Revive Our Hearts Podcast

No Place for a Child

Leslie Basham: Today’s Revive Our Hearts isn’t appropriate for younger children. You may want to get yours busy doing something else, but come back to hear the story of Angie. As a teenager, she often had seen her parents argue. Well, one night the fighting grew especially intense, and Angie’s mother grabbed a knife out of the kitchen.

Angie: I just heard a scream and the scream lasted for what seemed like forever. But it was like three minutes. She just screamed without breathing, and she came into the room where I was, and she had blood splattered on her shirt. She told me that she had just killed my father.

Leslie: This is  Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 17.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Next week will mark the fortieth anniversay of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that we know as Roe v. Wade. That's a decision that affectively made abortion legal in the United States during all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy. As you know, there’s been enormous fallout from that decision. Millions of women, as well as men, have been inpacted. That includes mothers, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and of course, unborn children.

But thankfully, God is on His throne. We know that God is a God who loves life, who creates life, who gives life. There are many, many believers today who have a heart for life and are working very hard in many different ways to see life preserved.

In fact, this coming Sunday we’ll be observing again across the United States what has become to be known as the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. I hope that you’re planning to be involved in local efforts in your community to observe the importance of the sanctity of human life.

You can go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, to find out some other ways that you can be involved in promoting the importance of life and the preservation of life in your community and through your local church.

A few years ago I was invited to speak at an annual fundraising banquet for the Pregnancy Care Center located in Niles, Michigan, where Revive Our Hearts is based.

When I accepted that invitation, I had no way of knowing what a really special evening this was going to turn out to be. For starters, it was really encouraging to see so many people from our area who care about the life of the unborn and are investing in so many different ways—through their time, their finances, their prayers—in supporting efforts related to preserving life.

Then, just before I got up to speak that night, something very special took place. There was a woman named Angie who told her story. She shared how she had come to that pregnancy care center as a scared, pregnant teenager. She told us how God had used that encounter in such a significant way in her life.

By the time she was done sharing that night, she was weeping, and many, many other people in that room were weeping. As soon as that evening was done, I wanted to know, “Was Angie's story recorded?” Unfortunately, nobody had recorded Angie's testimony that night, and I was so disappointed.

So we contacted Angie directly and asked if she could come to the Revive Our Hearts studio to share her story. It's a story we want to share with you over the next several days. I'll just tell you that this testimony is sobering, it's heavy at times, but it will also remind you of God's ability to move in any situation and to provide healing and grace.

So let's listen in on the beginning of my conversation with Angie.

Nancy: Today we have the privilege of having Angie in the studio with us to share God's story of His grace in her life. Angie, thank you so much for coming and joining us today on Revive Our Hearts.

Angie: It’s a pleasure.

Nancy: You were such a blessing to me that night. I think I just came up and hugged you afterwards to get to meet you.

Angie: You did!

Nancy: I was so touched by your story, and it is your story. But it’s really the story of God’s grace and His intervention in your life and in the life of your little boy, BJ, who’s now six years of age.

But there’s a lot of story that leads up to that, and you’ve been kind enough to share with me some of the story of your growing up and your background and some of the events in your family that formed the tapestry in the background of who you are and who you became.

There are a lot of parts in that story that aren’t really pretty, and some that are hard to hear and hard, I’m sure, to share. We don’t want to glorify the yucky stuff of the past, but I think it helps to just give a backdrop for where God found you.

I know as you share this that other young women or older women—who perhaps have some very painful, difficult things in their pasts, some “baggage,” as we’ve come to call it—may receive hope that God really can rescue the perishing—not only those little ones in the womb that we’re talking about rescuing, but rescuing the lives of young women like yourself, who apart from God’s grace, who knows where you would be today.

So I want to ask if you would just share a little bit about—as we kind of roll the tape back and go back in time to a little bit of—your upbringing. You grew up in a home that was anything but healthy and happy. Tell us a little bit about some of your earliest memories of your family.

Angie: My parents got married when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. Because my grandparents were religious, they had a lot of pressure on them. If my dad was to get financial help from my grandparents, they were to get married or my grandparents would, I guess, write them off. I mean, it didn’t seem like that, but it was kind of like a secret—no one said it—but it felt that way.

