still travel back through time to this very significant moment and remember all the curiosities and confusions which flooded into my young mind and heart. I felt that statement with my whole being. I didn’t have a father? Why was that? Who was my father? That is another story for another time—and it is quite a story too! But this that was spoken to me, is a perfect example of a child repeating something they had learned from the adult examples in their life… and it impacted and troubled my heart deeply.
This kind of treatment practiced by those who did not like me laid the bricks to pave the road which led to the beginning of my sexual abuse the same summer as that Father’s Day.
Those who held such disdain in their hearts toward me over circumstances that were totally beyond my control had shared and taught their feelings and thoughts to those around them well. How these adults treated me set the tone for their offspring to not only follow their example, but their tone seemed to give permission to remove all boundaries to take negative treatment of me even farther.
I remember vividly the day the sexual abuse first began. I had not yet started school.
I remember my first day of school so well. At this time in my life, I was an only child, and I couldn’t wait to go to school and make new friends. Plus, I have always had a profound love for learning. I remember getting up at the crack of dawn to get dressed and went into my mother to announce I was ready to go. My mother told me to go back to bed because it was too early. I turned five years old on August 26th and started school that fall. The sexual abuse began in June, the summer before school started. I was still four years old.
My mother was a single parent and at this time in my life, she worked full-time and there were days when she needed help with childcare from relatives who did not charge her for it.
This is how the one who abused me was able to open the door of darkness to my life.
I don’t place blame on my mother for the things which happened to me by this person. She was trying to work to support us and needed someone to watch after me.
I do have to admit that there have been moments when I have wondered what my life might have looked like if I hadn’t been where he could get to me.
I will not go into all the details of what all took place in this testimony. As I wrote before, this is my first public step out of this shadow and at this point in time I am still not ready to write about those specific events. Honestly, as I am right now, I don’t know if I would ever be able to do that. I wouldn’t wish anyone to have to read that either.
What I can tell you is that day, that moment, and all the other moments afterward, changed me– and not for the good. It wasn’t just me, but my entire world changed. I felt like a terrible shadow was constantly haunting me, hovering over me everywhere I went and with it a weight upon my little shoulders that I could not break free from. My eyes had been opened to sexual activities that they should not have been opened to at such a tender age. I felt sick to my stomach, dirty in a way that could not be washed, confused, terrified, and full of shame. I was too young to understand the feelings I had or have the words to express those feelings. I was only a four-year-old little girl, and I wasn’t the one who did the bad things, but I knew what was happening to me was bad and wrong, it felt wrong… and it made me sick.
From that day forward, I carried this burden of wickedness with me everywhere I went, every single day. There was no place I went where I could escape it because you cannot escape the thoughts and memories that are in your mind and heart.
I believe when God creates a child, He gives them an innocence of mind, purity of spirit and tenderness of heart that seems to create a beautiful blindness to the things which are evil in the world. I believe children are created with the same filters that Adam and Eve had in their beginning days in the Garden of Eden. They are not born with the understanding of things which are evil. We are born with an innocent spirit of goodness that comes from God. So, when someone comes to a child, just as the serpent came to Eve, and wicked events begin to unfold in that child’s life that should never take place, their eyes, just like Adam and Eve’s, are suddenly and instantly opened to evil and wickedness, which always, always is attached to darkness. Although the child might not be able to explain what evil or wickedness is in words, they certainly do feel it and their mind, spirit, and heart know instinctively it is wrong.
In order to keep me silent so I would not tell anyone what was happening to me, fear tactics and threats were placed into my young psyche. This person was over a decade older than I, he was tall, cunning, manipulative, and quite intimidating. I became instantly fearful of him. His very presence filled me with so much pain, confusion, and shame. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t understand why it was happening to me and all I wanted to do was try to figure out a way to make it stop… but my fear held me in the bondage of his control.
I tried to internalize my fear, embarrassment, and disgust inside, to press it all down and hold it there so that no one knew what was happening to me after all he would tell me “No one can know.” But I was so little and didn’t even understand about all the different emotions a person can have much less how to handle them. I was also surrounded by generations who didn’t understand the benefit that crying brings to a person’s health and always heard phrases like, “Now stop your crying”, or “Be brave”, or “Let’s just be happy!” So, my fears and emotions would come out in other forms. I developed a terrible nervous habit of biting my nails, sometimes to the point of bleeding. Nightmares became a constant in my life as well… terrible nightmares that I have battled for decades. I also developed a tactic of biting the insides of my mouth to keep my lips from quivering when I felt like crying. I did this to the point where dentists have offered to surgically remove the large skin tags that have now formed there.
When I had to be around this person, I would tense up from my head to my toes and feel nervousness and sickness in my stomach. I couldn’t concentrate, gather my thoughts, or breathe properly. My hands would tremble, and my legs always felt weak. I tried to keep my eyes fixed downward. His presence literally made my skin crawl.
The abuse took place over the course of the next few years whenever he could get me alone. Sometimes getting me alone was to keep me out in a field behind the mulberry tree after the rest of the kids we were playing with ran inside. This would happen even while my mother and others were right inside his house. Some moments took place inside his house, some in his bathroom, one incident took place in his siblings’ bedroom upon his sibling’s bed.
I remember thinking to myself, maybe if I threw up on him, he would stop and not want to do this to me anymore. Yet even though I always felt sick to my stomach, I didn’t know how to make myself throw up. The fear would overtake me, and I felt totally and completely powerless to stop it. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I could hardly move. I closed my eyes and tried to think of being somewhere else. It was as if my fear paralyzed me.
Then there was the humiliation by this person that would take place in front of others. I remember one time I was sitting next to one of my relatives who was a very beautiful girl and the one who abused me would complement her and talk about how beautiful she was to other others in the room. Then he would look at me and say, “And look at you! You look like a little old lady!” I was just a child when he said this, but his words made me feel ugly and small.
It was a never ending, constant stream of degradation and humiliation that took place, not just with the one who abused me but those around him as well. Sometimes I spoke back and tried to stand up for myself, but that just brought more mocking, abasement, or chastisement for me being a mouthy spoiled brat and talking back disrespectfully. I knew they believed my place was under their feet, always a doormat—and doormats don’t speak.
This doormat mentality I have battled for years and one reason my counselors have all said is I often say, “I’m sorry” to others, even when I have no cause to do so.
I have learned that for children who have been sexually abused under the age of six, the abuser is usually a relative. While sexual abuse can take place anywhere a child is present, many times the abuse takes place in their own home, often in their own room. This can often make the child come to dread their room and be present in it. This was not the case for me.
My abuse took place at my abuser’s home, and that home was a place I associated with nothing but darkness, fear, confusion, and pain. So, my place of refuge was the place I called home, the home of Mema and Papa. In this home I had a little room with my own bed, belongings, and toys. There was also a wonderful backyard with a swing-set and a playhouse that my grandfather had built for my mother and aunt when they were little girls. This was no ordinary playhouse either. Because it was constructed by my grandfather, it had a porch, a locking door, tile floor and electricity. I loved playing in that beautiful little house. I also loved climbing the trees in my grandparents’ backyard and picking fruit to enjoy while I sat on a branch. This was a home where I felt joy. A home that was full of love. A home where I felt safe. Looking back, I again can thank God for those days and that home.
When I was six years old, I experienced something that helped take my mind off the feelings I had from the sexual abuse. On May 25, 1977, my mother took me and one of my cousins to see Star Wars. It was opening night at the Cine Capri theater on 24th Street and Camelback. I remember it all vividly. The line was wrapped around the building to get inside. People were so excited, but I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. I just knew I loved seeing movies and was happy to be there. Once I saw it, even at age six, I understood Star Wars was like nothing anyone had ever seen before.
Once I had seen it and experienced this galaxy far, far away from a long time ago, and all the characters there, it changed everything—not just for how movies were made, but for how kids my age played. I loved Princess Leia. She was so beautiful and although she was a beautiful princess, she was strong, a warrior, intelligent and not afraid to stand up to the dark side. I loved her, and I loved using my imagination to pretend that I was Princess Leia. That Christmas my mother bought me a lightsaber. It was my favorite toy and I wished at times that it was real so that I could use it to defend myself against the one who abused me. I can laugh now when I tell you that I imagined myself cutting off certain “parts” of him, but back then I was serious.
I am still a Star Wars fan today and enjoy all the stories and movies with my children, but what I learned is that the problem with leaning upon things of the world to help you battle darkness is that the things of the world hold no supernatural power to do that. Things of the world bring happiness that is different from the joy of Jesus Christ. Happiness from things in the world is fleeting. So, when I stopped pretending to be Princess Leia and had to just be me, I was right back to dealing with those same old feelings. I had not yet learned to place all my trust, hope and feelings into the hands of Jesus Christ.
When I was seven years old a great transition came harshly and suddenly to my life, and it happened in the middle of the night.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of a commotion. It frightened me because I had no idea what was happening. I jumped out of bed and found my mother and grandfather very upset with one another. My grandmother was away, I believe she was in West Virginia visiting her family.
I was still trying to wake up and everything seemed like a whirlwind of motion around me. The next thing I knew my mother was gathering some of our things for us to leave and stay at her friend’s house. Her name was Marilyn.
This moment in my life was so terribly painful, so full of confusion and fear. I remember standing on the front porch in my pajamas in the middle of the night crying, clinging to Papa’s hand, begging not to have to leave. Papa was crying too. As we left, I remember looking out of Marilyn’s car window to see him standing on the porch. I cried all through the night until I collapsed from exhaustion.
The next day I had to get up and go to school. But before I did, my mother told me that we were going to move to Mesa to live with my Aunt Cookie and her family. I remember when she took me to school, I was so tired, sick to my stomach, totally distraught and confused. I was trying to hide my crying and be brave, but when she was gone and as I walked to my classroom, the tears came flowing down like a flood and there was nothing that could hold them back.
I was in the second grade and my teacher, a lovely lady that I loved so much named Mrs. Nash, came to my table and was trying to find out why I was crying. I hardly knew what to say, but I told her and my friends that something had happened during the night, and I didn’t know why but I had to move away to Mesa. I remember my sweet friends, especially my best friend, Echo Gaffney, and some other very sweet girls came to hug me. They were crying too. I didn’t want to leave school that day. I knew that when I did, I would be leaving all I knew behind. My school, my friends, my home, and Mema and Papa.
When my mom picked me up her car was full of our things. We left and went to Mesa that day.
Inside my heart was breaking. I didn’t understand why these things were happening, but I was powerless to stop them.
My mother wanted me to look at the positive things and not the negative. So, I tried.
The good part of moving to Mesa with my Aunt Cookie were my cousins John and Jeremy. John, Johnny as I called him, was my favorite cousin. He was five years older than I and was always so kind to me. He played with me so much and we had a lot in common. We loved music, art, horses, playing games, and using our imaginations. John constantly would make me laugh, so hard sometimes that I would have an asthma attack! But I was so glad he did. My cousin Jeremy was six years younger than I and oh, how I loved to help take care of him and play with him. He was such a cute and precious baby.
My Aunt Cookie and Uncle Earl were also very loving and very kind to me. Aunt Cookie loved to make me clothes as she only had boys, and my Uncle Earl loved to play and make me laugh. They also had very sweet little dogs that I loved so much, Noel, the mama and her son, Snowball. I am one who believes in the healing help that can come from animals. I have been blessed to have many loving pets in my life and I understand the calming joy that they can bring.
Having John and Jeremy to play with every day helped me so much with this transition and I will always be so grateful to them for their love during these days. Yet, here was another abusive problem that I would encounter at my new school Adam’s Elementary in Mesa, Arizona. I was placed into the second-grade class of a woman, that for this story, I will call Miss Laney.
On the outside, Miss Laney might be described as an attractive young lady. She was very petite and had long brown hair which she mainly kept in a ponytail. Most would say she had a pleasant face, and she wore large, rounded, brown-framed glasses. When I first met her, I thought she was pretty… but that impression changed very quickly. I soon would think her to be one of the ugliest women I had ever seen, because she showed me what her heart looked like.
My second-grade teacher Mrs. Nash, who taught at my previous school, Tavan Elementary, was just like a loving grandmother. So kind, so patient. All her students loved and respected her. Miss Laney was nothing like Mrs. Nash. When I was child, I didn’t think Miss Laney should have been allowed to be a teacher. I still believe that to this day. It wasn’t because she was abusive to me, it was because she was abusive to another little girl, but what I saw impacted my heart even until this day.
One of my flaws in life is remembering names accurately. I want to say the little girl’s name was something like Olivia, or Rosa, maybe Rosalita? I just remember it was a beautiful name, just like the little girl. She was a Hispanic little girl with beautiful black hair, deep brown eyes with long eye lashes. For this story I will call her Rosalita.
Because I came into the class as a new student, I was placed in one of the empty desks in the back of the room which was fine with me. Rosalita sat in the front row in the far-right corner seat, but it also gave me a bird’s eye view of all that would take place in that classroom.
If Miss Laney called on Rosalita to ask her a question and if Rosalita didn’t know the answer, Miss Hany would scream—and I mean scream at her.
“You need to think! Turn on your brain and think! What’s wrong with you? Are you stupid? Use your head!”
Then she would take one of the chalkboard erasers and hit Rosalita on the top of her head. She would do this over and over and every time she did it, the eraser left a chalk imprint on the little girl’s beautiful, shiny, black hair.
I remember gripping the edge of my seat and biting the insides of my mouth because I was so scared of Miss Laney… and at the same time so angry at her for treating the little girl like that. It broke my heart to another child treated so badly. The poor little girl would bury her head in her arms upon her desk and cry. It made me want to cry too, but I would bite down on the insides of my mouth instead to try and “be brave.”
The whole class would become quite silent when Miss Laney would rage like this against the little girl. I often wondered if the other children were as frightened by Miss Laney as I was. I cannot tell you if she ever did this to another student. I only saw her do it to Rosalita and I saw it too many times. Each time it broke my heart. It breaks my heart still. Even now while I am writing this and remembering how scared the little girl was, and how abused she was, tears are filling my eyes.
