Women Beyond Faith

Meet Jessica Part 1 --

September 24, 2020 Leah Janet Season 3 Episode 12
Women Beyond Faith
Meet Jessica Part 1 --
Chapters
Women Beyond Faith
Meet Jessica Part 1 --
Sep 24, 2020 Season 3 Episode 12
Leah Janet

Jessica grew up swimming in christian fundamentalism.  Despite the christian education, life at home was hard -- raised by a single dad and an abusive bipolar manic depressive mother who was in and out of her life. A revolving door of blended families, domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, and mental and emotional abuse were the norm.  

The christian schools grounded her and offered structure and stability. She found an identity and safe space to find refuge from the instability at home.  But it wasn’t enough. Jessica attempted suicide at the tender age of 10. 

Life was extreme. Ample finances granted travel to over 20 countries, outdoor educational school for weeks at a time, and a christian fundamentalist camp every summer. To outsiders, life looked like rich privilege, but money and Jesus were tied up in family power in a bid for approval and acceptance. 

In high school, Jessica became involved with a particular brand of Christianity focused on uncovering the Jewish identity of Jesus. This led her to 2 tours to Israel while still in high school, followed by a move to Israel for a year only 2 days after graduation. During her time in here she began a relationship with a Chabad Israeli Jew, which led to the discovery of her own sexuality. 

Jessica’s experiences (both personal and humanitarian oriented) in Israel set in motion her deconversion from fundamentalism. By her sophomore year of college at Kent State University, Jessica no longer identified as christian.  

Jessica transferred to Temple University in 2007 and met an Israeli Jew. He followed her back home due to family obligations. She married him, had a baby shortly thereafter and divorced by early 2011. 

After completing a human rights program in Rwanda, she graduated in December 2011 with a Bachelors in Applied Conflict Management, a beautiful two year old greeting her off the stage. 

During this time, each of her Christian friends fell off the face of the earth. She dated, continually reinventing herself and attempting to discover her true north all while raising her child as a single mom. 

In 2013 Jessica met her current husband. They had a baby and married, but were soon beset by a myriad of serious undiagnosed health issues besieging Jessica. It was not until 2018 that Jessica had some answers for the conditions plaguing her: Dysautonomia, gastroparesis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, arthritis, small fiber neuropathy, and other debilitating issues. 

She currently resides in Ohio, with her husband and a 10 and 5 year old. She is happily atheist. A skeptic, realist, who is deeply uncomfortable with spirituality and religion, abhorring anyone and anything that discourages the asking of questions. 

Jessica enjoys evidence-based medical and cosmic science, fantasy book series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, piano, writing, gaming, animals, and dark humor. She is currently wading the intimidating waters of motherhood, marriage, medical professionals, and autonomy, striving to seek balance, while helping her children navigate life. And she does these things with while being chronically ill and preparing her funeral. 

She sports a tattoo in Hebrew on her back, obtained after deconversion. Part of it says “Desire peace, and hunt it down” Psalm 34:14.

It’s a damn good conversation. You’ll be blown away by Jessica. She’s a brave, badass woman! 

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesophagitis #chronicillness #deconvert #emptythepews #exvangelical #psalm34:14 

 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8739294)

Show Notes Transcript

Jessica grew up swimming in christian fundamentalism.  Despite the christian education, life at home was hard -- raised by a single dad and an abusive bipolar manic depressive mother who was in and out of her life. A revolving door of blended families, domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, and mental and emotional abuse were the norm.  

The christian schools grounded her and offered structure and stability. She found an identity and safe space to find refuge from the instability at home.  But it wasn’t enough. Jessica attempted suicide at the tender age of 10. 

Life was extreme. Ample finances granted travel to over 20 countries, outdoor educational school for weeks at a time, and a christian fundamentalist camp every summer. To outsiders, life looked like rich privilege, but money and Jesus were tied up in family power in a bid for approval and acceptance. 

In high school, Jessica became involved with a particular brand of Christianity focused on uncovering the Jewish identity of Jesus. This led her to 2 tours to Israel while still in high school, followed by a move to Israel for a year only 2 days after graduation. During her time in here she began a relationship with a Chabad Israeli Jew, which led to the discovery of her own sexuality. 

Jessica’s experiences (both personal and humanitarian oriented) in Israel set in motion her deconversion from fundamentalism. By her sophomore year of college at Kent State University, Jessica no longer identified as christian.  

