TESTIMONY AS A WOMAN

I carried many wounds from the abuses as a child that affected my teen and adult years. Relationships were often hindered because of the wounds that were not properly dealt with. Today I share my testimony not as that sad, angry and hurting little girl, but as a woman healed in her emotions by the power and unconditional love of God. Please do not feel sorry for me because of my childhood, but rejoice with me in my healing. I continue today to walk in that peace that only God can give.

 Because of the legalistic teaching of the religion I was raised in, I had no opportunity to be healed of the traumatic scars I’d received during my childhood and early adult life. I was raised as a Mormon. At age twenty-four, I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in a Pentecostal church in Central Point, Oregon. Three weeks later I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and felt called to the ministry. Please understand I am not here today to criticize denominations, I am simply sharing my life and background with you.

I thought that when I became a Christian, at age twenty-four, God waved a magic wand and presto, Katie Kee became a new person. Free from all bondages! Well, I was free from the curse of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross, but I was still under the bondages of past traumatic scars. Three months later my husband, Joe, received Christ as his Savior. A year later, after the death of his younger brother, Joe quit going to church and fell away from the Lord.

I continued on with my three children for nine more years. At one point in our lives, my family went through a very devastating, wounding period within the church that we were attending, and we left the church. I felt God had turned His face from me and existing relationships were ruined; seemingly beyond repair. Heaven seemed closed to my prayers, and friends turned away. Did I feel lost? An understatement! I knew in one part of my heart that God's heart grieved with me and it was not His will for me to turn Him away, but I was hurt, and made many wrong decisions. I reached a point of bitterness as far as Christians, church and God were concerned. Saying, “That’s it! I’ve had it! Enough is enough! If this is what being a Christian is all about, I don’t want it. Ten years of serving the Lord, and for what?” It is so easy to put the blame on other people instead of looking inward isn’t it?  I turned away from God and quit going to church taking my children with me. Nothing ever seemed to work out in my life. I felt overwhelmed, defeated; I gave up. I was a failure!

Later, due to several accidents, I became a heavy prescription junkie. Thus emerged my Jekyll and Hyde personality. I was on a down hill slide. I went through several years of severe depression. I withdrew from my family, friends and the world in general. I hated myself, and others around me. I became a very bitter woman and was angry with God for keeping me alive, (I tried to commit suicide five times) because life to me was definitely not worth living. I was spaced out on drugs, taking daily 4 Valium, 2 Percodan, 1 sleeping pill and 1 muscle relaxer. I was a walking zombie and I did not care what happened to me or anyone else for that matter. 2 Timothy 3:2 certainly applied to me. I was a lover of self. And as in Isaiah 53:6, I had gone astray and turned to my own way.

My children suffered greatly during this time period as emotionally and at times physically, I abandoned them. I was doing to my children what my mother had done to me even though I had vowed that would never happen. I know now that generational sins were continuing to pass down through our family lines. Remember, our actions always affect other people.

 Thankfully, God’s mercy and His grace protected my three children from serious harm during these times of confusion and chaos, although they are now working through their own issues of pain caused by the wrong choices their Dad and I made. By this time my husband, Joe, had become an abusive alcoholic. Our lives became (pardon the expression) a “living hell." Divorce papers were served (after twenty-four years of marriage). Joe continued to harass me and I was forced to put him under a restraining order. The harassment continued and the police gave Joe an ultimatum; Leave the state or go to jail. Joe left Oregon and moved to Phoenix, Arizona to live with our son.

I truly thought that if Joe was out of my life, I could get my life straightened out and I would be happy. I was living in the bondage of denial and it held me in a death grip. It hid the truth of what I had to face and work through in my own life. I WAS A MESS! I was working as a bartender and I started doing the very thing that I had seen and hated in my husband and mother's lives. I started drinking heavily. When I awoke one morning having to face my daughter's question of why I was drinking a White Russian for breakfast, I knew I was in trouble and I had to make some serious changes.

The hard, cold facts hit me square between the eyes, bringing , me up short and revealing truths that I needed to address in my life. Hell was having a field day in my life and was intent on destroying me. Yet through all the pain and confusion, God was faithful and continued to love me. He had never let me go. He had never turned aside, I had! My Father was always there, just as He promises in Hebrews 13:5, 8 “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Truly “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

I was so steeped in lies and deception that I had lost my way and I didn’t know how to return to Him, to truly communicate with Him or to confess, repent and ask His forgiveness. My mind was covered with a veil of darkness and a spirit of despair ruled in my life. God's will was that I would not perish, but have life everlasting and that I would be whole and walk in His marvelous light. God was preparing the way out of my dilemmas. He had a master plan for my life; watch it unfold. Shortly after Joe moved to Phoenix, Arizona, he quit drinking. After my encounter with my daughter, we decided to work on repairing our marriage. I moved to Phoenix several months later. Circumstances happened in my life that eventually led me back to God after a 15 year separation.

