May 2, 2012

How God carried me through the fire (Wildflowers from winter bloghop)

Since I have another bloghop/contest Thurs. and Friday, I am going to post this Wildflowers from winter post a day early. This is a bloghop to glorify God and I am excited to be a part of it. Currently I am writing my memoir about how God walked me through the fire, and how I learned to trust Him. This story begins with the first three pages of my WIP. I hope my story will help other teenagers who are suffering to learn to turn to God and His word. And so here is a first glance of my current work in progress......(every word is true)
 
 

PERFECTLY BROKEN



ONE

Survival

I know at any moment he’ll kill me. His scorching breath lingers on my neck. His odor is embedded in my nose. The rape keeps replaying in my mind, torturing me over and over again.

I’m not sure if my heart is still beating. Everything in me has shut off. I’m numb. All I can think about is that I have to keep it together—this isn’t over yet. 

He holds my head twisted into an impossible headlock with my body tangled across the front seat of his car. The engine growls to life as he turns the key. The seats rock back and forth over a bumpy road then it steadies. I wish I could figure out where I am, but with every turn I feel the vehicle make, I’m even more lost than I was before.

He drives with one hand while his other is clenched around my jaw—as if this is easy. My face is smothered into his stomach and with each breath I inhale his shirt, slowly suffocating. I can’t open my eyes. They aren’t something I control anymore. I don’t want to see him. I don’t want to see what he’s done to me.

There’s a professional way about his strength. He knew exactly how to subdue me, and quickly, like he’s done this before. Methodical, calculated, professional. Military crosses my mind.

I don’t know how long he’s had me in his clutches. Maybe an hour.  

Time doesn’t exist.

Why am I still alive? He’s already raped me, what more—I stop myself. I won’t go there. I won’t think about how he plans to kill me. I’m certain I won’t live much longer, but there is one thing I can do, if escaping is out of the question. I’m ready. I won’t be going home to my family tonight, but I will send them my killer, my rapist—or rather, his DNA buried beneath my fingernails when they find my dead body. I’m prepared to strike at the first sign he’s done with me. I know the second I claw his face off he’ll end my life. So I wait, patiently, for him to try to kill me. I’ll put up one last fight—one he won’t easily walk away from. 

The car stops. This is the moment.

He lets go of my head and snarls, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” then reaches across me and thrusts open the door.

I see my escape and move so quickly I topple out backwards onto the curb.  

Daylight is almost gone, granting me just enough luminescence to see my surroundings. Houses dot the quiet neighborhood. Cars drive past unconcerned with me lying on the sidewalk. The world is still here, unaffected.

I’m stunned, motionless. I’m alive. I can’t believe he let me go. None of it seems real. 
 
I catch his black eyes on me as if he’s waiting to see what I’ll do. It snaps me back.

Rocketing up, I bolt in the opposite direction of the car like my feet are on fire. Not once do I look back. I have no idea if he’s driven off or if he’s pursuing me. All I know is this isn’t the movies and I’m not going to be that stupid girl who looks back and trips. I just run. Running is one thing I do well. There’s no way he’s catching me. 

I don’t know if I’m bleeding or if bones are broken. Everything is numb. It’s probably for the best. I can’t even feel my feet hitting the sidewalk, but I see the world flying past so I know my legs must be working. 

I have no clue where I am. I don’t recognize anything. The closest house is a small sky-blue ranch with concrete steps. I barrel up the stairs like my life depends on it and pound my fists into the door. “Please—” I whimper, my eyes flooding. Seconds feel like hours. Why isn’t anyone opening the door?

Terrified to be still and so vulnerable, and needing to know where he is, I dare a glance. I just know he’s gotten out to chase me and I’ll have to abandon this attempt at a rescue and flee to the next house. 

The road is empty. 

Oxygen floods my lungs. I gasp, allowing myself to suck in rapid gulps of relief. He’s gone. It’s over.

*             *             *

I was fifteen when I was kidnapped and raped by a stranger. To say my life changed forever would be an understatement. It was more like an atomic bomb went off inside my soul, destroying everything.

That night I spent hours at the police station being interrogated like I was the criminal, then more hours at the hospital being poked and prodded like a lab rat, and yes, in that order. Why they thought it was okay to harass me for hours before getting me medical treatment I’ll never know.