Here was a precious little girl no more than seven years old, who had come to school to learn, but instead was being screamed at, hit in the head and called stupid in front of all her classmates because she didn’t know the answer to something. And the person screaming, abusing, and humiliating her was someone who was supposed to be teaching her, caring for her… protecting her.
I tried very hard to become friends with Rosalita, but she was so withdrawn and shy. Who could blame her? Some of the other girls in the class were so kind to her and I would see them rally around her when we had story time on the rug or when we played at recess. One girl in particular, I believe her name was Andy, she was so very sweet, well liked, and was so kind to all the children, especially Rosalita. It helped my heart to see others cared about what was happening to Rosalita—and they had experienced much longer than I did.
I also saw strange moments when Miss Laney had some sort of regret for how she had belittled and berated the child and she would take her a tissue and try to clean out the chalk from her hair and dry her eyes. Rosalita was too scared to do or say much. She obviously had no trust for Miss Laney. Neither did I. But Miss Laney’s regret didn’t last long and after a day or two she was right back at abusing the poor girl in front of us all. Miss Laney made me too scared to raise my hand in this class for fear of having the wrong answer.
I told my mother about what was happening to the little girl in my class and how much I did not like Miss Laney. I honestly don’t know if anything ever changed for the beautiful, sweet, brave, and strong little girl. She was so strong to endure all that she did and keep coming back to school every day. But I was only in that class for a few months. My mother found us a little two-bedroom apartment on Portland and 40th Street back in Phoenix. We moved into that apartment, and I was placed back in my second-grade class at Tavan with my sweet, loving Mrs. Nash and all my wonderful friends who welcomed me back with open, loving arms. I hope if they read this story someday, they will have a better understanding of just how much they meant to me and how thankful I am to have had them in my life.
I always wondered if things got any better for the poor little girl who, for whatever wicked reason, be it her race, her wrong answers, or her unfortunate seat in the class, was so terribly treated by Miss Laney. I still have nightmares about being in that classroom and seeing the little girl cry. Some may think that is silly, having nightmares about a little girl I hardly even knew. But what I saw deeply impacted my soul and because of my love for children and desire to protect them, those memories haunt me still. I wanted so much to hug the little girl after those horrible Miss Laney moments and to have the courage to tell Miss Laney to stop being so mean and be kind. I can still see the little girl’s tear-streaked face. I still see and hear Miss Laney bending down to get in her face and yell at her while hitting her on the head with the eraser. It hurts my heart even now.
I want to do as God has directed me and say if that little girl, who would now be fifty years old like me, is out there and somehow through a miracle of God reads this testimony, I want to tell her to please reach out to me. I would love to see you again and hug you. I want to tell you that I’m so sorry I didn’t do more to help you. You never deserved to be treated the way you were. You were then, and I am certain still are, a beautiful person, you are smart, gentle, and so important. Jesus loves you more than you could possibly imagine, and I hope that you have been able to forgive Miss Laney and heal from those days in her second-grade class.
These painful memories and stories are part of why I do what I do though our work with The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. to try and help children whenever and wherever possible. I know I can’t help them all, but I believe what our slogan says,
“When you love a child, you change the world.”
Moving back to Phoenix held so many wonderful blessings for my life. My mother and I now had our own little home. I had some friends in the apartment complex that I really liked to play with and there was a stray cat that like me, I called him “Bo” and I loved playing with him. I was back in my school with all my friends since kindergarten, and I was getting to spend time with my grandparents again. All these things helped me so much.
The one thing which wasn’t a blessing… I was going to be placed from time to time back in the home of my abuser who wasted no time in picking up where he had left off. Only now, I was a little bit older and a little bit smarter. I had learned how he would keep me behind in the field behind his house when we were playing outside, so I tried my best to make sure I was never left behind. I tried to keep myself in the presence of other people or kids anytime he was present. The abuse was only able to continue when his parents would trust him to leave me in his care with no one else in the house… and that I had no power to stop.
During, after, and in-between the moments of sexual abuse I would dive down deep into my imagination to cope with my feelings about it. When I got home, I would sing, play my records and storybook records, dance, draw pretend I was Princess Leia in a galaxy far, far away. I would write stories or plays, and I would always hug my teddy bear, Strapper. This is one of the reasons why I believe every child needs a teddy bear to hug. I hardly ever went anywhere without my teddy bear Strapper or a little stuffy tucked in my arm, whether a bear, an elephant or puppy, I always had a little stuffed critter to hold and soothe me.
I had learned how to pray at that time in my life, yet there was a struggle for me when it came to praying about the sexual abuse. I prayed about many things in my life, but this… well, this was very different. I was so ashamed of it and how it made me feel and I had been conditioned not to tell anyone about what was happening to me. So being a child who was still learning who Jesus is, I didn’t know if I should talk about those things with Him. In my mind I thought, if it makes me feel this ugly, this dirty, sick, and wrong, I should not share it with anyone, including Jesus. I always felt the heavy, dark shadow of shame hovering over me.
If only I knew then what I know now… that none of it was my fault.
There were good days in between the abusive ones that helped me greatly. My mother worked very hard to always provide me (and later, my brother) with as many good things for our lives that she could provide and I was so grateful for all that she did. In addition to that, she always gave us such wonderful birthday parties, Christmases, Easter Sundays, Halloweens, any holiday that we could plan something fun, she did. This is one of the reasons why I love celebrating holidays so much! They were connected to moments of joy and light. Though there were occasions when I had to be at family parties or gatherings for the holidays which involved the one who had abused me, there were no moments of abuse by him that took place during the holidays. I thank God for that.
After studying about the 5 Love Languages, I believe my mother’s first love language is in giving things. She’s very good at giving to others and enjoys it. She also loved to play games, watch funny movies and from time to time, because it was much more affordable back then, she, my aunt, and one of her childhood friends would all load up their cars and kids and we would head for Disneyland, or Knott’s Berry Farm, or Sea World or the beach. Disneyland became an incredible place for me to visit. Talk about getting lost in your imagination! It was like being in imagination heaven! I found it to be a place where I could totally disconnect myself from the real world and submerge myself in the happiness of imagination and play.
Nature also played a great part in my healing and happiness. The beach also became a very special place for me as a child. Being there and seeing just how incredibly big it was helped me remember how incredibly big my God who made it is and that helped me so much. Whenever we came home from a trip where a visit to the beach was included, I felt like I felt the peace of God washing over me through foamy waters of the ocean’s shore. But the first place in nature I experienced where I could feel this kind of peace was in the woods of the Ponderosa Pines. My grandparents had a place just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona where Mema would take me on long walks and picnics in the woods and pour into me teachings about the love and power of Jesus Christ. I really love to be in the woods where I can also be close to a creek or a stream. The sound of flowing water soothes me. I personally believe God heals me when I can get away from man made things and be in a place of God made things for a while… it makes me smile. (Yes, I’m writing a song about that!) For me, being in a place like a forest where everything which surrounds me was made by the hand of God, I just feel so much closer to Him there. I hear His voice whispering in the wind through the trees. I feel His love towering over me like the tall trees of the forest. I see the works of His mighty hands all around me in all the works of nature and the critters who live there. God created and takes care of them all, and I know He created me and will take care of me.
I was also so grateful to have had such a wonderful church to grow up in.
My maternal grandmother, my “Mema”, always tried her best to follow God’s Word and raise all her children in church, my mother followed that example well. I will always be thankful that my mother took me to church and if she couldn’t, she made sure someone else got me there.
The church we attended back then was the 44th Street Church of God. This was an organization based out of Cleveland, Tennessee. It was a Bible believing, spirit filled, Pentecostal church.
My grandmother began attending the church before my mother was born. She was born and raised in it and so was I.
44th Street was an amazing church planted by an incredible man whom we lovingly called Brother Diffie. Brother Hurschel Diffie truly was a pioneer and a visionary in the ministry, he was man before his time. His wife Hazel, who was always at work by his side, was just a precious as he was. Brother Diffie’s ministry was richly blessed because of his great heart for people and desire to obey God. He sincerely and deeply loved people. He and his wife, Hazel, both showed that love to all who attended the 44th Street church. Bro. Diffie had a gift of being able to see the goodness in a person, even when others couldn’t. I thank God that I was raised in this church and had the honor of being raised under Brother Diffie’s ministry. I have never found a shepherd like him since and even wrote a song, “To Be A Shepherd” to commemorate his ministry and honor his life. I wrote a separate story about Brother Diffie if you would like to learn more about this amazing man of God. https://wordpress.com/post/angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/1821
My children’s church minister was also a woman before her time, Laverne McCune. She and her family; husband Phil, a precious, gentle, and kind man, and their three beautiful, loving, patient and cheerful daughters Patti, Nancy, and Becky, all ran the children’s church department, dedicating themselves to educating the children of the 44th Street Church faithfully in the knowledge of the Bible, music, worship and in giving. It was Laverne who planted the love of musicals in my heart. She and her family produced incredible children’s Christmas musicals and we all looked forward to them every year. It is in Laverne’s children’s choir and musicals that I got my start and why I was a Musical Theater major and became a director for musicals and children’s choirs.
Another lady in the church who deeply inspired me was Dorothy Brooks. She was the music minister and choir director when I was young and was a blessing to me throughout my life. God created me with a great passion for music and I found so much comfort in being able to play and sing, especially when I was singing for Jesus. Dorothy allowed me to join the adult choir when I was eleven years old, no questions asked. Her daughter Sandy was one of the most petite and loveliest ladies in the choir and because I was shorter than Sandy, I stood next to her. Sandy took me under her wing, was so kind to me, and taught me many things about being a choir member. Later in life, Dorothy’s torch for directing the 44th Street Choir which then became the Parkway Community Church Choir would be passed to me. An honor in my life and work that I will always praise God for giving me.
It is because of Brother Diffie, Dorothy, Laverne, and her family, among other wonderful staff, and many loving congregation members, that inspired myself and so many others to love being at the
44th Street Church every time the doors were open–and we were! I am so thankful that I learned at a very young age to pray and talk to Jesus about my troubles. Brother Diffie, Laverne, and Dorothy had no idea all that I was experiencing and living with as child, but I am thankful that God placed me in that church and placed them in my life to help me through years which were full of so many difficult challenges. They were great sources of joy and the light of God for my life. I hope that with this story I give them proper, heartfelt thanks and to take what I learned from their ministry and apply it to mine to pass onto the children I will encounter in the years to come.
I have a special story about an encounter I had with Jesus at a church youth camp when I was seven years old, I wrote about it in my story titled: https://wordpress.com/post/angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/1749
If you would like to read that to have a better understanding of the beautiful work that God did in my young life during that week. I know that Jesus touched me at that youth camp. I believe he wanted to let me know He is real and to let me know He saw and knew every single thing that had been happening to me and that He was there to listen to me. Nothing too ugly or too wrong is too hard for Him to handle.
I have learned that in the Hebrew language, the number seven represents completion. The youth camp was in June of my seventh year, and I turned eight that August. In Hebrew, eight represents new beginnings. I have also learned that there is no word in the Hebrew language for “coincidence”. It was no coincidence that I felt God touch me in my seventh year. It was divine. I know it was Him and no one will ever change my mind about it. His touch was to strengthen me for the days ahead.
I believe I was the age of eight when my mother married again and another door to another kind of darkness would be opened to my life. I knew this man was not good from the night we met him. It wasn’t something I could explain with words, but I felt it in my soul. The night my mother left for Las Vegas to marry him I chose to stay with my grandparents. I cried in my Mema’s arms all night… and she cried with me.
Although I did not like my stepfather and did not want my mother to marry him, a great blessing came to my life from that marriage right before I turned ten years old. That was the gift of my baby brother whom I cherished and adored. There was another blessing for me in the fact that I didn’t have to be left in the presence of the one who abused me anymore after my mother re-married. But I quickly learned, I had gone from one challenging abusive situation to another.
While my stepfather was not physically or sexually abusive to me, the mental and emotional abuse was a constant. There were too many moments when he was abusive to my baby brother and, at times, to my mother. I saw many of these moments and I remember them still. To this day I can still wake up crying with nightmares of things I saw happen to my brother as a baby. I have sought counseling to help me deal with those nightmares and the emotions I still feel which can be overwhelming and I know I still need more counseling. These moments are deeply pressed into my mind and soul. They haunt me.
My stepfather at times could be so calm, so cool, and then would go into a rage over something so quickly. He would literally come at us like a Silverback Gorilla all puffed up and ready to attack with the expression of a snarling monster upon his face. He literally would twist his face and curl his lips into the most hideous expressions to intimidate and frighten us. He was about five feet, ten inches in height and was one of the strongest men I had ever seen. An ex-marine, he hardly wore shirts at home and when he was mad it was like every muscle in his body was tensed up and ready to fight.
My stepfather usually did harmful things to my brother when my mother wasn’t around. He was very sly, calculated, and full of cowardice, after all, only a coward will abuse a child—especially a baby. Whenever I would tell what I saw him doing, he would calmly smooth it all over, manipulating anyone I told and turning it back onto me. I was always lying, exaggerating, or hadn’t seen or heard things right. When I told my mother things I saw, I heard him remind her that I never liked him and was always trying to cause division between the her and him. I was always the problem.
