1) Complete view

Et Cetera…New hospitality bar

In December of 2013 I wrote about my in-home hospitality bar. It was a solution born out of a need for saving prep time when entertaining in my home.  {Original article here} I decided to pin it on Pinterest since there weren’t any such pins for coffee, tea, cocoa, or hospitality bars/stations. Not one! Five years later there are hundreds of these pins for adding creativity and beauty to you home.

Our family has since moved and our new house didn’t have a built in nook for a hospitality station, so I built one. It coordinates with the other rustic and primitive tables and shelves we have in our home. Above is the finished product. We had a new home built so left over lumber was  abundant.

  1. I bought the unfinished base at Lowes, distressed it, added bead board on the sides and toe kick, gave it two feet, and painted it with a flat black primer/paint. The countertop on the bar is made from a leftover piece of cedar deck lumber that was too warped to use for its original purpose. It was exactly what I wanted for the countertop so I claimed it before my husband could use it for something else. I decided not to polyurethane it after discovering it’s a fantastic place for hot dishes and baked good straight out of the oven. Top 28″ X 41″
  2. The cubbies were created mainly from left over wood in our garage with the exception of some specialty trim pieces. Measures 6″ X 22″ X 30″. 
  3. Open box for decorations 6″ X 9″ X 18″.
  4. Side view 6″ depth. Popcorn cubby 6 3/4″ X 7″. 6 identical cubbies are 4 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ and hold 2 types of oatmeal, apple cider packets, cocoa packets, and Folgers singles packets. Popcorn bag cubby 4″ X 11″.
  5. Cubbies for decorations and framed art work.
  6. Serving accessories.
  7. Flavored syrups for Italian iced drinks; an idea I gleaned from my friend Gina. We use sparkling water or soda/pop, with a few shots of syrup, topped with whip cream, enjoyed with a drinking straw. Chrome/silver urn is a Berkey water filter and is the best filter on the market. It removes 200+ contaminants while leaving the minerals in the water. No other filter does this; including reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis removes the minerals causing health problems. Berkey is like having FIGI brand water available 24/7 from your own kitchen.
  8. Distressed bead board. I rubbed candle wax in some of the groves and on some of the tree knots (bead board, doors, drawers, and cubby shelving). After the flat black primer paint dried, I sanded with 320 grit sandpaper to remove paint from the candle waxed areas.
  9. Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits for topping off your favorite hot cocoa. Knowing I would want these, my friend Marcia texted me a picture when she spotted them in a grocery store a few months ago. I purchased these from Walmart but they are available at other grocery stores and from Amazon.
  10. William Sonoma no longer sells this 3 tier tray. If you type ‘3 tier wood serving tray‘ into Amazon you will find several other options.
  11. Christmas décor. I change decorations seasonally and for holidays. I keep small dishes on the 2nd tier for creamer, sugar, and sweetener packets.
  12. Extra supplies: Tea, coffee, Chai Tea Latte, Cocoa, Cappuccino, lemonade, mugs, hot and cold carafes, drink pitchers, and toppings/sprinkles for hot drinks.
  13. Pull out drawer with a variety of tea bags, loose tea, and loose tea utensils. I use a bamboo utensil holder turned sideways to organize tea bags.
  14. Pull out drawer for popcorn seasonings. Our home is often a hangout for groups of teen boys so having accessible snacks on hand is a must.


I hope you have fun inventing your own hospitality bar for the holiday season. If you don’t have space for a permanent bar, you can set up a temporary Christmas cocoa bar by using a hutch or buffet, desk, counter-top, bookshelf, small dresser, small table or other sturdy object.

Cheers!

I receive no monetary gain from the provided links. They are simply for your convenience. My site is a non-advertising, non-money making website.

The 2 sides of abusive men

  1. Number of people per minute who experience intimate partner violence in the U.S.: 24
  2. Number of workplace violence incidents in the U.S. annually that are the result of current or past intimate partner assaults: 18,700
  3. Number of women in the U.S. who report intimate partner violence: 1 in 4
  4. Number of women who are killed daily in the U.S. by their intimate partner: approx. 3
  5. A history of domestic abuse is a common, disturbing thread connecting the majority of America’s mass shooters. Google: mass shootings and domestic violence for more articles on the subject

For friends and extended family of domestic abusers the possibility that the person they know could be capable of having a dark side seems impossible, so they reject the idea. This amounts to rejecting the abused survivor, accusing them of lying, or implying they are crazy.

When people find two different versions of a person incompatible, they often render the other person’s view point as false.

I want to submit that both sides can be telling the truth about what they witness. There can be two sides to the story because a duplicitous personality is involved.

Let’s start by inserting some names into this picture:

Laci Denise Peterson was an American woman who was the subject of a highly publicized murder case after she disappeared while eight months pregnant with her first child. She was reportedly last seen alive on December 24, 2002. Her husband, Scott Peterson, was later convicted of murder in the first degree for her death, and in the second degree for the death of their prenatal son, Conner. Peterson is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

Drew Walter Peterson is a retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, a few months after their 2003 divorce. Peterson first received national publicity in 2007 when his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales Peterson, disappeared. Although law enforcement and Stacy Ann’s family suspect foul play, she has never been found, and Peterson has not been charged in her case.

There are currently two cases near me which are unsolved:

One involves a missing woman, Amanda Jones, who was last seen with Bryan Westfall, the alleged father of her unborn child. Bryan Westfall phoned Amanda and made arrangements to meet her on a Sunday afternoon. They met, but Amanda never returned home. Her car never left the parking lot where they met. Amanda is presumed dead and has been missing since the summer of 2005.

The second involves a woman I’ve written about many times, Lynn Messer. Lynn disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement multiple times through the years that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.

Disgraced former Judge Lance Mason accused of fatally stabbing estranged wife in Shaker Heights, sources say.

Yesterday, an Ohio grand jury has indicted this former trial court judge accused of fatally stabbing his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, on aggravated murder and murder charges, according to prosecutors.

He had “spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children.” The system utterly failed this woman and her children; as it fails many women. This time he murdered her when he was returning the children to her.

There are so many things to say about the Judge Lance Mason case…such as the friend of the couple who says of the abuser/murderer, “He really loved those girls though.” No, no, no! Any man who loves his children will love or, at the very least, respect their mother. Abuse and murder bear no resemblance to love for anyone other than himself.

Chris Watts, a Colorado father accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two children in August pleaded guilty to nine related felony crimes Tuesday during a court appearance in Weld County. I previously wrote about Shanann Watts and this case here, here, and here.

A timeline can be found here…

Larry Nassar was a pedophilic offender the outside world refused to believe was an abuser. Despite numerous young girls telling countless adults, over two decades, in detail, how Larry Nassar was abusing them, the girls were not believed. Why? Because people at work and in the community thought Larry was such a nice guy…a terrific guy…a helpful neighbor, and that the girls were lucky to have him. “Nassar’s cumulative criminal acts of sexual assault were the basis of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, in which he was accused of molesting at least 250 girls and young women and 1 young man including a number of well-known Olympic gymnasts, dating as far back as 1992.”

November 20, 2018, Thomas Bruce, 53, entered a St. Louis, Missouri, Catholic Supply store where he ordered female customers to remove their clothing. He committed sexual assault and murdered a woman. He was charged with first-degree murder, eight counts of armed criminal action, three counts of first-degree sodomy or attempted sodomy, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution. No prior arrest record. According to a church official at a St. Louis-area Calvary Chapel, Bruce was the minister of a Calvary Chapel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about a decade ago.

For the above men who were found guilty, I’m sure that friends and extended family members had a difficult time believing in their guilt.

“We would rather believe a reassuring lie than an utterly inconvenient and disturbing truth.” Diane Langberg, PhD

Women disappearing or being murdered by an intimate partner happens multiple times a day around the globe. Other times, men who commit crimes outside of the home are domestic abusers in their home.

