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Monday, November 22, 2010

After T was born it took me a while still to believe it was really real that WE had a baby! He was two weeks old and it all of a sudden hit me…" he needs me for everything". Whoa. What a responsibility! How did I of all people earn such a privilege? And how was I going to meet the challenge?? God in His goodness quickly reminded me "For with Christ nothing shall be impossible" (interestingly that was the first Bible verse he memorized in Sunday school!)
Our church family was a blessing, the first five days after T was born, different ladies brought us dinner. After that I still didn't have to cook for close to three months! Two of the ladies in our church, for a baby shower gift, gave us 30 frozen meals. Most of those meals actually gave us two dinners and me a lunch, plus Brad cooked pretty regularly on his day off… this person who really doesn't care to cook got very spoiled :)
Those same two ladies also took it upon themselves to insist on helping me with my housework. They came once a week for several months and dusted and vacuumed and mopped my floors. Was very nice!
We did really good keeping T from having much sugar his first year, but…
His first taste of ice cream was DQ ice cream cake at a church function. It was fed to him by his uncle who returned T to me then left for home. T had had some slight reactions to dairy products when they touched his skin. We were told to not worry about it, just wash it off. Well he started to breakout after his uncle and family left. The outbreak looked different than before, but I didn't think a whole lot about it at first, I took him to the nursery and washed his face, but it kept getting worse! That was not normal! So I went back to the kitchen and flagged down Brad and showed him the baby. We hurried to the church office (when Brad hurries, I start to worry lol), where he called the doctor. They said since it seemed to be calming down, to keep an eye on him and they were going to give us a prescription for benedryl and a steroid for T to take for a few days. It was DQ ice cream cake! We assumed he was allergic to milk… we were wrong :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

He found a picture of a baby asleep on or near an open Bible and a lullaby CD. He had me sit with him at the sound-booth and told me to push the play button on the CD player when Pastor was ready to sing the first song (he knew that would get Pastor's attention lol), and instead of putting the words to the song up he displayed the picture with the words "Arriving November 2006". No name or other identifying information :). It worked great. One of the missionary wives was expecting a baby in May, so Pastor said," NO Brad! You got it wrong!" lol. Brad said,"No, I don't, believe me,". "Well, who is it then?" we just sat and smiled. Our few informed people kept their mouths closed with big smiles, and finally one of the deacons guessed that it might be us. Pastor said,"NOWAY!", Brad replied,"yeah-way!" and the room erupted in excitement. One lady (who calls herself grandma to our kids) stood on her pew and gave us two thumbs up!! And another came running from the front row just to give me a hug! Somehow we managed to restore order and go in with the service… but it was a great way to let everyone be among the first to find out :)
Then I went for my first doctor appointment and was advised to not tell anyone until after the first trimester was over…"oops! Too late!" =)
I never took any prenatal vitamins, I stayed with the Mannatech and added calcium. I had a perfect uneventful pregnancy… and my doctor laughed to himself in amazement at every appointment I had :). What an awesome God I have!!
First we had to tell Brad's family. We went to the store and bought his mother a little photo album that said "Grandma's Brag Book" on it. It took her a few minutes to realize the "hint", probably because she had already been a grandma for several years… lol. She was very excited, of course once she figured out what was going on. Then we went over and told Brad's brother Nd family. After that we had two other visits to make. The first stop was Grandma Lady and Grandpa Man. Then on the way to the last stop we called Brad's sister (She was living in Missouri). When she answered the phone, she guessed why we were calling, but refused to believe us when we told her she was right. :) then weasel our fourth stop. A couple we KNEW had been praying diligently for eight years! She was so excited when we told her she literally jumped off of the couch and across the room to hug me in a single bound!! LOL. Scary kinda to a excitable creature like myself =]. We told all these people our plan… so they couldn't tell anybody our news… and HG (the excited one!), had to bring her camera to church that Wednesday night!
It was missions conference week, and we had meetings in homes every night except Wednesday, we did "church as usual" that night. So Brad, being in charge of the sound booth and video projector, had an idea…

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Well, I got to three weeks late… and feeling blah, worse than usual (or at least the "new usual"). So I snuck off to the far side of town, to a store we rarely went to and where we never saw anybody we knew… and bought a pregnancy test. I waited until Brad left for work, and took the test. I didn't have to wait at all the result was clear immediately. I literally jumped in surprise, shock, fear… not joy! The first thought…"it's gotta come out!! Yikes!" (I know I am strange. lol). Just as I was absorbing this new reality, I heard The garage door open, and Brad talking to somebody. So I went to the garage and called him in. When he finished, he came in and I showed him the hpt. His first response,"I want a blood test.". He refused to believe it could be true until we had the blood test confirm it.
So I called the doctor's office on and they said,"the hpt is so accurate it can be believed, if it says you are, then you are". They agreed to fax a blood work order to the hospital on Monday. The doctor's office called as soon as they got the results back. I was seven weeks along!!! They set an appointment for the next week… we were in shock!
How would we tell everybody?
The products were an incredible blessing! I was suddenly able to live without pushing myself every step of the way. It didn't hurt to get hugs… it didn't hurt to wear my clothes! I actually could honestly say "great!" when asked "how are you?"… I can still remember how surprised I was the day I realized I didn't hurt anywhere, even my head was pain free! How exciting!!
My monthly cycles continued at a perfect 28 days. I was taking comfort in the predictability of them. Our marriage had reached that crutial moment at seven years… and Brad's mother was vying hard for more and more of his attention. I was pretty sure I was glad we didn't have kids at the moment, and even though I wasn't on any kind of birth control.
God had different plans…
After nine months of perfect, predictable cycles, I was late. I didn't think a whole lot of it at first. I was a little confused, but I figured there wasn't much to get hopeful about. I was having PMS as usual, maybe a little more extreme, but that was normal when I was late… then one day, I noticed the PMS acne was mostly in one place on my face and I flashed to a memory of a friend who had the same patch of acne in the same part of her face… when she was pregnant! So I mentioned to Brad that I thought we should get an HPT. He said no, I was only a week late and we didn't need to go thru all that again so…

Friday, November 19, 2010

I took the products. In four days my fibro fog lifted… I don't really know how to describe it, but the haze was gone. I have not had a headache out me in bed since (five and a half years!!), but it did more than fix my headaches and my pain and fatigue and all the fibro symptoms… it took away the PCOS symptoms! My cycles that would fluctuate from 4-12 weeks, suddenly, instantly snapped into a perfect, predictable 28 days. Whoa. No hopes! God seemed to make it clear, no kids!
Brad noticed a change ine right away, too. I had energy. I was able to get and keep the house clean. The headaches were less, and I was more cheery. Feeling like I had been is very discouraging. When I came to the end of the products I was afraid to quit them, so I had to tell Brad. He said he thought it was just the arrival of warmer weather. LOL. But he was willing to figure out a way to afford to keep me on this stuff.
The following March the Parent-type-people came for a visit and Mom-Lady went to a ladies Bible conference with our church in Portland. We went to the mall while we were there and found two really great deals on jumpers with matching tops, of course we bought them… we dressed alike both days, and of course were teased a little for it (in good fun, nothing mean), then the Gs went on to Washington to visit her brother. When they came back thru and went to church with us… she was told they didn't recognize her because we were not dressed the same! LOL. Anyway. During that visit Mom G. Shared about this nutritional product that she had heard about. It sounded too good to be true. It had helped fix any and every problem from Alzheimers to wrinkles… a glyconutrient?? When she told us about it, she hadn't tried it yet, but was going to start on it as soon as they got home. Brad was convinced it was a scam, but I was courious… if it could help with the fibromyalgia just a little, maybe I could do more than barely exist.

We went down to YV for Mother's Day… it had been six weeks since we saw them the time before. I could not believe my eyes! This lady who moved as slow as I did six weeks ago was leaving me behind in her dust!! She was doing things I never saw her do before (because she couldn't!), I was in awe! She said it was the Mannatech… I was sold! But selling Brad would be a whole other issue, he didn't really notice much difference. So she gave me a months supply of the stuff…
S.G. Amazed me! She sent me to her bed during the day, so I could lock my grandmother out. I didn't feel comfortable doing that at first, but grandma got a chance and came to my bedside and started screaming in my face… whispers hurt when migraine attacks, she had me in tears! So I started locking the door. When my grandmother realized the door was locked, she started calling my friends names, for locking me up so she couldn't see me… I'd laugh, but it is so sad. Grandma managed to get herself kicked out of my friends' home. And she decided to take the greyhound bus to visit her friends in L.A. Then she had another friend come from BHC to pick up her van and go get her and take her home. My friends were going to take me to catch my plane in Havasu, but then we thought we'd get it changed to P.S., but the headache wouldn't break (after 300 dollars in meds), so the "Mom" called Brad and told him he HAD to come get me. It took some convincing, but he came for me. That headache lasted six weeks! Most of that time was spent in bed.

I was so embarrassed by my grandmothers behavior. I was so blessed by my friends… I did some thinking and some praying and decided, if she was going to be that great to me and still loved me inspite of my grandmother's behavior… well, she called me the " daughter of her heart"! I decided she earned the the title "Mom-type-person"… who-da thunk it that day we met, when she gave us a ride to church… God is SO good!!
I begged Brad to come with us… he refused.

When Grandma and I got to Buttonwillow, CA. She called her friend in L.A., who we were supposed to visit next, and she wasn't expecting us for another week! She was not going to pay to stay in a hotel for a week. She had nowhere else to go, but home. I wasn't going to BHC for a week and then drive back to L.A., and then back to BHC! But I had some WONDERFUL friends in YV. They had given me a key to their home because Brad's sister and I had been there so much, and I knew they would welcome us, even if they were not expecting us. So I called S&B.G.

