Video

Listen…to her weary heart

This is a series of writings from women living in difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriages…or leaving destructive marriages/relationships. When women are physically abused the harm is often visible, but what about verbal and emotional abuse? The injury is internal…on the heart, soul, mind and strength. You may never guess her husband rages in a different way but the family knows. Her body knows and it often manifests in depression, anxiety, and/or auto-immune diseases. Allow me to show you the inner cries of these women’s hearts.

These are all true accounts from women I personally know.

weary 4

This friend suffered the breakup of her marriage after finding out her husband had molested a child. Her disappointing and destructive marriage led to divorce. Fortunately her husband admitted to the behavior, a crime against a young adolescent, and now he sits in jail. I am thankful for her that she didn’t have to wait years or decades for justice to be served. 

Krissy had been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom since starting her family thirteen years earlier. She is living any woman’s worst nightmare while having the sole responsibility of meeting her children’s emotional, physical, financial and spiritual needs. Krissy and her children had to leave their home. The kids not only had their family dynamics change, they have also enrolled in public school so Krissy can go back to work full-time. You may be thinking, “Great, she was able to get a full-time job and take care of her kids.” If only it were that simple. Krissy didn’t have the necessary skills to find a job to cover the bare minimum of expenses. You may remember around two and a half years ago I published a GoFundMe account fundraiser for Krissy.  She had no money and needed financial help to get her family settled and on the road to recovery. She needed moving expenses, food, school supplies, clothes, Christian counseling, gas, utilities, insurance…

What you may not realize is that when the main financial provider goes to prison the spouse and children receive no alimony or child support payments. 

These have been Krissy’s toughest years and she has felt like she’s almost drowning in the difficulties and loneliness of single parenting and singleness. 

Here are her raw emotions she recently cried out to the Lord.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

 

I have come to the place where you last met me..

I have come hoping it is now holy ground…

I have come before you naked and weary…

I have come to see you face to face..

I have come to feel the light of your glory..

I have come to seek you in this place…

And I know… With all that I have in me…

That I am yours to treasure or dispose of…

I am yours to comfort or to tear down…

I am yours to lift up or lay lowly…

I am yours to do with as you want to…

But, Lord just please don’t leave me here…

Used with permission/2018

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Gallery

Listen…her heart is crying

This begins a series of writings from women living in difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriages…or leaving destructive marriages/relationships. When women are physically abused the harm is often visible, but what about verbal and emotional abuse? The injury is internal…on the heart, soul, mind and strength. You may never guess her husband rages in a different way but the family knows. Her body knows and it often manifests in depression, anxiety, and/or auto-immune diseases. Allow me to show you the inner cries of this woman’s heart.

These are all true accounts from women I personally know.

First up is from a friend who struggled through difficulty and disappointment in her home life,  and from destructive relationships in other areas of life. She now finds time to process her history through poetry.

 

Some Things I did not choose…

I never asked to live in Oklahoma.

I never asked to stay put, either.

I never asked for two complicated children.

I never asked for an exceptional marriage.

I never asked for PTSD.

I never chose to join a cult.

I never chose life on a battlefield.

I never chose the power to hurt others.

I never chose a trashed reputation

I never chose avoidance and insults.

I never chose severe isolation

I miss our partnership.

I miss my friends.

I miss my family.

I miss feeling safe.

I used to rest.

I used to laugh.

I used to sing.

I used to please people.

I used to feel valued.

I used to warrant respect.

I used to speak freely

I used to love openly, honestly.

I used to live surrounded by forgiveness.

I used to count on friends.

I used to hold a purpose.

I used to know where I was headed.

I used to decide.

I used to enjoy life with kids.

I used to revel in marriage.

I used to host all kinds of people.

I used to feel satisfied I’d done some good now and then.

I did not choose to tangle with depression.

I did not choose neglect.

I gradually quit thinking.

I gradually quit growing.

I gradually quit loving life.

I hate living within a battlefield.

I hate parenting in loneliness.

I hate misogyny, and chauvinism.

I hate denying myself food.

I hate anonymity.

I buried my gifts.

I buried my reputation.

I buried a child.

HonorGuard

I buried myself.

 

(a post written earlier this year, and published on another blog of the author of maknsweetmusic.blog )

Used with permission/copyright/2018 by maknsweetmusic.blog

Video

14 points the church needs to hear in the wake of the Andy Savage sexual assault case

In case you haven’t seen the headline I’ll fill you in on yet another spiritual battle takingAnn Voskamp quote place in the church.

I‘m referring to the applause of a crowd that was unfortunately heard around the globe, and no one was listening more intently than abuse survivors and non-Christians.  It was sad, it was wrong, and as an abuse survivor I can tell you; in a way it revictimized many souls.

It involves Andy Savage, the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. According to the church website “Andy’s personal mission statement is, ‘Making God make sense, starting at home then everywhere else.’ Whether Andy is teaching, writing, or relationship coaching, Andy strives to live out his life’s passion of creatively communicating God’s truth in a way that connects with people where they are. Andy teaches every Sunday at one of three Highpoint campuses and is the lead visionary for marriage, parenting, and family life ministry. He is also a national speaker, the author of multiple books, and host of the Andy Savage Radio Show and podcast.”

I understand mistakes and the folly of youth. Seriously, I regretfully took many field trips dedicated to the foolishness of youth. This sexual assault case goes beyond a youthful mistake. Even if it were consensual, which it wasn’t according to the victim and the church in Texas, Texas law considered the age difference and the act a felony, and the Bible considers it sin.

What concerns me about the Andy Savage situation is that over the years he has so easily disassociated from his deception. These types of people are the ones who can be the most spiritually, physically, and sexually dangerous.

I can’t imagine how difficult this is for Mr. Savage’s wife. From past experience I can make an educated guess and deduct that if she had heard anything about it; it didn’t begin to resemble the truth.

Here are 14 points the church needs to understand:

 

1)       Most churches error on this: The church body tends to value the institution (church) above the safety and health of the one who is/was being abused. Most of all, the church is valuing the institution over Jesus.

2)       “She said that a pastor of the church, The Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, urged her to stay quiet when she told him what had happened. Instead of telling her to inform the authorities, he told her that the church would address the episode internally.”  This is typical. The church believes they need to protect the reputation of the church and of Jesus. They often use the scripture from 1 Corinthians 6 about not taking a believer to court. This amounts to incorrectly applying scripture. The church’s responsibility was to call law enforcement and allow them to investigate. It was also the church’s job to remove Andy Savage from ministry and follow-up on any new ministry Andy Savage attempted to gain.

3)       There is a huge difference between forgiveness and restoration of relationship; personally or professionally.

4)       Any church leader or staff, regardless of age, who sexually victimizes another person, should never again be in a position of leadership. (I Timothy 3 & Ephesians 5:3)

5)       If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is NOT appropriate to give the said church leader a standing ovation. For any reason…ever!

6)      If you are informed about a past sexual ‘incident’ or abuse by a church leader it is ALSO NOT appropriate to justify or make minimizing statements about the victim.

7)      Andy Savage went against scripture and went against church policy yet the church partially blamed her. No! He was her youth leader. He committed a crime.

8)       “When a person tells factually true things to cast an impression that they know to be false, they’re lying even though everything they’ve said is true. And they KNOW they are lying.” Dr. George Simon Jr., PhD. clinical psychologist with decades of experience working w/ abusers.

9)      After Andy finished addressing the congregation, church members stood and applauded him for about 20 seconds. The lead pastor at Highpoint, Chris Conlee, told the congregation that he supported Mr. Savage, who he said was one of the people “hurt by the ripple effect of the consequences of that sin.” I wonder if Pastor Conlee understands the depth of the problem? He should be supporting Andy Savage in resigning from the ministry and directing him and his wife to excellent counseling. For Mrs. Savage, I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who is accessible on the internet, and/or Patrick Doyle who can be found on YouTube.

10)   Church, I understand that you may have been replying, “We love you too” when you gave the standing ovation. Andy closed with, “I love you all very much,”  at which point, you, the congregation rose to applaud. I imagine you didn’t mean to applaud a sexual crime. But it still gave painful implications. When is the church going to stop with harsh judgments and quick grace at the wrong time and places? This deeply wounds victims of sexual abuse, marital unfaithfulness, and domestic violence.

11)   If Andy Savage were truly repentant he would stop defending himself. His goal would be to cause no further harm to the victim.

12)  I often see defendants in abuse cases use spiritual language as a powerful weapon of deception.

13)   After watching the church service and comparing it to his radio interview, I don’t think he fully acknowledges his actions, plus he admitted to lying. It sounds like he is grasping to hold on to his position at this mega church and the prestige that comes with the position.

14)   Church, we need to avoid cliché sayings like, ‘it was a long time ago.’ We need to support the victim and hold the defendant responsible. We must be better at handling abuse allegations and admissions.

 

The below video shows the conversation I’m referring to in minutes 12:00 – 22:45

 

12:00 – 22:45

The pastor tearfully informs his congregation that what they “witness today will give you incredible confidence in what love is all about. I pray that what you witness today will give you hope that healing is available for every single person.” The pastor then goes on to implore people to listen to everything before they evaluate what they hear because it will touch emotions, feelings, and the heart strongly.