I’m not saying with certainty that all the above mentioned men are guilty of wrong doing in the disappearance or death of these women; although I know family members of the missing or deceased women have strong opinions on the subject. The point I’m making is that people outside the family often know the nice side of a person and refuse to understand how a seemingly nice guy could be responsible for such dark acts of violence.

Of all the people I’ve talked with over the years a common thread runs through stories of abuse. The parents of the abuser usually refuse to believe the truth. And if they know the truth, many take it to the grave with them. It’s rare to find a parent of an adult child/abuser who admits to the faults or failures of their child.

The outsiders looking in want to know how a person could be so vile. Were all his good acts just a pretense? Was his ministry a farce? What about all the times he was kind, the times he was hysterically funny, the times he helped us, and the times he prayed for us? What about all the souls he led to the Lord? He seemed so professional. How can he be evil? So, they don’t believe there is a dark side to the alleged abuser or murderer.

To the family the abuser can be angry, controlling, rigid, isolating, with holding, and verbally, emotionally, sexually, reproductively, financially, and/or spiritually abusive.

Do not think, “Well, at least he didn’t hit her.” Yes, he did. He just didn’t use his fists. Diane Langberg, PhD

Please understand that abusers can be all these bad things and more to their loved one or their victim, while being kind and thoughtful to others. They can be both. Some people admire him while others are repulsed by him. Decency and depravity can exist in the same person. Conceding to one does not mean rejecting the other. It doesn’t mean everything we always thought about them was a lie. It means we weren’t with them every minute of their life. We never know what goes on in someone else’s home. We never know if an individual lives a double life.

Like Jesus, we need to come from a place of love; not a place of inconvenience or disbelief when considering accusations of abuse.

Remember: Abusers are word spinners who tell half-truths and justify their behavior. When the woman is divulging the abuse and the man explains, justifies, minimizes, spiritualizes, and denies the severity of what she is describing; you are looking at the number one sign of dealing with an abuser; denial. They are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing. They do not change for the better, but rather adjust their game so as to not get caught by outsiders; especially not caught by Christians or church members.

I learned from my experience and from women I minister to that men with personality disorders tend to gain energy supply from upping their game. It’s as if they are daring someone to catch them at the abuse; whatever from it may be. Many of these men tend to think they are more intelligent than those around them and they enjoy boldly doing something outrageous in front of others because they know no one will ever believe they are actually committing an act so mean or dark. Healthy people tend to think, “surely he didn’t just do or say that.” Believe your eyes and trust your instincts. Heed the intuition in your spirit.

When you sit with a griever, your work is to be with him where he is, not drag him out where you are more comfortable. Diane Langberg, PhD

“How to handle a marginalized person’s or abuse victim’s anger:

1. Sit quietly 2. Listen carefully 3. When they are done, say “You didn’t deserve that and I’m sorry.” 4. If they start talking again, refer to step 1.” Mandy Nicole, First of Her Name

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Shanann Watts domestic violence murder update

Shanann Watts’ husband, Chris Watts, confessed to killing Shanann and their two daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, as part of a plea deal to avoid the death sentence. He also pled guilty to the unlawful termination of Shanann’s pregnancy; the death of their unborn son. Watts will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Chris Watts lied to law enforcement and placed the blame of the events that fateful night on Shanann, but investigators never believed Chris Watts’ story.

Shanaan Watts family - Copy

I truly expected Chris Watts to lie and place the blame on his wife. I hear countless abused women speak about how their husbands blame their abusive behaviors on the wife and/or children while denying any responsibility. I see this type of behavior play out over and over in court when domestic abuse is involved. I long for the day that the family court system understands abusers and their tactics; especially when cluster B personalities are involved. Cluster B’s are dramatic, emotional, and erratic.  They include:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

If Chris Watts fell into one of these disorders, specifically narcissistic personality disorder, then it could be safe to assume that  when “Watts’ voice was shaking, and he could occasionally be heard sniffing after each of the nine times he said ‘guilty’ in response to Judge Marcelo Kopcow’s reading of each charge against him”  he wasn’t crying because he felt sorry for what he did. If he has narcissistic personality disorder his shaking voice and sniffles were because…”When a narcissist is exposed, their horror is about the damage it will do TO THEM to be accused and they believe that others are failing THEM by getting in the way of their ability to live out their specialness.” ~Diane Langberg, PhD

I bring up personality disorders because we need to understand there is more than one way to look at and understand a person. Usually no one other than the immediate family members knows something is not right with the person. Abusers can be kind, thoughtful, humorous, concerned and engaging in a setting such as work or church. When they are within the confines of their vehicle or home with family members they can turn to moody, mean-spirited, argumentative, demeaning and controlling individuals who enjoy picking a fight, or gas-lighting about any given subject.

Witnesses have come forward; two women and one man claiming to have had affairs with Chris Watts.

I stick by my original statement; he didn’t just snap, he was an angry and controlling husband, was unfaithful, and viewed his wife as an object. It also proves my point that abusers aren’t scary, dirty looking men; they look like your neighbor, friend, or co-worker. Abusers are often charismatic, well spoken, with a charming smile to the outside world while they secretly despise their wife and/or children.

I’m yet to hear or read of such an abuser who didn’t have a hidden sexual addiction.

Chris Watts looks like a text book abuser.

It took me 9 years to start cluing in that I was married to such an abuser. The last two nights I lived with him I thought I might not wake up alive. I stayed too long, but thankfully I made it out alive. He’s now in prison where he belongs…for sex crimes against very young children.

My heart breaks that Shanann and her children didn’t make it out alive.

If you question the safety of your living arrangements (or work place) please take the free Mosaic threat assessment found in the margin of this website.

For further reading on the Shanann Watts case:

The Shanann Watts case: My observations.

Shanann Watts case: 20 reasons abuse stays hidden and can lead to death

Lynn Messer Update November Election

Lynn Messer disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement multiple times through the years that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.  Kerry is a Missouri state lobbyist who represents family, homeschooling, right-to-life, gun rights/safety, and Christian/Biblical values. Lynn’s remains were found on her husband’s farm property November 1, 2016. 

*Disclaimer: There have been no arrests made in the disappearance of Lynn Messer. Kerry Messer remains innocent of any charges. I am not claiming a diagnosis or guilt; but simply pointing out concerns which are of my opinion. See disclaimer in the margin.

JustsiceForLynn 1 yr anniversay of remains

I continue to look into this case for many reasons.

I committed to it see it through to the end; whatever that may be.

Although for me this is a local case; it has also garnered national and international headlines; including being featured on TV programs internationally.

As a survivor of domestic abuse I want to speak for those who aren’t comfortable with a public platform, or who no longer have a chance to use their voice.

I advocate for women living in, or leaving, domestic abuse. I have reason to think that Lynn was a victim of domestic abuse. I base my opinions on her husband Kerry Messer’s Find Lynn Messer Facebook page and on the testimony of a few of her friends and family members. I go in to this more in-depth here…My Original Interest in the Lynn Messer Case.

I contacted Detective White of the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office by phone and email to confirm that the investigation is still open, but he is no longer answering questions. I knew this might be the case since he told me back in January of 2018 that he would no longer be giving press interviews or answering inquiries surrounding this investigation. In January he confirmed the case is still open. Although I wasn’t able to speak to the detective, the person who answered the phone confirmed that the investigation is still open.

I wanted to confirm that Kerry Messer and the woman he was reportedly in a relationship with shortly after Lynn’s ‘disappearance who is now his wife, Spring (Thomas) Messer, have not been officially cleared in the investigation of Lynn’s death.

I’m comfortable with no reply from the detective and I understand the case takes first place above public interest. This boosts my confidence in the integrity of the case and gives me hope that Lynn’s cause of death will not remain a mystery much longer.

This Tuesday, November 6, Ste. Genevieve County will be voting for a new prosecuting attorney. This is the person who will be handling legal proceedings if it turns out a crime was committed against Lynn Messer which resulted in death. Attorney Wayne Williams is running uncontested and I see why. First, I’ve heard good comments about him and second, after doing some internet reading I found that Attorney Wayne William has a stellar reputation in his field as a criminal defense lawyer.