Our son, Randy, and daughter, Lorrie, came to live with us in Phoenix. Randy was in the Air Force. Lorrie had just separated from her husband. Randy attended church faithfully and soon he had witnessed his sister, Lorrie, back to the Lord. They kept witnessing to me and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be forced to make a decision to change my life. This made me very angry as I was already under a heavy load of conviction. I believed that I was dirty, soiled goods and I was a "bad" person. But God knew what he was doing. He had it all under control. Doesn’t He always? He knew that one part of me wanted to serve the Lord again, but another part of me was scared to try. He knew I was fearful that without the healing of old wounds, I would not be able to live for the Lord let alone to serve Him. My weaknesses would cause me to stumble and fall back into my old sinful ways.

Abba Father knew I couldn’t fight the battle alone, I just didn't have the strength nor did I believe I could. His Holy Spirit wooed me on. Early one morning while watching a television show about a backslider on TBN, (a Christian station) my heart was pierced and I cried out to the Lord saying, “I want to serve you Lord, fulfilling the call to ministry You placed upon my heart in 1960, but you need to do a miracle in my life and help me change. The same old problems, the same old wounds are still there, and more have been added. I know I can’t do it alone.” In my heart I was not sure God could, or would help me for that matter. I was deep in the pit; my feet caught tight in the miry clay. My conversation with God ended. I was one dysfunctional lady and confidence was definitely not my cup of tea.

Sitting on the floor crying, and feeling drained beyond belief, I felt my Lord ever so gently start speaking to my heart. Scripture after Scripture came flooding into my soul; words of encouragement, words of hope, of release, of love and words of forgiveness. Jesus had heard my heart's cry. The story of the prodigal son flashed across my mind. I felt an instant kinship with him. I envisioned the son walking down that long road to his father’s house. Fear and anxiety, were his companions as he was unsure of his father’s response. Then I saw the father running down the road with arms opened wide to receive his son into his bosom. He was accepted unconditionally in love. He was forgiven! He was welcomed home!

In my heart, I knew that I also was being welcomed home by my Heavenly Father; Jesus had paid the price. I recommitted my life to the Lord at 3 o’clock that morning. It was January of 1983. It was the start of a new year; a new life. I admit I could not see how God was going to accomplish what I had asked of Him. In the natural, in my flesh, I could see no way of changing my situations, and my life was full of garbage. With determination in my heart though, I said, “OK Lord, Let’s do it together." Instantly God's peace filled my soul and I knew that somehow He would help me change my life. He would open wide the doors of healing.

I praise the Lord for my two wonderful children and their love of God. It was their prayers and witnessing that brought me to my knees in the wee hours that morning seeking God’s forgiveness. That precious, dear Scripture, Proverbs 22:6, came home to me in full force. Yes, I had trained them in the way they should go as babies. They were ages three months, three and six years old, when I accepted the Lord into my life and therefore, the first ten years of their lives were lived in a church environment. They fulfilled His word and brought our home back under God’s grace. One year later my husband, Joe, rededicated his heart to the Lord. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil.” Romans 35, 37-39 became dear to our hearts and we purposed that nothing would ever again separate us from our Lord and His great love.

Joe and I became involved with the Deaf and Hearing Impaired ministry in our home church, where I served as an interpreter and minister for one and a half years. During this time, Joe and I met a woman named Myrna Drew who was the director of several prison ministries in Phoenix, Arizona, and a respected counselor. After a year of negotiations (Joe was adamant that I was not going into the prison ministry), Joe and I became involved in the counseling ministry, under Myrna, which eventually led into the prison ministry for juvenile girls at the New Dawn State Institution in Phoenix. Joe, his sister, our brother-in-law, and a dear friend, June, entered into the ministry working with me as we held weekly services for the girls.