I disagree.

This isn’t about processing emotions or working through phases of the issue. It was wrong. It was unlawful. Andy Savage should not be in the ministry. I highly question the leadership of anyone who handles sexual misconduct by saying we can find ways to agree and work this out. There is room to disagree? Why does anyone need to respect Andy Savage and welcome him on the church staff? I know I’ve walked this road longer than most people, but I’m exhausted from the church not recognizing the sin while making excuses for it. Church, we must do better! I don’t believe in a pastor using their power to encourage the congregation to ignore scripture and gloss over felony law breaking, sin, and abuse of leadership power. Yes, the church wants to facilitate the  healing of brokenness in people’s lives. But…healing and restoration do not equal restored relationship with a person or with their place of employment/ministry. Yes, Pastor Conlee, love does cover a multitude of sins but it is wrongly applied to illegal sexual conduct by church staff against a student. Love does not equal acceptance of the abuser in a continued ministry position, or the acceptance of the abuse!

I could go on for pages about the gross misapplication of scriptures in this case. I could commentate for hours on the discrepancies found by comparing the recorded church service to the interview of Andy Savage conducted by Ben Ferguson. Why? For starters Mr. Savage originally lied to his church staff and lied to the girl’s parents. His story changed as the progression of facts were revealed. His interviews from Sunday and The Ben Ferguson Radio Show don’t add up to truth. We go back to a foundational fact: When we tell the truth we can remember what we said. When we lie…well…we can’t remember what we said and therefore get caught up in deceit, explanations, word spinning, justifying, spiritualizing, and denial.

I love the church. God can truly use the church to encourage us, grow us, and shape us—but I hate it when God’s children are abused by church people. I will never defend a man who has abused his leadership position of power to harm a girl or woman’s heart, soul, mind, or strength.

Our loyalty to church leadership is good and noble and true. But when loyalty to an institution’s structure allows evil to continue, or hide, it is loyalty wrongly placed—a false loyalty.  netgrace

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”

Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman Photo credit to Sarah Faith Hodges

 

Skin is the outer layer of the soul — and touching someone’s skin is touching someone’s soul.”

  “When someone gropes your body, they grab a bit of your soul, the part of you that speaks, and it can take years, decades, for you to gather up the pieces of your voice and slice the silence with truth.”

From: Dear Predators Who Don’t Know (Or Maybe Do) That They are Predators: (And How to Not Raise Another Generation of Predators), by Ann Voskamp

Lastly, if you want to be better trained in how to handle situations like these I highly recommend Christ centered counselor Leslie Vernick who trains church leaders and counselors to recognize and respond to abusive behaviors. She also helps you minister to those who have been traumatized by abusers. An organization that will come in to churches and train staff and lay leaders is G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

 

Click here for the full account as told by the victim: Jules Woodson

 

Click here: Leslie Vernick- Christ-Centered Counseling

Leslie Vernick: Facebook Enriching Relationships that Matter Most

 

Memphis Pastor Admits ‘Sexual Incident’ With High School Student 20 Years Ago 

Andy Savage Twitter public profile picture

Andy Savage Twitter public profile picture

Memphis pastor Andy Savage sees publisher cancel book, petition calling for resignation over sex assault 

Ravi Zacharias Responds

People have been asking about the credentials of Ravi Zacharias for several years resulting in little to no response. The recent allegations of sexting brought about a quick public response after emails and text messages between Mr. Zacharias and a woman were made public on The Spiritual Sounding Board.

I have on occasion listened to the daily radio/podcasts program Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias over several years. I’ve recently had my 8th and 9th grade sons listening to it too. Just Thinking reaches the “questioner” and the “thinker” through knowledgeable answers. Ravi Zacharias strives to remove cultural and intellectual obstacles in order to present an unobstructed view of Christ. I believe he has one of the most brilliant minds of our time. He has been known for years as a man of grace, wisdom, logic and boldness.

When I read the published email responses between Mr. Zacharias and the woman in question my heart sank. I do not want any impropriety to be true!

Is it possible? Yes, anything is possible…for any of us. We are all sinners—made from dust.

To my knowledge, Ravi Zacharias has not denied the emails were from him. He only denies the intent behind them. He insists the woman purposefully set out to extort money from him which  I believe is completely possible. There are people intent on destroying Christians and/or their ministries. There are also people pursuing financial gain.

On the other hand, it could be as the writer of The Spiritual Sounding Board questioned regarding the mode of operation when men go looking for their next sexual quest. Was this woman being groomed for someone else’s sexual gratification?

Here are my questions about the case if it was all one-sided: Why did Mr. Zacharias respond to her first correspondence? Why did he respond to other correspondence? Why did he ask her to refrain from telling her husband until he, Ravi, was able to discuss the matter with her? Why did Mr. Zacharias tell her? “If you betray me here, I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye, I promise.”

‘Betray’ implies exposing information that no one else knows; revealing secrets; being disloyal, giving evidence. If he had said, “I will not allow myself or my ministry to be treated this way. This is a matter for the police. If you want to say anything else to me it will have to said through our attorneys,” he wouldn’t have people guessing as to what is truth and what is false. The mention of suicide also concerns me. It is straight from the toolbox of an abuser. It’s how they maintain power over another person. I’m not saying Mr. Zacharias is an abuser, but the comment does cause concern.

I believe it would be wise on the part of the RZIM board to seek help from professional, biblical counselors Patrick Doyle or Leslie Vernick for their perspective on this entire situation. Either of these counselors could quickly get to the truth and impart logic, wisdom, and application to bring forth healing.

As someone who ministers to women on the receiving end of unfaithfulness and abuse I can say I’ve heard about every spin imaginable from husbands caught participating in something they shouldn’t have been doing. Denial, justification, spiritualizing, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming, believing their own rhetoric, lying. Unfaithful people can lie so much they can’t keep their lies straight. Abusers are different from someone caught in unfaithfulness for the first time. An abuser believes every word that comes out of their own mouth. That’s why they are so convincing.

UPDATE DECEMBER 8, 2017: The original post on The Spiritual Sounding Board has been removed at the request of the woman involved in the case so you can no longer read the written correspondence that went back and forth between her and Ravi Zacharias.

 

Christianity Today published a response. You may read the response here...Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique

Ravi Zacharias: Statement on my Federal Lawsuit: Facebook post

Article by Ministry Watch: Empowering Donors to Christian Ministries: Ravi Zacharias Faces Critics…an article to balance the Christianity Today article.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Ravi Zacharias public profile picture
Link

Ravi Zacharias: Sexual grooming and misconduct lawsuit

This is a public service announcement for those of you who listen to Ravi on the radio or on podcasts. This is not the first problem to arise for Ravi Zacharias. There have been multiple people through the years question Ravi’s reported inflated credentials; followed by a lack of response, verification, or proof from Ravi’s ministry or leadership board.

spiritual sounding board

This news is being reported by Spiritual Sounding Board. I have followed Spiritual Sounding Board since I began blogging in 2013 and I have complete confidence in the accuracy of any issue or person they bring to light.

We are not smearing Jesus’ reputation since Christ is secure in who He is and nothing we do or say can change His perfection or His purpose. Christ does not expect us to cover for these types of people, but rather to hope and pray for conviction in their heart, soul, mind and strength. The purpose is restoration of relationship with God and with the church family.

Click the below link for the article and letters of correspondence…

via Ravi Zacharias Must Explain: Lawsuit, Narratives, and Emails

In the wake of infidelity (Helping the victim)

Last night as you sobbed your heart to your Heavenly Daddy

He pieced you back together, dusted you off, and woke you

To fresh mercies this morning.

You made it through another day.

Never let anyone tell you what your brave should look like

How you should act or respond.

This is how you heal. One hard fought day at a time.

In your weakness He is strong.

This is how you mend your broken.  

 

This I have learned from my own life traumas.

I also learned what a woman needs most from her friends in the middle of her shocking news…that her husband is being unfaithful is for a friend to listen. Affirm her, acknowledge her pain, pray for her. As in…lay your hands on her shoulders, or hold her hands, and pray over her in person. Pray over her home; room by room. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16b

She simply needs to process her thoughts out loud. There is something about talking to a friend that makes it real; not some crazy notion in your head. It’s healing. Validate her pain.

I understand that this may be uncomfortable, it may emotionally upset you. Yep, it will! Christ has called us to get messy and show empathy and love to those in need. Scripture tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  (I John 3:17) I believe the same principle applies here. To see your sister’s hurt but have no pity, how can the love of God be in that person?

If you think listening to her is taking sides and may jeopardize your friendship with the husband; think again. To not take sides shows the perpetrator and the victim that you have chosen sides.  We must take the side of the oppressed. Neutrality shows the oppressor you are on their side.

Here is another nugget of wisdom. Unfaithfulness is always the responsibility of the unfaithful. They had opportunity to say no. They had the power to change their circumstance. They had abundant choices for wise counsel; for help before it was too late.

You can be friends with both at the same time. One calls for tender love; the other calls for tough love. Don’t think you’re getting caught in a triangular relationship where you’re betraying trust. If you feel caught in between with he said, she said; make it clear to him that he needs to be honest with his wife. Say something like this, “I want to make sure that you understand you need to be honest with your wife in all aspects of your marriage which includes not withholding information. I’m concerned that you are showing me another area of your life where you are not disclosing the truth to your wife. For your good, and the good of your family, I need to call out the deceptions.”

