September 24, 2009

Your Move Chessmaster

It's funny. When I had to bring the kids back and forth 6 hours round trip to New York and deliver them to my husband, it was all good. He acted like he missed them so much as his lawyer played the violin in court about how little he had seen his kids in the months since we left him. But now that everything is settled and the case is over, there is no word from him.

The settlement that was reached and agreed to by all parties stated that he could see his kids every Saturday for 3 hours. But I think what's holding him up from contacting me to arrange a visit with the kids is that I will be supervising them. He had no problem going to the ACS (Administration for Children's Services) office when they were supervising them. He had no problem going and actually paying a social worker to supervise the visits. Now mind you, the visits were only 1 hour with the social worker and ACS.

So having 2 extra hours with his sons and not having to pay anyone for them should be very appealing to him. But since September 10th, not a peep. It doesn't bother me because I really don't care if we never speak again, but I thought he was this heartbroken father that was desperate for his kids.

I got a phone call yesterday from a very nice gentleman that is with the agency my husband took his parenting skills course and where he will be attending his domestic violence series. He explained to me that my husband contacted them to get them involved in setting up and supervising the visits between him and his children. Being that the kids and I are in PA and they are in NY, they suggested he find an agency down here that could assist him with it.

Apparently, my husband gave this gentleman the impression that dealing with me would be problematic. Well, I had a nice long chat with this man and summed up the last 10 years of my life with my husband and the outcome of the recent petitions that were before the court. I explained to him that I am the one that suggested back in July that if he wanted to settle things with me, he could come see the kids three times a week during the summer and on Saturdays once school started if he wanted to and that I would bring them to a public place to do so.

I let him know that my husband agreed to this and signed this in court 2 weeks ago and raised no issue of there being a problem dealing with me, because the truth is I was never his problem. I was no threat to him and didn't disturb the peace in our lives, he did. I didn't like having to fight with him. I didn't like being scared and getting hurt. But I realize that depending on who he is talking to, he plays the persecuted and abused husband angle differently based on whatever agenda he has going on in his mind.

I also let him know that my husbad has always prided himself in his ability to be able to talk anyone into anything, out think and out strategize most people and considered that one of his most prized attributes. The other thing he needed to know was that he is a pathological liar.

After our conversation, I believe he now had more of a complete picture, one that made sense based on everything that is going on from what he can see. Like rape, abuse is about power and control. It's not about someone having an anger problem in and of itself, like rape isn't about someone being so horny or turned on by someone that they just have to have it right then and there. It's about exercising power over someone, and my husband made it clear that is they way he saw things. He was the king and controlled his little kingdom with fear and aggression.

So I believe that he'd rather go to another organization and have a stranger supervise visits between him and his children because he lost the power and control over the situation with me. For him to have to be supervised by me during his visits would be more painful than walking across hot coals. To him, I would be in the position of authority over him. What he can't comprehend is that I don't live my life that way and don't feel like the boss of anyone (other than the kids, lol). In addition to that, I believe he knows that he can fool people who don't know him better than he can fool me and I can see through the show he usually puts on.

It's not a big deal to me, I wouldn't be coming to gloat. I would simply bring the kids at the time and place we agree to meet, find somewhere to sit at a distance and just wait quietly until the visit is over. I will have the baby with me, you know, his other son that he is not claiming, and be occupied with taking care of him. It's funny, during one of those court moments, he asked to be able to spend time with the newborn when he is born. But I guess that was before the money thing.

Anyway, seeing that I wasn't the horrible unreasonable monster that my husband keeps making me out to be to those that don't know any better, the man that I spoke to said that he would have Jeff contact me to set up the visits. The court didn't order another agency to supervise visits and I will not go along with that.

My kids don't need to meet yet another stranger that will sit next to them and watch their father's lips move as he talks and laughs loudly and acts overly excited with them. No one can see his eyes, those mirrors to his soul, because he keeps on his very dark sunglasses when he visits with his children. It's easier to lie with your mouth than with your eyes. He is a facade of himself to his own kids. How sad.

Maybe another reason he is hesitant to contact me is that he is ashamed of the things he has said and done in these past 8 months. Maybe he is afraid to face me alone, without hiding behind his lawyer. Perhaps he thinks I am angry and will try to get back at him somehow. Nothing could be further from the truth, I'm not a vindictive person. If someone doesn't like me, I just leave them alone. I don't waste energy in hating and being mad at them.

I know that I could never be in a relationship with him again because he is an abusive person. But if only he could see inside my heart where I still hold love for him. It's locked away, but it's there. If only he knew that if I had only 1 wish in this world that could be granted to me, I would use it on him. I would wish that he would be a changed man. One that is good, loves God and in turn loves his wife and children the way that he should. Then we could be a family again, but not the family we were before. A family residing in the kingdom of God where love, righteousness, peace, joy and true happiness abide. (Romans 14.7)

In this chess board that he has set up for us in which his opening game strategy was to be aggressive and attack, beating me as quickly and easily as he had in the few chess games I played with him over the years. It is clear that he didn't anticipate the moves that I would make and the middle game is not going as he had expected. Without any aggression or return fire, but by just telling the truth and trusting God, the game has turned around in my favor.

I use the word "game" for this analogy, but this is anything but a game. This is real life, with real pain and real victims and there's no fun or good humor involved. But for what it is, it's now his move and again his choice to decide in which way the end game will go.

