Tag Archives: domestic violence

Breaking the Silence (Guest Corner)

My guest today is Kim Hawkins, she is one of the co-authors with me and 21 other women in The Art of Brave Living Book. Today she is sharing about breaking the silence of domestic violence.

14808102_10211202078753940_1734302626_o

“Now, you know he loves you, he didn’t mean anything by it.”

“We don’t need to be airing our dirty laundry around to God and everybody.”

“It’s just that he had a few to many last night. It will be alright.”

Shhhh!!! Seriously, when does it stop? When does the glossing over the details, turning a deaf ear, and ignoring the blatant misconduct come to an end?

There was nothing significant about that final day. It could have been any day of the week, it wasn’t a holiday, and the weather was the same as it was the day before the straw broke the camel’s back. The neighbors could hear what was happening, it wasn’t the first time. No one came to the door to ask if I needed help. Someone did call the police, again. My screams filled the night air, but people just wouldn’t get involved. After all, there are all kinds of crazy out there.

What made this night any different than any of the others I will never really know, but I was done. I couldn’t keep going on this way. Something had to give and I had given all that I could. I was broken.

As desensitized as our society has become to violence, domestic violence is a horse of another color. It’s a strange shade of discomfort wrapped in fear viewed with a blind eye because no one wants the elephant in the room to speak and prove its existence is real.

Domestic violence is a real thing. It’s not a simple misunderstanding between a man and a woman or intimate partners. This thing is not all of a sudden. It’s subtle and plays tricks on the mind. Warped by smooth talk and constant word manipulation, you won’t know if what you thought you heard was what was really said or if you’ve mistaken what was said.

Tweet: Domestic violence is a real thing. @kshineonline #beavoice #domesticviolence #DomesticViolenceAwareness

The seduction and charm suck you in and before you realize what’s happening, you find yourself isolated riding waves of jealous fits and other forms of manipulation. Criticism replaces what once was compliments and sheer flattery. The mean streak appears and it is generally meant for your eyes only, but if it happens to expose itself in the presence of others you can expect a dutiful “I’m sorry,” but never a repentant heart.

It took time for me to leave, but I finally did. I’m breaking the silence.

No more shhh-ing and hushing about the truth of the matter.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) provided these national statistics:

• 95% of men who physically abuse their intimate partners also psychologically abuse them.
• Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner
• Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries

I share these particular statistics because there are signs to watch for. Listen for changes in the way someone speaks—lack of respect, constant criticism, vicious or cruel words are a red flag. Fear can cause you to make unwise choices and refusing medical attention when an injury is inflicted by an intimate partner can create a pattern you don’t want to keep repeating. Perhaps they didn’t mean, but maybe they did.

Fairy tales are not real life. There is no prince charming, no knight in shining armor. When someone shows you who they really are, believe them, especially when they are no longer charming. It’s okay to make a mistake in a relationship but when you let the mistaken behavior continue, that’s a choice. You get to choose to break the silence and be a voice.

Tweet: You get to choose to break the silence and be a voice. @kshineonline #beavoice #DomesticViolenceAwareness

If you realize from this blog post that you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship, please find help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or locate a safe house in your community.

Bio:
Kim S. Hawkins is a Social Media Consultant, Certified Christian Life Coach, and women’s ministry leader. She is passionate about simplifying the way women do social media for business. What tugs at her heart is the need to increase awareness about domestic violence. She is a living testimony that there are safe ways out. She lives in South Texas with her husband of nine years and her rescue dog. You can find out more about Kim by visiting http://kimshawkins.com/.

The Art of Brave Living

I am excited to announce that I am a co-author with 22 Christian women who share their brave stories in this beautiful new book called “The Art of Brave Living”. First of all I praise God for allowing me the opportunity as I have known for many years that I am a writer that would one day write books. My freshman year high school teacher Mrs. Bjorklund would chase me down in the cafeteria to encourage me to enter writing contests. I had no desire to be in any writing contests at that time of my life but I knew that English was my favorite subject and I enjoyed writing poetry.

Fast forward a few years and my goal in life was to become a print journalist. That goal was tossed aside when I was interviewed for a story in a newspaper and the journalist twisted my story. She apologized and told me the hard facts about print journalism. I knew that writing would somehow be a part of my life as I loved to read but unless I was going to write an underground newspaper I would not be going into print journalism. At that time I was working at a job where I created a monthly newsletter which I thoroughly enjoyed.