I don't think my grandmother could believe I had friends that were that available to me. Then S.G. made the "mistake" of complimenting me by saying I was "the daughter of their heart", that was probably the sweetest thing anybody had ever said about me… but I cringed, because I knew she said it to the WRONG person. My mistake was going someplace I felt so at home. I began to relax… migraine attacked. I still managed for about two days to wait on grandma hand and foot, by the third day I was caught (by SG) crawling to the kitchen to get something to take with my migraine medicine. That particular drug they don't like you take more than six in a month (though you can have two in 24 hours), I had taken all six in three days and the headache was still going strong. When my grandmother spoke to me, she yelled… she claimed the headache was a tool of manipulation. S.G., went into full "mom"-mode.
By the time we had been in our new house a few months. I was miserable! Physically, which lead to mentally. I have fibromyalgia, for those who don't know imagine full body aching, the feel of your clothes either makes your skin sting or they feel so heavy it is hard to carry the weight of wearing them. To that add migraines, hypoglycemia, IBS, RLS, chronic fatigue, recurring UTIs, a fogginess that makes it difficult to think, or process information… naturally feeling like this leads to discouragement, and depression (though not anything like I had had in the past!)… though I did wonder what the point was. I was 29 and ladies in my church 40 years older were running circles around me… that is depressing too!!
I would sleep until 10am. Eat breakfast. Rest. Psych my self up to go empty the dishwasher, have a snack for lunch and go take a nap in order to have the energy to fix dinner.
And then my grandmother decided she wanted to come for a visit. We thought that would be OK. She wanted to visit all her friends in CA and show off her new van, so I had to fly down to get her and drive her here then back and then fly home…
I am always up for a road trip!! But it turned out to be a bad idea. I did all I could to male it a pleasant trip for her. She got breakfast in bed every day, we saw all of her friends (the ones that were available). We got here and kept her, I think for a week. The day before we were to leave I had had all the insults to me and to Brad I could handle. She was very careful to be kind in Brad's presence… which made it worse for me. I begged Brad (with tears) to take time off and make the trip with us to take her home, because I couldn't do anymore…
We had excepted the fact that it was going to be us and the dog. Maybe God had a plan, a ministry that would be better for us to not have kids? I had heard of a ministry to missionary "kids" that I thought was way cool, and when I told Brad about it, he really liked the idea, too. The idea is a lot of these kids grow up in other countries, with different customs and then they turn 18 and head to America for college and the rest of life… and some of them really struggle with culture shock. Our idea (stolen from a missionary I heard on a deputation trip with Brad's sister), was to offer our missionaries' (the ones our church supports) kids a home to come to, to help them adjust. Give them some guidance as they adjust to new customs and ideals of this unique (and wonderful!) country. But instead all our missionaries started taking a year furlough to help their own kids adjust-a better idea…
So we decided well, it must be just us and the dog.
Then the dog died! So we rushed out and got a puppy. My dog had been perfect! The puppy was cute, but OH SO FAR from perfect!!!
Anyway, after over seven months (I did at one time know exactly how many months, weeks & days… but that has faded a little) in a 30' camp trailer with a puppy (that was NOT perfect!), we finally moved into our new home. It had not met my expectations in a few spots, but with the things we were able to add ourselves, we were blessed once again by a very generous God, and we knew it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The trailer wasn't ours, we were on the church's property… not exactly a stable environment for a homestudy. So that got put on hold. We expected to be in the trailer for about 12 weeks, but there were complications. The lot wouldn't fit the house plan the builder agreed to build on it. So we agreed to go two story. Still the house wouldn't fit. He told is the problem was an electrical box (for the whole neighborhood) we could either unsigned the contract and resign for a different house in a different location, or we could wait three more months for our house (that was three months in waiting and ground still hadn't been broken. When I discovered he was trying to get us to get a smaller house than we originally agreed to for the same money, I decided I could wait indefinitely. He didn't want to have to pay the electric company to move that box, so he made another offer for a house in another subdivision. These houses were compare-able in size to the one he agreed to build originally, but the housing market had boomed, so they were more than we had agreed to pay, but our price had been set five months before. At first there weren't any houses I liked… I have a mirror and a piano that need a wall big enough fir them and I need a wall for my hutch in the dining room… and I want my living room facing the street, so I can watch the neighbors and put my Christmas tree in the window for everyone to enjoy :). Nothing we saw fit my requirements… I am not picky, just spoiled! Then Brad noticed he missed a house on the list. He talked me onto going (reluctantly) to see it. With a few minor modifications I decided it could work.
We went through the emotional roller coaster that came with the fertility drugs two more times (Brad said they turned me into Dracula… LOL). Each time waiting longer than the time before, before getting a home test and calling the doctor because the hpt was negative… the last time I was 12 weeks late, sick, sore and feeling exactly like my pregnant friend was complaining about feeling. When I got to the dr office the nurse seemed as hopeful as I felt… and I knew by the look on her face what the result was. The doctor called in a perscrpiton for a drug to start my cycle (I don't think I ever used them, all it ever took was a visit to the doctor), and I went home. I was OK until Brad got home, then I fell apart. It felt like someone had reached in and pulled my stomach straight out of my body. I was devastated. I told Brad I couldn't do it anymore. I was done.
We went back to the doctor at my usual annual exam and he said,"If you aren't interested in the next step, then it's not going to happen. Might as well adopt". As unpleasant as that was to hear we were willing to look in to it
Didn't take long for us to discover we can't afford that option either. So we opted to give foster to adopt a try. We went through all the classes to get certified, did all the paperwork, and then sold our house. We moved into a camp trailer in our church parking lot at the time we would have been ready for our home study. LOL.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

That summer Brad spent his time doing camps and fireworks, but after VBS I spent my summer on the road with his sister. Much more enjoyable than sitting at home alone for four weeks of summer. We met some great people and had some memorable experiences… like turtles under our bed, teaching cats to fly… and a few other things that might fall under TMI. LOL.
By the end of the year, my cycles had still not regulated off of the bc pills, so the doctor recommended fertility drugs. I can honestly say I was not really at peace with the idea, but Brad seemed OK with it, so we went for it. The doctor called in the prescription on, I think, Christmas eve and I was supposed to start on the meds the next day (& the pharmacy would be closed), so we had to wait at the pharmacy until they got all their communications figured out between themselves and the doctor and the insurance company… which made us late to meet with Brad's family that evening. I HATE to be late! And somebody made a smart remark about us being late… we weren't interested in telling anybody about our current struggle, so my ever so sweet response was a not so friendly, silent glare.
The medicine the doctor gave me worked backwards for me. It stopped my cycles, and gave me every symptom I could imagine would come with pregnancy, except the baby of course. We were disappointed, but we would keep waiting and see what God would do.
Even though I went home with Brad, I still heard plenty from my grandmother. Not only was I supposed to "deal with it" because what happened to me was "no big deal" and "it happens to everyone", but it was my fault my mother married him because she just wanted me to have a daddy, and the radio station didn't have to announce his arrest all day long… and I am sure she holds me personally responsible for whoever it was that egged my mother's mailbox after the news report of his arrest.
I refused to accept any of those lies. That just made grandma more angry… oh well. :)
In the fall Brad's sister was called into full time missions, and needed a travel buddy. I was excited to go! I didn't go on all the trips, but I took dibbs on the southwest… my favorites:California, Arizona, and other places I really wanted to see…
Plus, if we did go to AZ, we could stop and say hi to my mother and grandmother while passing thru…
Brad and I also decided at the end of year would be a good time to stop the bc pills and see what happened. We weren't hoping or expecting anything to happen right away, but there is always the hope I guess…
In March I helped a friend move to AZ. We stopped and saw my grandmother and mother for lunch on our way. My grandmother was unhappy because it was for just a couple hours, but it was enough.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Before we left to help my mother move, I told Grandma Lady our plan… she advised against staying. She knew the influence my grandmother had on me, AND it was our first anniversary I was going to miss!! "I know, but Brad really thinks it would be a good thing to do." GL:"But he doesn't know your grandma!" :) she was right, I knew it, but what to do??
While in YV, we shared our plan with the Gs (we were staying with them), and they STRONGLY advised against me staying in BHC after Brad left for home,"It's one thing to have your husband with you, and another to be alone."
I also talked to Mrs.A, while in YV and she also encouraged me to not stay with my grandma and mother, but go home,"You belong with your husband. Especially on your first anniversary."
I know how they all prayed!
When it came to the moment of Brad's departure I melted down. I begged him to not leave me there. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the reality as nasty as she was to me in our alone moments while Brad was there, she would be worse after he left. I couldn't stay!
When I got home and informed my friends I didn't stay, they were all thankful (and so was I).
Well, we went to help my mother move. Somebody had had a tantrum or two in my room, then it appeared have become a catch all for garbage that wasn't sent to the dump. The rest of the house was worse… I couldn't remember living so filthy, but maybe dwelling in it all my life made it not so noticeable. But was BAD. And she had packed maybe 10 or 12 boxes and was supposed to be moving in like two or three days…???
We got the few treasures I wanted, got her necessities and threw everything else away. I know some of the stuff that we sent to the dump made my stepfather furious when he returned, but she claimed she wasn't taking him back and that stuff needed to go anyway! Ewe!! When we got to BHC and my grandmother… she was syrupy sweet to Brad, but as soon as he wasn't around she was telling me "who hasn't been molested?' that's just something you deal with., Somebody is lying I will find out who it is.". Etc. Etc. Etc. "I hope you will keep in touch with your mother, she had no idea! She has never ever in her life told a lie or said a bad word." I told her,"I have told her if he is around, I will not be. The choice is hers."
The pressure was incredible! I can't even begin to describe it… my grandmother was determined to make me a liar to protect her daughter! When informed of experiences Brad had while I was asleep, the reaction was shock and disbelief…
Our perfect little plan: wait two years have baby #1, wait another year or two and have baby #2, stay in house #1 for about 5 years then upsize to one a little bigger… and live happily ever after. LOL. That might have been our perfect little picture, but it obviously was not God's truly perfect plan…

Before we married I went to see a gynecologist to get birthcontrol and to see what damage may have been done by the abuse I had endured. There was no damage (though, we did later become aware of an STD), but I was diagnosed with PCOS. Easy to treat with birthcontrol pills, and the effects and risks caused by it are reduced by the regulating of cycles that comes with bc and pregnancy can help make the symptoms of PCOS subside, too. No worries then… bc pills for now and we'll see from there.

