2018: A Year For Hope (Week 30)

This side of heaven, life will always hold a mix of joy and pain. Some will be the result of our own doing, and some beyond the realm of our control. I’m not sure which is the harder to bear.

“Be on your guard against false prophets (i.e. deceivers); they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. You will know them by what they do (not what they say) … A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. … So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.” ~Matthew 716-20 GNB (edited)

“False Prophets” come in many shapes, sizes, and disguises. Some are lovers or spouses. Some parents, some teachers. Some are classmates or colleagues. Regardless the packaging, all False Prophets all have one thing in common … they are bullies and masters of deception. They speak one thing with such power and authority (and often eloquence) that most people overlook the fact that they are actually doing the complete opposite.  Their actions don’t line up with their words!

Who have been the False Prophet’s in your life?

By 1985, some of the sparkle and shine had started to wear off our marriage. Arguing had escalated to fighting, often just to the cusp of violence. “T” never hit me – he never needed to take it that far, for the threat (sometimes blatant, but usually just a subtle reminder of what he was capable of) was enough to get me back in line.

There were happy days. I was not quite 21 years old when my step kids (ages 13 and 10) came up from South America. What did I know about parenting at 21 years old? Nothing … poor kids! But they still love me, so I guess I wasn’t all that terrible a step mom (lol). And “T” and I had two beautiful children together, both girls, born 1984 and 1986. In so many ways, these two little miracles were a lifeline for me. God used them both so profoundly to literally save my life! But I’ll write more about that in the next post ❤

As I said last week, shortly after birth of my firstborn “T” went back to South America to visit family. Upon returning he began to suggest, with increasing intensity, that we needed a Nanny. Suggesting escalated to badgering, and eventually to the constant droning that just wears a body down. Before I gave birth to our second daughter, I had agreed to his bringing a second cousin up from South America to live with us as Nanny under a few conditions. It was early 1987 when “She” moved into our home. “She” was 18 years old, “T” was 40, I was 26, the step kids 17, 15 and 9 (age approx.), my precious daughters 2.5 and 3 months old.

“She” spoke no English and so like it was when my step kids arrived, “T” was the primary interpreter while she learned the language. Immediately “T” began framing up the unfinished room on the first floor, and with her assistance they knocked it out in no time flat. By the time I went back to work full time, “She” was in her own room.

At first, “She” was helpful to have around, helping with laundry and cooking and of course the kids. All the children seemed to like her, and she was very helpful to “T”. If he had a project to do, “She” was always right there to help him do it. They were practically inseparable, but of course that made sense – she was grateful to be here in the USA and they were cousins. Why wouldn’t they spend time together?!?

“She” was young and fit, with the body of an 18-year old who had never born children. I was in my mid-20’s, had given birth to two children, and was about 20 lbs overweight. “T” began harping about my weight again, about my post-pregnancy body shape and flabby stomach. An exercise regimen ensued, but that just added more fuel to the fire because as much as I wanted to please him (mostly so he would get off my back), I also resented that he couldn’t just love me the way I was. Why did his affection for me have to be irrevocably linked to my body weight and shape?

I remember one Saturday morning, with all of us sitting around the kitchen table for breakfast, I had dared to put one (1) spoon of sugar into my cup of (very strongly brewed Colombian) coffee. “T” came unglued! He utterly and completely shamed me for choosing a spoonful of sugar for my coffee instead of choosing to have a few wedges of a cut-up orange that was on the table. They aren’t even the same thing (you can’t put an orange in your coffee!), and the coffee tasted like mud! After some screaming and yelling, I eventually left the table furious and in tears. To berate me like that in front my kids! To make such a fricking big deal over a stupid spoonful of sugar! And to do it in front of “She” (who just sat there with a soft smirk on her face).  There was no pleasing him!