Jessica transferred to Temple University in 2007 and met an Israeli Jew. He followed her back home due to family obligations. She married him, had a baby shortly thereafter and divorced by early 2011. 

After completing a human rights program in Rwanda, she graduated in December 2011 with a Bachelors in Applied Conflict Management, a beautiful two year old greeting her off the stage. 

During this time, each of her Christian friends fell off the face of the earth. She dated, continually reinventing herself and attempting to discover her true north all while raising her child as a single mom. 

In 2013 Jessica met her current husband. They had a baby and married, but were soon beset by a myriad of serious undiagnosed health issues besieging Jessica. It was not until 2018 that Jessica had some answers for the conditions plaguing her: Dysautonomia, gastroparesis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, arthritis, small fiber neuropathy, and other debilitating issues. 

She currently resides in Ohio, with her husband and a 10 and 5 year old. She is happily atheist. A skeptic, realist, who is deeply uncomfortable with spirituality and religion, abhorring anyone and anything that discourages the asking of questions. 

Jessica enjoys evidence-based medical and cosmic science, fantasy book series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, piano, writing, gaming, animals, and dark humor. She is currently wading the intimidating waters of motherhood, marriage, medical professionals, and autonomy, striving to seek balance, while helping her children navigate life. And she does these things with while being chronically ill and preparing her funeral. 

She sports a tattoo in Hebrew on her back, obtained after deconversion. Part of it says “Desire peace, and hunt it down” Psalm 34:14.

It’s a damn good conversation. You’ll be blown away by Jessica. She’s a brave, badass woman! 

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesophagitis #chronicillness #deconvert #emptythepews #exvangelical #psalm34:14 

 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8739294)

Unknown Speaker  
Welcome to women beyond faith, where we are finding freedom on the other side, one story at a time. For women who have walked away from faith, the challenges are often overwhelming, isolated, abandoned by family, misunderstood by partners, ostracized by friends, shamed for thinking critically, cursed for speaking out subdued by the patriarchy. Thank you for joining us today, as we provide a platform for women to speak up, to speak out and to share their stories, because their stories count their stories.

Leah  
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, Leah here with you today. And I have the extreme pleasure of having Jessica with us. Good morning, Jessica.

Unknown Speaker  
Good morning. How you doing today?

Unknown Speaker  
I am all right. Good. Good. Good. Good. So

Leah  
it's a cold Friday morning here in Ohio. And I know you're in a different part of Ohio. That's even further north. So I'm sure it's even colder. Yes. by you and I get just keep saying like spring has got to be right around the corner.

Unknown Speaker  
Where I'm in Northeast Ohio, so we get all the lake effect stuff. And

Unknown Speaker  
it's just brutal. Yeah,

Leah  
I grew up in like the Buffalo New York area.

Unknown Speaker  
Oh, oh,

Leah  
I know about that lake. lake effect snow stuff.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah.

Leah  
Actually, yesterday, the area that I'm from, like, they like shut schools down, like the night before, which is such an unusual occurrence. Right? Because they've got all the trucks and all the plows up there that unless it's like blizzard conditions they have at it. So anyway, so Jessica, so um, tell me about um, I don't know your your life growing up in a family of Christian fundamentalism. What's your earliest memory, of religion and of church?

Unknown Speaker  
So, yeah, I did grow up in a fundamentalist Christian family. My grandparents, extremely religious Christian. We were going to a very large church in Akron, actually. And I mean, it's got thousands and thousands and thousands of people. And, and they were very involved. Because they have a lot of money. So they were donating a lot of money to the church and so forth. So my grandparents, they helped raise me. So I spent a lot of time at their house as a kid. And they had other grand kids, they have other grandkids too. But they were living overseas as missionary kids. And so I was kind of the the grandkid that was there, that they were able to do things with and spoil and all that kind of stuff. So and so that was kind of my, like, really early, religious type of thing was going to church with them. And being in very involved in church every Sunday, sometimes Wednesdays. And then I started going to a Christian school. And well, I think I started actually, in kindergarten, and then first grade. I started off in a public school, but then and then I was transitioned into a Christian school. And then middle of the year, so yeah, so I grew up in a Christian school, all the way through high school.