Then my stepfather got arrested, my mother decided to move, but she needed help, AND she said if I didn't come get my perfect dog she was going to put her to sleep!!

She couldn't take all four dogs with her, one had cancer and wasn't doing well anyway, and Daisy… I don't know, I guess cause she was my dog…

So we had a plan (again): we would go help her move, get my dog (something Brad REALLY did not want), and even though it was over our first anniversary, I would stay and visit for a week, to help mend the rift and hopefully encourage my mother to break all ties to my stepfather…
Not sure anybody else but me would have Christmas colors for her Easter time wedding… but I have never claimed to be normal! Besides that gave the ladies I asked to decorate a challenge. They liked to shop! And they met the challenge and did a beautiful job!!
I wanted to invite close to everybody in YV church to the wedding, but I was afraid my parents and grandmother would find out and show up. So I only invited the two couples I was closest to, and I asked them to participate in the day. I asked the one to oversee the receipt of gifts and the other was my Matron of Honor (because she was/is 33 years older than me, several people thought that was cool. lol)
The wedding only had one glitch… the pastor had planned to have "Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets" interrupt the recessional as we were leaving the sanctuary… the tape player malfunctioned. For that I am thankful… he still got to play it at the reception, but I am not too sure I would have appreciated that surprise.
The hardest part of the day was saying goodbye to everyone, especially those that came from so far and would be gone when we got back… and I didn't know when/if I would see them again.
Now I can go on with our perfect little plan :)
Grandma Lady knew my plan was to quit work two weeks before the wedding and just focus on the last minute stuff… but by the end of Febraury she was starting to worry that I might not make it. My headaches were bad! Lasting longer and longer all the time and hurting worse and worse… I remember asking Brad if I could borrow a gun for a moment because if I could get something in to that most painful spot… maybe it would help. Not rational thinking… a bullet might have relieved my pain, but it wouldn't have given me the outcome I was looking for. Anyway. They were BAD, and the grandmother in her was worried, so she offered to let me come back, to quit my job three weeks early, and come back to their house rent-free and just relax and do nothing until the wedding. I jumped at it!! Maybe too quickly, I think I may have hurt the feelings of the wife of the people I was staying with. I was desperate to get a break from my headaches, and I knew out at the Ks I had had that relief.
The day I moved back, my headache started to lift as soon as I got there, and by bedtime it was gone and I didn't have another headache until I moved back into town after the wedding ("It's the Climate!", I guess).
Our wedding was unique. We wanted to include the teens (because Brad was the youth pastor), and some of our closest friends are a few decades older than we are, so the ages of the people in our wedding party ranged from 16-63! Not including mother of the groom or "grandparents" of the bride.
Well, since I am backing up in my story, you know I didn't have to return home. :)

Another "K" couple were available for God's use in my life and offered to let me rent a room from them for the same price the grandparent people were charging! God is good!!

I have migraines. I had them pretty severe in YV. But they went away completely during the year at gma & gps Ks. When I moved to my new home they started up again. My diet changed and included more "triggers", the hours I worked wreaked havoc with my sleep patterns, they had all florescent lighting in their home, and part of me wonders if I am not allergic to something in the air in the woods surrounding their home, and the altitude was a little different… I know the barometric levels makes a difference! But whatever the problem was I had a rough time… plus aside from the stress of dealing with my stepfather and waiting for the police to act, after December 21, we were planning a wedding and having a house built (the man at the store where we picked out light fixtures wished us luck because building a house has been known to cause divorce!).

Brad took me to the hospital for demmoral injections for my headaches, several times during those months. It wasn't uncommon for me to spend days at a time in bed with a headache… I was even sent home from work a few times because I pushed myself and tried to show up anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We were married in 1999, and we had our perfect little plan all figured out.

Someone once said,"If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans." God has a plan, if we want what He wants we have to be willing to change our minds, plans and goals to match His… even when we "know" we are right!

Brad was able to buy a newly constructed house before we married… was finished and ready to move in three weeks before our wedding… hmm. Maybe I'll back up and start back a bit further…

In February of 1998, I was still with the Ks. Grandpa Man came to me and said they believed it was time for me to start learning to make and keep a budget. And as part of showing me how to do that they also wanted me to start paying some rent. That was fine with me, I was surprised that they hadn't said something sooner…. Then in August they came and said I was going to have to try to find another place to live. Grandma Lady's blood pressure was acting up and she thought maybe the stress of having me there was having an effect… she couldn't help but worry…

I pretty much panicked. I had no place to go… and everywhere I looked wanted at least five times what the Ks were charging… was I going to have to go back home afterall??
I need to be clear about something… I haven't gone back and read this, I might one day, but I don't feel the need right now, but I know I haven't put a lot of emphasis on Scripture or what I was learning in church or Sunday School. I guess that is because it was such a part of life the things I was learning and growing……… life just happened.
The one portion of scripture I claimed and held on to the tightest was Psalm 37… when I was working at the school in in YV the kids in our class had to memorize the first 5 verses… having 22 kids repeat the same thing to you over and over everyday, sort of pounds it in there… a beautiful promise at a very dark moment in time… exactly what I needed.
Aside from the message from 1 Samuel 16 that I told you about earlier, I don't know that I can give you any other SPECIFIC scripture references. As I learned and grew, under the influence of BK, LG, SG and others, I started, because of their encouragement, to read my Bible every day (twice a day for a while… really should get back to that!), praying for those I knew, and truly working at knowing God and what He had for me.
I had no strength or ability to do what He wanted and I still don't. It is the truth that we can do nothing without Christ… he is our strength, our strong tower…
I have survived the life I had, because He had a purpose and a plan and He gave me the whatever to do it- He did it in and thru me… I was just willing to be used.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The end of that drama ended just about 10 years ago. Yet it seems at least ten times longer than that. There is so much more detail… the little things people did that meant so much…

In order to come to Oregon, do the responsible thing concerning my stepfather, to just move forward with life… I had to choose what God had for me regardless of what anyone else thought. I had to not only say I was willing to walk away from my mother (who seemed to need somebody to protect her), had to be willing to do it. And because I was willing He made me able because I kept my focus on Him… and He has blessed me! I have always had a mother figure to turn to when I needed it. And the cool thing about that my moms change with my needs… he knows what I am going to need and when and he draws different relationships closer for those moments that are perfect fit for that "moment". That is why I call them my "Mom of the Moment" because even if it fits for years (like the current one has), it could change in an instant. Anything can happen, friendships fade even when you don't want them too, feelings get hurt unintentionally, life happens… I try to be so clear that I know and understand and appreciate the gift of love in the way of time and energy, comes because God has seen fit for whatever reason, to use THEM in my life… I have been SO blessed!! God is SO good!!!!
I was excited! Overjoyed! He was in jail!

The excitement was short-lived. B.K. (not Grandma Lady, the other one) asked me a question and pointed out a scripture that took me to my knees. It was made obvious to me that I was rejoicing in my stepfather's punishment rather than simply praising God and being thankful for being safe and able to do what He required.

I wasn't certain that was true so I prayed that if that was my attiude, vengeance instead of justice… then for the Lord to make that obvious to me, I wanted Him to be glorified.

My stepfather spent a whopping 30 days in jail. He got off because it was 12 months and three days from when I reported until he was arrested… the statute of limitations had run out.

During that 30 days we went down to YV and helped my mother move to BHC, near my grandmother. When we moved her I told her if he ever came back into her life, I would be gone. She said OK… as soon as he was released he was welcomed back by her.

She made the choice for me… until someone else speaks out he roams free…
When I contacted the detective here, he was surprised to hear I hadn't heard anything since the previous September, when we went in to make the phone call to my stepfather. He said he would call LAPD and see what was going on.
He called back a while later and said, somehow my stuff got kind of lost in the shuffle. It got set aside. The person who knew about it missed it because someone else didn't know what it was and set it aside and said nothing about it. They found the recording of the phone call and the paper work from my initial report and they were hoping I hadn't relit the fire under them too late.
The detective in L.A. Contacted me for her own collecting of information. She said they would make the arrest soon, but she couldn't say exactly when because they had to Co-ordinate with San Bernardino County, since he was living there and part of the abuse happened there. They had to decide what was going to happen where. So I was left waiting again, but at least I was being informed enough to know something was happening.
At the same time I recontacted the police, I sat down and wrote three letters. One each to my mother, grandmother and stepfather. I explained why I hadn't had any communication with them. I confronted my mother and stepfather and I warned my grandmother of what was coming.
Finally… I got the news he was arrested!
We went to Victoria, Canada for our honeymoon. The alternator died on the trip north. It was raining, we had to take a detour because of road construction, and we couldn't use the wipers or headlights… Brad got very frustrated… once he decided we weren't going to make it to the ferry in time he relaxed a little. The second battery of the trip died just as we pulled up to the door of the hotel in Port Angeles. I don't know how he got the car started to get it on the ferry, but he did and we drove straight to the hotel in Victoria, and left it parked for four of the five days we were there, opting to walk everywhere instead. Then the last day Brad decided to go ahead and get the car fixed, so we could go to Buchart Gardens.