September 19, 2009

Wonder Woman Gets Weary Too

Today was one of those days.
One of those days when
I am overwhelmed
And overcome by
Being over loaded
And over burdened
And over exhausted.
One of those days when
Wonder Woman's
Super strength and stamina
Is defeated by the little people.
One of those days when
The reality of loneliness
And manlessness
Reveals my humanness and
Exposes my secret softness,
Which I despise
Because it feels
Like weakness.
I guess I'm not invincible.
I guess all the pain's
Not yet all gone.
Doesn't matter.
The tears will come
I'll push through
And the tears will go.
I'll press on
No matter
What's going on
I will be strong.

Hey, what can I say? Everyday it gets better. Some days it feels like it's worse. Some times I feel angry at the injustice. I attend the pity party the enemy throws for me as he whispers in my ear how devastated my life is. How I have been left "holding the bag." How no one will ever want me. How my life will never be fun again; just all work, all day, everyday, until I'm about 60.

Some days I don't wanna be Super Mom. Sometimes I just need a big strong hug and the closest I can get to that is cuddling up with my baby. My friend tells me that I have come out on top, even though at times it feels like there is no lower bottom.

I hear Joyce Meyer saying, "You can be pitiful or you can be powerful." I know which one I choose. So I will get up everyday whether I've had six hours of straight sleep or the usual three broken hours. I will do all I need to do and do it until I collapse every night, knowing that minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, I am getting closer to something. Closer to when it all makes sense, when all the pieces of the puzzle fit and the picture is revealed.

But for now, Super Mom is super tired. The baby is finally sleeping again in my arms. I'll lay him down and lay down with him and take my nap with Emmanuel.

Something Inside So Strong

September 17, 2009

A Sound Like Marching Feet

"When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the balsam trees, attack! That will be the signal that the LORD is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistines." (2 Samuel 5.24) last Thursday September 10, 2009, we had a court date for a trial to get final orders in the custody petition filed by my husband, the family offense petition (order of protection) filed by me, and the fake one filed by him. My husband filed for custody of our three children (at the time) on January 9, 2009, the morning after the children and I had been placed in a confidential domestic violence shelter. In his petition he claimed that I just woke up and decided go live in a shelter with the children and that I was keeping them from him. Mind you, it hadn't even been 24 hours yet, but I was keeping them from him.

In his petition he made no mention of the fact that we were in a secret shelter being hidden from him and the abuse he had been inflicting on me and the terror he was inflicting on his children. For the first few weeks we were in the shelter, he and I still communicated, but nothing had changed with him. He wasn't the least bit remorseful or slightly upset that he might lose his family. He would call and we would end up arguing. I was naturally angry with all that had happened, that he wouldn't apologize for anything and had the audacity to try and blame me for everything.

In one of his text messages, he said that I was, "unilaterally making decisions" that was taking our family on a certain course of no return. I tried in vain to explain to him that the only choice I was making was not to be abused any more and to save our children from being afraid and more traumatized than they already were. I told him that he had made the choice that determined the fate and destiny of our family, by choosing to be violent & abusive and choosing not to get help to put an end to it. I told him by making the choice to remain abusive, he left me with 2 choices: live with the abuse or live without him.

After more than 10 years of abuse, I chose to live without him. I had already tried the choice to live with the abuse and it wasn't working for me. It was destroying our children and me. So really, I was left with only one choice and it was to do what I had never done before, something that I'm sure he never thought I'd do and that was leave him. 

Many times over the years I went to stay at my dad's, grandma's, or sister's house to escape after one of his attacks. But I would be back the next morning or in a day or two after he called apologizing, confessing his love and promising it would never happen again. This time I had actually left, with no intention to return to that life.

In any event, while we were safely tucked away at the shelter, he'd call sometimes to speak to the kids. Sometimes he'd call in an attempt to convince me that I was doing something wrong or tried to make me see how I played a role in his abuse towards me or that in fact, I was the one that had been verbally and physically abusive to him when I defended myself! When he called and things got out of hand, I'd hang up on him, but he'd call right back. I'd hang up again and he'd call right back again. He'd easily call more than a dozen times in a row.

I actually found out that he'd filed for custody from my father, who he called in his attempt to badmouth me. This was after I had been operating in good faith and had taken the kids to see him on at least 3 occasions. He had never mentioned a word to me about this custody suit.  Maybe his plan was for me to not show up and win by default. I went to the courthouse and got a copy of the petition so I'd know when I was supposed to appear.

Well it just so happened that on the day I went to the court for the petition, he called 23 times harassing me. It was then that I decided to get an order of protection. I was directed to the Safe Horizons office located in the courthouse and told them my situation. They helped me file the petition and I was in the courtroom shortly after that. The judge granted me a temporary order of protection and advised me that I could file criminal charges against him as well, but I didn't go that route. I didn't want him in jail, even if perhaps that's exactly where he belonged. I just wanted him to leave me alone. That was February 5, 2009.

After numerous court appearances, including one in which he denied his kids the brand new beds we bought them, causing everyone in the court to pause in shock, the trial was on for Thursday Sept. 10th. Personally, I don't trust the legal system and don't feel comfortable trusting my life and future to people I don't know. They have their own issues, agendas and prejudices, that they bring to the table.