And as the months rolled by, I began to get increasingly agitated by “She’s” presence. Something had changed/shifted in the home, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The Family Room was downstairs, and that was where our TV was. More and more often, it would be time for bed and instead of coming to bed with me, “She” and “T” would stay up late (I mean really late) to finish watching a Spanish-speaking show that they just had to see the end of … or they would need to talk privately about something in her room important, with the door closed of course. This was happening a more and more often. Naturally I complained about it, but “T” would just explain to me that “She” was lonely, missing her family in South America, and that he was just being a good cousin trying to make her feel at home here. All very reasonable answers, but regardless something didn’t seem right about it.

[Years after my divorce my mom told me that on a visit soon after “She’s” arrival and when I was out of the room, “T” kissed “She” on the lips right in front of her and then gave her an “I dare you” kind of smile. “Why didn’t you tell me?”, I asked. “Because I knew you wouldn’t have believed me”, mom said.]

I think it might have been 1989, just before my oldest daughter started 1st grade, that we moved to a 4BR house in a better school district. My two precious daughters shared the bedroom closest to ours. My step daughter shared a bedroom with “She” (as they were just a few years apart in age), and my two step sons shared the 4th bedroom. The house was configured in an L-shape, and there was a 4-season room build just off the kitchen that encompassed the master bedroom window, so that if you looked out the master bedroom window you were looking into the 4-season room. This became our new Family Room. There were many nights that I went to bed alone, leaving “T” and “She” huddled together in the Family Room under a shared blanked on the sofa (back facing the bedroom window) while I waited in our bedroom, eventually falling asleep alone.

Remember that concession “T” harassed out of me? The one that I agreed to only on the condition that “I would NEVER know about it, that it would be far away so that there would be no risk my kids/family ever knowing about it, and that he would give me the ILLUSION of a happy marriage.”?

I was now Office Manager/Exec Assistant at a small marketing office and had developed a personal friendship with one of my employees who happened to be a single mom. She often came over on the weekends she didn’t have her kids, and after a late night of card games and a few beers, it wasn’t uncommon for her to spend the night in my daughter’s room. Then she stopped spending the night.

[Many years later my friend told me “T” tried to sneak into bed with her one night.  Once refused, he routinely stalked her down the hall whenever she went to use the bathroom. She felt very uncomfortable at our house, and she stopped coming over.]

And what about my condition for having a Nanny, in which “I” was to be the “Woman of the house”?  Well, clearly “T” and “She” had a different idea. Subtly but surely, my role was being challenged. She was a threat, that much was evident, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. She was his cousin, almost 22 years younger than him. Why would she want to ruin things for us? It just didn’t make sense. There were a lot of things that didn’t make sense! Like what was happening to my laundry?

Some of my favorite pieces of clothing were mysteriously disappearing. By instinct, I knew that “She” had them and I demanded that she produce them … but of course “She” denied everything and pleaded bullying to “T”. Realizing I was getting nowhere fast, I snuck into “She’s” room (the one she shared with my step daughter) and found my clothes folded tucked neatly between the space of her bed and the wall! Gotcha! I was not crazy! Vindication at last! I tromped down the hall, waiving the newly discovered clothing, certain that now “T” would see that I was being harassed and mistreated by the Nanny who was supposed to be following my rules of conduct.

Nope! Didn’t see that coming! They both lit into me like nobody’s business! How DARE I accuse her of such a thing! How DARE I sneak into HER bedroom! “She” had a right to privacy!! I was NEVER to go into “She’s” bedroom again, under ANY circumstances whatsoever! If I did, I’d be SORRY!

“But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”. ~Matthew 7:26-27 GNB

Which is probably why I didn’t do the logical thing when I woke one night to “T’s” sneaking out of bed, stealthily opening our bedroom door, and tip toeing down the hall. I followed suit, pausing our bedroom door until I heard another door open/close. Any sane person would have marched down the hall and opened the door to find out what he was doing in “She’s” bedroom at 2 am (with his daughter in the same room!!). But I’d already knew what hell I’d pay if I did that! Next, I thought about going outside and peeking in through the outside window … but oh Lord – if they caught me?!?!? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I sat at the end of the hall way with my back against the closet door that bridged the master bedroom and that of my two daughters, and I waited. “I’ve got him this time”, I said to myself. “He’ll be the one catching hell when I catch him red handed exiting “She’s” room!” But he didn’t exit after 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, and eventually I just wearied … knowing that even if he did reenter the hallway and find me sitting there waiting for him, somehow, it would still end up being my fault for “spying” on him. By this time, I’d given him so much control over me that I just didn’t have the strength for this type of confrontation and what it would evoke.