We had some difficulty with my comfort because of the abuse from my stepfather. Poor Brad had to deal with things for months/years…

Anyway. Overall it is still what we both consider our best vacation ever… we both just had fun doing whatever, whenever. No time schedules, nobody needing our attention… it was great!

When summer started to get closer and the police still hadn't showed at my parents house I was starting to wonder what was going on…
On the eighth day of Christmas… it was the one year anniversary of our first date. I had moved out of the Ks house in August (3 days short of a full year in their home) and moved in with some other Ks. Anyway.
Brad kicked his mom and sister out of the house and fixed me dinner. He had a dozen roses on the table when he brought me to the house. We had a very nice meal complete with dessert. We watched the movie "The Preacher's Wife". Then he proposed. Obviously I said yes. Then he gave me my 8th day present… a ring holder. So when he took me home (after the people I was staying with were asleep), I left the roses and the ring holder on the kitchen counter for them to find in the morning. :). The only one who knew when Brad was going to ask was Mr. Grandpa Man, he said," because it's the longest night of the year."
We decided to marry on Brad's parents' anniversary. That gave us about four months. Do you know it is very difficult to find winter colors to decorate for a wedding in the Spring. LOL.
I asked my S.G. to be my matron of honor. I invited L.G. to be in charge of guarding the gifts (guaranteeing both sets of Mr.& Mrs.G. would come to the wedding. I asked them to not say anything about the wedding until afterward… I was so afraid my family would try to show up if they knew the when and where. Thankfully, my family didn't try to come.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not talking to my family wasn't too hard, since most communication had been stopped already…
I remember sitting at the counter after having a phone conversation with someone and Grandma Lady was there, she said something to me about it will work out and be fine. I could honestly tell her,"I know. It like I can tell I am in a tunnel and I can see the other end, I just need to get there." (that would be the peace that passes all understanding!!)
Life went on…
Brad and I continued dating. Only going out after church, since church days were the only days I had off. For my birthday that year I was invited to Brad's. His sister had made steak fondue. And the family invited a few friends over, too. Brad bought me a large Teddy bear with a ladybug on it's paw. I had seen it when we were out shopping, I thought it was so cute. Anyway, the people at the party wanted me to tear the bear apart because they just knew a ring had to be in it somewhere… they were wrong, I knew it, do I didn't listen to them :). But he said I had to go with him to get my real birthday present… it was expensive and he wanted to make sure it fit… it was great to mess with people's minds :) he got me a very nice dress coat.
Then for Christmas Brad did the 12 days of Christmas…
It was already my intention to go to the police, but Mr.B. Made sure to encourage me to do it, pointing out I probably wasn't my stepfather's only victim, and now that I was gone and not returning, he probably had someone new , and it was my responsibility to speak up, do that and hopefully nobody else would get hurt. Wow. I knew all that. I agreed with all that. Having heard someone else say it, made it SO much more urgent.
So we set up a time to go to the police department and I made the initial report and the detective set up a time for us to come back and see if we could make a phone call and record it.
On Sept. 10,1999, Brad went with me to make that phone call. I don't remember much of what was said. I remember lots of "I'm sorrys", I know I was on speaker phone to start and asked him to take me off of speaker, and that my mother was sitting right there in the same room thru the whole conversation. He admitted things, he said he knew he didn't have to worry about me getting pregnant because he is impotent. And other things…
I was amazed by the peace and calmness of spirit I had thru the whole experience. But…
The detective said he was going to ship the stuff to LAPD immediately, because I had been gone from home long enough and I was so old (23!), that they only had 12 months to do anything. And to not talk to any of the family until my stepfather was arrested.
Brad took me home, or followed me home, after our talk, and we went in the house. I can still see Grandma K on the couch and Grandpa in his glider rocker doing the crossword in the newspaper. I finally got the words together and spit them out… it seemed kind of anti-climactic. Not sure what I expected, but the reply was: Grandma Lady," I know it. Doesn't surprise me at all. Just couldn't do anything without proof." Grandpa Man," Yeah. We kinda suspected it, but you never said anything to let us know for sure.". I think I expected them to be caught completely off guard, I thought I did a pretty good job keeping my secret… Hhmm… I guess not.

The next thing I did was call the Pastor in YV and let him know the truth and confessed I had lied on the paperwork I filled out to work at the school. Then I called B.&S.G (Mr.&Mrs.G) Mrs. G had the same reaction as the Ks. And the same excuse for not doing anything…

Then I called B.&L.G.(Mr.B & Mrs.L) And told them. Again they were not surprised. He explained it wouldnt have done any good to speak to the authorities until I was ready to do it myself. He was right, if anyone of these extra special, extra dear to my heart people had said anything before that moment, I would have denied it. (I had looked one of my dear widow ladies in the eye, the day before I left for Indiana and lied to her about my stepfather abusing me.) Mr. B. strongly urged me to go to the police.
When we got in Pastor's office (Brad's at the time wasn't big enough for two people, lol), we sat down, I hemmed and hawed for a while, then I tried to say my problem was nothing and to nevermind, but he wouldn't settle for that and he wouldn't let me put it off until later… so finally I gathered what I had, and spit out the words,"my stepfather molested me." that was the first time I said it, outloud to anyone… including myself. I won't tell you Brad's initial verbal response, but it shocked me :). Then he went on to reassure me it wasn't my fault, I hadn't done anything wrong… God still saw me as innocent and pure… anyway. But now I had told somebody, and now I was responsible to go to the authorities. Yikes! Could I do this? I barely had the guts to tell Brad.

Well, I needed to tell others too. The Grandparent people needed to know. I was still in their home and who knew what kind of chaos would be headed our way… I felt I should let a few of my most trusted friends in YV know, because something was about to hit the fan and I wanted people there who were about to hear it, to hear the truth from my own mouth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brad was the youth pastor of our church. Since we were dating, I got included in some of the teen activities.

One night after an activity in the summer, we took some kids with us to take a girl home who lived like 50 miles away. The girls we had with us were joking and teasing with eachother, then suddenly one leaned forward and asked Brad what he would say if I asked him to marry me. He said, he would say no, because he believed it was the man's place to ask that question. Then he was drawn into a conversation about the roles of each gender in a relationship… I love debates as much as he hates it (opposites, lol). Anyway.

After we dropped off all the teens and we started out toward my house, he asked me what I would say IF he asked me… "I dunno". I am not much for hypothetical questions.

But that got my brain thinking, I had some reality to deal with… that reality would be a problem if I were to get married and not say something.

I didn't know how I was going to say what needed to be said. Or even IF I could say it. But it slapped me up side the head-I couldn't go any farther until I delt with my past.

So, coward that I am, I wrote Brad a note saying that we needed to talk, and I left it on the door of his camp trailer at the fireworks stand.
My grandpa Hank. He wasn't my grandpa, he was a close friend of my family most of my mother's life. He was probably the most stable force in our life, and he was skitzophrenic.

He was a good man. Patient enough to put up with my grandmother. Generous enough to repeatedly help my mother. Kind enough to entertain me while my mother and grandmother went and did whatever. He always took me to lunch at least once when we would visit my grandma (he always lived within 30 minutes of drive time from my grandmother), and if possible, he took us to church on Sunday when visiting grandma. He came to at least three of my birthdays and taught me and my friends to play blackjack. Of all my family, I knew he loved me… now he was gone. That was Hard, plus the reality that I wasn't going to be able to attend his funeral… I still haven't been by his grave…

But in a way it was a relief, I didn't have to worry about him asking when I was going to return, or come see him again.
The Ks and their family went out of their way to make my birthday and holidays special. Good memories…

The New Year started rough. Both of the jobs I had ended with the end of the year. I applied every where I could think, except fast food. Was not gonna work at McDonadls!! No way…

Guess I had some pride to deal with because I had been saving money since I started working… I had enough to pay my few bills for two months. I actively searched for work, I didn't think (OK I knew) the Ks wouldn't have me stay with them without a job, even if they weren't charging me rent. They had high expectations of me…. I was down to 37.00 in my account, and I had to pay I think twice that for health insurance, plus I had car insurance, a car payment (to the Ks) and I had to put gas in my land yacht… freaking out would be an understatement. What was I Going to do? I couldn't stay if I didn't have a job. Guess I would have to go home and hear "I told you so…". So out of desperation I applied at McDonalds. I got the job right away, the first check came in timely enough fashion that I didn't miss a single payment on a single bill!!