The first time I remember seeing my stepfather doing something inappropriate with my brother, my brother was an infant baby. He wasn’t more than two months old, perhaps younger, still very much a newborn baby. I’m not exactly sure where my mother was, I believe she had gone to the store. We were living in a two-bedroom duplex. I still remember the floor plan of that place perfectly. The baby’s change stand was in my mother and stepfather’s room on the east wall. I had been outside skating on the driveway and came into the kitchen to get a drink. While there, I kept hearing something strange about the baby’s cry from the other room. I could hear my brother crying and then suddenly I wouldn’t, then I would hear it stronger and louder, and then it would suddenly stop. I went toward the bedroom and while standing in the hall, I could see the changing table through the doorway and the baby lying upon it. His father was taking his hand and holding it over the baby’s mouth, then he would release it and say, “Stop it, stop crying, shut up,” as he did this. I watched, bewildered by what I was seeing but quickly realized this was why the baby’s cry was so strange. In the next moment my stepfather would blow extremely hard, as if he were blowing out candles on a birthday cake into the baby’s face. The baby’s body would convulse as he was gasping for air, his little arms and legs paddling the air as if he were drowning, and as soon as he had his air and started to cry again, his father went back to covering the baby’s little mouth with his hand. When I saw the poor baby desperately trying to get air, I shouted at my stepfather, “STOP IT! Stop doing that to him!” Then I ran in and tried to soothe my poor brother whose color by now was a deep shade of red. I remember tears filling my eyes as I nuzzled my face close to his. I remember the beautiful smell of his head and the velvety feel of his skin. I just kept stroking his little red face and head, and my hands were trembling.
It never entered my mind that anyone could do anything which could harm a precious, innocent baby. I was overwhelmed with so many feelings; sadness for my baby brother, fear from what I had just seen and anger and confusion toward my stepfather as to why he would do such a thing to such a precious baby.
My stepfather scolded me and said he wasn’t doing anything wrong, that he was just playing with the baby. But I knew it was wrong. I knew what I saw, the baby was dark red from crying so hard and struggling to breathe. I knew my stepfather was lying. I knew he was not playing. He was tired of hearing the baby cry, why else would he say, “Stop it, stop crying, shut up?”
When my mother came home, I told her what I saw, but when she asked her husband about it, he turned it back upon me. He said I was totally exaggerating the situation. He was just playing with the baby; everything was fine, and I was just trying to cause problems.
I still have nightmares about this moment. My eyes are filled with tears just writing this.
I remembered the very first time when I tried to tell my mother about things my stepfather did before my brother was born. My stepfather had picked me up from school one day and stopped to check the air in the tires. The air device wasn’t working, and he began cursing, using words I only heard from older kids in school. I told my mother about it, but he blamed me and convinced her that I was just telling her things because I didn’t like him.
It was then I began to realize that my word was not going to be worth as much as this man’s. As time went on, I would learn that I was not going to be listened to.
One of the moments I remember and still have nightmares about didn’t just affect my brother, my mother, and myself, we also had a dear friend, Nancy, who was staying with us at the time. It affected her too as she went through it with us.
My stepfather had gotten drunk and came home to the small two-bedroom duplex that we lived in. My brother was just an infant baby at the time, so I was probably ten years old or so. I remember it vividly. He came home and my mother wouldn’t let him inside the house. He was furious and told her to stand back because he had his gun and was just going to start shooting.
I remember Nancy huddling down in the hallway with my brother and myself trying to keep us away from any of the windows in the duplex while my mother called the police. I was so scared I couldn’t speak. I was trembling and trying to be quiet and hide with Nancy. My stepfather was arrested that night. The police arrived and he was put on all fours in the street, hand-cuffed and taken away, drunk, angry, violent… yet, after a couple of days, he was right back with us in the duplex like nothing had ever happened. I had struggled to feel safe or at peace with this man before this night, but after this night, I never felt safe with this man.
I wasn’t supposed to talk about these kinds of incidents. I wasn’t supposed to ask questions or talk about how I felt about them, and I especially wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else. I was to press it down, hide it, keep it quiet, and move forward. I’m reminded of Queen Elsa from Frozen when she sings “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show.” I had to pretend like everything was fine… but everything was not fine. So, I turned to my coping mechanisms. I would say a prayer and then would dive into my music, stories, and imagination.
One night I remember being awakened to the sound of a commotion. It took me back to the night that I was taken from my home in the middle of the night and when I heard it, I was always very nervous. My brother was still a baby, and we shared a room. My bed was on the east wall of the room and his crib was on the south side. There were sounds of yelling mixed with other noises. I could hear physical action happening, the sounds of slapping and wrestling noises taking place. I was so scared. It woke my brother up and he was crying. I remember pulling him out of his crib and trying to rock him in my bed. Then I heard an incredibly loud thud like something crashing hard and my mother cried out. When I looked around the corner, I saw my stepfather standing close to her, his body in that gorilla-like attack position. I knew he had hurt her, and she was trying to pull herself up to the couch. I remember her saying something about him putting one of her “rib heads” out of place.
I was terrified. My fear took over and I was scared my stepfather might snap and do something to my brother because I had seen him do that before. Holding the baby in my arms, I ran out of the duplex to our neighbor next door whose name was Gary. He was a retired police officer. I told Gary that my stepfather had hurt my mother. Gary’s wife sat with me while he spoke with my mother. Gary and his wife were so kind. Then we went back home. I was put to bed and told to go to sleep because I had school the next day. Isn’t it interesting how adults think that children can just go to sleep and not have anything on their minds to keep them up, then go to school and keep their focus on their schoolwork and not what had happened in their home the night before?
One of the worst moments that haunts me still is after we had moved into a home located on a street called Roma. Our couch was on the north wall of the living room and the tv was on the south wall in front of the window. My mother had gone to the store, and I had been in the corner of the floor playing with my brother who was over a year old and toddling around. While I stayed on the floor playing and not paying attention to him as I should have, my brother toddled over to an end table and knocked over a large cup of sun tea my stepfather had made. It went everywhere. It was my stepfather’s fault for leaving it on the table within his reach, but he punished the baby. My stepfather jerked him up by his little arm and while the baby’s body was dangling in the air, he began to spank him, over… and over… and over. My stepfather was such a strong man, and he was spanking him with the force of how a person might beat a rug to pound the dirt out of it.
I can still see my baby brother’s body flailing in the air. I can still see the look of terror and pain on his precious little face. His skin turning red as he tried to cry but could hardly find the air to make a sound. I can still hear my stepfather hitting him and I can still hear the baby’s screams. Even now while writing this the tears are beginning to sting my eyes. I hate this memory. I hate that I have this burned into my mind and cannot escape it.
“Stop it! STOP IT!” I screamed. My stepfather looked at me with an expression of surprise, as if he had forgotten I was in the corner of the room playing on the floor. I think that is exactly what his expression reflected. He didn’t think anyone was there to see the wickedness he was doing to a precious, innocent, defenseless baby boy.
When my stepfather had these moments of rage, he absolutely, positively could not control himself. He put my brother on the floor and began cleaning up the spilled tea. I scooped my brother up in my arms and took him to my room. I shut the door and kissed his little head, rocking him in my little rocking chair I had there. I felt I had failed him. If I had been watching him better, he wouldn’t have spilled the glass of tea. I knew who my stepfather was. I knew what he was capable of, and I felt I should have protected my brother better than I did.
Those are just a very few of the moments that took place throughout the years. I don’t know if I can write anymore of them. These memories are so painful to think about, much less to write about. I don’t know if they will ever stop haunting me, coming to me in the night when I try to sleep. I honestly wonder if I will ever finish writing this testimony. And yet, I know that these kinds of things are happening to children right now, in this moment, somewhere in the world.
We must stop it.
These are the moments when I need the supernatural power of healing, love, and peace from my precious Savior, Jesus Christ.
No child deserves abuse. And this was especially true for my brother. He was such a precious baby and such a good little boy. I am not exaggerating anything when I say that as a child, I cannot remember him doing anything wrong. I don’t have any memories at all—not ever of my mother having to discipline him as a child or give him any consequences. If she did, I wasn’t there to know about it. My brother was a very nervous child. He worried so much, and it’s no wonder why. He was full of fear of not pleasing his abusive father. He was such a gentle, loving, kind, and obedient child who tried so hard to please everyone. He was a precious, good, kind boy.
The problem was that his father, my stepfather, had been abused as child and so he was repeating what he knew, he was passing on to his son all that he had learned as a little boy… and all he learned and knew about parenting children was wrong. It was wrong when it happened to him as a child, and it was wrong for him to pass the abuse on to his sweet little son.
My stepfather’s grandmother told us terrible stories about how he was not wanted or loved by his parents. One story I will never forget, she told us that his own mother, in a rage, had thrown a butcher’s knife at him when he was a very little boy, and he was so scared he went running out of the house. I believe she said he was only six years old when that happened to him. His grandmother, whom he called Grannie, did her best to show him as much love and care as she could, but the damage done to him by his mother was deep, how he was raised was what he knew about parenting, and he was repeating the cycle.
Hearing the stories from his grandmother did impact my heart very much and had he stopped his abusive behavior toward my brother it would have been much easier to feel compassion for him. But then I would see him do something else to his own precious son, and I just couldn’t feel sorry for him. I couldn’t feel sorry for man who was abusive to his own child and exploded in anger so inexcusably, so ridiculously. Even if my brother was not a sweet, good, boy, he still would not have deserved to be treated in such a way. But because he was so sweet and so good it made it all so much worse. It was my brother I felt sorry for.
I did tell some people about what I saw happening because I was not afraid of my stepfather hurting me like I had been afraid of the one who had sexually abused me. Some listened and believed me. Others did not. There were a couple of times during different summers, when my mother would pack us up and we would go and stay with her best friend and her family for a several days. I always had the hope that during one of these times my mother would finally make the decision to get us out of that situation for good, but we always went back.
I would see my poor brother trying so hard to please his father, living day to day with fear and anxiety inside of his little body because he didn’t know when he was going to set his father off. My brother had horrific stomach problems when he was a baby, as a boy and into his older years. It’s no wonder why. He internalized his feelings, suppressed what we weren’t to talk about, and tried to normalize what wasn’t at all normal. One thing I know is that feelings will come out one way or another at some point in time or another. You cannot suppress such things forever, internal pain like that takes its toll on one’s body and can manifest itself in other forms, especially through sickness.
This situation of abuse was so different for me. When I was enduring the sexual abuse that happened to me, I tried very hard to disconnect myself mentally from my body so I could get through it. I would close my eyes and imagine I was somewhere else. Afterward, I dove into my coping mechanisms to try and take it off my mind, to keep myself busy so that I didn’t think about it. But when I would see my stepfather in action, see the fear in my little brother’s face, see and hear him crying in pain and fear afterward, those wretched memories were burned into my mind and soul in ways I can never escape, not even with my powerful imagination.
I am fifty-one years old and although I still have these battles with these memories and nightmares, I believe there is a greater purpose for it all. God is not tormenting me with these memories, yet I believe many of them remain with me to drive me to do the work I do for children in need. I believe that through writing this story and finally stepping forward out of this shadow to lay this burden down completely at the feet of Jesus, He will then take it and turn it into something for good. This is just one of the many reasons why I love Jesus so much. This is why I place my hope in Him. I know when I pray, He listens to me and when I pray, I know He is always there to help me.
I can honestly say that I wished my stepfather would have tried to hurt me instead of my little brother. I believe it would have been easier for me to handle it if he had. I didn’t love him, but my brother did… at least he tried to, after all, that was the only father he had. He didn’t know any difference. I think it would have been easier for me to endure physical abuse to my body than to see it happen to an innocent, defenseless, child who was powerless to stop it.
As I grew older and saw or heard things that were happening to my brother, I didn’t hold back. I knew I wasn’t going to be listened to about the things I had tried to tell were happening, so I would intervene whenever I saw or heard something. I never did anything physical to my stepfather, but I would stand up for my brother and did so boldly… sometimes loudly as the years of this kind of lifestyle and behavior had built up a mountain of anger in my heart toward the man. Of course, doing this only got me into trouble. For years I had been told that I was the problem. I had always hated him and never wanted him to marry my mother. I was just jealous of him taking my mother away, and my jealousy and disobedience were constantly causing problems in the household. If only I would be respectful, be more obedient, and not constantly be so difficult, things would be better.
I have to say, there is some truth to that.
It is true, I never liked him. I knew he had a bad spirit from the start.
It is true that I didn’t want my mother to marry him, not out of possessiveness or jealousy, but because I knew he was not a good man. I did not want him for a stepfather, ever.
And it is true that I did not respect him. He didn’t give me any reason to.
The best thing he brought to us was his contribution to creating my little brother.
I also guess it was true that I was the problem because I hated how our household functioned.
I hated pretending all was well when it was not. I hated hiding everything and not being able to tell the truth about what was really happening.
I did try to look for the positives in the situation. While mental and emotional abuse and witnessing physical were part of my life, at least the sexual abuse had stopped as I wasn’t left within the clutches of that abuser anymore. Still, that wasn’t enough of a positive to help me. The pain of seeing my little brother abused was more than I could bear.
I found comfort for my soul knowing that God knew the truth. Nothing my stepfather could say or do would ever change that. God saw all. God heard all –nothing said or done can ever be hidden from Him. Nothing. Although I knew one day God would vindicate me that I wasn’t lying about what was happening, that didn’t stop the pain of seeing what was happening to my brother and being totally powerless to stop it. One night my soul cried out in desperation to God for help, and He answered.
For a period of time my stepfather worked for a company driving a truck and he was gone Monday through Friday. This job changed so much, it was a good paying job which blessed us financially very much, but more than that, for me it was the peace that was brought to the home that I cherished. That was worth more than anything he could earn monetarily. These days meant so much to me. I remember my mother was able to buy a family zoo membership and she would take us to the zoo as often as possible. Back then, we could feed the ducks and we would save up all our old bread just so we could go sit by one of the ponds at the zoo and feed the ducks—and the fish. This is just one of the sweet memories I have of that peaceful time. I loved those days at the zoo with my mother and brother. One Friday night, my stepfather came home from his work week and surprised my brother and I with a puppy. I couldn’t believe it! She was one of the cutest puppies I had ever seen, and we named her Jasmine.
Sadly, that peace didn’t last. I was too young to know all the details, but for whatever reason, he was let go from the job… and was back home every day. Also sadly, our little dog Jasmine suddenly and mysteriously died. I found her body in the backyard, hidden behind my wagon. We never knew what had killed her. She was just a little over a year old.