We used to sit around the oval kitchen table in a certain order – “T” on one end, and I on the other. And then “She” started sitting in my spot, while I sat next to my daughters to help them with their meals. Of course, I loved helping my daughters with their meals, but I really resented the way that “She” seemed to own the other end of the table. If seemed as though I was visiting an alternate reality where “She” was “T’s” wife and I was the Nanny.

Once both my girls were in school, “T” and “She” decided that she should run a neighborhood daycare business out of our home. The family room was restaged, and “She” soon took in 3-4 other children in addition to our two little girls. And naturally, “She” became friends with their parents, as did “T”.

[When we went to court, “T” subpoenaed them to testify about what a terrible wife/mother I was – at least based on all the stories they’d heard about me from “She” over the years.]

Apparently running a daycare business is exhausting, because “She” then started needing to get out a little in the evenings. And who do you think she went out with? You guessed it! Here I am working 40-50 hours a week, so that I can pay a wage to our live-in Nanny who also is making a tidy income running a business out of my home, and if that isn’t enough … I’m babysitting the kids while “T” and “She” go out to the movies or other play dates.

  • I want her gone! He wants her to stay!
  • I say she’s taking my place! He say’s I’m just imagining things! Making something out of nothing!
  • I say there is something going on between the two of them! He say’s the revelation of my Dad’s behavior (the family secret) has colored my vision, and that I’m seeing things that aren’t there! He loves me and only me!
  • I’m going to leave if you don’t get rid of her! He says if I ever try to leave him, he’ll whisk my two daughters off to South America and I’ll never see them again!  (the nail in my coffin!)
The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was “Mr T”.    puttinghopetowork.com

They decided to take up Salsa Dancing. They go out at least once a week. I tuck the kids into bed at night, and watch my husband get dressed to go out on the town with the Nanny. The world has gone crazy! I’m going crazy! Feels like ping-pong balls are bouncing around in my head!! He says this, but my eyes see that! Or at least I think they do.  He says I’m imagining things …. maybe he’s right, I have no proof. He says he loves me and only me.  No! Surely this can’t be right! They are “too friendly” all cuddled up on the sofa together in the evenings! That’s not how cousins behave! It doesn’t make sense! We argue more and more, but nothing changes.

“T” decided to build a dance studio for the two of them in our garage. He framed up an approx. 8-10 space that could only be entered from the side door to the garage and proclaimed that this was where he and “She” would practice dancing for an upcoming competition. They were not to be disturbed. Period. To this day, I do not know what was in that small looked room – for even though there was a gap between the top of the wall and the garage ceiling, I was too afraid to climb up and look inside for fear what would happen to me if I was found out.

I was living in crazy-ville, and our fighting increased. During one particularly hot argument he turned to me and yelled “What do you want!?!” The words that escaped my mouth were a shock to my own ears … “I want to see a Marriage Counselor!”, I shouted back.

I am pretty sure God sent a very frustrated angel with a cow-prod to me that day, who somehow managed to jab those words out of my mouth, getting into the atmosphere before my brain had time to process what was taking place! It’s funny to me now, because the moment I heard those words, I’m pretty sure I clasped my hands over my mouth! (What? Oh dear God, who said that?!?!? No the heck I do NOT want to see a marriage counselor! Thankfully, he’ll NEVER agree to that!)

“Fine!”, he said.


In the NKJV, Matthew 7:27 reads “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” I wept when I read that during my morning devotions the day after I’d drafted this week’s post. Yes – the rains descended on my life, and I stayed in the house that I’d built. I needed that house! Then the floods came, but I stayed. Then the winds blew fierce and boisterous and pounding incessantly so as to cause great damage, but still I stayed. And finally, my flimsy little house (the “happy life” I needed so desperately and compromised everything to create) collapsed! “And great was its fall.

