Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lisa's Story

One of my favorite things I like to post on this blog is what has become dubbed as Redemption Stories - the real life stories of real life people.

My pastor has invited me to share the stories at our home church each time a story is completed so I shouldn't have been surprised when he suggested that I write his wife's story.  Her life is an amazing series of difficulties and pain.  I am honored to have been given the privilege of writing her story.  As I said this morning at church, her courage inspires me.  Being a pastor's wife is one of the most highly critized positions in the church today.  She had many reasons to say no to God, but she was willing to surrender her will to His own.

We are reminded in Hebrews that God hasn't given us a High Priest who cannot relate to our pain and the people of FFM have that in Lisa - she has experienced so much and through that, she is able to relate to the difficulties many of us face.

Here is her story, I hope you will be encouraged through her life.

There are times I stop and look back over the course of my life.  The twists and turns of events that have brought me to where I am today are not unlike that of the blue and red lines criss-crossing the road map Daddy kept in the back window of his car. 

As a child, I would lie across the back seat, tracing the endless courses available to us as we trekked across the country - studying the town names as we passed by.   I’d giggle quietly to myself over names such as Pigeye, Bad Water and No Name then let my finger slide across the states landing on each place we’d called home. 

South Carolina.




And back to South Carolina again.

My birthplace, though, was nowhere to be found within the covers of the Rand McNally maps of the United States.  My father, a US military man had met my mother, Vean, while stationed in Thailand.  They married and when I was two years old, transferred to the States where I was raised as a military brat moving from base to base across the south.

My childhood passes by with snapshots of happy moments blending in together with the bad.  Warm summer days spent grilling in the back yard… then huddled in fear as my parents fought on the steps outside…  the time daddy punched mommy in the belly… the excitement over the birth of my brother, David, when I was eight… more nights spent listening to my parents fighting through the thin walls of our apartment….and splashing in the pool with my father as he taught me how to swim.  Each scene flitting through my memory, some more distinct than others, yet each taking their place in forming me into the person I am today.

Our family was not an affectionate one.  I learned early to hide my feelings and go with the flow.  But I was cared for.  I was safe.  And I knew I was loved… even if the words were never said.

I was twelve when the news came.  Daddy was being transferred yet again – this time to Japan.  He was given the choice of taking his family and being stationed there for four years, or leave us behind and only serve two.

He and mom discussed it and soon we were saying our goodbyes to Daddy.  We couldn’t have known then that the events of those next two years would change us forever.

By this time, we were living in California.  With Dad gone, I began to see a change in my mom.   She would invite friends to our house and they’d soon chase me out the door.  I’d sit on the back stoop staring at the ants scurrying across the cracked sidewalk wondering what mom and her friends were doing with the white powder on the kitchen table. 

But wondering was all I could do.  Somehow, I knew better than to ask.

Over time, it was not uncommon for mom to send David and I off to bed before she’d slip out into the night to party with her friends.  In the mornings, she’d tell me how she had never loved my father and had only married him as a means of getting me to America.  “There’s no life for you in Thailand, Lisa,” she would insist.  Not knowing how to respond, I’d only shrug and turn away.

One night she came to me, a suitcase in her hand.  “I’m leaving, Lisa.”

I stared at her.  What was there to say?  I was only twelve.  David – four.

Leaving?  But…  what would we do?  Who would care for us?  My mind raced with so many unanswered questions. 

Why didn’t she want us? 

Weren’t we reason enough to stay?

How could a mother choose her friends over her own children?

“Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll make sure the military contacts your dad.  He’ll come for you.”

I lay in the top bunk of my bed, listening to the deep breathing of my baby brother sleeping free of care below me… and finally, the soft click of the back door as she left. 

I turned to stare at the wall as a single tear slid down my face.

I awoke the next morning, wondering if my dad would arrive to get David and I, but to my surprise, I saw the sleeping form of my mother in the bedroom across the hall.  For reasons I never learned, she came back that night and life went on as usual.  Yet the knowledge that she could so easily walk out of my life left me feeling unwanted and lonely.

May arrived and with it, the beginning of my teen years.


I stood in the kitchen of our tiny apartment staring at the people around the table wondering if anyone knew it was my birthday.

They didn’t seem to.  Or if they did, they apparently didn’t care.