Why? Matthew 18:15 applies, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Most importantly, the goal is to bring them to repentance and reconciliation if possible.

“It’s a poverty when God’s words are watered down for the sake of being culturally sensitive, in the name of comforting others or not being offensive. His absolute truth is by nature going to offend because it requires of us change. Perhaps more scary, it requires us to do nothing but ACCEPT His grace and the promise of salvation — we CANNOT earn it! We can sooo love others to Jesus without backing down. Confronting wrong is NOT the same as pointing unkind judgmental fingers. After all, Jesus saved His most pointed comments for those who should KNOW BETTER, not for the unsaved. He loved them, but gently and firmly said, “Go and sin no more.” He DID NOT say, “That’s not really sin if you really want to do this.” Cindy Sigler Dagnan 9/14/2014

Repentance is not God’s way of condescendingly reminding us of our sin, failures and mistakes. Quite the opposite. It is our chance to approach Him, and through repentance receive forgiveness, healing, power, wisdom and blessing. Repentance is a beautiful gift. God does not dole out punishments, although there may be natural consequences, but instead gives good gifts to those seeking His heart and will.

I have also found that people are forgiving when they see repentance that leads to fruit. In other words; you will be known by your actions and not just your words. 

“Above all, love each other deeply,

because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8

Ideas for practical help

  • A restaurant gift card,  or freezer meal, for a day when she is having a difficult time functioning.
  • A gift certificate for a massage. Physical touch can help release loads of stress.
  • Offer to watch the kids while she has a counseling appointment, attorney appointment, or doctor appointment.
  • Offer to help her clean her house. She will appreciate the company and conversation as much as the help.
  • Stop by, or invite her over, for coffee or tea. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. It’s likely she will cherish the grace of your realness over tidiness.
  • Create a playlist of music to minister to her in her trauma.
  • Call and pray for her over the phone.
  • Lend a listening ear in a judgement free zone.
  • Send a note of encouragement with a scripture you are praying over her.

I’m afraid of the space where you suffer
Where you sit in the smoke and the burn
I can’t handle the choke or the danger

Of my own foolish, inadequate words
I’ll be right outside if you need me
Right outside

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

So we left you to fight your own battle
And you buried your hope with your faith
‘Cause you heard no song of deliverance
There on the nights that followed the wake
We never thought to go with you
Afraid to ask

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

Lay down our plans
Lay down the sure-fire fix
Grief’s gonna stay awhile,
There is no cure for this
We watch for return,
We speak what we’ve heard
We sit together, in the burn

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

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1 year since Lynn Messer’s remains found

Today, November 1, 2017, marks one year from the day of Lynn Messer’s remains being found on her husband’s farm property. Property that had been searched with GPS tracking equipment in the daylight and in the dark. It had also been searched by professionally trained dogs who would have picked up the scent of the remains; especially in the hot July and August heat.

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 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 safety, and Christian/Biblical values.

As a courtesy to Lynn’s church I want to update my readers that I’ve been told Kerry no longer attends FBC FCC and hasn’t since the weekend the scheduled memorial service was cancelled. 

In the spirit of keeping this case in the public’s eye and in honor of Lynn’s memory, I asked her sons Aarron and Abram questions about their mom, and the ongoing investigation. 

Q: What has your favorite memory of your mom been since knowing for the last year that she is now in heaven and has been the entire 3+ years?
 
Aarron: I remember seeing my mom sing along throughout the house to Ray Boltz’ song Thank You, while watching the tears swell in her eyes picturing all the people she impacted throughout her life greeting her in heaven.
Abram: So many things I could say in response to that. But more than a specific memory I remember what she taught me. She taught me how to laugh, how to love and taught me to pursue Jesus Christ. I am who I am today because of her guidance, love and passion for Christ.
Elizabeth (Abram’s wife): My very favorite memory of Lynn would involve cooking. We would spend days in the kitchen just cooking and laughing. We would set aside a day every December to do nothing but make cookies and fudge. All 7 grand kids lined up decorating and tasting cookies. Christmas music on the old radio. The house full of excitement, warmth, and love. The house would smell of cookies and the wood burning stove. Every table and counter top would be piled with big beautiful Christmas cookies that were equally tasty. I never remember Lynn burning a single cookie. They always turned out perfect. Lynn would often take cookies to neighbors, and send the grand kids home with enough cookies to last the entire Christmas season. (Below: First 2 pages of a hand written cookbook from Lynn to Elizabeth.)Lynn verse 2
Lynn verse
 
Q: Do you have something she said to you that often replays in your mind?
 
Aarron:  Everyday it’s something else; another memory, another thought. 
 
Q: Is there something she said to you that has left you wondering if she was trying to tell you something was wrong in the home?
 
Aarron: Before she disappeared there was an evening. I had just been divorced in September of the year before and I had been spending a lot of time with my new girlfriend. My mom called me stressed—worried about me. I invited her and my dad to come over but we were making dinner at my girlfriends’ home; therefore, my dad wouldn’t come but my mom drove to Pevely at 9 PM and just talked.  It was like she was watching us; as if my mom had felt I needed her and she was seeing that despite the stresses in my life I wasn’t falling apart. I was happy and going forward in life and it was like watching her realize I didn’t need her.  I have relived that evening a hundred times over in my head wondering what she was thinking.  She was so quiet. Penny (my girlfriend) and I have talked about how strange mom acted that evening. It was like she wanted to say something to us but she didn’t——she was so quiet.  We both, even then, wondered what it was and ever since we have wondered what was on her mind. Did she want to tell us about Spring?  Was she afraid to say something?
Abram: Lots of things. The stress of knowing that my father was on his way home, the way she phrased things always trying to make excuses and explain away my father’s behavior—and the way she tried to love us enough to make up for his narcissistic behavior.
 
Q: Are you confident the case will be solved? 
 
Aarron: Her cause of death is unknown… How solved is that?  I have heard that my dad has told people my mom’s death was a suicide.  But the toxicology report showed no drugs, there was no weapon found with her.  How did she die?  If she killed herself there would be a weapon, or a drug in her system.  She wasn’t dying on her own; how did she die?  There wasn’t any of those things. She didn’t die of natural causes, so as we can see her body was clearly dumped in the woods.  Detectives are clear; my dad moved her body. If he would just be honest maybe this will be solved.  I am just waiting for the day when he breaks and tells the truth.

Abram: Over the last three years God has impressed upon me repeatedly throughout His Word how much He loves justice. The Hand of God is not slacked, He will in His perfect timing see justice prevail. Even should His timing be not on this earth, I will not give up. I will not quit, and I will not give up on my God’s incredible ability to take our darkest hours and illuminate them with His glorious light. I know that He will take this nightmare and use it in powerful and mighty ways to allow us to both minister to others who are struggling as well as allowing us to see His powerful sustaining hands. I know this because I already can see how He has moved in our midst in amazing ways. 

“Hope thou in God.” I am confident that the case will be solved because my hope is in God, not man. 
 
Q: Did you have an ah-ha moment when you discerned that your mom may not have disappeared of her own free will?
 
Aarron: There honestly was never a moment where I thought she left on her own.  From the first moment I knew she was gone nothing made sense.  Knowing that her body was moved and that my father has been lying, manipulating, and covering up where she was…it was the first thing/answer that made sense.
Abram: For me it was a slow realization of facts that I knew, and watching my father’s behavior. The truth became clearer and clearer as the days turned into weeks and months. This realization finally became undeniable. Then it was a matter of being honest with myself. Was I unwilling to accept what I was seeing with my own eyes, and hearing with my own ears? I wasn’t dependent on a third-party to tell me what they heard, and none of my thoughts or opinions are based on what other people told me. I came to these conclusions because I lived it. The truth doesn’t change because we don’t like it, nor does it change because it is hard for us to accept. Several of these facts were staring at me from the beginning, 
Q: Likewise, did you have a time when you thought you pin-pointed a specific person having knowledge to the truth of what happened to your mom?
 
Aarron: When I confronted my dad about his relationship with Spring Thomas it became incredibly clear that he was hiding information about what happened to Mom.
Abram: Absolutely. When I watched my father interact with law enforcement, telling them that he was not going to search for my mom. That was a turning point for me in my pursuit of the truth. 
 
Q: In hind sight, is there one thing that sticks out in your mind that you wish you could change, or had done differently, in the investigation?
 
Aarron: That morning when she disappeared—I wish I had never let my dad out of my sight when he drove off the farm. I wish I had never left the farm when he told me to leave.
Abram: The cows. Not so much in the investigation, but the fact that I was manipulated into covering a scent trail… and the many ways we have been twisted and used as pawns in someone else’s sick demented game will haunt me for the rest of my life.
 
Q: When is the last time you had contact with your dad?
 
