Christmas and the New Year came and went. I flew up to New Jersey for what would be my first holiday alone in over 13 years. Maggie, Paige, and I were absolutely inseparable for so long. Paige and I were just reeling from her mother’s selfish and disturbing actions. And with my recent trip to Maggie’s parents in Apalachicola, FL, I was beginning to really understand the dynamics of what was driving Maggie.
During my time living with Mike in Orlando, we had many talks about Maggie and what she was doing. Mike had been through a divorce himself with an X-wife that did something similar to what Maggie was doing, albeit to a lesser degree. That’s when Mike started talking to me about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is an official mental disorder with distinct characteristics. People affected by BPD frequently experience distressing emotional states, instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image issues, and self-harming behavior. But probably the most distinct characteristic is “black and white” thinking. People and situations are seen as “all good” or “all bad” with little to no grey area.
Mike felt his “X” had undiagnosed BPD. Upon describing her behavior, I noticed some uncanny parallels. Could this be? Relating to “black and white” thinking, I had been adored for so long by Maggie… a “hero” at times. And now with the distraction of an adulterous relationship I had become the “enemy”. I was supposedly blocking Maggie from “happiness” with Blakely, who I am sure was seen as “all good”. What made this so much worse however, was the reinforcement of her behavior. With the half-truths and spin Maggie was telling friends and family. I have no doubt at this stage Maggie likely received a lot of comments like “you don’t need Mark” or “you’re so much happier with Blakely”. All this did was reinforce and reward Maggie’s behavior, which is what she was looking for. In the beginning I know she was quite unsure if leaving her family was the right decision, and had she been so sure of herself we never would have traveled to Western Australia a year prior. Instead of turning and taking the opportunity to be accountable, Maggie continued down this path of destruction. By this time, Good Christians like Jan, who were trying to desperately speak truth into Maggie’s life, were completely ignored. Satan’s grip on Maggie was tightening as I was gaining knowledge of the spiritual battle I was in the middle of. Maggie was perceived as “normal” by friends and family. But Paige and I seemed to be the only ones who knew her intimately and saw the overall picture.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
This passage was so alarming and disturbing when I came across it. Paige and I were praying intensely, pleading to God to “wake Maggie up”. But even Jan was pessimistic when it came to Maggie. She would constantly tell me, “Mark… Maggie just doesn’t want to listen.”
In my pursuit to get answers for Maggie’s rather unpredictable behavior, I began to devour any and all information I could get my hands on regarding BPD. The Mayo clinic lists these symptoms:
- An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
- A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
- Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
- Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
- Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
I would stare at this list trying to really see if it would apply to Maggie and our relationship. The last thing I wanted to do was force-fit this. While some symptoms fit like a glove, others did not. It’s my understanding that 6 of 9 of these symptoms would need to apply for this to be an official diagnosis. While I could pinpoint perhaps seven, I also watched several videos of people who had been officially diagnosed with BPD and as they described what their life was like. Maggie could, at times, be like these people. But then I would go back to other times when she appeared “normal” and hardly any of this fit. It was a really tough call considering it was more as if Maggie had changed overnight.
I continued to read books like “Stop Walking on Eggshells” (which I could totally relate to), and “Understanding the Borderline Mother”, which also really described Maggie. I even went so far as to give that book to Paige hoping she would maybe find some relief and answers to her mother’s behavior, but unfortunately Maggie took it away from her. None of it sat right with me. I had known Maggie for 14 years by this time, and in all of those years she wasn’t always this way. The anger issues and odd behavior really only started after Hector (Rody’s brother in-law) had touched Maggie at his birthday party. Looking back, it was really after that incident that Maggie’s behavior became amplified. Especially when it came to being rather obsessive with schedules and organization as well as bursts of rage and anger. It was incredibly difficult to discern considering many of Maggie’s outbursts were unrelated. But when Maggie returned to the USA to move in with her parents, and left Paige and I back in Australia, Maggie’s behavior become so erratic and out of control, Paige and I just didn’t know what to do about her, except pray.
Borderlines aren’t like this. From my observation someone diagnosed with BPD has a history of treating people and situations as “all bad” or “all good” with no grey area. Their thoughts about one thing can sway back and forth typically taking hours to weeks to change. If this were to fit Maggie it would fall into the category of “years”, and that doesn’t exactly apply to the diagnosis.
Paige and I knew something was wrong. A trained psychologist almost a year prior had recognized something was wrong. And all our Christian fiends told me this was wrong as they watched this unfold with Maggie posting her adulterous relationship all across Facebook as if to get approval. I just had to sit and take it.
What to do for Money
By the first week in January it was becoming very apparent that I needed some sort of gainful employment. Mike was very gracious in allowing me to live with him and his son Jack. And while I did my part with food and trying to earn my keep, between Maggie and court, the expense of driving, and just life in general, I needed money. I did have my camera gear with me on hand, but all my editing equipment necessary to finish any imagery produced was sitting in a warehouse in Pennsylvania with the freight company. It was only costing me $50 a month to hold it there, so having it delivered to Florida just didn’t make any sense. I had no place to store it, and I had every intention of returning to Australia. I needed another plan.
Before I left Melbourne, a man from church named James approached me about importing used computers to places like India and Pakistan. It’s a crazy idea to think about, but for those not in the “know” you wouldn’t even think about used computers. But ask yourself… what happens to your old computer. Most times it does not even come close to the local dump. It goes to a computer recycler that either strips the computer for parts, or it gets refurbished and resold in a different market, or at times just sold as-is to a third world market. What I was looking to do was find the sources of these computers and connect James, who had buyers in India. And with every deal I would tack on a couple dollars on each unit. Now this sounds small at first, but I was looking to move container loads of hardware. And each container could hold thousands of computers. Add a few dollars to each unit and it quickly adds up.
So I started by keeping regular hours and sifting the internet for as much information and places that could supply what James wanted. I would make phone calls to a lot of recyclers. I would get on mailing lists. I scoured every nook and cranny for good deals on used goods. In the process of doing this, I came across a gentleman name Jesus. Jesus had a rough voice from years of smoking as well as an infectious laugh. But the one thing I liked about Jesus was he was a straight-shooter and willing to tell me most anything I wanted to know about this industry I was getting into. In a small way his was like me, and very quickly a bond formed between us. He was someone I could trust.
While Jesus became someone I could trust, I quickly learned how dirty this business really is. And the deeper I dug, the more stories I heard about people being ripped off. I would hear stories how equipment would arrive overseas broken. Or there were suppliers that might swap some “junk” in that the client never asked for. I even hear of a story of a full container that was supposed to be loaded with used LCD computer screens and going to Pakistan, and when it arrived it was loaded with CRT (old style) computer screens. It was bad enough CRT monitors are considered almost un-sellable, but Pakistan has banned the import of these monitors due to their toxicity for when they finally make it to the dump. So the buyer lost tens of thousands of dollars and also was staring at massive fines from the Pakistani government.
Jesus looked out for me. In return I was trying to find new suppliers for him in the greater Florida area. Eventually this even led to me making trips to Atlanta, as well as New Jersey to find more computer suppliers. It wasn’t easy by any means, as many deals fell through for one reason or another. It’s so frustrating to find just what you need only to have the deal blow out because your buyer dragged his feet and then the merchandise got sold. Or maybe the supplier’s prices were too high. Or maybe the freight cost was too high. So many things went wrong. But this was a potential means of keeping my time free enough to look after Paige when I could. And I’m not the kind of person that just gives up. After all… I had already gone this far trying to pursue Maggie. A few bad deals wouldn’t stop me.
Court Day Round 1
The beginning of February I was to appear before the Clay County Court for what would be the first of several hearings. My lawyer Rose had prepared me as much as she could, but neither of us knew exactly how it would turn out. For the most part, we were entering a plea contesting the divorce. There were options that day as well. Options like court assigned counseling. I could only imagine what that would look like though. I had become the enemy that Maggie felt was trying to suck the life out of her. While I did want her to open her eyes to the destruction she was paving, I also realized I could not force her to see. I (somehow) was comfortable with letting her go. I saw Maggie as the prodigal wife that was looking to the world to give her what she thought she needed, rather than looking to the loving God that was reaching out to her gently. Maggie didn’t want God or anything resembling God… the true God that is. I was the man God had chosen for her and the man she had made a covenant with. Like with a lot of relationships though that get to this stage, promises become empty.
I saw Maggie as “sick” by this point, and I was going to try and love her as best I could regardless of what she was doing. While the right way to love her here would be to let her go, that also meant she would take Paige down with her. Paige was innocent and a victim. I just wanted Maggie to let her go, but Maggie’s desire to control was so strong. She was driven to keep Paige until she was 18 because she determined that was her job and she refused to allow “Mark to rob her of any more time with her daughter!” It was almost like this “all or nothing” thinking. i.e.: I have to have Paige until she’s 18 so I can consider myself a “good parent”, and then once she’s 18 I’ve done my job and I can then move on with my life with duty fulfilled. This was bizarre how rigid her thinking was. So while the best thing for Paige would have been to return to Australia, Maggie was going to get the time she felt she deserved with her. It didn’t matter one bit the everlasting impact this decision was going to make on that relationship, much less this family. In fact Maggie was rather manic about Paige turning 18, which seemed to be driven by fear of loss. It’s a fear that started small and had built up. I had seen this absurd and irrational thinking before in Judy when we were going to leave Tallahassee. I found it so strange I was now witnessing it in Maggie.
We were now in court with Maggie berating me in front of a newly appointed judge that had come from the criminal world. He was stern with little tolerance for the dynamic of a family, much less this family. As much as I wanted to show evidence of how sick I believed Maggie to be, I chose not to bring up evidence in an effort to protect Maggie. Not at this stage at least. Maggie, on the other hand, was out for blood. She was over the top going into great detail of how unfit I was as a parent and a husband. Everything was dredged up from money issues to Maggie being in fear for her life. I was appalled and disgusted with Maggie’s tact. And while I should have expected it, I was physically cringing with every accusation. The judge didn’t take kindly to my reactions. He wanted me to sit there and stuff down my emotions.
Before Maggie could continue, the judge interrupted as if to let both of us know who was in charge. He reprimanded me for my facial reactions explaining in great detail how this was not the behavior he expected in court. As well, he reprimanded Maggie for her out of control ranting. Then he turned to both our lawyers telling them they needed to “Get control of your clients.” I honestly didn’t think my reactions were uncalled for considering how Maggie was going on, but it didn’t matter what I thought. Once again I was going to have to just sit there a watch with a smile on my face, while my heart was being torn to shreds.
The judge asked both our lawyers if counseling was an option. Maggie made a quick laugh as if to say “yeah right… fat chance buddy!” That’s when the judge pointed his finger at Maggie in what was just under a shout and said, “That’s exactly the kind of behavior I will not tolerate in my courtroom! If I here another sound like that from you again I will find you in contempt of court!” I was in shock as I watched this happen and I actually wanted to protect her and explain to him how he didn’t understand what was going on. I shut my mouth. To say anything here would have been futile.
At that point the judge looked in his calendar and set a court date for April. Australia was not on the table anytime soon. Not soon enough at least to get Paige back for school. I knew this wouldn’t go over well.
Paige was not happy. In fact the reality of not returning to Australia was rather devastating. To add insult to injury, Maggie was now blaming Paige telling her, “If you had been a better daughter I wouldn’t be going through all this.” I couldn’t believe what Paige was telling me. In an effort to support Paige, I would call her as much as I could. She needed to know I was just within reach at all times. She was still constantly begging me to go back to Australia for her, but this was purely out of desperation and a need to have hope. With this new court date, 11th grade in Australia was impossible. Paige wanted only to be with her friends and get off this roller coaster ride Maggie had constructed.
One day upon calling Paige, the phone went straight to voicemail. I didn’t think much of it as she typically turned her phone off during school hours. I left a message expecting to receive a call that evening. I received nothing. Days went by with no communication. I kept calling leaving messages asking her to call me, but still would not hear back. I then resorted to emails, hoping for a response. It wasn’t until a week later that I received an email from Paige telling me the minutes on her phone service had run out, and Maggie refused to purchase more feeling all the calls would be to me. Maggie was right… I was the only one Paige was calling. But to deliberately sever our communication indirectly without warning, and do this purely for spite… Maggie wanted to hurt me, regardless of the hurt it might also cause Paige. This situation was reaching new “lows”.
I emailed Paige to meet me after school the next day where I would take her to the store and buy a new phone plan. She agreed, but told me how she had to be careful Maggie didn’t know. I knew Paige’s phone calls up to this point kept increasing in desperation, but little did I know what was happening inside that 2-bedroom apartment Maggie was renting.
The next day I picked Paige up after school. We sat down at a local restaurant for a snack and an opportunity to catch up. Paige began to open up in great and disturbing detail about what life was like for her. Paige began to explain to me how Maggie was starting to lose control on another level. A level way beyond what I had seen so far. So far I had witnessed Maggie obsessing over her weight, her exercise, her food intake, scheduling… this was before Maggie had left Australia. It was as if she was trying to gain control of some aspects of her life, while others were completely out of control. Paige was her stability and I had recognized this long ago. This is why I asked her, “What would you do if God took Paige away from you?” I was concerned knowing there would be a time Paige would not be around, and at the rate Maggie was going, she was destined to drive Paige away. I wanted so badly for Maggie to really find her identity in something other than a daughter that was fast growing up.
That all got twisted in Maggie’s mind that didn’t have a grasp of reality. Paige wasn’t feeling she had a voice. She was just someone that was getting kicked around and taken along on Maggie’s wild ride. But Paige was fed up with Maggie’s selfishness. Maggie and Judy had ganged up on Paige for so long trying to convince her Australia wasn’t an option any more. With Paige insisting on a return, they tried to make empty promises of returning just to appease Paige, but Paige could see right through the obvious lie. This is why Paige was depending on me. She knew I too loved Australia just as much as her, and I was potentially her ticket “home”. It went so far as for Paige’s grandfather Phil to step in and have a “sit down” talk with Paige where she was berated and disciplined with comments like, “You need to do well in school and stop giving your mother such a hard time.” Never did Phil once ask Paige for her side of the story… Something Paige resented greatly. But even Paige suspected this encounter was forced by Maggie and Judy. They had refused to realize or understand the everlasting impact the last 3 years in Australia had meant to Paige. Right or wrong, Maggie was content with her adulterous relationship she was pursuing, and rather unapologetic about it. “Happiness” was only going to come from divorce for her. What’s more, I was put into the category of her abusive x-husband. There was no differentiation between the difficult months they (Maggie and her X) were married, versus the years of amazing experiences Maggie and I had experienced. In fact none of those memories ever seemed to affect her behavior. And to justify her actions and beliefs she told all her friends (and mine) I had raped her and was going to kill her. I believe this was her way of compartmentalizing and justifying her behavior, and this was the strange thing about the situation… Maggie truly believed this. In the beginning she had spun this story to everyone how I was this evil person of deception, and a con-artist. Maggie was strategic about the stories she would tell people. Only enough information was given to gain sympathy. It was easy for her high school friends to believe her. Why wouldn’t they? None of them had even seen this side of her. It was this selection of people that believed her that she kept around. The people that wouldn’t buy her story and tried to truly help her, were discarded. Regardless of these lies, I had to believe at her core buried deep down in her soul and masked with deception, Maggie knew what she was doing was wrong. And I had to wonder if the escalating behavior was an external demonstration of the internal battle of right and wrong within.