The summer days slipped by and soon it was autumn.  On Veterans Day, mom once again sent Daniel and I to bed while she looked forward to another night out with her friends.  This had become so common I no longer had qualms about staying home alone with my little brother.

Around 4:30 in the morning, I awoke with a start.  Was that a knock I heard?  My heart was beating loud in my ears and I felt a thin layer of sweat cloaking my body. Then I heard it again, loud rapping on my bedroom window.  I peeked through the blinds and saw a group of men outside in the white glow of the streetlights.

Tiptoeing, I went to the living room shivering with fear, wondering what to do.

“Open up!”  The voice at the door was urgent.  “It’s the police!  Open up!”

“What do you want?” my voice shook a little, wishing my mom were there.

“It’s the police.  You need to let us in.”

“No!”  I tried to sound stronger than I felt.  “Go away!”  

“We need to talk to you,” the voice on the other side of the door insisted.  “Can you please open up?”

I noticed he was holding a badge out for me to see, but I still I refused to believe him. “I’m not letting you in!  I don’t know who you are!”

His eyes held compassion as he again assured me that he and the other men were indeed the police and that whatever it was they needed to tell me couldn’t wait until the light of day.

I stared at their badges, uniforms, and their guns for a moment longer, then hesitantly, unlocked the door.

The men shuffled into the house quietly.  After I explained that Daddy was stationed somewhere in Japan, Mom was still out for the evening, and it was only Daniel and I in the house, the police introduced a man I hadn’t noticed before.  His name, I don’t recall.  I only remember how he trembled as he sat on the chair next to me and explained that he was something called a “coroner”.

“It’s…  it’s about your mama, sweetie,” he continued to shake, his voice breaking as he spoke.  “There was a car accident, and I’m… I’m so… so sorry.”  He paused as though to collect himself.  “I’m sorry.  But she’s gone.  Your mama.  She… she died in the accident.”

I sat looking at him, unblinking.


Surprise passed over the faces of each of the men as they watched me absorb the news with little reaction.

One of the policemen leaned forward and explained that my father would be notified, and did we have someone we could call to come stay with us in the meantime?  I continued staring blankly ahead, but managed to shake my head no.  After some discussion between the men, they explained that David and I would be taken to a shelter where we would remain until Dad arrived.

Quietly I went to the bedroom where I shook David awake.  He cried at the news, but I hurried him along as we quickly dressed and packed a few belongings.

I took his little hand in mine as we walked out the door, down the steps and into the back seat of the police car.  Never before had I felt so alone… so scared…  and so… so abandoned.  We pulled away from the curb, and I gently placed my thin arm around the tiny shoulders of my brother.   

Leaning my head against the window, I stared out into the night as the car carried us away from the home my mama would never return to.  Emotions clawed at my soul begging me to take notice.  Yet, to acknowledge them hurt.  I stuffed the pain deep inside, refusing to give it a voice… certain that if I ignored the raw pain searing deep inside, it would eventually go away.


Daddy returned from Japan and collected David and I from the shelter.

If the apartment had seemed void of emotion – good or bad, while Dad was stationed overseas, the death of my mother cast an even greater pall of darkness over our home.

My first day back, I scurried about doing my best to hide the evidence of mom’s extra marital relationship from my father.  Though I did my best, he wasn’t fooled and one night after consuming several drinks, Dad called out to me, “When were you going to tell me about him?”

I froze for a moment, then chose to act like I didn’t know what he was talking about.

That rather short conversation was the most we ever talked about what had happened while he was abroad.  Whatever he knew, he kept to himself and I did the same.

Within a week after mom’s death, Dad was given his new assignment and we were crossing the country once again to move back “home” to South Carolina.  South Carolina was where Dad’s parents lived and it was nice to be near family. 

Dad made no secret that he favored David over me.  I felt it most on the nights he came home drunk.  It was then that the remnants of pain from my mother’s betrayal and ultimate death came to the surface.  I could feel his disapproval of me, but what was I to do when, in his eyes, my greatest offense was bearing the resemblance of my deceased mother?

I knew mom had hurt him deeply, yet the subject had remained off limits over the years.  I swallowed my pain and kept moving on.  We were strangers sharing a home.  Somehow in my heart, I knew my dad loved me… and I hoped he knew I loved him too.  It’s just that sometimes… sometimes when two people are buried beneath their individual emotional baggage, they find themselves unable to say the words their hearts feel.

And that… that was what happened to my dad and I.

