Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Surreality of Divorce




Jesus with me at the foot of my cross

Yesterday I finally had my emotional breakdown in the adoration chapel during my prayer hour.  Some friends came in to say "Hi" to Jesus while out on a date......which is one of the things that he and I used to do: go to our 5pm adoration hour and then go out to dinner and/or sometimes a movie....sometimes just go grocery shopping together after we spent time praying to God......and after they left it hit me that I would never have a date like that again.....and in one of those rare occurrences during my prayer hour there was no one else in the adoration chapel and I began to sob......begging God to take this cross away from me.....to let me wake up from this nightmare and to let my life go back to the way it once was......maybe we could compromise.....maybe Jason could still have had an affair or have stolen from the store, but just NOT have hurt our kids or have any child pornography???  At the start of the next adoration hour I was found still kneeling on the floor and another friend knelt next to me, rubbing my back and holding me, just listening to me sob and beg God to take this cross away-to lift my burden.  After approximately another fifteen minutes I tried to stop crying-having looked at the clock and realizing that I needed to get home to my kids.  I guess I mentioned having to go buy food for supper and the friend offered to go buy us supper so that I could have more time to calm down and to spend in prayer.  After she left I tried to move and then realized that I had lost all feeling in my legs so I managed to crawl back to my purse and laid my head on it until someone else came in to say "Hi" to God at which point I sat up and just sat on the floor looking up at Jesus and I felt His unending love and peace flood my soul.  He knew this cross before I was ever born-before I ever married Jason....He saw Jason's sins (and my own) in the Garden of Gethsemane and He still chose to get on that cross and die for us....He died for my kids.......we will survive what seems unbearable to me right now........

Yet today still felt like a dream.  Jason was brought over from the jail and here I am talking to my husband in an orange jump suit and handcuffs about what we were both agreeing to for the divorce in front of a sheriff deputy and my lawyer.  With the verbal agreement in place the lawyer goes to the judge to ask to make it a "final divorce proceeding."  We then go into the court and everything is stated for the court record by the lawyer and then we go up one at a time to the stand and answer "yes" to all the questions being asked to us-that we were both of sound mind and knew what we were agreeing to it....then with the sound of a gavel in less time than what it took to say our wedding vows the last nine years were dissolved......we were no longer married due to "incompatibility".......Jason was led away to go back to the jail and after briefly talking to my lawyer there I am all alone......completely a single mom with sole custody of five children and the hope and prayer to God that He is the God of the widow and orphans, which is what we basically are now since Jason will be in jail for a very very long time for the crimes he committed.


My St. Martha candle

My original patron saint from when I came into the Catholic Church is St. Martha-and her feast day is on July 29th....I have been praying for her intercession as well each night leading up to what would have been our anniversary for we were married on her feast day. She is the patron saint of servants. When I was inducted into the National Honor Society over twenty years ago I really took seriously what candle I wanted to light and I chose “service” as the guiding light for my life.....whenever I wonder about which path to follow I always end up choosing which path would serve God best through my own service.

Yet, I have peace....I know that somehow this is all works for God's good.....that there is a reason for all this pain in God's master design......and now I know that my children are safe from him especially since the youngest do not understand what is going on.

Infant Jesus Child of Prague Statue at St. Mary's in Martins Ferry, OH

When I went to the Infant Jesus Child of Prague Novena Prayer Service tonight I realized that it was the 4th novena service which means that we are half way done....this also means that hopefully all the legal paperwork to make everything final for the divorce will be completed before the end of the novena. Earlier this month when I was driving home from the novena one of my kids took this picture of a double rainbow-not the best, but we were driving at sixty miles per hour and it was on a cell phone.....you can faintly see the second rainbow in this picture.....a rainbow, God's promise to us all.

Faint Double Rainbow over Ohio River

Last week I managed to spend some time alone at Lake Erie. While driving home I had grabbed a “not so detailed map” at a rest stop.....I made some wrong turns since my gps wasn't working, so I didn't end up at the original beach I wanted to find. I ended up at East Beach in Loraine, Ohio and spent two hours sitting on the beach, journaling and just praying......letting the endless waves and the sunset start to heal my bruised soul. I ended up discovering this beautiful rose garden and took this picture of the American flag while listening to the Loraine County community choir and band perform “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Sometimes God's wrong turns are just what we need in life.

East Beach Rose Garden

May you all experience the scary sweetness of new beginnings especially those that begin when something old fades away with the setting sun........



Monday, July 13, 2015

July Go FundMe Update

Infant Child Jesus of Prague

My July Go FundMe Update

On July 1st, 2015 my small world was rocked again when Jason was arrested and charged with first degree charges of harm against one of his own children.  My soul felt like it was spinning out of control for a full week.  It wasn't until after I got through grand jury indictment testimony that I began to feel God's peace again.  At times it feels like I am living in a really long nightmare that I can't wake up from, but unfortunately it is my real life.