Aarron: Ironically yesterday (Saturday).  A few weeks ago he left a note on my door demanding an increase in the rent I pay him; from $450 a month to $650. I wrote him back attempting to negotiate. He won’t respond of course.  I asked if he could give me a year lease since he has insisted that my rent be month to month.  Then the hot water heater in the apartment went out; I fixed it.  Then the sewer backed up into the apartment. I texted him several times asking about the sewer trying to get it fixed but he wouldn’t respond.  Then he did respond; acknowledging that there was a septic tank somewhere in the backyard. He couldn’t tell me where, but that he buried a soda can on top of it so I can use a metal detector to find it.  Not the highlight though; no! Saturday was opening day of youth firearm season so my daughter and I were hunting on the farm.  Dad and Spring each drove past us in our stand on his four wheelers; then they moved the cows into the field in front of us where we were hunting.  After 10-20 minutes of driving around the field he drove up to us and said the cows will be here til Tuesday.  So we packed up and started walking to another field to set up again to hunt.  He followed us while we walked a half mile across the farm.  After we setup again he pulled up and told me I couldn’t go to the back field because he had sold hunting rights on the farm to someone else and we aren’t allowed to be there.  This is the field directly above where I found my mother’s remains.  So here on that anniversary of finding her body I am not allowed to go back to where her body was. UPDATE 10/31/2017: Just got home earlier; Dad finally responded. I have to move before December 1st as he doesn’t want me on the farm. He also said the kids cannot go hunting on the farm.
Abram: The last contact I have had with my father (outside of seeing him in the courtroom dealing with our protection order against him), was in May of 2015. 
 
Q: Has the pastor from First Baptist Church Festus Crystal City attempted to contact you since cancelling the memorial service your dad attempted to hold at the church?
 
Aarron: No, no one from FBC FCC contacted me before the scheduling of the memorial service even telling us that it was scheduled or after it was cancelled.  The only time I was contacted by his pastor was when the pastor was upset that the deacons from the church had read my Facebook posts and had asked him about the things I said. He asked to meet with me to tell me never to talk about his church again.  Several of the deacons came to me later…apologizing and trying to get to the truth.  I have had them call me once since just to let me know they are still looking for the truth.  No one from the staff has spoken to me since.
Abram:  Dr. McLain has made no attempts or offers of any kind to contact us. It is heartbreaking to know that the church leadership does not care to be obedient to the Word of God, either in their dealings with us or my father. 
Q: As far as you know, has your dad married Spring Thomas?
 
Aarron: Not that I know of although they spend most their time together.
Abram: To my knowledge he has not. But I would not be surprised if he had a secret wedding without a marriage certificate. Very little of his behavior surprises me at this point. I do know that their relationship is still on going. 
 
Q: I had a message left on my blog about your dad attempting to organize a search party to walk the roads near Spring’s house and to search her property in the early days of the investigation. Do your recall this request? Did volunteers ever do it?
 
Aarron: A search was coordinated to search along the roads from the farm toward Spring’s farm.  I actually went on that search. We met at McDonalds in House Springs and drove up Hwy W from MM and 30 towards Eureka. I rode with Spring in her car and we stopped in every driveway, talked to every person we saw, and knocked on every door on W.  A woman described someone looking very similar to Mom that had been walking along the road; even had two people describe someone who looked very much like Mom.  We gathered their info and passed it along to detectives but it was an empty lead.  No one ever searched Spring’s farm.  That was the only search associated with Spring’s farm.  It was nowhere near her farm but merely along a highway in the middle of nowhere.
Abram: I became aware that a request to that end had been made late in 2015, well after it had supposedly transpired. If it was in fact done, it was deliberately done without my knowledge and certainly without my cooperation. I have no idea if it was actually done or not. I do find it very interesting that my father would have potentially searched Spring’s property, while refusing to search his own. 
 
Q: Aarron, on another social media forum it was mentioned that Kerry suggested to you where you and your daughters should scout for deer hunting and it was the part of the property where your mom’s remains were located. Is this true?
 
Aarron: Detectives asked me about that.  My dad and I had talked about hunting—where to hunt that season, but my dad did not tell me where to go or suggest anywhere to go.  In retrospect he actually had indicated he thought we should go somewhere else and I told him I wanted to go up by the water gap. He made the comment that no one has been back there for years.  But no, he had no idea exactly where I was going and didn’t suggest we should go anywhere near her remains.  One truly frightening thing is that her body was on the hill-side that I have personally seen them take dead or dying cows that were sick and push them off into the woods to rot.
 
Q: At this point, has your dad attempted to make sure you receive some of your mom’s belongings?
 
Aarron: My father has explicitly told me that I am not allowed to enter his home under any circumstance.  I have asked to read my mom’s journals and have yet to get a response from him.  He invited my ex-wife over to the house to go through my mother’s things and take whatever she wanted, but I have received no invitation to even look at anything of my mothers.  In fact, he has given away many of her things—even saying on Facebook that he was getting rid of those items; without asking me a thing.
Abram: No he has not, and in fact quilts that my mom made for us seemed to have disappeared just as mysteriously as she did. Our wedding quilt, the quilt she made me in high school, and all but one of my children’s quilts she made them were taken from us. We knew that my father had taken them, but then we confirmed it when we discovered a photo my father posted on FB with my son’s quilt in the back ground. He was using it as a prop to garner sympathy at an event. It serves as a reminder to his double minded nature. The way he pretends to be this suffering, loving husband and father when in reality he stole my son’s precious link to his grandmother that he has had since birth. 
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Q: A young man who rents a duplex from your dad in Jefferson City left a comment on a social network forum that your mom’s death was an accident. He implied that Kerry had confided in him information about his (Kerry’s) family problems regarding Abram specifically, and your mom’s death? Has anyone else told you your mom’s death was an accident?
 
Aarron: The only one who has said that is my dad.
Abram: This new story that we heard about certainly wasn’t the first time he has told a completely new version of events. This is what happens when you lie. It gets harder and harder to define the truth. My father has sadly told so many different lies to so many people he can’t seem to keep his stories straight. Sin builds on itself. When we embrace it, wallow in it, and make it our own personal reality it will eat our soul like cancer. God Himself has pledged that the things done in darkness WILL be brought to the light. If anything I hope that people will take seriously seeing the consequences of sin. What it can do to you, your family and everyone you know. 
 
Q: Did you see the inside of your parent’s house the morning you were told your mom disappeared? Did you see the bedroom? If so, is there anything you wish you had thought of, or realized, that morning when your were looking through the house?
 
Aarron: The day she disappeared, when my dad drove off, I searched through the entire house looking for my mom.  There are two bedrooms that my parents slept in. They were sleeping in the bedroom on the ground floor at the time because of my mom’s hip, as opposed to their upstairs bedroom.  There was absolutely nothing that I thought to look for because I had no idea to look for anything; I was searching for her. 
Abram: No, I did not go into their house that morning. When I arrived at their house the morning of the 8th, I drove the 4 wheeler out in the barn lot to meet my father. He of course was absolutely irate the Aarron had called the sheriff’s department, and demanded that I leave, after he became more agitated I finally left. A short while later, when I returned the detectives where already in their house, and I was asked to remain outside while they where doing the initial processing of the scene. 
 
Q: According to my sources: 
1) Spring Thomas has said that your parents were at her house, together, a few days before your mom disappeared.
2) Your dad has told people he hadn’t been to Spring’s house for a month before your mom disappeared.
3) A family friend saw your mom, alone, in St. Louis a few days before she disappeared and your mom mentioned she was on her way to Spring’s house to pay her a visit.
 
These accounts are all different. What do you know about this?
 
Aarron: I don’t know anything more.
Abram: One of the very telling things throughout the investigation has been the constantly changing and evolving timeline, events and stories as conveyed by my father. I have personally heard my father say that it had been weeks since he was last at Spring’s house, and my mother was with him. But I also know that my mom went to see Spring days before she her death. I have no idea what Spring may or may not have said about these encounters. I know she is still refusing to cooperate with the investigation as well. 
 
 Q: I’ve received many comments and questions about the airing of Discovery Channel’s show; Disappeared. People want to know if the portrayal of you was accurate? Abram, was there more to your dad knocking on your door early that morning than what the show disclosed? 

Abram: For the most part I think they did a very good job in portraying the overall scenario. There are many things that I could be critical of, mostly the argument that I had with my mom was exaggerated and overdone. I would have liked it if they had talked about how we passed the CVSA lie detection tests, and to date my father has not been able to pass any of the lie detection tests that he has taken. However, I have had personal contact with most of the actors on the show and I know that the director took an “artistic license” with many things. In several follow-up conversations the producers asked for clarifications about several scenes, and even did some editing to make the performances more authentic. So I feel that the freedom that they took to make certain aspects more interesting was a trade-off that I was willing to make in exchange for our attempts to raise awareness and prayerfully to get help in searching for my mother. 

As to the morning of, I was much more confused and befuddled than my depiction on the show. 4:15 a.m. that morning I think my father had to find out if I had seen or heard anything that had happened. He HAD to know if I knew anything. The only way for him to know that was to show up. Another thought we’ve had is that we had installed a new chain lock on the door that he didn’t know about. He thought he could walk right in. The chain was latched which means the door was locked. He did not start yelling my name til after the chain caught and woke up the dogs. He could have been sneaking in and the chain caught him off guard. The question then would be why was he sneaking? What were his intentions?
 