So much hurt… so much pain.  It was as if we’d stuffed it all into an old suitcase and carried it everywhere we went.  Its presence was never acknowledged or explained, but its weight was real… and heavy… and felt.

By now I was fourteen, and after so many days of sorrow, I was ready to have some fun.  I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and it wasn’t long before I met a boy that made my heart beat a little faster.  He started partying with my friends and I and I found myself looking forward to spending more and more time with him.

Larry was a little older than me and his attention was like a tall glass of water to my parched, lonely soul.  Maybe it was for that reason that I found myself being abused by him, yet refusing to break off our relationship.  For him I was willing to do anything, so when he whispered, “if you loved me, you would.”  I believed him.

And I held nothing back.

And then.  My world changed again.

It was a day like so many others when it happened.  Larry and I were out looking for fun… hitching rides from one party to the next.  A van pulled up beside us and invited us to climb in.  We rode around for a while, until I began to notice the driver dropping people off here and there.  Soon, even Larry was sent packing and I was left alone in the van with three men.

I sat there, nervous and afraid, unsure of what to say or do.  I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t let me out.

The driver finally pulled off the road and I saw through the darkness that we were on a very remote stretch of road with no houses in sight.  What followed was the longest, most terrifying night of my life.

When the first rape was over, I begged them to release me, but they weren’t done.  One of the men pulled out a gun and held it to my head.  I lay there, petrified, as he pulled the trigger.


Even now, I don’t know why the gun didn’t fire, but he had my attention and all I could do was carry my emotions, my thoughts, and my will to a place far away from that secluded van as those three men spent the rest of the night having their way with my body over and over… and over again.

They dumped me off at the air force base sometime in the early morning hours.

My body trembling and pained from the hours of abuse I had just endured – yet it didn’t hold a candle to the weight of pain I now carried within. 

A part of me died that night. 

I was so broken… yet, the years of abandonment had made their mark and I’d learned to hide my pain.  As I walked up the steps to the home I shared with my father and Daniel, I gathered my emotions and filed them away.

Dad met me at the door.  He was ticked off.

“Where have you been, Lisa?”

I shrugged and pushed past him. 

“I’m talking to you, young lady!  Don’t think you can just come and go as you please around here!  You’re only fourteen, for crying out loud!”

His words broke the dam I had tried so desperately to build just moments before, and I stopped. 

My shoulders drooped and I fell back against the kitchen counter.  Tears filled my eyes and I could do nothing to hold them back.

In an instant, Dad’s expression changed.  “Lisa.  What’s wrong, Lisa?”  He reached out to put his hand on my shoulder but I pulled away, panicked. 

“No!  Don’t touch me!”  My words came out in terrified whispers, and I could see a cold fear settling in Dad’s eyes.

“Lisa.”  His voice was deep, still… and filled with dread.  “You have to tell me.  Did something happen?”

I took a deep breath, willed the tears to stop flowing, steeled myself, and looked up into the eyes of my father.  “Yes.  Dad.  I was raped last night. That’s why I didn’t come home! There were three men, Daddy.  And they wouldn’t let me leave!  And they… they did it.  They raped me!”

Dad’s anger burned bright in his eyes, as he went to call the police.  For a brief moment, I allowed myself to appreciate the security of my dad’s protection, but that moment would do little to convince me that I was nothing more than a failure in the days to follow.

The police arrived and questioned me for hours. 

“What were you doing?”

“Who were you with?”

“Where were you going?”

And with a look that said it all, he asked, “Is that what you were wearing?”

I knew it!  It was all my fault!  I shouldn’t have been out with my friends.  I shouldn’t have worn these clothes. 

My fault, my fault, my fault! 

The justice system seemed to agree with my thoughts and once the three men were apprehended, they sentenced them to each serve one year in the penitentiary. 

One year.

365 days for holding a fourteen-year-old girl against her will, placing a gun to her head and gang-raping her hour after hour.

One year.

The price of their atonement said much to my self worth.  I was convinced I had little value – and the courts agreed.

After that, I cared less and partied more… until I began to notice changes in my body.  Something was wrong. 

It was different. 

I felt different.

The pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions and I trembled as I told my boyfriend that he was about to become a father.  Larry disagreed, calling me every name in the book and claiming this child growing in my womb was actually a product of the rapes.

But I had looked at the dates, and I knew he was wrong.  This baby was his!