I have continued to be fully cooperating with the investigation.  Jason is back in jail where he should remain for a very, very long time.  There is no way he can possibly explain these new charges to me.  Again, hopefully with time God's peace will fill this "unexplainable" hole of "why?" that I can't comprehend.  Ohio's Victim Assistance Program is a reimbursement program so for counseling we are starting with just me and the two children that we have proof were hurt.  (Jason's mom's counseling is being completed on her own.)  We will add the three other children as we can afford to in the future or if the situation changes and the counselors decide that we have to start counseling immediately.

Before I go on about personal matters, one of my best friends has reminded me that people can't help me unless I ask for help.  So again, besides begging for prayers, I come asking for financial help if you can do so.  The appeal in May has brought in over $4, 000 blessed dollars.  

Half of that money was used to pay half of May's unpaid bills.  The other half was used to purchase a new vehicle for myself since the Yukon had once again broken down.  The repair estimate was over $2, 000 for a vehicle worth between only $4, 000-$5,000.  It took several people urging me to take the plunge, but I managed to use a corporate employee program to buy a new 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander.  Here I am right after the car was delivered to me:

Stephanie with her 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander

The UPS Store franchise has a special deal with Mitsubishi and they were also willing to take the black truck as a trade in even though it was 11 years old for this Mitsubishi Outlander. I was shaking as I wrote the check for the down payment because I am trusting in God that I will be able to pay for this vehicle each month. The dealership put a trailer hitch on for me and will add my luggage rack that is on back order in the future. A friend delivered the truck to me since the dealership closed before my store. Two minutes after this picture was taken I was crying because I feel unworthy to have a new truck. I have always driven used vehicles. This truck costs more than my undergrad education (even though it was on a full ride scholarship, but if I had to have paid for it this truck costs more than that.) But it can hold all of us for those times I have all 5 kids with me and it will save on gas and hopefully will have minimal repairs for the next 6-10 years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! The children all love it and kept saying how awesome and beautiful it was when I took them for a bedtime car ride on that first night we got it.

We still need to raise money to change over our dual wood/coal furnace to a propane furnace and to finish installing duct work in most of the house since Jason had only completed duct work to two rooms last winter.  (We have two other wood stoves and some really old electrical wall heaters.)  I need to purchase a large propane tank for the fuel as well.  There are other repairs that still need to be made on the house.  I have been selling many personal items, but just had to use most of that money to pay property tax bills for the past two years that Jason said he paid, but never paid.  He instead lied and used the money for his hidden sin life.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of you who have donated money or shared this post with others asking them for prayers and money.  I find that words are so inadequate to express my thankfulness.  Your prayers and generosity have kept the children and I going.  I thank you ahead of time if any of you would be so kind as to donate again.  I still have the second half of May's bills to pay off so we are hoping to raise at least $10, 000 more dollars, but $20, 000 is what we really still need to get caught up on everything.

Personal Update:

God's Plans for My Life

Just as when Chris died, there have been so many moments where I now see God's hands in all these events:

Our St. Joseph cake made by Aubrey's Bakery for our annual dinner: we fed 79 people this past March.

As many of you know I have a strong devotion to St. Joseph.  In fact I have blogged about our annual St. Joseph Altar dinner that we give every March in the past.  Jason was first arrested on May 1st, which is the feast day of "St. Joseph the Worker."  May is also the month of Our Lady St. Mary.  (Several different friends pointed this out to me a few days after he was arrested.)  Jason not only helped me honor St. Joseph with preparing the large St. Joseph meals, but he had of his own volition written a prayer and vow to St. Joseph to take care of me and his stepchildren at our wedding as St. Joseph took care of St. Mary and Jesus.  We now know he was stealing from our business, which is the exact opposite of being like "St. Joseph the Worker."  He also said honored Mary under the title "Our Lady of Victory."

This past winter Jason kept saying how he wanted to sell our rental duplex, that it was too stressful for him to maintain (even as he had moved his mistress into it and was paying her bills there.)  I had bought a statue of St. Joseph to put inside the duplex (NOT to be buried in the ground as some people do).  He never took the statue there, so in April I pushed it into his hands saying you can't ask St. Joseph to intercede for the selling of the duplex if you don't take St. Joseph to the house for it to sell.  So, he ACTUALLY took the statue of St. Joseph to the duplex, but didn't put it in the empty unit.  He actually took St. Joseph into where the mistress lived.  Eight days after the two of them were arrested, my friends helped me search the unit where she lived (that I am the landlord of) so that we could hand over her electronic devices to the sheriff and we found St. Joseph hidden in a kitchen cupboard.   St. Joseph is known as THE TERROR OF DEMONS.  No wonder they were thankfully finally caught by the Sheriff due to an anonymous tip.  YOU DON'T MESS WITH ST.  JOSEPH.  Jason actually took the statue of one my patron saints-THE SAINT THAT HE HAD VOWED TO BE LIKE-into the place where he was committing adultery.

A few days later, a large box arrived at the store as I left to go to his bond hearing (where the bond was lowered.)  The next day one of the employees reminded me that the large box sitting in the store was mine.  Inside it was a statue of the Holy Family THAT I HAD ORDERED BACK IN FEBRUARY FOR OUR ST. JOSEPH ALTAR DINNER.  The statue arrived three months later on the day of Jason's bond hearing as one more reminder from God that St. Joseph is interceding for me and the children in heaven.  It comforted me so much that I am not even annoyed about how long it took it to arrive.  Obviously it came right on time!!!