Q: The fact that there are different pastures for the cows indicates there must be fences and gates on the property. Would these have presented any problems for your mom if…she were to walk around the property in the darkness, in a thunderstorm, with bad hips walking on uneven ground, carrying a pillow (possibly more) on her way to where she was found? 
Abram: Yes. There are multiple electric fences all over the property with gates that have to be opened for passageway. My wife who doesn’t have my mom’s health problems, and is taller than my mom with larger hands has difficulty opening and closing these gates with the strength of two hands in the daylight. Add to that, Mom would have been carrying a pillow, wearing no shoes through a blackberry patch, in the dark, in the rain and thunderstorm. She would have had to open and close multiple electric fence gates regardless of which way she walked…if she walked…which we don’t believe she did.
 **DISCLAIMER: ALL OF MY OPINIONS COME FROM RESEARCH, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, AND DISCUSSIONS I MAY HAVE HAD WITH PROFESSIONALS. I RECEIVE NO MONETARY BENEFITS AND HOLD NO RESPONSIBILITY BY SHARING THE INFORMATION ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PAGE AND ITS CONTENTS. THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS NOT INTENDED AS A FORM OF DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, VERDICT, LEGAL ADVISE, OR A PREDICTION REGARDING AN OUTCOME OF AN INVESTIGATION. The answers to the above questions were written in their entirety by Lynn Messer’s sons. These are their memories, opinions, and accounts of interactions and conversations told from their viewpoints. I am committed to publishing works of integrity. In that spirit, I offer these questions and answers to my readers.

Click link ‘LYNN MESSER’ in margin for more articles.

#JusticeForLynn fundraiser: YouCaring


 

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Kerry Messer: Update

Here is an update for concerned citizens who have been advocating to remove Kerry Messer from lobbying for family, Christian, homeschooling, and pro-life principles in the state of Missouri. Your letter/email writing and phone calls made a difference. You were successful again. Kerry was removed as a lobbyist for Americans United for Life.

Kerry Messer is a Missouri state lobbyist whose wife Lynn Messer disappeared July 8, 2014. Her remains were discovered on their farm November 1, 2016. Law enforcement continues to investigate her death while waiting on the conclusion of all forensic testing. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and law enforcement confirms that Kerry Messer has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.

Below is a list of principals Kerry is still listed as lobbying for, and those who have deleted their association with him as their lobbyist.

April 2017, Alliance for Life (417) 598-1040- Kerry is listed as a lobbyist but they mainly works with Sam Lee.  August 2017 – They do not currently employ anyone as a lobbyist. They need to call the Missouri Ethics Commission  (573) 751-2020 to delete Kerry’s name from their listing.

April 2017 MISSOURI ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN CHILD CARE AGENCIES, INC. (660) 347-5982- As of last contact, April 2017, Kerry still works for them. They knew his wife was missing but didn’t know her remains had been found. August 2017 – MACCCA was contacted two more times but did not respond.

Missourians for Personal Safety (816) 455-2669: April 2017, I spoke with Kevin Jamison. Yes, Kerry represents them. They have been pleased with how Kerry has been very honest, upfront, and forthright with updates on everything. Kerry informed them when Lynn went missing, Kerry told them about his relationship with the other woman, told them when Lynn’s remains were found, and informed them when he, Kerry, secured Lynn’s dental records for the authorities; and just in time because they were about to be destroyed. Mr. Jamison said everybody but Kerry (referring to his colleagues, knew Kerry’s wife was dead and wouldn’t be returning).  August 2017 –  Said that Kerry hasn’t worked for them for years. The Missouri Ethics Commission shows that Kerry still represents them. They also need to call the Missouri Ethics Commission  (573) 751-2020 to delete Kerry’s name from their listing.

Missouri Family Network is Kerry Messer’s own organization from which he works in Jefferson City.

Kerry Messer update

Kerry Messer update 2

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Next:

There have been numerous calls going back and forth for several months waiting for the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board to name Kerry Messer’s replacement for his seat. This was achieved at the end of August 2017 and confirmed to me today, for publishing, by Sarah Smith in the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect office, and by Scott Turk, Director of Boards and Commissions at the Office of Governor Eric Greiten. The Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board, is a board in which Governor Nixon had appointed Kerry Messer, and although Kerry’s term had expired, there was not a replacement voted in so Kerry maintained his place on this board.; not any more.

I have been down the traumatic road of not being able to keep a child safe from a predator, and the court silencing me from telling what I knew about the predator to churches who hired him. After over a decade, I succeeded in helping to put this pedophile offender away for life without the possiblity of parole for 25 years. For this reason, I needed the reassurance that people of integrity who have a passion for innocent children serve on the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board.

Thank you, Governor Greitens, for replacing this seat with Donna Neely.

Donna Neely

Donna Neely Photo credit: Missouri KidsFirst public Facebook page

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Governor Eric Greitens Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

It recently came to my attention, through a GiveMe Chocolate reader, that Kerry Messer also serves on the board for The Good News Voice: Missouri River Christian Broadcasting.

Radio is one of the most used forms of communication and is a powerful and effective way to advertise and get a message out to a mass audience.

Should someone who is not cooperating with an open and active investigation in his wife’s disappearance and death, who according to law enforcement, Spring Thomas, and Kerry Messer has been in a relationship with a woman not his wife within weeks of his wife’s disappearance, be representing the Christian broadcasting community?

If your answer is no, please take action and call to voice your concerns and disappointment in The Good News Voice for continuing to allow Kerry Messer on their board of directors. Phone number (877) 385-3787. Below is a screen shot of the current Good News Voice website.

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Thank you for your continued interest in this case and for your citizen activism for the benefit of the state of Missouri.

 

Click ‘LYNN MESSER’ in the margin for more articles.

 

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Holly & Dave Ashley: Lynn Messer case

Holly and Dave Ashley recorded an interview: Redemption, Restoration and Recovery on Freedom through faith: The Kingdom Crossroad’s podcast.

Holly and Dave teach their court approved, Christian, domestic violence curriculum to those mandated by the courts. Holly consults churches and ministries; setting up biblical counseling resource centers and domestic violence, legal aid, counselor programs at their ministry and church locations. They have been involved in grassroots advocacy in the field of abuse for over 30 years. Holly’s work has been locally and nationally recognized and she has assisted local prosecutors in mock trials for high-profile ‘violence’ cases.

Holly and Dave have been working on the Lynn Messer case. She has much to say about Lynn, Kerry Messer, and the church that loves and welcomes Kerry.

If you have a heart for people fleeing abusive relationships you will find this interview educational.

Part 1: The first 8 minutes include Holly’s commentary on the Lynn Messer case. 

If the Part 1 link is overwhelmed/busy you can try this link for Part 1. It is written in Spanish, but if you click the orange arrow on the left, the podcast is in English.

Part 2: Who abuses? Men and women.

This is a precursor for a series of testimonies I will be publishing by people who are trying to leave, have separated from, or have divorced an abusive spouse.

It has been a goal of mine for a year to begin working toward changing our state laws in regard to child custody cases. As I have ministered to abused women for the last few years and heard story after story of their abuser deceiving and winning over the guardian ad litem to win full custody, 50/50 custody, or unsupervised custody of the children in cases of extreme abuse; I came to realize the system needs fixed.

My goal for the state of Missouri is to bring about change to our current legal system.  Our present day system does not mandate domestic violence training for people involved with family/divorce court. I would like to see judges, attorneys, guardian ad litems, social workers, law enforcement officers and church leadership trained to recognize domestic violence and deal with it accordingly. Domestic stats

If you would like your testimony to be included in my presentation, you may send me your concerns. Please type your story, short and to the point. You may include your name and address if you like, or if you’re in the middle of divorce court and don’t want to use your full name, you may use your first name or a fake name.

I don’t know who ever proposed that an attorney with no background in child development, domestic/spousal abuse, child abuse, psychology, psychiatry, social work, or zero understanding of personality disorders was made responsible for the current and future well-being of children. It literally turns out that most often the abuser, or unstable partner, is believed over the stable parent/partner/victim.

I’ve heard of women losing their sanity upon the court awarding full custody of the children to a documented abusive father. (This also applies to men who have been in destructive or abusive relationships.) There are new, published studies showing the majority of abusers are in fact believed over the healthy, stable person.

I’ve also watched women be left financially desolate while the man drags the court case out for years without having to pay his share of child support and bills. I’ve seen women walk away from receiving financial support and court mandated child support to escape the abuse and control.

Something needs to change and I’m willing to put in the time to see it happen. Please help me by telling me your story, or your loved one’s story, about an unsatisfactory encounter with a guardian ad litem or the one thing you would like to see changed in the process of navigating family court.

I in no way mean to bash the guardian ad litems, I’m just pointing out that they don’t have domestic violence training. How can they be expected, in minutes or hours, to see and figure out what likely took the victim years to conclude?

If you don’t want to publicly post your story, please leave an anonymous note. My blog adminstration receives your email address and I’ll resond to you through my private email.

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*Disclaimer: This podcast is published in its entirety by outside sources not affiliated with GiveMe Chocolate. These are their opinions and do not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of this website. The commentary presented in this podcast does not constitute legal fact.

 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Play Book

What happens when an individual you suspect may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder is having a genuinely difficult week?