Leah  
Wow. And did that Christian school did the theology of it line up pretty closely to the church that you were attending? Yeah, so

Unknown Speaker  
the Christian Schools I went to were non denominational. And the church that I went to was also non denominational, you know, kind of like this. generic, but still a lot of like evangelical, a lot of research, like outreach type of things. A lot of support for missionaries all over the world. You know, lots of lots of classes to participate in.

Unknown Speaker  
So,

Leah  
so you're you your home was caught you live close by your grandparents, it sounds like and Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  
yep. I was about 2030 minutes away. And my dad raised me mostly. So he, my parents had divorced when I was

Unknown Speaker  
little

Unknown Speaker  
early, like, five or so. But my mom had left us when I was three. Okay. Um, so he. So he was kind of tag teaming it with my grandparents. And he did when I was little, he did a lot of work overseas. So I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when he was overseas.

Leah  
Wow. Okay. And like, so I too, as a child spent a lot of time with my fundamental grandparents. And they were like, this rock of stability. And yeah, for sure, because my parents, you know, had a tumultuous relationship as well. They remained married until I went off to college, but, um, my parents in the faith that are my grandparents and the faith that they exuded, right, I attributed to this. This, I gave this piece, I felt this piece when I was in their home, because it was some sort of comfort, and I thought that was due to their religion. Right that in my home of origin we didn't have. And so from an early age, I was kind of like, drawn in that there must be something about this religion thing. This Christianity thing that I was missing and that we were missing it at. At my house. Yeah. So for you was so your dad was religious,

Unknown Speaker  
too? Um, yeah. Like, we went to church. He went to church. And, you know, he was involved as he could be, you know, at my school. And which, you know, Christian fundamentalist, so? Yeah, and I would say, even to this day, he's religious, although he's quiet about it. Um, so, yeah, I mean, he, he definitely has his Christian beliefs. Yeah. The practice, I think is a little off. But, yeah, it's there.

Leah  
Wow. Wow. Okay. So your mom was in and out of your life during these years and your relationship with your grandparents? Was it your mom's parents or your dad's parents?

Unknown Speaker  
I it was my dad's parents. Yeah.

Leah  
And so did you feel close to them? Like, are they people that you trusted and admired and respected? And

Unknown Speaker  
for sure, I had so much chaos going on at home. And so when I was at my grandparents house, you know, just like what you said, is the kind of that stability that that place that you can go to that, you know, is going to be a safe spot. At least that's what you need. At that point in time. You know, like, it's what you need. When you're that age.

Leah  
You need some stability. Yeah. So vasileios Hierarchy of Needs thing, right. physiological needs need to be met our safety needs. Yeah. That Yeah, yeah, sure. And so um, according to the bio you sent me, you know, you struggled with depression and suicidal ideation of at a young age and like Elementary School. Yeah. And so what do you attribute those struggles to?

Unknown Speaker  
So my, my mom, was, is unmedicated bipolar, manic depressive. And she she was in and out of my life a lot. When she was in my life, I don't have any good memories of her. And I don't know if that's because I'm blocking out some things. But the bad memories I have of her there's a lot of domestic violence police officers and You know, physical altercations between her and whoever she was dating or married to at the time. And, and that would be, you know, it would be sporadic. It really depends on how stable the person she was with was. So like, if she was, at one point, she had been married to a bar owner. So he had his own business, and they were married, at least for a couple years. So I would spend every other weekend or, you know, in the summertime weeks at a time with her, at, at the apartment above the bar, okay. Which was, which was interesting. A lot of exposure to a lot of things. You know, like, I was, like, learning how to play pool at, you know, eight years old from, you know, these drunk old dudes, but then going to a Christian school at the, you know, during the week and hearing about, you know, how, how lovely Jesus is, and all that. So, um, so there was like, a lot of weird things happen.

Leah  
So I'm thinking about, like, from your father's perspective at the time, and your grandparents even like that, like, the boundaries set up with allowing your mom Yeah, into your life. So like, how did that that must have been very difficult for your dad to try to know what to do at the time?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. And I think he was pretty focused on just supplying a mother for me. And I think he felt like a mom was better than No, mom. I tend to disagree. Um, but yeah, I'm sure it was difficult for him to know what to do. However, I also wasn't really terribly forthcoming about what was going on. So he didn't

Leah  
really know the, the crazy Cuckoo.