The second “thing” stopping Maggie from “being happy” was Paige. She wanted so desperately for Paige to just accept the situation. If Paige would have just gone along with her mother and not said anything, Maggie would have found the happiness she was searching for. That’s what she believed at least. The biggest mistake Maggie didn’t account for was how we raised Paige. I would consider us strict parents, but with little boundaries. In other words, we gave Paige a tremendous amount of love and freedom. Paige also had a tremendous core belief system that Maggie and I had illustrated for years. It was an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong, with very little grey area. It was only when Paige would cross a line that Maggie and I would ever punish her. That happened only a handful of times in her life. Most times when Maggie or I would correct Paige, she would feel such guilt and display such sorrow, we knew Paige would never do it again.
What Maggie was doing was completely wrong on so many levels. Maggie had told me she tricked us to returning to the USA so she could get Paige back for her own safety. Maggie had believed I was going to kill Paige. But I put Paige on a plane over a month from my own returning to the USA. Maggie had what she wanted. If Paige’s safety was the real concern, she got what would have satisfied this. I didn’t have to be lured back as well. But it was the meeting with Judy and Phil that opened my eyes to the dynamic of who was pulling the strings. Judy wanted her daughter and granddaughter nearby to fill the gap of her own failed marriage. And maybe more importantly, Judy wanted revenge. Paige was witness to all of this. While it was a hard pill to swallow and accept the idea of this is who her grandmother is and who her mother had become, Paige hated her new life and was not about to accept it. Especially considering I wasn’t the danger Maggie said I was.
I am sure Maggie felt unappreciated for the life she was trying to provide for Paige. She chose an apartment close to a school so Paige would be able to walk herself with ease. She tried to furnish it making it feel like “home”. She saw herself as “making sacrifices” for her daughter. Maggie wasn’t seeing the bigger picture of how disgusted Paige had become with her. In her frustration, Maggie apparently instigated many fights with Paige as she tried to convince her to stay. As per Paige, “Mom would scream at me at the top of her lungs switching from anger and rage to crying and pleading.” Uncharacteristic of the Maggie we knew, Maggie would slam doors and get physically expressive in an effort to prove her point. At this stage Maggie had not laid her hand on Paige in anger, but these fits of rage seemed the next stage of evolution from what I had seen back in Australia where Maggie at least recognized she needed to regain control of herself. Paige never felt she was in danger during these arguments. However Paige described to me the constant tension and anxiety she was under every time she stepped foot in that apartment. Things were getting worse with little room for improvement.
It seemed as if no one was able to do anything. My mother could only just listen as a shoulder to cry on. Mike, who I was staying with, gave cautious advice and prayed for the situation, but could offer little solstice. Even good friends John and Jan who were still talking to Maggie sporadically couldn’t get Maggie to see the light of the path she was on. In fact, they were starting to doubt the validity of the accuracy of the stories I was telling them because they were so outrageous. They had never witnessed this behavior from Maggie so they were cautious what to believe. I was so frustrated. It was as if Maggie was in a disabled car stuck on the railroad tracks with a train bearing down on her with all of her good Christian friends on the side of the road screaming, “GET OUT OF THE CAR!!!” In the meantime Maggie has Paige in the back seat and she’s listening to the radio turned up thinking how much that song makes her happy. We could only watch and pray, but Maggie was in control of her life unaware of the consequences, or with little regard.
I was constantly in prayer reaching out to God, crying… pleading to not allow this to happen. It seemed as if God was waiting… maybe even waiting for me. But somewhere within my spirit I felt a presence, or even a “knowing”. I cannot explain just how it got there, but the thought or word appeared to me. “Jezebel.” I had never heard of this in all my Biblical reading or teaching, but it was something that sat within me that I could not escape from. I needed to study the Jezebel spirit.
As I dove into searching on the internet, it became apparent very quickly why this seed had been planted within my soul. I had been reading a lot of the Rebecca Brown books scrounging for information on spiritual warfare. I was beginning to grasp how Ephesians 6 describes spiritual warfare and how, we as Christians, must protect ourselves. But this was something different. I know we can read these passages and have a hard time understanding, and perhaps believing half of what is said, especially in this modern world. Demons? Spirits? Isn’t that something we just see as make believe on TV, or perhaps something that manifests itself in 3rd world countries? Surely not in the United States!
Do not be deceived! Satan and his followers were thrown out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9) and operate here on Earth. I have come to the understanding that spirits are working around us, constantly trying to thwart any attempts by God, all in an effort to hurt God. Demons cannot hurt God directly, but they can try and hurt God by deceiving God’s creation causing them to be lost forever. And the Jezebel spirit is one of those spirits. The Jezebel spirit has some very distinct characteristics.
- They gain power by destroying others. It is like an adrenalin rush when they “win” over someone. They manage to get in positions of authority, and are difficult to displace, once there.
Maggie was manic in her decisions, and while she felt “right” and justified, this was the web of deceit she even had convinced herself to believe. She had no issues with destroying me, and yet was destroying the relationship with Paige.
- They are controlling, manipulative, bossy.
Maggie used anything and everything to get her way. Most times it was manipulation through guilt, but I watched her “put her foot down” plenty of times to further her agenda. The unfortunate part of this saga was the mental abuse Paige had to endure.
- They can either be war-like in their personalities, so that they are intimidating,orso “sweet,” “perfect,” deceitful, “timid” and sneaky, they are able to fool and recruit others to join them. Sometimes they can be very charming and charismatic.
Maggie was the consummate “victim” that portrayed herself as an abused wife only searching for peace and joy. Little did anyone know the rage and anger that was just below the surface. But if anyone challenged her she showed daggers and blasted them putting them in their place.
- Critical of others, vicious to the point of bloodthristy.
You either went along with Maggie, or you became an enemy. While Maggie could have left me in Australia with Paige in her care, Maggie wanted to destroy me and said whatever she needed to so as to make me suffer.
- Talks in confusion – (taken from another list)
“It is impossible to converse with a Jezebel in logic. One pastor wrote a six-page letter to his elders about a situation in the church. The context was so vague that no one was without confusion. This is a way to maintain control and domination. When confronting a Jezebel, the subject may be changed five times in one minute. Confusion keeps them “undiscovered” and unexposed.”
This fully described Maggie to a “T”!!! I had so many conversations with Jan after she would get off the phone with Maggie. Jan would be completely exhausted. As per Jan, “Maggie is all over the place and talks in circles and I cannot pin her down on any points. I don’t understand her.” This is a family friend we did life with that recognized a massive difference in this new Maggie. And this goes hand in hand with our counselor in Tallahassee telling me Maggie didn’t have a grasp of reality. I believe Maggie knew exactly what she was doing which was never to be held accountable.
- They are never wrong.
I was asked one day after describing what I was going through if I ever got an apology from Maggie for at least cheating on me. I just started laughing in disbelief, as not only is Maggie unapologetic, Maggie felt justified by her actions, and supported by her parents and everyone that didn’t know the truth. Maggie needed serious help, but from initial outward appearance, she was a “victim” and knew how to play it. None of her own actions played any part of her situation… she was innocent in her own eyes.
“A Jezebel lies convincingly. No one can lie better than he can. He can turn on the charm and make you believe blue is red. He always fools those whom he’s just met while those who have been victimized by his tactics stand by helplessly. The fact that Jezebel can look you in the eye and lie just shows how strong and adamant this rebellious and recalcitrant spirit is.”
Paige and I got to a point with Maggie that we knew if her mouth was open, she was lying. But it was so convincing because she was strategic in how she weaved truth with lies. It all made perfect sense, but only if you weren’t aware of the entire picture. For someone unaware of our history, to just meet Maggie for the first time, or anyone that didn’t know me as a person, I have no doubt one would feel sorry for her as she took on the role of “victim”.
- They recruit others in their charges against their victims. They act to persuade recruits, and do not give up this activity until the recruits are won over. If the potential recruits do not cooperate and buy into things, this angers them.
Again I revert to 2 Tomothy 4:3-4. Maggie was strategically weaving a story of truth, half-truth, and lies for everyone to hear all in an effort to gain a cheering squad to encourage and support her sinful decisions. There were people that knew me very well and didn’t buy into Maggie’s story. They were quickly dismissed. On a sad note, my older half sister was one of the people that bought into Maggie’s story, and that relationship was ultimately destroyed.
- They are narcissic. While they can tend to be oversensitive themselves, they have no concern for the feelings of others. They are not sympathetic to their victims, and tend to play the role of victim themselves, in order to gain sympathy. This way the real victim is left stranded, and opposed by others if they ask for help. Being the center of attention really pleases them.
I’ve already said it enough here, but Maggie was the consummate “victim”. And when I would point out what she was doing to me, I would be accused of “being selfish”. And when I would tell her what she was doing to Paige, she refused to believe it. This was all about Maggie and her hurt and her pain. It was really sad.
- Impulsive, failure to plan ahead. chaotic at times
When I first read this, my jaw dropped. This was Maggie and all her actions for a long time. Maggie had accused me of trying to control her, but there was no controlling Maggie… we were just along for the ride. So when Maggie left Paige and I in Australia a year prior to this, it really was as if “chaos left the building”. An interesting observation in all of this, however, is the level of chaos in relation to Maggie’s proximity to Florida. While Maggie has a pattern of creating major upheaval every 2-3 years, it was always lessened being closer to Florida. This still never lessened her impulsivity however. Just the degree. The only way I can explain that is a level of comfort that comes from familiar territory, and likely another reason Maggie assumed peace would come living in Jacksonville near her high school friends.
- Lack of remorse after hurting someone. they justify the harm.
At the risk of repeating myself again, this suited Maggie well. Denial and zero remorse… even justification for her actions. Combine that with an inability to be held accountable, and neurotic impulsive decisions and you have on your hands sociopathic behavior.
- Consistent irresponsibility.
One of the things that bothered me in all of this is Maggie’s ability to get her parents involved financially. When this all began, she would call her father for money for a plane ticket. And unfortunately they agreed, enabling her and allowing her to start this chain of events. I am sure they would justify it however, with the story Maggie spun. If only Maggie could have understood Ephesians 5 regarding leaving your parents, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
- Uses information
“A Jezebel uses information as a leverage for power and then shares tidbits with you, often things told him in confidence. This gives him a sense of power, even to the point of trying to impress people by “knowing things” that others do not.”
This is by far one of the sickest things I was witness to. For all Paige’s life, until Maggie’s break-point, the relationship with her mother was incredibly special. Maggie was always a parent, but being her mother, had an incredible bond where Paige always felt safe and could tell her anything. Maggie was now using this information to guilt and coerce Paige to do her bidding. For instance, Maggie used Paige’s relationship with her grandparents to guilt Paige into conforming. She would say things like, “Your grandfather might die soon so you need to stay here. You don’t want to hurt your grandparent’s feelings do you?” This is only one of many things Maggie used to get Paige to conform.
- Talks incessantly
“Many people talk habitually, but a Jezebel uses talking as a form of control. In a typical conversation, he does all the talking, whether it is about sports, the weather or the Kingdom of God. Because of this form of control, he is unable to receive input from anyone in his life. All conversation with him is one-sided. You are doing the listening.”
One of the greatest things about my relationship with Maggie was our conversations. We could engage in almost any subject and share openly how we felt and our thoughts on the matter. We would always listen to each other and even challenged each other’s points. With Maggie now in overdrive, you could say conversations with her were manic and out of control. She absolutely dominated the conversation bouncing from one topic to the next, and never letting anyone get a word in. Going back to Jan’s remark, “Maggie is all over the place and you cannot pin her down on anything.” This is how this spirit could never be held accountable. In fact I remember pleading with Jan asking her to be firm and really drive the point home regarding the consequences of her actions. Jan got defensive and exhausted saying, “Mark, I try to every time, but Maggie is all over the place and immediately changes the subject if I try and hold her accountable.” As well, Jan knew she was possibly the last Godly voice in Maggie’s life and didn’t want to ruin the relationship.
- Irritability, aggressiveness (open , or subtle), can be quick tempered.
OUT OF CONTROL!!! This didn’t happen overnight, but even before Maggie “broke”, she recognized having anger issues. It’s likely that in her adulterous relationship she can find a sense of peace and wouldn’t demonstrate this aggressive behavior, but it’s right there just below the surface waiting to come out. All it takes is to ask about her past.
- Uses information
“A Jezebel uses information as a leverage for power and then shares tidbits with you, often things told him in confidence. This gives him a sense of power, even to the point of trying to impress people by “knowing things” that others do not.”
In the end Maggie was apologizing to Paige for, “…ever introducing you to an evil man.” It was heartbreaking and not something Paige accepted as she was seeing a much different picture. Paige would tell me things Maggie would say like, “God wants me to be happy.”, or “God doesn’t want me to stay in an abusive relationship.” I cannot say where God draws the line with that, but in this situation I defer to Maggie’s psychologist who told me first-hand how Maggie didn’t have a grasp of reality. I believe without a shadow of a doubt Maggie truly believes I was this incredibly abusive man that was just moments from slitting her throat. Her actions were a reaction to this belief.
- Claims to religious sentiments, but very superficial in devotion. Born-again status is debatable, and unlikely, but would have to be evaluated on an individual basis.
For a long time I really believed that Maggie was “saved”. I now question all of that. Probably the most defining moment of this was when I asked her about the day she got “saved”. She got angry that I even asked that, and could not tell me when and what happened. All people I know that have a true conviction can tell me things about that day, most times with incredible detail. Even myself, I know exactly where I was and what everything looked like 35 years later. Pepper this with Maggie now saying, “God doesn’t want me in abusive relationship.”, and Maggie essentially was writing her own scripture. I don’t wish women to stay (or even be in) abusive relationships, and many so-called Christian men are abusive. This was something completely different.
- Gift giving
“Gift giving is a form of manipulation a Jezebel uses that always makes you feel obligated to him. It also compromises the victim in speaking direct and confrontive truth. Naturally, not everyone who gives gifts is guilty of control, but gift giving is a tactic used by those who have a need to control.”
It all started with Judy 14 years ago in Tallahassee. Phil and Judy gave us “things” early in Maggie and my relationship. We took it thinking these people were looking after our best interest like good parents would do. This is what we thought at first. But it didn’t take long until we realized the guilt lumped on us in an effort to control Paige. This mode of manipulation bled over to Maggie as she was now “buying love” from Paige as they would go shopping and traveling to St. Augustine. Paige was resisting Maggie’s control at this stage, to which Maggie now turned this all around on Paige stating, ” I’ve done all this for you… I took you shopping; we go to St. Augustine all the time…” It was so frustrating to watch this form of manipulation having already dealt with it.
- They falsely accuse you, and they do NOT forgive you …..
Yes and yes…. Maggie felt she was in this situation solely because of me, and I had to just take it all. I considered Maggie my best friend and the love of my life. While I was in the middle of all of this it was so hard to watch her actions knowing where all this was leading. I saw her as “sick” and I wanted her to get help. But even in my research of learning about the Jezebel, most times these people don’t even know they have it. How can you help someone if they are in denial?
“The person may seem “normal” for a period, exhibiting none of the classic traits. Then suddenly without warning a situation will arise, once again with the spirit taking control and wreaking havoc over lives. Hopefully, true repentance will come. Only then will the person be delivered”
This was our life. Everything would be “normal” for a period, and then chaos. It wasn’t always Maggie. I made stupid decisions along the way, however looking back some of my own decisions likely heightened Maggie’s response. Now Maggie was pointing the finger at everyone else, but herself. The lies she was spinning took the focus off of her. I really have to wonder had a strong group of Christians in Australia had experience in this area spotting this early on and confronted this demon directly, what would have happened.