 The humor was, my family had strongly stated that they didn’t want to work in the prison ministry. They did not feel it was their calling! But God said “GO!” and they WENT! They became strong prayer warriors, supporters, and a precious covering for the ministry. I do believe that God has a sense of humor. We served as ministers there for one and a half years, seeing miracles and healing performed in many lives. God knew the areas in which I still needed healing. Because of the close interaction with the girls twice a week, I was forced to recognize my problems from the past, and to admit I had severe traumas that needed healing if I were to minister effectively for the Lord. I went through deep inner healing for about two years. It was not easy and I rebelled many times. After all, who likes PAIN? But the Lord continued to prove faithful and He, with Myrna's help, held my feet to the fire. Truly I persevered.

As I ministered healing to the girls, God was healing me. I was 49 years old at this time and there were many issues, many wounds to heal. During this time, God showed me that I had been sexually abused. It was a painful discovery for both my husband and myself. But God gave insight and I could now understand the deep rage and pain I had carried over the years. Joe found out more about my life in these services than he did in the first twenty-five years of our marriage. Time after time, the girls would challenge me about my right to preach to them, calling me “Little Miss Goody Two Shoes” and saying I’d never been in the streets, so I certainly couldn’t know where they were coming from. They gave it to me with both barrels smoking! Talk about Pandora’s box being opened! I would ask the Holy Spirit to cover my husband for what he was about to hear as memories came flooding back. Yes, I did have the right to share with them! I had been in their shoes! I knew their hurts, loneliness, frustrations, and the deep anger they carried. I recognized their walls of defense; I had used them myself. Many nights I had slept in the Salem bus depot on a toilet seat in a pay stall after crawling under the door because I was broke and felt I had no place to go. Yes, I could relate to them and the lives they were living.

The girls saw that God had changed my life; my testimony gave them hope. Many of the girls opened their heart and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I will have to admit that I was as surprised as the girls were each time these truths rolled out. DENIAL is a strong defense in the life of an abused person. I never knew what to expect as the Holy Spirit reached deep into the area of my heart where I had hidden the garbage of past wounds. He pulled them out and exposed them, but my trust was in Jesus and He covered every situation. It was very difficult for my husband to learn about my past for the first time in these meeting, but he just rolled with the punches as God covered with His grace. Joe never questioned me as wounds from my past were revealed. He never condemned me. Instead, he gave me love, understanding and acceptance. Talk about unconditional love! Without my husband’s support, I do not believe that I could have continued in the ministry and through my counseling. He stuck to me like glue.

Speaking to the men, I'd like to share that your wives may not voice it, but they need you to be there to help them through the rough spots. Be faithful to them and your marriage will reap the benefits. I was working as an assistant counselor/secretary with Myrna Drew at this time. Working through my recovery was painful and frightening. There were many times I wanted to quit, but God’s love and grace held me steady. Myrna never allowed me to “give up." She encouraged me to press on. The word “self pity” was not in her vocabulary. My famous saying was, “It isn’t fair” and “Life sucks." She taught me to remove those negative words from my vocabulary and to replace them with the truth of God. At times I was really tempted to paste her picture on a dart board. Know what I mean Sometimes the truth hurts and we don't want to face it! God had shown Myrna the abuse in my life and the need for healing and she was not to be sidetracked; she cut me no slack! When I tried every trick in the book to divert her (I was a good manipulator), God would give her discernment. His will for me was healing.

In the course of my recovery, I learned much about intercessory prayer. I found the true meaning of 2 Corinthians 1:4 and Galatians 6:2, that talks about love, comforting one another, and bearing one another’s burdens For the men and women who listened to God’s voice and were obedient to His leading in dealing with me, for my husband’s loving support and for Myrna, my precious friend and counselor, who taught me the meaning of Proverbs 11:1, and brought a balance into my life, and for my children's love, I give thanks to Almighty God.

In 1985, we moved to California. We stayed in California long enough for God to teach us how to move in obedience to His will and then He delivered me from my drug abuse. Three times, due to accidents, I became addicted to drugs, and three times He was faithful to deliver me. In 1987, we were in Medford and God spoke to my heart. He said, “This is where your ministry for me will be established.” I never dreamed it would be a ministry for the sexually and emotionally abused, but I’ve learned to trust God who knows my heart --and I've given Him the control over my life.

God also healed a bad relationship with our oldest daughter, Becky. She was, and still is, a source of strength for me. After we moved back to Medford, I weighed close to 200 hundred pounds (eating disorders are side effects for many of us who have been sexually abused) She helped me through a tough program, pushing, pulling and encouraging me until I lost 70 pounds. I can still hear my daughter Becky saying, “Come on, Mom. You can do it. I know you can. You taught us to be fighters just like you. Go for it.” And I did! Remember, I was a survivor! Becky had anger toward her Dad and I because of old resentments and wounding hurts she had received through her childhood. Through God’s grace and life, He is bringing a healing and we now have a loving relationship that we truly value.