Photo Credit: Amy Patterson  DailyJournalOnline.com

Read the article here…Daily Journal Online: Farmington public defenders’ office receives award for excellence, by Amy Patterson

I look forward to the outcome of Ste. Genevieve County’s election, and January when the new P.A. begins his job.

Many questions remain surrounding Lynn Messer’s death. Here are a few of them:

How did Lynn die?

How could a small woman with an injured toe and hip replacements walk through pouring down rain in a thunder storm, in the dark of night, over muddy ground, and according to family member, have to avoid electric fences in the dark, and open and close multiple heavy gates to arrive at her destination? All while carrying belongings from the house with her? (For reference; click text and scroll through article to:  11/23/2016 Lynn Messer: Abram answers more questions. References to items being recovered with Lynn’s remains can also be found here..

Was it murder? If so, was it premeditated?

If it was murder, was her body moved or somehow concealed to keep search and rescue from finding her? Trained dogs should have found her scent; especially after a few days of her remains being in the elements.

How is it possible her remains were not discovered in the extreme heat of the summer, in a location that had a marked grid/map for everywhere the search teams and search dogs had looked? The first night alone had 50 people and search dogs exploring the farm with the teams expanding in the coming days.

This article places search teams still on the farm August 10, 2014.

I know I received invitations for several weeks through our local home school community asking for volunteers to help search, and for help providing drinks and food for the searchers.

Why did Kerry Messer insist the cows be moved to a different pasture the first morning Lynn was missing…moved in the direction of which Lynn’s remains were found? Who would be thinking of moving cows around on the farm when a loved one is missing and possibly in danger? Besides, according to family, Lynn was the person responsible for pasture rotation of the cows, not Kerry.

Why, as reported, did Kerry Messer leave his cell phone at home the morning he was said to have been searching for his missing wife?

According to Lynn’s son Abram, and daughter-in-law Elizabeth, when law enforcement arrived at the scene the first morning, Kerry insisted his wife didn’t suffer from depression. Yet after her remains were discovered he is quoted as saying his wife “was suffering from depression in the months before she went missing.” 

Why did Kerry keep the content of ‘the note’ a secret from his sons and not admit to law enforcement he had made copies of the note?

Why did Kerry Messer insist to friends, co-workers, and church members that he and Spring Thomas were never romantically involved and that talk of such a thing was incorrectly portrayed by the media and his sons? How does one come to marry someone with whom they are not romantically involved?

I hope, and I think, that the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s office, with the help of the F.B.I. has a solid case to move forward with presenting Lynn Messer’s cause of death, possibly an arrest(s), and some form of closure for Lynn’s loved ones.

Authorities won’t disclose details until her cause of death is determined and the case is closed. 

I’ll end with a quote by Sheriff Gary Stolzer, “It’s going to be an open case until we figure it out.”

 

Hope lost in a difficult marriage?

DMV awareness month

Life is hard, and life married to an angry, controlling spouse seems impossible. Without realizing it you withhold hope as an area in which you allow God access. Hopelessness is an easy place to arrive when talking to counselors, doctors, domestic violence, and advocates for women in abusive marriages, but mainly after praying for years yet seeing no improvement in the abusive personality with whom you live.

Don Hennessey, relationship counselor and former director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency, refers to abusers as psychephiles and lumps them in the same category as pedophiles when it comes to recovery. Statistics agree that abusers stand little to no chance of recovery because they don’t believe they have a problem, and “I’m sorry” isn’t in their vocabulary.

We all know that pedophiles target children for sexualized abuse. Don Hennessy coined the word psychephile for the man who abuses his intimate female partner. A psychephile targets the psyche of the woman he has selected as his target for a long term intimate relationship.

 

Today I want to remind you not to lose hope. If you have lost reason to hope for a healed marriage then find another reason for hope. Hope for the future, for what God is working out that you can’t yet see, for the strength you are gaining, for the boundaries you are learning, for the wisdom you are gaining…hope for answers to your questions.

Abuse brings questions that cause wrestling through our faith. This can strengthen, weaken, or destroy our faith.

Ministering in the advocacy community has shown me countless survivors who have friend of a survivorturned from church and some from their faith. Please don’t let this be you. I pray you can be encouraged, strengthened, and validated through the wrestle. If your church family isn’t capable or willing to walk this road with you, look for a church that will welcome you.

 

If you are struggling and asking God questions, I want you to know He hears every one of your inquiries. Ask away! He is not angered, frustrated, or afraid of our questioning. He tells us to ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). Don’t feel guilty for asking Him. He knows, He sees, He counts every tear that falls from your precious face. Every tear is recorded by Him (Psalm 56:8). Allow your sincere questions to grow and strengthen your faith in God. The woman you are becoming will be amazingly strong and different in the years to come.

“No one toxic will offer you apologies, explanations or closure. The toxic person does not recognize their own issues. In any case, you have the power to heal without their participation.” Peter Shepherd

I know there have been people who haven’t given you grace on this journey. They are human; Jesus isn’t. Jesus allows weakness, He allows questions, and He gives grace. Jesus says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He’s the only perfect one; the only one who has the right to cast the first stone, but He chooses not to do it. Instead He offers mercy and grace (John 8:1-11).

When you re-engage with your difficult spouse you need to know what is true; not what he says about you, and not what you feel. So…ask Jesus what is true.

I’ve been going through The Quest bible study by Beth Moore where she proposes “five recalibrating questions” God presents in scripture. Anytime we are wrestling or off track these questions will help us find our footing.

I’ve memorized these questions so I can ask them of myself when I’m wrestling.

  1. WHERE are you? (Genesis 3:9) But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
  2. WHO told you that? (Genesis 3:11) “Who told you that you were naked? 
  3. WHAT are you seeking? (John 1:38) Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
  4. WHY are you afraid? (Matthew 8:26) 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
  5. HOW much more? (Luke 11:13) If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

To find joy and hope in an unhappy or difficult marriage you must guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

Remember that you don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, although it feels like it when you are living in the battle day after day. Your fight is against your enemy, the devil (Ephesians 6:11-13). Your difficult spouse may feel like the enemy in the heat of the moment, or when remembering previous difficult memories but the enemy is Satan. Jesus warns us that Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus has come that we may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10).

Have you been busy surviving and lost track of your hope? Open your hope to God. Search out your questions!

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Emotional Roller Coaster

 

DMV awareness month

 

Today we will look at the duplicitous personality; the nice version and the destructive version of the angry and controlling partner. I refer to living in this type of relationship as a roller coaster ride because it starts out smooth and gradual, but once we arrive at the top and see the drop we know it’s going to take away our breath; in a bad way. For those of us who thrill over a fun amusement park roller coaster; we know the emotional roller coaster is not a ride of choice or enjoyment. Just when we think the ride is calm Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smalland safe, and we are enjoying the cool breeze blowing through our hair; it goes through a dark cave, down a steep drop, rotates us upside down, or takes us for a cork-screw dive.

This is life when living with an abusive personality. They are nice one moment; argumentative, angry, controlling, withholding, or some toxic quality the next moment, hour, or day.

Please hear me, you are not crazy. You are not confused. You are however most likely exhausted and in need of validation, encouragement, and truth. 

It can take months or years of living with an abuser for a victim to realize that the nice, charming, or caring version of the abuser is in fact an act; a show, and is a phase of the abuse.

If we pay close attention we will come to find cycles in the abuse. It might go something like this:

Phase 1. Nice and engages in conversation or activities. (The ‘Honeymoon’ phase).

Phase 2. Discontent if they can’t control an aspect of the relationship with us. (Experts call this the tension building phase).

Phase 3. Turns to rage when they have no tolerance for our ability to make our own decisions, have an opinion, or perform a task differently than how they believe it should be done. They may withhold affection, attention, sex, or words of affirmation. They may verbally shred us, or become physically abusive. (Experts call this the incident or acute explosion phase).

