I was raised in a very religious home, with a very strict upbringing. I knew the Bible well. Although I left my childhood faith at age 15, I still believed strongly in God and in prayer, and that sustained me in what was to come.
For many years, I lived in a very abusive marriage. We had seven children together. I struggled to keep my head afloat and to keep my family together. I developed depression from the daily abuse I was suffering. I begged God to help me. I cried almost every night in my bed, begging God to please help me.
As the years went past; my prayers were still being said, although often I felt they were falling on deaf ears. I felt hopeless, with no money, many children, a failing marriage, an abusive husband and very far away from my family. I had no friends; literally not a single friend.
Then one night, my then husband, who worked as a tow truck driver, called me and told me about a call he had just finished. He explained that it was a man and woman and that the lady had invited our whole family over for dinner that evening.
We both found that extremely odd as in Vancouver you can’t just trust people, let alone have a pile of strangers into your home, but she gave him her number and he told me to call.
Something told me to make that call, so I did, and she said to come. With very little gas in my tank (the gauge read empty), and flat broke, I loaded up my children and drove all the way into North Vancouver, worried the whole way that I would run out of gas, but it was a free meal and positive people, both of which I desperately needed.
We arrived, meeting my husband there, and nine of us, pure strangers, showed up at her door!
She welcomed us with open arms and introduced us to two elder missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I felt blessed and thankful, although weighing heavily on my mind was my lack of gas to get home. As we drove away, my gas gauge sat at a quarter tank.
It was something I'll never forget. That whole day was a mini-miracle.
This sister gave me the phone number of two sister missionaries in the area in which I was living. In a very fast change of events, I decided to try to leave my husband and to move closer to my parents’ home. I had no one to help me, but suddenly I had two sisters come over and pack my kitchen. They notified the bishop of the city to which I was moving that I was on my way. I never expected anything, but, to my surprise, when I arrived, there were many people there to help unload me. One sister even brought dinner!
I had two young elders call at my door soon after that. We met many times, and I had more questions all the time. I felt like I was testing them. I would text them at all hours, one, two, three and four a.m., asking questions and wanting answers. They told me to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon was true. I thought they were crazy, but I said I would try.
At that time, I was still praying for God to please help me.
Two months later my prayers were answered in a very scary way. One cold November morning my husband broke into my house. Trying not to escalate the situation, I allowed him to talk to me and tried to calm him, which I couldn't and the abuse became physical. In the midst of this, a knock came at the door. It was the police. They knew somehow and arrested my husband.
I was badly injured but I had to hang on. My children were solely relying on me; without me, they had no one. My father stepped in and took the children while I was recovering my health and gaining stability.
A few days after the incident I begged the elders to allow me to go to the chapel. I had never been to any church building, let alone the chapel, but I had a very strong feeling that I needed to be there. They said that a Christmas dinner was coming up and I was welcome to come. This was my chance but I was not going for the food.
I entered the chapel and found my two elders. I broke down at the back of the chapel while they sat with me. Feeling drawn, I got up and moved to the very front of the chapel, then dropped to my knees on the floor and cried out loud, asking God why He had forsaken me? Why had He forgotten me? I had tried to live a good life; why did He leave me alone? As I fell to my side from weakness, I cried loudly, “I need you”. I lay on my side crying like a baby. I felt that I truly had lost everything that I had ever loved.
Then I heard a voice saying that all would be okay and that my children would be returned to me. I was urged to get up and go eat but I couldn't. I wiped my tears and went to the gym anyhow. As I opened the door my eyes locked with the only person there that I knew at all, the lady who had brought food the day I moved. I burst out in tears again. Sisters rushed to my side, bringing me to a table.
As I explained what happened, they guided me to another sister in the ward who worked with children and women who were escaping abuse. She was a gift straight from Heavenly Father. She stood by me every day for the trials and tribulations which followed; through court, and tears, and case workers.
I gained strength as I came to realize that God is very real and that He knows I need Him. He was the only thing holding me up at that point, and He was putting people directly in my path to help me.
I wasn't healed but I was healing.
As January was approaching, another court date was drawing near and I was preparing for the worst. One morning, my phone rang. It was a social worker, informing me that my children would be coming home. She said that they had found no reason for the kids to be away from me, that I'm an outstanding mother, and that it was clear that there was a very strong bond between the children and myself.
Eventually, I chose to move back to my parents’ home, to rebuild my life as a single mother and happily live my life as a baptized member of the Church, putting faith in God’s hands every step of the way. All three of my older children have chosen to be baptized. The younger children have not yet turned eight.
I learned that we are never truly in control, and we must learn to turn the controls over to God and allow Him to guide us. I also learned that God never leaves us, although we sometimes leave Him.
I am now remarried to a man who is very kind and loving. I made it completely clear right from the start that I was strong in my religion. He took the time to learn and study and is now an active member of the church and a Melchizedek priesthood holder. He treats me and the children like gold. He respects us, teaches us, and guides us. He is my very best friend. We look forward to the opportunity to be sealed in the temple for time and eternity.
I never thought God would hear my prayers, much less answer me, but He answered with much more than I asked for. Our Father in Heaven is very real and loves us so deeply. I feel very empowered and grateful to feel His warm embrace.