Over the summer while we were waiting to go back to court for trial, I thought I'd reach out to Jeff to see if he would be willing to settle things between on our own. I typed up a letter laying out my proposals and gave it to my lawyer to give to his. Please note the date on the letter is July 3, 2009. The date on the letter is significant because it is two months before we were to appear in court. A copy of the letter is at this link: Can We Settle This Please?

God is my single source of strength and through this trial I am learning more and more exactly what He means when he said, "My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness," (2 Corinthians 12.9).  I have been crying, praying and standing my way through this nightmare and have been held up supernaturally. There were so many, many days I wanted to give up, probably most days. My strength was gone and I just knew I couldn't go on one more day, but amazing things have happened for us that I absolutely could not have made happen on my own. That's how I know it was God, because I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

As I had on numerous other occasions, I had given this court battle over to the Lord. I go into detail in the post titled, "The Devil is a Liar." I had prayed and prayed on it, others were praying on it, I stood in faith and left it in God's hands. My own lawyer had even brought me to the point of tears as she was preparing me for the trial. She wasn't happy with many of my answers because they weren't legally "perfect" enough. When I couldn't remember exactly what was said or done, then it wasn't good enough. She didn't like the fact that my witnesses (my oldest son and mother) couldn't remember dates and times of every episode or were confused about some of the details.Who could remember every detail about every altercation that had occurred over the course of 10 years. They just kind of all blend together.

As I drove from PA to NY on the day of the trial,  I told my mom that I wasn't going to stress about it. Whatever is going to happen is already what God has decided to do about it and nothing is going to change that. That is one of the things that brings the peace that only God can give - knowing and trusting that if you have been faithful and your trust is in Him, He's got it all under control and nobody can alter the outcome. 

Going to court always gave me a nervous feeling. Seeing my husband was scary in and of itself, but seeing him act all happy & smug, fresh from the salon in a suit and shades, like R. Kelly & O.J. rolled into one, along with his expensive lawyer was somewhat intimidating. The waiting to be called, the grumpy judge, and just being in court period were causes for anxiety for me. That particular day was no different, I felt anxious, but I wasn't afraid. I just held on to my faith, and prayed over the whole courtroom - the lawyers, the clerks, the judge and my husband. I was confident that I was going to see God do His thing.

Everyone was checked in except for my husband's attorney, and when I saw him turn the corner, I knew it was showtime. Within maybe 5 minutes, my lawyer came over to me and said my husband's side wanted to know if I was willing to settle on the family offense petition and he would agree to 6 months on my order of protection. I said, "Sure, that's what I offered to him first." She went back and talked to them some more. When she came back, she said that he was willing to settle on the custody and give me sole legal custody. I said, "Ok. Good." Over the course of the next 2 hours, she came and went with tidbits of information and status updates on what he was agreeing to.

When it was all said and done and my husband finally signed his name to this legally binding agreement, I had gotten every single thing that I had wanted. Everything that I asked him to settle with me in my letter back in July, he settled with me on that day. Not one single thing had been modified. This all happened without a trial, without testifying, without witnesses.

It all happened without me having to say a word. Try and tell me that wasn't God!

It happened in spite of my husband being "irate" as my lawyer put it, about feeling like he was being backed into a corner. It happened in spite of his hired gun, who I believe advised him to agree to the terms. At one point, my lawyer said while they were in a room talking, Jeff's lawyer said, "I give up, I'm about to ask to be removed from this case!" I guess his client was getting on his nerves that bad.

It happened in spite of the judge and his temperament. When the case was first assigned to this judge, my lawyer told me that things might be difficult because this judge had a reputation as being mean and making some pretty harsh decisions that often went against the person who was in the right. He even yelled at me once during one of our appearances.

It happened in spite of my lawyer getting mad at me and telling me not to tell her how to do her job, that she was the legal professional. Even sarcastically telling me that if she needed to know something of a legal nature, she would call and ask me.

It happened in spite of the law guardian assigned to the kids threatening to take me to court when I put an end to the phone calls that were upsetting the kids and when I refused to continue to drive the kids up to New York for supervised visits due to the stress and strain from the pregnancy and the financial strain of the drive. 

In the end it didn't matter who the players were, what their positions were, what their titles or education was or what they were planning to say or do.

In the end it was God's call and everyone was going to do what God wanted them to do and He was working it all out for my good. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8.31)

My husband wanted to take my kids away from me in an attempt to hurt me. He didn't care about them. He didn't provide for them until ordered by a court. He refused to give them their beds to sleep in. He didn't care about his sick newborn. He didn't give any of them a gift for their birthday, in spite of promising to do so when he saw them.

All his evil plans and wicked schemes failed because God said, "Not so!"

I was granted sole legal and physical custody of my children. After having his visits with the children supervised by ACS, then a social worker - that he had to pay for, the next time he sees them, the visits will be supervised by me. He won't get unsupervised visits until he completes his domestic violence program - which is 6 months long. He withdrew his fake petition for an order of protection against me, he had to, it was all lies. My Father wasn't going to let that stand against me.

What is extra sad about all of this is, when the children and I were in the shelter in January, I asked my husband to get into a program and get help so that maybe in 6 months to a year we could reconcile. I asked him to get off drugs, not do the club thing - strip or otherwise, and not live with another woman or sleep around while we are separated. I told him that I was willing for him to see the kids every weekend while we were in shelter and then as often as he or the kids wanted when we returned home after he moved out, which was the original plan.That sounds reasonable, even generous by most people's standards.