As the years went on, there were moments where I felt my stepfather really and truly wanted to change. He would go to the altar at church and cry while praying very sincerely. There were nights when I saw him reading his Bible and we began having family Bible studies and prayer nights in our home from time to time. There were moments during holiday and birthday celebrations where things were much more peaceful and joyful, enjoyable. My mother loved to have different family members and friends over to play games, watch movies and have pizza. These moments were also wonderful, and I really cherished every moment like this that we had… but the devil never wants anyone happy or to have healing and goodness, especially families. Satan loves to tear families apart.
When I entered high school at Arcadia, I began dealing with many effects from my sexual abuse. I was growing and developing and was entering into stages of life that are challenging for everyone: my teenage years. I was damaged good in so many ways, so full of emotions that I didn’t know how to express and had learned through the years to suppress. Bottom line, I was a mess.
One day I had a shock.
I made a beautiful friend in my drama class who had a crush on a guy she knew from church. She was showing me photos of him and in one of the photos was the one who sexually abused me. When I asked her if she knew him, she said that they were friends and that he was trying to help her get together with the boy she liked.
I was sick.
At this point in time, my friend and I were fourteen years old and the one who abused me was eleven years older than us. I didn’t know what to do. I was a mess. All kinds of feelings began coming up and I knew I needed to talk to someone.
There was a lovely lady who was the drama and music teacher at my school. I loved her so much and felt so at ease with her. So, one day I mustered the courage to make an appointment with her to tell her about the one who had abused me and that he was coming into my friend’s life– which concerned me greatly.
I stared at the floor the entire time I spoke and couldn’t find my words. I spoke as if in code to explain some of what I had experienced, telling her about this person who had done things he never should have done to me. My teacher understood. The whole time I felt as if I was going to throw up on her office floor. It was hard to breathe and I’m not sure I moved a muscle. This was the first time I had opened this dark, hidden chamber, that had been buried so deep down inside my heart and I was terrified. My teacher was very kind and encouraged me to talk to my mother and tell her all I had experienced. But the years and years of fears and fears had built quite a wall around me from doing that. At this point, I felt so exposed and vulnerable. I felt sick, like I was going to throw up. I honestly can’t remember if I even told her about my friend being connected to the one who abused me, I just needed to get out of her office.
Although my teacher was nothing but kind and very encouraging to me, I had a hard time being in her class after that. I knew that when she looked at me, she knew something ugly and dark about me and I felt ashamed. My teacher is still connected to me on Facebook and is still very supportive of me, my family, and my ministry. I don’t know if I have ever properly thanked her for just taking the time to listen to me that day, but I think most of all, I was just thankful to have someone listen to me.
After that I did try to muster up as much courage as I could to warn my friend about the one who abused me. I didn’t have the courage to tell her why, just that I knew things about him that made me concerned for him being in her life. I don’t know what happened with there. My friend and I didn’t take anymore classes together after that first semester of our freshmen year and I didn’t see her much on campus. But my prayer was that God intervened and removed him from her life.
It was right around this time that someone wrote on my locker “you have a fat butt”.
I used to be a tiny little thing, not quite 5 foot 4 inches tall and I weighed just under 100 pounds. but this message made something click in my head. I was suddenly being haunted again with the memories of the sexual abuse, I had suppressed years of feelings from things my stepfather had done, and now someone said I was fat. I was emotionally and mentally a mess. I began diving back into my imagination, trying to find my old ways of coping with my feelings, but that wasn’t enough. When faced with a question about myself or my home life, my imagination began spilling over into my real life. If I was too embarrassed or didn’t want someone to know the truth of who I was, I wouldn’t answer honestly. I would just make up an answer of who or what I wanted to be; I would tell what I hoped would be instead of what was.
Then came another significant change to my life. We were forced to move out of the home we had been renting. The owner needed us to buy it or move out so he could live there. We moved out of the district from my high school, and I was literally taken out of my biology class sophomore year while we were doing the litmus paper tests and was forced to leave to school.
I had known most of my friends since kindergarten, had made wonderful new friends and had auditioned for the advanced chorale ensemble called “Guys and Dolls”. I had made it into the group. I was so excited to be part of it and was ready to learn all I could about musical theater and performance. Now, I was being forced to leave the campus at once because I no longer lived in the right district. The district where we had moved was locked in a court order to make all kids who lived within the borders of that district go to the school of that zone. I was totally embarrassed as my whole class watched me be taken out of the room. I had to clean out my locker and the Vice Principal had to call my mom to come and pick me up. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to anyone that day. I called several of my friends to let them know, but this was in the days before social media. It was hard to stay connected to them. It wasn’t until I started a Facebook page decades later that I was able to reconnect with many of my old friends. I am very thankful to Facebook for that!
It wasn’t just the move from the high school that turned me upside down, it was the move into the new house. We had no choice but to move into a small three-bedroom house that had one bathroom, a tiny kitchen, and was full of terribly dark spirits. We called it the “Holly House” because it was located on a street called Holly. I was given a beautiful, big bedroom which was lovely to look at, and I was so thankful for it, but I quickly learned that room had an evil spirit in it. It dwelled in the attic of my closet. Many people may read this and not believe that. I find that is mostly because they have not yet had an encounter with an evil spirit. But evil spirits are real and are plaguing our world, just turn on the news and you will see, they are everywhere. Jesus also called these demons “strongman spirits” in the Bible, and my family can testify with complete certainty that something evil lived inside that house.
When we moved into this house things weren’t good at home much anymore. Something disturbed my brother in his little room. He hardly ever slept a night in his own bed in that room. The good progress my stepfather had been making slowly came to an end in that house. His anger came back and although I don’t have many memories of him physically hurting my brother, I do have memories of him emotionally and mentally hurting him. He was back to having his temper flare out of control, the dark spirits in the house were drawing him to them.
I was placed at Camelback High School and for the remainder of my sophomore year that I was there, I was terribly bullied. I had previously attended Arcadia High School, which for the most part, schooled many wealthy students. Although I was definitely not one of the wealthy students, just because I came from Arcadia, the kids at Camelback thought I was. There had been a great rivalry between the two schools and so, because of that, in the beginning, I had a very hard time.
Then, as God being the awesome God that He is would have it, I was reunited with a past friend from my dance class. Her name was Jennifer. She has now since married and I am happy to say we are still connected through social media sites. I have told her before how much her friendship meant to me and I will say it again. Jennifer was the truest of friends and she always made me laugh. Having her at school made it so much easier, plus, when I came back as Junior, most of the kids had forgotten anything about me, so it was like I got a fresh start.
Then came a moment during my junior year that I will never understand, but it impacted me deeply. One day, while riding in the car alone with my stepfather, I had my left leg crossed like how gentlemen often will sit. I was wearing a pair of shorts so the skin on my legs was exposed. I was singing the song on the radio and looking out the window while he drove, when suddenly, I felt his hand resting upon the upper part of my inner left thigh.
I could hardly breathe. I didn’t know what he was doing but it made me feel that old familiar sickness to my stomach. He had never done anything like this before. I sat there for a moment unsure of what to do and began to run different scenarios in my head. If I brought my leg down, would it make his hand slide away or would it close it in-between my legs? My heart was pounding in my chest. What was happening? I never wanted to hug him in the past, so he hardly ever touched me, so what was this all about and what should I do to stop it? I suddenly thought of my backpack in the back seat and was working out inside my mind how I could push his hand off and climb into the backseat. Then I thought that might be too hard for me to climb back there. So instead, I quickly put my leg down and reached toward my shoe as if to check it for something. That worked, I was able to brush his hand off my thigh and as soon as we arrived where we were going, I jumped out of the car.
After that moment, I made sure that if I was alone with him whether it be in the house or the car, I was not going to be close to him where he could touch me. He never did anything like that again, but I will never forget it. I will also never forget how gross it felt to have his hand on me like that. I remember having the same feelings of fear, panic and being paralyzed as I did with the one who abused me.
All these changes that were taking place, all the feelings that were bottled up inside of me from the sexual abuse, feelings from the things at home with my stepfather and the horribly bad-spirited house, and from being told I had a fat bottom, all manifested inside me in the form of an eating disorder. I am not sure I would call it anorexia and it wasn’t bulimia because I never made myself throw up. But there were days I just could not eat. My stomach was always tied up in knots and just the thought of trying to put something in it made me more nauseous. Somedays I could eat, but only things I craved, and not much of them. I battled this condition for well over a year and got down to a terribly unhealthy 85 pounds. My ribs could easily be counted, and the joints of my spine could too. I started to look like a skeleton with skin stretched over it.
In December of my junior year, I contracted an illness that hospitalized me and almost killed me. I had always decorated the front of my house for Christmas. This was something our whole family enjoyed, and I loved doing it. All our neighbors were very supportive of our decorating efforts and would always come by to tell me how much they enjoyed the displays. The night before I became so ill, I had organized for some of my cousins and friends to dress up and be a live Nativity scene on our roof. We had a large display of lights and Christmas scenes in the front yard, I had invited members of my school singing group to come and have an outdoor concert and we had the house listed in the Arizona Republic for people to come and visit. It was an amazing night! So many neighbors came and buses and trolly cars came by to enjoy it all. Our home was on Holly and 34th Street, perfect Christmas names for a Christmas display and we laughed saying it was a Miracle on 34th Street!
After it was all over, I went to bed and became terribly ill. I felt like my life was leaving me and had rolled over to grab my Bible. That was the last memory I had before waking up in the hospital to see my family and pastors in the room, they were praying for me. The doctors had told my mother to call my family and closest friends in as they did not know if I would respond to their treatment. This was my first brush with death. I was in the hospital for several days. My friend Jennifer came to see me a couple of times. Once she came alone and brought me a teddy bear, and once she came with friends from our singing group. They also brought me a teddy bear. I still have those two bears today and I will always keep them because they remind me of the love I had from those friends.
I remember vividly the night when I came home from the hospital, the whole neighborhood had placed luminaria bags all along the streets to welcome me home. My mother drove me all around to see how many families had come together to do this for me. It made me so happy I cried tears of joy. That was such a beautiful feeling to see the people of my neighborhood come together to show me how much they cared. I thank them all and will remember that for the rest of my days. It touched my heart so deeply.
God healed me from that illness, and it took another couple of years before I fully recovered.
Then a friend introduced me to a place called “Do Wah Diddy”. This was a darling nostalgia shop located on 36th Street and Thomas, just down from our favorite Mexican food restaurant “Don Jose’”. It was there that I saw Marilyn Monroe. She was on posters and cut-outs in the shop. I thought she was so beautiful, and she wasn’t bone thin either. She was a voluptuous woman and is still regarded as one of the most beautiful women of our time. I believe God used the kindness of two amazing people, Doug and Shay Patterson, who were the owners of the “Do Wah Diddy” shop and the outer beauty of Marilyn Monroe to help inspire me to want to eat more. Doug and Shay had no idea what all I was battling; they were just kind and loving to me. Always friendly, always uplifting and making me laugh. I loved to visit their nostalgia shop and it was then that I decided I was going to force myself to start eating more. I did and went up to 100 pounds, which for my height was just right. I was able to maintain that weight until I was thirty years old without any relapses of the eating disorder.
God is awesome and no one should ever underestimate how He does things and the people He can bring into your life at just the perfect time. I am very happy to say that my family and I are still very close friends with Doug and Shay Patterson to this day and their love, support, prayer, and Godly counsel means so very, very much to me and my family. They are a treasured blessing from the Lord, and I am so thankful for them and their love.
We lived in the “Holly House”, for five years before moving into a new home on 44th place. We weren’t there for very long though. We moved in during the month of July and on December 22nd, the house caught fire in the middle of the night and burned down. The fire started in the back of the house and burned to the front. All except for my room and my piano. My mother bought me this piano when I was eleven years old. At the time of the fire, I was nineteen. I loved it so much and it wasn’t even in my room when the house burned down! It was in the living room, but God kept His hand upon it, and it is with me to this day. I am so thankful for my piano. It has helped me create many songs and been very therapeutic for me in tough times as music is such a powerful healing tool from God. I am still in awe when I see it as to how God protected it during the fire. When people see it and hear it, they are amazed. All there is a small little corner that got singed, I believe from falling ashes or debris. I have had the blessing and privilege of teaching hundreds of students with that piano which I call “Ivie” because it is an Ivers and Ponds piano.
Tragically, my mother, stepfather, and brother lost everything they ever owned. I lost clothes and shoes due to water and smoke damage, but I still had all my bedroom furniture and several things from my childhood that I tucked in a box under my bed, my childhood books, toys, records, and of course, Strapper, my panda bear which always brought me so much comfort and joy.
That Christmas was incredibly very special. Although almost all the gifts my mother had bought us burned, so many people came together to give us a wonderful Christmas. We learned a very important lesson that night that I will never forget. Things can always be replaced, but people cannot. I was grateful that we were all alive and our pets too.
We would learn later that the reason listed for the house fire by the fire department was
arson and my stepfather was at one time a suspect for it. He was a heavy sleeper, my mother always talked about how hard it was sometimes to wake him up. Yet, the night of the fire, which took place around 2 a.m., he was up, and he was the one who woke my mother up to tell her the house was on fire.
My mother found a lovely home not far away that was just perfect. My brother had good friends down the street, whom we loved spending time with, and the best part was that it was just around the corner from my grandparents. There was plenty of room for all of us and this house had a beautiful feeling in it. It was here that things began getting better with my stepfather again.
There were some happier days in this house that had laughter and holiday celebrations with family and friends. My stepfather really seemed to be trying again to live his life for God, attending church regularly and trying to keep good standing at his job. As my brother got a little older, it seemed as if there was a glimmer of hope for his relationship with his father. My stepfather was also an excellent worker. He worked very hard, was faithful to his job, and always did well at the task he was given. I was also spending more time at church, college, work, or hanging out with friends which brought much joy to my life. I was always busy creating or doing or going somewhere and I no longer had to be in touch with the one who abused me, which helped me tremendously. (In Him we live and move and have our being)
Then I noticed my stepfather began bringing things home from his work. He was a custodian for a local elementary school and sometimes the things he brought home made sense, old chalkboards being thrown out or an old, cracked desk, things like that. But as time went on, I became suspicious of the things he was bringing home, one of the items being a small MaC computer. Many of the items did not seem to be used, damaged, or outdated. I always questioned him, which always caused problems, but it just didn’t make any sense to me as to why a school would be getting rid of some of these items that appeared new and fully functioning.