Also in that first few months (starting in March and ending on Easter) we got a phone call a week telling us about someone in YV passing away. We were getting very nervus about answering the phone. The last of those calls was about my Grandpa Hank.
"Obey… in the Lord". I knew that verse for as long as I could remember, but that last part was like a totally new concept… I never realized that to be a condition or guide. I always thought it meant obey and that was it. There was never an explanation before about if you need to choose who to obey, God or parents… it was always assumed God gave you these parents, so His will is for you to obey them. Getting the last three words of that verse to penetrate my braine and my heart was shocking, revolutionizing, freeing! I was able to let go, because the choices my mother was making were against God's will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Backing up a little)
Once I was in Oregon and my family knew where I was I got many harassing phone calls from my stepfather. After a few weeks (or maybe a few days… sometimes things feel a lot longer than they are) he called, cussed me and told the Ks that if they wanted me they could have me cuz they (parents) were done with me and didn't give a #%*@&$ any more. That was fine with me, but I knew it was just a game, trying to guilt me in to doing what they wanted. I don't remember how long it was after arriving in Oregon, but I eventually got the courage (with the support of those who loved me) to refuse my mother's phone calls. That was one of the hardest things I ever did… to say,"I don't want to talk to her.". But it was necessary, they were so heavily pouring on the guilt for me breaking my promises to return and accusing me of lying about my motives in leaving home, I could hardly handle it. It was making me a nervus wreck.
I was so encouraged my first Sunday at FBC. Sunday School was a lesson on the kind of parents we had… and the sermon in the 11:00 service was on the family, and the Pastor sang "People Need the Lord.". The Ks and their family were a great support and encouragement to me, too. Especially when someone pointed out I was supposed to obey parents IN THE LORD, and my parents weren't guiding me in the way of the Lord.
I was confused. Who would be calling me at nearly 9:30 at night? It was the Assistant Pastor? He wanted to know if I wanted to go with him to Sunday Dinner followed by some shopping in the cute little tourist trap town not too far from here. I said OK. Didn't know why… I had all the birthdays of everyone in the church. I knew he was too old for me, so it couldn't be a date! But He didn't know how young I was!
When I hung up the phone and told Grandma Lady who it was and what he wanted, she asked,"Like a date?", when I said no, she said,"Well, what then?". I had no idea!LOL
So that following Sunday, when I got to church several people commented on how nice I looked. Odd, I always dressed my best for church, and I'd worn that dress before…
We went to dinner at a very nice restaurant, the nicest I'd ever been to. When the check came… his credit card was rejected. LOL. But luckily, he had a second card to use :). Then we window shopped for a while and he took me home. The grandparent people were not going to church that night (said they were too tired), so Brad offered to take me to the evening service and bring me home. So I said "sure.". After church that evening we went to Burger King before he brought me back home. On the next Sunday he invited me for Mexican and of course I wouldn't refuse Mexican food :). Then on Sunday night at church Brad's older brother was there sitting with Thier mom. I sat next to a lady who asked me if that was Brad's brother. I said," Yeh. I think his name is Scott, or something like that." and she said," Oh yeah! You're getting to know the Elkins really well.". I gave her a confused look. And she added,"But don't worry, I won't talk to anybody. Just me and God!" LOL. I knew I was in trouble. LOL.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I went to church here just like I did in YV-every time the doors were open and Prime Time meeting whenever I could. I was only 30 years too young, but I'd always been a Prime Timer, so why not… plus I got the invites here, too. My jobs were co-operative about me having Sundays and Wednesdays off.
Then in December there was a Young Adult Christmas party. As far as I knew, everyone in that class was married. I did not want to go and be the only single there, so I was gonna skip it. Well Grandma Lady wanted me to go, so she talked her grandson into going with me. Rather than viewing us as cousins doing something together everyone thought we were dating, I guess. This motivated one B.E. to get his act together. :)

From what his sister says, he grumbled all the way home about who was that guy and where did he come from???… LOL. He was just a poor guy doing his grandma a favor…
But like I said it motivated Brad. A few days later grandparents K. and I went to a Christmas open house at the home of some "dear" :) people in the church. When we got home that night the phone rang. Not usual for it to ring that late, so Grandpa Man answered it. He talked for a few minutes and then gave me the phone.
Just as I had convinced myself that as long as I was enduring the abuse, then nobody else was, I convinced myself that now that I was 900+ miles away I would be OK and I could ignore/forget what my stepfather is and what he did.
So, I started life new and fresh. Telling as little about where I came from as possible. We had fun with people asking if the K.s were my grandparents, I'd say "No. She's not my grandma, she's my Grandma Lady.". It was great fun to see the confusion on people's faces.
I brought my birthday card ministry with me… it was a great help in getting to know people. And since I went to the church office for my information, nobody knew I knew their birthday until I handed them a card… that was cool!
When I asked about getting a list of birthdays, the Assistant Pastor mentioned I could order cards through the church's bookstore, and save a few dollars. So I set up a time to stop and look at catalogs before work one day that week. He had his mother there with him when I got there (so we wouldn't be the only two people on the property), we visited for close to an hour before I left.
It wasn't long before the Assistant Pastor's sister was talking to me every service and inviting me to sit with her in church…
I cut myself off from most of my people down in YV, but there were a few that convinced me to keep connected, because they didn't talk to my mother much, or were certain they could handle any questions she may ask them. One of these people was S.G.
Even though she had no problem with me leaving home, she didn't see it as a wise choice or timing (remember she didn't know the details of my life-even though we talked and/or saw each other everyday). I still have the letter, she knew home was bad, to go where I knew almost nobody, with no job and no way to get around on my own… there wasn't even a boyfriend there to be moving near. When I got the letter I called her and we talked… I don't remember what was said, but by the time we hung up, she was behind me 100%.
I wasn't cut off from very many for very long, it seems. My parents figured out really quickly and easily where I was. They started calling and harassing almost the very day I arrived in Oregon. He tried yelling and she tried crying. He threatened to come get me, or call the police. They wouldn't do anything, I was 21. There was nothing they could do, but try to get me to change my mind, and I had a support system that encouraged me to resist my parents control.
I was free! I was safe! Though it was a while before I was sure my stepfather wasn't going to try to come after me… afterall he had reason to be worried.
I mailed those letters the last day we were in Indiana. That night I had a dream. When I woke up all I knew was it was weird and it was about one of my widow ladies… MY (I claim them all as MINE!) Mrs. A., I worried about her for days! I didn't know what it was, but obviously I was supposed to be praying for her.
We arrived in Oregon the day Princess Diana died… August 31, 1997. Actually we arrived the night before, that was the news we woke to the next morning. Shocking.
Anyway. Monday, Labor Day, we headed south to the town I now live… the most beautiful place :). It was like arriving home, but I had never seen this place before. It was as familiar and comfortable as could be… it was where I belonged.
I was told there were not many places to get work, and I'd have to figure out a way to get around… within a week God provided me with 2 jobs and a car!
Mrs. A.? Well, I called her as soon as I could. She was so glad I did. You know what the strange part is… the day I mailed those letters and had that dream, was the same day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stunned me! Oh my. God didn't let me let go of my dear friend just as she was starting one of the hardest periods of her life. In stead he gave me the opportunity to keep in touch and be an encouragement to her. God is SO good!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The parents of the granddaughter I was staying with, lived in Oregon, right across the street from my grandparent people. When she helped me admit I wasn't going home, she decided she wanted to go home. We had it all planned out… we just had to hope the parents and grandparents would go for it. She called her parents first and told them what we were thinking. By the time I called Grandma Lady, her daughter had already run across the street and given them a heads up that we were calling. This time, Grandma Lady asked her husband before giving me an answer and he said,"yes".

So I was in Indiana nine weeks instead of eight. Then we went to GA to visit some friends of mine from YV. Then we headed west!

When I left YV for the summer I brought addresses and phone numbers… I wrote and called probably six or eight people regularly. Besides calling and backing out on my contract (I was intimidated by C.E., and was almost as afraid of breaking my promise to her and the school as I was of telling my parents I wasn't coming home), the hardest thing I did was write to all those people, told them goodbye, I wasn't coming home, wasn't staying where I was, and I wasn't telling any of them where I was going. I didnt want my family to know my final destination and I didn't want anybody to have to lie.
Nope. Can't stay in a place with no mountains!
It was two more weeks before I knew I wasn't supposed to go home either. When The granddaughter I was staying with heard me debating with myself she looked at me and smiled and said,"you are not going back home and you know it". I knew she was right. I just didn't know how I was going to tell everyone, especially my parents. Seems like it took another two weeks to get my nerve up to tell them. And the reaction was exactly what I expected. Yelling, cussing, guilt about breaking a promise, accusation that I had never planned to return… and more, might have worked except 1) I was convinced I wasn't supposed to go home and 2) I had prayed that if I got on that return plane and wasn't supposed to then to let the plane crash. I was already afraid to fly, having prayed that prayer and being convinced I wasn't to go back … I wasn't about to even go near the airport! :)
So where would I go??
I ws convinced this was just a trip. Grandma Lady's granddaughter got me a job with her for the summer and I had given my word that I would be back at CBCS in the fall. I promised my friends and my parents I would return. I didn't think I had the nerve to not return, and besides I was unprepared for life- I had never been taught to cook or do laundry or clean… I'd asked, but my mother refused saying,"you'll have to do that all your life…". I did learn to clean toilets and windows helping at church lol. Anyway. Everyone, everyone at church said goodbye like it was forever, though I was convinced it was for just 8 weeks.
When I packed my suitcase, I had no idea what to take… I'd never been farther north or east than Las Vegas, I didn't know what the weather would do, so I packed Summer clothes, winter clothes, everything.
After I got to Indiana, I called home and had a guilt trip laid on me for not waving goodbye, I just went full speed into the plane. And more whining about how he was sure I wasn't coming back. I tried to assure them both I'd be back.
It took me two weeks to realize Indiana has no mountains! It was so green and so beautiful, I never looked far enough into the distance to see there were no mountains. I knew I wasn't staying there!! Me? Live in a place with no mountains?? NOWAY! I like mountains… I've always had mountains (even if I couldn't always see them) =D.
So, there was 10 or 12 weeks of summer vacation. I usually spent three at my grandmothers, from the middle of June thru the 4th of July. My Grandma Lady offered me a plane ticket to Indiana from the same week I usually left for AZ., and lasting eight weeks before the return flight. I did not have to use the return ticket, but I HAD to stay in Indiana the full eight weeks. I jumped at it!! It wasn't a permanent way out, but it was a brief escape, and as a bonus the grandparent people would be in Indiana for two of those eight weeks!! Oh. I was SO excited!! Then I had to tell/ask my parents. They were surprised (as was I, who gets that kind of offer??), and they couldn't really say no, I think he was still afraid she might come read her Bible at him, even though it was a 16 hour drive lol), and said "OK, but you have to tell your grandma your not going to be able to visit her this year.". Normally, telling my grandma something she didn't want to hear, scared me enough to do whatever was necessary to not have to tell her, but I wanted to see my friends!!
In an attempt to manipulate and guilt me into not going, my stepfather would get angry and yell and say,"She's not coming back! She hates it here!" he was predicting the future and stating truth, but I honestly did not realize it. I promised everyone I was coming back, I planned on it, I already had signed a contract for the coming school year, that was my word, wasn't going to break that!!
D.B. Told me what she did in December of 1996, and that sermon on 1 Samuel 16 and the letter to B.K. Happened in, I think, February of 1997.
I was confused. God told me to go, but He didn't give me the way to go…
I knew I no longer belonged in the place I was, but I had no way out. All my widow ladies, and the couples that were my friends were great. They were available to me anytime, but they had encountered my stepfather's temper, and didn't want anything to do with causing it to flare. I understood nobody in the same town wanting me to move in with them. YV is a small place. If I were to move out of my parents' house and stay in YV, my stepfather would become the problem of whoever I moved in with. If I left home, I had to leave town… and the only place I had to go, was my grandmother in AZ, my mother's mother… and that really wasn't an option. When I visited there the summer before. I was there two weeks and it took six weeks after to relax and settle back into myself. But moving to Grandma's wouldn't have required me to come up with any money, and my stepfather probably wouldn't have followed me THERE, but that wasn't the answer either.  I didn't know what the answer was...
I continued to keep in touch with the adopted grandparents.
In April, I was offered another contract at the school for the next school year. And was excited to have the job…
I was dreading going to my grandmother's again. The last time I was there, even though I was able to get good sleep because my stepfather was 3 hours away, visiting grandma was becoming more and more stressful. She professes to be agnostic and her views on life ar far different than mine, and she was starting to see that. Grandma Lady remembered what a basket case I was when I returned from my grandmother's the summer before, and she didn't want me going to visit my grandmother any more than I wanted to.  So she and her husband made me an offer I couldn't refuse...
So I went home, and wrote my Grandma Lady a long letter (was famous for my long letters) telling her the whole sermon and all the verse references and every thing I thought and what the preacher said and how it seemed he was talking strait to me. I told her again what D.B. had said, and maybe that would be what God wants me to do? Could I come live with them? Not sure how I'd get there, but if that's what God wanted, well He could work it out.