So I discovered all of this and I was a voracious learner. It fit Maggie so well. I remember emailing John and Jan to get their impressions, but fell on deaf ears. By this time their attention span was waning. Just as much as I had been confiding in my friends, Maggie was doing the same. But what was more convincing that this was perhaps an answer given to me by the Holy Spirit was my next meeting with Paige. Only days after I had discovered this. I sat down with Paige after school just to connect with her and to explain to her about Jezebel. Right in the middle of my explanation Paige stopped me. “Mark… I was just reading about Jezebel in the Bible just a few days ago! I agree with you. This is Mom.” We both just paused and looked at each other. Had God also planted a seed within Paige? We were in awe.
The more I read about the Jezebel, the more I realized just how much it fit. I read all that I could. I watched videos of people who believed they encountered this spirit and related it to my own story. My eyes were opening to Satan’s deception and all I did was cry out to God. It was as if this spirit was generational, and literally had jumped from Judy to Maggie. Maggie was parroting all her mother had been saying. I was sick and all I could think about was Paige and protecting her. For months she had told me about the “heaviness” and “sinking feeling” she had felt in the apartment Maggie was renting. Maggie was now becoming physically violent. I was reaching out to anyone and everyone that would listen.
In my pursuit of finding help, I found a woman on the internet named Piper. Piper had headed a prayer ministry in California that specialized in deliverance and a much deeper level of connection to God. She was a very friendly woman who I only knew through email and phone conversation. But she was also an extremely assertive and confident woman. It was as if she had spiritual battle scars and wore them like a badge of honor, hardly defeated, and she knew her place with God. When I mentioned the Jezebel, she immediately perked up claiming how she, “knew what I was dealing with… a powerful and extremely deceptive spirit.” But just as quickly as she described Jezebel, she turned around and spoke with the kindest yet authoritative voice, “But Mark, we serve an all powerful God… our God is for justice and I know for certain our God has complete control of your situation. Do you believe it Mark?” I was so taken back. I knew in my heart she was right, but never had I heard someone speak about God with such confidence. It was as if she had a direct link and had visited His house on a regular basis speaking from a point of knowledge. But that’s exactly the place she was speaking from.
I was in agreement with Piper. That’s when she started praying. Talk about a lesson in prayer! She started by renouncing every demon that could potentially be on me from fear, to doubt, to hatred, to confusion. The list went on and on. And then she prayed in the same manner for Paige. It was an amazing prayer as she pleaded the blood of Jesus on our situation. And then she prayed for Maggie. It was so heart felt and direct with spiritually sharpened and charged words directly rebuking Satan and this Jezebel. Satan would have had to have taken notice.
Piper put at least 20 minutes into this prayer while I listened intently agreeing with her in spirit with every word. Upon saying “Amen” she then asked me, “Are you ready?” “Ready for what?”, I replied. I really had no idea where she was going with this. “Ready for God to move mountains! Usually when I pray like this something happens within 2-weeks. Are you ready?” My jaw dropped. How could she know? That’s when Piper assured me, “Mark I’ve prayed with people countless times like this with people very much like you and your situation. I don’t know why, but typically I see God move in a situation after praying like this within 2-weeks, so I hope you’re ready.” I was taking whatever God was giving, but had no idea what to expect. All I knew was the countdown was on. God, give it to me!
God Gave it to Me!
It was a normal evening at Mike’s. I had made dinner for both Mike and his son Jack where afterwards we would joke with each other, and watch television until we were falling asleep in our chairs. Then one of us might decide to “turn in”. It was nice with the given circumstances, but all I wanted was my family back. And that’s how I would go to bed day-in day-out. Prayer for the situation, prayer for Paige, and very specific prayer for Maggie. I prayed she might be “saved”, prayed she might be “delivered”, and prayer for a hedge to be put around her. I wanted to believe at one time she was “saved” and had accepted Jesus, but now I questioned all of that.
John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Around 5AM the next morning I found myself in a light sleep. I don’t know if something startled me to put me in this state, but I was awake enough to be very well aware of my surroundings. As I rolled over and dug my head into my pillow I heard a distinct voice within my spirit. This was different than the times God had spoken to me aloud before when my grandmother died, and the time in Haiti. This time it was within my spirit, and this time it was with a more direct candor. “Mark… you have to get Paige out of that apartment, and here’s how you’re going to do it!” Right then and there a plan was laid before me with a very exacting series of steps to rescue Paige. I still sensed a gentileness in this voice as previously experienced, but this time it came with overtones of deep concern. Much like when a father will tell his child to do something purely because he knows the consequences should they choose not to listen.
I remember laying in bed saying to myself, “Did that just really happen?” It was an eerie and almost petrifying feeling that seemed to consume me as I lay there in bed. I was now wide awake, contemplating did the Holy Spirit really just ask me to rescue Paige. I could not go back to sleep at this stage. I just lay there in awe. However, little spurts of fear tried to gain root in me as I thought of the consequences of a move like this. But what I experienced and heard was utterly undeniable! I, of course, still had choice in all this, and I believe I could have said “no” to God. I knew a move like this would most likely sever any ability to speak with Maggie on a rational platform and likely create something Maggie could never forgive in her eyes, but this is where FAITH takes over. I thought of the story where God asked Abraham to kill his only son. He went to the mountaintop with every intention of sacrificing his beloved son Isaac because God asked. Abraham had no idea God would step in at the last minute, but Abraham did it out of fear and reverence to God.
Now I too was asked to sacrifice, but this time it was to sacrifice my relationship to Maggie. Of course I had to wonder if God too would step in at the last minute. I wondered if God would show up like a burning bush to Maggie and reveal His glory to her to make her realize the consequences of her decisions. And I wondered if God would just leave Maggie to wallow in the filth of her sin. For me, the choice was clear. God had gotten me this far and I trusted Him in His guidance, although I didn’t understand it either.
The following weekend Paige was in my care and I had arranged a nice meet-up with John and Jan at their favorite Mexican restaurant. I figured this would be a good time to finally be in a non-chaotic atmosphere and at least have one “normal” evening with friends. But there was no way of avoiding the large elephant in the room… Maggie! John and Jan had hung in for a long time trying to speak truth into Maggie’s life. But as per Jan, “Maggie just doesn’t want to hear it!” Nothing was getting through. What’s more, I believe they were starting to doubt the validity of my stories… Stories of Maggie losing control in verbal tirades of screaming where every other word was some form of four-letter-word. Stories how Maggie was getting violent within the apartment. But within that evening with Paige at my side, Paige not only reassured them everything I had told them so far was true, Paige told new stories of even greater grandeur outlining Maggie’s chaotic life she had created. Paige painted a rather graphic picture of how bad her life had become at her mother’s hand between the isolation, manipulation, verbal abuse, and now potentially physical abuse with Maggie’s new turn of slamming doors and overall frustration.
John and Jan’s jaws were dropped. This is not the Maggie they knew, nor was it the Maggie they had been dealing with in recent months. I raised my hands and shook my head saying to them, “This is what I was talking about.” John sheepishly said to me in shock, “Mark, we had no idea it was this bad. We thought you were just being overly emotional and exaggerating.” I was furious at that statement as it’s never been me to exaggerate. What made me even more annoyed at them was to realize all this time had gone by and they were just now believing me. They both looked at each other in disbelief.
This is when I told them about The Holy Spirit waking me and telling me to get Paige out of the apartment. John’s immediate reaction was, “Oh I don’t know about that. That seems like a really bad idea. That’s just going to create even more problems.” I agreed with him completely. This was not something I wanted to do myself either, but there was no denying the experience I had. “I’ll see if I can get a hold of Maggie this week. In fact maybe I will go to Jacksonville and meet up with her to see what’s going on.”, Jan offered. In this moment it was as if a weight had been taken off my shoulders. To know that someone was listening, and maybe even believed me meant the world. I thought that maybe finally this could be a step in the right direction for getting Maggie some help. Maybe I was woken up to tell this story, to prompt John and Jan to take action. Only time would tell.
I gave John and Jan a week to contact Maggie and maybe set some sort of meeting up with her. I knew time was ticking away with our pending court date looming in the distance. “Breakthrough” is all I hoped for. Why couldn’t Maggie see the irreparable damage she was doing to her own daughter? It was a “blindness” like I had never experienced before. Logic and reason and rational behavior had been destroyed and replaced with feeling-based decisions and absurd thinking patterns. Even when Maggie’s own daughter would shed tears and plead with her trying to demonstrate what Maggie was doing to her, Maggie’s reaction was only callous, frantic, and overly emotional as she spoke in confusion going from one excuse to the next of why she had taken this course of action. On top of this, Paige’s character was shredded as Maggie continued to call her a “bad daughter” in guilt laden, and emotionally abusive tirades. I knew Paige could not endure this much longer.
After the week went by I called Jan hoping some action had been taken. Unfortunately all I got was an excuse. Jan told me it wouldn’t be until the following month that she would be able to “possibly” meet up with Maggie. By then the court date would have passed with zero action taken. I got a sense though, that Jan really wanted nothing to do with the situation. I thought to myself, “You saw how emotionally distressed Paige was! You know what Maggie is doing is wrong! You know this relationship with Blakely is adultery! WHY WON’T ANYONE STEP UP!!!”
“The only thing for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke
I told Jan that I understood her position and that I would be in touch with her in the future. I was alone.
It was in this moment I realized I was going to have to be the one to intervene. If any action was to be taken, it was going to be by my hands and my decisions. In the Old Testament, Jezebel had Ahab. Ahab was king of Northern Israel. What we know of Ahab he had been seduced by Jezebel. Ahab let Jezebel rule, instead of him stepping up and being king. This moment was my opportunity to stop being an Ahab. For so long I didn’t know what was going on with Maggie. I had great compassion for her feeling she was “sick” and “out of control”, and she was. I allowed Maggie to control this family with her continuously poor decisions. I had no desire to control Maggie, but I also realized that should she be allowed to continue, the cost would be even greater than it had become. I sold everything, reluctantly came back to the United States to save the family, forfeited opportunities to restart my business in Australia… all that did was give Maggie the opportunity to destroy all we had worked for. All that did was give Maggie the opportunity to destroy our daughter. It was time for this to end.
I contacted Jan’s friend Achura in Jacksonville and agreed to rent her condo. I certainly wasn’t thrilled about living there, and I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do for money. Thankfully enough was coming in through iStockphoto.com to at least cover the rent. The rest was going to have to come through selling these used computers. The second thing I did was tell good friends, the Holiday family from church, what I was intending on doing. They had several children that were Paige’s age, and I needed to know Paige might have a safe place to go right after Paige left the apartment. I also made it very clear to them that it was entirely possible Maggie, in her rage, might trump up accusations of child molestation and to be prepared should they hear anything like this. They agreed this was probable. The last thing I did was ask Mike (who I was staying with) if I could borrow a mattress. He had several extras lying around the house.
So on March 19th 2013 I stuffed Mike’s mattress in my car, along with what little I had left with me, and headed to Jacksonville. I had taken this drive from Orlando up I-95 so many times in the past, but this time it was different. For so many years Maggie and I had driven the stretch of road with Paige in the back as we used to travel to my grandmother’s house in Daytona. So many amazing memories I had with my family for so many years. As I drove under the overpass on I-95 that says in big bold letters “Jacksonville”, I felt like I was deliberately driving into hell. The thought entered my head “WAR!” In that moment it was as if a huge storm cloud of fear came over me. I started praying asking God to calm me and give me peace. And while I believe he did, I have no doubt that when soldiers of the Old Testament were about to go into battle, despite any anointing of the Holy Spirit, they would have recognized fear and uncertainty. I knew what I had been asked to do. There was an action plan set before me in such great detail that it was undeniable it was God. God is no doubt a loving God of mercy and patience and goodness and kindness. But God is also a God of war. There is a time when enough is enough. I thought about how Maggie had been warned, “What would you do if God took Paige away from you?” I thought about a year prior where I told Maggie, “If you go down this rabbit hole, Paige and I are not going to follow you, and it’s going to end badly.” Call it prophetic wisdom… call it insightful… either way you see it, I was now in that moment.
My new home was tiny. It might have only been 400 square feet at best. I had a bathroom and a washroom, and a kitchen that led into a single room. This is where I set up my bed and set up an inflatable bed for Paige. It was located in a gated community on what had become an abandoned golf course in recent years. Outside my back door was a thickly wooded forest. It was private and secluded and in the middle of nowhere. While under normal circumstances you might think that it was peaceful. I thought it was depressing. This would now be my new home for the moment.
I contacted Paige once I had settled in. She had known for quite some time what possibly was going to happen, but there was so much uncertainty about the situation she didn’t know what was for certain and what was just talk. My moving brought the situation more to reality. Paige had her own battle going on though. The tension in Maggie’s apartment had grown to a point where as Paige put it, “When I would walk through the door I would become confused. I could have clear thoughts leading up to that moment, and then as soon as I entered the apartment it was like the ground I stood on was shaky and my thoughts muddled… It was my prison.” Paige was under extreme amounts of oppression, and while she wanted to “get out”, she felt an extreme amount of guilt for wanting to leave. I encouraged her to pray just as I was doing. I was praying for Maggie, but I was also praying for courage and wisdom.
The plan was set to get Paige out of Maggie’s apartment at the end of the week as school was ending for Spring break. Paige was supposed to go to her grandparents’ house in Apalachicola for the entire duration. My plans with Paige would directly interrupt that. I wasn’t happy about the timing of this and purposely squelching their visit, but in four weeks Maggie and I had our first (and possibly final) big court date.
That second night in Jacksonville I decided to start fasting. As well, I planned on reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, and doing anything and everything in my power to ensure I was not only in God’s favor, but also to bolster up my resolve. This was an incredibly bold move to pull Paige from Maggie this way, and to be honest, I was scared. I didn’t want to hurt Maggie. In fact I wanted just the opposite. But despite Paige and my pleas, Maggie was on a one way road straight down and she was taking Paige with her. This had to end.
I prayed that evening giving it all to God. I planned on staying up the entire night in prayer, but as time went by the words I read became gibberish. I was reading and even read aloud hoping to hear clarity, but nothing made sense. It was like confusion came over me. I tried to pray through it. And then just as if you flipped a light switch, I was out.
The next morning I awoke. I was trying to regain my wits about me asking myself, “What just happened?” One moment I was awake, and then it was like something knocked me out. I thought about the evening and the sequence of events that happened. I was in a state of confusion, but not tired. I know when I’m tired and about to doze off. This was not the situation. Thinking about it, I was knocked out. I looked at my phone to find a message from Paige that she didn’t want to run the next day feeling obligated to her grandparents. I wrote her back that if that’s her decision I would oblige. I continued to pray and fast that morning.
That afternoon Paige called me telling me she wanted “out”. I was shocked that she had flipped her decision. Was it prayer? Was it spiritual attack? It’s so hard to describe what truly was going on and the feelings both Paige and I felt. I think we both felt guilty this would seriously hurt the one person we both loved so much. On the other hand, Paige and I both saw how this path was going to end should Maggie be allowed to continue. And so we made plans to rescue her the next day while Maggie was at work.
The Panera Incident
In all my study of the Jezebel spirit, there is a common motivation this spirit operates in… control and manipulation. And who got harmed in this pursuit didn’t matter. In fact, many Jezebels are seen are remorseless and cruel. This does not mean that everyone you encounter who is bossy or manipulative has this spirit. But the #1 thing a Jezebel will not hear is the word “no”. Paige and I had seen too much cruel manipulation by both Maggie and her mother. This wasn’t just a one time event, but a constant barrage of guilt lumped with twisted truths and half-truths, and many times lies, just so they could get their way. And what did they want? Paige!
