2.06.2008

My day

My day hasn't been bad. Courtney was home and so I gave her the phone and told her to answer it all day and not let it wake me up...and she did. So I was able to sleep pretty much straight through. I needed it, so that was a huge blessing.

I got up between 2:30 and 3 and found out that God had provided and Scott was able to changed the brakes on our van. That was DESPERATELY needed seeing as how the brake pedal was going all the way to the floor and the ABS brakes had to kick in to stop us. The brake light had come on and we had planned on changing them this weekend, but the van had other plans and started this nasty behavior a few days ago. Knowing that they are changed and that my family is safer was also a huge blessing!

The other thing that happened that I KNOW is a blessing, but my heart, pride and ego have a hard time accepting is that God has given me an opportunity to forgive, and he has shown that he can heal even the biggest and deepest of wounds.

When the evil one hurt Courtney and went to jail for it, his parents took his side and did/said some not so nice things. They hurt me so bad and I felt so betrayed that they haven't seen the kids AT ALL in nearly four years now. I had it in my head that they would never see them again, period. A few weeks ago, however, I prayed a simple little quick prayer of basically, "Lord, I am willing to forgive if you will deal with the feelings I have. If you make it happen, I am willing to let it and move on."

WELL.... be careful what you ask for!!! lol Last week I got a letter in the mail from my ex-in-laws. First of all, it was the first time that they had ever spelled my name right...so that was a plus in their favor. Secondly, they were NICE to me. Paraphrasing, they basically said that they know I don't like them, but they do miss the girls...and me. That "mom" was sick and it would make such a huge difference if she could hear SOMETHING from the girls...even if it was just a school picture.

I went back and forth on my feelings for a few days. First I thought, yeah...I can do that for them. Then I'd think, NO! I'm not sending pictures of my babies so that they can make copies to send to that pedophile! They made their bed, now they can lie in it! Back and forth I would go.

So the other night after everyone was long asleep and I was sitting here alone...like I often am...the Holy Spirit moved on me and I was filled with forgiveness and compassion for them. I knew that moment was the time to write a letter to them before I had a chance to talk myself out of it. This is a little lengthy, but here's what it said:

Mr. & Mrs. Arnold,

I want to clear something up. This is not about me not liking you. Because I do like you. You were part of my family for a long time and I love you both. I also love Emery and Karen and all of the rest of the family. That's not what this is about. I don't want any bad blood between us.

What it is about is the fact that through the entire situation with the evil one's court hearings and everything, I felt very betrayed by you. Even when he told you with me listening that he did these monstrous things to my daughter, you chose to take his side. Many comments were made to me and about me behind my back regarding the fact that you didn't think he should have gone to jail. And we're just going to have to agree to disagree about what happened with Maddie and Amelia, because there is NO WAY that children that young could have made that up. NO WAY.

I do believe that if it happened you are sorry now. I do believe that you love my girls and you miss them. I don't doubt that at all. I believe you. And honestly, this isn't about keeping them from you or punishing you at all. Even though you deny Mrs. Arnold saying the things that she did to the girls, I want you to know that I forgive her. I don't hold that against you two. This is 100% about the evil one. Absolutely and totally. I can't say enough times that this isn't about you, Billie, or any other member of that family…except for evil one.

You may not want to admit it to yourselves, but he was a very cruel and malicious man. If only for this moment if you would please put yourselves in my shoes and see him for what he really was to us and try to sympathize. He was an abusive husband who used to beat the tar out of me often, and went to jail for it many times. I was young and stupid and kept thinking that love would win in the end. Instead, he molested one of our 14-year-old babysitters and then molested my daughter every night for two years. To hear the vulgar, disgusting details of what he did to her over and over again leaves it very difficult to know that if I send you pictures of my girls that you are most sure to make copies and send them to him. Amelia is just about the age Courtney was when he started, and Maddie is how old she was when he had to quit. I feel that to send him pictures of girls who are his prime age-targets would be to victimize my children all over again.

I would love to send you pictures. I would love to have the girls be part of your life. But I can't trust that you would have any loyalty to me. We all know that I was always the outsider and the evil one was where your loyalty lay. I can't trust that you wouldn't have the girls talk to him or send their pictures to him, etc.

One of the other reasons that I am hesitant to rekindle this is because it would just be like digging up old bones. God has been faithful to heal broken hearts and the girls are doing so good. I'm afraid that opening that old box would be like ripping a band-aid off of a wound. Also, I don't want to bring them around and let them get attached to family only to have to take them away again in a few years when he gets out of prison. Because I will not allow him around my children. He is NOT safe.