Larry’s anger burned bright and he came at me with a violent force unlike he’d ever done before.

As I secretly nursed my wounds the following day, I knew it was time.  Resting my hand on my still flat tummy, I whispered, “it’s ok, baby.  I won’t let him hurt you.”

A new awareness had settled over me and I was determined to protect the life growing within me.  I told Larry it was over and he made a welcome exit from my life.

Dad didn’t share my opinion about the baby when he heard the news and began searching for the nearest abortion clinic.

“No!” I insisted.  This child was mine and though I knew little about abortions… or babies, I knew in my heart of hearts that I had been given this little life to love and protect.

Dad got Grandma on his side, but even with both of the adults in my life insisting on an abortion – or at the very least, adoption – I refused to give in. 

So, on the day my father first noticed the thickness of my once tiny waist, he opened the door of our home, handed me my suitcase… and invited me to leave.

I stood staring up at the closed door of my father’s home.  All the pain I had acquired through my mother’s abandonment, rejection and ultimate death welled up inside me, reminding me how unworthy I was of love. 

And now this.

Fifteen… and pregnant.

I placed my hand on my growing belly and was startled by the rush of emotions that raced through my soul.  This child was mine.  Mine to love.  Mine to nurture and protect.   Whether my father was willing to support me or not, I would find a way to survive.

I moved in with a neighbor lady who so graciously offered me a home for as long as I would need.   Ironically, my father’s backyard could be seen from Mrs. Jacobson’s and I was able to catch glimpses of dad from time to time as he mowed his yard or cooked supper on the grill for him and David.

I would wave happily, “Hi dad!”, and found comfort from his simple nod and quiet grunt of acknowledgement.

What was going through his mind, I couldn’t know, but two weeks before my due date, Dad arrived, hat in hand, inviting me home again.

Malyn arrived in early June.  The hospital bed yawned large as it held my tiny frame holding my tiny baby.

How I marveled at her perfection.  Ten wrinkled little fingers, ten curled little toes, soft black hair scattered across her small round head.   How I loved her.  Adored her!  I’d never felt anything so powerful… so consuming before… this, this love I now discovered.

I basked in the beauty of new motherhood, yet a question taunted me – begging for attention.  I couldn’t acknowledge it, for though I would receive no answer, the possibility of what it could be terrified me.   When night fell and little Malyn had been tucked into her cradle, I could hold back the question no longer.

I lay staring out into the night sky and wondered.

If this… this terrifyingly strong passion… if this is the love a mother has for her child, what was wrong with me that my own mother had so easily walked out of my life time after time?

No answers came - only the soft breathing of my baby girl could be heard as I tried to ignore the pain in my heart along with the tears staining my pillow.

The next several years passed by as I adjusted to the life of parenting.  Malyn was a delightful child and I relished the many hours we spent together celebrating each first and falling deeper in love with this precious little gift.

At eighteen, I got my first job and soon, fell back into a partying lifestyle.  It felt good to just be a kid again, and it wasn’t long before I met Jeffery. 

Jeffery swept me off my feet.  Having been a single mother for several years, I was lonely and Jeffery’s company was a welcome presence in my life.  The carefree days were cut short when another pregnancy test confirmed that baby number two was on the way.

My father was angry and he made no secret of how great a disappointment I was to him.  Jeffery and I decided to do “the right thing” and after a quick stop at the county courthouse, I became the new Mrs. Jeffery.

Twenty days later, I went into labor and soon my little boy’s lifeless body left mine.  The memories inside that hospital room pain me still, for though I knew my son was dead, the mother-heart beating inside my chest still longed to see the little hands that would never hold mine, to touch his tiny toes and wonder over every tiny detail, but that gift was not to be mine.  As the chaos of the delivery swirled around me, Jeffrey stood over my bed, his hands covering my eyes.  I strained to catch a glimpse of the baby’s tiny frame but Jeffery’s hand stayed firmly planted across my face, refusing me the gift of seeing my son.  It is a regret I carry to this day, leaving me wishing I had fought harder for to see him.  This was my son!  He had entered my world as quickly as he had departed but now he was gone.  Death had taken him, and I was left to carry the weight of empty arms and a broken heart.   

Why had he died?  What had I done wrong?  There were no answers, and I struggled to find a way to live with my grief.  I now found myself in a loveless marriage.  Jeffery was wrapped up in drugs and alcohol and I became accustomed to his constant barrage of insults thrown at me from his place on the living room sofa.