Then my stepfather suddenly became very helpful to my mother by preparing her coffee and breakfasts in the mornings before she went to work. At first, we thought this was really kind and that God was really doing a powerful work within his heart, but then it became strange. I noticed he was giving my brother and me serious instructions, no… they were more like warnings; warnings not to touch the food he had prepared the night before.
“This is for your mother,” he would say, “Don’t eat it.”
“Okay,” we would say.
“I mean it, don’t even stick your finger in to taste it,” he would say.
That immediately raised a red flag for me. Why was he suddenly so protective with the food he was preparing? What was so special about this food that no one else could even taste it?
It wasn’t long after this we began noticing that my mother began having some new health issues.
More red flags.
This went on for a couple of months and my mother’s health was not getting better. I had been praying about how to talk to my mother about the possibility of her husband putting things in her food to make her sick, I had even discussed it with a guy I was dating at the time. But then, one night, when my brother was 14 years old, his father called us into the living room. He was sitting in his rocking recliner in a dark living room, lit only by the light from the hallway behind us. He was rocking as he usually did, his hands calmly placed on the arms of the rocker, his legs crossed at the ankles. He stared at both of us for a moment and then began to tell us that he was leaving. He said he just needed to move out, that it wasn’t our fault, it didn’t have anything to do with us and he wanted to make sure we understood that. It was just something he had to do.
I have to say I was totally shocked.
The marriage he and my mother had was never a stable or healthy one. It was full of arguments, pain, and troubles. When my brother was little and his father was so abusive, I prayed that he would leave and never come back. Then things seemed to calm down a little… either that or I just got used to living in it. But there were days when ee had us all thinking he was trying to be a better husband and father and that we were on the road to having more peace and hope in our lives, at least that is what I had hoped for my brother and my mother. But now… he was leaving.
While his father packed up his things from around the house, our mother helped him. It was all very strange. They were both completely calm and soft spoken– which was very unusual. There was no arguing, no yelling, nothing like that at all. They just calmly, matter of factly, moved from room to room to gather his things in black plastic trash bags.
I made my brother some dinner and took him into my room. We sat on the floor and tried to watch the movie “Quiz Show”, but I knew neither one of us was concentrating on the movie. We didn’t talk much. I asked him if he was okay and he just nodded, not taking his eyes off the screen. Although there had been so many, many abusive and painful things that happened through the years, I felt so much compassion for my brother and my mother that night. My heart did not grieve my stepfather’s leaving as I had cried out to God for His help with this man for so many years. Still, I knew my brother and mother both had feelings for him in their hearts that I didn’t, and they were both hurting deeply that night.
After he left, we discovered that he had cleaned out his and my mother’s bank accounts and moved in with a woman he worked with. Then God revealed the truth about all that had been going on during the days when we thought things might be getting better. The truth was, he was just planning his exit. The woman he moved in with, whose name was Joy, spoke with me one night. I learned that he had told her a string of lies about himself and us. For example, he told her that he was forced to marry my mother when he was sixteen years old because he got her pregnant with me. Which of course, wasn’t true, he was not my father. We also learned that he never served in the Vietnam War as he had told us and publicly told our church congregation. There were many more things we learned which proved to us he was not a man who lived and dealt with reality. He lived in a world of his own creation and it was a world built upon pure delusion and lies.
I once saw the woman, Joy, whom he moved in with from a distance. She was a very small, petite woman. We would learn later that she had him arrested for domestic violence. I’m very sorry it happened to her too. I imagine he saw her much as he did my brother when he was small, an easy, defenseless target. I did try to warn her about his abusive behaviors. Sadly, I have learned that people will choose to believe what they want to believe, no matter how much evidence is placed before them.
Learning these things helped me understand how he could so easily and effortlessly lie about his abusing my brother and instead always blamed me for making it up. He really believed he was not doing anything wrong because he believed the lies that he told were the truth. Which is why it was easy for him to be abusive and why it went on for so long. He convinced himself and believed he was doing nothing wrong.
The divorce, like most divorces, was terrible. My mother handled it with dignity and decency.
Then came the aftermath. I remember learning that one of my relatives, whom I loved very much, and I believed loved me, said they “felt sorry for my stepfather having to live with me and my mother.” Isn’t it amazing how much truth people can hide by pretending things are fine when they aren’t fine at all?
The week after he left, I went down to the courts to file to change my name. This man had adopted me, and I always hated having his last name as mine.
Even though he was supposed to pay child support, he didn’t pay a dime. He never came by to check on his son, nor did he even call to see what my brother needed. But God helped us with that too. I contacted the school that he was working in and asked them if they would like to see all that he had been bringing home as I did not believe all the items were being thrown out. I gathered everything together and the head custodian of the school, the principal of the school, and the superintendent of the district came over and went through everything personally. They brought their inventory lists and knew immediately that he had been stealing from them. He had in fact been lying to us all along about the things he said the school was “throwing out” or “wasn’t using any more”.
He then lost his job.
Some may say I was being vengeful in contacting his superiors. Yet, it was something that I felt strongly should be done. I had felt in my soul all along that he was lying about the things he was bringing home, but anytime I questioned it, as usual, I was the problem. Why did I have to accuse him of doing something wrong when he said he was doing something nice?
After he had taken all the money my mother also worked hard for and he wasn’t doing anything at all to support his son, I saw an open door for someone to listen to me about him possibly stealing from his job and he was, in fact, doing just that.
During the days afterward, my mother and brother began the process of starting life over. But God was with them, and we had faith that He would take care of all their needs and bring healing to their severely damaged hearts. Laughter began to fill the house more often, along with peace and rest.
A few years later my brother and I were traveling down a 51 freeway in Arizona. We were going to our church and stopped on an off-ramp on Bethany Home Rd. I looked to my left and saw that we had pulled up right next to my stepfather. I gasped, “That’s your father,” I whispered without thinking. My brother’s coping mechanism kicked in and his immediate reaction was to jump down onto the floorboard of my car to hide. The light turned green, but I waited to let the man drive away. The car behind me honked, but I wanted to make sure my brother was okay before I moved. That was the last time the two of us saw him in person.
We have learned there is quite the record out there now for this man because I was never lying about anything he did. He was an abusive man and his abuse wasn’t limited to just us, he took that abusive spirit with him everywhere he went and it came out and everyone around him. I have forgiven him, though I have to say, it took me quite a bit of time to do that. But God helped me. I do not hate the man, I hate what he did and I hate the memories I have. But I placed him in God’s hands and know that God loves him and I hope God’s will is accomplished in his life.
It wasn’t too long after all this took place that God gave me an amazing gift. I fell in love with Joshua Bryant Cox, whom I call, My Love. Ours is an amazing, crazy, beautiful story that I will write someday as it is so much fun to tell! But that is a story for another time and for now I will move forward.
My stepfather left when I was twenty-four and Josh and I got married when I was twenty-five. Marrying Josh was absolutely the best decision I ever made in my life. I call him, My Love, because he is the one and only love of my life. He is the man of my dreams and once I gave him my heart it was his forever. I love him more than words can say and am so thankful that God created him just for me!
During these days, I was able to have some seasons of complete happiness with Josh, my mother and brother. My mother worked very hard and blessed us with many trips together. Trips that we didn’t get to take together when we were younger. I am and will always be so thankful for all those special, precious, and priceless days. My mother worked hard to give us those trips together and they were priceless moments God knew we needed. I will always be so grateful for the many precious memories we had in those years.
Marrying Josh was the best decision of my life and I am so thankful for him, still, being a married lady also shook the corners of that dark place hidden deep in my heart. It wasn’t because of Josh; it was because of the one who sexually abused me. I realized, more than ever before, that sexually, I was still a total and complete mess.
I had not learned about sex from the Biblical point of view. I didn’t have the understanding that this was an incredibly beautiful and sacred gift from God to a husband and wife. I didn’t know how to function now as a 25-year-old wife of a good, God-fearing man because all the scars from the experiences I had, beginning at age four, were not anything Godly at all. They were the opposite. Josh was amazing, so compassionate, patient, and understanding. I felt I came to the marriage as damaged goods, but he never made me feel that way. And even though he came to our marriage completely pure, he always made me feel safe and beautiful. Together, we began learning more about what sex meant to God, how important it was to keep our marital bed pure and the spiritual, Biblical teachings about sex. This helped me, but deep down I knew I still needed more help.
Then something I was not prepared for happened.
On my 27th birthday, my Papa, the apple of my eye, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
I was devasted. The whole family was. It was the first death we had experienced in our family.
I had never felt pain like that before. It gutted me and changed me drastically.
The only father I ever had was suddenly gone. Never again on this earth would I hold his strong, often rough, creative hand in mine or kiss his slightly whiskered cheek that always smelled of Old Spice. I could not go and have breakfast of biscuits and cantaloupe with him, take him shopping at the mall, or watch old Disney movies, Gunsmoke or Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I wouldn’t feel the comfort and safety of his presence, enjoy our talks, or hear his soft voice that always reminded me of Eyeore. All the beautiful qualities I loved so much in this precious and special man, found so endearing and brought me so much joy was taken that day and I never thought that I would be able to celebrate my birthday again. But then, my mother spoke a word to me that I know was given to her from the Lord, “You now share a birthday with Papa,” she said, “He was born into heaven the same day you were born on the earth.”
That helped me so much and they are words I have clung to ever since. I knew without a doubt that I would see my precious Papa again because he loved Jesus so much. Not too long before he passed away, I was taking him somewhere and we were talking about Jesus. He said to me while thoughtfully looking out the window, a small half grin upon his lips, “You know, I love that Ol’ Boy.” I will never forget that. I will never forget my Papa. When someone you love so deeply passes on from this world to the next, their spirit never really leaves you. Their memory and the goodness they brought to your life is with you always everywhere you go. We named my son Samuel after him and WOW! Did we get that name right for our boy as he has so many traits that are just like Papa!
I had had a dream a few years after Papa passed away that he came to visit me at his home. He was in the backyard, and he was wearing a red golf shirt and black pants. We embraced and I was happily crying and asking him a million questions, all the while a little boy wearing a red shirt and black shorts was running all over the yard. I never could see the boy’s face but when I asked Papa who he was, he told me, “That is your son. I am taking care of him in heaven until it is time for him to come to you.”
As a woman who would later go through extreme infertility treatments for five years, that dream gave me tremendous hope that someday I would have children. I write about that journey in a blog I posted called: “My Journey From Infertility to Motherhood: https://angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/covid-19-pandemic-entry-7-the-road-from-infertility-to-motherhood/
I thank God every day for the two beautiful girls I have and for the son that He gave me. I call them the LC3 (LaFonCox 3). I am more thankful than words can express for all the God has given me.
After my grandfather’s passing, my mother and brother moved into my grandparents’ home so my mother could help take care of Mema who struggled every day of the rest of her life after losing her husband of sixty-two years. I have many wonderful stories I want to write about my Papa and my Mema. So far, I have only written one which can be found here: https://angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/?s=snapping+beans
God had also worked through an amazing miracle that was bringing my mother some financial help through child support. After my stepfather lost his job, we had no idea where he was working. BUT GOD brought help in a way that only He could do! My cousin was shopping at a local Costco when he saw my mother’s ex-husband who was also doing some shopping. My cousin noticed that he was wearing a work uniform, so he went up to him to say hello and while he did, my cousin was able to read the name of the company on the name tag. He passed on the information to my mother who gave it to her wonderful attorney, (who had done my mother’s entire divorce pro-bono!! Another blessing from God!!) and the attorney was able to get his wages garnished for child support!
Did you know that there is no word for coincidence in the Hebrew language? Therefore, there is no word for coincidence in the Bible. God is always at work and always has a plan and when we obey Him, follow His Word, and do our very best to live our lives for Him, He makes the impossible possible.
“With God ALL things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
It wasn’t long after my mother’s ex-husband’s wages were garnished that my mother was awakened one night by a noise that she thought sounded like gunfire. She was right. Someone had done a drive-by shooting of our precious little Mema’s house! My mother’s car was hit, my brother’s car was hit, my grandmother’s vehicle was hit, and my mother’s bedroom window. There may have been more but those were the only bullet holes the police found. There was a screen on the inside of my mother’s bedroom window, and it caught one of the bullets. I found it still in there before the police came and gave it to them. Again, there was no coincidence that the bullet shot at my mother’s bedroom window did not enter the room and hurt her. That was the protective hand of El Shaddai, Almighty God.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thess. 3:3
One neighbor stated that they had seen a truck driving past the house the day of the shooting, but there was no concrete evidence found that could connect him to the shooting. For me, the memory of myself, Nancy and my baby brother hiding in the hallway as he stood drunk outside the duplex telling my mother to stand back because he had his gun and was going to start shooting in the windows was pounding in the front of my mind. I knew he was more than capable of doing such a thing, yet, without any evidence, nothing could be done.
As time passed and we all learned how to live without Papa with us, I began to pour myself into my ministry. I had been blessed to hold the position of music director for the church that I had been born and raised in and I had been serving in this position for a couple of years before Josh and I married. My Papa had gone with me day after day when I first got the job to help me get everything organized and ready. He did anything he could to help me. He would build sets and props for my Christmas and Easter musicals; he would hang costumes with me, help me organize the choir music library, placing numbers upon every choir book with his distinct handwriting so that they would be easily tracked. After Josh and I were married it was like Papa passed the torch to Josh of being there to help me with my ministry and creative work. There wasn’t a Sunday where Josh wasn’t by my side serving the Lord with his amazing voice and talents and although we don’t serve at that particular church anymore, we have not stopped serving the Lord together since.