For approximately 10 years now I have felt a strong prompting to begin writing my story. I literally have tons of journals with enough material for several books but I was always afraid to take the steps to actually write the books. I also knew that there was much healing that needed to happen in my life before I could actually share anything anywhere. That healing began in 2009 and has been ongoing ever since. I was presented with the opportunity to join a group of women to share their stories about being brave. I knew it was time to take a step forward to being a published author. I thought this would be a great introduction into the world of books.

I have learned so much about birthing a book over the past 5 months. It’s a brave action to take for sure. I am especially thankful to Diane Cunningham for the opportunity to join her in her 7th book and my first as a co-author. I learned a lot about being brave from Diane several years ago when she had a Be Brave email challenge for 30 days. It was just one of the many people and tools that God would use to propel me to where I am today. I didn’t mention Diane in the story that is written in the book but I want to publicly acknowledge her in this blog post today. Visit her at http://dianecunningham.com/

If you are interested in an autographed copy of the hard cover book you can order here The Art of Brave Living Book

14449910_10153683719961734_1804042190982033597_n

Waging War on Domestic Violence

Today I just want to share a little of my heart with you all. I am not one who likes to ask for help…ever! However, there comes a time in all our lives when we must ask for help. So today I am asking for your help. Would you please click on the photo below and read my GoFundMe page? Would you share my GoFundMe page with your network? Would you prayerfully consider donating to this important ministry?

My heart is to assist individuals affected by domestic violence. Over the past year I have been working on developing a ministry team that will provide services and programs for those affected by domestic violence. We are in the final stages of preparation and will be launching all services publicly very soon. We give honor and glory to God for entrusting us with this important and much needed ministry. We cannot begin this work without your support.

Would you consider giving today? No amount is too small. If many people give just a few dollars it will add up very quickly. Would you trade your Starbucks coffee today and let your donation help someone in need?

Thank you all and may God bless each and every one of you.

Gofundme Fundraising Page

img_6191

 

 

 

 

Where Does The Time Go? 1st Year Anniversary and a Contest

celebrateCan you believe it? I started this blog on October 1, 2014 and it is now over 1 year old by a of couple days! I cannot believe it! Where does the time go?

I have been so blessed by YOU. Know that I am here for YOU! When I write my blogs I am thinking and praying for you and asking the Lord to give me the topics that are relevant to you. I hope and pray that I have accomplished this.

I would love to get your input so to celebrate the past year I think it is time for a contest and giveaway! In order to gain an entry into this giveaway all you need to do is leave a comment and let me know what topic you would like to see here. That’s all there is to it!

Each comment will receive 1 entry per day. You may enter once per day as many days as you have a topic to share.through October 31, 2015.

I will hold the drawing at 8pm CST on October 31st and the winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card via email. Remember, your comment or comments will only award you 1 entry per day. I want to make this fair for everyone. You may comment every day as long as you share a topic that you want to see here on this blog. I look forward to hearing from YOU! God bless you!

Official start time Midnight October 3, 2015. Drawing to be held on October 31, 2015 at 6PM. No purchase necessary.

contest btmc

LET’S TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION

Depression is not a one size fits all topic. It looks different for everyone but people who have struggled with depression can find common ground in many of their experiences. Today I invite you to take a peek at a time when I was very depressed and what I did to begin to turn my situation around. The following is from my own personal journal:

“I am so discouraged today. I feel like my life is going down the toilet. God seems very distant and I feel like I have been dropped into a ditch somewhere and left to rot. Who am I to think that I should get special treatment from anyone or think that anyone should care or want to sympathize with the fact that I am struggling today? I am at the end of my proverbial rope and I cannot see any hands this time reaching to pull me out. I don’t know what to do, what to think, what to feel, how to respond. I just know that I am a walking zombie right now. I am going through the motions of life only because I am familiar with the day-to-day schedule. Everything I do is only achieved because I have been doing it for so long that it is a habit. I get up, I go to work, I go home, I make sure all my family is home at the appointed times, I cry, I sleep and I wake up to do it all over again.

I don’t know. I just feel like my guts have been ripped out of my body and strewn all over the place and I can’t put it all back together. I feel hopeless and miserable. The only place I feel like I have any control is at work. Why is that? How can I possibly keep my head on at work and then lose it on the way home. Hello! Can someone hear me? Can anyone hear my pain? Can anyone help me? I doubt it sincerely. The only hope I have is God. And He is even distant right now. Or at least that’s how I feel. But it could be my fault too because maybe I’m not listening for Him as closely as I should and maybe I can’t be still long enough to know that He is still in control even though I can’t feel His presence.