I worked hard to please him, but no matter how hard I tried, he was quick to inform me that my makeup wasn’t right and how fat my size two frame had become.  The verbal abuse crushed me - each cutting word felt like a knife to my heart. 

It wasn’t long before Jeffery’s fists joined forces with his words, and I was left to wonder how my life had ever ended up in such a mess.

About that time, Jeffery was dishonorably discharged from the military, and he moved Malyn and I to live with his family in Alabama. 

If misery loves company, we had come to the right place.  My in-laws were caught up in a religious movement that I can only describe as cult-like - my mother-in-law being the leader.  I was taught to not speak to “worldly people”, as they were full of sin.  This was my first taste of religion and I quickly came to the conclusion that if this was Christianity, I wanted nothing to do with it.

One day, Jeffery took my grocery money for drugs.  My mother heart reared back fearless and angry, giving me the strength I needed to gather my little girl and move back to South Carolina.

Dad was less than impressed to have his broken daughter standing on his front porch and I found myself once more watching as he closed his door to me.  A local couple heard of my dilemma and invited me to come live with them.

Woody and Teresa welcomed me with open arms.  Though their convictions for godly living were conservative in my opinion, they loved me without judgment and for the first time in my life, I got a taste of what it was like to be loved unconditionally.

I began visiting the Holiness Church where Woody and Teresa attended and soon, gave my heart to the Lord.  It was a happy time.  Peaceful, actually.  The chaos of what had been was over and I drank in the serenity of each passing day.

As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the passing of time soothed my anger towards Jeffery and eventually, I moved back to Alabama, hoping we could make it work.   It didn’t, and it wasn’t long before I was homeless yet again.  Once more, a local Christian family took me in and I relished the security I found in their home.

And then my husband called. 

Jeffery wanted to talk.  I agreed to meet him, hoping perhaps he would return some of my belongings as well.

To this day, I cannot tell you what happened at that “meeting”, but the memory of waking up to a broken body, searing with pain has not left me.

That was the last straw.  As soon as I was able, I collected my battered body and wounded soul and drove downtown to file for divorce. 

But for my daughter, I was now alone.  Lonely.  And tired… so tired.

At only twenty-three, I had lived a lifetime of pain - experienced rejection, abandonment, rape, death and abuse.  I had experienced the stigma of teen pregnancy, single parenting and now this… divorce.

Tears clawed their way up my throat, burning hot.  

I had failed.


What can you do when you don’t know where to go?  Or what to do?  Though heart-broken and soul-weary, I did the only thing I knew how to do – take the next step.

My life situations, if nothing else, had made me stronger, and I did my best to create a happy life for Malyn.   My determination to protect my heart sent me inward, closing off from everyone around me.  Each day I would go to work at a local restaurant, head down, mouth shut, just doing what I needed to do to make it through.

My boss seemed to find joy in getting a reaction out of me and I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t just leave me alone.  His constant teasing and contagious laughter soon began breaking through the walls around my heart and it wasn’t long before Don and I would find ourselves talking through the night at a local truck stop.

Never before had I met someone who I felt so safe with.  Every man in my life had abused me up to this point, why would I expect him to be different?  Yet, day after day, I found myself opening up to him, baring the wounded soul I had carefully hidden for so long.

New love.  It clouds the mind, convincing oneself that this time will be different.  And this time, in some ways, it was.

Don and I moved in together and for the next year and a half, all seemed to be going well, but then a new problem… a new pain… and a diagnosis that would change my life forever.

It was Thanksgiving Day and we had just enjoyed the traditional family meal with all the trimmings when I first felt it.

“What’s wrong?” Don asked.

“I don’t know.  I… I just feel so sick.”

Don helped me to the couch where I laid down and promptly fell asleep.  When I woke up several hours later, I lay there; heart pounding with fear when I realized something was different.

I couldn’t move.

Don tried to help, but I screamed out in pain.  I lay there for three days, tortured by even the slightest touch.  Don offered to cover me with a sheet, but even that sent shock waves of pain through my body.

A doctor visit was where I first heard the words “rheumatoid arthritis”.  I was stunned.  I thought arthritis was for old people and I was only twenty-four!  The teachings of my ex-mother-in-law plagued me and I was sure God was punishing me for all the sins I had committed.