I developed a really close relationship with my mother as I was growing up, I thought. I felt really dependent on her, and I would actually go and sleep with her at night. I would crawl into her bed at night like most kids do. But my dad always got really angry when I did that, and he would send me back to my room. So I’d wait for him to fall back asleep, and I would go in my mom’s room and lay underneath the bed, waiting for him to go to work in the morning.

NancySo you felt closer to your mom than to your dad?

Angie: Oh, most definitely.

Nancy: When your mom told you when you were ten years old that she had you because of some pressure from your grandparents, how did that make you feel?

Angie: I was very close to my grandmother my whole life. She was, I called her, the light in such a dark place. There was not a lot of happiness in my home because there was a lot of drinking and drugs. When I would go on visits to my grandma’s house, her car was always clean and smelled nice, and she always had nice clothes on, and her shoes were clean. I know those are silly things, but those really stuck in my mind. I felt very close to her.

You can imagine how she must have felt having a grandchild in what she knew was an awful environment. She would come over to my house, and it would be filled with smoke. My floor, literally, was rotting because of all the dog pee and poop on the floor. She would have to leave me there in that. Can you imagine how that would have felt?

Nancy: Did she live in the area?

Angie: No, she lived far away. Well, not far, but about half an hour away—in South Bend, and I grew up in Niles. So she would come and get me as much as possible.

Nancy: Did your grandmother know the Lord?

Angie: Yes.

Nancy: So she had a heart for you, and I bet she prayed for you.

Angie: And that’s so funny because I also had a great-grandmother, and she knew the Lord.

Nancy: She surely planted some seeds in your heart that God one day watered and caused to take root.

Angie: I believe that she prayed for me my whole life. It’s sad—but God works in ways that we can’t understand—but right after she died, I became a Christian, so she didn’t know. I guess that’s encouraging to grandmothers.

Nancy: I think that’s a very encouraging word to some grandmoms who are listening to this program and thinking of a grandson or granddaughter or grandchildren who are in very dysfunctional or very desperate situations—to know that their life really can reflect Christ, and that their prayers can be used by God. Who knows how many lives will be rescued just because grandmoms take seriously that responsibility to pray for their grandchildren. So thank you for sharing that about her, and thank the Lord for that grandmother.

Now, you’re growing up in this home. You said there was alcohol; there were drugs. Was this a constant thing? Was it a chaotic environment? How do you recall the environment as you got into those elementary years?

Angie: My dad started working a lot. I feel like as time went by, my mom tried to work sometimes, so it was my parents trying to survive. They couldn’t really drink and do a lot of stuff because they were trying to figure out—I guess get stable is a good way to explain it.

My dad started working really long hours, so my mom didn’t have to work. She stayed home with us, and my dad would come home with a case of beer. He would just drink all night and pass out on the living room floor. Those are my fondest memories of my dad.

He was into bows and shooting guns and hunting. So I tried to reach out to him because every little girl wants to say, “Daddy,” and have that relationship. I just feel like I craved that for a long time in my life.

This is when I was the age of seven all the way up until I was ten. I just craved his attention, and it was just like this longing for his love and affection. Any small amount of attention and I was overjoyed. When I got that attention, it was when I shot at a really good spot on the target, or with my bow, or I was skinning deer with him—in order just to be with him.

I feel like he knew . . . He did only what he knew. I don’t want to make them sound like monsters as I’m speaking. I heard somewhere that you love the way that you were loved, and you love only like you know how. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but I just feel like that was Satan’s doing, and I can’t fault my parents. I don’t hate my parents for the way they were to me.

It does affect me, but after I came to the Lord . . . It just seemed like I was angry as I was growing up, I craved the attention. Then when I didn’t get it after so long, I got angry and bitter, and then I hated him; I wanted him to die. All of these bad really selfish emotions started emerging.

Then I clung to my mother. My mother had so much emotional baggage inside of her because she was raised by an alcoholic mother. She didn’t know who her father was. She had four siblings, and her mother was abusive. So she came from a really bad background.

Being a mother to me, she kind of used my . . . Like I said earlier, I would crawl underneath the bed, and as a mother now, I wouldn’t ever accept that from my child. I want to teach my child responsibility and independence and being able to—well because I’m a Christian—rely on the Lord instead of me. I just felt like it was really sad because she depended on me. I fed her emotional needs; it was more like a selfishness for her—rather than raising me to be an independent woman.

