First, I want to tell you a bit about my parents...

My dad had a choleric personality and he worked in construction. He worked with heavy equipment (like cats and scrapers) for building roads, dams, etc... He was so hot-tempered that he was always quitting a job and moving on to another one. In most ways he had high morals. He didn't lie, he didn't commit adultery (not physically at least), wasn't a thief, he loved little children, never drank alcohol (after he married my mom), he quit smoking when I was a child, and he was a hard worker.

However, he was abusive to my mother.. As I said, he did love little children and would pay a great deal of attention to them. He wasn't a Christian, but he always quoted this verse from the Bible: "Let the Little children come unto me, for such is the kingdom of God."

He distrusted adults and was very prejudiced against minorities. He especially hated blacks and would say awful things about them. When he married my mom, he was a widower. His mother raised his boys, but we always thought of them as brothers. They would often stay with us (usually in the summer). He and my mother had seven children of their own. I was the first girl after five boys, and my dad spoiled me rotten. I loved him so... Until I fully realized how abusive he was toward my sweet-natured mother. Then I began to hate him...

My mother had a phlegmatic personality.
She was easy going and rarely raised her voice. I often took advantage of her easy-going nature and to this day I regret all the times I mistreated her. Her own father was shot to death in front of her, her siblings and her mother. She was five years old when it happened, and she never wanted to talk about it. Several years after her father's death, her mother remarried and her step-dad sexually abused her. Her only brother died just after her sixteenth birthday. That's when her step-dad began to abuse her. She married my dad two weeks after her brother's death. She felt she had to get out of the house before her mother found out about the abuse. Her first child died when he was only seven months old. Her heart was crushed. She allowed my dad and older brothers to spoil me but she never gave into the temptation. She wasn't a very good disciplinarian (most phlegmatics are too easy on their children). And she wouldn't allow my dad to spank us. I have a memorial to her on my memorial page.
I love her - and I miss her so much...

When I was eleven years old, my step-granddad sexually molested me. I had already begun to hate my dad for his abuse of my mother and this sexual abuse from my step-granddad caused me to have a distrust of all men. I soon became openly rebellious toward my parents. I couldn't understand why my mother put up with my dad abusing her. I began to resent her for taking the abuse.

After I was an adult I asked my mother why she didn't leave my dad. She said she was afraid she might remarry someone who would sexually abuse one of her girls. Back then wives didn't leave an abusive spouse because there was no help for them with their children. She was love in action. But at the time, I didn't understand and resentment boiled inside of me.

When I turned sixteen, I married a boy I hardly knew. I just wanted to get away from the fussing and fighting at home. We were married only three months when he beat me and left me on my parents doorstep in the middle of the night. My dad blamed me but my brothers, Morris and Skip, took up for me. I soon found a job, and an apartment at Harrison, Arkansas, and moved away from home.

While living at Harrison (on my own) I met a girl who had been released from the Arkansas State Prison for women and we became friends. We both worked at the same restaurant.

Months later, when the police picked me up and implicated me in a narcotics deal... I did something I cannot believe I did ...even to this day I can hardly believe I was so stupid. I told them I was guilty! As God is my witness, I had never had any kind of drugs, nor even knew what they were. We're talking about the late 1950's when across America drugs were not in the mainstream of life. Few teens even knew what it meant to be on drugs.

When the police first picked me up I told them I was innocent. However, when my mom visited me the next morning she told me how ashamed and shocked my dad was that I was in jail. When I thought of the embarrassment I was causing my dad... I was pleased and wanted to be guilty.  I wanted to cause my dad all the trouble I could - have you ever heard the old saying, "cut your nose off to spite your face"? That was me.

Therefore, the next time the police asked me about my relationship with my friend I told them I was guilty. Because of the company I was keeping the police believed me (proof that it does matter what kind of company one keeps). God's Word says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." (Prov. 13:20) - what that means is when you keep bad company they will influence you and take you down a road of destruction. You become like the ones you keep company with.

