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Yesterday was vistation.  We knew it would be tense.

The last few vistations have been rough, and the kids have seen increased agitation in their father.  In March he sat and glared at them and watched them as they walked out to go to the bathroom.  My 16 year old was afraid.  He is afraid.

I called the ex to see if we could switch weeks, so the kids could go to their oldest brother’s wedding.  He never returned my call.  When he called the kids a week later, they asked him.  He told them he was moving but didn’t give them the address and didn’t call again at his regular call time. 

The night before visitation, Friday, at almost 9 o’clock, my 16 year old called his dad to see if visitation was still on.  I suspected their dad had no intention of giving us the new address but would then file contempt charges against me for denying his vistation.

He angrily told E it had not been two weeks since he’d called.  He snapped out that he had called Sunday before last.  His call time is Sundays at 6. He had not called in 12 days and three hours when our son had to call him to get his new address, but we’re not going to call that two weeks.

There’s been no child support again. 

I dropped the kids off at the lovely older cottage with the new truck and the Harley Davidson parked in the carport.  I could see all of the weight equipment he claimed he had to sell in desperate poverty post divorce.  It was arranged in the garage in a way that was obvious it is being used.  And, I headed to work……my sixth day in a row. 

The kids usually ask to be picked up anywhere between 1:30 and 3:30.  The last two times they did stay until 5:30.  When I left work at 3 I texted the kids to see if they were ready.  E was obviously PANICKED.  They wanted to leave, but their dad was riled.  They were afraid.  He didn’t want them to go yet and was acting hostile.

E begged, “What do I do???”

I told him to explain to his dad that they had appointments to get haircuts for the wedding.  That only infuriated him more!  “Why does your mom do that?  Why does she schedule stuff during MY time?  I could take you more!  You do realize that, don’t you?  I have the RIGHT to take you more!  Why does your mother do this?”

I’ve never done that before. 

However, it was a legitimate reason.  I work six days a week.  It’s what you have to do when their deadbeat dad refuses to pay child support consistently.  And, they needed haircuts for the wedding.  They hadn’t had haircuts in months.  But, bottom line is, they were afraid of their father and wanted out of there.

When I got there I was cool and acted like everything was fine.  I’m really good at that. He and my family trained me well.  Let’s play pretend this is normal and no one sees you’re a monster.

I handed him mail that had come to my house for our 19 year old.  He grabbed it and acted like he was going to throw it on the ground.  He stood in the doorway of my car as though he might get in, blocking the kids from getting in, and went into a tirade about how they hadn’t eaten and he didn’t realize I was going to get them soooo early. 

I calmly explained that it was about the same time I always pick them up and that with my work schedule it was the only time I could get the kids to the barber without taking time off work.  His eyes were sharp and his jaw was flexing.

He then offered me a smart TV.  He has three and only needs two.  He thought the kids could use it in their room.  I said no thank you to which his glare sharpened and his mouth pulled tight.  He leaned further into my car and snapped, “Fine!  I just thought they could use it upstairs.  It was given to me, and I don’t need it so I thought I’d give it to the kids!” 

I remained calm and smiled and explained that the kids have tablets; we have a TV; and (as he knows full well) I think too much technology isn’t good for their study habits or their behavior.  And, if we watch TV, it’s all together.

He argued that the boys could use it for their video games in their room.  I stood firm.  They play in the living room. No thank you. 

I thought he might lunge at me.  I could clearly see what E was texting about.

He went back to arguing about losing his time, and I offered to bring them back to him to have dinner with him AFTER the haircuts.  He backed off and let the kids in the car wth that.

After the haircuts, from the barber shop, I called him.  He answered but wasn’t home.  We waited an hour for him to come back before I left the kids with him to eat pizza.

Another hour passed, and I retrieved my emotional children.  They started in on how he has all of our old furniture in his new place.  The expensive furniture he claimed he had to burn because I had allowed it to ruin.  They told how there is a shotgun hidden in the top of the entertainment armoire and a pistol in his bedroom.

His boss, the one who is not garnishing his wages as he’s supposed to, is the one who is renting him this cute little house.  His boss is well connected, a big wig in this town.  His boss is good friends with my cousin who fired my teenager without reason or notice.  His boss is enabling him and further victimizing us, all in the name of being a good Christian. 

I’m fighting to keep my perspective. 

This man who had nothing but a sleeping bag, a small mat, a stereo, some plastic bowls, and A LOT of debt when I married him, walked away with A LOT of very nice material goods.

When I married him I had so much, so very much, but no debt.  And, all I walked away with, for all of my years of hard work, was his debt, the full responsibility for my wounded children, and a broken down body.

It’s hard not to be angry.

The youngest two crawled in my bed and asked to sleep with me.  My little girl was sobbing.  In between gasps she expressed her fear that her dad would take her away from me.  With two kids in my bed tossing and turning and moaning all night, needless to say, I didn’t sleep.

As I lay there in the dark listening to their fitfulness, random thoughts seemed to come from outside myself.  The Son of God had no place to lay His head.  Elijah thought he was alone and was fed by the birds.  Jeremiah was lowered into the pit.  David was hunted by Saul and later by his own son.  Job lost everything, including his children.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied about, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned, and then forgotten. Lazarus was covered in sores and ate with the dogs.  Jesus was hunted and eventually murdered by His own people.

Each case was unfair.  Unjust.  They suffered things they did not deserve as a direct result of the wickedness of others. 

My Sister Survivors, on days like yesterday we need to keep an eternal perspective….. we’re in good company.  We’re on the right side.  And, in the end, our team wins.  Stay strong.  Fight the good fight.  Our redeemer is coming back but next time it’s with a double edged sword, riding his horse into battle.  Do not grow weary in doing good, or what is right.  Your reward will be great.  Possess the spirit of Jael but maintain a soft heart.  And, look up, our redemption draws near. 

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