My mind just races with all these thoughts and I can’t make them stop. Maybe that is why I can’t hear the voice of God when He speaks. But how do I stop the voice in my head. I mean it’s me, it’s my thoughts, it’s my concerns, it’s my pain, my memories, my logic trying to make sense of it all. It’s me and how do I stop me? How can I flip the switch on my thought processes to make them work differently? I can be talking about one thing and thinking about a totally different thing. It’s ridiculous. Then of course when I talk about anything in my life, here comes the flood of tears. Who wants to hear me talk? Who cares that I cry all the time? No one cares. I used to have friends, not many but a few that I could actually call friends but they have all disappeared. Why is everyone so afraid to ask me what is wrong? Why is it that I can ask someone about their problems but no one can ask me? Why is it that when someone tells you they want to be there for you, they disappear when you really need them? Why say that at all? Why can’t I be like some other people and just not care? Why do I have to care about every single thing and person in my life? Cause of course no one cares about me or thinks about me. No one wants to really ask me, How are you? And actually expects a truthful answer.

I know I am rambling today and I don’t know why. I guess I just feel that maybe if I put this out there in print that I will be able to overcome the pain I feel every day. I am so out of sorts. I am so disorganized and there are so many things I have to take care of so that I can actually maintain.”

During this time of my life I was very much isolated and when I say isolated I mean I lived in what I call “a turtle shell” I poked my head out just long enough to take care of my responsibilities but I refused to allow anyone inside my little shell world because it was not pretty at all.  I didn’t allow anyone to get close enough to me to know that I was struggling. I knew how to go through the motions of daily life but inside I was dying. Since I have always kept a journal and I really truly loved to help other people, there came a day that I decided that I needed to be by own advocate and so I began a series of letters to myself as though I were a friend. I had read in 1 Samuel 30:6 how David encouraged himself in the Lord.

1 Samuel 30:6 King James Version (KJV)
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (emphasis mine)

David was a man who knew about depression. Have you read any of his Psalms lately? Have you read about all the things that he went through before and after becoming king? When you are done reading my blog today I suggest that you go read about David, you can start in 1 Samuel.

Now, after I read that verse and heard some teaching on the verse as well I decided that I needed to try something new to encourage myself in the Lord. I began to write letters to myself instead of just writing in my journal. You might think that is weird but hey we all do weird things sometimes. I will share just a little bit of the first letter I wrote to myself.

“Girlfriend you have been carrying around way too much baggage and garbage and it is time to get rid of it all. I know that you have been through so much that has bruised, scarred and maimed you but how long are you going to let those things define who you are? When are you going to bust through that shell once and for all time and start letting people see you for who God made you to be and allow them to love you and be there for you and be your friend. Look around you dear one, what do you see? Do you see emptiness and sand like you once did? Do you see someone trying to destroy your self-worth and your very character and personality just for their own gain? Do you see egg shells? Do you see darkness? What do you see? You might not be able to answer that question right now but here is what you should see…A single road, a step, a path and it is leading to one place…it’s leading to Jesus Christ and the Light that you should see is your Heavenly Father showing you the way….”

I will end there as the last sentence was the key for me, this paragraph was the beginning of me learning how to encourage myself in the Lord. It was the beginning of me learning how to firmly fix my gaze on Jesus Christ and truly allow Him to begin healing me from the inside out.

 

Psalm 143:7-8

Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.

To be continued…

I DON’T WANT TO BE FAT, UGLY AND STUPID!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Those words ring in my head as I recall myself saying them in a sing-songy way with my red pony tails flapping on either side of my head to the boys who were hurling insults at me in second grade. I learned early in life how to handle those insults by stuffing them deep down in the reservoirs of my heart and making sure nobody knew how much they hurt me. My mother hurled insults at me regularly but people in the family told me not to let it get me to because she was sick and really didn’t mean it. As I got older the words became harsher but I had learned how to be a bully by then and I knew how to fight back with words. My mom and I hurled all kinds of ugliness at one another and my dad said we acted more like sisters than mother-daughter. Actually as I got older my dad and I hurled insults at one another as well. I just stuffed all those words deep in my heart pretending that they didn’t affect me.

You’re stupid, you’re never going to amount to anything, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re slow, you’re just like ______, you’re an underachiever, you’re a mess, you’re a loser, you can’t do anything right, you’re a _____! That’s just a sampling of the things that I struggled with as an adult because I heard those words over and over in my head. Then I used those very words against my own children, at times I still go into a place where I beat myself up for bringing those words into my own vocabulary against my beautiful children. The verbal abuse that I had sustained was not just from the boys on the playground or from my parents but it was from my boyfriends too. It tainted my perception of love.  I didn’t really understand what love meant because love to me was a series of insults without apology. Oh there were family members who didn’t use those words and didn’t belittle me. They tried really hard to show me what love was supposed to look like and I was very grateful but it just wasn’t enough.