Phase 4. They may give us the silent treatment for days, weeks, or months. They are in denial of their attitude/personality problems and place all blame on us.

These phases are not representative of a onetime relationship cycle, but of a continual cycling, phases 1 through 4…over and over.

Cycle of abuse (tension, incident, reconciliation, calm) was a term coined by Lenore E. Walker.

When we apologize or attempt to appease an abuser they will often interact more peacefully with us, but it isn’t real. The reason they show kindness is because they believe our apology or appeasement is an acknowledgment that they are right, we are wrong, and we deserved their abusive treatment.

They want us to believe:

  1. The kind version is the real them.
  2. When tensions rise and abuse takes place; it’s the victim’s fault.

They want to trick us and tangle us in their web of deception. They desperately want us to believe these lies; after all, it’s their unhealthy truth; their toxic reality.

They will use their justifications and deceit to discredit the victim should she decide to disclose the abuse.

Remember: Abusers look like everyone else. You can’t pick them out of a crowd or spot them by looking in their eyes. They come from all walks of life. They can work in the secular world or minister in faith communities.

 

“Those who are labeled as brilliant/godly/successful are accorded power simply by virtue of their reputation. They can walk into a room and because of their reputation people give their words/actions a certain weight or power. We assume such powers indicate character. They do not!” ~Diane Langberg, PhD

 

Abusers do not care for others as a soul with worth; they care about their own power and control. Do not believe for one second that we have the ability to influence the abuser’s behavior, or that anything we do will change the way they treat us. This thought has landed many women in the depths of depression, and has led to the murderous death of others at the hands of their abusers.

Domestic violence rates are on the rise. If you are unsure of your safety, or lack thereof, please click on the “Mosaic” threat assessment in the margin of this website.

 “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9

 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Proverbs 26:11

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” Proverbs 27:22

 

 

“Fighting Words”

Fear is like a broken record, same old songs of accusation play
Like, “who are you to speak the truth, just look at all your failures and mistakes”
And “If they really knew you, there’s no way they could love you anyway”
Oh-oh-ohh, but I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

The enemy keeps talking, telling me to hide my face in shame
Whispering that everything I’ve done will drive the Father’s love away
Saying, “It’s too late for hoping, that something in your heart could ever change”
Oh-oh-ohh, so I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

My debt is paid up
I’ve been set free and
You gave Your life up to rescue me
You say that I am
Worth fighting for and
Grace is like waves that keep crashing on the shore!

Fight, the lies with the truth, oh-oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh…

I’m so tired of forgetting what I’m worth
So I will use, my fighting words

 

Toxic Tuesday: Traumatic bonding

tell your story

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

 

 

Abuse comes in many forms and knows no boundaries. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse during her lifetime and more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

*Men can also be the victim of abuse, but my ministry is mainly to women so I address my readers from this viewpoint.

 

Traumatic bonding

 

Yes, it can happen in Christian marriages.

You dated. He showed healthy amounts of charm, tenderness, attention, affection, gift-giving and/or selflessness; perhaps even through shared Bible study, prayer, and attending Christian events together.

After much prayer you decided to marry him only to find out after saying, “I do” that he was fraudulent on many levels during the dating phase.

The years have passed and his anger, control, rigidness, and lack of attention and affection have chipped away, piece by piece, at the love, trust, and respect you originally had for him.

His withholding and passive aggressive personality (or fill in the blank with his toxic behavior) consistently remind you that you aren’t enough for him, you don’t please him, and he is punishing you for not being the object of his desire.

I mean object as in a possession; a possession to sit on the shelf and take down to use when he has a need. A need for a companion at a social function, a listening ear to hear how his day at work went, a person to clean the house, do the laundry, run errands, prepare meals, keep up with the yard, and care for his kids (yes, I know they are your children too, but most angry and controlling men don’t like to share their property, and often view the kids as theirs). Women come face to face with this truth when they try to divorce an angry and controlling man. You likely aren’t viewed as a human with worth and value other than being viewed as a mom; the mom of his children. You are a thing, a mom; not a person with dignity, wants, and needs.

I hear comments and questions such as:

·         “I know what he’s done to me, but I still have feelings for him.”

·         “Why do I still love him?”

·         “Why do I still long to be intimate with him?”

·         “Why do I cave-in to him every time he flashes a smile my way? I know he doesn’t mean it.”

·         “I find myself wondering if he was really that bad or if I made it up or over reacted.”

·         “My heart and mind can’t reconcile how normal he looks with his anger and abuse. I think I must be crazy…then I read my journal and remember I’m not crazy and I’m not making it up.”

·         After they have left: “I don’t know why I feel this way, but I want him back.”

·         “I must be crazy because I miss him.”

·         After he’s cheated: “I don’t make sense even to myself. He cheated and is likely abusing her…but I’m jealous and heartbroken that he left me.”

 

I’ve had women ask me why they still have feelings for the man they live with when he isn’t capable of unconditionally loving them.

The answer might be traumatic bonding.

Traumatic bonding, also known as Stockholm syndrome because it contains many of the same elements as Stockholm syndrome, “occurs in abusive relationships which are characterized by an imbalance of power, high intensity, and an unpredictable atmosphere, rapidly shifting between periods of cruelty and tenderness. Traumatic bonds can form very quickly and last long past when the relationship is severed.” –Bree Bonchay, LCSW, http://www.freefromtoxic.com

Add to this that abusers aren’t angry and controlling 100% of the time. Sometimes they are loving, gentle, and humorous; perhaps even capable of compassion and empathy.

Traumatic bonding/Stockholm syndrome does not occur in every abusive situation.

Abused women testify to a common fact surrounding emotional abuse, also known as psychological or narcissistic abuse.  Emotional abuse and the health crisis they experience from the abuse remains longer than the physical abuse they suffered.

When we are physically abused we know at the moment it is wrong and hurtful. Not so with emotional abuse. By the time we figure out we aren’t the problem and there isn’t anything we can do to appease the abuser; damage has already been done.  

Emotional abuse involves patterns of anger, control, dominance, manipulation, coercion, mind games, gas lighting, criticism, threats, and withholding. Over time it erodes our self-esteem, identity, and judgment. It can leave us feeling dead inside.

You are not alone.

 

In the margin of this website you will find help on safety issues, solid Bible teaching and free counseling videos on the subject of abuse and toxic relationships by Christ-centered counselors.  There are also links so church staff/leadership can receive training to combat domestic abuse taking place in their church body.

Shanann Watts case: 20 reasons abuse stays hidden and can lead to death

The last time I wrote I gave you my observations on the Shanann Watts case; specifically my thoughts on the husband’s behavior in interviews. 

*Disclaimer: Abuse crosses all genders, socioeconomic statuses, nationalities, tones of skin, and religions. I minister to women and therefore I use the term woman in most of my writings.

Allow me to explain what it could have been like in Shanann Watt’s home based on my experience of domestic abuse.

Here are lessons I’ve learned from my own background as a survivor of domestic abuse, and from ministering to other survivors of domestic violence:

1.      You NEVER know what goes on in someone else’s home. Sometimes a spouse doesn’t know what goes on in their home, or during the other person’s time away from home. Don’t assume you know better than them.

2.      You can live with a person and not know if they suffer from mental illness or a personality disorder.  

3.      Many women don’t understand that the difficult marriage is actually a destructive marriage by an angry and controlling man. When a woman tries to talk through a problem the tables are turned on her and he insists the only problems are the ones she creates. He often shames, talks down, belittles, withholds, and throws temper tantrums while telling her, “It’s all you.” Or, “I never did or said that.” Lots of crazy making/gas lighting goes on in this type of relationship.

4.  Constant denial or justification of the hurt and wrong they’ve committed against you is the number one clue that you’re living with an abuser.

5.      It can be nearly impossible to know if your loved one could kill you. (If you question your safety, please take the free MOSAIC threat assessment to determine if you are a candidate for violence or death).