It was always about Paige. Paige was a bright light of innocence that would make you smile to know her. Her sense of right and wrong was so strong within her that I can likely count the number of times Maggie and I punished her on no more than two hands. In fact she always wanted to make Maggie and me happy just by being a “good kid” and doing well in school. I know every parent wants to idealize their children this way, but this is the truth. Which is why it made it so hard for Paige to go through with an escape. She felt so much guilt for wanting to leave her own mother, but she also recognized her mother was “gone”. Who this person was now neither of us had a clue.
That Friday morning Paige’s internal battle with right and wrong was raging. Paige called me just as she got to school and told me she couldn’t do it. She was scared and conflicted, and understandably so. I told her if that was going to be her decision I would honor it, but I asked that she meet me after school to grab a snack and to talk about the future of what we were going to do. She agreed.
So many people were praying for us this day. Many saw the struggle and the fight I was going through and wanted the best outcome for Maggie and Paige and myself. But it’s also safe to say no one understood the complexity and degree of disturbing conflict Paige and I were enduring. So for Paige to waiver at this stage, I wasn’t surprised. It was also clear the spiritual battle happening as well.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Is this what we were enduring? Is this what spiritual battle looked like? When Paige finished with school that Friday, I took her to a local burrito shop for a snack and to just talk. I told her about the “heaviness” I had been feeling. Paige told me how she was feeling it too, as well as an enormous amount of guilt. But she also knew that if no action was taken, nothing would change. We prayed together as I rebuked these spirits of darkness in Jesus’ name. I also prayed for clarity of the situation and to do “right” in His eyes. After praying we continued to eat and tried to move onto discussing what the future looked like and how we could possibly return in Australia. All of a sudden Paige interrupted me. “Mark let’s just do this!” I was in disbelief. “Are you sure?”, I asked in disbelief. “YES! Let’s do this now before I change my mind.”, Paige assured me.
In that moment we left and headed across the street to The Home Depot. Here, I bought a large box of Industrial strength garbage bags like the kind I had used so many times to discard of the trash when I was remodeling homes. This served as a good means for Paige to put all of her clothing. From there, we headed to the apartment.
While we believed Maggie was at work, we also knew for any reason she could be in the apartment. The last thing either of us wanted was a huge scene. When we pulled up, we carefully looked for her car. Thankfully it wasn’t there. Paige proceeded up the stairs to this 3rd floor apartment, but I stayed by the car. Paige asked me if I would come up, but I would not, and there were many reasons why I wouldn’t. The first was I knew I would likely be going to court in a couple weeks, and the last thing I wanted was Maggie wrongfully accusing me of taking something or entering without her permission. The second thing I was concerned about was should I be in that apartment and Maggie actually come back early, I didn’t want to be in a confined space with someone completely unpredictable. But the main reason why I didn’t want to go in was it was painful enough to have to go through all I was going through. I was rejecting this pseudo life that Maggie had created. In a round-about-way I felt to enter this apartment was an acceptance of her choices. I know that can seem confusing and perhaps illogical, but to see anything that was Maggie’s (and perhaps mine at one time) would have distressed me emotionally. I didn’t even want to take the chance.
Paige filled these massive garbage bags with bundles of clothes. One bag, two bags, three bags…. she struggled bringing down this endless barrage of clothing. I would go half way up the staircase to try and help her, while she would then turn around to load another. Our hearts raced anticipating the potential for Maggie to pull up at any moment. I just wanted it over. Six contractor bags later and Paige told me she was going back to do a final check. A few minutes later Paige came down the stairs. She was through. We both thanked God for His protection and got in the car and drove away. But the reality of this situation was what Paige and I did was only step one of the plan laid before me by the Holy Spirit. Step two was confrontation. There was no going back.
Paige and I returned to my new place of residence to regroup and to dump all of her clothing. We both knew Maggie would be returning soon enough. I asked Paige to write her mother a letter explaining why she chose to do this. Paige asked me, “Why do I have to write a letter if I’m going to tell her in person anyway?” “Because Paige, “ I said with a heavy heart, “Your mother might not give you a chance to talk or you might not be able to express yourself clearly. She needs to hear you clearly.”
In very simple terms, Paige poured her heart out into a letter of love and distress to compliment one I had written the night before.
I’m sorry. I know you worked very hard on trying to make a home for us here, and how betrayed you must feel right now. I don’t want to hurt you. But ever since I came here you’ve been saying certain things and the message seems clear, “This is my time. I stayed with Mark all these years, now it’s your turn so suck it up.” Not only that, but you are more aggravated than ever, going off on the little things and stressing me out. You’re not even tolerant when I mention how much I miss Australia. Since I’ve been here I have felt alone, isolated, and out of place… the complete opposite of Australia. Because of your selfishness and the way you’ve made me feel, I have decided to move in with Mark. I’m sorry, I know this must hurt you a lot, and I feel horrible for that. But this is how it has to be. Despite all of this, I do want you to know I love you.
With some minor editing for grammar, Paige signed it.
The last thing to do was to confront Maggie. No one had personally confronted her by this point. Even Jan was a good 2 hour drive away and all of her communication had been over the phone in a situation Maggie could control. Why do people say some of the things they do on the internet or over the phone? Because there’s always little to no recourse. It takes the human element out of everything. While I truly felt that Maggie was past a point of no return, my hope was that perhaps seeing her daughter in this way and having a slap in the face of reality might “wake her up”. But I knew what was really driving this whole situation was my encounter with the Holy Spirit. So far we had followed everything I was told to do. The last step was confrontation.
We chose a public place to do this. There needed to be some amount of accountability and witness as well as an opportunity for public shame. I didn’t want Maggie to be shamed by perfect strangers, but my thinking was it might be less likely for Maggie to make a scene in a public place. Paige and I chose Panera Bread just down the road from Maggie’s apartment. Paige secured a booth for herself and her mother, while I chose a small table in a corner far away. I wanted Paige to try and control the situation as much as she could with me only stepping in if I had to. So far Maggie believed I was controlling and manipulating Paige, but this was so far from the truth. Paige had been telling her mother for months what she was doing was wrong and how she wanted to return to Australia. But instead of listening to Paige and realizing this truly was her desire, Maggie dismissed Paige by blaming me. It was her way of coping and justifying all of her selfish actions to this point. Paige and I hoped that if Maggie would see that pain she was causing, maybe Maggie would stop and think twice. This needed to be between the two of them.
Paige texted Maggie to meet her at Panera and we waited. Sure enough, around 6PM when Maggie’s shift ended Paige received a reply. As this was out of character for Paige, Maggie immediately responded asking if I was there. Paige didn’t know what to do, but to respond asking her to just simply come. Paige was frantic knowing how Maggie had become more violent and abusive as the months went on. Paige knew this was going to get a reaction. I calmed her as best I could and just assured her to stick to the plan of reading this heart felt letter to her mother and then leaving. I sat back down across the room praying Paige would be able to handle this.
Shortly after I watched Maggie pull into the parking lot with her car. The look on her face said it all. I had dealt with Maggie’s bouts with rage before, but this was different. This was out of control. As soon as she walked through the door she somehow immediately spotted me and gave me a glance that was nothing but the definition of “hatred”. I had never seen this before. She walked briskly to where Paige was sitting and just motioned to her to leave. Paige refused begging her to sit and listen and try and be reasonable. Maggie started grabbing Paige to pull her out of the booth. Paige just looked at me distressed hoping I would jump in and save her.
At this stage I walked over to the two of them hoping to be the voice of reason. Maggie immediately started cursing me telling me she was calling the police. “Maggie… Paige has a few things she wants to tell you. Please just sit down and listen.”, I pleaded. Maggie sat down and I went back across the room. I watched Paige in desperation try and read her letter to Maggie. Maggie was on the phone and wasn’t listening. I really didn’t care if she was calling the police, but I cared about what Paige was feeling and how distressed she looked. Paige looked at me once again as if to say, “Mark, she’s not listening… what do I do?”
Once again I approached the table and sat with Paige to try and calm the situation. Maggie once again started cursing me all while trying to talk to whomever on the phone. I pleaded with Maggie again, “Maggie… there’s no need for this reaction. Look at what you’re doing. Paige just wants to talk to you calmly.” With an air of contempt and hatred, Maggie started cursing me like I had never seen. I saw enough!
As Maggie continued on the phone I just said to Paige, “Come on… she’s not going to listen. Let’s just go.” As Paige and I left the booth and started making our way to the back door, Maggie hung up the phone and started coming after us. Paige was in front of me, so Maggie ran around me darting in between tables and the people eating at them. She grabbed Paige by the wrist firmly and tried to pull her into the restroom. It was so hard that Paige yelled, “NO! LET GO! You’re hurting me!” Somehow Paige managed to break free from Maggie and sprinted out the door with Maggie on her tail. I walked after them into the parking lot.
Outside Paige made her way to the car with Maggie screaming at her to go with her. I just started saying to Maggie, “Maggie we tried to talk to you calmly and you wouldn’t listen. We’re now going to leave.” Immediately Maggie turned around and started coming toward me cursing once again in a hate filled rage. I honestly didn’t know if she was going to hit me or what she was going to do, but this was not the Maggie Paige and I knew and loved. This was something completely different.
Finally Maggie told me she would listen, but she wanted me to wait outside by my car. I reluctantly agreed asking Paige, “Are you okay with this?” She nodded with uncertainty. I watched the two of them go back inside while I waited. After about 2 minutes I went up to the glass of Panera where I could see the two of them sitting. Maggie had her back to me and was on the phone, while Paige was just trying to read the letter once again. Paige looked right at me and mouthed the words, “She’s not listening.” I motioned to Paige to come outside so we could leave. We had enough!
As Maggie saw Paige trying to leave, Maggie blocked her with her body. I watched Paige dart around the other side of a divider and sprint to the door with Maggie right after her. Maggie again started cursing me. I told Maggie, “It’s done! Paige and I are leaving Maggie. We gave you a chance to listen and you didn’t. Paige has already moved out and all her things are gone from the apartment.” And that’s when Maggie snapped. Any remnant of Maggie was now gone as she went into a full out of control rage. I unlocked my car with the electronic lock telling Paige to get in, but Maggie blocked the door. Smartly, Paige got into the back seat, but there was one suitcase we had left. After Paige got in and shut the door, Maggie went in after her ripping the suitcase out and throwing it into the parking lot. As Maggie was throwing the suitcase, Paige managed to shut the door and lock it on Maggie. I went and grabbed the suitcase and put it in the trunk.
When Maggie saw she couldn’t get to Paige she realized I was about to get in the car and leave. She blocked my door with Paige in the back seat screaming, “Mark get in the car!” I managed to get my hand on the door handle pushing Maggie off to the side and sat down starting the car. But Maggie was blocking me from closing the door. I told Maggie, “Maggie stop… you’re going to get hurt!” By this time there was such a commotion that three women from Panera that had witnessed this whole account came out to help. They were on the passenger side of the car pleading to Paige, “Get out of the car honey…. unlock the door. We’ll help you!” Paige replied, “NO! It’s my mother!” Little did any of them know what truly was going on.
With Maggie clinging onto my door, she hit the unlock button to let these women in so they could grab Paige. One of them opened the back door where Paige was, but then page grabbed the door handle and slammed it shut saying, “Stop! I’m afraid of my mother!” I had already started the car, but I was unable to pull out as Maggie was standing on the door sill with one hand bracing herself, and the other hand calling the police. I just kept saying to Maggie, “Please get off the car Maggie. You’re going to get hurt. I don’t want to hurt you!”
This was such a frantic mess. Paige was screaming. Maggie was screaming. These women from Panera were screaming. In the middle of all of this I thought, “Oh God… please help me!” I moved the car forward just a little bit so Maggie knew it was running and moving. Maggie refused to get off the car, but the women came over to my side and tried to reason with Maggie. Maggie jumped down off the door sill and tried to grab the handle. Right as she did this I popped the clutch on the car a little as Maggie lunged for the door handle. It slipped out of her hands giving me my opportunity to shut the door and lock it. I pulled away thankfully with Maggie not giving chase.
I drove to the opposite side of the parking lot with Paige hysterically crying. She just kept saying to me with tears streaming down her face, “Who is that? WHO IS THAT?!? That’s not my mother!!! I don’t know who she is!” This was just too much. In that moment I said to Paige, “That’s it! I’m calling the police on your mother and we’re going to the station. There’s no safe place for us.”
As I proceeded to drive towards the closest station I knew of in the local area, I called 911 and explained to them who I was and that I was going to the station. Surprisingly they knew who I was. I said to the dispatcher, “How did you know my name?” She replied, “Because we have your wife on the other line.” As I told them which station I was driving to, they urged me to turn around as they realized I was about to cross a county line where they had no jurisdiction. I absolutely refused. I did not want to go back to that fiasco, and more importantly Maggie. But just I said this, I saw Maggie driving at an extremely high rate of speed behind me. The road I was on was posted as 55 miles per hour. This was about the speed I was going. This was NOT how fast Maggie was traveling. With all my experience racing cars and being knee deep in the automotive industry, it’s safe to say Maggie was catching up to me doing at least 100 miles per hour. I said to the dispatcher, “I can’t believe it… Maggie is coming up right behind me.” Just as I said this she pulled up beside me on my right hand side where Paige was sitting and tried to ram her car into mine twice. I swerved just in time putting my outside wheels in the dirt median. Paige was terrified. I shouted to the dispatcher, “My wife just tried to run me off the road!”
“Mark… I’m connecting you to the sheriff in pursuit.” I looked over at Maggie who was screaming at me motioning to me to pull over. With one hand on the phone I motioned to her as if to say, “Wait just a minute and I’ll be right with you.” I couldn’t believe this surreal circumstance I was living. Connected to the sheriff he said to me, “Mark… we need you to turn around and head back to Panera.” In disbelief I said, “Are you nuts? I’m going to the police station! My wife just tried to run me off the road with her car.” The officer then said, “Sir… we were at Panera just a moment ago and are now in pursuit of your wife. You just crossed over the county line and with where you are there’s nothing we can do. We need you to turn around, come back across the county line, and pull over.” Nervously I said, “I’ll come back, but there’s no way I’m getting out of my car!” That’s when the officer replied, “DON’T! Stay in your car, we’re almost there.”
I turned around with Maggie right behind me. Heading back to Panera I could see in the distance police lights. Once I knew I was within the county I pulled off to the side of the road with Maggie stopping right behind. I told Paige to hold on and that the police were close. As we stopped Maggie got out of her car and ran over to Paige banging on the glass demanding Paige get out of the car. Paige couldn’t even look at her and she curled herself towards me. Paige was petrified.
What was probably about 30 seconds seemed like an eternity before the police came. I could hear them shouting to Maggie, “Maam… step away from the car and come back to your vehicle.” She refused. With hands on their holsters they repeated demanding Maggie come back towards them. Maggie started shouting at them in a complete out of control rage claiming how I was “kidnapping” her daughter. I heard one say, “If you don’t come back here now we’re going to handcuff you and arrest you!” I could see the rage still in Maggie, but she complied.
While one officer detained Maggie, the other came to my door. I explained to him as calmly as I could how Maggie and I were going through a divorce and how, while I am not Paige’s biological father, I was her legally adoptive father and that Paige now didn’t want to live with Maggie anymore. I also explained how we had not yet gone to court and that there was no time sharing order put in place. The officer then asked Paige, “Is all this true?” Paige replied with a tearful and meek response, “Yes.” With that information the officer went back to Maggie to talk. I tried to calm Paige as much as I could in this situation. I really had no idea what was going to happen.