Well when I called a few days later, she told me they had received the letter and the answer was no. Her mom had passed away, just before they moved (that is why they were in YV, to care for her mom), and they were just now to a point where they were not taking care of anybody else- they were enjoying the time just the two of them. I was let down a little, but I understood completely, it was really the kind of gentle refusal I expected… but summer was coming (in like four months!), so I asked if I could come visit. She said "Of course you can!". That gave me hope for the moment! But I was still told to "Go." and I had nowhere and no way to go…
After D.B. Told me I should go live with my Grandparent People, I really didn't know what to think. I never had someone tell me they thought I was smart and beautiful and had potential and they knew God had something for me, so I should go live about a thousand miles away… I thought,"tsk, love you too!". I thought about what she said. I knew there was NO way it could happen, they seemed to love me, but they wouldn't want me living with them! And even if they said yes, I had no way to get where they were, my parents took all my money, and they wouldn't let me leave. Aside from being his way of entertaining himself at night (at least until I got a good kick or two in, and maybe a scream and a shove when needed), if I left home they'd lose their welfare "help". They were in no hurry for me to go anywhere, and the world would explode if I tried to leave… trapped, stuck…

Then a few weeks after my conversation with D.B., we had a guest speaker at church, probably a missionary, but I don't recall for sure. He preached on 1 Samuel 16. Where God tells Samuel to go find a new king because Saul has failed and is to be replaced. Samuel gives God all these excuses… but God said it was time to go! Somehow it spoke to me that God was telling ME it was time to go… "but I can't!"… every excuse that came into my mind, that preacher read from his notes immediately AFTER I thought it-almost like we were arguing or debating. By the time his message was over, I had no more excuses, was willing, but scared to death… and had no idea how it was going to work.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Mrs.D.B.,  Mrs.B.and Mrs.W. want to know if it would be OK for them to wear pants to your house tomorrow for the meeting."

"They do, do they? Well, you know… let me just tell you something. I think you are a very sweet girl… blah, blah, blah… and I think it would be really wonderful if you moved to Oregon with F.& B.K.… blah, blah, blah… I know you probably aren't listening to me, but I think it would be just wonderful, and I am going to pray about that for you."

Mrs. A (laughing),"D.B. you didn't answer her question."

"Oh, I didn't?, well, dear, tell them that's between them and God."

LOL! A conversation I will never forget!

I wasn't too sure of what to think about all Mrs. D.B. had said… but I was definitely willing to go if it could happen!

Stress was my constant companion. I knew what was happening to me was wrong, but I didn't know how to stop it or how to get out. It was impossible to save money, I couldn't even consider marrying a Marine to get out, because if I dared to look at someone, just watching them walk down the street, my stepfather would acuse me of having sex with them or at least wanting to. I couldn't imagine what he would say if I actually went on a date with someone! No way not interested in that added pressure!! I was trapped! And it was starting to take it's toll on my feeling of sanity.
It was great. All I had to do was tell Grandma Lady I was going to be somewhere, I knew would have no trouble. But I came to depend on her and the reality of her ability to intimidate my stepfather feather than the true source of his fear. He was more afraid of the truth he would hear than he was of the one who would be delivering it. I had her on a pedestal and was trusting her too much.

Well, God fixes those problems. He, thru events in their lives, moved my Grandma Lady and Grandpa Man to Oregon. Thru the way I found out they were moving and other misunderstandings related to the move, she was removed from her pedestal… still a recipient of all my respect and admiration, but grounded (in my mind and sight) as a human, imperfect, yet full of grace. And the day they left YV was one of the hardest days I've ever had. She was the key to my freedom, my escape from the house! She made it easy... Now it was time to stand...

Two of my widow ladies were supposed to be going to a third ladies house for a WMF meeting. The hostess was of the conviction that ladies should only wear dresses, the other two did not hold the same opinion. The two were talking about weather or not they thought the third would be offended by them wearing pants to her house… I said I would go ask her for them, and they said "OK." So I went to her and asked if the two ladies could wear pants to her house. She respoded with…
Then came probably the most humiliating moment I ever had at church… I believe it was a Sunday night, we had a missionary sharing his ministry that night and I told my parents to eat whenever, and to just put the food away, I could get something myself when I got home, but it was probably going to be late because of the missionary. As I walked out I heard my stepfather yell something, but I shrugged it off and left. Church was over and I was waiting to talk to the missionary when someone jabbed me in the shoulder… HARD. Some of the people played kinda rough so it didn't really bother me, turned around half laughing, then I saw who it was. He started yelling and cussin at me. I was standing in the very center of the sanctuary, beside the missionary, my Grandma Lady and the missionary's 10 year old son! I wanted to fall thru the floor. As soon as I could I lowered my head and ran out of the building. My stepfather was chewing me out for making his dinner late and cold… when Grandma Lady came up and tapped on his window. He rolled his window down. And she sweetly and calmly pointed out to him how terrible that scene was he created… and several other things his constant response was," yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes ma'am, you're right ma'am…". It was beautiful. Then she ended her speech with,"One of these days I am going to come by your house and read scripture to you." I smiled. He replied once more,"yes ma'am." very nervously and drove me home silently.

It was beautiful. For one very selfish, freeing reason. From that moment on all I had to say was I promised B.K., and I got NO argument. This big 6'1" man was afraid of a sweet, little, grey haired, 5'0" church lady. It was beautiful!
It seems like I was needed nearly every day at the school when I started helping out. It was great! L.M. Was so great to work with. The kids really liked her and she was (& still is) so sweet.
Then the next school year I was offered a contract!! I was gonna be paid to be there. Which was a good thing, my stepfather was starting to get grumpy about me being at the church ALL the time and not getting paid for it. But as soon as I started getting a paycheck again their $$ from the government went down again. And again I had to make up the difference because it was my fault. So I had to make up the difference lost plus pay any bills they didn't have money for and if we ran low on food it was up to me to provide. If I wanted any spending money, of the money I earned, I had to sneak off to the store alone and lie about how much I spent. I managed to save about 20 dollars a month that way.
I also started helping the church custodian clean on Wednesdays between school and church service. That made Wednesday the best day of the week! I left home at 7am and didn't get home until after 9pm!! But every week I would come home to an angry stepfather who was irritated because they waited dinner for me, eventhough I told them not to.
Christmas season of 1994, I got a job at Wal-Mart as a cashier. Got me out of the house some, yay. But we were on HUD and food stamps… my income had an effect on how much "help" we got from the government. So I had to make up the difference, which meant I worked, got $$ for gas in my car and they took the rest. The nightly invasions never stopped, and my stepfather was a very paranoid man (suppose he had cause to be), he came in to Wal-Mart every shift I worked, harassing customers and employees alike and being sure to point out to everyone I was his daughter. Needless to say, when the year ended, so did my job.