If we could work out some sort of agreement with your word on not giving him any photos of them or asking them to talk to him, etc…then it might be something I would consider. The girls are hesitant, because they're nervous just like I am. I would have to have your word.

I'd like to give you a little update on them though.

Maddie is 10 years old now. She's tall and very athletic. She loves to play soccer and likes to ice skate. She's good at just about everything she tries. She's also one of the best students in her class.

Amelia is 7 now and in second grade. She struggles a little bit with learning certain things because of the lead-poisoning she had when she was little from the house on Brownell Ave. She still loves to play with dolls and she's a very good mom to them. Her newest baby is named "Mollie", and Emma is absolutely in love with her! She loves art and is always drawing and painting. She's also the funniest kid I have! She's always dancing or doing something funny.

We have a really wonderful, quiet and stable family now and we love it that way. Maddie is more outgoing and Amelia is still more shy. Maddie wants to be a vetrenarian when she grows up and has a passion for animals. Amelia changes what she wants to be every day! J Some days she wants to be a designer and sketches outfits on paper and the next day she wants to be a police officer and asks about police academy. J

I truly do wish you well and hope that Billie feels better. I have no hard feelings towards either of you anymore. I just want all of the damage to heal and go away. I wish there was a way to do that AND keep him away from my children. It's easy to be good when you're locked up and have to be good. I had 9 years of him showing me that he wasn't good and I don't trust him with one fiber of my being. But I do wish you both well. I love you and I appreciate everything that you have done for me in the past. I hope we can work something out. I would be willing to consider it, but I would have to have your absolute solemn word. The evil one is a grown man and could have protected himself….these are little ones who still need protecting, and I am willing to do that at all costs. I need your cooperation. Think about it and let me know. I'm enclosing a letter that Madelaine wrote for you. Amelia was too shy to write one.

God bless you,

Veronica

Today I received a letter back from them that said:

"We thank you for the photo of the girls. They look great and you say they are doing great, and that's good. We are proud of them, tell them. Love you all. You all are welcome to come over here any time, you know that. [no i don't] We will not send the evil one a copy of the girls or tell him anything about them if that's what you want Veronica. [Yes, that's what I want]

When the evil one told us what he done to Courtney it tore our hearts out. [right.] When you told us we could not see his girls [they aren't his girls, they're MY girls] anymore, it tore the rest of our hearts out. [Yeah, you're not used to having consequences are you?] We would like to see the kids again.

For what it's worth, the evil one says he is not coming back to Lorain to live when he gets out. [GOOD!] If the kids ever come over here, they won't talk to him on the phone. He hardly ever calls anyways.

We lov eyou all and are praying for you all.

Pray to hear from you,

Mom & Dad Arnold"

You can see by the remarks that I interjected how they damage still isn't totally healed. This is definitely a process for me! But I'm trying to always act while the spirit is moving, so that the devil can't change my mind. So, as soon as the girls got home from school, I read them the letter and asked them how they felt about it. They said it was good and that they'd like to go see them sometime...as long as I don't leave them there. I suggested calling them and the girls were like, "No really...that's ok." lol But I insisted (for the reasons mentioned above.) I knew that if we didn't do it now, it would probably never happen.

I dialed the number that I still know by heart and the girls all talked to the Arnolds. I never thought that day would come. EVER. Even Courtney talked to them. To say that the Arnolds were thrilled to hear from the kids would be a HUGE understatement. They were beyond thrilled. It was a really bittersweet moment for me, and I still wondered whether or not to trust them. But the whole time that I sat wondering that, I could feel that still, small voice telling me that it was going to be alright. Allow God to heal this and trust that he will protect. Enough time has gone by that I think they have felt their consequences and they know that this is their only chance.

Right now, I can feel my pride struggling with its last few dying breaths trying to get me to reconsider. My conscience, however, is feeling a lot better. The way I look at it is that I have now extended the olive branch. I have obeyed. And I know that God rewards obedience. If the Arnolds screw this up, that isn't my fault...it's theirs. Even if I don't trust them, I do trust God. I have to trust him that he will keep us safe...and that he will warn me to get away from there if things aren't as they should be. I have to. I really don't think that will be an issue though. My spirit just feels like it's all going to be ok. Enough time has gone by for the reality of what the evil one did to sink into their hearts. I think they get it now. So since God is willing to help me, I have to keep my end of the bargain and be willing to forgive.

Please pray for us! I don't think I can convey in words what a HUGE deal this is for me. This whole situation of my baby being raped for two years left the biggest, gaping hole in me...and it will never heal completely. Not that God isn't capable, it's more that I don't think I'll allow it to heal. I just don't see myself ever being that surrendered. I hope so, but I doubt it. This is, though, a little piece of the hole being filled in. And that feels good.

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