After about 5 minutes with Maggie, the officer came back to me and Paige. “Okay… Paige… is this your father?” “Yes” “Do you want to go with your mother?” “NO!” “Okay… who do you want to go with?” “My dad Mark!” The officer had heard enough. “Okay Mark… you’re free to go. Be safe on the road out there.” I was in shock. I asked the officer, “What are you going to do with my wife?” The officer said with seriousness, “I wouldn’t worry about her. We’re trying to figure out if we should arrest her or not.” I found out that these same officers had come to Panera just as I left and while they tried to talk to Maggie, in her rage had fled the scene to come after me. These officers were actually in pursuit of her.
I had planned for Paige and I to spend the next two weeks in Orlando: me with Frank and Paige with the Holiday family. I just wanted Paige to be around kids her age and with people she knew were “safe”. My biggest fear was that Maggie was going to continue pursuit. The last thing we needed was a “crazed’ woman banging on doors demanding to take Paige. But with the assurance from the officers they would at least “detain” Maggie long enough, I believed we would at least have enough of a head start to where Maggie would be more apt to get pulled over for speeding before she would ever catch up.
As Paige and I drove further and further down the road towards Orlando, the reality of the sequence of events really started to settle in. Paige continued to cry as we talked through everything. But then my adrenaline was wearing off and I just got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “What did we just witness?”, I asked myself. “How do you do that to your wife?” I really was hard on myself and started bawling. So much so that I had to pull the car over. I never wanted to hurt Maggie by any means… I loved her! But what Paige and I saw was NOT Maggie. This was the same “guttural” response much like a year prior when Paige and I were in Australia and Maggie and Paige’s phone call was a blistering swing of emotions. One moment she would be sweet and innocent trying to coerce Paige into returning to the USA, the next moment she was viscious cursing Paige. We were now a witness to this response in person. It was completely out of control. Strangely, in the midst of the encounter, I felt a deep sense of sorrow for Maggie. She had lost her daughter a long time ago, but now this was reality making itself aware. I thought about the warnings Maggie had received for months that she refused to accept. Myself, my Christian friends that loved Maggie… we told her in so many ways how this was going to end. But the one message I couldn’t get out of my head… “What would you do if God took Page away from you Maggie?” This is the deception of Satan. God loves us so much, but how we twist things because of our own brokenness. No matter how much truth was spoken to Maggie, she refused to accept it or believe it. She was deep in her sin of adultery with no end in sight.
I arrived at the Holiday’s home with Paige rattled, but intact. I just wanted her to play and relax and to know she was now “safe”. I then proceeded to Frank and Liz’s house where I was spending the next 2 weeks. From there I emailed Maggie my letter I had written the night before, but was unable to read to Maggie. Afterwards I just went to sleep hoping it was all a really bad dream.
My letter to Maggie:
It is with great sadness that we are in this position. You are, and have always been, the love of my life. And it pains me greatly to have to sit back and watch you make decisions that have ultimately destroyed the relationships with the very two people that love you the most. We have tried to reason with you, pray for you, and love you as best we can, but you continue to make selfish choices that harm this family. More importantly, your decisions have harmed Paige in a way that she will never be the same.
As Paige’s father, I have tried to help her cope with a mother that has turned into a stranger. But between your neglect, your rages, your manipulation, and your deception, I cannot allow this to go on any longer for the sake of Paige’s self esteem. As such, I am providing a place for Paige.
This family would like to go back to Australia. Paige and I were very happy there. We can’t force you to release us, but we’re asking. Ultimately, we want you to be a part of this family… we’re only asking. But to put your mind at ease, we are not running off to Australia. Aside from the legal point, it also isn’t right or fair without your release.
Paige and I will be in Orlando for the week. I have some work, and Paige was invited to the Holiday’s. I will give you the address where we are staying. And I will make sure Piage will get to school on time as well as picked up.
I told you just over a year ago that I love you more than you even know. I know you didn’t understand it. But I pray in Jesus’ name right now that God would reveal to you just what’s in my heart. What I have endured now for over a year and a half to honor my covenant to you and God… the hundreds of people that continue to pray for us even now… you have no idea. But it is my most sincere prayer that you know Christ in an absolutely profound way. To me Maggie… that is true and enduring love!
Here we go again!
As I awoke the next morning, I had an overwhelming surreal feeling as if what had happened was a dream. Having stayed at Frank and Liz’ for the evening, I walked into their kitchen that morning to make a pot of coffee and get my day going. It was Saturday. I looked out the back window towards their pool noticing it was an amazingly sunny day with birds chirping and golfers teeing off the back-9 that was beyond the pool.
I poured my first cup of coffee while the reality of the Panera Incident started settling in. Frank came into the kitchen having heard my commotion. “How are you doing Mark?” I just stared into my cup and shook my head. “I just can’t believe what I saw Frank. I just can’t understand or believe what Maggie turned into.” Frank had nothing more, but an embrace as if to say, “I’m here for you… you’ll get through this.” As much as I wanted to cry in that moment, I was just numb. The love of my life… my best friend… she was gone. And what had replaced her was self and sin.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
After I showered, I headed over to the Holiday’s to check in on Paige. Doug and Jennifer greeted me at the door with a big hug. I settled in with another cup of coffee and to hear how Paige was doing. Jennifer told me how “they” were out playing with the neighborhood kids and that Paige had been laughing and smiling all morning. It was a sense of relief. Right then, Paige walked through the door with the Holiday children laughing. I just gave her a huge hug and asked how she was doing. “I’m good all things considered.” Paige remarked. It was a relief to know that she was not only having “fun”, but also that she had a grasp of reality of the situation. She wasn’t acting as if nothing had happened the night before.
As I pushed Paige away and encouraged her to go “play”, my phone rang. It was my lawyer. “Hello…” I answered. “Hi Mark… well you know this would happen, but your wife isn’t happy.” Rosemary stated with an air of sarcasm. “Maggie is calling for an ‘Emergency Pickup’ of Paige.” “What is that?” I asked. “I now have to go before the judge on Monday and explain to him what happened. Maggie and her lawyer are trying to get a court order for the Orange County Sheriff to pick Paige up and bring her back to Jacksonville.” “CAN THEY DO THAT?” I asked in shock. “They can try… I honestly don’t know what the judge is going to do Mark, but it might not look too good what you did.” My only thought was to protect Paige in that moment. I knew if Paige was going to be forced to go back to Maggie, it might send Paige running. She was a very smart and resourceful 17-year old. I thanked Rosemary and just told her a lot of people would be praying against this.
Immediately I called Jan to tell her what was going on. She and John were up in Daytona Beach for the week to relax. I knew I might be the last person they wanted to speak with while vacationing, but after all Paige and I had gone through, I felt they needed to hear truly what had happened.
“Jan… I’m assuming you’ve heard from Maggie already.” With an air of exhaustion Jan replied, “Yep. It sounded really bad.” “Jan, you have no idea. We tried to talk to her multiple times to try and reason with her, but she would not have it.” I said with disappointment. “Mark… Maggie says you tried to kill her.” “WHAT!!!” I exclaimed with disgust. “What are you talking about?” “Maggie said you tried to run her over with the car…” My jaw dropped. While I should have perhaps expected such an accusation, it’s hard to fathom the depth of how far Maggie’s perception had fallen from reality. Just when you think she had gone far enough, Maggie was hitting new “lows”. The difficult part was I knew in Maggie’s mind she truly believed this. It’s as if she was speaking from a point of knowledge. But I defer back to Maggie’s counselor in Tallahassee who told me point-blank, “Maggie does not have a grasp of reality.” This so-called “sickness” had festered, and not only was she not getting the help she needed, she had carefully surrounded herself with people that would never hold her accountable. In fact, I’ve no doubt her own mother Judy was encouraging Maggie and her support. But of course this was the case though. Judy wasn’t walking “right” with the Lord. Rather, every action was counter to the fruits of the spirit. Judy was after revenge.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In my experience, I’ve watched many people to claim Christianity, but over the years I’ve learned what comes from one’s mouth must align with actions. I believe it is the measure to which God Himself will judge us. And it’s our job as well to discern other’s actions. The road of life is full of pitfalls and roadblocks and God gave us all a brain to think for ourselves and to make decisions. But what is our compass? What determines “right” from “wrong”? If you call yourself a Christian, it’s the Bible. Beyond that, you are left to the world and the ruler of this world… Satan.
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
I stated plainly to Jan, “That’s not even close to what happened Jan. In fact Maggie tried to run us off the road twice.” Jan stopped me from continuing… she had enough. “Mark.. I don’t know what to believe, but this is what she said. I think I’ve had enough.” I thanked her for her support and I hung up. Little did I know this would be the last time I spoke to her and John until years afterward.
I called Paige inside to tell her what was going on. When she realized it was possible the police might be able to come and take her back to Maggie, her reaction (while a bit surprising) was to be expected. Paige, in so many words, said, “If they are coming for me, I am running away! If they take me back to mom, I am just going to run away. I am going back to Australia one way or another, and she can’t stop me!” Paige had no plan, but her determination could not be ignored. I challenged her asking, “So how are you going to do that?” “I don’t know, but I’m going back!” It was blind ambition with little regard to the reality of our situation. Paige knew she was stuck for the moment. Little did Maggie understand (or care) about the wedge she had created between her own daughter. In fact it was more as if she blamed me for the wedge with zero accountability for her own actions. Maggie was blind thinking that Paige would just fall in line like in the past. Paige was well past her breaking point. What’s more, Paige did not see this person as her “mother” anymore. This was to be expected. Maggie’s selfishness and sin brought her to a new low. I cannot blame Maggie for wanting to be happy, but like most people living in sin, Maggie sought all the wrong things in her pursuit. She was going to take Paige down with her, but Paige wouldn’t have it. So here we were living in the moment just watching this woman we loved so much flail and spit and curse at us in her attempt to get her way without ever considering the idea that perhaps what she was doing was “wrong”. It was a tough pill to swallow. All I felt for her was sorrow.
Prepping for Court!
We were two weeks from going before the judge to be heard and Maggie was kicking and screaming the whole way there. That Monday the judge heard arguments from our lawyers regarding this “emergency pickup”. Amazingly, Maggie was denied and allowed to be in my care until the court hearing. But the road between that week and the week of court was mired with pitfalls and challenges.
One of the biggest challenges was Maggie’s lawyer called for me to be deposed. In other words, she was allowed to ask me any question she wanted to that would be recorded and could later be used against me in court. I knew what they were trying to do. I was going to be bombarded with probing questions in hopes that I might say something that could incriminate me and later be used as leverage. The only incident I was worried about was that one time in the car years ago where we had an argument. I wasn’t going to lie, but I wan’t about to paint myself as an abusive husband either, because I just wasn’t. In fact anyone that ever saw Maggie and I would never think that, because for a long time our relationship was amazing and complimentary. We were truly best friends.
The day of the deposition I got there early and sat in the parking lot for one simple reason… prayer. I knew that God was going to be the only one that could get me through this. And so I prayed for wisdom and peace, and guidance. Rosemary arrived shortly after. “Are you doing okay Mark?”, she asked. I nodded with a nervous hesitation, but remarked, “I’m about as good as I’m going to get.”
Once inside with the mediator, I was sworn in just like you normally would be in court. And from that moment on everything was recorded. Maggie’s lawyer sat across from me with her legal pad of extensive notes. Here we go. As Maggie’s lawyer began what was remarkable to me was how easily I could see and understand her line of questioning. Perhaps it was obvious because I really didn’t have high regard for her, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit pointing out the trap she was trying to set for me time and time again. But every direction she tried to push me and provoke me, an overwhelming calm took over. And with my calm, she became more and more frustrated. Every question I answered just giving her enough information to answer the question, but never elaborated. Every direction she tried to go down, she quickly realized she had to back up as it was incriminating Maggie. For example, she asked me about the Panera incident and how I tried to run Maggie over. I quickly corrected her and said, “That’s not even close to what happened. Did your client, my wife, also tell you she chased us down the road at over 100mph and tried to run us off the road. Do you think that’s safe and loving?” Any chance I could to demonstrate she was still me wife, and how I loved her, I pointed it out.
After an hour of this, Maggie’s lawyer was showing visible signs of being exasperated and extremely frustrated with me, even going so far as to push me by attacking my character. But I would calmly answer questions. When I took too much time (in her mind) she would say something like, “Let the record show that Mark is taking an extreme amount of time to answer me. Let the record show that he is asking me to repeat these questions too much.” It was silly, and I would just come back with, “You want me to answer the question correctly don’t you? You want me to be honest don’t you? So if I didn’t hear you or understand you correctly, I am going to clarify. And from that clarification, I am giving you a very clear and direct answer. Is this not what you want?” She didn’t like that. And after an hour and a half of questioning, she eventually gave up.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Outside, I asked Rose how I did. Surprisingly she said, “Mark I was a little worried going in, but that was amazing! Better than I had hoped.” Looking back at it, I realize that a lot of people might have gotten emotionally sucked in to her line of questioning. And I can see how that can be the purpose of a deposition. Lawyers want the emotional reaction and the “slip up”. The truth is there was no “slip up” as there was nothing to slip up on. My journey so far was very clear to me, and it was always with the idea of loving my wife no matter what that looked like.
One of the things I was fighting for was Paige’s voice to be heard. Paige did not want to be disloyal to Maggie. After all, this is her own mother. But Paige was tired of her mother’s selfishness and the treatment she was getting at the apartment. This had to end.
When Maggie and her lawyer got wind Paige was going to speak the truth about what her mother was doing, the degree of protest was through the roof, as it should be. Maggie knew exactly how unhappy Paige was regardless of her unwillingness to be accountable for this unhappiness. And this isn’t what the Jezebel wants either. The Jezebel hides. Paige and I were the only ones that saw and understood the whole picture of what Maggie had done. Everything so far was half stories with a “spin”. And while my own statements could easily be dismissed as exaggerations and lies, Paige making the same statements would be a powerful testimony as to the truth of what was happening.
Maggie was desperate and started telling everyone I had “brainwashed” Paige. While this could easily be overlooked as a flippant statement, what was tragic is this statement cut to the core of Paige. It’s as if her mother was saying, “Paige cannot think for herself.” And this is hardly the case. Paige is an amazingly intuitive, clever, brilliant, and emotionally intelligent young woman. The entire time Paige saw exactly what Maggie was doing, and because of the way Maggie and I raised her with a strong sense of right and wrong, the rub was the obvious break away of her own mother. Never before did Paige have a voice, but having Paige speak in court was her moment.
Once again just days before the main court hearing my lawyer was dragged into the court room to defend our reason for allowing Paige to speak. And once again the pendulum swung our way. Maggie’s reaction to this decision was unfortunately the same…. dismissal, lack of comprehension and accountability, and flat out anger. As I write, I am reminded of the story of Moses. So many times Pharaoh was warned by Moses. God gave Pharaoh 10 opportunities and demonstrations encouraging him to release the Jews. And every single time he didn’t “get it”. Pride kicked in every single time, and in the end he lost everything. Maggie was so focused on everything else but her own sin that she failed to see the incredible damage she was doing to her own daughter, much less the relationship with me. I was a by-stander powerless to convince Maggie of what the future would be should she continue down this road.
This was the stage set for our main hearing. Maggie’s world was crumbling with a husband desperately trying to ride the line of loving her, but also trying to save Paige; A daughter that was angry and confused at her own mother’s actions, but also wanting to save herself from her mother’s destruction; and what I believe was a cheering squad Maggie had orchestrated with a “spun” story that encouraged her sin. The only comfort I had in all of this was I knew for certain God was “in” this, and regardless of the outcome, would get me THROUGH this. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I knew God cared much more about my relationship with Him than my relationship with Maggie.