Unknown Speaker  
I mean, he, he was definitely aware that she had crazy moments and crazy things. I don't know if he is even to this day, aware of how much I had been exposed to, right. It was just never. I don't really ever recall talking about it. And so that played a big part for me, in my suicidal ideation, at, you know, being eight 910. And, you know, standing over a bathroom sink with water running, and I've got my hairdryer going, and I'm thinking, well, it wouldn't be that hard to do. You know, what I mean? Like, all these, just always thinking of a way out, you know? And it was, it was odd. It was and I was never really, I never really talked about it, either. Um, you know, like, I, I remember at one point, I had a guardian ad litem, I had never talked with her about those things. I had never been sent to counseling, or, you know, or therapy or anything as a kid. And my dad also too, has a big temper. So, like, there, there were times when it would be a little terrifying for me as well. as, you know, being in the house with him when he's got this big temper and, you know, punching a hole in the wall or, you know, having to pick up a glass that he shattered or, you know, whatever. It was always just me kind of like, picking things up. It doesn't matter if I was with my mom or with my dad, there was just always something and then he was dating, I think. And he had gotten remarried when I was 10, I believe. Okay. So, and that was a whole other thing that really played into this, you know, these suicidal thoughts.

Leah  
Right, because at that time, he he was spending more time and energy with This other woman was other person and, and I can assume that maybe made you feel even more isolated. And yeah,

Unknown Speaker  
I you know, like I can remember he would go out on a date and I would be at home by myself when I was nine. I, you know, just kind of sit there in front of the TV on a Friday, Saturday night. And you know, and he's out on a date, which I didn't think of anything of it. Oh, yeah. You know, I mean, it was just, that's just what parents do. Right?

Unknown Speaker  
I don't know. I, it was just my mind. Right. I mean, whatever.

Leah  
Figure out how the world works like, I don't know.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, you know, it's all it's all weird to me. I guess this is just how it is. Except for my friends at school. Their life wasn't like that. Yeah, that.

Leah  
And so like, during this time, like, like, How were your grandparents like interacting? And like looking out for you? I don't mean.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, I don't, I never shared anything with them about stuff. I was many times told not to. I was many times told not to say, say what I, you know, share what I wanted to share, I share about these things that were happening. Because I don't know I probably backlash my my grandparents. Were. My, my grandfather passed away years ago, but my grandmother's still around, and they're filthy rich. So I think some of it too, just had to do with my dad wanting to maintain a Yeah, an image of, you know, what I mean, you know, so he wouldn't be cut off from the family. Right? And, and we're talking about, you know, a guy who has two perfect sisters who are missionaries. And, you know, and kids and stable marriage. And here's my dad, who very much feels like the black sheep in the family, who has given birth to a well, he didn't give birth obby. But he's got a kid who's also a black sheep. So, you know, it's just, I think it was just very much him trying to maintain this.

Leah  
Yeah, gosh, and in that for you, right? You ended up being taught and told to be quiet? And yeah, not share your heart or be truthful with others about your intuitions. And yeah, and that's, that's tough stuff. And it seems like I mean, I'm just getting to know you, but it sure seems like you've, you've learned over the years that that wasn't the best way to live life, and that you've learned how to do those things and to speak up for yourself and for your children.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, so I tend to be pretty vocal nowadays. Um, you know, much to people's dismay, I suppose. I but I, there's a reason for it. Um, you know, I, I don't like being kept in the dark. I don't like also, not being able to ask questions. I don't like, trying to hide things. Mm hmm. And it's, it. Obviously, there's a difference between things that are very personal, you know, like, I'll share them with people who are close to me or whatever, but, but I'm also you know, like, I'm not going to actively try and hide thing. Yeah, no, no,

Leah  
I mean, we did that for too long. Yeah. For me what and what? No good comes of keeping things in the dark, you know, like, like, there's nothing positive about that. We're just protecting abusers. Yeah. You know, like, there's nothing good about that. And so I applaud you, and your bravery for for finding your voice and for and for being authentically, you know, it's, um, it's an inspiration. And I and I have the pleasure of working with I have two teenage daughters and a well, no longer teen I have an 18 year old, a 21 year old and a 23 year old son. And, you know, when I look at them, like, I don't want them to be quiet about who they are, but what they believe to be true about the world like it seems just such a terrible way to live and Yeah, so we're changing the world slowly but surely, at a time, one woman at a time,

Unknown Speaker  
places we got to give birth to those changes apparently.

Leah  
Literally and figuratively.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. Amen. The born and blood.