Are you listening to the voice of a False Prophet (FP)?

May the Lord Jesus Christ give you discernment to comprehend truth from the lie, to recognize the disconnect between what your FP says and what they do.

Are you building your house (your life) on sand?

May the Lord help you to be truthful with yourself (and others), so that He can then help you bring about change.

Little did I know it, but in that miraculous cow-prodding moment, God flipped the game! It didn’t happen overnight, and I still had a long way to go to being strong enough to confront “T” and take my life back. But it was a game changing moment, and within the next few weeks I would meet the man who would help me deal with not only the insanity of my current life, but help me deal with my past.


All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.



I’ve you’ve been reading my PuttingHopeToWork for very long, you may recall that we launched the Inspire! Art product line in June 2018 because we wanted a way to reach beyond the boundaries of PHTW to bring a bit of hope and inspiration others.

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Thank you for your prayers, shares and continued support.  Praying you truly are blessed in every way! ❤

Jenny, aka Miss Hope


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2018: A Year For Hope (Week 29)

Throughout the eight years that I have been blogging, I have shared snippets of my life nestled in posts about faith, hope, and what the Lord has taught me over the years. Then, this spring, I encountered a young woman crying outside of a Big Box store (week 14) that changed the direction of my current blogging. She told me of a recent rape and of the haunting fear she had that the world was falling apart (judging by the nightly news, who could blame her). We spoke, we prayed, and when her dad arrived to pick her up I gave her my phone number and referred her to my blog so that she could read through my story and be encouraged that while some terrible things also happened to me, they did not define me. Neither did her experiences have to define her … God was big enough to walk her through this season and bring her out safely on the other side.

But upon returning home and browsing through some of my older posts, it occurred to me that I’d never really shared my whole story, but rather just bits and pieces. And so starting in week 20, I began writing a chronological summary of my testimony and transformation. Here we are … 9 weeks in and hopefully only a few more weeks to go. Yet before I pick up the story where I left off in 1984, I need to add a few disclaimers:

• Out of respect for the privacy of other people involved (including siblings, children and grandchildren) I am being very selective about what scenes and details are included. Some things just don’t need to be memorialized in writing, but are better shared over a cup of coffee in a spirit led conversation.

• Furthermore, I am trying not to involve family members to any significant degree. Again, some things just don’t need to be memorialized, especially if sharing them would bring discomfort or embarrassment to people that I love. My family members have their own stories to tell, their own testimonies to share. Rather, I am trying to focus on my portion of the events that took place and document my testimony of transformation and healing.

• Finally, I have spent a lot of emotional energy distancing myself from these events. Or more truthfully, releasing and forgetting them. As I have sought to reconstruct details and timelines, I’ve thrilled to discover that my memories are a little blurry. Isn’t that amazing! There was a time when these events were hard-seared in my mind and psyche … and now I’m having difficulty remembering details and timelines! What a gracious and kind God I serve! How grand is His love for me! How immeasurable His ability to go into the deepest places of soul and spirit, identify unhealthy growths of sin and shame, and remove them with the skill of a surgeon!

So with that understanding, I shall continue…..

It was 1984, I was 24, on my 2nd marriage and raising three step-children, and pregnant with my first child. My precious daughter was born that May, and she was to me the most amazing miracle I’d ever experienced. Still is!

For the most part, I was happy. The happiest I can ever recall being, because I finally had a family of my own and someone who would love me forever and always. By this time, “T” and the kids were attending church with me, I was actually leading worship at our little Baptist church (yup, they were desperate!), and my oldest two step-kids had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. It felt like my deepest prayers had been answered, and while there were some issues … for the most part, I was happy.