6.      Angry and controlling men rarely change; in fact, the abuse usually escalates…not improves.

7.      Often times the system fails abuse survivors. Victims are statistically not believed in a court of law when they bring up domestic abuse.

8.      Promoting an ideal marriage in social media posts may be an attempt to throw the abuser off the trail of an upcoming separation or divorce; especially if the victim fears for their life. It could also be an attempt to appease the abuser and ‘respect’ his orders to make him look good.

9.      Talking well of the spouse is expected in most social circles. Truth telling about marital problems has caused many abused women to lose friends, or their children’s playmates.

10.  Positive media posts can be a coping mechanism for surviving a traumatic marriage. Maybe it’s a snapshot of a good moment in the midst of many difficult circumstances. It encourages outsiders to believe they have a wonderful life. What person wants to admit to domestic abuse?

11.  Sometimes the abuser controls the victim’s social media and electronics by posting for them; as them, going as far as to place spyware on the devices and GPS tracking on the vehicle. (The women I minister to all report having spyware placed on their electronics right before or during the separation or divorce).

12.  Domestic violence doesn’t always equate to physical abuse. It can manifest as sexual, reproductive, verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, and one I had not included in my list before today; digital abuse which would be secondary emotional abuse.

13.  Domestic violence causes health care problems.  The  trauma caused by domestic abuse can cause immediate injuries, and contributes to a number of chronic health problems, including depression, alcohol and substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, heart problems, cancer, and auto-immune diseases.

14.  Domestic violence is about control and power. It’s not about anything the wife or children are doing wrong.

15.  Women are objectified and viewed as property. Property is disposable. (I haven’t seen a case yet that didn’t involve the use of pornography). 

Shanann and Nickole Utoft
Shanann with friend Nickole Utoft. Photo credit: Shanann Watts’ Facebook page.

16.  Victims need support from family, the church, and friends; friends like Nickole Utoft who knew enough to know Shanann and her children were missing and in danger. Be the friend a woman can safely confide in without passing judgement on her. 

17.  Most of the women I minister to report that friends, neighbors, and church family always looked at their family as normal, happy, and healthy. Very few outsiders would have guessed there was a toxic personality in their home.  

18. Instances of domestic abuse are not limited to isolated cases and there isn’t just one type of person who feels entitled to abuse and/or kill their family. It’s becoming more rampant for men to abuse women. I have my opinion on why abuse is escalating, (Pornography mixed with hand-held electronics. Any woman at any time; instantly. The devaluing of life.), but that is an article for another time.

19. Family, friends, neighbors, and church family have a difficult time believing these men exist and are as bad as the wife knows he is. They aren’t the only people in doubt. Law enforcement and those who work in the court system also don’t believe the depth of the problem; leaving the victims unprotected.

20.  Court cases requiring legal intervention are overwhelmingly domestic abuse cases, but the courts fail to recognize and act on this fact. This leads to retraumatizing the victims, continued abuse…and sometimes…death.

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Here are some possibilities of why Chris Watts may have finally went through with disposing of his family based on other domestic abuse cases.

·         He could have suffered from severe, untreated mental illness or a personality disorder.

·         He could have been having an affair.

·         He could have taken out life insurance policies on his family members.

·         He may have known she was leaving, and since angry and controlling abusers must maintain power and control; he may have decided to kill them rather than allow her to leave.

·         Financial reasons: There is a legal obligation the court would have enacted on him for child support. If he wanted relational freedom to wine and dine a new romantic interest, paying money to an ex-wife and three children would greatly hinder his fun.

I don’t believe one thing could have caused Chris Watts (or any other abuser) to snap, but rather numerous issues building up over time led to it. This is why the MOSAIC threat assessment is important. MOSAIC takes all these issues in to account and determines if you are at risk.

There is NOTHING; not a thing…zero, zilch, zip that this momma or her daughters did that could have caused Chris Watts to murder them. Abusers and murderers do what they do because of evil in their hearts. In many cases, the abuser’s brain is wired wrong and there is no making sense of it. 

If you believe you, or someone dear to you, may be in danger please check out the links in the margin for safety concerns and other help. If you wonder if you are in an emotionally destructive marriage there is a free relationship test for you to take.

 

Read: The Shanann Watts case: My observations

8/21/18 5:20 PM update: COLORADO MAN CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE COUNTS OF MURDER IN KILLINGS OF PREGNANT WIFE, DAUGHTERS

8/21/18  6:20 PM update: Chris Watts claims wife strangled kids

His account of what happened doesn’t make sense to me. I would think if you saw one daughter blue from death, and the other being strangled by your wife, you would call 911 for immediate help; not go kill your wife and then hide the bodies. I don’t own a newer baby monitor, but would you be able to clearly see on a baby monitor if a child was blue? And who on earth could have a conversation, kill a person, decide how and where to dispose of the bodies, clean-up the crime scene, and load a truck with three deceased bodies & evidence in under 3 hours?

 

 

The Shanann Watts case: My observations.

 

I think these were likely heinous, violent, selfish, dark acts of murder from a cold, calculating, evil, angry, and controlling man who looked normal, nice, caring, and nurturing to those watching on the outside.

 

Shanaan Watts family - Copy
Chris Watts with wife Shanann with daughters Bella, four, Celeste, three, pre-born son, Niko. Picture: Instagram public picture

 

I’m sure you’ve seen it all over the headlines: Husband kills pregnant wife and their two little girls.

I’m involved in an online community of domestic abuse advocates so when this story broke I immediately took interest. You know me…my first thought was that the husband is statistically most likely involved. I immediately watched the interview done by a local Denver, CO news station.

Here were some of the red flags about Chris Watts that caught my attention:

The detachment in one of his statements when he referred to his family as: “everybody”, “anybody”…it was off. His demeanor during his interview was non-emotional about his family and detached from the gravity of them being gone…just words; which seemed empty to me. He appeared to be smiling during some of it; almost giddy with underlying excitement…which to me speaks the age-old adage that he possibly believed he’s so special and smart that no one would ever catch him at what he did. His grin told the story of how proud he was of his deception. He exuded arrogance and assumed people would believe him.

With word spinners you have to pay attention to the grains of truth woven throughout the lies… “It was like I walked into a ghost house.” Hmm, could this be because he killed them and was haunted by what he did?

He talks about himself…his feelings, his needs, and his thoughts. He lacked the emotions that go with trauma and fear, and instead smiled through most of the multiple interviews.

He mentioned the empty house but showed no emotion about the loneliness or fear of why the house was empty.

“When I got home yesterday it was like a ghost town…it’s like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from.”  Why is he speaking of a nightmare so early in the investigation of which he says he knows nothing and has no inclination of what happened or where they are? After all, the possibility exists that they are with a friend or family member? What’s so nightmarish about that?

“I had every light in the house on.” Perhaps because he couldn’t live with what had taken place during the night?

I noticed how tightly he had his arms crossed in front of him as if to say I am bottled up, I’m lying, and I am not telling what I know.

He was shaking his head no, while stating he wanted his family to return.

When Chris Watts stayed with friends Monday night he referred to his wife in the past tense. They notified police that they didn’t think Chris was doing enough to actively look for his family.

His body language, words, emotions and actions didn’t add up to innocent.

 

Chris Watts arrested for the murder of his wife and daughters

 

When news broke that Chris Watts had been arrested for the murder of his wife and children, people were asking, “what made him snap?” The public and the media seem shocked that this nice looking, well-spoken man could be responsible for murders while smiling at the camera and stating, “Shanann, Bella, Celeste, if you’re out there, just come back. If somebody has her, just bring her back. I need to see everybody; I need to see everybody again. This house is not complete without anybody here.”

I wonder how the police obtained a confession from him. Perhaps they had overwhelming evidence from the crime scenes.

A next door neighbor said Chris Watts was a normal helpful neighbor, “He would reach out and help anyone who needed help with anything.”