By the time I finally got home it was in the early hours of the next morning. Though I hadn’t been living like one, I was a Christian, and the second I was alone I fell to my knees and prayed. I had already known the loss of a best friend to a terminal disease, and the abandonment of an abusive father, so suffering wasn’t something new, but for the first time I asked God for a favor.

I sobbed out loud, “I know there is a reason why you chose me for this, but please show me why. I’m not sure I can ever heal if I don’t know why.” I knew it was a sin to ask for such things. Who was I to question God? But He knew my heart, and my pain, and I hoped that was enough to forgive such a demand.

The next three days were a living hell; nightmares; disabling-fear anytime I attempted to go into public. I knew for sure since I’d gone to the police that man would come back and finish me off. It was on the third day that my living nightmare came to an end. One of the officers assigned to my case came to see me and showed me a line-up of six pictures. I didn’t need to look at them all, the man that raped me was the fourth one.  They had caught this monster and I could finally stop looking over my shoulder. But now what was I supposed to do with this hurt inside? Life had chipped away at me, and finally I had crumbled to dust. I was hollow.

Every adult was clueless as to how to deal with me. I could feel their eyes boring into the back of my head in church, tragic eyes that darted away from my glance. I swear I could hear all of their thoughts and whispers. ‘Did you hear what happened to Amber? So sad and so young.’ ‘Yeah, but, you know she was always the wild one of the bunch. It’s lucky she didn’t go and get herself killed.’ Guess that was one problem with the church I was being raised in- everyone seemed to know my troubles, but no one knew how to fix me.

My youth pastor was different.  His eyes didn’t hold pity or judgment, but something else that I couldn’t quite place. He asked to speak to me one day after youth group, and I accepted. He asked how I was dealing with the situation. I told him I wasn’t. Then he told me the smartest thing an adult had ever said to me, (and why in my fifteen years I hadn’t heard this I do not know). I live by those very words still today. He said, “I wish I could give you the answers, but I have none. All I can tell you is the answers are in here.” And he placed his hand on the bible. Being a ‘Sunday only’ Christian, the bible was not something I read outside of church, but he’d peaked my interest. He sent me home with the task of reading the book of JOB. He said I’d tackle the rest of the bible later, but for now he thought JOB would be a good place for me to start. (PSALM 34:4- I sought the Lord, and he heard me and delivered me from my fears.)

I devoured every word that night, and for good measure I read it again. Still questions plagued me, like ‘Why would God put Job through such a harsh test if he was such a good man?’ And so I’d sit and talk to my youth leader and in doing so, I found my first Christian mentor. We didn’t meet often, or ever talk for very long, but after youth group, we’d chat. He seemed to genuinely care for my state of well-being, and was passionate about Christ. He always made sure the door to the room where we met was open wide, and always sat at a respectful distance. There was an unspoken understanding that I was a wounded animal and any sudden movements would cause me to strike with vengeance. But his intentions were pure, and those actions were never needed. All he wanted was to steer me on the right path.

I began to read the bible and got myself right with God. I learned that the bible was full of amazing stories of suffering and redemption, tragedies and triumphs. God never promised life would be easy, he only promised we’d never have to walk through the fire alone. I knew I needed Jesus front and center, but I also needed to be faithful to Him as well. I talked with Jesus through prayer, and He spoke back to me through His word. And slowly but surely, I began to walk with Christ. A fire began to stir inside my soul, a strength that had never been there. Not only was God mending my pieces together, he was building me stronger than I had ever been before.

So here’s the part you’ve been waiting for- How did God carry me through this? Where was He and why did He allow this to happen?
Well it turned out the man who raped me was a serial rapist. I was his third victim in just months and each rape had escalated, becoming more violent. The first victim (that we know of) was a date rape who waited days to come forward and had no physical evidence by the time she did. Still a horrible crime, but her case was weak. The second victim was lured out of a night club to look at his vehicle that he was selling and then raped outside the parking lot. Sadly her case was weak as well.

By the time he got to me he was a pro and had escalated to full on kidnapping- of a minor. The others were in their twenties. Not that raping an adult isn’t terrible, but raping a minor comes with even more charges, and I’d like to think, a special place reserved in hell.