His response to my requests was that I was trying to "exert power and control" over him! I told him he missed it completely. I didn't see things in terms of power and control as he did, those were his abusive lenses he was seeing through.  

It was about love. I only wanted him to do these things to finally prove that he loved me. I needed him to do something to show it and not just say it. I told him that it would've been his way to save his family. He refused.

Well, he ended up having to do it all anyway. How stupid. It cost him money, time and he will never get his family back. When we do things our way instead of God's, we lose. Now he is doing it because he is ordered to by a court. He wouldn't do it when it was requested by his wife for the sake of his children.  

He wouldn't do it for love.

The man who always considers himself the smartest guy in the room and a master strategist, miscalculated his steps. That's easy to do when your steps aren't ordered by God (Psalms 37.23). As my mother, sister and I gathered our things outside of the courtroom to leave, the waiting area was practically empty. I could see my husband sitting with his back to us staring out of the large windows. I felt genuinely sorry for him. I didn't have a reason to, but I felt compassion for him and wished that he had made different choices so that none of us had to experience the pain we are going through and he wouldn't have to experience the pain that is most certainly waiting for him. It is the harvest that is coming from all the seeds of pain he has sown. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Galatians 6:7)

He may enjoy his freedom, money and lifestyle for a little while longer, but you can't escape harvest time forever. He may feel good for now, but one day it's going to hurt real bad. I prayed for him and asked God to use this time in his life, this time of loss, to help him come face to face with himself and turn his life around. He can't be a good father without being a good man, and he can't be a good man without having a good heart. I asked God to bless him with what God knows that he needs, even if all that is right now is, truth, understanding, and light.

The challenges and difficulties the kids and I face in rebuilding our lives are far from over. But the biggest battle, the one for my children has been fought and won. That is a huge load off and brings me a tremendous amount of peace. I won't have to stress about that anymore. I held my tongue, I held my peace, I held onto His word, and He held onto me.

And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14.13 & 14)

God gave me the victory and I will continue to give Him all the honor & glory!

September 14, 2009

He Don't Wanna Pay No Child Support

OK. So tomorrow I have to go to court in NY again for the support hearing. I do so hate these trips to NY and this should be the last one. I know I haven't talked about the outcome of last Thursday's trial yet. I want to be able to tell it right, and unfortunately every day since then has been hectic with things that needed to get done. On top of that, I have 4 kids remember? Whew!

Tomorrow's date with the judge should be brief, no trial or lawyers or anything like that. Then again the last time we were in court for the support issue, my husband who considers himself to always be the smartest person in the room, told the judge he would need to get a lawyer to understand what she told him to do. So he may have one, I won't.

What did she tell him to do? Well I'm glad you asked.

My husband is supposed to be self employed, which for most unsuccessful black "businessmen," means they're hustling. So she told him to bring in his business records, so she can determine his income. Sounds simple enough right? Well he acted like he had never heard of business records before and that he would need to retain counsel for this very complex matter.

Okay. So in order to pay his children and his wife as little as possible, he's going to PAY someone else, to represent him at a support hearing. Real nice guy right?

This will be our fourth time in court for this. I filed for spousal and child support in April, as my husband hadn't given me a single penny towards the support of his children, since January of this year.

The first court date was June 1st. My husband had it adjourned. The second court date was June 19th. He showed up with a letter from an accountant stating that he only made $25,000 a year. The judge told him that was unacceptable as proof of income and to come back with financial statements from his company.

The third date was July 22nd. This time he shows up with an un-filed tax return. The judge was clearly angered at this and told him that she said he was to bring business records of income and expenses. He claims he was confused and didn't know what she meant and would need an attorney. So tomorrow will be the fourth and hopefully final time that we have to go to court for this. Maybe he finally got his lies and falsified papers straight.

Like most men who have to pay child or spousal support, he is lying about his income so that he can pay the least amount possible. Why do men do that?

In any event, for him it is easy to lie because he gets paid in cash and he doesn't put his money in the bank. He puts his money in socks and other secret hiding places. His true income was even kept from me. He would book these music acts to perform at a private club in Moscow and for every trip he told me he got $5,000.

The very first group he sent was some no name act that performs in some Argentinian restaurant in the city. For that trip he got $10,000. From then on he told me it was $5K or some vague amount, not giving me a clear answer. He even took Boyz II Men, and told me it was a mere $5,000. I most definitely didn't believe that. But I was used to being in the dark and learned long ago not to question him too much about things, it could get me into trouble.

I learned to say, "OK," to basically everything he said to me and just left it at that. Whatever was really going on, I left to God. I tried not to think about what I didn't know about what he was really doing. Like the time he went to Amsterdam without telling me and spent a day or more in the Red Light district, doing drugs and looking at and probably doing prostitutes. But I'll save that story for another time.

In any event, whatever lies he plans to tell the judge when we go into court doesn't matter to me anymore. I am at peace with everything now. I know, that I know, that I know, that God is in control of this show. So whether I walk out of there with an order of $3,000 a month or $3.00 a year, it won't change my trust in God.

My husband is not my source for anything. He's not my source for security, for peace, for finances or for love. He's just another human being on the planet. He can't control anything about my life anymore. He no longer controls where I go, what I do, what I eat, who my friends are, what I wear, or whether or not I'll have a good day. He won't contol how well the children & I will do. We'll be fine with or without his money.

I have put the lives of me and my children in my Father's hands and I trust Him completely. Whatever happens in court, it is exactly what He has determined that we need based on how He intends to supply. And I will be happy when I walk out of that courtroom tomorrow no matter what, because I'm free.

He can go ahead and fool the judge if he wants to, but he ain't fooling me. If he wants to lie, that's between him and God. God sees all and knows all. If it makes him feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that he's doing as little for his family as he can possibly get away with, then it's all good. It doesn't bother me, we will still survive and we will thrive.

All I have to know is that even if my husband has wicked thoughts toward us and cares nothing about what happens to us in the present or the future, God has good thoughts toward us. He said, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future with hope." (Jeremiah 29.11)

As long as God has my back and I follow the plans He's made for my future, then my kids and I will be OK. Actually, we'll be better than OK, we'll be blessed.

September 8, 2009

The Devil is a Liar

This coming Thursday I will go to the court of man to stand against the devil. You probably think I'm talking about my husband, but I'm not. Although based on my husband's actions, I could consider him evil. And based on the fact that he is a pathological liar and God said the devil is the father of liars, I could call him Satan Jr.

My husband will be there alright, all dressed up in suit and tie, with his dreads all coiffed, at a table with his lawyer. The papers say "Trotter v. Trotter," and in that courtroom he is indeed my adversary. But in actuality, he is just the willing flesh and blood vessel that the devil has chosen to embody to wage war against me. God said that we don't really fight against other people, "but against principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12)

I am talking about the real devil, the one that hates all mankind and comes only to kill, steal and destroy. He is using my husband to try and steal my children, destroy our lives, and kill my spirit.

But the devil is a liar.

I can't fight him and I'm glad I don't have to. God said He will do it. God told me that the battle is not mine anyway, it's His. "This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God' will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD's victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!"
(2 Chronicles 20:15 & 17)

Trust me, in the natural it's hard not to be anxious, my kids are at stake. It's not just who has physical custody of them, but it's also the repeated traumatization that I am trying to protect them from. They are beginning to heal little by little as we put our lives back together. We have been abuse free for 243 days now and it definitely makes a difference. Even if they are never exposed to abuse again, being around the person who was the perpetrator of it can still have negative effects on them.

It's not that I don't want them to ever see their father again. I want them to be able to spend time with their father eventually. But I want him to get help for his problem first. He should be in a batterer's program for at least six months and should be in counseling for being a victimizer instead of playing the victim as he has been doing.

He has lied to his children right to their faces, in front of the social worker who he was paying to supervise visits. When his 5 year old son asked him, "Daddy, why did you hit mommy?" He told him, "I didn't hit mommy." My daughter said, "Yes, you did." He looked her straight in the face and told her in a stern voice, "Justina, I never hit mommy."

Sadly, not only did the kids see him hit me, they began to participate in an attempt to help me, by kicking, hitting & throwing things at him. They screamed and cried in fear and had nightmares. And with a straight face, he can tell them it never happened.

This is what I want to protect them from, more psychological & emotional abuse. Unfortunately, the court system doesn't always do what's right and protect victims from further victimization. Quite often the batterers and terrorists in the home are successful at convincing so called educated people, that they are being treated unfairly. For some reason, the courts don't treat men who beat on their wives and horrify their kids like they treat other criminals.

Crimes against one's family seem to be considered less offensive. If my husband did to strangers what he had been doing to me for years, he would be considered a dangerous and violent felon. But I have to prove that it wasn't me. I have to explain why I didn't do this and why I didn't do that. I am the one that is put on trial.

I have to explain why I stayed with an angry and mean man. I have to explain why I chose to forgive him time and time again. I have to explain why I tried to save my family from becoming another broken statistic. I have to explain why I chose to love someone who was unloving to me.

Well I can't explain it in a way that makes sense to anyone who hasn't gone through it. It won't make sense to those who know nothing about walking in love and trusting God to work it all out. So I must give this battle to the Lord. Even at times when I felt He had forgotten all about me, He was there. I have to trust Him. He's never failed me yet.

There is power in prayer and the more that goes up, the better. So if you get a moment, say a prayer for me and my children as we face yet another mountain that God must move for us. I don't know how God's gonna work it out, I just believe that He will. No matter what comes, God is in control.

To My Dear Husband,

After all the years of pain given to me, you still pursue me with a desire to hurt me, as Pharaoh pursued the children of Israel. You come after me with your money, your lawyer and your lies and it gives you a false sense of power. I come to you in the name of the Lord and He is the one who goes before me. He will be with me; He will neither fail me nor forsake me. (1 Samuel 17:45; Deuteronomy 31:8)

I will continue to pray for you, as the children and I have been doing since we left. We pray for you to find yourself and find your way back to God. Maybe one day you'll be able to fight the demons within you. We ask God to help us to forgive you for all that you have done to hurt us. It has kept me from feeling bitterness towards you. In my heart I still love you and I actually feel sorrow for you. You have lost more than you realize.

Those who bring trouble on their families inherit only the wind. (Proverbs 11:29)

Here's one of my favorite songs by Yolanda Adams. It gives me strength in times of trouble and reminds me who's fight it really is.

September 7, 2009

Life Academy ~ The Conclusion

Okay, this will be an extra long one, but I wanna get to the conclusion. I left off with me and the children having to move out of my sister's house in Allentown by July 31st with no where to go. So I believed that the hope of the children being able to attend this particular school was dead because the school was in Allentown and we were moving away from there.

The logical place for us to go was with my mother and younger sister. But they were in a 2 bedroom apartment that was just the right size for them, but much too small for another adult and 4 children. I was tired of moving from place to place. I was tired of inconveniencing people. I didn't want to go, but my mom insisted that we come to stay with them. So we went but I felt so bad about it, because it was such a sacrifice for them to allow us to come in and disrupt their way of life, take up their bedrooms and breathing room, but they did it anyway. I felt like such a burden on everyone.

After being at my mom's for about a week, the kids and I went to visit a good friend that I met at the church we go to down here. She's such a sweet and kind person. She sent me out to have a pedicure and some peace and quiet while she and her daughter watched the kids for me. Then while we talked a little while after I returned, she invited us to come stay with her and her daughter. She said that her daughter asked her if we could come live with them after my 5 year old son showed her a picture he drew of "daddy giving mommy a black eye." It brought tears to her eyes.

So I told her I would strongly consider it, but that I had to talk to the kids first. I asked my daughter how she would feel, if it would be weird since she had just met them, and she said, "A little." So I suggested we have a sleepover and get to know them some more. By the next morning after our sleepover, all of the kids wanted to stay. So we accepted their invitation and the sleepover never came to an end. She has a wonderful home with lots of space - inside and out, and she lives in Allentown.

God had provided us with another place to live just like that. And God had brought us back to Allentown. It wasn't a happy accident or coincident, it was divine intervention.

Now I realized that being back here meant that it might be possible for the kids to still go to the school. It was already almost the second week in August and I would have to hurry to get their applications in. Being a physicians assistant, my friend was able to complete the physical for the children and I completed the applications and dropped them off at the school on Thursday August 14th.

I gave them a week to respond. I hadn't heard from them. So on Friday August 21st, I gave them a call. After waiting on hold for about 2 minutes, but what felt like forever, the nice young lady on the phone came back and told me that she was sorry, but that the classes were closed.

I was crushed. I so wanted my children to be in that environment for their schooling because I knew it would provide them with the kind of people and atmosphere that they needed to facilitate their healing and the renewing of their minds from the damage done by growing up with a violent father. I told the kids the bad news and they were sad about it.

Although I was told that the classes were closed, something inside of me was not comfortable with taking that answer and walking away. I felt that the fat lady hadn't sung, that it couldn't be over that easily. It ain't over until God says its over and something inside my spirit was telling me we hadn't come to the end just yet. So after being sad about it for a couple of days, I determined that I would go over to the school and talk to someone in person.

I had decided to go on the morning of Wednesday August 26th. As I got myself and the children ready, I felt my courage leaving me. I began to hear thoughts that said, "You're just gonna make a fool out of yourself. If you go, they're just going to tell you no in person. You're going to be embarrassed. No one's going to talk to you because you don't have an appointment."

So I dragged my heels and procrastinated leaving the house. I kept finding things to do or clean so that the time would tick away. Soon it was around 12:30 pm and I knew that if I were going to go, I couldn't let it get much later. I told myself, "OK. Just go and get it over with. I won't be able to live with myself if I don't even try. If I'm embarrassed, or they won't talk to me without an appointment or they say no, then so be it. But I have to at least try."  I loaded up the kids and drove to the school.

When I got there I went to the office and spoke to one of the women there and told her why I was there. I explained everything from the letter I had written to the school months ago, to us being back in Allentown. She told me to have a seat. So I waited. About 10-15 minutes later, another young lady came over and asked how could she help. I took a deep breath about to start the story all over again and told her, "Basically, I'm here to beg." I then repeated for her what I told the first woman. She told me to wait. So I waited.

She came back about 4-5 minutes later and said, "Okay. We can take the 2nd grader, but unfortunately we have absolutely no room for the kindergartner. We only have 1 kindergarten teacher because we had one leave earlier in the year." I was elated and disappointed simultaneously. I thanked her for accepting Justina. In my mind I was still reeling from the rejection of Solomon and scrambled to figure out a way I could still get him in. I offered her my services in the classroom as an assistant to help the teacher. She expressed appreciation for my offer, but explained that it was a long process and there was training involved.

Seeing the dismay on my face, she let me know that Solomon was at the top of the list. That if a spot opened up, then he would be in. She gave me some uniform pants for Justina, her list of supplies, and assured me again that Solomon was a priority should anything change. I gave her my sincerest thanks, and the kids and I left.

As we walked to the car I tried to figure out how to break the news to them: good news for Justina and bad news for Solomon. Solomon is the most emotionally sensitive out of all of them and he often feels that no one likes him and nothing every goes right for him. I felt this news would hit him in that same place ~ why Justina and not him. 

Then, I knew exactly how. This was yet another opportunity for them to witness God do a miracle in our lives.

Once we got in the car, I explained to them what was told to me. After I gave them that information, he was saddened. I never talked or looked sad and I immediately told them, "We are going to believe that God is going to get you in too. 
I don't believe God brought us back to Allentown and had them accept Justina after they told us no over the phone, just to not accept you. I believe God wants us to show Him our faith and that we believe He will still do it. So we will pray everyday about it and believe that He will get you in and you will start school on September 1st with Justina. But, if He doesn't get you in on September 1st, we are not going to give up, we will keep praying and keep believing. If you have to start school at Kernsville Elementary and go there for a few weeks or even a few months, we will keep believing God to get you into Life Academy. Okay?" 
They all said okay.

So we prayed everyday. My car broke down while school shopping 2 days later, August 28th. I couldn't believe it. What timing! Justina had to start school on the 1st, just 4 days away and I needed the car to drive her to and from school and it breaks down. I still had to finish her school shopping. My good friend who offered me her home, now offered me her car so that I could do what I needed to do until mine was repaired. I asked God how many tests did I need to take at one time???

The morning of Monday August 31st, my phone rings and a voice asked for Mrs. Trotter. I thought the mechanic was finally calling to let me know what was wrong with the car. But she told me she was calling from Life Academy, so I thought there was more information she was giving me about Justina.

Instead, this is what she said, "I was calling to let you know that a spot opened up for your kindergartner and he can start school tomorrow."

It took about a second for my brain to process what she had said and I can't even describe the feeling that went all through me. I was ecstatic, grateful, shocked, and filled with joy all at once. It took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. The first words out of my mouth were, "Praise God!!!" The next words were, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She said I could come over to the school and look through several bags of uniforms they had and see if something could fit Solomon.

I bounded upstairs, found the children and asked them what had we been praying for? They said, "A place to live, to get the car fixed, for your job." I said, "Yes, yes, yes. But what else have we been praying for every night?" And Solomon said, "That I could get into Life Academy." I told him, "God answered our prayer. You start school tomorrow with Justina." The look on their faces was priceless. I reminded them that God does hear us and He answers our prayers. All we have to do is believe. We all hugged.

My friend had given me a pendant for my birthday, which was on August 23rd. It held a mustard seed in a small clear bubble and a larger silver circle was engraved with the word FAITH. When I showed it to the kids, I told them that this was all the faith Jesus was asking us to have, that it didn't have to be any bigger than that. But we can't have the tiniest bit of doubt or unbelief in it. That if we had that itty bitty amount of faith free of doubt, that God would move mountains, knock down walls and part the sea for us. (Matthew 17:20)

I use the things that are happening to us to show them how much God loves us, how He is taking care of us, and how He does the impossible for us. I open their eyes to the miracles God performs everyday that may not be visually as spectacular as the parting of the Red Sea, but is just as amazing because of the impact it has in our lives.

I don't want them to grow up with memories of what their father did to us and how difficult it made our lives. I want them to grow up remembering how much God did for us during the difficult time and how He never left us and had never forsaken us. I want them to grow up knowing in their hearts that it was God who saved us from the bondage, oppression and fear and took us through the wilderness and into our promised land, with miracle after miracle, just like He did for the children of Israel.

All we gotta do is believe.

September 3, 2009

Life Academy ~ Part 2

I don't know about you, but God tests me a A LOT.

When I got the call to come pick up applications for the children to attend the school, it was sometime in late May and I was 8 months pregnant. When I wrote the letter to the school back in early April, I was under the assumption that we would still be living in Allentown, either with my sister or in our own place. Although my deadbeat husband had not been providing any child or spousal support, I filed for it in April and thought that we'd be receiving something soon that would at least take care of rent.

Oh...the best laid plans...right? How many things can go wrong?

My sister decided in mid May that she would be moving to Maryland before the start of the school year and would rent out her house. I didn't see that coming. But I still had time for the support money to come in, so I wasn't worried yet. The first date for the support hearing was June 1st. My husband had it adjourned. The second date was June 19th, he was in the family court in Queens and I was testifying by phone in PA.

Apparently, he showed up with a letter from an accountant claiming that he only made $25,000 a year. I knew he was going to pull some crap like that, because he gets paid in cash by electronic transfers to a business account. The transfers are for large amounts of money from $50,000 to $200,000 or more. He then takes his cut out of that cash for whatever amount he planned to skim off of it. Therefore there is no way to track the amount of money he really makes. He doesn't put the money in the bank either. He keeps it at home, in hidden places, like socks in the sock drawer and other secret locations. I didn't even know how much he made, as his wife, I wasn't entitled to know this information.

It would be easy for him to play poverty in order to avoid taking care of his wife and children. Yet, he took me to court for custody at the start of all of this, which I'll talk about in more detail in another post. In any event, the letter from the accountant was unacceptable as income and the judge told him she wanted to see business records. He didn't have them so we were going to have to come back to court.

The judge asked me if I had gotten any money from him and I told her that I hadn't gotten a dime since January. This liar, then told the judge that he had $2,000 in money orders that he had been trying to give me, but I had been refusing to take! I told the judge that what he said was a lie. The judge ordered him to send those money orders to me immediately and to pay a temporary order of $500 a month in support - which breaks down to $100 a person for each one of us. 
Pretty cheap don't you think?

The baby was born 4 days after that hearing and ended up spending 5 days in the NICU. The day I brought him home, my sister was moving out. So now I had even more to deal with as my days were focused on taking care of him and recuperating. Well, knowing that he had to send me the $2,000 right away was great news because that would go for the apartment. It should've been coming any day now, or so I thought. Wrong! I waited and waited, but it never came. He didn't send it. He flat out ignored the judge.

So now we had no money coming to save the day in order for us to get a place and it was now July. My sister had moved out and into her new place in Maryland by mid July and she had someone ready to move in and rent her house by August 1st. Now with 4 children, no money and no where to go, I finally began to worry.

I could not believe it was God's will for me to be homeless with 4 children - one being a newborn. But I had done all the praying and crying I was going to do about it. I was mad now. I was mad at God and a few other folks. But most of all I was mad at myself. I began to think maybe I had made a really bad decision in leaving my abusive husband. After all while with him, I was a stay at home mom, I was home schooling and taking care of all of the children almost single handedly, while my husband spent most of his time on the phone, the computer or the couch.

When he wasn't doing his 2 hours of work a day, he found other things to do with his free time that usually had nothing to do with me, the kids or helping around the house.

But I digress. Back to us in PA with no money and no where to go.

I kept thinking that something was going to come at the last minute and the kids and I would be spared having to live in our van, something that I was fully prepared to do because I was tired and weary. I was giving up and my hope was just about gone. I thought God didn't care about us anymore or He had plans for things to just keep getting worse for us because somehow I pissed God off more than everybody else.

I stopped talking to God, I had nothing left to say. I had nothing left to pray. He knew what we needed. He knew when we needed it. He knew what we had and what we didn't.

He knew what He was going to do about it and He wasn't sharing it with me.

Or maybe I just stopped listening and believing....

September 1, 2009

Life Academy

I've been very busy the past several days. I mean with 4 small children I'm always busy, but this was extra. My car ended up in the shop twice in the past 3 days, I've been school shopping, trying to get everything off of the long list of supplies kids bring home lately. I have 2 children starting school this year for the first time. My 7 year old daughter that I have home schooled her entire life, including 1st grade last year, is starting 2nd grade. My 5 year old son who has been very excited about going to school for a long time, is finally starting kindergarten.

They both started school yesterday, September 1st. Like most children they were apprehensive, a little scared, a little attached to mom. Justina had tears in her eyes at one point during the morning drop off and Solomon was clinging to my leg. But when I picked them up at the end of the day, they were both smiling and happy. Solomon told me that he had fun and Justina exclaimed, "I love school!"

I know that the reason they felt so great about school is because of the school they are going to. The school is called Life Academy, it's a private Christian school. The people are kind, the class sizes are small - Justina said there are only 15 kids in her class including herself, and it's Christ centered, so there's love going around. Justina said her teacher is "really really nice."

It is a tremendous load off to have them out of the house knowing that where they are spending 7 hours of their day is doing their little broken hearts "good like a medicine." (Proverbs 17:22)

There's an amazing story behind them being at this school and I'd like to share it with you. But really my words will not be able to convey what we experienced once again as God worked on our behalf - moving mountains, knocking down walls, and parting seas. But I'll do the best I can.

After leaving our domestic violence shelter on March 14th of this year, we came down to PA to stay with my sister. I was in the supermarket about a week later, give or take a day. I was done with my shopping and was exiting the store. As I passed by the rack that has those apartment and car guides and stuff in it, I stopped to pick up an apartment guide to get an idea of the types of apartments they have and the rent prices.

Sitting on the rack was a folded brochure of some kind. What caught my eye about it was I saw a logo for 40 Days of Love, a series my church in NY was currently doing. So I picked up the brochure and took it. When I looked at it later, I realized that it was a church bulletin with information about various upcoming events and happenings at the church. One of the things I noticed was that they had a 'Mother-Daughter Nite Out' happening on March 27th. I went to their website and looked around and liked what I saw. The church seemed very similar to ours.

My daughter helps me out so much and I have so little time to spend with just her alone that it breaks my heart sometimes. So I decided I would take her to this and have some fun with my one and only little girl. We had a really great time that night and met some nice people, so I decided we'd go to the church the following Sunday.

I enjoyed the service, the children enjoyed the Sunday school, so we started to attend. I came to find out that they had a private school for grades K-8. Although I was home , schooling Justina while pregnant and with 2 little boys, I knew that I would not be doing it with for 2 children, while taking care of four. They were definitely going to attend "outside" school.

Now because of the life they were subjected to while we lived with their violent and abusive father, my children have various issues like most other victims of domestic violence. They were fearful, extremely attached to me, angry, aggressive, sad, and hurt, just to name a few. We had deep scarring to our minds, hearts and spirits. We had all been in therapy since we left our life of terror but that didn't include any spiritual attention to anything we were dealing with. The only thing that dealt with our spirits were our prayers.

I believed in my heart that being in a safe, loving, positive and nurturing environment learning about God while they learn about reading, writing and arithmetic, would be very beneficial towards their healing.

I desperately wanted that for them.

The brochure didn't say how much the tuition was, but whatever it was, I knew I couldn't afford it. I was about 6 months pregnant, unemployed and unsupported by my husband and father of my children. So I wrote to the school and asked them if they had sponsors or scholarships and explained our situation to them and why it would mean so much for the kids to be able to attend.

Well, about a month to six weeks later, after I thought I wouldn't hear from them, someone from the church called me and said I could come by and pick up applications.

Sounds easy right? Well, naturally some things started to go wrong...

I'll have to end here for tonight. I'm very tired and have to get myself and every one else "up and at 'em" at 6am. I didn't want another day to pass without saying something over here.

I'll post part 2 to this story as soon as possible.