All of the words that were spoken over me that were negative took root deep in my heart and caused me to believe that these things were true. So if it was true that I was fat, ugly and stupid then I was going to be the best fat, ugly and stupid girl I could be! My eighth grade teacher told my dad that I was an underachiever right in front of me. I figured well I will be the best underachiever I can be! My boyfriends added to the mix lots of vulgar words and heaped more insults on me in addition to re-enforcing what had already been spoken over me. So I would be all those things because since so many people had said those things, it must have been true. I believed it all to be true or else my mind wouldn’t continue to play those old tapes over and over. I became a very bitter and angry woman as a result. I withdrew into what I like to refer to as my turtle shell. Inside my shell no one else could hurt me. Outside my shell I was angry and people thought I was mean so they left me alone.

I remember when I gave my my life to Christ I thought that I was completely set free from the affects of all those words and to be honest, I was, because the finished work of Christ made it possible for me to be free. However, walking out that freedom would be a laborious task for me. See I thought that all that stuff I hid in my heart would just go away. Well I found out that Jesus doesn’t work that way, He walks us through the pain and then we are set free. It’s a process though. It was a long process for me that began in 2006. I had to learn how to live, how to love, how to think, how to act and how to just be. I was like a little baby in Christ even though I had been a christian for several years. What was missing in my life was discipleship. I knew the gospel but I just didn’t know how to walk it out.

One of the biggest lessons I needed to learn was how to recognize love. True love, the love that comes from God. Then I needed to learn who I am in Christ. Here’s one of the scriptures that I needed to understand that was a challenge for me.

Colossians 2:9-10: – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;”

What? I have been made complete! No, that’s not possible because I am a broken, tattered and abused woman so there’s no way I am complete. I mean hey, I am fat, ugly and stupid! Remember?

John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

What? I am God’s child.

Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Wait, no condemnation?

Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

He loves me? God loved me even when I was dead in my transgressions?  But, but, but??

No, there are no buts. It’s true I am no longer the same tattered and abused woman that I used to be. All those words that were spoken over me no longer have power over my life.

Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Christ lives in me and He has made me to be a new creation. A new woman. A loved and complete woman of God. I wish I could have believed those scriptures the first time I read them but it took a long time for the truth to get deep inside my heart to pull up the tangled roots of lies that I believed about myself. It was a long process but today I know who I am and I am not fat, ugly and stupid anymore. If someone thinks that about me, well, that’s just their problem.

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

 

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

 

 

 

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE!

Yes those were the words that I found myself saying over and over before I surrendered to the Lord all of my past and all of my pain.  I don’t want to live anymore! That was the cry of my deeply wounded soul. It was such a pain filled thought and yet it was at the forefront of my mind every day. I was a believer in Jesus Christ, I knew I was saved and I knew that God held my life in His hands. Many times I would write in my journals, if I wasn’t so afraid of going to hell I would kill myself.

This was never a thought that I would share with anyone. After all when you are in the depths of despair you really have trouble reaching out to someone with this type of thought. What will they say? What will they think? How will they react? Will they call the police on me? Will they commit me to a psychiatric ward somewhere? How do you tell someone that you are in so much pain that you just want to die?

I remember the time that I drove up to the train tracks and sat right there in the middle waiting for the train to arrive. Tears poured out of my eyes as I screamed at the top of my lungs “I don’t want to live anymore”. Honestly I firmly believe it was the Presence of God that filled my car that night and moved me to drive away from those tracks. I remember driving to a friend’s house after that and just sitting in front of her house. She didn’t know I was there and I never made it to her front door. How could I tell her what I was planning to do? What would she do? The last thing I needed was a lecture. I didn’t need her to tell me what the Bible said or anything like that but I was desperate to just find someone who would hold me and say “it’s going to be ok”.

The next day I saw her at the church lunch and told her what I had done. She hugged me and asked if she could gather a few people to pray for me. Yes of course.  I can’t recall if it was three or four people but each of them loved on me and prayed over me. I am so thankful for that moment in time over 8 years and I will never forget it. It was a beginning for me so to speak. It put a desire in my heart to be like those precious non-judgmental people who just loved God and loved people.

This subject comes up because a couple days ago a woman jumped in front of a train in my town. It caused me to pause and wonder what happened? What was going on in this woman’s life that would cause her to jump in front of a train? It grieves my heart each time I hear that someone has taken their own life. I grieves me because I know that I’ve been there. I’ve been at the place where I could not see anything good in my life. I couldn’t see anything to live for because my pain was so devastating and I could no longer handle it.