First, understand that these individuals need narcissistic supply and huge, massive amounts of it.

Second, understand that the supply can be positive or negative. They prefer positive, but supply 2when enough of it can’t be found; example: shallow narcissistic supply. Receiving fleeting comments—especially words that are perhaps written and not in person, or from people they don’t deem special, wealthy, influential, or popular. Then…they will turn to extracting concern or compassion out of people to obtain their positive narcissistic supply. Examples: feigning amnesia, inventing health problems, faking a suicide and often with a grand suicide note, avoiding their usual social activities, not keeping up with normal commitments, avoiding social media. Yes, these are prime ways to extract the supply they need, and for the people who don’t understand this aspect of narcissistic personality disorder, or don’t realize the person in question suffers from it—they become unaware suppliers by showing concern,compassion, and/or asking if everything is all right. If the NPDer hears that people have been asking about them, even through the grapevine, they score a personal goal…narcissistic supply.

For those of us who truly do notice when someone is missing, not interacting, or not communicating we have to muster up the strength to practice tough love. This is one instance when caring hurts the individual more than helps them. And they do need help…professional help. Not the type of help any friend, Christian, pastor, or family member can give. The recovery rate for these individuals is low; most professionals believe 1%-2% recovery is the most; if at all possible.

Also, when becoming aware that you may be interacting with someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder; take note that this is the first step to diagnosing if the person is a full-blown sociopath.

supplyThe narcissist who introduced me to this disorder now sits in prison. He never tired in attempts to extract narcissistic supply. Even after being fired from a ministry, when they told him he needed professional psychological help. His mentor from that ministry told him he met the criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder. These former church leaders and mentor most likely saved my daughter and me from being killed by this man; which led to my divorce of him, yet still…  When my former husband would get a new ministry where he didn’t know people well enough to extract supply from them he would call and email his old supply. The people who fired him, outed him, and wanted nothing to do with him. Why? A narcissistic will return again and again to ensure you never move on from the pain they caused you. They know you don’t like them, but they also know you’re most likely too kind to be rude so they feed off of you; positive or negative…they don’t care. You’re just supply.

If you were literally starving, famished, and in need of nourishment you would eat what ever was set in front of you to supply your body with energy and nourishment. Think of it the same way with narcissistic personality disorder. Their ego is literally starving and they will take psychological nourishment any way they can get it; positive or negative.

Remember the signs in forests that say, “Don’t feed the bears.” Feeding bears encourages them to come around the campsites where civilized people are camping. It discourages them from hunting for their own food and makes them dependent on humans.

“DON’T FEED THE NARCISSIST!” Don’t encourage them to come near you. They need to learn to care for their own needs; in a healthy way, and only a professional has a slight chance of being able to help them with that.

Criteria for…narcissistic personality disorder

For more on this disorder read…Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Narcissistic Sociopath?

You can also look up the criteria for a sociopath/antisocial personality disorder here…

Excellent book for educating yourself…The Sociopath Next Door : 1 in 25 ordinary Americans secretly has no conscience and can do anything at all without feeling guilty. Who is the devil you know?

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Naghmeh Panahi (Abedini’s) Divorce

 

Here is an another update on Naghmeh Panahi (Abedini). It has been over a year and a half since I first began writing about her, and eight months since my last update: Naghmeh Abedini One Year Later.

Naghmeh gave me full permission to post a letter she wrote. She’s in a place where she is growing closer to Jesus; where He will redeem the lost years and heal her heart, soul, mind and strength.  I bring people like Naghmeh to my readers who feel alone, broken, and hopeless in their abusive marriage. I want to validate them, tell them they’re not crazy, they are not weak. Actually, they’re stong to have endured for so long. I want to point them to True Hope: Jesus. He can and will do the impossible to care for them and protect them. Women need to understand that divorce is an option; it is a gift from our good, gift giving Heavenly Father for times such as these.

I wrote about Naghmeh’s revelation of marital abuse in a high profile case involving her then imprisoned husband, Iranian, American Saeed Abedini in the Iranian prison system. Read more about this here: Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter.

It turns out Saeed ordered his certificate to be a pastor over the internet. This coupled with his abusive treatment of his wife and family; along with, the extreme verbal abuse many who advocated for him during his imprisonment received from Saeed does not qualify him to be a pastor.

Many in the Christian community didn’t believe Naghmeh even though she had legal evidence: She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini.   For some who did believe; they still said derogatory things about her for speaking out against her husband. How dare she say something bad about him; especially considering what he had been enduring in prison!

I understand much of what Naghmeh shares in the below letter because I had some of the same thoughts when I was in a difficult and abusive marriage; knowing that good wives don’t tell, especially good Christian wives. I briefly wrote about my journey here: Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1  and here My Destructive Marriage.

I still believe in listening, affirming, and believing spouses who say they are in an abusive relationship as I wrote about in Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond, Part 2.

You never know what goes on in someone else’s home. You have no way of understanding if the woman sitting next to you in Bible study, or worshiping next to you in church is secretly being mistreated in  her home. If she should muster up the courage to tell you; please listen. Please believe her.

I worked off the premise that, domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.

The abuser needs healing. I don’t believe women should go to counseling with their abuser. Why? The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

We considered Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25; and other examples that you can read about here…Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3 

So many women have a similar story. There is a strong community of these women across the country, and throughout the world.

This is Naghmeh’s story. Yet I remember having some of the same thoughts and feelings. I’m grateful that today we have the tool of the internet to connect  hurting women to one another. They can find help navigating a seemingly impossible road and find encouragement and support from one another.

Naghmeh believed what so many other women are taught; that having a good marriage is up to them alone and based solely on their ‘dying to self.’ This is a destructive and often deadly teaching for women married to abusers.

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By: Naghmeh Panahi

 

This is in reference to one of the best articles I have read: A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce. I hope it is a source of encouragement to those who have had to walk through this and that it gives a deeper desire to study the Word of God carefully and to know Jesus more.

Until two years ago wherever I traveled and spoke, my advice to women (those who even confessed to me horrific abuse and adultery) was to die to themselves and love and obey more. You can look up YouTube videos of my talks at different conferences and churches (under Naghmeh Abedini).

Therefore I put the burden of saving a corrupt marriage on the oppressed. I believed with all of my heart that if we, as women, would just die to ourselves more and love and submit more, a marriage could be salvaged. I judged those who divorced and specially the woman. I would think to myself “I am sure she was not so innocent herself and was to blame.”

No one in the world could have changed my mind. It was deeply rooted in what I was taught by the church of how much “God hates divorce,” but also my deeply rooted Middle Eastern culture that as a woman you put up with anything for the sake of the children; not to mention the shame and rejection a woman of Middle Easter origins has to face when she is divorced.

I was taught that love “covers a multitude of sin” which meant that I should hide the sin of my spouse, not talk of it, and in the process created a false image of our family. Oh, the shame I felt whenever the smallest negative word or confession would escape my lips about my husband…even to my parents and closest friends…I was taught not to even approach another about sin because “we are not each other’s Holy Spirit.” That a good wife hides and not airs the dirty laundry…

So I gave it my all. And in the process of giving it my all and trying desperately to get mySave Saeed husband out of prison and to honor him as my husband, a very false image was created of him. I gave and gave convincing myself that if I laid down my life enough, he would change. But things got worse and the world didn’t know. The world didn’t know that the abuse and porn addiction continued from behind prison doors. How could he have a smart phone with internet inside of an Iranian prison??? I kept crying out to God! The world did not know and the burden got heavier and heavier to carry. No one knew the night before his arrest he had cheated on me with the same woman that he now advocates for from the minute he got out of the Iranian prison. But a godly Christian woman would forgive the adultery and the porn addictions and abuse. But would I have to live with it for the rest of my life? Under such darkness?

Yes. I gave it my all until I had nothing to give and reached the end of myself. It was then that I cried out to Jesus and I heard the gentle voice of my Savior, “Enough!” It was through His Strength that for the first time I drew boundaries and said no more to such darkness and abuse.

My heart was broken into a million pieces when Saeed filed for divorce. I had hoped that my separation and pleading would end in him getting help and it would end in reconciliation and a healed marriage. NOT DIVORCE.

Saeed prayer vigilHow I was broken. Facing my worst fear of being a divorced single mom. Yet I could not back down. The same love that took me before presidents and governments to get him out of the physical prison, demanded that I would not back down on my boundaries in the hopes that he would be freed from his spiritual prison.

Through it all my Savior stood with me and cleansed me and is healing me and my children with His Word. For almost two years I have sat under the feet of Jesus and am learning to pay close attention to the Word of God and step into obedience of His Word by His Grace alone. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know and what a filthy sinner I am covered by the blood of The Lamb and in desperate need of God’s Grace.

So I have been hesitant to share. Surely most Christians know so much more than me. I feel like a babe in Christ. And the times I do share, I see it tinted with pride and arrogance. Oh this fallen nature. To be freed of it one day when I see Jesus face to face!

So I share this article and hope and pray that more rise up and are a voice for the oppressed.