Now is where things really start getting kind of fuzzy for me. For it was shortly after the birth of my oldest daughter that my world really turned upside down, and then started spiraling downward. Try as I might, I can’t quite recall the order of events … rather the next few years just sort of clump together in what I will call the pre -“SHE” period

I was not enough
• After the birth of my daughter, we scraped up the money for “T” to fly to South America for a few weeks to visit family. Shortly after he returned, he started pressuring me that we needed to get a Nanny to help with the house and kids. I refused, but that did not stop him from continuing to bring it up on a regular basis with increasing intensity each time.
• We started arguing more. He was super focused on physical fitness and appearance and was always criticizing me because I had put on so much baby weight and didn’t loose it quickly. Of course, I resented being objectified and so the more he criticized me, the more I pushed back. And pushing back against “T” usually didn’t end well, so over time I relented and traded going to church on Sundays with workouts and family soccer games to stay fit. God knew my heart, surely He would understand … especially because it seemed necessary to keep my husband happy and our marriage peaceful.

The family secret revealed
• It was late 1984 or perhaps early 1985 that my dad had been rushed into the ER to try to repair a ruptured aorta. With a very low probably of pulling through, my mom and siblings gathered at the hospital to await the news. Miraculously, he made it! But while in ICU over the next few days, one of my sisters refused to visit him. This really bothered me, and I told her so. That’s when she told my mom about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of my dad as a young girl. That conversation led my mom to talk to my other two sisters, who both told a similar story. Then they asked me…. had dad every approached me sexually? Of course not! (I had the perfect childhood. Remember?)

The ugly side of “T”
• A subtle threat of violence:
o One evening while telling me how frustrated he was with the maneuvering of the mother of his youngest child, he made a comment about arranging for her to have an accident. [Lesson: don’t mess with “T”, he can be dangerous]
o He was relentless when he wanted something. I don’t remember what we were fighting about, but I remember being in our bedroom, and he backed me up against the wall, got about 3 inches from my face with one hand on either side of my head, and yelled on and on and on. I remember trying to get away, managing to get the door opened part way, and with fingers holding onto the door frame and trying to pull myself out while screaming “let me go, let me go” (as if one of the kids might come to save me??). It was pointless … he was stronger and wouldn’t let me go. Eventually, you just had to agree with “T” or it would never end. [Lesson: don’t mess with “T”, he is relentless]
• Integrity is not a virtue:
o I think it might have been after “the secret” came out, but I could be wrong. Anyways, he began to challenge and mock me about my integrity. “I bet you’d even turn in your own brother if he robbed a bank.” (Yes, I think I would … because it’s against the law.). “I bet you’d even turn in me if I broke the law.” (Yes, if you broke the law, I probably would … because you broke the law). The implication was that my adherence to the law was somehow disloyal to family, and as a result I was in the wrong. Family was supposed to trump everything, even the law.
• It’s just sex
o Somewhere along the line, I don’t exactly recall where/when, he began pestering/pressuring me about giving him permission to have sex with whomever he wanted. His logic was simple: It was ME that he loved, but if I couldn’t satisfy him sexually, he wanted me to give my blessing to his finding sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Of course, I refused. If he truly loved me, he would only want to have sex with me. But on and on and on and on he went. Weeks. Months. And again, when “T” wants something, he is relentless. To my utter shame, eventually I agreed on the following stipulations:

1)  I would NEVER know about it.
2) It must be far away, to ensure my children/family would NEVER know about it.
3) He would give me the “ILLUSION” of a happy marriage.

(What a load of crap!)

o While my family was torn apart by the revelation of incest, “T” didn’t seem all that terribly bothered by it. In fact, I remember his commenting once that “Some people would consider it a kindness for a father to teach his daughter about how to be with a man. That it would be better if her first experience was with her dad” and so on. This was fairly soon after the revelation, and I remember yelling “That’s disgusting! Don’t you ever say anything like that again to me! Ever!” He didn’t … but between the subtle and not-so-subtle threats of violence, the shaming for not putting family over lawfulness, the forced permission to let him have sex with whomever he wanted, and now this … What had I gotten myself into?!?!?!

The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was “Mr T”.    puttinghopetowork.com

Just bullet points, but I think you can begin to get a feel for what my life and marriage looked like during this season.