There is nothing more intimidating than putting the fate of your life in the hands of a perfect stranger… our judge. He was a criminal judge that had been used to dealing only with true criminals, who had just been appointed to family court. We were his very first case, and did he ever get thrown a big one. Having scolded us at the first hearing, I’ve no doubt his impressions of Maggie and me weren’t that great.
To start that day Paige was brought behind closed doors to speak with the judge personally. Paige and I had spoken at length several times before this in an attempt to calm her fears. Paige was so concerned with what she knew would be perceived as “betrayal” by her mother, but she had been stretched well beyond her limit. Paige was tired of being pushed and pulled, as well as disgusted with her own mother’s behavior. I assured her, “Just tell the truth. Tell him everything that has happened. Tell him about the car chace. Tell him how lonely you’ve been in the apartment. That’s all you have to do.” But there is no way you can be at total peace taking action like this.
An hour later Paige emerged with tears streaming down her face. Her mother stood in the distance scowling. I put my arm around her and hugged her asking, “What happened? Are you okay?” Paige’s charachter was broken, and with a sobbing voice said, “That judge is an asshole!” I was in total shock. Never had I heard such words come from Paige’s mouth, but she got right to the point. Wiping her face with a tissue I asked, “What did he say to make you upset? What happened?!?” “He just wouldn’t listen to me. He didn’t read my letter. He asked me about mom, and I would tell him, but he wouldn’t listen. He doesn’t understand all mom has done.” I just shook my head in shock. This was Paige’s moment to be heard. She had gone through enough and all she and I wanted was peace. Peace was a long way away however.
Maggie and I entered the courtroom with our lawyers and was sworn in. Unexpectedly, the judge asked who was picking up Paige to go back to school. My eyes grew wide. I knew Paige would be in no condition to return to school this day. I knew it would be upsetting, and certainly the last thing I would force her to do was go to school. I said, “You’re honor… she’s in no condition to go to school.” The judge was furious at, not only me, but at my lawyer. “You didn’t make plans to get Paige to school?!?”, he shouted. This continued for what seemed like an eternity. It was rediculous to even consider Paige returning. I think Paige was right… this man was was indeed an asshole.
My laywer’s husband came to the rescue and volunteered to transport Paige back to school. I couldn’t imagine what she was going to do. But with the situation handled, the hearing began.
Maggie’s lawyer outlined what a horrible husband I was naming the numerous issues Maggie had clung onto for a long time. Nothing had changed. Mark can’t hold a job. Mark “stole” money. But the issues that really had me gasp were things like “Mark thinks Obama is the anti-Christ”. Mark is obsessed with Lindsey Williams and the “End Times”. (And while I did study this for a time, I returned to scripture and had not even watched anything from him in well over a year) Mark is dangerously depressed. And the criscendo, Mark physically abused me and punched me in the face to where my client was afraid for her life. It took every but of will power I had to show no emotion. But inside I was crushed. The worst part about this is through all the accusations, all I saw was an incredibly hurt little girl whose soul was crying for true love… the love of a rather emotionally absent father. And I remembered the time on the mountain when God revealed to me first hand the inner turmoil Maggie had been living with all these years.
Maggie’s lawyer berated me hoping I “might slip” and say I punched her in the face, but that was so far from the truth. She then asked me what I meant about the email I had sent Maggie a year prior regarding Maggie’s unhealthy dependency on Paige and “what would you do if God took Paige away.” I explained it in the same logical way I had been, but what I did not reveal was how Maggie’s counselor in Tallahassee wanted her to see a Psychiatrist. Even at this point I still wanted to protect Maggie.
Realizing these questions might be unsubstantiated, the judge started asking Maggie if she ever got a restraining order against me. “No..” “Okay so let me see if I get this right… you two split because Mark was ‘dangerous’, but despite this, you three drove to Western Australia and spent two months out there. And then you left Australia with Mark in charge of Paige by himself because you tended to your sick father?” Maggie replied, “Well it wasn’t like that.” “Then why did you go to Western Australia?” Maggie sheepishly mumbled, “I don’t know… I wanted to go out West.” (I remember Jan telling me Maggie’s explanation how she wanted to see if there was anything left to the relationship) “You then requested Mark to send Paige back to the USA, and thus upsetting Paige’s schooling. You then followed this by luring Mark here to serve him for divorce. Is this correct?” Maggie started to break into tears. “It wasn’t like that. I was afraid for Paige’s life.” Maggie’s lawyer asked for a recess.
Despite all Maggie had put me through, all I felt was a deep compassion for Maggie. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I was also going to protect myself for the sake of Paige. I truly felt I was dealing with an incredibly deceived woman, but also a woman that saw me as the one person blocking her “happiness”. She didn’t care (nor did she believe) her relationship with Blakely was adultery. If anything, it was just a word to her with no consequences.
I’m reminded of Exodus 32 with Aaron and the golden calf. The people longed for a “connection” with God, but Moses had been gone for so long. Thinking this would “honor” God, they built a golden calf to worship. Aaron didn’t stand up to the people and allowed them to do this. I’m sure they thought they were doing the right thing. I’m sure they thought they were happy and honoring God. They didn’t feel the consequences of their actions immediately. But if you read the chapter, you know this angered God greatly and it was actually Moses praying and pleading to God to spare these people that actually swayed His wrath. How long was Maggie going to be allowed to go on with this?
It was obvious that Maggie’s story didn’t add up, but in the same token, I believe the judge thought I was lying as well. So after a long afternoon recess and deliberation, we were all called back into the courtroom to hear the judge’s verdict. Seeing as there was a fair bit of uncertainty with my and Maggie’s testimony, the Judge ordered a 3rd party family psycholigist to interview our living situations as well as our charachters. Secondly, until this psycologist interviewed us and we were heard again, Paige would no be “shared” between Maggie and me. My heart sank. For the first time in months Paige had finally felt some relief, and now this judge was going to force a really sick situation on her. I knew Paige would be tremendously upset. Neither of us had a choice, but on a good note… Maggie and I were STILL married. I wondered what God was doing.
The Phone Call
I’ll never forget the first exchange of Paige with Maggie. She was furious. Not necessarily from the fact that she knew she had to share Paige with me, but more from the inconvenience of having to drive the 10 miles to my new condo I was renting in the area. She barely looked at me, but when she did all I saw was hatred and contempt. Paige was incredibly afraid and had threatened many times to run away, but my lawyer had warned me that should she do this and I knew her whereabouts, I would be the one liable and a truant officer would be assigned to pick her up. I strongly discouraged Paige and did my best to confort her and convince her that God had a plan in all of this and that she needed to be patient. Paige was not happy.
The weeks went on with the exchanges… two weeks with me and two weeks with her mother. Weeks turned into months as we came into the summer of 2013. We were still married and I was constantly praying for Maggie hoping God would somehow step in and just “shake” her making her sin so obvious. But Maggie was seething. She made absurd requests demanding I “return all the clothes hangars I stole” when Paige evacuated the apartment. I did. She demanded I return a red suitcase, which again I stole. The funny thing is I remember shopping for that luggage with Maggie, picking it out, and paying for it. My friend Frank too thought Maggie was “grasping”, but suggested I give it back. I gladly gave it back as I was really trying to make so semblance of peace with Maggie. Even Frank said, “Just give it back and I am sure God will bless you.” In the interest of making peace, I also started picking Paige up from Maggie’s apartment. I knew all my bending and accomodating would never be appreciated, but I loved Maggie despite all that was being done. While it might seem I was being a “push over”, I also didn’t want to hurt Maggie either. It could be argued that if I didn’t want to hurt Maggie, why would I help Paige by forcably removing her from the apartment. The simplae answer is Paige was at her breaking point, Maggie was getting more violent and abusive, and the Holy Spirit and his command. And Paige and I both believe it would have progressively gotten much worse based on a continuing downward progression of Maggie’s behavior. Nobody was stepping in.
One afternoon I received a phone call from Maggie. It was so bizarre as Maggie’s tone of voice was pleasant and cheerful. Seeing as this was not the “norm”, I immediately thought, “What’s she up to?” We still had an investigation to endure, and more court to face. And with the most pleasant voice, Maggie spoke. “Now you and Paige are going to go back to Australia when she turns 18, right?” “Yes, that’s the plan.” I answered just waiting for the punch line. And then Maggie began to lay out another “plan” for me. “Why don’t you go back to Australia now. Make a place for Paige and you and get back on your feet. That way I can have Paige all this time. You know, once she turns 18 and she’s an adult, I’ll probably hardly see her, and you’ve already robbed me of all this time with her.” Two immediate thoughts came to mind. 1) You really think you’ll hardly see Paige after she turns 18. If that’s the case it’s only because of your own decisions and how you destroyed your relationship with her. and 2) If I leave I can only imagine the barrage of guilt that would be laid on Paige to stay in the USA. Paige didn’t want or need this. And besides, I was taking direct orders from the Holy Spirit and I knew if I deviated from His plan, I might as well just give up now. No deal.
But then I changed the conversation and asked a question that was so pressing. “Maggie, there is going to be a day when you will have to answer to God for all you have done in this. What are you going to say?” My heart was crying out to her to understand and recognize the dangerous position she was in. While if we are truly “saved” our sin is covered by the blood of Jesus, but this was direct and deliberate disobedience (if she was even “saved” at all). Acting as if she had really thought about it, she replied.
“God is all knowing.. right? So that means God know what I’m thinking… right? And God knows how I feel.. right?” I had to wonder where she was going with this, but I answered with curiosity, “Yeah.. okay.” “Well if God is all knowing, then he’ll just know.” It was as if Maggie was trying to say since God knows how she feels, she won’t have to be accountable for her sin because God will just know and it’ll be okay.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
I questioned Maggie with compassion, “Maggie.. you are in the middle of an adulterous affair. God is not going to bless this. How are you going to aswer for that?” Maggie quickly pointed out, “It’s only adultery because you won’t give me a divorce.”
Jesus then answers, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you todivorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery“
This conversation wreaked of Maggie’s mother Judy. It was a feeble ploy to get me to just go away and stop “causing trouble” for her. I quickly answered though, “Even if I gave you a divorce, it’s still fornication. Pick your poison!” Maggie muttered, “Well God will just know.” in an attempt to dismiss any conviction. If you are a “believer”, the Bible is so clear on this matter with plenty of scripture. In fact, seeing as I was the one that was left for an affair, scripture gives me an “out” to move on with my life. But I had such compassion for this woman. The deception was so clear to me. And it was very clear to Paige as well, which is why Paige was disgusted. Paige had tried to point out her mother’s sin, but Maggie was convinced she was walking in righteousness, despite what the Bible had to say on the matter. And for the sake of self preservation, Paige was done.
I told Maggie I understood what she wanted, but I didn’t feel it was my time to go just yet. Maggie wasn’t happy with my decision, but I had seen enough of these “plans” by now and seen clearly where it had gotten me. The Holy Spirit was guiding me; not Maggie! And I continued praying.
Impartial Parties Step In
As part of the mandatory actions the judge handed us, Maggie and I were obligated to hire an impartial party to assess the overall situation, of which we would have to pay for. This infuriated Maggie. In her mind, not only was I the cause of her unhappiness, now I was costing her even more money. And while Maggie was frustrated with me and my actions, I was frustrated with many of my Christian friends. I wanted them to plead with Maggie. I wanted them to make her incredibly aware that what she was doing was direct and deliberate sin and not sugar-coat it. And I think any strong Christian should have been able to discern the fruits-of-the-spiirit clearly despite any excuse Maggie would have made.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
There are plenty more scriptures regaridng accountability, but I thought the Holy Spirit would sit on my “friends” causing them to reach out to Maggie. Maybe they did reach out, but just not the way I wanted them to. I wanted them to say in so many words, “If you continue this sin Maggie, you will lose everything, including your soul to eternal hell.” All I heard was, “Maggie doesn’t want to be accountable. Maggie won’t even let me talk.” Jezebel is a controlling spirit that doesn’t want to be accountable nor controlled. There is no submission to anyone, much less God Himself.
An impartial observer was suggested by Maggie’s lawyer, but I believed there would be bias by this person. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was unsettling, but I refused. What was suggested was a two lawyer party that would come in and assess both living situations. Maggie agreed despite it being slightly more expensive. But knowing Paige’s position on her mother and after all she did, I had to wonder if maybe Maggie would get the hint should this impartial party side with me.
One of the two went to Maggie’s apartment first. As per Paige’s description of what happened, it didn’t go well. “Mom refused to leave the apartment despite the lawyers request. Instead, she went to he bedroom and shut the door, but I think she was listening. And when I tried to tell them all that was happening I kept crying. I was scared of mom and just upset. I didn’t trust mom and I thought that anything I told them, mom would use against me like she had been doing. I just wanted them to tell me I could go back to Australia.” I felt so badly for Paige. She never should have endured this. With Paige so upset, the observation ended sooner than it should have.
Within a week one of the lawyers came to my condo for their assesment. I was nervous, of course, as I was leaving Paige’s fate in the hands of who knows. Would they too think the living space was too small? The truth is, it was, but Paige and I both knew it was very temporary as we both had Australia in our sights. I complied as best I could, and I trusted Paige would tell me what happened afterwards.
With the assessment done, the lawyer came outside where I was sitting and had a very short chat with me regarding the process and how long she thought things would take. According to her, it was going to take a few weeks to put something together.
Afterwards, I had a long talk with Paige about all that was going on while we drove back down to Orlando. Frank and Liz had done their best to not take sides, considering they had both known Maggie and me for years and done a lot of life with both of us. However, being “born again” Christians themselves, they could not support Maggie’s decisions. Liz had told me of several conversations where she would attempt to speak wisdom into Maggie, but Maggie wouldn’t have it. Paige’s comments aligned with Liz as well. No one could talk to Maggie and show reason even when you could show irrefutable proof. It was now up to these laywers to figure out where Paige should go.
It’s rather unnerving to have a perfect stranger try and dictate your life. Especially when my own daughter is shouting to everyone, “I’m afraid of my mom.” or “I don’t want to be here… I want to live in Australia with my dad.” And as a father, of course I want to give her this. But we were locked in “the system” now with our lives dictated by a new judge that (to me) really didn’t have a grasp of the situation. It was only my faith in God that got me through these moments. Faith that God would see me through. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse I clung onto DAILY with the promise from God that he had plans to prosper me no matter what happened. I won’t say that kind of faith is easy, especially when it seems like everyone is against you. But it was also in these moments that I developed a complete reliance on Christ, and when I fixed my focus on Him vs. Maggie, the court system, and all the other pitfalls my faith grew farther than I had ever imagined.
Within a few weeks I received a phone call from my lawyer. Our impartial party lawyers had put togeteher a report outlining what they observed and their recommendations. “I’ve got some good news Mark and I have some bad.” I did my best to brace myself. “The report is in, and while they felt both of you had done some emotional harm to Paige, it was very clear that Paige should be with you.” I was in shock! Here a neutral party came into both homes barely knowing the situation or us as a family, and their reccomendation was to have the child stay with the ADOPTIVE FATHER over the BIOLOGICAL MOTHER! I had to let that sink in, but in truth I was numb. Before I could grasp what had been said, “Now here’s the bad news. Maggie is furious and has said she will fight this right to the very end.” I became so sad. In the back of my mind I had hoped the shock of such a decision would “jolt” Maggie and get her to realize all she had done. Instead it bolstered her resolve.