“Evangelical and confessional churches are striving to maintain a high view of marriage in a culture that is ripping the institution to shreds. So extra-biblical barriers to divorce can be well-meant. They try to protect marriage by doing everything possible to avoid divorce. In doing so, they not only fail to keep a high view of marriage. They also spread lies about the gospel, divorce, the value of people, the character of God, and the nature of sexual sin.”
Naghmeh Panahi

Read the article referenced here…A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce

 

My Toxic Marriage

NPD 16

A recent Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family, and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals, or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry adviser, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The adviser told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell? you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of our adviser I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help our adviser confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our advisers from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive, and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness and a personality disorder I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow.  I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he had mental illness and a personality disorder with an addiction to pornography. I hoped that with help he could get better.

My optimism for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry adviser and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems, mental illness, and personality disorder. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until summer 2014…his reign of terror was over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged, and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship, and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

Lynn Messer letter response

I’ve heard and read that the letter to the church from some of Lynn’s concerned friends seems over the top to a few of you, but I understand the concern and frustrations behind the letter.

Before I go any further I want to address the letter from Holly Ashley’s “Oh, Did I type that outloud?—Wolves in Shepherds Clothing: Justice for Lynn Messer and Victims of Abuse everywhere. Abram Messer did not petition for a protest or have knowledge that a protest was going to be recommended. A protest is not at all his desire or request.

From: Abram

I am publicly calling anyone who is planning on protesting the memorial service to please cancel those plans.

Any one who chooses to engage in this activity is directly acting in opposition to my express desires and wishes, and are operating on their own.

 

Before I continue…

I understand that tone of voice and emotion are left up to question when writing and/or reading so allow me to clear the question of my intent. 

I’m not angry or being demanding. I have a calm, quiet voice and am fueled by my love for Christ’s church. I have some questions and concerns I desperately want the church leadership and membership to consider. No one’s motive is to attack the church; the body of Christ. The motive is to ask them to reexamine the decisions they have made because the decisions don’t line up with scripture. 

I also need to remind you in this post with what I’ve been seeking all along—that the church hold Kerry Messer accountable for his ongoing relationship, with a woman not his wife, since shortly after Lynn disappeared…when no on knew where Lynn was, or if she was alive or dead. I am not asking them to pass judgment on his guilt or innocence in Lynn’s disappearance or death. The pastor and the church may have their own opinions on how to handle this; but scripture doesn’t leave room for our opinions. That is what I want to make clear and why I desire the church to act justly. Seek justice for Lynn and her family.

I have lived on the side of an abuser being believed over the victims. I see far more churches who accept an abuser’s testimony without checking the facts, I have a passion to see the church come to an understanding of how rampant this problem is throughout all denominational and non-denominational backgrounds.

Here is a list of a few biblical counselors, organizations, and survivors who minister to victims of marital abuse, and other abuses within the church. Most of these offer educational tools to local church’s and individuals.

  • Leslie Vernick
  • Patrick Doyle
  • A Cry for Justice
  • Emotional Survivor
  • The Psalm 82 Initiative
  • G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment
  • Claire Roise
  • Give Her Wings
  • Gary Thomas
  • Jeff Crippen
  • Holly Ashley 

For those of us who study abuse in the Christian environment we desperately want the church to see the way they are contributing to the demise of victims while putting their trust and support behind abusers and/or duplicitous individuals.

These leaders may not be clever enough to see it, but the abused women and children get the message loud and clear: If you come to us about abuse, we will cross-examine you, we will doubt you, we will endanger you, we will use God to pressure you, we will blame you, and we will shame you.

I often see churches that believe in being sweet and soft toward people who need corrected. Jesus was not soft-spoken and syrupy sweet when dealing with blatent sin. He was wise, just, caring, firm and factual. I think it’s time for church leadership to act with biblical wisdom, justice and boldness. There is no other way to deal with difficult personalities if you see they are trying to manipulate you.

Regarding the letter to the church, no one was judging the motive of the pastor’s heart. Please reread the scriptures listed in Abram’s letter: regarding obedience. You are picking one sentence and using it out of context. Your pastor is not responsible for Kerry’s action, but he is responsible for safe guarding the flock God has entrusted to him.

Let’s also apply this verse:

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (NIV)

I understand your concern for your pastor. I’m not God and I can’t say with certainty that what I think about Kerry Messer is correct, but if he is anything close to what I speculate about him then he could hoodwink the most world renowned doctors in the field of psychology. Which could mean your pastor should chalk it up to a lesson learned and humbly apologize, and ask forgiveness from Lynn’s sons and his church family. He wouldn’t be the first person to believe a professional liar.

 That is why the apostle Paul warns us in I Timothy:

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. (1 Timothy 5:24-25)

Paul wrote to Timothy to be on guard. He warned about people whose sins are visible and easy to see. That’s easy! What’s difficult is the second part of the verse; “the sins of others appear later.”  Paul wrote this to Timothy after he said, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.”  (1 Timothy 5:22)

Those evil ones whose sins “appear later” hide in the church, especially abusive husbands. Although I don’t know why; statistics show a higher rate of spousal abuse in the church than outside the church community.  Abusers thrive in this environment and satisfy their hunger for power and control in every local church body…and the church members sitting next to them in bible study and worship have no idea.

This is where the church, and especially leadership, needs to grow in wisdom. Abusers can appear outwardly holy in speech and even in actions—for a short time—yet be inwardly evil. Usually only the family experiences this side of the person, but occasionally so do co-workers. We shouldn’t be shocked when someone steps forward with allegations of abuse. It’s sad, but we should believe the victim’s side until a full investigation has proven innocence. I so strongly believe in this where spousal abuse is reported. Not believing has left countless women and children battered or dead.

Believe Her

In C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, no one believes Lucy when she tells them she has found an entire new country through the back of the wardrobe. Perplexed, the other three children go to the professor about Lucy. After all, Lucy has always been honest. She has never displayed acts of manipulation or craziness. The children cannot understand why Lucy will not recant. They are stunned when the Professor asks them, “How do you know that your sister’s story is not true?” He then explains that there are only three logical possibilities: either Lucy is lying, she has gone mad, or she is telling the truth. Lucy was never a liar nor had she gone mad. Not only that, but the Professor asks them which one of the two children (Edmund or Lucy) was most likely to tell the truth. Lucy was more likely to tell the truth. A new perspective had developed.

This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is all of a sudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband – behind closed doors – LISTEN – where no one else lives. I see this all the time now. A woman is respected, honored, looked up to by so many people in the church…until she admits to someone that her personal home life is a living hell. NOW she is doubted, questioned and treated like a squeaky, high-pitched crazy woman who is crying wolf. Where did this come from? Emotionalabusesurvivor.com 

Witnesses stepped forward at Lynn’s memorial service and luncheon in December and told me that Lynn confided in them about spousal abuse. Abram and Aarron have also written and spoken; confirming these accusations.

There is a spiritual disconnect with abusers. Why?  They have a veneer of Christianity but don’t have the actual spirit. Jesus said, “I’m leaving but I will send you a gift; the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin (right and wrong) what’s true and what isn’t, and to comfort. If I don’t see conviction and comfort in someone I doubt  their spirituality. You can feign the fruit of the spirit but you cannot feign conviction and comfort. The spirit is dead or not present.

Religious denial is the worst because, its sneaky, the most dangerous denial there is. Not only do these types of people believe they’re okay but they have  a sense of nobility and righteousness about themselves. It appears he has spiritualized what I think is his sin. He doesn’t see the problem; he believes he’s doing God’s work. It looks like he’s ignoring his sons, not caring about their hearts, withholding relationship, while losing his children’s respect and love.

Scripture says we confess our sins to one another that we might be healed; the only person this does not pertain to is Jesus. Hardness happens when we don’t confess. He’s avoiding truth and making the world as he’s see it; which is not his family’s reality. That is in essence idolatry.

Truth is more important than comfort—so I press on to reveal truth and bring sin out of the darkness and into the light. The light is where Jesus dwells; it’s what He is and in this place there is healing and restoration.

We must call abusers out on the darkness; and ask those who support them to step back and allow the consequences to fall where they may. This is tough but it is not unloving, unkind, or judgmental.  We call them out because we do love; we love with the love of Christ and we want them to receive wisdom, power, and healing to have victory over their stronghold. This is true love…anything less is the oposite and in reality is unloving. 

 

“When you meet someone who seems soooo “Christian” and sooooo “warm” and “kind,” remind yourself that the verdict is still out on what they really are. Don’t let yourself get swept off your feet by someone’s charm, no matter how good it might feel to do so. If you permit yourself to be “charmed” and come under their spell, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to be able to warn you, and you will have to learn the hard, hard way as most all of us have had to. In the same way as time will show the genuineness of a real Christian’s heart, so, in time, the wicked deceptive person will be revealed for what they really are.” ~ A Cry for Justice: He is just the nicest man I’ve ever met—Beware the abuser’s charm.

Unfortunately, people who live a double life will always have their following…even after the prison doors clang shut behind them. I’ve seen it!

 

blog quote

*This case is of public interest. Kerry Messer is a public figure who fund raises from the citizens of Missouri to provide professional and personal finances through his organization  Missouri Family Network.  Lynn Messer’s sons and extended family continue to point out moral and ethical issues they have witnessed by Kerry Messer. I do not write these posts or publish letters as a professional in any field of expertise, but rather to educate my readers from the life experiences through which I have lived. See the disclaimer in the side margin. The content of this post does not constitute legal facts, a guarantee, or a prediction regarding the outcome of advice given. 