Nancy: Then you saw your mom involved in immoral relationships as well, and that had an impact on you down the road.

Angie: During probably the first two years of my parent’s marriage, she stayed faithful, but the next fifteen years was all affairs. I remember being there at home and guys just coming in. She would go in the bedroom and say, “Don’t answer the phone,” and I would play with the man’s kids.

But I didn’t think anything—that was my mom. I had thought my dad wasn’t giving her enough affection, just like he doesn’t do it for me. How can I blame her for searching other places when he’s not a good father; he’s not a good husband either. I can see with my own eyes. I had my mother telling me the same because she was angry, and I was the only one she could confide in—her seven-year-old daughter.

So it was through that experience, until I was ten, I think I tried to be strong for everybody. I don’t know if that makes sense because you think that you’d be really weak from all those things. But I don’t know, when there’s no strength around you, it just comes from inside. I know that was probably God keeping me together so that I wouldn’t fall apart. I remember when I was ten-and-a-half, my mom had become pregnant by a man that she was having an affair with. She had had abortions. It wasn’t a big . . . I mean, it wasn’t a sin, right? So she decided . . .

Nancy: Did you know what abortions were at the time?

Angie: Yes.

Nancy: Your mom had explained that to you?

Angie: Yes.

Nancy: And that was just a way of life?

Angie: When you get in trouble, there’s necessary actions. I mean, if you couldn’t take care of it, and especially in that situation, you just got rid of it. My dad, when he found out . . . The man that my mom had gotten pregnant with came to the house—and he was my dad’s best friend, by the way. He came to the house, and he said, “I can’t do this. I just want to tell you.” Really, that was his escape, because he ran away after that. But my mom was like, “Well, I'm just going to abort.”

My dad was . . . He took the position as the father to the unborn child in my mom’s stomach. I don’t know what that says about my dad. I know that he was—it is kind of funny. As I was chasing him, he was chasing my mom. So as I’m trying to get his love and affection, he’s just so overwhelmed, and he was just really struggling.

I just remember he was obsessed about my mother, and not in a good way. That’s all he lived for. At the same time, he drank a lot. There were things underlying their marriage that I couldn’t possibly know. My mother shared with me on more than one occasion about my dad in their sexual experiences when I very young. She was unhappy. I feel like she was trying to justify her actions to me so that I wouldn’t think badly of her because I was the only one that she had.

Nancy: But your dad convinced her not to abort this baby?

Angie: Yes. She decided to keep it. When the baby was born . . . Through the whole pregnancy it was wonderful. My dad was buying her clothes, and I remember they got this shirt that had all of our names on these balloons. Inside one of the balloons it said, “Baby,” for the baby in her stomach. And my dad was really happy.

Then when she had the baby, my dad signed the birth certificate.

Nancy: But your parent’s marriage didn’t last.

Angie: No, when I was thirteen, I remember one night specifically right before they got a divorce, my mom and dad were arguing. This was a common thing at our house with alcohol and drugs and stuff. My brother was there, and he was in the middle of them. They were arguing because my mom found out that my dad was whistling at girls, or something.

My mom got really angry, and they went into their room. They were drinking tequila, and there was a lemon on the table with a filet knife. My mom went into the bedroom and was yelling at him, and she tried to grab him, and she hit him. He hit her back, and she went and got the knife off the table, and she stabbed him.

Nancy: Were you watching all this?

Angie: I was out in the living room, but I heard her. I was sitting with my brother. I heard them stomp into their room, and we didn’t get afraid anymore. I remember sometimes I was afraid when they would throw each other into the fridge and when they would really get physical. But usually it was just a lot of yelling and ugly words. It wasn’t ever too physical.

My dad had never hit my mom except for that time she hit him. I guess he was like, “I’m done,” and he hit her back. I just heard a scream, and the scream lasted for what seemed like forever. It was like three minutes; she just screamed without breathing. She came into the room where I was, and she picked me up, and she had blood splattered on her shirt.

She told me that she had just killed my father, and that she was going to go away, and I would have to go live with my aunt, but she loved me very much. I turned around, and I looked. My dad was lying on the floor. She had stabbed him in an artery in his arm, right below his elbow, between his wrist and his elbow. Blood was just coming out rapidly, and my brother ran to the neighbor and called the police. The police came, and thankfully, my dad was saved from that.