All of us victims had the same state-appointed lawyer. I was never allowed to meet the others because they couldn’t risk us chatting and the defender saying we had coerced our stories, but I knew the prosecutor was counting on my case to put him away for good.

One day she asked me, “How are you so strong? How do you keep it together?” She told me the other women were in their twenties and could barely get out a word without crying their eyes out. And here I was just fifteen, and so strong-hearted.

I didn’t know how to answer her. It caught me off guard because no-one had ever called me 'strong' before, but the truth was- God had given me peace through prayer and study and I wasn’t broken anymore. I no longer felt like a victim. I felt like a warrior. (EPHESIANS 6:11-Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.) God chose me because he wanted that man off the streets. God knew I was strong-spirited, he knew I’d fight, and go straight to the police, and I’d do everything I could to make sure that man would never be able to hurt another woman.

I truly believe that man would have murdered the next woman. But I can proudly say I was his last victim. (PSALM 25:2- Oh my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.)

We went to court one year after the rape and he was found guilty by a jury on all accounts and sentenced to 66 years in prison for the crimes he committed against me! (That doesn’t include the 30+ years he got in a later trial for the other women). He got 1 year for larceny (he stole a chain from around my neck), 25 years for the abduction, and 40 years for the rape- that’s the maximum for rape if you didn’t know.

Now I’m not going to say there aren't still scars from the rape, like- if you approach me while I’m walking to my car you will get seriously jacked up. And yes, that is a blade on my key ring, so if you value your jugular you will keep a safe distance.


(You know in the movie 'RED EYE' there is a scene where the bad guy is taunting the mc on a plane. And she says, "There's one thing I've told myself since that day I was raped." And he says, "That it wasn't your fault." (because that is what most people would assume she was thinking). She says, "No. That it'll never happen again." Then she jams a pen into his throat and runs. I wanted to jump out of my seat and shout, "Hell yeah, girl!") 


The church I attend now is an amazing, biblical church. The bible is taught in depth there and I know that is exactly where I am supposed to be. I have a beautiful, blonde curly-haired, blue-eyed boy who is soon to be four and looks just like me, and a perfect, brown headed, blue-eyed girl who will soon be two and is the spitting image of her daddy. My husband is kind-hearted and patient, and we have a perfectly healthy marriage and are happily raising our family in a Godly church. (It is hard to find a Godly church- one that relies on the word of God over man). (JOHN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.)


On Sundays when the pastor tells us the message and says things like- “I don’t have the answer, but I promise they are in this book.” -and he holds up the bible, I am reminded of that time so many years ago when I was guided toward THE ONLY TRUTH in life. I smile because I know God is still there, holding my hand, saying, “I’ve got something else I need you to do for me, Amber...”


Currently Jesus is walking me through a small fire. Deciding to become a Christian author was terrifying and is a constant, humbling battle. But submitting to God’s will in my life is rewarding, no matter what struggles it may bring. I have yet to find an agent or publish anything, but I know as long as Jesus is front and center, everything else will happen when God is ready for it to. My feet are planted firmly and my faith will withstand the tests of this life.


Thank you so much for reading my story. And because music is such a huge part of how I worship I will leave you with another song that is dear to my heart.



~Amber~

28 comments:

elizabeth seckman said...

I have no comment that can do your testimonial justice.
You simply glow with the Holy Spirit blinding all the evil around you!

Kellie said...

Now I truly understand the pureness of your joy when you are worshiping in song. Thank you for your bravery, then and now.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Wow. You have such a hard heart-breaking story - but God made you into a strong young woman. I can tell that God changed your life and that is... so powerful. Good luck with your search for an agent and finishing. :)

Amber said...

Thank you, ladies for your sweet comments. It is scary to be so exposed infront of the world, but God has done amazing things in my life and I shouldn't keep it to myself. ;)

Hope Roberson said...

That was really powerful! I couldn't stop the tears when you got to the part of understanding you were strong and meant to be the one to stop that man, amazing! Thank you for your struggle and your strength!

Jade Hart said...