My doctors helped me adjust to living with the arthritis, along with the diagnosis that I would be wheelchair bound by the time I turned forty.   Inwardly though, I struggled.  Don had just proposed and my thoughts waged war with my self-esteem.  How I longed to be loved… cherished.  Yet, all I had to offer him was a broken soul now paired with a broken body.

Who would want me?

Don was convincing though and one afternoon in April, we said our vows while standing in the living room of his father’s house.  

We drove off that night, dreaming of happily ever after.  Sure, we had our baggage – ex-spouses and children from previous relationships… but we had each other, and the love we felt was certain to last forever.

Forever lasted six months.

By then, I had had enough.  Happily ever after wasn’t as happy as I expected.  Besides the baggage we had brought into our marriage, Don worked two forty-hour jobs and the time apart put a strain on our relationship.  I had reached my limit and I wanted out.  

While I was making plans to move, Don ended up at a revival meeting down the street.  When he walked in the door that night, I knew he wasn’t the same man I had married.  His face lit up with a peace I hadn’t seen before and his words came quickly as he told me about how he had had an encounter with Jesus.

I remembered my own salvation experience so many years before and wondered if this was what I had been missing in my life.  Those days with Woody and Teresa had been short-lived and I never tried walking out my faith upon leaving their home.

I lay in bed that night, desperate to find this peace my husband had discovered.  I had been crushed so many times in life and I was certain joy would never be mine.  And now… could it be?  Could life be different than the constant barrage of despair that described my existence? 

Hope knocked at the door of my heart and I crumbled, desperate to welcome it in, yet fearful of knowing it’s embrace only to have it ripped away.

The next night, I joined Don at the same meetings that had changed his life.  I drank in the words of the pastor who seemed to be speaking directly to my thirsty soul.

“You are loved.  You always have been.  Always will be.  You see, God created you in His image and you represent His heart.  Are you longing for love?  God longs for yours.  Do you feel alone?  Rejected or abandoned?”  My mother’s face flitted through my mind.  The one who had first abandoned me.   Tears stung at my eyes, the pain still raw and real.

He went on, “God says in Isaiah 49:15 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!’”

I gasped and looked around.  Others were smiling and a few nodded, and I wondered if the man up front somehow knew my past.

He invited us to stand as he continued speaking words filled with hope and promise  “I don’t know how your life has been… where you’ve been… the hurts you’ve carried or the pain you’ve experienced.  But I do know this.  Romans 8 says,  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
And like the Apostle Paul, I, too, am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or demons, not the present or the future, or any powers… I’m convinced that no heights and no depths or anything in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I knew I could wait no longer.  While the music began playing softly, I walked to the front where people I’d never even met gathered around and spoke words of life over me.
I was changed!  For the first time ever I could see!  My whole life had been a pursuit for love and acceptance, yet the weight of all that I carried only served to drag me deeper into a pit of despair.   Now, here, in this moment, I knelt in the Presence of my sweet Jesus and for the first time ever I was experiencing a love that was pure, complete and unchanging.
My night at the altar changed my life, but I can’t say it changed my circumstances.   That’s not what being a believer is.  You see, I still have rheumatoid arthritis and I still feel a measure of pain from the loss of my mother, baby boy and most recently, my dad.  The memories of painful days will always be with me, but that night I discovered a new way of living.
Don and I stopped discussing divorce, and got involved in the local church.  Years later, we accepted a call to move north where we now pastor a church.  
The other day I noticed an old atlas under a pile of papers in our office and I smiled.  I remembered the days as a child when I traced the lines while bouncing along in the back seat of my dad’s old car.  The roads that led me to where I am today were full of unexpected twists and turns – some I never thought I’d survive, but here I am.
If nothing else, my life is a testimony to the sovereignty of Almighty God.  He knew me from the foundation of the earth – and He had a plan for my life all along.  Today, my peace comes from knowing I am loved by the Creator of the world and I now walk in joy because of the hope that comes from knowing that, through Christ, I can face whatever comes my way. 

I read Lisa's story on Mother's Day at FFM, then she shared the challenge to lay down the burdens we carry.  They're a lot like suitcases full of things we think we need, but God is the One who will supply all our needs.
What is redemption?  Just look at Lisa's life and you will see.  God took brokenness and turned it into something beautiful.

Pastor Don, Lisa and their children, Malyn and TC

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