I, as a mother, have never experienced my children being abducted by their father in violation of a court order. Actually I have never been involved in a court order. I have never had false charges taken out against me by the father of my children resulting in spending a weekend in jail. I have never been many times evicted due to my spouse using the money for his own selfish desires. I have never had to fight for custody of my children. I have never lived in poverty. I have never been verbally, physically or sexually abused. I have never been kicked out of my home in the middle of a snowstorm by an irate spouse; even worse having to make a split second decision to leave the children with their father due to the danger of them being with me on icy roads. I have never had my house burned to the ground soon after a marital dispute. I have never lived in my car due to being homeless. I have never had to call Child Protective Services on behalf of concern for my children’s safety when they are with their father.
The more I sit with the mothers who have come to us for help and hear their stories, the more I am aware I have no concept of what it must be like to have walked in their shoes. All that is written above describes just a bit of the traumatic experiences these women have faced. There are two common factors I do share with them: I am a woman. I love my children enough to fight for them.
I consistently find myself admiring these ladies. They have faced all matter of obstacles, often losing every material possession as well as their sense of dignity whittled down to believing they are worthless. Some of the plots against them have been insidious; of the nature one might watch on a 20/20 segment. Somehow those episodes on television cause us, as the audience, to be shocked while at the same time removed as this did not occur within our personal circle.
However, meeting these in person, who have and/or are still walking through the nightmare, I am struck by the strength that has been wrought through their crucible journey. With steadfast tenacity they have taken a superglue hold of a hope for the future believing that “one day” they will no longer be spending days in court fighting for what is right.
I remember watching a news clip around this same time last year of a community devastated by a tornado. A mother became her children’s human shield tucking them beneath her as the roof collapsed over her back. The children were physically unharmed. The mother lost a leg. This is such a visual of the mothers with whom we are working. While a roof is not caving in upon them and their children, the foundation crumbled some time ago with the mother, single handedly keeping herself and children above the water line. More often than not, the fathers of the children are shooting fiery darts toward the mother in an attempt to “win” what they perceive to be a necessary battle. My admiration rises as I see these ladies refrain from any negative talk to their children about the men. Not to say it doesn’t hurt or anger them. But they are wise enough to know that the children are the innocent casualties of the war and do not need to be used as a pawn or an emotional dumpster.
The women with whom we are walking through this leg of their journey work 40 or more hours a week in hourly positions. Due to a revolving door of either family or child support court, many days of income are lost. Oftentimes they may appear for a hearing only to find it has been rescheduled for a later date. Some of them have attempted to represent themselves in court which is difficult for any person, much less one who is facing the very one who has been an abusive spouse.
In the majority of these cases the fathers have not paid child support because they do not feel it is their responsibility. Some have desired to see their children only upon occasion. When the mothers filed for child support the fathers became enraged at the unfairness of being told they had to contribute toward their children’s care. In many of these cases upon finding 50/50 custody would mean they would not have to pay, they took the mothers to court. But because these men are not invested in the care of the child, and oftentimes are not living lives conducive to a child’s proper care, the mothers have to fight for what is best for the child.
None of those whom we are representing are out to take away the father’s relationship with the child. They would love nothing more than for the father to live responsibly knowing that the children are safe in their care. But because these ladies are not in denial of what they know, they are willing to fight for what is right for the protection of the child. It is not an easy battle. It is rigorous, expensive, and time consuming. Just as is anything of value. If the mothers are granted primary custody then the fathers play the system as gamblers, moving from job to job oftentimes not working at all.
We are aware there are many divorce situations in which the parents have an amicable relationship and focus on co-parenting for the sake of the children. We are also aware there are some men who are very responsible single fathers who are experiencing much the same as the women with
Present needs are many due to the expenses Mustard Seed is now bearing on behalf of these families. Legal fees, supplemental income for help towards housing and utilities, emergency needs such as bald tires or broken water pipes… all are adding up. Is it beyond our ability to fund? Yes of course it is. Which is why the Lord called us into this work so that He through people would supply.
In a meeting last month, one of the mothers who has had the most complicated of situations, said “the Lord is cutting me and my children free of a web that at one time seemed utterly impossible to get out of.”
On behalf of these ladies and their children who are becoming stable and moving forward: thank you!
God Bless You,
Bridget, David, and Joel
“We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:12