Who Am I
Who Am I

It saddens me to look back and see that I had utterly and completely given “T” the power to determine my value as a human being …  instead of taking my self worth and value from the God who created me.  

I would like to tell you this was the worst of it, but it would be another 4 or so years before I hit rock bottom and left.

But in the mean time, God used the blessings of my two little girls to begin teaching me about His love for me and slowly reshaping my perception of who He is.  I’ll write more of that and continue on in my next post.

Have you ever given (knowingly or unknowingly) another person the power to determine your value/worth?   I’d love to hear a little of your story.




All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 28)

By the grand old age of 20, and after less than two years of marriage, I was on my way to becoming a divorcee. Having married right out of high school, I was making a very modest hourly wage – certainly not enough to live on my own. My parents graciously received me back into their home while I got back on my feet again, and while I’m grateful for their kindness, it was uncomfortable for all of us.

Soon after I filed for divorce, I left my data-processing job at a semiconductor company and I started anew as Receptionist at a small manufacturing company. This was an exciting new environment for me and my strong administrative skills were quickly noted by the President and Sales Manager, affording me several opportunities for advancement within the company. It was also while at this company that I started dating again.

Why is it that after a divorce (or break up of any long-term relationship) we are so quick to “get back in the game”? Under what reasoning do we think that we can process the searing pain, relational loss and likely also some sense of betrayal in a matter of 3-9 months? Where were the counselors to caution me about dating again so quickly? Certainly not at home, for my mom was in full support of my return to the dating world. After all, I’d already “tasted the forbidden fruit” and so naturally I would have desires that demanded to be satisfied again. And isn’t self-gratification more important than taking the time to process your emotions, evaluate the mistakes made, and experience at least some level of spiritual and emotional healing?

I didn’t even wait until AFTER my divorce, I started dating DURING my divorce! Lord almighty! But this is what the world tells us to do … to “Get back up on that horse!”

Colbie Caillat

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

It was 1980 and I was a young blue-eyed, blond-haired woman-child in the age of “Enjoli” commercials telling me that I could and should have it all; love, career, and financial success. I quickly captured the attention of the two single engineers that worked on the other side of the reception area. They regularly flirted with me and I ate it up. “J” took me on a few dates, but it quickly became obvious that he was only interested in one thing, which by the way he was already getting from his on/off girlfriend. And while tempting, I didn’t want to be used in that way. I’d already had a taste of that … I knew better (or so I told myself) than to go that path again, and so I refused any further invitations from him.

“T” however. Well, “T” was another species the likes of which I’d never encountered before. He was from South America and literally oozed sensuality. He was a smooth operator, but in the most charming of ways. At first he flirted with me from a distance while his buddy “J” had a run at me. He was sizing me up, laying the groundwork.

The women in the office talked about “T”. They said he was a womanizer. They said he had kids in South America and was looking for a ticket to bring them to the US. They said to steer clear of him.

But “T” made me feel attractive and desirable. He admitted he had kids in South America that he wanted to bring to the US. But he also said he had “sown all his wild oats” and that he now wanted to settle down and have a family with a special woman … a woman like me. He told me everything I wanted to hear … everything I needed to hear … and I agreed to go on a date with him.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been listening to Andy Stanley’s message “Three Myths, Part 1, ‘How to make sure next time is better than last time.’” We all experience unpleasant endings in life … job endings, relationship endings, etc. And if we will take the time to evaluate our experiences that led to those unpleasant endings, we just might successfully course correct so that our next time is better than our last time. But that takes energy, honesty and personal responsibility. It also takes time – time to process, time to heal. And when you’re young, who has time for that.