Hey Gorgeous Girl,

I'm so honoured to have read some of this story... I would love to critique more. I think you are one of the strongest women I know and value your courage and tenacity.
I've sent you a FB msg. Hugs and talk soon.

Slam Dunk said...

Powerful.

I'll keep my comment short as it should in no way detract from the courage and inspiration that is your post.

Your strength is a blessing.

Sarah Beth said...

I'm in awe... thank you for sharing.

Katie Ganshert said...

Wow....I feel like all I can really say is just...wow.

Thank you for stepping out in courage and faith to share this testimony. I trust God will use it to draw hearts nearer to him!

P.S. I emailed you asking for a short hook for my Friday's post.

Amber said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words.

beckydoughty said...

And His Name is Hope. He spills out of your testimony so that others can have hope, too.

Thank you for sharing.

delpgang said...

I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end of that story, then I realized the story isn't over yet. He's going to continue to do great things with your life. Wonderful "Wildflowers From Winter" testimony!

cherylmckay said...

Great blog, and great bravery to share your story. I pray God leads you as you continue to pen this work in progress, as it's bound to help many.
Cheryl McKay

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Amber, so glad I found your blog! Your story is so powerful. I know we can't even imagine what you have been through. I often wonder why God let Job go through so much, but it is comforting when our lives go haywire to know that God will bring good from it. God bless you!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I know you will be blessed for doing this hard thing to share. I marvel at God's wonders.

Camille Eide said...

So much courage & wisdom here, Amber. Jesus bless you for telling your story. I know he has and will continue to help others find hope and healing and strength.

~Camille

Meadow said...

Very powerful and honest. Keep writing, you have great strength to share.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Amber, thank you for sharing such an incredible story! I was mesmerized by the opening when you were recounting the rape. Your words transported me to the time and place and I felt your emotion. I love what your youth pastor told you, because he's spot on - we can't begin to understand all the whys, but God can and the only way we'll have our answers is through seeking His Word and His heart.

Lindsay Harrel said...

Incredible testimony and courage. God is good. Thank you for sharing!

Julie Sunne said...

You are strong, Amber, made strong through the power of the Holy Spirit! Your love for the Lord shines through your words. You are definitely not a victim, but a champion! Keep writing!

bnewvision said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and for allowing God to use you! Your testimony touched my heart and gave me hope to continue to walk in my journey to healing. I too am a survivor and I know it is only thru Christ that I am able to overcome. Thank you..Thank you! Thank you!!!

Amber said...

Thank you everyone for your encouraging words. @bnewvision- you are the reason I write. To know that my words can touch someone and help draw them closer to God brings me so much joy! Thank you!

Rebecca said...

Wow, Amber-

Thank you for sharing how God worked out for GOOD, in what the enemy intended for evil. (Not to say it was 'good' that happened-you catch my drift, I'm sure.)

I also appreciate your comment, in regards to 'churches,' that not all our bible focused, but rather man focused.

Quite the alert the world...as well as the Body of Christ... needs to be alerted to when seeking for fellowship and TRUTH, and not to 'assume' that every place you walk into with the title 'church,' is truly that. But to truly SEEK and FIND.

Keep speakin', sista!!!!!!!!!!

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh... holy intense... very powerful, Amber. Really nice work ;)

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Amber,

Good luck with your writing - you are a great writer, but more than that - God speed with your travel through life.

Matthew MacNish said...

Your courage and strength are inspiring.

Rather than focusing on the extreme suffering you've endured, I'll shed a light on something positive:

You've got a powerful story to tell here, and the fact that you're brave enough to turn it into a memoir is incredible.

The writing is really strong here, and other than a needing a few minor tweaks, I think you've got a powerful story on your hands.

LTM said...

well, I'm just a blubbery mess now. But what a wonderful story of how faith can turn things around. I'm so so happy you found people who would support you and carry you through this horrible ordeal.

Just fyi, another good bloggy friend, Alina Klein, does an empowerment post every Monday for rape survivors (like herself). You might consider visiting. Alina's wonderful: http://www.alinabklein.com/

All best to you~ :o) <3

erica and christy said...

I linked here from Matthew's blog and wanted to thank you for your courage and honesty. Wishing you heaps of good luck with everything!
erica