Two days later I broke down sobbing in our store and an hour later the customer that was in the store when I started crying brought in beautiful yellow roses for me with a kind note.  A friend later pointed out to me that it was the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  Our lady is called "the mystical rose"-what an amazing gift to receive from heaven brought to me by a customer whose heart was moved by the sobs I couldn't control from the back of the store and whose sounds she could hear in the front of our store.  Thousands of people saw the "sun dance in the sky" at one of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, so yellow roses really were appropriate that day!

Then last week as I sat down next to my mother-in-law at the preliminary hearing where the prosecutor had to admit evidence of first degree rape, Debbie leaned over and whispered, "It's the feast of St. Maria Goretti."  Oh, the irony of it all.  St. Maria Goretti was murdered as she resisted unwanted sexual advances.  She forgave her attacker as she laid in agony dying from fourteen stab wounds.  Her murderer later converted in part due to her act of forgiveness as she died and the forgiveness her mother extended to him.  Yet one more reminder from God that His protecting hand is in all of this and for me to continue to pray for Jason's soul and that of his mistress' soul every day.  The past few weeks I have really truly been struggling with forgiveness.  I can't believe he hurt our beautiful kids. 

That day was also the start of the Novena to the Infant Child Jesus of Prague down in Martins Ferry that I try to attend annually.  We prayed to Jesus under that title for a safe delivery of our four year old and we have prayed many times to Jesus under that title for financial needs.  I told the organizer of the event last week that I was greatly comforted that Jason's preliminary trial had been held on that first day of the novena and she replied that she would be adding "praying for his soul" to her own novena prayers.  I am lifting up everyone who has prayed for us, given financially, helped with babysitting and house/lawn repairs-all of your personal intentions are being prayed for by me during this nine week novena.  The kids and I would not be surviving half as well as we have been without all the love and support we have received these past few months.  I can't even begin to give back to all of you what you have given to me, but I can pray.  So many miracles have been given when Jesus has been honored and prayed to under the title of "the infant Jesus."  So, I offer up my prayers and sufferings for all of you-may you receive God's peace within your own lives.  (If any of you would like to attend the novena it is at 7pm every Monday night at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Martins Ferry, Ohio until the end of August.  The beautiful prayer service lasts just one hour.)  

I have been overwhelmed by all the beautiful messages, cards, letters, gift cards, gifts of work around our house and other presents that the children and I have received, especially the ones from complete strangers.  A protestant church in a neighboring town dropped off a 4th of July care package.  Another customer brought in a basket of beautiful stuffed animals that my girls just love playing with.  I tear up just thinking of all these blessings we have received.  Last month two of the kids had birthdays and we have been fighting a weird stomach virus.  We seem to be going through round two of it again.  Thankfully God has protected me so far from the illness (but extra protection prayers for my continued good health would be greatly appreciated!)

We are doing our best to keep moving forward.  Life goes on even though I would like it to reverse back to before all this evil happened.  My littles will randomly say to people, "My daddy is in jail."  That is their new normal.  I just try to roll with it and try to read people's faces for how to reply or intercede.  Most of the time the littles just say that and then keep talking or run off and play.  I don't want to "hush them" or "shame them into silence"--obviously it's what is still on their mind and they need to get it out.  My big kids are still running off to all their teenage activities.  They have both been my rocks: working, helping with the littles, cleaning the house, doing yard work...making me laugh.....just being the awesome kids that they are.  They haven't complained to me once even though their lives have been turned upside down.  Once again I find that I get out of bed each morning because I have five kids depending on me (plus my employees of course-but it's mostly my kiddos.)
There was not any contact between Jason and the kids when he was out of jail for those few weeks.  Even though it would probably have helped my littles to hear his voice on the phone or to have a letter written to them, there has been absolutely no contact between him and the children.  Just as when Chris died and there was no body to bury for a funeral, Jason went to work one day and never returned: he has just vanished from their lives, but yet the littles are haunted because they can't understand why they can't talk to him on the phone or write letters back and forth.  I keep telling them that their daddy is sick and this is what needs to happen for him to get better.

Jason will have his indictment hearing this week and then most likely not much will happen for several months.  After that hearing then all "the lawyer games" will begin where both the defense and the prosecutor will file different motions.  Justice will take time to be served, but it's already being served since neither he nor the other woman can hurt anymore children in jail.  Please pray that I am able to get more things sold quickly so that I can complete the repairs to the duplex so that it can be rented no later than September or October.  I am so blessed by the good neighbors that live around  the duplex.  They have been keeping an eye on things for me and that can never be repaid either.

Thank you to all of you who have kept shipping at our store and letting us serve all your document copying needs.  Hopefully in a short while the divorce will be complete.  Thank you for all who have been spreading the word to still use our store for shipping and for copying.  I greatly appreciate everyone who has been telling others that I now run the store and that I have five kids to feed.  May God bless and keep you forever!!!!

May you all have a blessed July and hopefully have some sweetness of summer relaxation in your plans!!!