A reporter asked, “How a man who appeared to be such an adoring husband and father could do this?”

If you’ve read my blog for long you know this is a major issue I’ve tried to address. I also addressed it when I spoke in Dallas at the SBC: For Such a Time as This Rally.

These types of men “are grand actors and magnificent manipulators. They may be sitting next to us in worship, Sunday school, or small group. They can be pastors, Sunday school teachers, and our best friend, charming, smart, and biblically brilliant. They can be high functioning in their job, helpful in our time of need, and financially generous if hardship strikes us; all while destroying the wife and/or children at home.”

What’s worse is that often times the women don’t realize they are being abused. How can this happen? you may ask.

The victim may be confused about what is wrong, or who is in the wrong in the relationship. For me, and for other countless women, we believed our spouse’s lie that everything wrong in the relationship or home was our fault. Chris and Shanann hadn’t been married many years. It’s possible this may have been her experience…or maybe she was waking up to the idea that something was wrong in her marriage.

Here is an excerpt from a journal of an abused wife in the first years of marriage. She believed all the anger and control problems her husband had were going to get better as he became accustomed to being married.

“Thank you, Heavenly Father, for a godly husband who loves me. He’s a good daddy and an excellent provider. Please help him adjust to married life quickly, and help me to be the wife he needs and wants.”

In the above case; years would prove that she wasn’t the problem and that no matter how wonderful a wife and mother she was, it wouldn’t meet with his approval or kindness, or satisfy his need for power over her and control of her.

Other possibilities: 1) You can live with a person and not know if they suffer from mental illness or a personality disorder. 2) The wife is usually the last person to find out about an affair. 3) Maybe Shanann had decided to leave her husband.

Whatever the case; make no mistake, Shanann and her daughters did nothing wrong to provoke anyone to murder them. I don’t believe this was a snap decision, but likely numerous issues building up over time. This is why I recommend the free MOSAIC threat assessment.  What is MOSAIC? A combination of factors that are associated with escalated risk and danger requires that you know what questions to ask, and then know how to consider all your answers in a way that enhances insight. The MOSAIC method works by breaking a situation down to its elements, factor-by-factor, and then seeing what picture emerges when the pieces of the puzzle are put together.

As many women have learned; it’s difficult to leave an angry and controlling man…sometimes impossible.

I think it’s safe to assume that Shanann confided in a friend that something was deeply and fearfully wrong with her husband. Her friend Nickole Utoft, who dropped Shanann off at home around 2 AM after a business trip, tried making contact early that morning by text, phone, and going to the house. When Nickole couldn’t make contact with her friend she called the police and asked for a welfare check that afternoon. When Nicole discovered Shanann’s purse, phone, and keys in the house she filed missing person’s reports. Nickole knew something!

I’m grateful Chris Watts confessed early and disclosed where he placed the bodies. When a woman ‘disappears’ it’s usually at the hand of her significant other. When children are killed it’s usually at the hands of a parent or guardian.

Next time I will address lessons I learned about domestic abuse.

If you question the possibility of being in danger, please go to MOSAIC and take the free threat assessment test.

 

Sign petition to encourage abuse disclosure protocol, training & a database for the SBC

Mary DeMuth

Please sign this petition to encourage the SBC to take action against abuse now. The story of is one of too many.

Click here to sign: Establish SBC Abuse Database, Abuse Disclosure Protocol and Ministry Leader Training Now

Anne Marie Miller was sexually abused by a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) youth pastor when she 16-years old.

More than 11 years after this information was disclosed to officials within the SBC, her alleged abuser, Mark Aderholt, was arrested on July 3 charges of sexual assault against a child under 17 and two counts of indecency with a child — sexual contact. 

In 2007, upon identifying the reality of the abuse later as an adult, Anne courageously contacted the International Mission Board (IMB), the Southern Baptist missionary organization where Aderholt had worked for seven years as an overseas missionary. The IMB conducted an investigation into the abuse. They found that Aderholt not been truthful with IMB officials and had  “more likely than not” engaged in what the IMB termed an “inappropriate sexual relationship” or what the state and most people educated on abuse would term “sexual abuse.”  No one from the IMB reported the sexual assault to the authorities.

The IMB knew of Anne Marie Miller’s abuse for 11 years before Mark Aderholt’s arrest. Her abuser was able to continue working as a missionary, pastor and convention leader in the SBC with access to other children and vulnerable populations in his ministry roles.  They never investigated his overseas ministry to see if there were further victims. They still will not take responsibility. 

SIGN NOW to tell the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the International Mission Board (IMB) and SBC President J.D. Greear that the SBC must:

  • Establish a clergy abuse database
  • Establish abuse disclosure protocol
  • Establish new and improved training procedures for pastors, seminary students and all SBC ministry leaders. 

Despite the apparent confirmation of Anne’s abuse via the 2007 investigation,  the IMB allowed Aderholt to quietly resign. Within two months, he was again employed by a church in the SBC before enjoying a successful ministry career culminating in his position as Chief Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Having been led to believe that Aderholt was terminated by the IMB for her abuse, Anne was perplexed by his continued, successful career.

Sarah Smith at the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX reported on the follow-up action Anne took :

“On Feb. 13, 2011, she sent another email to Gaubatz [IMB attorney who participated in the investigation].

How can Mark still pastor inside SBC churches like he is?” she wrote. “Isn’t there some checks and balances with something as serious as what he was terminated for?”

The For Such A Time As This Rally met on July 11 with the office of J.D. Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rally spokesperson, Ashley Easter shared the need for action  with Todd Unzicker, Associate Pastor at The Summit who was representing J.D. Greear, SBC President. She asked that the SBC take steps to protect others from abuse like what Anne Marie Miller experienced and offered a partnership with the president’s office. 

The For Such A Time As This Rally initially had held an event outside the June 2018 Southern  Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas, and is continuing to work to meet its three goals:

  • Goal #1 – Women to be respected and honored within the churches of the SBC. 
  • Goal #2 – Establishment of a clergy abuse offender database for the SBC. 
  • Goal #3 – Best practices training of all pastors, ministry leaders and seminary students on the issues of handling domestic abuse or sexual assault disclosure or incidents.

Even in the last few weeks following Mark Aderholt’s arrest, the IMB has not reached out to Anne to apologize for their mishandling of the investigation.  Anne has asked the IMB to answer questions about how Aderholt was allowed to continue a meteoric career rise within the SBC after the IMB’s investigation.

One of the most significant questions is how the IMB could still have been referring to criminal sexual ABUSE as merely an “inappropriate sexual relationship.” Education is imperative, as is the establishment of human resources protocol for addressing employees involved in abuse.

A secondary but equally significant question is why the IMB did not further investigate Mark Aderholt’s ministry overseas while he was employed by them. There is no way of knowing if he engaged in any other sexual misconduct or abuse while being supported by SBC funds. We need to know if there are more victims.

SIGN NOW to tell the SBC, J.D. Greear and the International Mission Board to:

  • Let them know that you stand with Anne Marie Miller and want to see the SBC take action NOW.
  • Let them know that you want an SBC that will not tolerate the abuse of our children.
  • Let them know that  it is not acceptable for the SBC to move abusers along to the next church and allow an abuser’s career to be uninterrupted while the abused suffers lifelong consequences.
  • Let them know that you stand with the For Such A Time As This Rally and its three goals.
  • Let them know that you need to see the SBC establish a clergy abuse database, abuse disclosure protocols, and new training and education protocols for all ministry leaders.

Anne’s abuse is not an isolated incident, but it is a recent example of what is so broken within the SBC.

Abuse survivor, Christa Brown has established a website, Stop Baptist Predators to document other abuse incidents.

SNAP (the interdenominational Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and the Associated Baptist Press reported on the sad case of convicted sex abuser Shawn Davies who was allowed to abuse boys at four different SBC churches before being arrested while employed by First Baptist Church, Greenwood, Missouri.

