April 21, 2010

Weeping May Endure For 467 Nights, But Joy.......

Finally, the breakthrough in our situation the children and I have been praying for has come. Today we will move into our new place, a four bedroom apartment of our own! After sharing one room and sometimes the same bed since March 2009, we will be able to stretch out and breathe. It's still hard to believe.

I mentioned in my last post that God had done some amazing things last week that I wanted to share with you. Where do I start?

Okay, so the kids and I had been staying in a hotel for the past seven weeks. Last week, I ran out of money and the child support that Jeff paid this month, was swiped by the system down here because they're giving us cash assistance. Last Wednesday was checkout day for us again at the hotel, but unlike the other days, I couldn't make a new reservation, so I packed up all of our stuff and loaded up the car.

Now, just a few days before this, on Friday of the previous week, Allentown Housing Authority called me in and had me do the interview and fill out the paperwork for our apartment that they said would be ready in three weeks. So finally there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We had come so far and made it so close and right at the end, the last three weeks of the journey, it looked like we could possibly end up in our car. I didn't have a plan or a clue, no idea what we were going to do. But something told me, that the car wasn't part of God's plan.

My counselor at the shelter said that she would ask her supervisors if we could return to the shelter just until our place was ready since we were so close. But she let me know on Wednesday afternoon that we had been denied. I understood. The shelter is a place for women and children who are presently in danger and escaping their abusive situations. That was not the case for us. They had already let us come and stay longer than most residents get to stay and we weren't in danger then. I thanked her anyway and told her it was alright.

We were going to be okay for that night because a friend said that he would pay for the stay for another night and he did. Later that day after I picked up the kids and squished them in amongst all of our stuff that was in the car, I got a call from a new friend from church. She was actually the mother of one of the kids in Solomon's class and I'd seen her most mornings since September when we dropped the kids off at school. We had never had the opportunity to talk until about two Sundays before. I had gone into the nursery at church to nurse Emmanuel on Easter Sunday and she was in there working.

We started talking and things got around to our situation and she offered her home to me so that I  could cook meals for the kids and we exchanged numbers before I left. Well this particular afternoon, last Wednesday around 5:30 she called me, right after I began to cry from the weight of it all. She invited me to come out to the prayer group that night and told me not to worry, the hotel would be paid for. I met her at the church and she took me to her group. After a nice evening of fellowship, she and her husband, bought dinner for us and gave me the money to pay for another week at the hotel.

When I didn't know what we were going to do, where we were going to go or where the money was going to come from, just like that, from two new friends, God had again made a way.

The next day, which was last Thursday, I had an interview that came through my friend that paid for our extra night at the hotel the night before. The woman I met with was very nice, she explained the position and environment to me and told me that if I wanted it, the job was mine. Hallelujah! Just like that, I had a job. So much easier than the many months I spent looking and sending out resumes only to never get a response.
God was on a roll.

After I left the interview, and before I poured more power steering fluid in my car, I checked my voicemail and returned a few phone calls. The first one was to Allentown Housing. The representative that I met with the previous week, told me that our apartment would be ready the upcoming Wednesday, in one week instead of three. I couldn't believe it! God had supplied the money for one more week at the hotel and that was exactly all that we needed! God was really showing off now!

So to recap, I ran out of money to pay for the hotel. God supplied the money through two new friends.
Through one of those friends I had an interview and got a job.
That same day, Allentown Housing said our new place would be ready in a week.

Now, on to the car. About two weeks ago, the car suddenly started making a loud dinosaur like noise when I made a turn and my steering got stiff, making it almost impossible to turn at all. When I took it to the mechanic, he put some steering fluid in it and told me to get power steering fluid for leaks and that should take care of it. Well, it didn't take care of it. It was as if my power steering pump had a hole in the bottom. I'd pour it in and it would drain out way before I got to where I was going.