The church choir I was directing had been in existence for over fifty years when I came to serve in that position, and I felt honored to have the privilege of being part of the choir’s legacy. I found my strength to cope with the loss of my grandfather in my service to the Lord. I loved my work in the church with the choir, musicians, tech crew, and children that I was blessed to work with so much. I looked forward to being with them all. It was like a big beautiful, musical family, and for me and it was so awesome to come together to create beautiful music and worship the Lord to usher in the presence of the Holy Spirit and lead others to worship Him, welcoming God into the services each week. But Satan did not like me doing that and he did not like that my service was bringing my spirit healing.
One Sunday, something I never imagined happening… happened.
The one who sexually abused me suddenly began volunteering in my music department.
I couldn’t believe it. He and his parents had been part of another church for decades but had suddenly left and he was now part of my work and weekly life. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I couldn’t handle anyone knowing the truth. So, I did what I had learned to do for years, I pretended as if everything was fine… when everything was not fine. Not. At. All.
I did my best to keep it together, to keep my focus on what I was supposed to do. I always showed him respect and kindness when we had to work together, and I tried to keep my composure at all times. But the truth was, inside, I felt that same old sickness, dirtiness, fear, and shame. Even though I was a grown, married woman, that old familiar, dark burden of heaviness that was pressed upon me at the age of four, plagued me every moment I was in his presence or even saw his face.
I would like to explain to anyone who may be reading and has not experienced any kind of sexual abuse, which I hope is the case, that when there is abuse, those moments never leave you. They go with you everywhere you go. The memories, the feelings, they can pop up in places and moments where you least expect them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times, this is one of the reasons why I need Jesus so much. Only He can help me handle it.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
So, now to be placed in the position where I was having to work with this person and try to handle those thoughts and feelings all the while trying to function in my position at my job, the strain of it emotionally and mentally finally became much more than I could handle. I’m just not that good of an actress. I knew the time had come for professional help, and I ran to it.
Josh and I had experienced counseling with an incredibly wonderful man named Dr. Vern McNally and it was Dr. Vern who the Lord used to bring me help.
Dr. Vern was a man at the church where I worked as music director and he was a Godly, kind, happy, intelligent, accomplished, and compassionate man. I thank God for bringing Vern into my life for several reasons. One, because of the help he brought me and Josh through his counseling, and two, because he was a wonderful man to know, and three, because his daughter PJ and her husband are some of our most beautiful, precious friends.
When we first started our counseling with Dr. Vern, it was extremely challenging for me to articulate all that had happened to me as a child sexually. I found myself repeating the same methods of speaking about it with Dr. Vern as I had when I told my drama teacher. I lowered my eyes to the floor. My voice became very soft and shaky. I couldn’t find my words and I spoke in innuendo more than indirect statements.
Both Dr. Vern and Josh were incredible. In the first session where we began dealing with this, I felt so safe, so cared for, and very listened to. But what meant so much to me was that when I spoke, they didn’t change the way they looked at me. On the outside, I felt that filthy dirtiness, disgusting, as if I were clothed in shame, and was in need of some sort of powerful shower that could wash me clean from the things unseen.
But they didn’t see me that way. That was just how I saw myself. That was how Satan wanted me to see myself.
We also discussed other matters that Josh and I were dealing with, not things between the two of us, but things we were dealing with outside of us. There were some who had strong spirits of envy and competition toward us and we needed to find the tools to be able to handle those situations. Another matter I sought help for personally was to handle my feelings of despair about a vicious rumor that someone began that I had an abortion. Just to take a moment and set the record straight, as God is my judge, I have never had an abortion. The only time I was ever pregnant in my life was with my three living children and the first time I was pregnant was with Aven and her twin Skylar, whom I lost due to sever complications with my ovary and having to have surgery.
Josh was actually the one who told me he had heard this rumor from a member of his family, many years before we were married. God only knows who started it or why, but when I learned about it, it shook my soul and sickened me for two equal reasons, one, because I would not do that and two because I had no idea how long that story had been told about me or who it was told to.
People don’t stop to think about the damage they do to a person’s life when they repeat rumors. This is why gossip is so displeasing to God. It damages people’s minds, hearts and spirits. The Bible talks about an envious spirit being an evil spirit and I understand why. People who speak such ugly things about others must be doing so because they don’t like them, but once they have engaged in speaking it to others it starts a flow of destruction that is hardly containable.
Josh and I teach our children to stay out of “drama” and rumors and gossip. It is no way to live and if we really want to be successful in representing Jesus Christ, we must be careful to remember that our words matter. Our actions matter and we must stop and think before we speak and act and ask ourselves, is what I am doing and saying pleasing to God?
After a few counseling sessions with Dr. Vern, it became a little bit easier to talk about it… bit by bit. I felt safe there.
Dr. Vern was intuitive to the process and through our discussions would guide me along so that I didn’t forget anything that I wanted to address, he helped me find the words for all that I wanted to say.
I also began to realize the impact this abuse had on me when it came to just dating. Josh and I had some conversations about a few of the guys that I had dated before I married him. There were a few guys that when the relationship became more serious, I ran, and I ran from them in a way that was hurtful. I felt terrible about it because I knew that these guys did not see the light of Jesus in my heart as I wanted them to see it.
Dr. Vern had suggested that I start a letter writing therapy from me to my abuser and I began this therapy immediately.
In addition to that, I also applied letter writing to these few guys whom I had hurt to tell them I was sorry I did so. Josh gave me his blessing to reach out to them and one by one they all wrote me back and told me that they forgave me. They all seemed pretty surprised that my treatment of them had stayed in my mind as they had all moved on and were very happy in their lives. But it was something that I needed to do. I wanted to make sure they knew that I was sorry I had been such a mess while dating them and that I was truly sorry for the pain I brought them.
The process of writing to the one who abused me was, of course, much harder as it was bringing up years of feelings. Each week I took a letter written to my abuser with me to my session with Dr. Vern, and along with Josh, we would read and discuss them. Then I would tear it up or burn it and start again the next day. Through this process, I released so much pain, anger, fear, confusion, and resentment, feelings I had suppressed deep down inside me and had locked up tight. Each week that I went to counseling with Dr. Vern it was like all the dark, closed and locked places in my heart that were full of pain and shame from my sexual abuse were beginning to open and all that pain and shame was flowing out through the tips of my fingers upon my computer as I wrote the letters to one who abused me.
Finally, I came to the day when I wrote a letter of forgiveness.
“This is an excellent letter,” Dr. Vern said quietly after reading it. “I would like to suggest that you it send to him.”
My eyes popped open wide, and my jaw dropped. “I thought this was just an exercise to help me,” I said.
“Yes, and you have done very well with it!” he smiled, “I think you should pray about sending this letter to him. Even if he never replies, you can at least tell him that you forgive him.”
Dr. Vern went on to explain how my giving forgiveness for this person would connect my heart directly to the healing power of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the King of Forgiveness. It was a divine moment of God. My Heavenly Father God, Adonai, was speaking through this man to begin a healing that wouldn’t be accomplished in a moment, it would be a process, but the healing could begin in a moment– if I had the strength to be obedient, put all my trust in God, and do it.
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not to thy own understanding, but in all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverb 3:5-6 (ESV)
After praying about it, I felt God leading my heart to send the letter via email.
I don’t remember how long it was before I received a response, but I will never, ever forget it. The one who abused me apologized to me, most sincerely. He also explained to me how he too had suffered abuse as a child and didn’t know how to handle it. His letter was honest, kind and I knew he had heard me. I did not feel that he was providing me with an excuse as to why he abused me, I honestly felt as if he was crying out for help. As I read his words over and over again, I felt the warmth of healing from the power of forgiveness begin to flow upon me like a warm oil pouring over me from my head to my toes.
I often think about an event that took place with Corrie Ten Boom. She had spoken about her personal experiences and that of her Christian family who were persecuted for assisting by the Nazi’s for assisting Jewish people in their community during World War II. Ms. Boom and her family were sent to concentration camps where she and her sister were beaten severely and treated horribly. She wrote that as she was speaking at a church one night to teach the power of forgiveness, a man who had been in the audience came up to her and apologized to her. She recognized him as one of the Nazi soldiers who beat her sister severely and would watch them in the showers. She told how sincere his apology was and that he extended his hand to her as a gesture of hope that she would in that moment forgive him for his heinous acts. Ms. Boom wrote how at first, she was shocked to see this man before her in a Christian church and that at first, she hesitated to shake hands with him, but she knew that she was called to teach others about the power of forgiveness, and she had just come off the stage from doing exactly that. So, she reached out her hand and took his in hers. She described what she felt as if a powerful shock of electricity flowed from her hand, up her arm, and into her being. The healing power of forgiveness had circulated in her body like a bolt of lightning.
I don’t know if I had been in front of this person when I gave him forgiveness if I too would have felt the electric shock Ms. Boom did, but I can tell you that I felt the power of it in the form of a warm oil being poured all over me. Like the healing Balm of Gilead which is Christ the Lord. It was a feeling I have never experienced before. It was powerful and although it did not completely heal me of the wounds this person had inflicted upon my young life, it began the healing process that was totally and completely the evidence of the supernatural healing power of Jesus Christ. There is nothing on earth that could ever make me feel what I felt that day. It could only be Jesus.
Although it was still very awkward for me to keep working with the one I had forgiven, I was able to handle things better and I felt much lighter in my spirit. Dr. Vern recommended I share what I had endured with my mother, which I did. I also told the one’s mother about the abuse so she would have a better understanding of why I struggled to be around him. Those were two of the most difficult conversations I have ever had.
I remember the day I told my mother. I was on the phone, and she was very quiet. She hardly spoke, but I could tell from the words she did say and the tone she used, proved she was listening to me. I told her that I did not blame her for what happened, and I explained about my counseling and all that I had done regarding sending the one I had forgiven a letter and how his letter and apology had begun the healing process in me. I knew I still had a lot of counseling that I needed and much more healing that had to take place, but I was thankful that healing had begun.
When I told the mother of the one who had abused me, now the one I had forgiven, she too was very quiet. I honestly don’t remember much of anything she said at all. It was not a long conversation. I put it to her as gently but as honestly as I possibly could, and I was sure that information was hard to hear. I wanted to be able to let her have the understanding why I couldn’t be around him personally and that I was doing my very best to work with him each week and keep things focused upon the ministry. It was all just very difficult, completely awkward, and very uncomfortable. Yet, inside my heart, there was a bit of relief that both my mother and his mother knew the truth. After decades of suppressing that information, to speak it out almost brought me a sigh of relief.
It wasn’t long after I had come forward about my abuse that I started having people in the church come to talk to me privately. Apparently, the parents of the one that I had forgiven were going to take action on it… but their actions were against me.
They began slandering me to people in the choir I directed. One person they spoke to right inside the church walls. Another person said they were told this slander during a choir party that I had planned for my choir family to come together, play, laugh, enjoy each other’s company and create stronger relationships. To learn that while I was trying to bring people together at this event, these lying tongues were right there in the midst, whispering their slandering about me, well, I’m not sure there are words to describe how that felt. And their slander didn’t stop there. They began spreading their lies to others outside the choir to other people in the church and they took their malicious stories to other people in other churches in other cities that they were connected to.
They were telling people that I had a pornography addiction. They also said I was having an adulterous affair with a man in the church where I worked. There may have been other things said, God only knows, but these things were bad enough.
Needless to say, my soul was sickened and overwhelmed by it all– but honestly, I cannot say that I was surprised. These people had never liked me my entire life. They were envious of the relationship I had with my grandparents and they did not like my mother. They had always made it very clear that I was beneath them and their children, I was a doormat. So, it wouldn’t be difficult for them to tell such lies to others about me. In fact, I believe they saw it as a necessary action for their family’s preservation. They had to make sure I was completely discredited so that if I came forward with my story of abuse from their son who was eleven years my elder, people would not believe me.
Their intentions were just like so many others out there in the world who try to destroy the story of a victim of sexual abuse, to place poison into the minds and hearts of people about me so that if I came forward and told my story publicly, I would have no credibility. I would just be a sick, twisted person who was a sexual deviant, had a grotesque addiction to pornography, and was an unfaithful adulteress. I would be the problem, not their son.
These sick accusations were not just attacking my marriage, my character, my morals, my Christianity, and my position in the church for ministry. They were also attacking the faithfulness, character, morals and Christianity of the man of whom they accused me of having an affair. Their accusations were full of wicked intentions all the way through. There was nothing good or godly about the the things they were saying, absolutely nothing. Their words and intentions of damage wreaked darkness.
Yet, even in the midst of such darkness that was closing in around me, the light of God shone brightly through. The people in the church who were my friends didn’t come to question me about why these things were being said about me, they knew me, loved me, were loyal to me and brave enough to tell me what was being said. They came because they did not believe such slander was true. I am so thankful for all those who had the courage to come and tell me what was being spoken and didn’t ask if it was true, they knew it wasn’t and they didn’t believe it. They took a stand against the rumors by not repeating it, only telling me and I believe God used them to bring it to my attention so that I could take a stand against it… and I did. I stood against my accusers’ lies and slander and I defended myself, my marriage, and my faithfulness to my husband, to whom I have always been happily faithful. I was faithful then, I am faithful now, and I will be faithful to him until I leave this earth.
In case they ever read this, I would like to take a moment to personally thank all those who stood by me during this dark and painful time of my life. Those who proved their faithfulness to me as true friends by their actions. They knew who I was, they did not receive the gossip, slander and lies, but instead stood against it and helped me to stop it. I am forever thankful to you all and pray that I can just be as faithful a friend to you as you were and have been to me. May God richly bless you for choosing His path in that situation.
While I was not shocked by the choices, words, and actions of my accusers, I was terribly shocked, disappointed, and actually disgusted by the person they accused me of having an affair with. When he found out what was being said, he not only made the choice to not take a stand against these people and their accusations, but he also chastened me for doing so.
This left me (and Josh) utterly flabbergasted.
“It’s a pitch in the dirt,” he said, “It will go away. You shouldn’t talk about it anymore.”