While tempted by “J’s” smooth talking ways, the remembrance of my upbringing and desire to be a “good Christian” helped me to exercise some modicum of self-control. But all that went completely out the window with “T”. I am utterly ashamed of the way I behaved during our first date. Thankfully, mobile phones with cameras hadn’t been invented yet and so no one was able to document our scandalous behavior as I gave way to the torrent of desire that he (12+ years my senior) so artfully stirred up in me. It is by the sheer grace of God that despite his persistent and seductive invitations, I managed to get myself into my car after he brought me back to his place (a small house which he rented with 2 other guys, one who just happened to be “J”). * Sigh *

I clearly remember the image of him in the rearview mirror, wearing a red sweater over a white shirt tucked into well-fitted jeans as he watched me drive away. I said to myself “that man is the devil himself” and then I drove off before I behaved even more atrociously than I already had. I had no idea how true those words would prove true over the course of the next 10 years.

What kind of lies do you tell yourself? What won’t you see because if you saw it, it would derail the fantasy you are trying so hard to live out?

Date number two didn’t end “T” in the rearview mirror. I stayed that night, and a few other nights after that. He asked me to move in with him, and told me he loved me. It was music to my ears, and when I was with him I felt like the most beautiful woman-girl on the planet.

Whereas “M” left me feeling used, betrayed and undesirable, “T” adored me, hungered for me, and promised me the very thing that I wanted more than anything else. A family! He wanted to live with me, for me to be mother to his children (once we brought them up from South America), and he promised to marry me as soon as my divorce finalized.

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?
Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

With our pitiful combined incomes we somehow managed to find a 3 bedroom house to rent and moved in together while my divorce was being processed. I sold my custom made diamond wedding set (to one of my sisters to wear as a stunning pinky ring) and with the funds we purchased airline tickets and flew his kids up. And in preparation for their arrival, my sisters helped me sew curtains out of decorative bedding and turn the little dump we rented into something modestly welcoming and homey. Before the kids arrived, I had made a “welcome home banner” for them, and had their rooms staged with gently used stuffed animals and other yard-sale finds appropriate for their ages. We were going to be a family and I was finally going to be seen, heard, and loved unconditionally.

“KNOWING better doesn’t mean you have the strength, or power, or self control to DO better.” ~Andy Stanley

I had married “T” on my 21st birthday just two weeks after my divorce finalized. Red flags started going off almost immediately, but I ignored them. I had to. Acknowledging that I might have made a mistake would have meant that I’d be alone again, that I’d be a failure again. And my battered psyche just couldn’t handle that. I needed him, because I needed to be needed and he made me feel needed. So when he started disappearing for long periods of time on Saturday mornings, I quickly accepted his explanations that he was just handing out with friends after Karate practice. Sure it bothered me that one of those friends was a woman, but he promised me they were just friends. He loved me!

True, it infuriated me when I saw him knock the legs out from under his 10-year old daughter because she didn’t wash the dishes right … layed her flat out on the floor with a sweeping leg kick. But I yelled at him – told him I’d not put up with that, and he promised not to do it again.

And I was uncomfortable with some of the things that happened between us behind closed doors – but the Bible says that happens ‘in the marriage bed’ is OK, right?

Besides, by this time we had already moved his son and daughter (ages 13 and 10) up, and I had a family to call my own. The voice of shame spoke to me and said “You made your bed, now lie in it.” I obliged.

His Saturday morning delays grew longer, much longer, and eventually he told me about a 3rd child. He had also been spending Saturdays visiting his youngest son who lived with his ex-wife just a few towns over. Well I wanted a family, right? Imagine this … before my 22nd birthday, I was on my second marriage and was now raising a 13 year old stepson, a 10 year old stepdaughter, and a 2 year old stepson on the weekends.

Over the next few years we both experienced some professional success. We managed to buy our first house in 1983, a tiny little 2 bedroom place that was just big enough. And then I got pregnant, a dream come true!! With tremendous excitement for the life growing within me, we flipped that tiny house and moved a little farther out towards the east side of town and into a 3BR 2 BA split level ranch that had a large partially finished lower floor that could be finished off to add 2 more bedrooms. We were in love. We were a family. And we were having a baby. Everything was falling into place, and I was finally going to be happy.

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you

Before I continue with my story I want to share this beautiful song by Colbie Caillat called “TRY”, which has an even more powerful video. I’ve listened/watched to it about 10 times while writing this post.