The For Such A Time As This Rally has suggested to the SBC that they reach out to Boz Tchivijdian and Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.). It could assist with an independent investigation and review into the deeply flawed 2007 IMB investigation of Anne Marie Miller’s abuse, and provide assistance in establishing a much-needed new training protocol for all SBC ministry leaders.

Many states have passed laws in the last decade that require schools to disclose credible child abuse from teachers or other employees so that they cannot continue to move around school districts.

As representatives of the Gospel, churches should be leading the way in creating and passing legislation that protects the most vulnerable among us.

Sign Now to stand with Anne Marie Miller, the For Such A Time As This Rally, and all those who have experienced abuse to call for immediate action by the Southern Baptist Convention!

Lynn Messer 4 years later: What her death certificate says; Kerry and Spring’s wedding invite


Lynn 1

Tomorrow, July 8, marks the 4 year anniversary of the reporting of Lynn Messer as a missing person.

Upon her disappearance, the family farm where Lynn lived with her husband was mapped with grids and searched by rescue and recovery teams, along with trained search and rescue dogs. Searching was done by air, foot, and all-terrain vehicles; by day and by night. 

Rescue dogs are trained in locating human remains by tracking, trailing, and air scenting. This should have been an easy job in the outdoor air of the extreme summer heat during July and August.

2 1/2 years ago, November 1, 2016, Lynn’s remains were found on the farm; recovered from the direction of the scent found that first morning in 2014. The problem was that Kerry, Lynn’s husband, had the cows moved from one pasture to another that first morning, July 8, 2014, possibly contaminating evidence of her scent.  The pasture where he had the cows moved was located between the house and the field where Lynn’s remains were discovered.  Rotating cows from pasture to pasture, according to Lynn’s sons, was always Lynn’s responsibility. Lynn’s son Abram told law enforcement that his father was adamant the cows had to be moved that morning; the morning Lynn had been missing since the middle of the night, and her husband said he had been out looking for her. In my first interview with Abram he admitted that in hind sight, moving the cows for his dad is the one thing he wishes he had not done.

Lynn was considered missing until November 1, 2016. We’ve been told by law enforcement, after a coroner’s autopsy, that Lynn had been deceased the entire time, since July 8, 2014.

 

I am a survivor of domestic abuse and I minister to and advocate for women in, or leaving, destructive marriages.  When I heard Lynn’s story I thought I recognized similarities to life experiences I’ve lived. I think, after talking to Lynn’s family and friends, that she possibly lived in a destructive marriage, and didn’t survive to tell her story. This is why I advocate for her…waiting for answers, keeping her story alive, and hoping for justice for Lynn. 

 

Lynn 2Lynn’s husband, Kerry Messer, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.  Kerry is a Missouri state lobbyist who represents family, homeschooling, right-to-life, gun rights/safety, and Christian/Biblical values. 

Weeks after Lynn was reported missing law enforcement found out that Lynn’s husband Kerry was involved with another woman. Spring Thomas, according to law enforcement, admitted to being in a relationship with Kerry at least 8 weeks after Lynn went missing. Abram, one of Lynn’s sons has messages from Spring that dates the time to at least 6 weeks after Lynn went missing, but he thinks the romantic relationship predated his mom’s death.  He has based this upon the previous years of watching his father interact with Spring. In fact, before Abram knew anything about Kerry’s relationship with Spring, Abram says he expressed concern to his father about his  inappropriate behavior around Spring in the past as well as their behavior around each other when Spring showed up for organized searches to help look for Lynn, after Lynn’s disappearance, on the family farm.

 

Below is a copy of Lynn’s Messer’s death certificate which was issued June 20, 2018. In other words; recently. I want people to understand and believe that this case is not over.

 

death certificate internet

I find this hopeful. The state could have listed the cause of death as ‘unknown’. They didn’t.

Instead it says, ‘MANNER: PENDING INVESTIGATION’ 

‘UNDETERMINED AT THIS TIME’

 

The death certificate does not say ‘Could Not Be Determined’.

This case is not closed.

I think answers are out there.

I continue to pray for #JusticeForLynn.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

7/22/2018 UPDATE:  So…this is happening, a wedding, August 4, 2018.

The question remains: Did the church allowing this ceremony talk to Lynn’s sons, Lynn’s friends, or to the police? I know they didn’t talk to Abram.

*I found out today that the testimony against your spouse provision in the law doesn’t apply to knowledge you had before the wedding. So for those of us who wondered if marriage would keep them from testifying about each other, should an arrest happen; it doesn’t apply.

Abram Messer received a voicemail message from his dad on Wednesday. Kerry told Abram he was praying about when the Lord would allow him and Spring to get married, that they were planning a wedding, he would like his sons and their families to attend, and that he would wait for a reply from Abram.

Thursday, people (not Lynn’s sons) began receiving wedding invitations by mail. Friends and family were concerned and rightfully began contacting each other. I’ve received 2 copies from concerned readers.

The reason I’m posting this invitation is to validate Abram and Elizabeth. Church family, friends, some in the homeschooling community, and a few relatives have believed Kerry when he told them that he and Spring were nothing more than friends. I personally had people tell me law enforcement, Abram, and Elizabeth were all lying to me about this so-called relationship and that it was immensely hurtful to Kerry and Spring to have people believing such nonsense. I was also told newspapers lied about the relationship.

I long for the day when churches listen, believe, and act upon the woman’s story and not the husband’s denial. I’m saddened and frustrated that a church is celebrating and performing this wedding before Lynn’s cause of death is released.

 

Kerry Messer wedding invite

After the television airing of American Gothic: Finding Lynn Messer on Investigation Discovery, Lynn’s story became an international public interest. I believe it has aired at least 6-8 times, and in different countries around the globe. I can tell because every time it airs my blog stats shoot higher than usual for my articles about Lynn.

Thank you for your continued and interest and prayers.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The format of this site has changed. You’ll find many of the past articles I’ve written about Lynn Messer under the link: Lynn Messer case history. Articles are listed by title and dated from recent to earliest. Comments are now easier to find and post at the end of each article.

You may read more about inconsistencies in the case here. 

Spring Thomas here… 

The Note here… and here…

 

Kerry Messer is a public figure/state lobbyist who fund raises from private citizens in the state of Missouri; making this a public interest case. *See disclaimer in margin.

Lysa TerKeurst: This is how it’s supposed to happen…reconciliation

This is great news! 

We all enjoy good stories that begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after” in the same way as Disney movies and children’s fairy tale books. Even the Bible begins and ends in such a way, but what about everything that happens in between the beginning and the end? The hard stuff; impossible circumstances, heart-breaking realities, tear-stained pillows, regretted decisions, accidents, a devastating health diagnosis, death, broken relationships, words we wish we could take back, decisions that haunt us…mistakes, over reactions, sin. None of us are exempt.

For background into Lysa’s in-between here is a video clip of her announcing that she had breast cancer…“Art and I are both praying for a miracle and walking the road to healing. We are clinging to the promises of God on this journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs. There is often a process God will take people through to prepare us for the Promise. We are a work in process. And this process is often messy and unpredictable. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will look like but I do know who I’ll be looking to … The Lord … whose love is unfailing and whose hand is the safest place to entrust my hope.” Video: Click here.

She was declared, post surgery, cancer free here…

We applaud for the underdog, and hope and pray for those we know who are suffering. We don’t live in their skin and experience the fight they endured to get to where they are.

We don’t know the in-between for Lysa TerKeurst and her husband Art, but we cheer them on as they seek healing for their family.

I reached out to Lysa for an interview but due to scheduling limitations she has put a hold on media and publication commitments.  I totally understand! I was told by her staff, “We’re so grateful for your heart to share about and support Lysa and Art’s reconciliation. I know they will be so thankful for your prayers and encouragement.”

A year ago I wrote about Lysa TerKeurst’s open letter explaining the reasons she filed for divorce. We mourned with her.

Today we can rejoice with her!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

She has the best news for her family; they are doing the hard but rewarding work of reconciliation.

This is the outcome I hoped for after serving my first husband with therapeutic separation and later divorce papers, and I know it’s the outcome most of my readers hope for when they finally make the decision to serve their husband with the same legal paperwork.

It’s rarely about wanting a divorce. No! It’s about forcing our spouse to see the gravity of what has happened and hoping, praying, and waiting for the gift of repentance to gloriously show forth its fruit.

God does not use repentance as a form of punishment or shame. Quite the contrary; it is our invitation to healing, power, wisdom, blessing and restoration. Repentance is a gift; it is our right! There is joy to be found in it. Oh, that we would all understand and welcome this process when we need it…and we all need it!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Acts 3:19-20 (NIV)

I’m not sure how I missed this terrific, God-glorifying, joyful news for the last 3-4 weeks. Maybe because I’ve had the worst three months of health problems due to auto-immune disease flare-ups and it has stolen my summer from me. Whatever the reasons, I saw Lysa’s good news on the internet for the first time last week. I’m genuinely ecstatic for her and her family, and I know you will be too.

Lysa T family pic together again
Lysa T together announcement
*Above photo and text from the official Lysa TerKeurst Facebook page.

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Continue to pray for Lysa and her family on this road to restoration. Although I can’t speak for Lysa, I imagine healing will be an ocean of waves like it is for most women. Doing alright one moment, overcome with emotion the next; thinking you’re going to make it, wondering if you can hold on for complete healing, forgiving…remembering…smiles, tears. It can be a roller coaster, but prayer to our faithful God and a daily relationship with Him makes ALL the difference.

God takes our broken and makes it more beautiful and valuable than our earlier state; much like Kintsugi, also known as Kintsukuroi. Most people would like damages to their broken items to be concealed and hidden by repair making the object look like new. But the Japanese art of Kintsugi follows a different philosophy. Rather than disguising the breakage, kintsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item, making it part of the object’s history. Kintsugi uses lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, resulting into something more beautiful than the original.

Kintsugi
Lysa new book

What do you do when God’s timing seems questionable, his lack of intervention hurtful, and his promises doubtful? Preorder Lysa’s newest book here…   It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way

If you have suffered betrayal this new blog might be a place of encouragement and validation as you walk the long and difficult road of restoration. Afflicted Hope

Are you in need of your soul being ministered to, or need music to help you praise God for what He has brought you through? I highly recommend Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road CD. It’s beautiful and healing.

The Abuse Survivor’s 23rd Psalm

The Abuse Survivor’s 23rd Psalm…fitting, accurate, healing…

Flourishing Faith

Nicole Reed

The Lord is my Light, setting right my confusion.

He makes me understand what is right and what is wrong.

He leads me to uncover the gas-lighting of my abuser.

He restores my dignity.

He leads me in an understanding of holiness for the sake of His glory.

Yes, though I walk through the dangers of laying aside my walls, coping mechanisms, and survival skills that brought me comfort and aided my survival, I will not fear trusting the Lord; for God is trustworthy and perfect in all His ways.

Your Spirit and your Book, they reassure me.

You have prepared the way of healing before me in the presence of my abuser; You anoint my mind with truth, my healing overflows!

Surely truth and dignity shall fill me all the days of my life and I shall sit at the feet of my Redeemer forever!

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17 Warning signs of spiritual abuse

The overarching reason for speaking at the For Such A Time As This Rally was to address the often secondary abuse of spiritual abuse that survivors endure from untrained and under prepared church staff and friends when an allegation of victimization is shared; be it racial, physical, sexual, verbal, financial, spiritual, withholding, or emotional abuse

Spiritual abuse is also often the secondary abuse a survivor receives from an angry and controlling spouse in an attempt to keep power over them in the relationship.

Allow me to be clear; secondary does not mean lesser trauma. Often the secondary is more maddening than the original.

Somehow we neglected to address this on our resource sheet we handed out at the rally, and I too left it out of my talk.

I appreciate a reader who brought this to my attention. All eight of us involved with the rally were passionate about this topic because of the spiritual abuse involved in headline news and in the lives of people we minister to. Spiritual abuse can be part of domestic abuse and church abuse.

17 WARNING SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL ABUSESpiritual Abuse

1)      Manipulation and control are always at the root for achieving power over an individual.

2)      Scriptures on forgiveness are used to distort and to keep someone from setting healthy boundaries with a toxic person.

3)      The use of religious guilt to keep a person in a toxic relationship when the offending person shows no true attempt in changing their behavior.

4)      Wives are religiously shamed for not praying enough for their toxic husbands, but the men are held to a lower standard.

5)      Innocent people are held to an unreasonable religious standard of personal responsibility for being in and fixing a toxic relationship.

6)      Church leaders refuse to recognize relational abuse in all its forms and further the abuse by falsely blaming and shaming the victim.

7)      A toxic person refuses to apologize and instead of understanding your distress, wants to say a prayer over you so you’ll find healing.

8)      A toxic person uses specific scriptures out of context to keep power and control over you. Angry and controlling people who read the Bible are very articulate at doing this. It does not make them more spiritual than you; it usually means there is faulty reasoning/wiring in their inner being.

9)      A person may invoke divine authority in order to manipulate people into desired behaviors which meet the needs of the abuser.

10)     A person insists you have to perform, do certain works, in your relationship with them so you can stay in God’s grace. This is anti-biblical.

11)      Sexual affairs or sexual abuse by a priest, pastor or trusted leaders, is a form of spiritual abuse in addition to sexual abuse.

12)      A parent who picks fights and unnecessarily frustrates their children while quoting scripture or praying for the children. This can damage a child’s emerging spirituality. This adds spiritual abuse to emotional abuse.

13)      A parent who sexually abuses their child while telling the child how it ties into scripture, or writes letters with scriptures, or conveys that the other parent is aware and scripturally in agreement with the abuse. This adds spiritual abuse to sexual abuse.

14)      A leader or group who depicts their unique dynamics and explains why others can’t appreciate or understand them. This eliminates internal or external accountability or help.

15)      Abusive groups foster a rigid belief system; one way – their way is the only correct way in behavior and in beliefs.

16)     Can take on acts of discipline; emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for going against, or disagreeing with the leader or group.

17)     There is often underlying deception for self-preservation or protection of an establishment.

*Added 7/10/2018 – I don’t know how I forgot this one. Financial abuse: guilting your family into giving/tithing money you don’t have to a church, mission, or organization; while making them go without. You should be able to live as people in your socio-economic class live. Or, not allowing you to be a co-decision maker in ‘faith/church’ financial decisions. This adds spiritual abuse to emotional abuse.

 

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NET)
  • “So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” Acts 15:10 (NET)
  • “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NET)
  • Matthew 23 – The 7 woes
  • “They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23:4 (NET)
  • “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel! Matthew 23:23-24 (NET)
  • “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”  Ephesians 6:12 (NET)
  • “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”        2 Timothy 1:7 (NET)

spiritual-abuse-3

Abuse Resource List

Need resources for your church or organization regarding domestic abuse response? Are you aware there are many free resources on the internet?

  • Free Christ-centered counseling from two of the best counselors who understand domestic abuse, toxic relationships, and boundaries.
  • Free assessments to determine safety, and abuse.
  • Quick guide for reviewing types of abuse.
  • Websites and hotlines dedicated to these topics.
  • Recommended reading list for leaders, abuse survivors; and books to keep in your church library.
  • Support and training for pastors, leaders, and helpers.

 

 

is here to help. FREE PDF link provided for printing a resource list.

 

Resource1resource 2resource 5resource 7resource 3

resource 4

resource 6

resource 8

Kyle J HowardRacial trauma is a new field in which Kyle Howard is seeking to pioneer help, hope and healing from a biblical perspective. You may check out his website at: . He has a patreon that goes toward supporting his endeavor of creating said content. https://www.patreon.com/kylejhoward

 

 

Here is the link to the resource page which you can print off and hand out to pastors, staff, leaders, and people helpers. Abuse Resource-page