My reply to him was, “If someone comes to me and asks me about these accusations and why they are being made by people related to me, I am going to defend myself, my marriage, and my ministry fiercely and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t do the same.”
“Because they are just bullies,” he said, “and I am not going to give them the satisfaction of engaging in it.”
Josh and I couldn’t believe it. In our minds, that was the wrong response. In our minds, you stand up to the bullies, or else
they will just keep bullying you and others.
It wasn’t just my marriage being attacked by this slander; it was this man’s marriage too. But instead of standing up to the bullies, he chose to do nothing and wanted me to do nothing as well. I was reprimanded for standing up for my marriage and reputation.
I knew that I was not in the place of strength to be able to tell him why they were slandering me, and after hearing his response to it all, I didn’t think it would even matter. I lost my respect for him and wasn’t going to try and convince him of my position on the matter. I didn’t know how many people had heard this poison about me, but I knew my God, Adonai was bigger than all of them. Bigger than their slander. Bigger than all who heard it, and God would be the One to bring the light of truth to all the lies of darkness. I trusted God and knew He would help me.
“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” Psalm 54:4
This situation would teach me so much about the struggles that women and even some men who have been sexually abused have faced. When they come forward with their stories, they were met with great defenses. All those things are the traps Satan plants. Satan is the one who brings destructive, abusive behaviors to the innocent, and he is the one who then attacks the innocent to discredit them when they try to speak out.
The women who began the #Metoo movement are some of the pioneers which paved this path I am now walking. I have finally come to the place where I am no longer afraid of the family of the one who I forgave. I am not afraid of their slander or even any further attacks they may try after I have published this because I know that God sees all. God hears all. God knows every thought and sees deep down into every heart. I take comfort in knowing that nothing is ever hidden from God. He is truth. He knows truth, speaks truth, and brings truth into His light.
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid’ do not be discouraged.” Deut. 8:31-32 (NIV)
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:31 (NIV)
There were other toxic issues that God wanted to deliver me from which were in that working situation and it wasn’t long before God, being the awesome, loving, compassionate, and merciful God that He is, He made it clear it was time for me to leave– and He did it in a beautiful way… he gave me an unexpected blessing, I got pregnant–naturally, with my second baby, MaCaedyn. I didn’t want to work away from my children. God knew I didn’t want to be away from my first baby, Aven, any longer. So when I got pregnant with MaCaedyn, those two little girls gave me all the strength I needed to quit. Though I still admit, it was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make because I did love my music position and the people I ministered with so very dearly.
It was because of my great love for the legacy and respect for the dedicating years of ministry of Brother and Sister Diffie which was the foundation of that church, and because of my love for the people and the work I did there, God told me through a dream to go quietly. With two witnesses and my husband, I gently laid down my ministry work at that place and prepared for my new ministry work for children. At that time I had no idea all that God was going to give to me to do, but my ministry work for children began at home with my children and I couldn’t wait to begin it.
I wrote a another blog which is called “The End and The Beginning At the Same Time”. This story tells of the remarkable way that God gently transitioned me from one work of ministry to another. The very last thing I did as the music director of the church was to hold a Christams party for my department. At that end of that party I gave all the children of my music members a teddy bear. That last act of what I did there was the first act of what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Giving teddy bears to children, to hug and hold, to bring them comfort in scary, sad or hard times, to have a little furry friend, is one of the ways I have ministered to children ever since I left working at the church. I have given away thousands of teddy bears and cuddly critter stuffies to children and will do so until the day I leave this earth. If you owuld like to read that story you can find it at this link?https://angeliquelafoncox.wordpress.com/2018/10/
When God moved me out of that place and full time into my home with my babies, and we did have a lot of financial struggle as we lost my income and Josh was working as an apprentice home appraiser. My mother, and a few others, did so much to help Josh and I during difficult financial times and someday, including opening her home to us when we had tried to sell ours and it fell through during the recession of 2008. We lost that home, sold a truck and had to declare bankruptcy. We used up all our savings to keep things going and God always provided, miraculously sometimes for us for our babies. There are many miracles that I need to write about, I have written one on this site called “The Last Twenty Dollars” if you would like to read it.
I know God is going to bless me very soon in such a way that I will be able to not just thank my mother for her help by my words, but also show my thanks by paying her back every dime and then some so that she can live the rest of her days in peace and comfort. When God blesses us to do so, Josh and I will happily and gratefully pay every person who has ever helped us financially along the way, and if they are no longer on this earth, then we will pay it forward to their children, to show our sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for all they did for our family to keep us going during hard days.
I have never been one who wanted to be the borrower or the person in need. I don’t know many people who do want to be that person. I actually really hate it. I want to be a giver. I want to be the lender of Deut. 28. But I understand why God allowed us to be the family in need. It was to teach us and prepare us for the work that we are not doing through The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. having walked that road of being a person so desperate at times that I thought about making a sign and standing on the side of the road, taught me lessons and gave me understanding that I could have only learned by walking that road. Learning those lessons and having those experiences only made us better givers. We love giving so much because we understand that so many times it is not a hand out, but a hand up. A moment of support and encouragement, to show people that they are seen and have worth in this world.
I don’t define myself by what I have materialistically because God reminds me, although it is His great pleasure to bless us and provide all our needs, wealth and materialistic things are not what will matter at the end of my time on earth. When I leave this earth, none of it will go with me. I personally believe money is freedom. Freedom to pay for the things you need and freedom to bless others. I believe how much we have isn’t as important to God as how much we give. I have heard Pastor Tiz Huch often say, “We are blessed to be a blessing.” And I believe that completely. When God sees it fit to give me more financially, then I will be able to give more and until then I will enjoy giving what I’ve got!
While I have experienced financial struggles, I can say that never has there been a time when I when considered myself to be poor. There are those who may have seen me that way and treated me that way, but that is not who I am. Never has there a time that I didn’t have a home to live in. It might not have been my home, but still, I wasn’t on the street. Never has there been a time when I didn’t have a bed, or clothes and shoes, clean water and food, or medical care. God always provided these things for me and my family. When you do the work that we do for children in other nations where these basic things can be extremely challenging to obtain, you realize just how richly blessed you are! I have never been poor because my Awesome God made sure I had what I needed. This is just another reason of the many reasons why I serve Him.
From the day that God called my heart to ministry for Him, there has never been a day that I have stopped serving Him and I have no plans to ever stop for the rest of my days. My work may have changed along the way and look different than what I did before, but I have never stopped, and I never plan to. God gave Josh and me the most awesome ministry ever through our three precious, beautiful, and amazing children, Aven, MaCaedyn, and Samuel Braeden. Each one of their lives is also an amazing testimony of the power and goodness of God and I will write them all to tell the world how my awesome God has always been there with me and for my family. Josh and my children are second only to God, and I am more thankful than I can possibly write in words for all of them. They are the four most important people in my life and I want to please God every day by loving them, serving, and helping them, teaching, and protecting them, and celebrating their beautiful, special lives.
This brings me to another important point. faithfulness and loyalty. Because my family members are the most important people in my world, I always want to be there for them. Josh and I are on the same page about this. If someone were to ever abuse or hurt one of our children, we would have to forgive that person, but it would be hard to trust them again because of our faithfulness and loyalty to our children, and each other, we place our relationships with them in the highest of regard and position. There is no one who will turn us against our children, just like our Heavenly Father, God is with all of us.
God also gave us a ministry using all of the gifts that He blessed me with through my coping mechanisms. Remember how I said I would dive into my imagination, music, dance, and creating stories and plays? Now I do this for my life’s work! I write books for the children of the world through The Huggabears books, we give through The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc., we create a place of love, joy, and imagination at the Huggabear Farm, we sing, dance, and do plays and skits on the Huggabear Friends YouTube show, and I love to compose and sing my Huggabear music for children. I also have written a book series for teens and adults called The Intercessors and I have written a few other independent stories. I want to teach anyone who will listen about my amazing God and His Only Son, My Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ! I listed these sites at the beginning of this testimony, but want to list again where our ministry can be found:
God placed our feet on solid ground doing a work that I love dearly and will do for the rest of my life. God has blessed us with beautiful, loving, godly relationships and although I forgive all those of my past, I will not go back to what God delivered me from. Doing so would be disrespectful to God, after all, I cried out for His help and He answered and delivered me from that so I could keep healing, not keep hurting. I thank God every single day that He delivered me from all those who sought to hurt me, discredit me, and destroy my name, my character and reputation, my family, and my ministry. God rescued me from all those who wanted to treat me however they wanted to treat me, say what they wanted to say about me, and then keep me quietly in my place, under their feet as a silent doormat. I do not hate them. I have forgiven them all and pray for their protection and God’s perfect will to be accomplished in all their lives. I wish nothing bad upon anyone. I want goodness and mercy to follow me and my family all the days of my life so that is what I wish for others. I just choose not to have them on my life’s journey anymore because I need to remain healthy and strong to do what the work God has for me to do. I know that with only one exception, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, all sins are covered under the blood and powerful forgiveness of Jesus Christ and so I will look forward to the day when we can all be together in heaven, and it is around His throne we will gather and rejoice for all that God has done!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (KJV)
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Matthew 12:31-21 (ESV)
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
God wants me strong and healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally so that I can take care of the incredible family He has given me and to do the work for children in the world that He has chosen me to do. I can clearly see now how God is taking all the negative experiences of my childhood and is going to use them for positive and good works in this world.
“Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
John 13:7 (NIV)
My days of pretending are done, and I do not and will not teach my children this way of functioning either. Josh and I have an open door to our children so that if there is something that happens to them which brings them pain or confusion, they know we are there for them to talk to and to pray with, and they do. They do come to us, and I love that!
We make our mistakes all the time, but we practice admitting to our children when we have done something wrong to take ownership of our words and actions. We work to make things right with one another by sincerely addressing the matter, by apologizing directly for what we have done or said with contrition, not saying “I’m sorry you’re hurt” but by saying
“I’m sorry I hurt you”. Then we work on reconciling our relationship. These are the life patterns we are hoping to pass on to our children and they will pass on to theirs.
We are not in any way shape or form a perfect family. There is no such thing. We know we are not perfect, and we do not expect perfection from anyone else. We never will. We know we all have our flaws, our problems, and our weaknesses; we all are aware of them and don’t pretend they aren’t there. When something or someone hurts us or our children, we gather around each other, supporting one another and helping each other through it. No one is told they cannot cry if they need to. No one is told they cannot talk about situations if they need to, and no one is shown more partiality or favoritism than the other. All our children are equally important, precious, and irreplaceable to us and our relationships with them are more important than any other relationships we have outside of our relationship with God and each other. We don’t ever want to live life without our children in it, and they know that. We pray and ask God to bless us with that.
All these things are the result of Josh and I studying God’s Word for direction, praying, serving, and worshiping God together, seeking much professional counseling throughout the years, and practicing what we have learned. We are trying to learn for ourselves and to teach our children a healthier way of functioning and maintaining healthy relationships.
I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for the presence of Jesus Christ in my life, I might have become an addict, an alcoholic, or gotten into something else very self-destructive. God created me with a sensitive taste for alcohol. I have tried a few drinks here in there and it just doesn’t appeal to me. I had “near beer” once and it was so horrible I have never tasted a real beer. I don’t think there is anything wrong with people enjoying a drink now and then. After all, Jesus Himself turned water into wine! The Bible teaches us in 40 different verses to avoid drunkenness because God does not want us to lose self-control. I can look back and clearly see how God’s power was strong with me all through my life, though I didn’t always recognize it at the moment, I see it now. I have never been drunk, I have never smoked anything, and I have never taken or been high on illegal drugs either. This is not a statement of boasting in myself, I am boasting of the power of Jesus Christ that protected me from even desiring to try those things which so many people who are hurting and searching for a way to deal with their pain turn to.
I have experienced prescription drugs and from those experiences, I have gained much more understanding of how people can become addicted to them. I have great compassion for them because I know they are trying to deal with terrible, deep pain. The problem is, there is no pill, drug, drink, or high that can heal that kind of physical, mental, and emotional pain. The only healing to be found for that kind of pain comes through Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that He was with me during all these years and proved to me that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I have learned people will leave and forsake you, even perhaps from those that you would never expect to, but Jesus never will.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
To God be all the glory for His protection of me in that way and I want to encourage you, if you have such pain, please, try Jesus.
Josh and I have set boundaries for ourselves and our children in a position of protection from those who do not think that abusive behaviors are serious matters. I don’t know how anyone could not take child abuse in any form seriously, but as I mentioned previously, I know there are those out there who will shrug their shoulders and just say “these things happen” or “it’s in the past, they need to move on”. I know there are people who know what happened with me and the one I forgave and his family, who either have turned a blind eye, act like it is not very serious, or that I am making it more serious than it is. Child sexual abuse is a big deal and speaking factually, the one I forgave could have easily served prison time for the abuse I endured. My hope is that there were no others that he got to.
All children, ALL children need to be cherished and protected and when abuse happens, it is not something to take lightly or brush off. Abusive situations, especially sexual abuse, leaves deep, painful wounds on a soul that cannot be seen with the human eye, but it doesn’t mean that they are not there and they are not serious.
My mother once apologized to me for all the sad things that happened in my childhood, and, of course, I forgave her. I have forgiveness in my heart for her, for everyone else I have written about in this testimony, and for others who have brought my life confusion and pain that I haven’t written about in this testimony. I choose not to reconcile some of those relationships because I don’t trust them to be a healthy relationship for my life and my family, but I still forgive them.
I think that oftentimes Christians believe that forgiveness means having a relationship, but I have learned through my counselors, who have all been God-fearing, Bible believing, Christian counselors that is not the case. Rebuilding a relationship comes through reconciliation which is different from forgiveness. For example, Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood in seven different places so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and therefore we could have our relationship reconciled to God.