Maggie’s biggest issue with me was money, and I completely understood why she felt that way. I hadn’t held up my end for some time. She had accused me so many times of just being with her so I could “bum” off of her, and while I purposely didn’t do that, that was her perception. With this recommendation it’s possible Maggie would have had to pay ME alimony. I will state it here and now, I didn’t want the money. I didn’t want any money. If I did, I would have asked for a piece of the annuity Maggie was holding in Australia. I had even discussed ways to park the money in an acocunt to funnel back to Maggie; an idea my lawyer thought stupid. But all I wanted was my wife. I wanted her to get help. I wanted her well. Giving me any money would have only justified her hatred. So in that moment I chose to let things be, and not pursue this in the court system. I wanted Maggie to just settle down.
Things are quiet… Too quiet!
The month following this report came with an eerie silence. Having heard from my lawyer that Maggie was going to “fight”, I was expecting fireworks. I was expecting to be dragged into court week after week with more depositions to come. By this time when Maggie and I would exchange Paige, she wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t get out of the car. In fact it became expected that I would drop Paige off at her apartment. I complied as at this stage I was trying to do whatever I could to bring peace to the situation. It was strange to say the least.
Within this time, I was notified that the condo I was renting would have to be vacated as the owner (Achara) was losing it in a divorce. Thankfully, my friends Frank and Liz, were gracious enough to allow me and Paige to stay with them in Orlando. As much as it caused a bit of uncertainty in my own situation, I was glad to be rid of any ties to Jacksonville. Paige and I had learned to loath the region. (Eventually becoming an inside joke where we called it “The City that shall not be named”) Paige also started home schooling at this time. I allowed this to keep the peace and not force Paige to stay at the high school that she despised. In truth, Paige and I had our sights set on Australia, so she could finish school there.
Paige was managing during the month after this and seemed to be taking several trips with Maggie. After one such trip though Paige seemed disturbed and disgusted. I asked her what had happened. “You’re not going to believe this Mark. Mom went through my diary!” “WHAT!!!!”, I exclaimed in disbelief. “I used mom’s phone and there were pictures of pages of my diary that she had taken. I can’t believe it. I am so angry!” Paige was furious, and so was I. However it gave me a real clue into the depth of Maggie’s downward spiral. For years Maggie had made me very aware of how violated she had felt growing up when her own mother Judy had looked at her diary. Maggie swore up and down how she would NEVER do that to her own daughter. I knew just how badly it hurt her and was one of several points of contention that caused Maggie to never trust her mother. And while I should not have been shocked despite all Maggie had done to this point, it was honestly a line I absolutely never thought Maggie would cross. It was the one thing Maggie could have done to destroy any inkling of repairing the relationship with Paige that she had destroyed.
Upon hearing this, I realized what Maggie was doing was stalling for time. I was foolish considering just maybe the report made any sort of impact to Maggie, but all along the way I had hope that Jesus would come through. I was hoping Maggie would see the sin and the damage she was doing to me, Paige, and herself. To no avail. The next day I called my lawyer and told her what Maggie did. She wasn’t surprised. And then I told her, “Let’s go to court and finish this. We’ve got to get to Australia.”
A couple weeks later I received a call from my lawyer. “We have some good news and we have some bad news. First the good.. we have a court date. Now the bad… the date is December 23rd!” I couldn’t believe it. She continued, “In all the years I have practised law, I have never seen this Mark. I watched Maggie’s lawyer lie directly to the judge.” “What?!?”, I exclaimed. “The judge offered her several dates between now (September) and Christmas. I watched her open up her schedule book and go through it acting like it was full. No lawyer is that booked. Not one!”
So the date was now set, albeit months in the future. I was living with Frank and Liz. I was trying to help Paige and I get through this. And I was trying to make enough money to get back to Australia. At the time I only had $1500-$2000 in the US. I did file my Australian income taxes which gave me a $1700AUD return, but that money was sitting in Australia. As well, it would still not be enough for plane tickets and any semblance of housing. We were determined to return, but no idea how it was going to happen. My faith was in God!
The Biggest Miracle
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Faith is a funny thing. It goes against our “humanness” which is possibly why so many people have issue with it. The unsaved might say, “I’ll believe in God when I see a miracle.” The “saved” may say they have faith, and yet there is no action to prove it.
If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
God is concerned with your heart. Your actions are dictated by your heart. But what truly is faith? If you pray to be a millionaire and just sat in your home waiting for it to happen, you might as well start packing because your mortgage isn’t going to get paid. So if I were just praying to God alone to send us back to Australia, and was not being proactive about it, there’s truly little difference between that, and playing the lottery.
For months I had been working with Jesus trying to put together these computer deals. And while it may have sounded easy to buy wholesale computers and ship to a foreign country, it really was quite tricky with slim margins and flakey buyers. Profit magins were dictated by pennies, but if I sold 1000 used laptops with $1 profit on each, that’s $1000 for me. Most buyers were saavy, and if the computers were junk, I would get squeezed to where I couldn’t make anything, or they just didn’t buy. Everyone seemed to be crooked.
One day while shopping I received a call from a man Jerry. I knew Jerry from months prior and trying to work a few deals that completely blew out. I soon realized he had quite a reputation in the industry as a scammer. But this day the call was different. “Mark… remember those hard drives we talked about and those suppliers we talked about a few weeks ago. Yeah I’m coming for them.” “What?!?” I exclaimed in disbelief. “Yes my buyer just flew in from Dubai and we’re driving down (from Washington DC) to see you. You still have it right?” “Jerry… you’re coming unannounced is a bit awkward. And you know how this business is. Those computers and hard drives are long gone.” “I have the guy with me right now. We’re driving down to see you. We’ll figure it out when we get there.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and based on my previous experience with this guy, it was questionable at best.
The next morning I met up with Jerry and his Dubai buyer Ahmed. Ahmed was a 30-something gentleman with a very pleasant and patient attitude. Immediately he and I started building rapport. We quickly formulated a plan. Ahmed bought tickets for himself, Jerry, and me to fly up to New Jersey the following morning early and then fly back that night. Then the following morning we would visit my Melbourne Florida supplier. Ahmed wanted to buy several container loads of equipment and he had the cashflow to do so.
The following morning we arrived in New Jersey at 9AM renting a car and driving the 15 minute trip to my supplier. These people are by far the biggest reseller I have ever seen occupying a warehouse over 100,000 square feet and employing over 100 people. Their facility is massive. Quickly we got down to business negotiating a deal on 10k hard drives. Jerry and my margin was super slim. So much so that on 10k units Jerry and I were only making $1000 each. This was okay though as we knew this would likely not be the only deal.
After an hour of negotiation and agreeing on the price, Ahmed smartly asked to take a last look at the drives one last time. But when he inspected them and held them in his hands, he asked the question, “Aren’t these a bit big? How will these fit in a laptop?” My jaw dropped! All along Jerry had been telling me Ahmed wanted desktop hard drives, and not laptop hard drives (which are much smaller and almost twice the price) Upon this realization, the entire deal blew up. Ahmed was upset, I was upset, and my supplier that I had sought out months prior was absolutely upset that we had wasted their time. The entire deal blew up. And while I was upset with Jerry, I didn’t show it. He quickly did a “switcheroo” on me saying “Oh yeah he always wanted laptop drives.” But I quickly snapped back, “Jerry.. look at this email I sent you with these prices and notice it says ‘DESKTOP HARD DRIVES’.” Jerry quickly backpeddled realizing he wasn’t going to get one past me.
At the Newark airport as we were waiting for our flight back to Florida, I called Isaac, my Melbourne Florida supplier just to assure him we were coming the next morning. But this was met with great resistance. Isaac was a short tempered guy, and when he got wind that Jerry was involved with this deal he absolutely refused to see us thinking it would be a waste of his time. “Don’t bother coming. I don’t want to see you! And if you come, the door will be locked and I’ll send you away.” So there I am on the plane furious to be involved with this guy, and yet praying that somehow God would come through and save this.
When the plane landed I had a message on my phone from Isaac asking me to call him. He seemed much calmer. I just crossed my fingers hoping for something better. “Mark… maybe I was a little too hasty. Is your buyer real?” “Isaac… this guy flew in from Dubai. He just paid for us to go to New Jersey and back. This guy is the real deal!” “Okay… I’ll see you guys tomorrow under one condition. Jerry can’t come.” “Not a problem.” I said with relief. “We’ll see you in the morning.” Once we arrived at the hotel where Ahmed and Jerry were staying, I pulled Ahmed aside and had a very private conversation with him. I told him the details of the situation with Jerry. Ahmed seemed a little concerned, but understood the situation. And after traveling so far, he was going to do whatever he had to do to make some sort of deal happen.
The follwoing morning I met the two of them for breakfast and broke the bad new to Jerry. He was mildly upset, but surprisingly agreeable as if this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. So Jerry opted to stay at the hotel. During the hour drive to Melbourne Ahmed and I talked about many things, but also talked about our families. I didn’t elude to what I was going through, but spoke as if Maggie was with me the entire time. I just didn’t think it was wise to involve all these issues in a business deal.
Arriving at the warehouse Isaac was extremely cordial as we inspected the massive cartons of computers. Isaac, being who he is, was taking verbal jabs at Jerry in his absence. Ahmed and I quickly learned how much he didn’t like Jerry. All along, Isaac praised me telling Ahmed how honest I had been in past deals and that he liked working with me. I had a feeling Ahmed was done with Jerry.
Once we saw what Ahmed was interested in we went back to the office and tried to work out a deal, hoping I would be able to eek out a profit. Maybe it was the experience of the previous day. Maybe it was impatience. But I just said to Ahmed, “Look, we could go back and forth trying to negotiate every little bit of this deal, and we could be here all day. I need to make something from this, and these prices have to be fair to you. So look what if we agree on a percentage for me, and you and Isaac just work it out directly?” Ahmed agreed thinking this would streamline the process and offered me 4% of whatever he bought. With that in place, I just stepped out of the way.
After about two hours of talking, Ahmed reached a final tally of goods that was going to fill two 40-foot containers to be shipped to Dubai. With the deal done, Isaac, Ahmed, and I shook hands and thanked each other. And then Isaac said something I’ll never forget. “Wow Mark, the stars really aligned for you today. That was really smart of you to get out of the way of this deal. You know I wasn’t even going to entertain you and Ahmed today.” Oh I knew just how easily this could have crumbled. Calculating all that he paid, my cut deposited directly to my account was just over $8000.
On the car trip back to Orlando, Ahmed opened up to me about Jerry and all the stories Jerry had told. I knew the guy was untrustworthy, but the depth of Jerry’s deception was appalling. The abundance of lies Jerry had told Ahmed was scary. I apologized on behalf of Jerry, but refocused on how grateful I was for his patience and that we managed to put this all together. Ahmed agreed to handle Jerry (with money) and cut him loose. I have no doubt Jerry was unhappy, and maybe even felt “cheated” as he probably didn’t get as much as me, but Jerry also burned up my New Jersey supplier as well as almost wasted Ahmed’s time. By this stage Ahmed had paid almost $10,000 in travel expense with nothing to show. At least with this deal, Ahmed had a chance to turn the expense into a profit.
The following day I called Paige. “Are you ready for some good news? It’s done… God has come through! We’re going back to Australia!” “What do you mean?” Paige questioned. I explained in detail all that happened. Paige couldn’t believe it, but it was done. With this money and the money I had sitting in Australia, Paige and I would have plenty to buy plane tickets and make a fresh start. And while it may have seemed like the 11th hour, God absolutely answered my (and Paige’s) prayers. This was a miracle!
For me, I typically don’t remember my dreams. I’m not saying I don’t dream, as I understand deep sleep and dreaming go hand in hand. And while I remember having vivid dreams as a child, waking up and remembering many details, as I grew older I stopped remembering. Only rarely will I ever remember anything, and even then the thoughts and memories are fleeting.
I say this to explain and emphasize a dream I woke up with that I still remember to this day. It’s been over three years now and I remember the feelings and emotions, the colors and the sounds just like it happened this morning. And while some say I would be bold for saying God laid this dream on me, the fact that I can remember this in such great detail and it feel so real, my only explanation IS God.
As I was bought into this scene I saw two people in the distance standing side by side on a long road that ended into a field. The sky was a drab grey like on a cool fall day when high clouds roll in showing an overcast tapestry in the sky. Colors were muted. As I got closer to the two people standing side by side, I realized it was Paige and me. We were just standing in the middle of the road staring off into the distance as if we were waiting to move forward.
As I was watching myself and Paige, I then saw Maggie behind us. She ran up to us throwing her arms around us both. We didn’t move, but just stood there. Maggie had her arms around both our waists somehow with her feet and body slumped as if we were dragging her. Maggie was screaming, “Don’t leave! You can’t go! Please don’t go I’ll do anything!” And while her words and emotions poured out, what was so impactful was the degree to which Maggie was pleading with us. I could literally feel her sorrow and how painful it was for her. It was as if a body part was being removed forcibly and she would have a blood curdling scream begging whomever to stop. My body standing cried, but also seemed unfazed.
To the left and behind my body standing in the road, a rather thin man in his 20’s appeared. His face was gaunt with black hair slicked back. He wore a simple white button up shirt with black slacks. What I remember most was a black cape-like piece that tied in the front that also went over his shoulders.
As Maggie clung to us pleading, her screams got worse. And then this man slowly pried Maggie from us in a gentile and delicate manner. She screamed even more, “NO!!! I don’t want to leave! Don’t let this happen! I don’t want this to happen!!! YOU CAN’T GO! STOP! DON’T LEAVE!” Maggie made one last attempt grasping for my waist, but it was too late. I watched this man stand her up, but she was hunched over at the waist crying profusely. He then put his arm around her shoulder with this cape trying to shelter her. In that instant my position of observation moved to where I was now in front of myself and Paige. Way in the distance down the road behind me standing I saw Blakely.
In that moment I saw Maggie with her back to me with this man consoling her. And with a soothing and rich voice he said to her, “It’s okay I understand. You don’t need them anymore. It’s okay.” Maggie kept weeping with her head shaking from her sobbing. And the two of them started walking towards Blakely with Paige and I just standing there.
In this moment I woke up from my sleep shouting “NO!” My sheets were soaked from perspiration and I was already crying. When I realized I was awake I took a pause, but quickly remembered what I had awoken from. I laid back down turning into my pillow and wept crying to God, “Why did you show me this? God is this what’s happening?”
As time has gone by and I have pieced things together I have realized what I was shown was exactly what was happening. I truly believe deep down Maggie did not want to leave us. And while she would likely deny this in a surface conversation, what I believe Maggie wanted so much was the love that even I couldn’t give her. A love that only God Himself can give. I have no doubt that many of the complaints Maggie had with me (while some valid) which built much of Maggie’s frustration and bitterness was that I didn’t rise up to her expectation. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t pursue what Hector did to Maggie enough. I should have protected Maggie from this. But in the same token, Maggie wasn’t honest with me either. I should have come through with money, but didn’t at the time saying “Just hang in there.” If she only saw everything today.
This are my regrets and my woes that I deal with daily. But it was this dream that made me realize another incredibly strong factor in all of this. Satan! Satan lied to Maggie telling her she didn’t need us anymore. And instead of heeding my warning that Paige and I wouldn’t follow her down this path, Maggie was hell-bent to find out if the grass is greener on the other side.
Putting the pressure on me.
As December 23rd was only a few weeks away, I was thinking how going to court just a couple days before Christmas would impact me and Paige. Sure I had all the money I needed to take Paige and me back to Australia, and we were making those plans looking to book tickets for just after her 18th birthday in January. But Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and peace. Most importantly, a time to celebrate and reflect on Jesus coming into this world. There was no sign of Maggie budging from the course she was taking.