But, there was Grandma Lady! She and her husband (Grandpa Man! lol) volunteered at the school our church had and in the usual way of echoing that little voice in my head, she suggested I start volunteering at the school. OK, I don't know any thing, but I had helped in classrooms before… so I gave it a try. I had to fill out pages of application/paperwork in order to work there. And I lied on some of it, because I was too scared of what would happen. My stepfather had long ago figured out I didn't care if he killed me like he threatened to do of I told, so he had changed his threat to "if you tell anybody, I will kill myself and it will be your fault!". Now I really didn't care about the killing himself part, but the all my fault had me concerned. Even if I could have convinced myself that it was his own fault, who would my mother blame? Who was I to make a stand for unimportant, unloveable, unnecessary me, especially if it cost my mother her happiness…
I spent a lot of time escaping my home life by spending time on the phone. I was always on the phone with somebody from church. My widow Ladies, J.T., Grandma Lady, S.G.(the lady who gave us a ride that first Sunday morning), L.G.… sometimes J.T. and I would call together, I had three-way calling. That was always a fun thing to do :).
I had one widow lady (M.B.), who would invite me over to operate her VCR… and pay me five dollars an hour to watch a movie with her. Not sure if she was that lonely, or if that was her way of giving me a break from my home.  And I will never know what she knew or thought... I was too scared to tell her what was happening to me at the time, and when I finally had the courage to tell her what I had been enduring... well, she hasn't spoken to me since.  Its been almost 15 years, and I miss her much...
When B.K. Became Grandma Lady it was really an April Fools joke that stuck :). We had an all church work day the first Saturday of the month of Easter every year. This year (1994, I think), that Saturday fell on April first. J.T. and I had a great time wondering around (between tasks) being sweet, and greeting people with smiles… they just knew we were up to something… the best April Fools ever, we didn't do anything, yet we got response from everyone :). Well B.K. was there that day and we thought it would be fun to see what her reaction would be if we called her grandma… and we could get away with not coming off as rude if we did it that day, with a laugh, since it was April Fools. :). So we went for it. She seemed a little taken back by it- didn't expect it and to our surprise her daughter was visiting from Oregon, and looked like she didn't know what to think. We all laughed in the moment, but later at home on the phone J.T. and I were a little worried that we may have offended B.K. So we decided we would go apologize first thing the next morning. We found B.K. In the sanctuary before Sunday School, and as we walked up to her she opened her arms wide and said,"Good morning, Granddaughters!" LOL. J.T. and I looked at each other, laughed and gave our new grandma a hug! She was my Grandma Lady from then on.
J.T. and I were inseparable at church and church events. We were asked if we were sisters, twins! Several people thought it was cool that we looked so much alike and were just friends… we thought it was weird that people thought we looked so much alike, but we grew to accept it, believe it… have fun with it.

We skipped from youth group to Prime Timers. Pastor W. said we could go to any Prime Time dinner or activity if we were invited… we put the word out and got several invitations every time the Prime Timers (55+) did anything :)

B.K. Had a knack for knowing exactly what I was supposed to be doing but didn't want to do. If I was impressed by a still small voice to do something, and told that voice no (which I always did), the next time I spoke to her (everyday at least once, many times twice or three times, everyday!), she would suddenly say," you know you should_____". And it we wouldn't even be discussing that topic whatever it might be. I'd always say,"yeah. I should, but I don't want to". She always required a better excuse than I could come up with, and so I would get that much more involved with church ministries.

And when she became Grandma Lady, she got even more pull :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My plan… I had a job at Chevron, so when school was out, I would get a job at the Chevron in BHC,AZ, and go to the junior college there (I could get in-state rates because of living in San Bernardino County), then transfer to UNLV to ultimately become an accountant and get a job at one of the casinos and live a happy life with lots of money!


When school got out and they stopped paying Chevron to pay me, the job ended. I plummeted with discouragement. I was trapped! There was no way out!! I was doomed to remain in that house forever! And now that I didn't have to get up for school, my stepfather decided he could visit me any/every night he wanted. Most days I stayed in bed, sleeping until at least 10. I did nothing, but watch TV and go to church. The almost funny part is my mother at this point tried to say she thought I was depressed… anyway.

It was a couple years before I was motivated enough to try to get another job.

In the meantime, the abuse continued.

And I had two terrible birthdays. They went by completely unnoticed by everyone except my grandma & my parents with nothing more than a half eaten cake. So my friend J.T., and I were talking and we came up with an idea. Having being forgotten brought to my attention the realization of how nice it is to be remembered, so we decided it would be nice to remember other people's birthdays… and a ministry was born!
That lady, B.K., who's smile seemed so genuine, started looking for me every Sunday… just to say hi, and tell me she was glad I was there. I know there were others that said the same, but I noticed with her it was every week. Then she started encouraging me to come on Sunday nights , after a few weeks of not being to explain why "Murder, She Wrote" was more important, I finally said,"yeah, I could, but I don't like walking anywhere in the dark." (which is still 100% truth!). She told me if I came, she would give me a ride home. So, I promised her I would come. To me a promise is a promise… if I make one I do all I can to keep it. After a few weeks of getting me there Sunday morning and evening, she said,"You know, you really should be here on Wednesdays, too…". Yeah…. I had to make that promise fresh every week in order to have the strength to tell my stepfather,"I promised Mrs. K I'd be there, and I DON'T break promises!". He obviously didn't like it, now I was going to church more often than my mother was. He would make her wait dinner on me, though I told them not to. I was willing, able and happy to eat cold leftovers for the opportunity to be out of the house and be with people who seemed to really like me.
One of the first things I learned about YV was the ways out of town. I hated it! I couldn't wait to leave! And I wanted to know how to get back "home" or to my grandma's in AZ. I had my life plan too…
That first Sunday at CBC, was a turning point. The people there were strange :). Right in the middle of the service they stopped everything and took time to shake hands and greet each other. I had these people I didn't know shaking my hand and saying hello to ME like they were really glad I was there… could they be for real?? Then this little old lady (W.P.) wearing a hat came up and gave me a hug like I was some long lost relative that she was excited to see again… weird-o! Then while I was sizing up the choir, forming my opinions of people before I met them, my eyes landed on a certain little lady. As I was looking at her smile that seemed to be the brightest on the platform, I heard a voice behind me, and to the left say,"watch her, she'll be good for you". I looked back to see who would be so bold… and there was nobody sitting behind us. I leaned over to my right and whispered to my mother,"That lady looks nice". I am not sure why, but I went every Sunday for the next 11 weeks. I know why I missed the 12th week, lol. The Youth Pastor was having a contest and the first person to attend 12 weeks consecutive was gonna win a flight in a small plane over the town… I don't like to fly, especially in small planes, I was NOT going to win!! I missed 12 more weeks before going back to church… then it stuck, or maybe it would be more correctly stated, God didn't let go…
At 7 the next morning we were rudely wakened by the sound of an airplane landing in the airport across the street from our house… that made me even less happy to be where I was, then I looked around…
We were on a dirt road! I didn't know those still existed!! And our nearest neighbors were a block away! We were surrounded by cactus and dirt! Rabbits and squirrels were running around… where was I? When did I pass thru a time warp and arrive in some bad western movie?? Yuck!
We let the dogs out of the car and they took off… something they were very good at. They stopped at the back yard neighbor's house to visit with their dogs thru the fence. My mother met H.B. and discovered she went to the church down the street. She invited us to go with her the following Sunday. I had already decided I wasn't going to THAT church because it was Baptist, and Baptists had proven themselves hypocrites! So when mother started begging me to go I refused, but finally I said I would go only the one time, so she wouldn't have to go alone.
So Sunday came and I kept my promise. We went over to the neighbor's in time to meet her ride. A curly haired lady, quiet… And I had the feeling she wasn't too fond of me or at least she didn't seem too happy to see us… I wasn't sure what to think of S.G., but I was going expecting the worst of everyone.
The last few weeks in my hometown were great. My stepfather had gone to start his job (a rare thing for him to have) and find us a place to live. We had three or four weeks! We were walking distance from our old church and since he was gone mothr felt free to go back, so we walked to and from church, just like the old days (well, sort of). It was good to be back, but we were only back, it seemed, to say good-bye. The best memory made before I left there was my JLG (the teacher/babysitter) took me out for the day we went to the mall and just spent the day together… I knew she loved me.
The next day we left. We arrived in YV at 11pm on August 31,1992. I saw a time/temp sign as we turned a corner it said 89*!!! within my head and heart I sank and prayed, "God, why have you moved me to Hell?"
I don't do heat well, I knew nobody and as far as I knew, life was only going to get worse…
But God :). He knew why he was taking me here. Though I was trusting him in the smallest ways, I had wandered far far from Him, I had forgotten how wonderful and real His love is, but He was about to remind me!
When we got to the house it was locked tight & nobody was around to let us in. So Grandma went and got herself hotel room, and the rest of us (+3 dogs and a rabbit) slept in the car.
I was scared of the move. I had lived with my stepfather's abusiveness for four years by now. I knew he was able to make a great first impression. It seemed most people we knew liked him… all the people we knew before him couldn't stand him, but were gone from our lives… he had managed to remove my mother from all of her friends from before we knew him… now he was moving us to a place where we knew NOBODY! That scared me. I had heard that abuse gets worse when the abuser is able to fully isolate their victims… the only worse it could get was beating us up… I had convinced my self it was "OK"'what he was doing to me, because who cares about me, and if he is abusing me, then he has his victim and so he won't bother any body else… (how decieved and proud to think that way). The way my brain was working doesn't make sense to me either anymore, it wasn't OK, like I let him do what he wanted, I faught and screamed and hit and kick every time I could. But somehow I comforted myself with the idea that maybe I was protecting the world from him by giving him a victim… but moving… to a place where I knew nobody, had no place to escape… what was I gonna do?!?!??
I had two offers to stay with people, but that would have meant sleeping on the floor… and then what after High School… I had to go. I knew it down deep inside I was supposed to go with my parents.
Made some special memories with some special people that summer…
When I got home from school that day, my mother was SO, excited! We are an emotionless people, so excitement was an interesting thing to see. She said,"we have something exciting to tell you when (my friend) goes home" I said," why wait? I tell her everything anyway." (we were together almost every day & the one thing I never said a word about was what my stepfather was doing) Mother-"Okay. We are moving to Yucca Valley!" Me-"What!Why!"
"Well, your dad got a job at the hospital there… we thought you'd be excited."
(be sure to add sarcasm and disrespect to my tone)
"When did you know this?"
"They called around 10:00"
"You knew this was the last day of school! You could have called me so I would have had the chance to say goodbye to my friends!"
"I didn't know how to get a hold of you…"
"All you needed to do was call the office, they know what class I am in, they could have found me…and why would I want to move away from here? This is where I grew up… and where is Yucca Valley, anyway?"
"near Palm Springs"
"The Desert!!"
Though the abuse never stopped, high school proved to be a bit better than Jr. High was. The friend I made in Summer School proved to be a life long friend, and when school started she had three other friends that readily accepted me into their little group.
We moved back to the other side of town, closer to people I had known when I was little and homes I was welcome to spend hours in as often as I liked.
My Junior year the school district decided to change us from a standard school year to year round tracks. We all dreaded it, after giving it a try, I decided I really liked it better. Plus the elementary school I attended was running all four tracks, so when I was off, school was still happening there and I had the opportunity to go back and help my first grade teacher (who was now teaching kindergarten) and the teacher who had been my babysitter. I also was able to help some in the school office. It was great. Gave me some place safe to go so I didn't have to be home all the time school was out.
Then, on the last day of school, after i got home, I was met by a very excited mother. She had the news of the next change… the biggest one so far…

