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First place district, state, national public speaking winner. Outgoing. Numerous friends. This was my life.

Now, after one and a half years of marriage, a quarter percent of my brain damaged due to being thrown against the wall, into broken windows, and broken sheet rock; I found myself lying to my friends and family, hiding myself from the world of bruises, not recognizing the person reflecting back at me.

Verbal and physical abuse. Even so, I went back each time because the words of his threats kept ringing in my ear, he had control of me. I became lost to the person I use to be; believing now in the lies. 

Becoming pregnant led me to believe 'this will help', but I quickly found out he didn't want children, telling me, “if you want this marriage to work you'll have to get an abortion.' One week later he dropped me off and when he came back to pick me up 'it' was over. 

Days turned into weeks and living life of abuse continued, but now I battled the thoughts of 'what did I do? Who and what have I become?' 

Secrets, lies, and daily abuse led me to start drinking to numb the pain.  Two years later, I found myself pregnant again. My mind became filled with deceit of not telling my husband. I couldn't go through another abortion so I found myself seeking help through the Catholic Church, which I once attended. I hid the pregnancy until I knew it was past the time. It was then, I found myself curled up on the floor being kicked in the stomach. 

My safety-net was the moment  I was hit by semi, flipping my car over and being life-flighted to Cleveland Metro Hospital which became my residence for awhile. In and out of consciousness, all I heard was the doctor say I didn't hear a heartbeat. Finally, I hear (thu, thu, thu) it was faint but it was there...the babies heartbeat. I was safe. I was away from him. 

I gave birth to my first a girl; I named her Kayla Shai.

Coming home I quickly realized nothing changed. I looked down, Kayla in my arms crying as I now realized I couldn't protect her. I couldn’t let her live this life, I wouldn't allow it.  As he went to the back bedroom, I quietly grabbed the keys, and snuck out the door.  I laid Kayla in the passenger seat, and sped away to my parents house. It was then; I shared with my family all that I had been hiding.

Being a divorced single mom and wanting inner peace so badly I started searching for something to achieve that. In search of who I was, I packed up my car with what I could and I headed south with my daughter. Ohio to Georgia just five weeks after the divorce was final.  Not knowing what was ahead, I just knew we needed a fresh start.

Not being good enough was more than just a feeling, I was really racking up those labels. 

The apartment above me lived a single mom with a boy same age as Kayla. Every Sunday she invited me to church and every Sunday I would decline her offer. Two years later, on a Wednesday she asked if she could take Kayla to Awana's; she referenced that it was a lot like catechism, so I allowed it.

I knew that Sunday I was going to get a call to see if I wanted to go to church again. Immediately I was already ready and waiting. I had questions, after my daughter’s recap of Awana’s. Three years later, on December 9, 1994, after listening, analyzing, and asking the pastor questions every Sunday, I found myself on my knees crying out 'Jesus take my broken life and restore the shattered pieces'.

During this season, before understanding and knowing who Christ was, God placed a man in a position at the appointed time in my life that only he would be able to break through. His name was Richard, and he displayed every biblical characteristic: Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Self-Control. Faithfulness.  Through his display of this love the walls around me slowly started to come down. On October 8, 1994 he became my husband, and immediately became daddy to Kayla and shortly after to Sean who was born 12/23/1994.

After becoming a Christian, I didn't know what to do next. I didn't have 'that mentor' so I found myself just being an attendee and falling into the roots of 'doing good-works'. 

When my father fell ill to cancer, I heard the congregation encourage me to prayer. When my father breathed his last, hatred began filling every bone of my being exclaiming that “There is no God” and “Prayer doesn’t work”. I was numb.

Three months later I spent three hours at the grave site going through each emotion: Crying.  Cussing.  Screaming.  Blaming.  And again Crying.  Cussing.  Screaming.  Blaming. As the sky turned purple, rays of sunshine fell right on top of my father’s grave, and at that very moment pins and needles entered my head and filled my arms, stomach, legs, feet. I couldn't move. Everything became quiet, as a voice said “'Your prayer was answered. You prayed. Take my father if he is going to suffer'.”

I fell to the ground wept, 'Jesus you are real!'

In 1994, I accepted Christ. In 1996, God caught me and I started living for Christ. When we got home every version of scripture we owned, was dusted off, commentary, Word study, laid on the floor. I was going to know WHO MY FATHER IN HEAVEN was. And I haven't stopped. 

I have been asked on several occasions, would you change anything. And my answer is no.

My story is what prepared me to be able to listen, speak and pray for those that He has put in my path that are going through the same storms, that I walked through.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

I am NOT a victim, but I am a victor who can face her tomorrow, because He lives.