Early in December of 2013 my lawyer called me to say Maggie wanted to delay the court hearing. While I wasn’t crazy about the timing of everything, I also was a bit insulted as it was Maggie’s lawyer who originally set this date. While on the phone I mulled over what to do, but it was my lawyer who put it plainly. “Mark… if we delay this any longer, I am out! I quit!” My first reaction was shock. But then the weight of what she said set in. Finish this on December 23rd or you’re on your own. To me, going alone was not an option. And frankly speaking, this could have gotten dragged on for months. Paige’s first day of her senior year was February 1st. A court delay would have been detrimental to Paige’s education.
Next time I saw Paige she immediately told me, “Mom’s not happy you won’t cancel the court date. Why won’t you cancel the court date Mark?” I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to explain to her everything that was happening behind the scenes. But recently my lawyer reminded me clearly how the judge’s orders were that we (Maggie and me) were not supposed to divulge any information regarding the pending divorce. And while I felt that Paige was mature enough and had a pretty good handle on what was going on, legally speaking, divulging this information could get me in a bit of trouble. In the end the only thing I said to Paige was, “Please trust me on this. I understand this is going to make me seem like a jerk. I know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy about this, even though I am not the one that set this date. But when this is all over I will tell you everything and it will all make sense.” Paige looked confused and wanted me to tell her more, but it was all I could give her.
As the weeks went on, Paige was telling me how unhappy Maggie was I wouldn’t postpone the court date. I was accused of “Ruining Christmas for the family” by Maggie and her mother. I was a bit taken back by this accusation considering it was Maggie’s lawyer that set the court date to begin with. However this was par for the course. I was evil. I was the liar. I was the pariah that ruined everyone’s holiday just to get back at Maggie. They never once considered their own actions because no one was holding them accountable, nor was anyone even questioning them.
1 Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”
About a week before our court date I received a call from Judy that I can never forget. It was strange that she would call me, but I answered politely very curious as to the nature of the call.
“Mark, I want to talk to you about changing the court date. We’re trying to go to Alabama for Christmas with Paige and Maggie and if you don’t agree to postpone this, you’re going to ruin Christmas for the entire family.” It was not surprising that she would speak in such absolutes. “Judy, you do realize I’m not the one that set the court date, right?” “Well yes, but that’s the only available time Maggie’s lawyer had open.” I remembered how my lawyer felt this was a flat out lie and had to wonder if Judy had any influence on this. “Judy, I am sorry, but I just cannot get out of this and cannot agree to postpone. I know it will potentially make some people unhappy, but if Maggie hadn’t pursued this adulterous affair and make some of the decisions she did…” Judy interrupted me, “You’re just being an a$$hole and it wouldn’t be an affair if you gave Maggie a divorce.”
Mark 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery. (Mind you the Bible and God consider sex as marriage with much scripture to this effect. It always was and always will be adultery)
“Mark what are you going to do? Where are you going to go when this is over?” I said with exasperated disbelief, “Judy… Paige and I have always maintained this entire time that we are BOTH going back to Australia. I have not wavered from this one bit and neither has Paige.” I quickly changed tact and tried to approach Judy with a moment of compassion, “Judy I need you to listen to me carefully. I cannot speak for Paige directly, but when we leave there is a very good chance she will stop talking to you and Maggie when we leave.” “Oh she would never do that.” Judy gasped with an air of confidence and certainty. “Judy, I am telling you because I don’t want you to be surprised, but because of your actions and manipulations, as well as Maggie’s, there is a good chance she might cut off all communication with what you’ve done.” “I haven’t done a thing!” Judy exclaimed “No…. Paige would never do that.” “Judy I’m just telling you because you need to know.” “No… No. I don’t know how you’re going back, but we love Paige.”
The call shortly ended after that. Judy was in complete disbelief and denial. But I knew how Paige felt. Paige was angry and betrayed, and flat out disgusted by the behavior of her mother and grandparents. Maggie and I had raised her to be an honorable girl that any parent would be proud of. Her core beliefs or “right” and “wrong” were rock solid. The rub came from these so-called “good people” doing some really despicable things, and Paige wasn’t going to take it anymore. Time would play this out.
Leading up to this moment my prayers intensified as well as prayers from our church friends and others that had picked up the cause along the way. And the night before our December 23rd court date I must have prayed for a couple hours begging God to intervene. I was thinking, “God if you could just show yourself with your power and might and glory, surely Maggie would understand the path she was going down. Surely she would want to repent.” And I think God does indeed show Himself all the time. As the years had gone by I had become so much more sensitive to God moving, and probably the two biggest things I’ve noticed are 1) God doesn’t “move” like we do and 2) God very rarely forces our hand. So if you have expectations of God and are “looking for a sign” like a lot of people do, it’s unlikely your preconceived idea will happen. As well, God’s love is unlike ours. God doesn’t want people to love Him back out of fear of consequence, or maybe what “God can do for them”. God wants people to fall in love with Him – The End! No agendas, no hidden motives, and certainly not in the sense of “You love me or else you’re going to hell!” It doesn’t work that way.
Towards this final day in court all I had was hope, faith, and prayer. My communication with Maggie was minimal, and even if we were talking regularly she was determined to see this through all in the name of “happiness”. Nothing I, or anyone, said or did was going to change Maggie’s mind. But I still prayed for her.
The morning of court my lawyer and I had wind from Maggie’s lawyer there was going to be an announcement or change, but it was all hush-hush. I walked into that courtroom completely unsure what was going to happen. I was one of the first in the room, with my lawyer and Maggie’s lawyer following in closely. But Maggie was nowhere to be found. I thought it quite strange as court was about to start and Maggie had always walked in with her lawyer. Maggie’s lawyer then told us she was outside. I watched one of the court officers duck out to go get her. Eyes wide and mouthing the words “wow”, the officer quickly returned as if he had walked where he shouldn’t have. Moments later Maggie walked through the door. I turned around to see her, only to be met with a glance I can never forget. In that glance Maggie was seething with pure hatred. She looked different as well. Thinner and unlike the Maggie I had fallen in love with so long ago. It’s so hard to describe, but she was physically different. But without a doubt, she despised me as if I was the one that deliberately did all of this towards her. The judge entered the courtroom and started the proceedings.
Since Maggie had already let the court know she was making an announcement, the judge let her speak before anything else happened. That’s when Maggie went into a long speech about how she was firing her lawyer. My jaw dropped! My lawyer was in shock. And Maggie went on about how she likes her lawyer “as a person”, but failed her miserably as a lawyer. Even the judge was in shock and asked more questions about the situation. Maggie’s lawyer even went on to explain how she felt she let her client (Maggie) down and didn’t give her the full service and attention she had required. Based on past communication from my lawyer to hers, I honestly think Maggie’s lawyer was exasperated. Either that, or this was a ploy to delay things even further.
Sensing something wasn’t right, the judge took over and stopped Maggie. He then turned to his assistant and asked, “How old is Paige and when does she turn 18?” “Paige is 17 and her birthday is in a month.” The judge scoffed, “Okay, so she’s 18 here very shortly. Is there any monies to divide?” I shook my head to say “no”. “Well then why are we here?” the judge said in exasperation. “I am not going to allow you to fire your lawyer after everything we have gone through, and especially considering we are at the end. It is not right for you to waste the court’s time and mine.” the judge stated clearly. “Mark, I am about to make a ruling. Do you have anything that you want to add to this that will weigh in on my decision?” I could sense this was it. This was the end. “Your honor, I can’t stop Maggie from making these decisions, but I don’t think she has been making rational decisions for a while now. I hesitated to bring this up a long time ago, but since I have nothing to lose now I might as well tell you. About a year ago Maggie was seeing a psychologist and I have documentation to the effect that Maggie does not and has not had a grasp of reality for some time now.” Maggie scoffed at my feeble attempt to sway the judge. And it was feeble, even if it was truthful. But I could see the judge didn’t care. Looking back at it, I think all parties, except for me, just wanted this over.
In that moment the judge made his ruling saying Paige would continue with time shared until she was 18, and with no monies to divide, we were indeed divorced. I watched Maggie and her lawyer hug each other and then walk out of the room. Surprisingly, I was unemotional. I knew what had just happened. In that moment I thought about the vows we had said to each other on top of the Grand Canyon. I thought about all the trips and time spent together. I even thought about how I still loved this women despite all she had done. I just sat there for a moment. And then I got up to leave. I thanked my lawyer for all she had done and for hanging in there. It was an anticlimactic ending to a very long journey.
It was almost a three hour car ride back to Orlando and Frank’s place. Three hours is a long time when you’re driving and newly divorced. I thought for a long time in a state of question. I reviewed so much of all that had happened to that point. And the one sticking point was how I reviewed all the events and questioned myself, “Did I do everything God asked me to do? Why did God tell me to return to the United States when he knew… absolutely knew this would be the end?” And I came to the conclusion that I had gone to the Nth degree doing all that was asked of me. What’s more, I thought about how I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Maggie was the one God had chosen for me despite some poor choices of my own. I wrestled with God while driving, “WHY??? You brought me here Lord. You knew all this was going to happen. This is the one chosen for me. This is the one I was in covenant relationship with. I did all this out of love for her, and yet she rejected me!” Quickly yet gently the Lord spoke to my spirit, “No Mark… she rejected ME.” When I heard what God said, my eyes became like waterfalls. I realized God was right. All this time God had been reaching out to Maggie trying to show her unimaginable love. So many people had tried to speak truth into her life. I had practically gone to the ends of the earth to keep this family together. Maggie rejected every single bit of love from all of us. She was going her own way.
That was perhaps the worst holiday season I had ever gone through. And even while I had wanted to at least be around family in New Jersey, I had to stay in Florida as I was making plans for the return back to Australia. Maggie and her mother had no idea how Paige and I planned on going back, but I had just received the $8000 from the computer sale. I had $1700 sitting in the bank from my recent tax return for the previous year. And because of all the trips to Africa and Australia, two one way tickets back to Australia cost a total of $500. (With Sky miles) Plus, with all the traveling I was allowed extra baggage. The one caveat was I had to fly from New Jersey as all the flights from Orlando were booked up. Big deal… I wanted to give my car to my mother anyway as she was moving back into the house with my stepfather. (That’s a whole other story) We were set to leave January 29th just days after Paige’s 18th birthday, getting Paige back into school in Australia for her senior year.
Shortly after Paige’s birthday I met up with Maggie and Paige for what would be the last exchange. Maggie would not get out of the car and would not look at me even though I looked at her. I don’t know what she was thinking or feeling at the moment, but I’m sure it was some level of contempt or hatred. I wish she could only understand the love I still had for her even in that moment. But she was so far gone. There was no understanding or rationalizing. I was the “enemy”. I was the one interfering with her so-called pursuit of happiness. Looking back now despite Paige telling her “We’re moving back to Australia”, I think even in this moment Maggie had her doubts and didn’t think it was going to happen. Her mother Judy certainly didn’t believe it. But throughout all the “ups” and “downs”, Paige and I never wavered in telling everyone we were going back. They just chose not to believe it.
A few days before we were to set foot on the plane back to Australia, I loaded my little car up in Florida and set out for my parent’s house in New Jersey. It was a lot of time to talk to Paige. A lot of time to connect. And a lot of time to grasp the reality that we were running the course God had set out for us. It was our dream to return. But the reality was we were both incredibly wounded. I for losing my best friend in the world, and Paige for losing a mother that (at one time) was a superstar parent. But Paige told me so many stories of manipulation by both Maggie and her mother as if the floodgates had finally opened. Stories that I just couldn’t believe were about the woman I married. The one thing I always liked about Maggie was that she could always see through her mother’s manipulation. But the stories Paige went into great detail with Maggie’s manipulation and guilt ridden conversations could very well describe Judy. And I was disgusted.
Once in New Jersey I reorganized everything and was given several suitcases by my stepfather. He had heard about Maggie’s “demand for the red suitcase” and had plenty to spare. This was a good thing as we had plenty to pack. New Jersey was a relief and a moment to take a breath and reflect before Paige and I were to embark on our new life. And I did reflect. I thought about all the amazing years I had with this woman. All the ups and downs, and places we had been. I thought about the amazing daughter we had raised. And in thinking about it, I wrote Maggie a letter.
My main focus was to talk about how much I loved her, but yet owning up to my own mistakes. I focused on the good times we had and wished she could have focused on those instead as we could have gotten through it all. And while I cannot really remember much of the details other than the tone of what I wrote, one thing I clearly remember writing was this. “Maggie… there is an undeniable truth in God’s kingdom in that you reap what you sew. And you have sewn an incredibly wicked seed. I have no idea what is in store for your future, but I am afraid for you and pray that God is tender in how he deals with you.” It was heavy and deep and probably was quickly dismissed by Maggie. But the truth is I was genuinely scared for Maggie. I was in the middle of God restoring Paige and me, while at the same time watching a clear warning to Maggie unfold. “What would you do Maggie if God took Paige away from you?” Paige was disgusted with her mother and pretty much done with her.
When we arrived in Australia I was grateful to be picked up by some old church friends I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years. It felt so good to be “home” again. Paige and I were renting a room from a friend’s mother that used this as a means for money. And our second day back I dropped Paige off at school, while I settled in to get new phones and take my American cash and start a new account, as well as grab my tax return. Looking back at it now it was incredibly foolish of me, but I had deposited that money into an account that Maggie still had a finger on. As you might have already guessed, Maggie took that money. $1700 gone. I have to wonder if she thought that was all the money I had or was expecting. And I thought again about reaping what you sew. All this time she pointed the finger at me claiming I was after money and was only with her to mooch off of her. Maybe she even felt she deserved it. After all I was costing her more money to her lawyer because I wouldn’t “lay down and die.”
Two other things I should point out that happened here. United airlines just about destroyed three of the suitcases I had brought with us. I was grateful when they told me to take it to a repair shop to get fixed. But a week later I received a call from them telling me they couldn’t fix it. When I went in to grab the old busted suitcases the manager told me, “Oh no… we couldn’t fix it. So we are REPLACING ALL BAGS!!!” I couldn’t believe it, but from that tragedy I got $900 worth of new bags… all red of course. And the second thing I should point out is I never got sick again until months after I arrived back in Australia. You may recall I only get sick once a year just about like clockwork. With all I had gone through, it was over three-years from the last time I had gotten sick. You cannot tell me God didn’t come through.
In the weeks to months that followed Paige was inundated with troves of emails from her mother and grandmother. Most letters spoke of what an “evil person” I am and how I was going to “kill Maggie.” All Paige wanted to do was focus on school and friends and a “normal” life, and frankly not have to deal with her “crazy mother” as she put it. And that’s what Paige did. She ignored all the emails and continues to do so to this day.
Shortly after her graduation from high school, I started paying for Paige to see a Christian counselor. Paige has always had a level head, but she absolutely had many things to work through. Even to this day Paige sees this counselor just to work through little things. But I am happy to say she’s pretty well adjusted.
You can’t go through something like this and not be majorly affected. Paige and I both pretty much start the day and end the day thinking about Maggie. But we don’t think about “what she did” so much as a feeling of a hole or gash in our family. We feel deep sorrow FOR Maggie. This is what many people don’t understand. People ask me many times over, “Aren’t you bitter for what Maggie did?” Sure this all sucks! There’s no denying it. And to one degree or another Paige and I feel that wound every day. But I’m not bitter about the money or the adultery, or some of the really cruel things she did. It’s not in my character to be this way. Honestly, it is the Holy Spirit within me that causes me to weep for her and worry for her, because I know that massive hole in her heart that was caused by all those men in her life can only be filled and healed with the love of Jesus.