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
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
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
How did I come to know the Lord?
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
I know, because His Word says
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.
To receive Karen's tubes and graphics
Tell her I sent you...