The police charged me with possession and distribution of narcotics. And, once again, my stupidity showed though... I signed a confession they typed up for me. I was sentenced to three years in the Arkansas State Penitentiary for women.

How could such a thing happen? To this day I don't completely understand how it could have happened. However, the reason it happened is easy for me to understand. First of all, I wanted to hurt my parents, and I had no fear. Secondly, the county was paid a certain amount of money for each prisoner they turned over to the state - so for them, my guilty plea was money in the county's pocket. I know for a fact this happened to many, many foolish young men and women.

What I did broke my mother's heart. Nevertheless, she never failed to see me on visitation days and she never gave up on me. My two years of prison life were pretty bad. I saw a lot of terrible things and I came to know fear very well (This was in 1958/59). Years later, I saw a newspaper with stories of brutal killings and beatings by prison guards. It was during the time I was there. While serving my time I saw women beat and heard prison horror stories that later proved to be true.

When I was paroled out of prison, I went to live with my parents again. Why they would want me after all the pain and shame I caused I never understood until I had children of my own.

Only one month after getting out of prison I met my life-mate, Doran. I could not believe he would want anything to do with me. He came from a good and honorable family. His dad was president of the school board, served on the electric co-op board, and was a Mason. For the first time in my life I knew someone really believed in me (other than my mother) and I fell in love with this knight-in-shinning-armor.

Of course, my husband wasn't really such an angel but I felt lucky to be marrying him. We both decided we wanted a large family. Doran had one sister and no brothers. He said he was always lonesome as a boy and didn't want his sons to ever feel that way. I came from a large family and knew the joys of having loving brothers and sisters. I, too, wanted my children to have brothers and sisters with close family ties.

I vowed my children would be different than me - they would all be honorable and good and decent. We were not Christians, and I wasn't even sure there was a God. I had been to church, but whatever of the Gospel I had heard simply washed over me like water off a ducks back. (We have raised seven children and two of our boys went into law enforcement. I believe they have made a difference in many young men and women's lives -because of their Christian testimony).

When my mother was murdered by my dad, I went a little crazy. I had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital. I just took a look at my life and saw nothing but failure. A divorced woman who had served time in prison. My father had killed my mother. Nothing good of my life could I offer my children. I hated the thought of facing my children with such a past, and I knew that the day would come when they would find out. I didn't want to be around when they did. But God had other plans for my life, and because of Him I am still alive.

How did I come to know the Lord?
A friend loved me enough to send a witness to me. I lashed out at him fiercely, but my heart was convicted. When I forgave my dad and granddad, God forgave me.

Repentance for sins and a willingness to forgive is the key to God's forgiveness. To be willing to forgive is hard for some of us... I know it was for me. However, what I prayed to God was... "Father, I want to be willing to forgive - please help me be able to be willing."  God honored my prayer and although forgiveness wasn't instant, it did come and with forgiveness came peace with myself and all that had happened to me.

Now, our children know all about my past and they love me anyway. Most of our friends know about my past and they love me too. Amazing, isn't it? Of course, my brothers and sisters have never stopped loving me, and my husband has never stopped believing in me. Thank you, God, for your amazing grace.

In 1997 I graduated from college. I was one of only two graduates (out of a class of 300) chosen as
~ outstanding students ~.

See, God loves us all, even me...

I didn't go into a lot of gory details about my life before I became a Christian because it happened and it's over. I see no reason to glorify it, nor even give it credence. The few details I have entered here are for the sake of letting you know how full of grace and love our Heavenly Father is. It's when I became a Christian that my 'real life' began.

If you have a past you are ashamed of, you can believe now that God can turn it around. He did for me, and He doesn't play favorites.

I know, because His Word says so...

If you would like to read my husband's testimony


If you would like to read a little about the Arkansas State Pen. history just



About the prison mistreatment



And for more information:


Thank you, Richard Van Cleve, of Master's Touch World Missions, for this award. I feel very honored to be able to display such an outstanding award.
Please click on the award to visit the Master's Touch World Missions site.

Thank you, Karen, for this lovely graphic.
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