Friday, November 5, 2010

Junior high was miserable not olny because I was friendless at school and abused at home, but also because I walked away from God. I was finally worn down to saying a cus word at someone- calling them the nasty word, in the ninth grade. I remember because it was a conscience choice, and he (that kid from second grade) laughed in my face at the thought of ME talking that way. Nobody at school knew I had been saved (due to following my mother's advice), but it still didn't fit, I guess, for me to talk that way.
I tried drinking to get drunk… my parents were willing to buy me wine coolers if I asked for them… I think it made me sleep harder and made things easier for my stepfather. I wasn't able to achieve drunk enough to escape with those and when they caught me sneaking the harder stuff (not sure what it was, kind of an amber color) that was sitting out in the kitchen, he tried to make me drink the whole bottle in the name of  "force them to over do it and they'll regret they ever had the idea"-type-prevention/intervention. I stole little things from the store my mother worked at… just to see if I could do it. I probably would have done more things that I would regret even more, but God protected me from myself. I trusted nobody. When a boy would aak me out I would turned him down cold, I couldn't see why they would want to risk their reputation by being seen with me unless they thought they could get what my stepfather was already taking…no chance!!
These things… though they may be small compared to the wild lives others chose, were enough to make me feel as dirty on the inside as the abuse made me feel on the outside. I understand now that was conviction… and I figured that out sooner than I realized because I remember telling God to leave me alone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

By the time I finished the prayer I was at the school. Within a few minutes I was walking into class and this person sitting in the back of the room waved at me like she was excited to see me? I pointed to myself and she said yeah and motioned for ME to come sit by her. When I got to my seat she greeted me with,"I know you and you know me, but we don't know eachother". Made no sense, but then she explained that we both had the same best friend and watched eachother with skepticism.
Well, we connected and we hung out all day. By the walk home, I was convinced God had heard and answered my prayer. I had been away from Him so long that trusting even Him was going to take time. I prayed everyday for all of Summer School that she would still be willing to be my friend… and especially once school started. Finally sometime during the next school year I relaxed and started believing I really had a friend!
I was so excited to have a friend.

We were not able to go on our usual trip

We were not able to go on our usual trip to grandma's for the Fourth of July that year, because I had to start Summer School on the fifth. Everything was my fault! By the time summer school started I had my plan. I don't remember it now (part of God's grace-He has taken that from me! Praise Him!)… I was gonna go to the first day of school. My mother had taught me even if you are sure you'll hate it, give it a try with an open mind and it may not be as bad as you expect-you might even like it. I knew she was wrong about 4 hours of history, 5 days a week for 6 weeks, but if I went to the first day of class, I would be the only one home when I got home… and step-daddy-dearest would be the "lucky" one to find me. So I would go, and follow thru when I got home. We only lived three blocks from school (we moved once a year every year for the first 5 years they were married… and 3 blocks seems to be the magic distance. lol)
On that walk to school a memory passed thru mind. It was that Pastor at camp when he told me I would never be alone. So I thought… then I prayed," God if that is true and you are always with me then you know my plan and how serious I am… if You are there and you don't want me to do it, prove it. Give me one friend, a true friend, one I can trust as much as they will trust me. Someone who won't be ashamed or embarrassed to be known as my friend. A friend for life."
It didn't matter where I slept, he had permission. He enjoyed mind games of threatening to rape me. He used to tell me it was better for him to teach me about sex than some strange guy… and he told me he wasn't going back to jail for me. He said he'd kill me first.
He was more than willing to get me anything I wanted, but he always promised,"It'll cost ya." and when I learned what he meant and quickly decided I didn't want whatever I may have been asking for… he would still get it and demand "payment".
In ninth grade I managed to aquire another friend, but she was transferred to a magnet school for the second semester. She was a lot of fun and said it was her desire to prove you could act as wild and crazy as you want without the help of drugs… I liked that, so I was wacky right along with her (sadly, she died a few years later... of a drug overdose).
Then I failed enough classes between 7th and 9th grade to not be able to graduate without summer school. I still got to go on to the High School the next year, because they were changing the schools structures and the high school was now going to be grades 9-12. The worst part of summer school… I had to take history, my absolute worst subject!
I had disappointed my extended family (my grandma), I had NO friends, my mother didn't care about me (or perhaps she would come see why I was yelling and screaming in the middle of the night), my stepfather only cared about me for one reason, my classmates had suggested the world would be happier without me… and now history for summer school!!! Maybe they were right… I should quit life before it gets any worse!
My stepfather gave me a ride to school every morning (though he let my mother walk or take the bus to work often, unless it was convienent for him to take her, or raining...).  I don't remember what I did or said, but one morning as I was getting out of the car, I ticked him off and he haulled of and punched me face hitting me in the eye and knocking my glasses off my face. I ended up with a black eye.  Not sure who was more scared by that act him or me.  He never hit me again after that, he found more effective psychological ways to hurt me instead...that kind of abuse doesn't leave marks or bruises...
There was one boy in my youth group and in my English class that figured out my stepfather gave me that black eye, and he was mad! I don't know what he had in mind to do, but I denied the truth and promised to tell him if my stepfather ever did anything to me (I lied!).
There were people at church who thought it was odd that I always sat between my parents… and that my mother always sat in the backseat of the car. And they voiced their worries to the Pastor who called us all into his office. Weather our united denial convinced him or not, I will never know. But it was enough of a threat that stepdaddy stopped coming to church. Then in February, I was sitting in the teen class and was stunned by the conversation they were allowing the teens to have. I got up, walked out, checked the sign on the street, saw that it said "____ Baptist Church" and went back inside. On my way back to class a grumpy old man snapped at me that I needed to get back to class… that was my last Sunday at that church.
By this point my stepfather was asking my mother's permission to sleep with me on the weekends, and getting a yes. Even when I was trying to shake my head and plead for her to say no from behind him as he asked.
I was trapped. And alone… as alone as I could be…
Though my stepfather moved in more than four months before they were married, he was careful enough to keep his hands off me until after the wedding.
Somewhere after starting Jr. Highy mother started letting me stay up as late as I wanted on Fri. And Saturday (as long as I could still get up for church). So I spent many weekends on the hide-a-bed in the livingroom watching TV until late…
The church we switched to had some nice people. And many that were not so nice away from church (or even in the parking lot). I certainly did not fit in the youth group.
Eighth grade was also not too great. My only friend the year before had moved in Januray and it wasn't until sometime in the beginning of the ninth grade that I got another friend. So eighth grade was lonely.
In December my mother married.
Shortly after school started my stepfather, when taking me to school got mad and hit me in the face, knocking off my glasses and giving me a black eye. That was the only time he hit me… I am still not sure who was more scared him or me. He usually took out his anger at me by getting hold of my most treasured possessions and destroying them.
It was a slow process, but life just continued to get worse…
One more :)
But there was a problem. There were lots of secrets. Somewhere in the time between that first date and when he moved in with us. Several things happened.
They sat me down and told me he was a convicted child molester. And that that meant he had hurt a little girl, but he would never do that again.(he was still on probation for it and had to get special permission to be around me), he started umpiring for the local little league games, he spent time in jail for probation violation when his job caught him stealing from the cash register (but we told everybody he was in Maine visiting his mom)-that actually happened twice. My mother's friends stopped being around as much… then one night they had a fight and he stormed out in a huff. My mother screamed after him,"I love you!!". When he came back the next day he told us he came back because he thought it was me that said that. When he left my mother told me to just let him believe that… I was 12, so I did what she wanted…
He moved in sometime in the summer. After being in jail for the second time since we met him in January, he convinced my mother it made no sense for him to get another apartment since they were gonna get married soon anyway (didn't ask… he told). She agreed. He moved in. The pastor of our church wouldn't perform the ceremony. I went to camp (& was Saved), and then we changed churches, to one that would do the wedding…
It seems like our church stopped having Wednesday night sometime before I was in Jr. High, because I remember going to the Baptist church for AWANAS, then youth group. There were some fun times there too, but the people were different.

My grandma's S/O got lung cancer and passed away that year,too. He was the first grandparent figure I had die. He was kind to me. I still miss him.

Then in January 1988 change started in a major kinda way. Just four months after losing her S/O, Grandma married his cousin. He was a wonderful man. And a week after we returned home from the wedding, my mother went out on a blind date. He was a classmate of one of my mom's friends from church. He was all personality, loved kids… and important to my mother he had a mustache and beard! They hit it off. But I was sworn to secrecy,"Don't say anything to grandma about him." (red flag #1)

He was cool! If my mom and I disagreed, he ALWAYS sided with me. He gave me the coolest gifts. When he moved in to our apartment I got my own TV and VCR!