Truly as we follow Ephesians 5:1,2 and as dear children, walk in His love, we receive God’s promise in Proverbs 14:26 that says, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." What the enemy through mankind tried to destroy in our lives, God turned into good. We are a closer family today. We still have problems to work through, but now when they come up, we are assured that God is always there to help us. Joe and I thank God for our three precious children who are such a blessing. What an AWESOME GOD we serve. Amen! The best part of these last 15 years is that I have learned to like, to love and be able to live with myself. That is a giant step for someone who tried to end her life five times.

I thank my Father for his protective and loving hand over me. I have gotten in touch with my “little girl”, and you know what? She is pretty neat. My point and goal? To share this precious gift of the Holy Spirit with other women who are hurting and under bondages. To share the hope that is in the Lord Jesus Christ and share His truth that sets us free according to John 8:32.  Am I totally free today from the scars and issues of my past? “NO!” But the Lord and I are working on them as they surface and I have truly come a long way, just ask my husband and my children!

It was over the course of a year that the Lord was preparing for the SMART Ministry to be established in the Medford area. Many people were in prayer with me and eyes were wet with tears as I shared the pain of a sexually abused victim and my vision to bring healing and restoration to others through a support group. God Himself, named this ministry. The acronym SMART is for Sexually Molested Adults Releasing Traumas.

When I presented the name SMART to the first group of women working on their abuse issues, they loved it. They said, "YES! We are smart because we decided it was time to stop hiding the pain in our lives, living in denial and move into healing and wholeness. We want to become women of integrity." The Lord had a job to do in preparing me because it is one thing to go through personal healing for sexual abuse, and quite another to stand in front of the congregation in my home church and share that part of my life. But my desire to share God's freedom with other survivors and give them hope of release from the pain and shame was much greater than my pride. I was able to say, “Yes, God, I am willing and if you will provide the means, pave the way, open the doors, and settle it with my husband, then Lord, I WILL DO IT! Now don't laugh, those were legitimate requests don't you think?

My church was one hundred percent supportive. I was not afraid to step out because I knew that the church was behind me. Knowing that you are not alone is the first step towards healing. Our first SMART group was started with a handful of women that met in my home in October of 1990. We ministered to six active groups; three groups for women, one women’s Bible Study, one men’s Bible Study, and one teen group. In the course of the six years SMART operated, we ministered to over 200 people. We minister to people as far away as Idaho; California, Arizona, Montana and Alaska. SMART women have been interviewed by the Medford Mail Tribune. I have been on the Ashland KDOV radio station with Jan Morrison, author and lecturer, especially for teen-agers, and with Pat Winningham, a respected counselor in the Medford area for the past 15 years. I have a working relationship with Youthworks, Child Advocacy Center and Children’s Services Department.

One of my goals is to let the secular world know that Christians are aware of the different abuses that go on in our churches and we do not have our heads stuck in the sand. We must work together as a unit, Christian and secular agencies alike to help the hurting and oppressed. Abuse, especially Sexual Abuse, is everywhere. We are now told that one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused by age 18. We will all be touched by sexual abuse in one way or another. Rape is another monster we are facing. In one of our teen groups, six out of eight girls in the group had been raped, including myself and the co-facilitator. I asked how many of their friends or girls they knew had been raped and we counted over thirty victims. These teen age girls and women need the safety of a group to share this trauma with. The emotional pain and shame does not just go away by itself.

We need love, understanding, and to build trust with others who have or are going through the same abuse issues. This is what SMART recovery groups are all about. John 10:10 tells us that Satan came to “...steal, kill and destroy.” God’s church has felt the bite and sting of Satan’s hand. The GOOD NEWS is that you do not have to live under the bondage of lies, guilt, and shame. Jesus Christ will set you free. God will put your feet on a firm foundation, that solid Rock—Jesus. He will put a song of joy in your heart and light your paths, for the Lord will always send help when hearts are willing. I pray my testimony will give courage to others who are hurting and that they will seek help and find that road to recovery. Thank you for letting me share my testimony.

May God be with you in your healing journey. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Don’t be afraid to step out; Jesus walks with you. Say, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Him." AND REMEMBER We move from victims to survivors to OVERCOMERS in Jesus Christ.