There are some I am related to who would not call what I have experienced as abuse, that I am exaggerating things, not telling it like it was, or that it wasn’t that a big deal. Some might say that I “had it easy” compared to their life, and when compared to some abuses out there, perhaps I did. But again, as God is my judge, everything I have written happened just as I wrote it. In fact, I didn’t even write all of it. I only wrote a few dark moments. That is another reason why I cannot have a relationship with some of my relatives. When I stand up for myself or my children I am called “harsh”, “judgmental”, and “ungrateful”. Some relatives have called me a “spoiled rotten brat”, “unforgiving”, “slut”, “bitch”, and Josh, myself, Aven, MaCaedyn and Samuel were told by name that we could “go to hell”. Is it any wonder why I choose to stay away? None of those things spoke about me are the truth. I am not any of these things. Those who know me and love me, my family, my friends all know that, but most importantly, my Creator, my Heavenly Father, God knows it. I am who HE says I am.
My counselors have helped me to understand those are examples of manipulative speech used by a person when someone addresses or stands up to their unhealthy words or behaviors. It is false guilt and I do not have to accept it. I know that what I experienced was abuse… sexual… emotional… and mental. It messed me up, but Jesus is healing me and helping me become the person He meant for me to be to fulfill His plans for my life. Now, I want to try and help as many other children as I possibly can who have or are experiencing abuse–even if those children have now grown into adults, because they are still dealing with the wounds of their childhood. If I can help even one person, it will all be worth it.
There are some I know who believe that it doesn’t matter how they treat you or what they say or do to you, if they give you something, money, help, a gift, whatever it may be, that gift should make things right. That is not the way to build healthy relationships. Gifts and help are a beautiful way to express love but they should not take the place of doing the work needed in repairing relationships which are broken. Our family’s nonprofit work is in constant giving and we never think those we give to owe us anything. We don’t feel we can treat them poorly like they are just because we give to them. God wants us to be cheerful givers, but if there are emotional and mental wounds, giving a tangible gift isn’t the way to help heal those wounds.
In order for me to be able to maintain my personal emotional and mental health so I can function as God wants me to function, I do not connect myself with those who have abused, slandered or tried to destroy my name, character, family, and ministry. I also do not connect myself with those who are closely connected to those people. Again, there is no hate, there is nothing malicious in me, I do this for my own self-preservation so I can keep my focus on my family, my ministry for children, and my healthy relationships. I praise God that He knows all the people we need in our lives and I trust Him completely with all my relationships. I also praise Him that the healthy relationships I have in my life, outnumber the non-healthy ones! God is so good to me, He has always been so good to me. He blesses me in so many ways! He knows all that I need and He supplies everything for me, including the healthy relationships He wants me to have.
I know that God is going to take all of that which brought me mourning and turn it into dancing because even through writing this testimony, He is doing just that!
There is power in forgiveness! There is healing through the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood that Jesus shed for us is all-powerful! There is nothing you will ever find in this world that has the supernatural power of Jesus Christ! There is no book you will ever read that holds more supernatural power than the Bible! No song you will ever sing which supersedes what praise and worship of Jesus Christ can do for you! There is no friend you can talk to that can bring more supernatural power than praying to God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The LIFE! And I promise you that although you will still have troubles in this world when you live your life for Jesus, it is a life full of His glory and great abundance!
December 7, 2022
Today is December 7th and I am finally finished writing this story– and find there is no coincidence to that!
We are coming to the end of the 2022 year and with God, the number 7 represents completion! Today I have completed this testimony for Him!
As I wrote in the beginning. I did not write this story for revenge, and I am sure there will be those who will condemn me for writing it. I cannot control anyone else but myself. I know that I have written this out of obedience to my Lord and Savior as a testimony of His love, faithfulness, mercy, and healing power. I am much more concerned with not obeying God than I am of displeasing others. I know God knows my heart, mind, and spirit. I am confident that I have written nothing but the truth and that I have done so under His guidance and direction. It was the blessed, unchanging hand of Jesus Christ that held onto mine securely through every situation. He never let me go and He used every situation to teach me, mold and shape me and draw me closer to Him. I do believe He is going to use me to help children all over this world in more ways than I ever have before, and even if He just uses me to help one person, whether it be a child or an adult, then I will rejoice in His perfect will knowing it was worth it all!
I know that there also may be some who might ask if God is so mighty and protects us, then why would those kinds of abusive things happen, especially with people in a church who believe in Jesus? While I cannot answer that question completely, I have learned one important thing. As time has gone on and I have pressed closer into God and His Word, I understand the verse where Jesus says,
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” John 16:33 (ESV)
This world is the creation of the hands of God, our Heavenly Father, still, God’s Word tells us that it is not our home. Heaven is our ultimate destination. This world is a place where we come to live and move and have our being and while we live—especially while we live for Christ, we will have encounters with our “enemy”, satan, the devil. But when we have Jesus living in our hearts, we have His promise that He is walking with us and will help us through all our trials. When we make the choice to let go of things that are not godly in our lives, and place our focus upon studying God’s Word, applying it to our lives and choosing to follow His path and walk in His ways, then unfathomable miracles and incredible blessings will be given to us from our Heavenly Father God.
I always want to keep learning for the rest of my days, but here is what I have learned so far about a few things that God has taught me.
I have learned that those you consider your family are not limited to those who are related to you, and those who are related to you are not always going to be considered your family.
I have learned to trust God with every relationship and acquaintance I have.
I have learned that some will be part of my life for a moment, some for a season and some for the rest of my days. I trust when God says our time with each other begins and if God brings us together for only a set period of time according to His timing and perfect will, then I trust God when the time for us to part occurs.
I have learned that in all things, in everything I do with the days I am blessed with, I want to be obedient to God’s plan for my life and understanding that part of that obedience is to accept He knows better than I in all situations. I need to keep my faith strong and to keep my trust in Him.
I have learned that when you pray and ask God to help you with an abusive person(s), place or thing, and God delivers you from that person, place or thing, you don’t go back to it. That isn’t just disrespectful to God, that’s defiance in His face. When God delivered His chosen people, the Israelites from the abuse and bondage they had in Egypt, they didn’t go back to it.
I wonder if the reason why people choose to to back to abusive situations is because they get used to them and don’t know what lse to do. They may hate the situation while they are in it, but then when they are delivered and set free from it, if they have been so used to it, they don’t know how to function without dysfunction… and they return. Not me! God has delivered me from many abusive situations and I praise Him and thank Him everyday that He did! And because He has set me free from those situations, I can now use that freedom to give Him control of my life and do the work He wants me to do!
I have learned the difference between faith and trust. Faith is believing “With God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19;26 and trust is learning to wait patiently, and be still knowing that He is God. He is sovereign and when I wait quietly for Him to do things in His perfect timing and according to His perfect will, that is how I trust Him. Though the days, months or years may go by, I must trust Him.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
I have learned who my dear loved ones are and who are those I can call my friend. These are the ones who will receive all the love that I have to give to them. They are the ones who accept me as I am, not be envious, jealous, or competitive with me or my family, not hurt or discard me or my family like we meant nothing to them, but are faithful and are proud to have us in their lives.
I have learned that God can use all the relationships you encounter during your days the bad and the good. The relationships which are beautiful and the ones that are not, still hold value because God can use all those experiences, especially the challenging ones to test your faith, strengthen your character, and draw you closer to Him, and that is always a good thing!
I have learned that a life that follows after, chases after Jesus, is the best life lived. And I have learned that when you take the time to slow down, enjoy the good that is around you, appreciate all that God has done for you, and recognize that the simple things of life hold some of the greatest blessings, you won’t feel like you are missing out on anything. You won’t be looking at what others have to compare it to what you have. You will see how rich you are and you will be content. You will understand that having the hand of God and His peace that passes all understanding along with the joy of Jesus to surround you are things which are not negotiable or things you will compromise.
Something else which is very important that I have learned through teaching science to my children for school is that it is okay to cry when we are sad! God made us with two kinds of tears. One kind is to cleanse our eyes from irritants. but the other kind of tears are very special. These are the tears that we cry when we are sad and they release toxins from our system to help us feel better! God knows all that we need and even designed us to release our pain through tears! Crying is not a weakness! Just like water washes us clean, the water of our tears can help cleanse us of our pain! People who release their pain through tears are not “cry babies” or “weak”, they are the healthier ones who are not suppressing their feelings of pain, but releasing them. People who suppress their feelings will see the results of that suppressed pain manifest itself somewhere, someday. Whether it be in their work, their relationships, or their health. We created a special Huggabear Friends show to teach children some tools for handling their sadness. If you would like to watch it, here is the link to the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhFbor0x0jY&t=1901s
We would also love to have you subscribe to our channel and become one of our Huggabear Friends!
My story is just a drop in the bucket when compared to some of the horror stories that are out there of what some children are dealing with today. As time goes on, the world grows darker and darker, so then we must shine the light of Jesus brighter and brighter! I am not a victim; I am a VICTOR through the power of the blood and love of Jesus Christ! I want to encourage you that you do not know Jesus and would like to learn more about Him and His amazing love for you, please reach out to me. I can tell you with complete certainty that when people fail you, Jesus never will. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus will always be with you and when you call out to Him, He will answer you. He will sustain you with His almighty right hand!
As I come to the end of this testimony I am reminded of the words of the old song “Through It All”
by Andre’ Crouch:
I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation, God gave me blessed consolation, that my trials come to only make me strong.
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
I’ve been to lots of places, I’ve seen a lot of faces, there’s been times I felt so all alone.
But in my lonely hours, yes, those precious lonely hours, Jesus lets me know that I was His own
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word
So I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valley’s, I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through
for if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that He could solve them, wouldn’t know what faith in God could do!
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word
Here is a short lyric quote that I wanted to share, from the motion picture musical, The Greatest Showman, words and music written by Pasek and Paul:
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out, I am brave, I am bruised,
I am who I’m meant to be… this is me.
I am also reminded of the words to the beloved hymn written by Thomas Chisholm based upon the verse:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changes not, Thy compassion’s, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Summer and winter, springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
And I would also like to share with you the words to a song the Lord gave me. It is called
“There is No One Who Loves Me Like Jesus” and you can find a performance of it here:
There is no one who loves me like Jesus, there is no one who loves me as much as Him.
There is no one who loves me like Jesus, for it was Jesus who died on Calvary for me.
There is no one who loves me like Jesus, He gave His life so that my life could start again!
No there is no one who loves me like Jesus, He took my place for to erase all my sin.
There is no one who loves me quite like Jesus, no one like Him that I can tell my troubles to.
There is no one who loves me like Jesus for I know Jesus cares about all that I say and do.
There is no one who loves me like Jesus, He’s always there to hear my prayer and I can see!
That there is no one who loves me like my Jesus.
He took my place and by His grace, He set me free.
He took your place and by His grace, He set us free.
I hope that you learned from reading this testimony that there is supernatural power in prayer to God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Prayer is a direct way to talk to the God who loves you, created you, has your name written on the palm of your hand, and even has every hair on your head numbered.
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16 (NIV)
“Aren’t sparrows sold for next to nothing, five for two assarions? And not one of them has been forgotten by God, Why, every hair on your head has been counted! don’t be afraid, you are wroth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7 (JCB)
I hope you learned that there is supernatural power in studying, memorizing, speaking and singing God’s Holy Word. There is also supernatural power in praising and worshiping God.
I hope you know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins that we might receive forgiveness and
when we forgive others not only are we forgiven our sins, but through our forgiveness comes the healing we need for our hearts, minds, and souls to move forward past the things that hurt us.
I hope you learned you will never move forward with your healing unless you embrace forgiveness, acknowledge your pain and troubles and (my hope is) put your hope in God and give it all to Jesus. Let Him help you so you don’t stay stuck in the pain of the past but can move forward with the plans that He has for your life!
“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
I hope that you learned there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation and while we must forgive others so we can be forgiven and so our healing can begin, it is okay if we choose not to reconcile relationships that are not good for us. We must not let hate or allow bitterness to harden our hearts. While you do not have to continue your journey with those who are not good to you or good for you, you must pray for those who persecute you.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 (JCB)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
But most of all, I hope that you learn that Jesus loves you more than you could possibly imagine! I say that a lot because I know that it is true! Jesus wants you to ask Him into your heart so He can live and dwell within you and you in Him. He is there, ready and waiting to help you, all you have to do is reach out. Call His Holy Name. Come as you are. He is waiting and He is always faithful. All my life thus far He has been faithful to me, He has transformed me, and I know He will be for the rest of my days. A life lived for Jesus is the best life you can possibly live!
In closing, know that I still need more counseling and healing to take place in my life, but I am determined to keep moving forward and use my pain for my platform to help children and not let my pain keep me anchored to my past. I decree and declare that I will start sleeping better and not have so many nightmares about past experiences, but trust the Lord with my sleep.
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24 (ESV)
I decree and declare that this heavy burden of darkness is now officially laid down at the feet of light and love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and by doing so publicly, I am able to use is as a testimony of His power, grace, and help my life.
I decree and declare that this curse is now broken off of me and is reversed so that I will live and receive the fullness of the blessings of God! I will no longer live in the shadow of darkness but will abide and live my life in the shadow of my Protector, Adonai, my Father God!
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” (ESV)
My God, Adonai is here for you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Word has not changed, His power has not changed and I can tell you that His love can heal your heart and life in ways that you never thought possible. If you do not know Him, please consider opening your heart to Him. Jesus is standing, patiently waiting at the door of your heart, knocking gently, hoping that you will reach out to Him, let Him inside your heart so He can being His wondrous work in your life. There is no one who loves you like Jesus and I know this to be true. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
I want to thank you sincerely, from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this testimony and if you know of someone who may need to read it, please share it with them. If you are in need of prayer or encouragement, this is our organization’s email address: email@example.com
Jesus has broken the curse over my life and is now reversing the curse. What Satan meant for evil in my life, Jesus is going to use for good! I know that Jesus can do the same thing for you if you invite Him into your heart and allow Him to be the Lord of your life.
My prayer for you is that if you don’t know Jesus, you will want to and that God will richly bless you, lead and keep you. May you find the peace, love, salvation, and healing power that comes through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life! And please remember, it is so very true that “When you love a child, you change the world!”