Friends, are you TRYing? Are you TRYing to be what someone else wants you to be, or what you think you should/need to be in to be loved and accepted? Are you TRYing to please your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife? Are you TRYing to please a boss or seeking the approval of a parent? Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight, pause a moment and please hear this. You don’t have to TRY.

You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are valuable.
You, today, now … just where you are, and just the way you are.
Because Jesus loves you!
Just where you are, and just the way you are.
He doesn’t need you to clean-up, pretty-up, dress-up, or fake-up in order to love you.
He just loves you. And try as you might, you can’t come up with a reason for Him not to love you.
He loves you with a perfect and all-consuming love, today and right now.
In your messiness. In your imperfection.
His arms are open to you, and He is inviting you in.
And as you draw near, if you listen … you will hear Him say this:
“I’ve already paid the price for you, son/daughter. Rest in me. You don’t have to try anymore.”

Two final notes. Last week I shared a preview of my next painting, intended for this weeks post. But it is really more appropriate for next weeks’ post, because it’s in 1984 when things really started to unravel and “The Nightmare that was Mr T” began.

Secondly, while I’m trying to write my testimony in a (relatively) chronological order, I may not have all the timing right and perhaps even misremember some of the details. In truth, I have spent the last 25 years trying to distance myself from this part of my life and so if you notice some inconsistencies between these posts and perhaps something written back in 2014 or 2015, please know that it is not intentional. I’m being as truthful as I can with the details as best as I can remember them.


All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 27)


Please excuse the delay in posting.  With the mid-week celebration of Independence Day, I got a little off track and off schedule.

And also, to be quite honest, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to write this anymore.  Not the blog in general, just my story – my testimony.  Up ’til now, I’ve shared about the childhood I remembered, the aching need for love and acceptance that had me searching for a husband at age 14, and the consequences of making choices based on emotional need.

And that was OK, a little sad at times, but it’s all in the past and in hindsight I can look back, sigh, and say “Thank you Lord that I’m not that girl anymore”.

Call Me Beautiful
by Ginny Owens

I’ve been waiting
For a hero who’s brave and strong
Someone to love me
Someone to tell me I belong
So I pretend I’m satisfied
And I stand watching from the sidelines
Till You pull me into the light
And say “It’s Your turn now
Welcome to your life!”

And you call me beautiful
And say You’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys to unlock my soul
Oh you call me beautiful

I’m sure you’ve got parts of your life you’re not all that proud of either.  We all do.  But a trusted friend would understand that’s part of your past and not judge you for it.  They’d see you for who you are now.  I’m hoping you will do the same.

In this next part of my story …. well, there is a lot about it that I am ashamed of.  Ashamed of my behavior, ashamed of what I let happen to me, and of what I let happen to those that I love.    And I wonder what will be the consequence and impact of my being so bold as to uncover these details of my past (or the details that are appropriate to share in this type of setting).   Will it shift how people see me in my day-job?  Will some people close doors because they’re uncomfortable knowing this much about me?  Will my honesty have any negative impact on my loved ones?

I know.  That’s all the voice of fear speaking, and I shouldn’t be listening to him.

But that’s a big part of the reason why I didn’t post on Thursday as scheduled.

Instead I painted.  Here is a preview of the artwork for the next section of my story.

The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was Mr. T”  http://www.puttinghopetowork.com


Now to breath deeply, pray, and start writing about the worst parts of my life with hope that by doing so, someone might recognize themselves in my story … and more importantly recognize the LIFELINE that is Jesus Christ!





There’s a smile on my face
And a brand new light in my eyes
It’s a new day
And I’ve never felt so alive
I feel as if I could conquer anything
Oh that’s what your love has done for me
And now all I want to be
Is everything you want me to be

And you call me beautiful
And say you’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys
To unlock my soul, but I didn’t know
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
You call me beautiful

The story is better than I could dream after all
Now this is reality
To know you and to hear you call me beautiful
Call me beautiful
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
Now that I know
You call me beautiful


All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.