If you haven’t had a chance to read the first part, you’ll want to start there by clicking here!

It’s always these flashing blues and reds with white walls. That’s what I see every time I am reminded of the next part of Karen’s story. And I see it because that’s what I seen that night police picked us up and took us from our home. It’s what I see because that’s all I remember the night my step dad tried to take my mothers life.

“He came home like that a lot; just drunk and angry. I was up feeding your little sister and he came home. He was mad and ready to show me. He grew up with an abusive dad, and I think it’d riddled his bones until he took up the same cause with me.” Her pointer finger rests between her upper and lower lip. She is so beautiful. “You know Dee, when we were dating it was all fun, all love, or so I thought. I had no idea what love was. So when we got married and he began beating me, stealing our money for gambling, or laugh while he made you girls try his beer, I had no idea it weren’t alright.” My heart sinks and I remember the shaking. I was a shaky child. Like seizures I’d slip down the stairs when he’d yell my name. He was terrifying. I watch my mom sit like grace and wonder how she did it all with us four girls and her little frame. But she doesn’t. She never wonders now because she knows.

That night he’d come home drunk and he’d fly off the handle unlike any other night. She ran for the phone to call in some help and he rips the phone cord out of the wall. “He threw me up against the wall and started choking me so bad Dee.” She pauses, remembering to breathe, my trying to forget this part. “I was screaming with your baby sister in my arms. He had a kitchen knife in his hand and held it up to my neck while I begged him to stop.” Somehow she wrestles free with my baby sister in her arms and runs outside for the neighbor. “He ran out after me, grabbing my elbow and throwing Jess onto the snowy front lawn. I pounded on the neighbors door so hard I thought It’d concave, but I couldn’t care. My feet plunge hard into the cold white snow and I grabbed my little girl while the neighbor comes out having already called cops”. I think she’s afraid again so we take some time to praise God. Here we are. Here we are because He was there, and if it’s not for His glory than it just won’t be worth it.

She tells the next part like she just came off the coolest amusement park ride. “He was right there Dee. I looked behind my husband an there was an angel. I didn’t know at the time it was an angel, but I seen one while I was pinned up in a chokehold in that home. I didn’t know it then, but when I heard about God having angels, I knew without a doubt; God was with me. He wasn’t going to let me die.”

That’s when I seen the blue and red. I was just little and sure I had Hubba Bubba stuck up in my sleepy blonde hair. I don’t remember details. I don’t. I remember feeling confident in these strong protective police arms, while terrified I was in a policeman’s arms. I was just so tired.

I woke up to white walls and in a bed I’d never seen before. My mama’s whispering soft to me from below and I cannot make out her face. “I couldn’t talk for months afterwards because he’d beat me so badly. “ She recalls. My mom had been moved into the women’s shelter in that little town and we’d stay there long enough to sing a Happy 2nd Birthday to my little sister. Well, we would sing and my mother would shed silent tears. “And you can’t imagine both the gratitude and pain I’d felt in that very moment. Here I was alive, my children safe… and yet. Here I was in a shelter because the man who was supposed to love and protect me tried to kill me. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t physically sing to my child on her 2nd birthday.” The doctor refused to see her because she was so badly beaten and the rumors coming from my step-dad’s jail cell promised an attempt at murder just wouldn’t do. My mother remembers the shaking. The same kind of shaking I knew, she knew too. We had to be moved. The police wouldn’t let us stay.

And that’s when my mother found a twelve step program at the new shelter we were to live in. A shelter that would give her new life in Christ, a best friend to walk out the recovery and healing with, and children for a newly single mother’s children to find companionship in. It’d be the place we’d make up fake names to hide from any impending attack and learn to thrive as a little band of women.

The story doesn’t end there of course. There were baptisms, and community. There was freedoms and truth for her healing. There was joy through the hardships. There were friends, and there was always laughter. She would suffer much sexual abuse within the church and friends who would back out when it seemed to get rough. She’d spend countless nights sleepless wondering how to provide for four girls. At one point it was four girls, two Rottweiler’s, and a cocker spaniel who just birthed seven puppies… while we were saving up for a motor home so we could move out of our Econo Van.

“You know, I never got tired of bananas or cans of Tuna,” she says with a grin. Though she’d never eat mercury-filled fish now, she chose with consistency to find the silver lining in this living. We moved from vans into motor homes. Motor homes into one bedroom apartments and then even a mobile home. All the while firming her true foundation in His hope.

I ask her and her child-sized frame how she does it. How she chooses not just to get by or make it through… how she chooses not to shake her fist permanently at God, but rather find herself drowning gleefully in resilient hope.

“Well Dee, I seen an angel that night I thought I was going to die. And when you’ve had an encounter so deep with the Savior, you cannot ignore for long that there is a purpose in it all. Sure I get mad sometimes. I point the finger at God and cry out with questions. But I know His divinity because he shows up to me personally. This is the only life for me”.

She’s quiet you know. She doesn’t want or even like the spotlight. She’s got one purpose in mind: find people, and love them like Christ loves her. If you’ve met her, you’ll know she’s been praying for you. And if you see her, she will do nothing less than call you by first name and ask about all those little nothings you mentioned in passing. “Sure, life stinks sometimes. Or maybe life stinks a lot of times. IF it were up to me, I wouldn’t share my story because it speaks of embarrassing and shameful events. But when Christ has intervened, all those awful events become beacons of light of his protective love of me. If I’ve learned anything about myself, about my life and my Savior though, I know He has purposed me. He’s purposed you too. He will use everything, even what was meant for evil, to be used for good”. We’re red in the face of our emotional state, but I know she’s not really thinking about herself. The love of Christ has obviously spread through her bones.

See when you’ve met a person whose found true freedom regardless of life situations, you know their biggest hope is for that freedom to spread around. Nah, she’s not thinking about herself. She’s hopeful through her story, you might find a little bit of Jesus’ freedom just for you.

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