So I took it back to him. He looked at it again and said that it was the rack and pinion. Come again....my what? It was busted and I would need to get it replaced. I said, that it sounded like a big problem. He said it was and would cost about $400 to get fixed. I asked him if it was safe to drive it like it was, he said yes, but the fluid would keep leaking out. Oh, well. I bought bottle after bottle of power steering fluid and would pour some in every time I was going somewhere.

In any event, my mom had sent me some money to help us out, so I was took the car to get fixed last Saturday. I went to the shop, prepared to painfully fork over $400. The shop called me about an hour after I took it in and told me that the car was ready. I was surprised because he said it would take several hours to fix. It turned out it wasn't the rack and thing-ion after all. I asked him how did they do it so fast? I don't even remember what the guy told me the actual problem was. What I do remember him saying was, "It's $50." What?!!! I think I had spent $50 in steering fluid, believing I couldn't afford to get it fixed sooner. I was ecstatic!

God had hit it out of the park on that one.

So the money for the hotel on Wednesday.
A job on Thursday.
Word on Thursday that our place would be ready on Wednesday.
Car repaired on Saturday for $350 less than I was originally told.

The feeling I had was surreal. I couldn't believe that so many good things had happened in rapid succession for us. Every single need met - boom boom boom!

I did tell the kids about the job, but I didn't tell them about the apartment. I wanted to surprise them. We have continued to pray for a place to live. Solomon even asked me last night (Tuesday) before we prayed, if we were ever going to get a place to live where we could stay and not move again. I told him that we would, that's why we had to keep praying and asking God for it. We've been praying for this for so long. They know that Wednesday is our usual check out day and they know I don't have the money to pay for any more days at the hotel.

I told them we have to trust and believe God. I asked them if God had ever let us down yet? They said no. I reminded them of how we have always had food to eat, gas in the car and a place to sleep. They named all the places we've lived in the past 15 months. I reassured them that God would do it again. We would just have to wait and see what God was going to do and how He was going to do it. It is all part of our adventure and we'd see where God would take us on the adventure next.

Today I will meet with the landlord to sign the lease, give the deposit and get the key. I feel like a bride on her wedding day. I'm going to pick up the kids after school and tell them we're going to look at another apartment. I know they'll wonder and ask why I have keys to this apartment. I'll tell them the landlord let me have them to look at the place. Then we'll look around and I'll ask them what they think (hopefully they'll like it). What I can't wait to see is the look on their precious faces as I tell them, "We're home. This is our new home." I gotta make sure I get batteries for the camera, because it's going to be a moment I want to capture.

There were moments when my humanity got the better of me and I got frustrated, tired and even mad at how things were going and vented at God. There were times that I felt like I was losing my grip and felt like giving up and letting go. I felt like I was breaking. Like the words to a song I know, "I almost gave up, I felt like I just couldn't take life anymore...but God held me close so I wouldn't let go. God's mercy kept me close, so I wouldn't let go."

My Father knows my heart and He knows that all my eggs are and have always been in one basket - His. This week, God spoke to the wind and the waters, and calmed the storm and raging sea. This week, God has given me rest from the journey that began over a year ago on our exodus from a life of abuse, violence and heart breaking pain.

I know there will be more trials to come, Jesus promised that. But I also know it will be alright because this test has strengthened me, adding on to the strength I got from enduring 10 years of abuse, while I believed God to turn that situation around. I don't know what it is yet, but God is getting me dieseled for something. But for now, we have crossed over to a new season at last.

"It's a new season, its a new day. Fresh anointing is coming my way. It's a season of power and prosperity. It's a new season, coming to me." Israel Houghton

"I Almost Let Go"
by Kurt Carr

I almost let go.
I felt like I just couldn't take life anymore.
My problems had me bound
Depression weighed me down.
But God held me close, so I wouldn't let go.
God's mercy kept me, so I wouldn't let go.

I almost gave up.
I was right at the edge of a breakthrough but couldn't see it
The devil really had me;
but Jesus came and grabbed me,
And He held me close,
So I wouldn't let go.
God's mercy kept me,
so I wouldn't let go.

So I'm here today because God kept me.
I'm alive today,
only because of His grace.
Oh, He Kept me,
God Kept me,
He kept me,
So I wouldn't let go.

I almost Let go.
I felt like I just couldn't take life any more,
My problems had me bound,
depression weighed me down,
God held me close
So I wouldn't let go.
God's mercy kept me,
so I wouldn't let go.

So I'm here today because God kept me.
I'm alive today, only because of His grace.
Oh, He Kept me, God Kept me, He kept me, So I wouldn't let go.

April 20, 2010

Help My Unbelief

I've learned that being a Christian doesn't mean that I'm perfect, and when I mess up, it doesn't mean that I'm a hypocrite or a phony. It means that I am human and I am loved and forgiven by an amazing, loving, kind and merciful God who bestows grace on me as a free gift.

I am glad that God doesn't do everything I ask Him to. I am glad that He doesn't leave me alone, even though I may scream at Him to do that and to keep the future He has for me to Himself, because the pain I feel at the time doesn't make it seem worth having.

I know that I desperately need God in my life. Doing things on my own doesn't make much sense to me if God can do it. He'll do it right the first time. But sometimes, I get frustrated and impatient with God's timing. I mean He's out of the realm of time, and we live our lives by the clock and the calendar, so we feel the pressure of the tick & the tock. It's hardest most of all when we aren't just waiting, but waiting in pain. So in my pain and frustration, I sometimes yell at God, usually in private. I also ask for forgiveness, A LOT! It's all usually kept between me and God, the way a lawyer and client have secret conversations that no one else knows about.

Well this time I wanted to publicly apologize to my heavenly father. If I can yell at him in front of others, I should apologize in front of others too.

Lord, all I can say is, I'm sorry. Thank you so much for being so good to me. I guess I still don't completely comprehend the way you love me. You stick by me no matter what I say or do, and my behavior doesn't cause you to change your mind about the good things you have planned for my life. I can throw the biggest temper tantrum, kicking and screaming like any other 2 year old child and you patiently wait for me to quiet down and allow you to hold me.

You don't always give me what I want when I want it. You have your reasons why and I see more and more as I journey through life with you that when you time it, it comes out just right. Ok, perfectly. I have become more patient than I used to be. I have become more faithful than I used to be. I trust you more and more with every trial and test. But sometimes, fear and fatigue creep in causing me to doubt you.

For those times when I don't trust you as I should, Lord help my unbelief. Forgive me for tripping in the post before last. You probably laughed at me as I sometimes laugh at my kids when they bug out. Forgive me for kicking you to the curb for a minute. I know you know my heart and you know that I would never walk away from you and turn back to Egypt. There's nothing for me back there but death. I will always need you in my life and thank you for promising to always be there for me and with me. You help me when I'm under attack and when I make a mess of things. Forgive me for every word and deed I do, that disappoints and grieves you.

I take back everything I said.

My kids and I have never been alone. Nothing that happened was an accident, coincidence or lucky break. No one would have done for us what they did if they weren't being led by you. You connected every dot and opened every door. Through others, you met every need and gave us every victory.

There will never come a time when I could or would want to do this life thing without you. That thought is frightening.

You are never
sadistic or

You are good all the time. You are kind all the time. You are merciful all the time. You are loving all the time. You are uplifting all the time. You are faithful all the time.

I can tell people about these attributes of you because I know it personally. I have and continue to experience it.

You are healing us more and more everyday. There won't be any lifelong damage from anything we've been through. And my children have the greatest example of a father in the universe. They have learned so much about your goodness and how you love us because of what we've been through. I couldn't teach it to them by just telling them in the depth that they have learned by watching you do what you do.

You are so awesome God. I love you and I know that you really do love me and care about what affects me in my life. You put it all together and honestly, your timing was excellent when I stop to think about it. There is no way I would have accomplished what you did in 15 months.

I give you all the glory, honor and praise that you alone deserve.

In my next post, I'll let you know all the things that came together last week and how God has brought us into a new season. He turned things around and I believe is opening the windows of heaven......

Here's a link to a song that's been on my mind for the past week. I was overwhelmed with all the blessings that God poured out last week, especially since I had just reached the end of my rope with all that's been happening. This is an old song by The Winans, but it came back to me as God showed Himself to me in all that He made happen.

Lord, I believe....forgive and help my unbelief.

"Lord, I Believe!"

A man came to Jesus
Saying "Sir will you help my child,
Evil spirits come over him
And make him act so wild

They cast him into fire
And his life he tries to take
And I am rendered helpless
While my son just pines away

I took him to your disciples
But they didn't have the cure
They said if you just touch him
Then he'd be made whole"

Jesus said "Sir do you have faith in me
All things are possible
If you can just believe"

(He cried)
Lord I believe
With your help I'll see
Lord I believe
Help my unbelief

Verse 2:
We're buffed about with trials
When heartaches are felt
When tried in the fire
Our courage begins to melt

Just like that man did back then
So do we today
When faced with the mountain
We let doubt get in the way

Jesus said if we have faith
The size of a mustard seed
He would make possible
Our impossibilities


It's always hard to see your way with the natural eye
So we cry
Help me, help me to see

Can't do it on our own no matter how we try
So we cry
Help me, help me to see
Help me, help me believe

Chorus x5

I believe
Lord remove all doubt
I believe

I believe
Lord increase my faith
I believe

I believe
Lord I believe
I believe...

I believe (x4)

April 11, 2010

Living Like Refugees

Merriam Webster defines a refugee as: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.

What is a Refugee Camp?
Wikipedia describes a refugee camp this way:

"A refugee camp is a temporary camp built to receive refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people may live in any one single camp. Usually they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, or international organizations, (such as the Red Cross) or non-governmental organizations."

"Refugee camps are generally set up in an impromptu fashion and designed to meet basic human needs for only a short time. Some refugee camps are dirty and unhygienic. If the return of refugees is prevented (often by civil war), a humanitarian crisis can result."

"People may stay in these camps, receiving emergency food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their homes. In some cases, often after several years, other countries decide it will never be safe to return these people, and they are resettled in "third countries," away from the border they crossed." - Wikipedia.com

I believe that the unfortunate people that end up in refugee camps have got to be some of the most heartbroken people in the world. They survived war in their homelands, witnessed and lived through heinous crimes and the most vile atrocities committed against human beings. Then they have to live in crappy tents and sleep on the ground with very little to eat, for months or years on end. It is a sad place. Outside of the war zone, it has got to be one of the most hopeless places a human being could ever know.
I have said many times over the past 15 months that my children and I have been living like refugees. Like many people around the world that live in war zones, we were forced to flee our home to escape the clear and present danger of our daily lives. Also like refugees, our existence has been uncomfortable and painfully difficult.

Living like a refugee is not easy.
We have moved 7 times from one temporary "camp" to another. Packing up our things in bags and dragging them with us over and over again. It's exhausting. We have slept on mattresses on the floor and made of air, our equivalent of "sleeping on a tarpaulin mat." We have slept all together in a single bed. We have slept underground. Whether we lived in a shelter, with family or a friend, we were living in "another man's land," confronted with "strange dialects and unusual diets." Basically meaning that everyone has their own style of living and when you live with others, you have to accept lifestyles that are different from and sometimes in conflict with yours.

Living like a refugee is not easy.

What is the single thing that any refugee wants more than anything? To return to the home they knew before the war. For me and my kids, there was no time before the war. There was always war and war was always there. For us like many other refugees, sometimes returning home is not an option, because home will never be safe.

So then the second thing that refugees want more than anything is to settle into a new home in a new land. And for a refugee, it ain't easy. You have left everything behind. You have no money, no job, no home. You have to begin all over again in a new place. That place can sometimes be hostile and unwelcoming and you will have to fight for every morsel you get.

Living like a refugee is not easy.

Whatever becomes of refugees? Do they return home? Do they set up a new life in a new land? Do they live in the camp for years and years? Do they die in the camp? I don't know. I know that we aren't returning home. I know that setting up a new life in this new land has been fraught with never ceasing obstacles. We are into our second year in the camp. Will we make it out alive? Only God knows.

The "non-governmental organizations" that have brought humanitarian aid to us in our camp, have come in the form of family - my parents and sisters, good friends, domestic violence agencies, and even strangers. They have helped us survive this rough time of transition. But we want to begin to live again, not just breathe.

There have been more than a few days when I felt the war zone was better than the misery of the camp. It's not the kind of life I wanted my kids to experience. But such is life. It has a way of being so out of our control at times. So so so many times I've wanted to give up. Life in the camp can wear you out, crush your spirit, break down your mind, and cause you to lose all hope. I need a break, I need to catch my breath and I need to exhale.
Nope.........living like a refugee is not easy.

"Living Like a Refugee"

You left your country
to seek refuge
in another man's land
You left your country
to seek refuge
in another man's land

You will be confronted
by strange dialects
You will be fed
with unusual diets

You got to sleep
in a tarpaulin house
which is so hard
You got to sleep
on a tarpaulin mat
which is so cold

Living like a refugee
is not easy
Living like a refugee
is not easy
Living like a refugee
is not easy
Living like a refugee
is not easy.
~ Lyrics to "Living Like a Refugee" by Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars

From Refugees To All Stars

April 10, 2010

Are You There God? It's Me, Tee

He said He'd never leave me nor forsake me.
So why have I been deserted in this wilderness?

He said that if I prayed anything according to His will, He'd answer my prayer.
So why are me and my children still without a home?

He said not to repay evil for evil, that vengeance was His.
So why is my husband having the time of his life while his children and wife suffer endlessly?

He said He is a God of justice.
So where is the justice when victims pay for the crimes committed against them, while their victimizer goes scott free?

He said to cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me.
So why am I still dealing with the same cares that I cast on Him over a year ago?

He said that He sees and holds each tear I cry.
Is that so He can pour them all back on me?

I don't know what to believe anymore. I believed so many things for so long. I prayed over the same things for years. I confessed & professed that God would give me the victory over the circumstances that were weighing me down and breaking my heart and He would get the glory.

None of that has happened. I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed for trusting Him. I feel like a fool. I sang, "How great is my God, For You are Great and I Will Trust You." I believed that the victory was in my praise, that my praise would bind up the enemy and that no weapon formed against me would prosper.

Well....my enemy is on his way to Moscow again tonight. You know the place he told the support judge he doesn't go to anymore because his business hasn't made any money since the day the kids and I left. Yeah, that Moscow.
Let me tell you about Moscow. He stays in an opulent 5 star hotel, all expenses paid. He spends his days and nights in a private "gentlemen's club/casino" (and I'm sure undercover whore house), for rich men and their mistresses.

He is served gourmet meals whenever he wants to eat. He drinks very expensive wine (hundreds of $$$ a bottle) out of crystal glasses - the kind that sings when you run your finger around the rim. He has 24 hour porn on several channels in his room. He smokes weed with his business partner and whoever else is hanging with them.

When he's not in Moscow, he's in NY living in the home that he used to share with his family. He can bring whatever sluts he wants to sleep in the bed we shared. He sleeps when he wants, wakes when he wants, goes where he wants when he wants, does what he wants when he wants to do it. He spends days and nights with his lesbian daughter and pathetic old ass ex-girlfriend, painting the town red and burning up the bed in her Manhattan skyrise at night.

The life I live is the exact opposite of that. Our accommodations are -5 star. I rarely get any time to myself, not to think or even use the bathroom. I think I may have been out on my own without any of the kids twice in the past 15 months. I am with one to four children 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have been sharing a single room with my kids for eight months. I share a bed with my kids at night and the only thing burning up my bed is urine.

I have no peace, no quiet - EVER. I am constantly breaking up fights, being ignored, talked back to disrespectfully, dealing with a range of behavioral issues, cleaning pee from the toilet, floor and walls, wiping poopy butts and spitup, picking up food, clothes, toys and garbage off the floor, out of the car and everywhere else.

We live out of suitcases, but we never board a plane. Our feet never leave the ground. There are no gourmet meals for us. No expensive wine and crystal goblets for me. No drugs to help me feel like life ain't so bad. Nothing to comfort me. Oh wait, that's supposed to be God right?


The way things are going....I don't know what's going to happen to us.

Nothing that is happening to us is fair, right or just, from my point of view. The wicked man that didn't love his wife as God told him to and hurt her in every way imaginable, terrified and damaged his kids maybe for life, and destroyed his family is LOVING his life.

Me on the other hand....I wish I was...............anyway.

No one in his life has a problem with the fact that the family that he used to have, has vanished into thin air. Not his mother, his friends, his business partners or associates. No one will stand up to this a$$hole and tell him that what he did and continues to do to his wife and children is despicable. No one will stand up and say, "I can't stomach to even be around someone like you." Maybe they actually believe that cockamamie story about being the victim of my abuse.

I'm beginning to feel like the abuse was actually better than what we're going through now. If I'm going to lose my mind anyway, it would've been easier to lose it without having to be penniless & homeless first.

Was I not supposed to leave, God? Was I supposed to let him break a few more of my bones?
Was I supposed to stay and continue being that godly example to win the heart of my husband?

I thought I was.

I thought that's why he turned to You and joined me and the children in serving You.
But he was living a lie and because of that, so were the children, so was I. You knew he was a fraud, why didn't You let me know sooner?

God, if You're not going to help me, don't continue to break me, just please take me. I really, really can't do this anymore.

I can't tell anyone about Your goodness, favor or mercy, because I'm not experiencing it. I believe the good things that happened for us before were just because of nice people and lucky breaks.

Getting sole custody of the kids was no biggie. Jeff doesn't really want them, he just wants to use them to get at me. So of course he'd agree for me to have all the responsibility of raising them by myself. He wants the title of daddy without the work and commitment of a father. He's abandoned his child before. This isn't new for him.

The kids got into a great school because I begged and some kind people had mercy on us. The support order is a worthless piece of paper that no one is going to enforce on him, it's a joke. Christmas was good because of our family, dear friends and a nice woman that met us, felt compassion for us and asked her company to adopt us. And those kind people were touched with the Christmas spirit and generosity.

We have been asking YOU for a place to live for over a year!!!

Where is it God????? Where is it?????

We have continued to pray for the person that has caused all our pain and misery. Did you touch his heart of stone so that he would choose to do the right thing? NO!!!!!

WHAT THE F#$% IS THIS S#!&???!!!!

I'll tell you what it is.
It's mean.
It's cold.
It's cruel.
It's heartless.
It's sadistic.
It's crushing.

It's clear to me that the kids and I are on our own and have been all along.

You're supposed to be our perfect heavenly Father.
My kids won't ever know what a good father is and I have three boys to raise. I can't be an example of a good man or a good father. I am doing my best just to be a decent mother.

You really, really, let me down. You let us all down.

Here's some pictures of where the lying, abusive, deadbeat that owes us $20,000 will be staying while on his latest trip to Moscow. You know the trip he will tell the court he never took or took but wasn't paid. When in actuality he will have already taken his cut that would be more than enough to pay us what he owes in full and still have enough left over to take his nasty ho on her annual pilgrimage to Japan and pay for the hundreds of dollars in parking tickets that he gets in front of her apartment building when he goes to dig her out.

The apartment building of his geisha ho.