As a Christ follower I know that this is a subject that is kept pretty quiet in the church. It’s not something people talk about very often. It’s a difficult topic but the truth of the matter is we need to talk about it. We need to know what to do when someone in our midst is hurting so bad that they just want to check out of this world.

Save.org states that suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year. That’s 109 people every day. That’s 4 people every hour. In the time that it has taken me to write this blog 2 people have taken their own lives. That should cause us to weep.

I have experienced two sides of people trying to help within the church. I have encountered times when I was so deep in the pit of the miry clay that I couldn’t see any possible solutions to my pain. I couldn’t even see God because I was convinced that He didn’t love me anymore. On the one hand I had a very well-meaning sister in Christ push me overboard by sharing scriptures at me and trying to re-assure me that God still loved me. I asked her to just leave me alone but she persisted and I found myself parked at the corner of a busy intersection in the parking lot of Walgreens just weeping. I stopped there because I just wasn’t convinced that my foot would not go along with what my head was thinking. I wanted to just put the pedal to the floor and slam my car into a brick wall. Right there in the midst of that horrible moment in my life I believe God sent the right person to talk to me. However, I couldn’t even talk to her at that moment. She respected my wishes when I said I didn’t want to talk and we hung up the phone. I didn’t tell her that I was sitting contemplating my death or anything like that. But I know that I know that I know when she hung up she prayed for me. I know that because soon I felt a peace come over me and I was able to drive home.

How can we help someone who has come to the end of their rope? How can we be sensitive to the needs of others who are in so much pain that all they want to do is die? I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we need to pray and cry out to the living God on behalf of these loved ones and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to those deep wounds. We cannot heal them, we cannot change a thing in their lives. We have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting of whether we should call in authorities or just allow God to work on their hearts. It’s such a sensitive subject and I only know what I have experienced in my own life. I have a close friend who has always shown me a great example of what to do when you just don’t know how to help someone. She prays and she listens to the Holy Spirit and if He says don’t press she leaves me alone and if He says go forth and speak she speaks the truth in love to me. We all can learn from her example.

I praise God today that He preserved my life. He kept me from following through on the plans I had to end my life each and every time. I know that many times it was the enemy attacking me and other times it was just my flesh feeling tormented and desperate. Each time the Lord saved me from those thoughts and kept me alive. He has a purpose for my life and he has a purpose for your life too.

Today if you feel that you are at the end of your rope and cannot see beyond the miry clay, be patient and look to Jesus. Seek help from professionals if needed and don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with your Pastor.  I don’t know all the answers but I know that Christ has all the answers.

If you need prayer, I would love to pray for you, please send me a prayer request on my prayer request page.

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.

Looking for books about Suicide? Click here.

Candlelight Vigil

I attended our town’s Domestic Violence Awareness Candlelight Vigil tonight on the town square. Even though I am a survivor of many years this is the first time I have attended a vigil. I would never go because I was afraid that someone would see me and know “that girl is tainted”.  I really agonized over going as if it was a major event like going to see the Queen of England or something.

You see when the scars fade and the wounds heal no one knows. I think of all the times I have suffered abuse from many sources and the one thing I was able to do was hide it. I was able to pretend like nothing was wrong. I kept to myself, I didn’t talk to anyone. People just thought I was like a mean bully or something. Seriously I had someone tell me that. But the truth is I was protecting myself. I was protecting my heart inside a stone brick wall because I had promised myself that no one else would hurt me. That wall kept me from building relationships at work, relationships at church and relationships inside my very own family.

There was an angst inside me when I went to the vigil and I stood there listening to a survivor tell her story. The courage to open up and say look at me “I’m a survivor” is huge. I listened as she talked about the reasons she stayed and I recalled my own reasons. There are always reasons. Abusers fill their partners heads with so many lies that it’s hard to know what thoughts are their own. Abusers manipulate and control their partners to the point where that have no voice, no friends, no family, no resources…only the abuser. Then once you are so accustomed to the isolation and the lies take over your very own thoughts…you can not see a way out.

It takes much courage to walk away from everything you know and start over.

Change is hard.

But change is necessary. It’s actually a constant in life.

Change.

Tomorrow I want to share a message with you about change that I put together yesterday morning while walking to work. I hope that you will return for the message.

Below are pictures of me from tonight’s vigil. I didn’t know what to expect and they asked for people to come up and read an inspirational quote. I went up there and did it. I looked out into that audience and it did not matter if they knew I was a victim of domestic violence because the truth is I’m a Survivor!

Thank you for stopping by today! God bless!

IMG_2156.JPG

IMG_2157.JPG

IMG_2160.JPG