Click link ‘LYNN MESSER’ in margin for more articles.

#JusticeForLynn fundraiser: YouCaring

 

Video

Toxic Tuesday: The Great Porn Experiment

Porn alters the brain: Bad news

If/when you stop using porn the brain can heal over time: Good news.

I’ve seen this TEDx lecture by Gary Wilson circulating over the last month and every time I think, “I’ll post this on my blog”. Today is the day.

When discussing sensitive topics I like to give a warning: This could be a trigger for different people in different ways. For the abused it could trigger painful thoughts or body memories. For the porn user it could trigger temptation.

There is a brief picture of women in bikinis at one point in the lecture/video.

I hope that every person who has access to the internet watches this video because Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallsooner or later porn will likely rock your world. Porn is everywhere; especially soft-core, and it’s impossible to not have it turn up somewhere before your eyes. It’s not impossible to look away. Watch this video for clarification as to why we must look away and teach our children the importance in doing the same.

 

In Defense of Lysa TerKeurst

This is in response to some of the backlash I have read against Lysa TerKeurst over the last few weeks regarding her decision to pursue divorce.

I recently posted a letter written by Lysa TerKeurst, “Rejection, Heartache, and a LysaFaithful God,” posted 6/13/17.  Lysa is a popular women’s ministry leader and teacher, and she is a New York Times bestselling author. Her ministry, Proverbs 31 Ministries, is named after the chapter reference in the Bible of the well-known passage depicting what a virtuous woman looks like. If you’ve ever checked out my list of favorite blogs in the margin (header or footer depending on which digital platform you use) you know I’ve had Proverbs 31 there since I began blogging in August 2013.

In all fairness, I’ve read more comments in support of Lysa than against. Yet I’m not sure why some in the Christian community are shocked by the news, and saddened or enraged that Lysa decided to pursue divorce.

Lysa had the right to walk away from infidelity and to publicly name the reasons, biblical reasons, why she was choosing to file divorce proceedings.

“My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years….I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce.”                     ~Lysa TerKeurst

I’m sure she was well aware that some in the Christian community would take the opportunity to verbally shred her over the airwaves, in the blogosphere, and on podcasts. Many Christians believe Christians should not divorce—ever!

I especially notice this in legalistic backgrounds and those deeply engrained in the patriarchal movement.

I ascribe to the Biblical grounds that God allows for divorce under specific circumstances. I consider divorce a merciful gift from our gift-giving Heavenly Father for a spouse enduring unfaithfulness, a spouse’s addiction and/or abuse.  (I’m yet to hear of a pornography addiction that didn’t fuel verbal and emotional abuse.)

I’ve also read excerpts of Lysa’s letter picked apart and spun in different ways. As a woman who was in ministry, and who divorced a pastor, I’ll add my commentary to the mix.

Lysa writes,

“I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you.”

It took courage and I imagine hours heaped upon hours of Bible study, prayer, and professional counseling, topped off with immeasurable puddles of tears for Lysa to reach the conclusion to file for divorce. I’ve personally never known a sister-in-Christ who made this decision quickly, thoughtlessly, or gladly. It’s just not an emotionally healthy woman’s nature. We are nurturing, long-suffering, forgiving, and abounding in providing extra chances for the offender to make things right.

Even if Lysa didn’t have deep grief, or was past that stage, she would still receive my compassion and prayer support for choosing to divorce her unfaithful husband who was also not seeking healing for substance abuse issues.

Next, she writes about her commitment to marriage:

“Anyone who knows me and Proverbs 31 Ministries knows how seriously I take marriage. I’ve always encouraged women to fight for their marriages and to do everything possible to save them when they come under threat.”

I believe her.  It takes the commitment of two people to get married, but only one person to break the vow. Lysa learned like many of us that one person is not capable of fighting the battle alone to save a relationship between two people who both have the free will to choose. We are not the Holy Spirit and cannot convict the unfaithful spouse of their error/sin. Even the Holy Spirt won’t make them do what they don’t want to do. It only takes one person to abuse, abandon, and destroy the marriage. I know Lysa took her marriage covenant seriously and earnestly wrestled through her husband’s infidelity.  If she is anything like me she refused to give up or give in until she knew she had done everything humanly possible to save her marriage while waiting on God and waiting on Art. After all, as Christians we know God can provide the healing and restoration…but here’s the catch: both people must desire it. In the end, Art didn’t desire it and he made a choice. Lysa simply decided to make Art’s abandonment of their family legally official.

Lysa also mentioned the effort she put into trying to “save” her marriage after discovering her husband’s infidelity 18 months prior. 

She concludes:

“But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family.”

She went above and beyond to give Art time to repent, heal, and restore their relationship even though she was not biblically responsible for doing so. He was the cheating party who should have been putting in the time required for the hard work of winning her back to save their marriage and keeping their family intact; as well as, restoring his fellowship with God. Art rejected reconciliation; he broke the marriage vows and refused to stop cheating. Lysa may have been the one to file for divorce but make no mistake; he is the one who first left and his choices led to divorce.

 

Moving on…

“After much prayer and consultation with wise, biblically-minded people, I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage.”

Yes, he did. He also defiled their marriage bed and broke his covenant between him, Lysa, and God. 

I understand and agree with Lysa that her husband abandoned their marriage. If only it were a past action that could be filed away. For those who haven’t lived through betrayal you should realize…it is an ongoing, active trauma that continually violates a woman’s heart, soul, mind and strength. The road to healing is long.

I’m grateful for Lysa’s courage and vulnerability to share the facts with her readers, without going in to details, as to why she is choosing divorce.  Lysa strives to be real, even when life is messy or ugly, for the sake of passing on gospel lessons.

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” I Thessalonians 2:8

Lysa’s a teacher at heart; with a heart that is broken but still nurturing. Her marriage failed because of her husband’s choices; she did not fail. I believe it’s safe to say this trial has not been fun or easy, but when she comes through on the other side she, because of her faithfulness to God, will see fruit—not just in the circumstance—but in herself.  God knows the fruit is there because He’s already prayed His will over it.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Lysa kept her husband’s secrets, endured his unfaithfulness, chanced danger from his substance abuse and possible STDs, loved him, and offered him forgiveness multiple times.

Telling Lysa, or any other betrayed or abused wife, that she should … remain subjected to lies, neglect, cheating, emotional trauma, and probable STDs while loving him and hoping to save their marriage because God hates divorce… is not biblically necessary.  I imagine Lysa did that for a time; hoping Art could come through the mess holding his head high with his dignity intact.

I desire for Christians to put away the, “God hates divorce” as the one size fits all quote to prevent a marriage from ending. God hates unnecessary divorce that could be prevented by spouses loving each other, being faithful, and placing each other’s needs above their own. He hates the pain divorce causes each member of the family.

Divorces feels like it will surly kill you when you are suffering through it.

God hates the wounds and the pain caused by divorce…but…God allows divorce in the cases of infidelity and abuse.

Over the last 5 years of ministering to broken women in destructive marriages I have been heart-broken at how quickly the church takes the unfaithful abuser’s side in an attempt to persuade the woman to stay.

Let’s stop assigning damaging words and expectations on the faithful spouse and instead understand their hurt, pray for them, and offer practical help as they walk through the valley of abuse, betrayal, abandonment, and/or divorce.

I’m grateful Lysa will continue to pour her energy and gifts into her ministry, Proverbs 31. I’m thrilled that those around her have not placed blame on her for the wrongs her husband committed against her, nor asked her to step down from ministry. To remove Lysa from ministry and from her current source of income would be revictimization. Her husband’s failure does not damage her character and gifting; in fact, she has been subjected to exemplifying the Proverbs 31 woman in the middle of extreme stress while enduring the public’s eye and a few Christian’s judgementalism. Some Christians believe divorce is sin and should never be used as an option. Others believe that the offended or abused spouse should die to self, take up their cross, and endure more unfaithfulness and/or abuse. God does not place the institution of marriage above the safety, sanity, and health of the victim. He is a God of relationship and he does not expect us to experience the death of our personality, energy, heart, spirit, and strength to appease the offender/abuser and keep the marriage together.

Honestly, I see that the Christian world places more expectations on the innocent victim of the divorce than they do on the offender. Our community of believers tends to want more details so they can verify if you have biblical grounds for divorce.

I sure would like to see this same community hold the unfaithful spouse, or abuser, to the same standard of accountability. Perhaps if they did, the intervention and accountability would have relieved the victim from more heartache and—perhaps—helped to save the marriage.

In the end only One opinion matters—the One who forever calls Lysa worthy.

I’m sure Lysa waited patiently for the Lord, and He allowed her time to work through everything. Through this, Lysa knew she did everything she could to save her marriage and did not prematurely leave.

Did Lysa find what many of us who went before her found? The greater and deeper our emotional trauma; the more intense our spiritual walk becomes. When we are too weak and the problems too big; God supernaturally exerts His power in us resulting in a life of extraordinary growth.

 

“Marriage and family are important to God; just as important to him are the individuals within those marriages.” ~Leslie Vernick, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope

 

For more perspective see: Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse