In her book “Ignited by Truth“, Kaylee speaks from the heart as she tells of the pain of sexual abuse, domestic violence and depression and how she found joy, hope, peace and forgiveness through the darkness.
CHAPTER 9 – DRAWING THE LINE
Jordon and I both wanted another baby. About three months after moving to the smaller apartment, I became pregnant. My husband had been attempting a pot-growing adventure that didn’t work, and money was tight. He then began to sell cocaine. I told him he would have to leave if he wanted to sell drugs, so he moved in with his mom. I sometimes visited him and spent the night. On one of these nights, he told me he wanted to move back in with me. I told him he needed to quit taking and selling drugs. He raged, “What do you want, a divorce?” He threw me against the wall and slapped me around, punching me in my pregnant stomach.
“I’m leaving,” I screamed as I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. Meanwhile, he went outside and took the points plug off the distributor cap so the car wouldn’t start. As I ran outside to get into the car, he came after me with a baseball bat and started to bash in the windshield and hood of the car.
“I’m going to call the cops. Someone, call the cops!” I screamed.
“No one will help you, bitch!” Jordon shouted.
I ran back into the house and called 911. This was the first time in five years of abuse that I had called the police. Jordon ran and hid somewhere while I waited for the police. They arrived and drove Stephanie and me to a nearby restaurant, where I called my sister Ashton to pick us up. Although I had never told any of my family about the abuse, at this point I had no choice. I told Ashton what was happening, and from that point on she helped me and encouraged me to get out of the situation. She would call me up and invite me to go with her to run an errand or go out shopping. This gave me a much-needed break-I was always ready to get out of the house and see some friendly faces. Later after Jordon and I moved to Colorado, Ashton would send me encouraging cards with desperately needed money. I never asked her for help; she always seemed to know when to step in. She was a good friend and sister. She never forgot a birthday card for my kids or me. Knowing I was strong enough to live as a single parent, she wanted me to leave Jordon, but only I could make the change. I had to want it deep inside and then do something about it, not just talk about it.
That night after the police took Stephanie and me to the restaurant to wait for Ashton, some nice person bought us each a soda and offered us some food. By the time Ashton arrived, I knew it was time to leave Jordon. I was finished with him. I packed up some things, and Ashton took us to my girlfriend’s house, where I thought we’d be safe. Jordon knew where all my brothers and sisters lived, but I didn’t think he knew where Danielle and Nathan lived. Somehow he did. He came knocking on the door. I told Danielle not to answer. Jordon started shouting through the door and begging me to come back to him. He said if I didn’t leave with him that night, he would burn my friends’ house down and bash all their car windows out.
Danielle’s husband came home and got rid of Jordon for a while. For the first time, I called a shelter. Crying, I told them why I had to go into hiding. They told me to drive to a designated hotel that was located in the bay area. They would pay the lodging fee, and someone would call me in the morning.
The next day, I met with the people from the shelter at a nearby restaurant. Then I followed them to the shelter, taking side streets and back alleys to make sure no one was following us. At the shelter, they took Stephanie and me to a room that we shared with another woman and her children. They provided counseling and three meals a day. I was very uncomfortable and prayed a lot for the first time since becoming a Christian. We were able to stay at the shelter for up to three months, but after only two weeks, Jordon saw us in court and begged me to come home. He promised not to hit me again and handed me a huge ten-page letter of “I’m sorry” and “I will never hurt you again.” This was the first time he had actually admitted to hitting me, so I forgave him.
The reconciliation didn’t last long-soon Jordon and I separated again. He was done with me, and I was finished with him. I really believed this was our final separation. I had a restraining order on him, but he would wait outside the legal boundary, and the second I crossed that line, he would begin to harass me.
Our wonderful son, Christopher, was born in March of 1983. I was two weeks late and thought I would never deliver. While I was sleeping one night, I felt a slap like someone hitting me on my behind. I thought it was an angel saying, “Get up; it’s time.” Jordon and I were still separated at the time. When I went into labor, I called him to be there for the birth. He and his friend, both stoned on pot, drove me to the hospital.
Jordon was still trying to make a million dollars growing pot or gambling. With two children to care for, I became increasingly concerned about finances. Jordon did not want me to work, but I decided to get a job so I could support our two children. I made plans to apply at Winchell’s doughnut house that was located in walking distance to our apartment.
My sister-in-law Cat, worked at Payless Food in Mt View, along with a really nice man named Lloyd, who years before had thrown doughnut dough at my sister and me as we pressed our noses against the glass, watching him make doughnuts. When I filled out an employment application to work at Winchell’s, Lloyd was the one who interviewed me. We began to talk and I found out that he was the baker from Payless Food. I noticed that while we were talking, my kids accidentally got some jelly from the doughnut they were eating on the application. I couldn’t wipe the stain off, so I drew two circles like a doughnut around it. Lloyd thought that was cute, and my little bit of ingenuity helped me get the job.
Lloyd and I were friends for many years after I left Winchell’s. Whenever we wrote a note to each other, we would add a little drawing of a doughnut.
I had moved back into the Riley’s house in exchange for cleaning and cooking and was waiting to be accepted into a low-income housing project nearby. (This was the family I had babysat for years before.) One day Lauren Riley let me use her car to drive to work at Winchell’s, and I stopped into a Jack-in-the-Box to eat. While I was in the drive-through line waiting for my food, Jordon barged into the back seat and took Stephanie from her car seat. I started screaming. My car was jammed between two other cars and I couldn’t get out of the drive through to follow Jordon. After beeping my horn repeatedly, the car in front of me finally moved. I sped out of the parking lot and quickly caught up with Jordon. I rammed his car with mine over and over again, screaming at him to pull over. Finally, he did.
“Give me my daughter right now!” I screamed. Jordon was aghast-I just opened his car door and took Stephanie. He got out and stood there in shock looking at his mother’s brand new white car with all of the dents. Of course, my friend’s car was a mess too, but she just said, “I can replace my bumper. You did the right thing.”
About a month after the Jack-in-the-Box incident, Jordon invited us over to his Mom’s for Christmas. I thought we should go because I wanted the kids to have a dad and a family for Christmastime. While we were there, Jordon’s friend Frank called from Denver and asked if Jordon could move into his house. He claimed to have a beautiful $150,000 home and a job for Jordon.
Praise the Lord, I thought. I hope he does move to Colorado and leave us alone. He moved that next week.
Jordon called me often to tell me how nice it was in Colorado. When he first arrived, he was very disappointed to learn that the house was actually a dump, and there was no job. But the wonderful news was that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. A true miracle! After praying, I felt the Lord calling me to go and try one last time. This was the sixteenth time breaking up, going back together, and breaking up again.
Stephanie, Christopher and I arrived in Denver in late January 1984. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and fresh snow on the ground. Jordon and his pastor picked us up at the airport.
All I had brought were our clothes and a few belongings-about eighteen boxes. Somehow, six boxes were lost with most of my clothes and all of my jackets and coats. While we were driving to our new home, I noticed Jordon seemed different. His eyes were bright and inquisitive, his nails were a nice length-not all chewed off-and he was actually having a conversation with me. He seemed happy for the first time since I had known him.
My heart sank when I saw the shack we were to live in. Lord, I know you provided this, but it is a dump. The house was falling apart and the roof leaked. It was dirty. The man who had invited us to this $150,000 home had lied to us. He was Jordon’s friend and best man at his first marriage. Confined to a wheelchair, he was a very bitter and angry, unforgiving veteran.
On our first night there, I wrote a song for Jordon in about three minutes: “Expecting a Miracle.” It’s a song about being born again.
Two weeks after the children and I arrived, Frank died in a local hospital.
Here we were. No money and no job. The pastor was the only person we knew. And two children to care for. How would we eat? How would we take over the rent payments? Humanly speaking, these things were impossible, but with God all things are possible. Jordon said he wanted to stick it out and trust Jesus. We knew we needed to expect another miracle.
We contacted the owners of the house we were living in and informed them of Frank’s death. We explained that we had just moved in and had no money to pay the rent. Frank had already paid the rent through February-we told the landlords we’d be out by the end of February. Another miracle: the homeowners were Christians and said we could stay there as long as it took to get on our feet. Jordon got a job in two weeks, and we were able to make the March payment.
All this time, I kept giving glory to God, and He continued taking such good care of us. He sent help from all directions. My friend Lloyd from Winchell’s sent money, although I’d never asked for it. My sisters would send money, always just in the nick of time. We received notes and “I miss you” cards with $10, $20 and even $100 enclosed. Neighbors asked us over for dinner or bought us groceries when we had nothing to eat. I had not asked for this help from anyone. These people were not even Christians!
I learned from our landlords that the husband was a former abuser, but Jesus had helped him overcome his anger. This brought me renewed hope.
Jordon’s new job was with a trucking company in Arvada, Colorado, and everything was going great. We were both Christians and going to church at every opportunity. God was meeting our needs, and we were happier than we had ever been.
The church Jordon had been attending was a nice Baptist church, but it was a little too much “fire and brimstone” for me. The people did help us out a lot and were instrumental in helping Jordon find his first job in Colorado, but I really hoped we could find a church we would all be more comfortable in. I prayed and prayed about finding another church within walking distance because we didn’t have a car. I didn’t want to hurt Jordon’s feelings, so I said these prayers privately.
Another downhill slide
But then we began a downhill slide. Slowly, Jordon started straying away from the Lord and church. First, he’d miss one Sunday here and one Sunday there. Then he quit going on Wednesday nights, and soon he stopped going to church altogether.
After church on Sundays, I would walk, pushing the two kids in one stroller. We stopped at a local restaurant where the kids shared a kids’ breakfast special for 99 cents, and I had coffee and ate what the children left on their plates. Walking home, I would pass an old building that looked as though it had been a church at one time, but I didn’t think much about it. Then one Sunday after church and breakfast, I walked past this old Nazarene church and saw people in a building in the back. I was too shy to barge in on their fellowship lunch, so I went in the front of the church and picked up a bulletin, thinking, I’m going to try this church.
I did, and the kids and I loved it! Another miracle.
Jordon thought I was way off base and wanted me to continue going to the Baptist church. I said I would if he would go with me, so he did a couple of times. But it did not last, and so I started going to the Nazarene church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and every Wednesday and was thriving on the Word. I was alive again!
I continued going to this Nazarene church for the next four years. In the meantime, my husband drifted further and further from the Lord. He began hanging around people who loved drugs. He started smoking pot and cigarettes again and staying out very late at night.
I feel Jordon had not been deeply rooted in the Word of God, so instead of growing in his Christian walk, he began to backslide. He returned to doing drugs. We argued more and more each day-mostly over the fact that he was never home. Every time we argued, I told him I wanted a divorce. He would get furious, push me around and slap me. I would tell him to get out of the house. Every time we broke up, I would get on welfare and food stamps.
Then Jordon started getting really sick and was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. We went back on welfare and food stamps, and I started going to school. Jordon began to hate Colorado. He complained that the weather was too cold, and he insisted that he wanted to move back to California. In fact, he wanted me to give him all of my welfare check so he could fly back to California and live. When I refused, he began to hit me and choke me. I thought that he was surely going to kill me this time. As I was blacking out, I remember thinking, Jesus, what should I do? Why are you letting him hurt me again? I had a thought to say my daughter’s name. I whispered “Stephanie” while he was choking me; he suddenly threw his hands back. My two kids, ages five and three, ran up to us and began to hit their daddy-one with a broom and one with a mop.
Jordon stopped the physical attack, but he still insisted that I give him the welfare check so he could fly back to California without us. He had never wanted me to go to school. I only had two semesters left to finish and thought we could all move back to California after my graduation. Jordon did not want to wait. Immediately after the choking attack, I called my pastor, and I was hysterical. He and his wife already knew about the problems we had been having, so he came right over. I told him what Jordon wanted me to do, explaining that if I gave Jordon the money, I would not be able to pay the rent. The pastor wanted Jordon to leave, so he gave him the travel money out of his own pocket.
Previously, I had received counseling from several pastors regarding the abuse. All of them had insisted I must stay in this abusive situation and pray for the Lord to change Jordon. When Pastor Dan now provided his own money for Jordon to leave, I couldn’t believe it. I had never heard of a pastor recommending a tough love action of separating from the situation until both parties could get some counseling. I will always appreciate his help. Jordon never returned to Colorado, and he filed for divorce two years later. He hated God and me. I never wanted a divorce, but it seemed at this point that I had no choice.
And now it was finally time for me to begin again-without Jordon.
“Even when you are chased by those who seek your life, you are safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch!” (1 Samuel 25:29).
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24 NIV).
Through these years of abuse, I finally learned how important it is to report abuse. If you are living in an abusive situation, tell someone, anybody-a friend, a family member, the police. Be bold enough to leave. Don’t tell the abuser you want a divorce or kick him out of your home. And do not let on that you are leaving, as this only creates rage. Just go and seek a safe house. Get some counseling immediately, and above all, pray!
There are danger signs of abusive tendencies you can watch for in your relationship: jealousy of everything, controlling behavior, isolation, blaming everyone but himself for all of the problems, getting upset easily, cruelty to animals, insensitivity, abusive playfulness, verbal abuse, sudden mood swings and unpredictable behavior, past history of abuse, threats of violence, breaking your precious items and using force during an argument.
You may find that you tend to push away from the abuser even though you love him. You may try to retaliate when you are hurting because the person you love is hurting you, and you want him to hold you and tell you everything is going to be all right.
If you are involved with an abuser, he typically will not like your family or friends. He won’t want you to improve your lifestyle by doing such things as getting more education.
If you are in an abusive situation and want to work it out, I suggest you read Dr. James Dobson’s book Love Must Be Tough. I began reading this book believing that no Christian would suggest that I separate from the abuse. The book taught me that I could separate myself from the man and his violence to give us both opportunity to seek Christian counseling that can lead to real changes, not just empty promises of “I have changed” or “I will change.” Real change only comes with a change of heart through Jesus Christ. If your partner says he has changed, look for consistency and evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.
The words quoted from Samuel were originally spoken to Israel, God’s chosen people. But now, if you have received Jesus, you are His chosen child. He loves you; in fact, you are his treasure! He will protect you. This does not mean He wants you to be foolish and just sit there and take the abuse. It means He wants you to trust Him to help you make the right choices, to do things His way in love, and He will be your shield and protector. You are NEVER alone. Jesus is with you every step of the way.
CHAPTER 8: MORE CHANGES
After Jordon left, I was an emotional basket case. I was too upset to finish school, but I did try to go back for a few months. Lucinda, my counselor, even picked me up and drove me to the babysitter and school for a while. She also invited us to her home for dinner and to spend the night away from our lonely home. But even with all this support, I could not pass the finals and gave up school for good. I began working temporary jobs and was able to get enough experience to find a steady job. Listening to a Christian radio station while at work, I heard an announcement for a secretarial position at a hotel. I called and made an appointment and got the job. It only paid the minimum wage of $3.35 an hour. It was a hotel and day employment agency that helped homeless people get restarted. The homeless people were paid cash every day and could stay in a dorm-like setting for only six dollars a night. The hotel owners were wonderful Christian people, and the job was very rewarding.
While working at the hotel, I met my second husband, Evan, who was the hotel janitor. We fell in love and were married July 17,1988. Evan, claiming to be a Christian, was interested in Jesus, church and reading the Word. He even helped me start a clothing bank at the church I was attending.
Eventually, I quit the hotel job for a better paying job with benefits. What a mistake. I had changed jobs just for the money, but quickly realized I should have stayed at the hotel, where I had been happy. Then, two months after Evan and I married, he was cleaning windows on the second story of the hotel and fell off the ledge, crushing both feet and breaking his right arm in several places. He was in a wheelchair for six months.
Evan became verbally abusive, and I sensed that something was very wrong with him. When he recovered, he got a job delivering pizza for Dominoes. One night while making deliveries, he forgot to turn on his headlights and the police pulled him over. A routine check by the Denver police officer turned up a warrant for Evan’s arrest. He was wanted in Texas for molesting his niece.
I couldn’t believe it! I was a victim and survivor of molestation and somehow had married a child molester. The following year my twelve-year-old daughter, Stephanie, was in counseling because of behavior problems. During counseling, she revealed that Evan had molested her. I couldn’t stay married to this man. I had really tried and had prayed about what to do. More than anything, I wanted God’s will. This new revelation of Evan abusing my daughter made me realize that I had to leave this marriage behind. We divorced in 1990.
My kids were not happy in Denver schools. The three of us had been praying for several years about getting out of Denver and moving to a smaller community. Stephanie was having the most problem, so I sent her to my sister Mackenzie’s house in Santa Rosa for the 1992-93 school year. Christopher and I moved to Rush, Colorado, in April of 1993 and I bought forty acres and a mobile home. Stephanie joined us in June at the end of the school year.
We were all three happy with the change. Christopher and Stephanie both started school in September. I really believed that God had his finger on this location for us.
I found a job at a local bank, but was fired three months later. The only reason my employer offered was that things were not working out like they had planned. I was a hard worker, dedicated to the Lord and to my employer. This was the first time I’d ever been fired, and I was devastated. Very depressed, I decided to go to California for a couple of weeks. When I returned to Colorado, I was able to get unemployment for a while. Then I got a part-time job working at Kings Soopers Deli in Colorado Springs. In later years, my daughter shared with me that this was her beginning of a life very much parallel to mine. She did not like staying home alone while I was at work, and she felt very neglected.
One of my co-workers at the bank where I had worked for three months was named Roberta. Roberta was a very nice girl, and she felt I needed a very nice guy. She tried to set me up with her friend Jack Stone. The first few attempts didn’t work. “It’s OK,” I said. “I don’t like nice guys.”
Roberta didn’t give up easily. She tried again, inviting both Jack and me to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. She felt there would be no “first date” pressure this way. After meeting at that dinner, I invited Jack to church several times, and we went out on dates with my two kids and his three. We were never alone.
Finally, in February Jack took me on a drive-just the two of us. He drove me to Manitou Springs and kissed me in front of a lighted cross on a hill-very romantic, I thought. It turned out we had met on the date of my parents’ wedding anniversary. We continued dating, and he asked me to marry him in March of 1995. I knew he loved Jesus, so I said yes. I loved Jesus and fell in love with Jesus in Jack. We were married July 7, 1995, which happened to be his parents’ anniversary date.
“The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:3 KJV).
When I learned that I had married a child molester, I was so upset. How could this have happened? I was a Christian. I went to church, read my Bible and prayed. And yet, as I prayed for answers, I realized that I had stepped out ahead of the Lord. I saw something I thought was good to do and didn’t wait on the Lord and seek His plan. And so I reaped the consequences.
So many times actions and decisions that seem good to our human eye are really not the best for us. God’s plan is always best. And even though we sometimes feel as though He’s taking forever, his timing is always best.
My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same. Job 4:8
I have had many difficult, even devastating, times in my life. For years, I fought and rebelled against God and His ways. And then I blamed Him when things went wrong. “Why me, God?” was my favorite verse.
Some people think that when they become a Christian, they won’t have any more problems. Wrong! In the first place, we reap what we sow. Thanks to the price Jesus paid for our sin, if we receive Him as our Savior, we do not reap the eternal stay in hell that we deserve. Instead, we are forgiven, covered by His blood and His grace. But while we are here on this earth, we do reap the natural consequences of our sin and our foolishness.
Even as Christians, we make wrong choices, commit sin and often get ahead of God’s plan for us. If we repent, he will forgive and cleanse us, but we will usually reap the natural consequences of those errors. For example, I believe I got out of God’s will when I married Evan. God forgave me, but there were natural consequences that included my daughter being hurt, my heartbreak and the pain of divorce. But because I trusted God, He gave me the strength to walk through those consequences.
God doesn’t promise that life will be easy, even when we walk in obedience. In fact, Jesus told us it wouldn’t. But he also promises that we will overcome . . . that we can do all things through Him.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need” (Philippians 4:13).
CHAPTER 9: THE WELFARE WALK
“These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9 NIV).
“Walk this way, please.”
When you are on welfare, you must do it the government’s way, no bending the rules. There is so much red tape involved in getting welfare. Once you do, you can’t express your ideas for improving your lifestyle. Once you begin to make any money or want to change the way you live, you no longer fit into the welfare slot.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 KJV).
Welfare is not God’s plan for you; if it were, our trust would be in the United States government instead of God.
I was on and off welfare for over seven years. When my first husband and I seemed to be headed for more separation or even divorce, I realized I had no education and two very young children to raise. Jordon was sick and back into drugs, and I went on welfare. I hated waiting for my check every month only to find that the two hundred and seventy five dollars was spent, and then some, before I even cashed the check. I walked, took a bus or borrowed someone’s car to go to the grocery store. First, I purchased money orders for the rent and the phone; then I bought shampoo, toilet paper, soap and maybe a trip to the ice cream parlor for a treat. There was never enough money left over to pay the utilities. Some time after I went on welfare, Jordon left us and eventually filed for divorce.
There is a program available through welfare called “leap.” If you qualify, they will pay the heat and electricity bill. This service is operating because of customers’ donations when paying their bills.
In addition, I was allowed $100 in food stamps each month. Grocery shopping doubled as our entertainment for the month. I was pretty good at spending the food stamps on the right kind of food that would last all month. I would purchase ten pounds of hamburger meat, 70% lean, and divide it into smaller sections of one pound or a half-pound. I bought lots of hot dogs-we all hate them now. A monthly dinner of roast, steak or pork chops was our special treat. I enhanced our main diet of hamburger meat with pinto beans, potatoes, pasta or rice. I used flour, sugar, peanut butter and jelly for making bread, cookies and cakes. Milk mixed with powdered milk and canned evaporated milk made a great tasting milk. A little juice and some oatmeal and dry cereal rounded our nutritional needs for the month. With the food only lasting about three weeks, even with conservative shopping and creative cooking, life was a constant struggle for survival. I knew of many women who had enough food for only one to two weeks due to poor planning and unwise spending.
My next-door neighbor and I hit all the food banks nearly once a month. One was the 700 Club’s Operation Blessing; another was called the Salt Shaker Ministry. There were as many as ten food banks in our zip code area. Another program called WIC (Women, Infants and Children) seemed to be the most efficiently operated government sponsored resource for food. This organization offered food staples such as fruit juice, peanut butter, soft cheese, canned fruit and vegetables, dry cereal, Cream of Wheat, dry mashed potatoes, dry beans and butter. We were rarely able to get fresh food from the food banks. I did purchase large bags of apples because they have a longer shelf and refrigerator life.
During this time, I learned to make birthday cakes for the kids and eventually started my own cake business, selling to the neighbors and their friends. Everyone loved my recipe! In later years, I was able to start my own bakery.
I kept our meals simple, but was sure to include all four food groups. I loved cooking and being creative. Stretching the food was actually a fun challenge for me. I can make the best beans and bread, and they would fill us up.
I do recall one time I was very upset because I did not have enough food to make a decent meal for the two kids and me. About an hour later, our neighbor came knocking on my kitchen window and invited us over to supper. Even though my neighbor was not a Christian, God must have spoken to her. I slid the kitchen window shut and began to cry tears of joy for the Lord’s plan to provide a very large and delicious meal. I believe I was the happiest when I was so poor and had to lean on the promises of God. During times like this, I was literally trusting God for the next meal.
I continued seeking God’s will for my life and although I wanted to give up living, I held on to the promises of the bible. When my faith started wavering, I got back into the Word and stayed close to people who could encourage me and love me through the tough times. It seemed as though a very small amount of faith would keep me going. I listed to Christian radio everyday. Charles Stanley’s teachings were so encouraging to me at this time, and the word of God feed my soul.
Each day brought a good word, a friendly phone call. Sometimes I made those calls, reaching out to encourage others. Other times, they called me. Reaching out to others when you are hurting is so important. I was making connections, sharing ideas, and using His wisdom in setting and reaching goals to get off welfare.
During those last few years with Jordon, I wanted to work, but had no skills-the best I could find was a minimum wage job. Earning minimum wage would put me over the limit, and I would lose the welfare checks. Additionally, I would have to give half of my paycheck to the daycare for my children and wouldn’t have enough left to pay for rent and necessities. Taking a minimum wage job would yield me less money than welfare-and so I opted to stay on welfare.
There was a women’s program in Denver called “Project WISE.” Here is a quote from their web site: “Project WISE: AWomen’s Initiative for Service and Empowerment” is a nonprofit organization that offers a unique combination of services to women to support personal change, along with community organizing and political advocacy with and on behalf of women. Its main focus is helping families on welfare – 98% of which are families headed by single women – move from dependency to self sufficiency. When on welfare, participants had to sign up for job placement or attend school. Welfare recipients who didn’t sign up for this program lost their welfare benefits. This program would help participants find the best job suited to their current skills, update their current skills, help with resumes, free bus pass or tokens, and assist in finding a job through “Job Service.” Because of this program, I was able to enroll at Barnes Business College, hoping that I could attend even though I had no money in my possession. This government service also paid for daycare for my children for up to one year-in fact, they extended that for the first three months of my first job.
When I first applied to attend Barnes, I was very honest with the counselor; this honesty helped me get more out of the program. The counselor, Lucinda, was a Christian. She asked me what high school I graduated from. I explained that due to severe depression at the time, I never graduated from high school. (Incidentally, I did get my G.E.D. some time later just before opening my bakery. I still wanted my high school diploma, so in 2001 I went back to high school and earned my diploma. My daughter, Stephanie, did not graduate high school so she studied and received her G.E.D. My son also graduated from high school. We were all three from the Class of 2001. What a family celebration!)
I learned to type and began working at temporary jobs. I reported my income each month, and the welfare was gradually taken away. This release from welfare was frightening-it was like an addiction or bondage. I felt I couldn’t make it on my own, and I had to have this government money coming in every month to support my kids. Going to work and relying on just me was very scary.
I had the Lord to help me through the tough times, but most of the women I knew had no God-only booze and drugs-to get them through the day. How could any of these women expect to get off welfare if they were not thinking with a sober mind? They usually refused to think about the future because such thoughts depressed them. When they did think about the future, they ran from it by drinking or taking drugs to feel better for the moment.
The worst “catch 22” situation I can think of is a woman and her children depending on welfare to meet their needs. Jesus is the only answer. When we are willing to trust Him one step at a time, He will guide us, help us make wise choices, provide when provision seems impossible, love us and see us through.
If it weren’t for my church family praying for me and encouraging me through the tough times, I don’t think I could have come this far in life with a joyful heart about the past. They were wonderful through all of these hardships.
I was eventually able to work and phase out of the welfare program. God had used the government programs to help me through some difficult times, but all the while He was teaching me a better way.
CHAPTER NINE REFLECTIONS
God taught me many things through these challenging times. I’d like to share some of those thoughts with you.
Accept welfare if you are in a situation in which there is no other way, but do so with the mindset that welfare is a temporary solution.
Learn creative ways to make the most of your food supplies, giving your family a variety of healthy meals.
View making your food and money stretch as a fun challenge, rather than hopeless drudgery.
Take good care of what you have. The run-down house I lived in had a leaking roof, but I kept the house clean and painted (when the paint was donated to me). I made good use of everything God gave me.
When it seems that there just isn’t enough, regardless of all your creative stretching, trust God to make up the difference.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 KJV).
Take full advantage of training and job placement opportunities offered. Ask God to help you to make the right choices. And ask Him to help you discover your own special talents and gifts-with me, it was cake baking and decorating. Do all you can to develop and use those gifts.
After Barnes Business College, I had enough experience to teach typing and computer skills to low income families. I volunteered and had the faith that good would come from my time spent teaching.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Refuse to have a pity party. I once heard a preacher say, “Get off the pity potty and stop having a party for yourself; get involved in someone else’s life. Don’t be afraid to love-it always returns one-hundred fold.” When you start feeling sorry for yourself, look around. Find someone you can encourage. Reach out to them in love and help them in any way you can.
I kept busy in the church. I believe that keeping busy and helping others kept my mind from wandering and saying “poor me.” I was able to start a clothing bank that eventually became a full-time ministry of food, clothing, shelter and counseling in that church.
Another positive thing I did during this time was to create a family cookbook. Since I did not have a typewriter, every month when I got my welfare check I made out a money order to pay a typist $12 to type the recipes. Then I asked my sister Savannah to help me, and she did most of the work at no cost to me. The final product was not very professional, but it was fun to have favorite recipes from the whole family together in one book.
Don’t let pride stop you from accepting blessings God provides to you through other people. The clothing bank got started because I would always say yes to a bag of free clothing. People, as if prompted by the Holy Spirit, would offer me bags of clothes. I would go through and take what I thought we needed; then I stored the rest in a back room of my house. I never bought clothes for my kids; God supplied in abundance. I had at least thirty bags of clothing in different sizes and colors. God met all my needs, even the little ones. One time I needed underwear, but was not about to give the pastor a prayer request for my underwear needs. No more than a week later, a lady I didn’t even know brought me a bag of clothing. When I opened the bag, I found three pairs of new undies, a perfect fit! God knows our needs, and as we faithfully trust Him, He will supply.
No matter how busy you may be, make time with God your priority. Use this time of need to grow closer to Him. Study your Bible and spend time talking to Him. As you learn to put Him first, everything else will fall into place.
“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to” (Matthew 6:31-33 TLB).
Never give up. Thank God for the provision He is giving you through the government at this time. Believe Him to help you work through this and move on to financial independence, always remembering that He is your provider. Your hope is in Jesus – and He has great plans for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Email and chat to Kaylee at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2005 by Kaylee Tucker. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without written consent of Kaylee Tucker.
This is a true story of the author’s life. In a desire to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned in the book, the author has changed her name as well as many of the names throughout the book.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked “KJV” are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Scripture quotations marked “NIV” are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.
NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked “NKJV” are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Verses marked “TLB” are taken from The Living Bible © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 60189. All rights reserved. separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)