I can’t understand it. When the police came, they asked who stabbed him. Here my mother is, with blood all over her shirt. My dad said he went out to check the mail, and some guy down the road stabbed him. All the blood was in the room, my mom had it on her. I mean, it was obvious. It was a desperate attempt to save her from jail, or herself—I have no idea.

They wanted to take my dad to the ambulance and take my mom away in a police car. My dad refused to go on the ambulance unless my mom could go with him. So they went on the ambulance, and they went away. Then my sister, who was sixteen or seventeen at the time, drove us to the hospital—my sister, my brother, myself, and my younger sister, who was only one-and-a-half at the time, or maybe two.

We went to the hospital, and we waited there. I just remember my mom had this glazed look in her eyes with the same shirt on. She just had this look that said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not going to do this to you anymore.” No tears, I mean there was no emotion in her face. It just this glazed look, like, “I’m done.”

Three or four weeks later, when he was released from the hospital, he was served with divorce papers.

Nancy: I hate to break this story off right here because it’s such an awful picture of what sin does, and what the enemy does in tearing up families and destroying lives. Here you are, a thirteen-year-old girl at this point, just going into your teenage years, and experiencing all this.

It would seem to be such a hopeless situation, but I want to say, we’re going to pick this story up tomorrow, and it’s not a hopeless situation because God had a plan for your life. God was in the process of drawing you to Himself, though there were going to be some more difficult years before you came to know the Lord.

Already, in eternity past, God had His eye and His heart set on you, Angie, and He wanted you to be His. There wasn’t any home situation, as horrible as it could be, that was going to keep the Lord from drawing you to Himself. So I want to say to our listeners, there is hope; there is a precious ending to this story, although the story’s not over. It’s continuing because of what God’s doing in your life and in your new family today—you and your husband and your little boy.

When we pick up this story, we’re also going to get to meet a couple of the other people that God used as part of the process in your life. But I want to just pick up on a couple things you said here.

First, just a reminder of the influence of a praying grandmother. Was that your dad’s mother who was that light in a dark place for you?

Angie: Yes.

Nancy: Then, to hear the freedom that God has given you from bitterness and anger and fear. So many women who grew up in the kind of environment you did would feel rightly entitled to a whole lifetime of being a basket case of anger and bitterness and destructive relationships, even after they come to know the Lord.

But you’ve already said that as you came to know Christ, He made you a new person. Now, we haven’t gotten that far in the story yet, but I can already sense by the way that you’re telling this, as you look back on it, that Christ has really set you free—not from remembering all of this (I’m sure these aren’t happy memories). But God has made you a new person who can look back on your parents with compassion and without hatred and without anger. That’s the work of God’s Spirit, giving you a new heart.

God can do that for anyone, no matter what their background, no matter how atrocious their circumstances may have been, no matter how deep the hurt and the pain or the pit that they may have found themselves in, to no fault of their own, perhaps. God is bigger, and God’s grace is able to rescue and redeem the most hideous situation of our past.

Nancy: Over these next few days leading up to the fortieth anniversary of the landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, we're going to see how God's amazing grace did intervene in Angie's life and redeemed her life from destruction.

As Angie's story unfolds, you are going to be reminded of the important work that is being done by the staff and the volunteers at pregnancy care centers all around the nation.

I first heard Angie speak at a banquet that was raising money for the pregancy care center in the area where I live. So as you listen over these next days, would you ask the Lord how He might want you to involved in caring for these women who are making huge life and death decisions.

If this is something He puts on your heart, ask Him to direct you to a pregnancy care center in your area that is serving in the name of Christ and is giving wise counsel to these women. Contact the PCC, the Pregnancy Care Center, in your area and ask how you can get involved.

It might mean contributing specific resources that the PCC can use, or donating funds, perhaps sharing your time and counseling with women in crisis situations.

I think it would be a great thing if pregnancy care centers all across this nation would have a flood of Revive Our Hearts listeners who've heard Angie's story and would say, "I want to get involved in giving, in praying, in donating, in various ways investing in the important work that these pregnancy care centers are doing in so many of our communities.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Parents are supposed to protect their children, right? We’ll hear about a mom who was so confused that she introduced her children to drugs, on purpose. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Today's transcript of this conversation has been edited slightly for your reading ease.

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