Unknown Speaker  
So you

Leah  
in high school, were still involved in the church and at your Christian school? And were there any doubts about your Christianity or your faith during those years?

Unknown Speaker  
No, actually, I had a lot of questions I'd never doubted. I had a lot of questions that I knew could be answered. I just needed to find the right people to answer them. Okay, people who knew what the hell they were talking about. So I thought, you know what I mean? It kind of more of that searching for some stability, you know, when everything is going to shit. So I yeah, I never, I don't remember ever really questioning? Yeah. Whether or not the gospel was true. I mean, if it was true, for sure.

Leah  
You knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was true.

Unknown Speaker  
Absolutely. Um, and you know, and the benefit to that is having stability is having that foundation, that's a rock, you know, I that no matter what shit I went through, over the weekend with my mom, or the abuse that I went through with step mom, or all that kind of stuff, I no matter what, there was always the gospel, there was always God, there was always Jesus that was always going to be there no matter what, right? So no, I definitely did not.

Leah  
And so were you able to find that, like, these questions that you had? Not the doubts, but the questions, were you able to find people that could give you quality? answers?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, eventually. So in high school, you know, I had transferred to a Christian high school that a lot of kids that I had grown up with also transferred to, um, so which was kind of nice, I guess, for me, and in the fact that, you know, I wasn't losing some of my friends, right. So, and we're talking about private school in a private Christian school here. So it's not like you just go to the same district. I mean, this. The school was a good half hour from initially from where I lived. And yeah, I'm sorry, what was your question? So? Yeah, sorry.

Leah  
So like finding people who could answer those questions.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. So um, I had started marching bands, I was a trumpet player. And for eight years, I was there. And I was good. And I started taking private lessons with a trumpet teacher there at the school, who had turned down a position at the Cleveland Orchestra to teach kids here at this Christian school. And he was very religious, for sure. He was teaching Bible classes. So by the time I got to 10th grade, and I was taking a Bible Bible course with him, and we had to every semester we were in a Bible course. When I was taking them with him, he, we were already very familiar with each other, you know, because I was having private lessons and, and he was my marching band teacher, and, you know, all this stuff. So he started talking to the students about the Jewish roots of Jesus. And I was like, Well, shit, that makes sense. You know, that makes a lot of sense. And, you know, talking about the geography of Israel, and how that was able to shape the history and the culture. And, you know, back in Jesus's day, and beforehand, or you know, all this stuff, and it just clicked with me and a lot of the questions that I had, were able to be answered, You know, I finally You know, okay, I get some clarity to some of this stuff because it's not making sense. I know there's an answer. There's got to be an answer. Um, yeah. So he, I, when I say I clicked with it, I mean, it was like a deep like soul clicking. And I he recognized that in me, so he invited me to go with him and a group of people to Israel. So it's a scholarly tour. And one of the one of the best biblical scholars in Israel is a very Jewish dude who took us all around Israel to all these different biblical sites and, and Roman sites and such. And that summer between my 10th and 11th grade year, a lot of stuff fell into place for me as far as getting my questions answered. Wow. It was it was really a very deeply personal and eye opening thing for me at that point.

Leah  
Mm hmm. And was it I mean, also just comforting to you like to be able to kind of put some answers together for the questions that you had and like, bring some stability into your life that you hadn't had before or what what did it do to you emotionally to be secure that you had now found these answers?

Unknown Speaker  
I think what it did was give me some direction you know, I was feeling pretty directionless, aimless in my, you know, in my walk with Jesus, right? Feeling even though like I was like, I had been to charismatic churches with my mom, which are a whole nother thing. Holy crap. You know, Ben to those, you know, I'd been slain in the spirit and I had, you know, been in doubt with what is that? Speaking in Tongues? tongues? Yeah, and, you know, all this stuff. So, really, very genuine. Like, I cannot stress this enough. Like, if there's a if there's a Christian to the world, like, it's me like I'm

Unknown Speaker  
I'm super Christian.

Unknown Speaker  
Give me a cape.

Leah  
Amen. Sister. How many of us at some, how many of us found our way out of faith? that at some point, yeah. Gosh, I've, I've got it figured out. Yeah, many,

Unknown Speaker  
many.

Leah  
I know how you should then live. Yeah, yeah. And what I mean, like, it's interesting, because like, for me, one of the things early on that kind of fucked with my stability, was the fact that there were so many different brands of Christianity that were all doing things differently and had different ways of going about worshiping Jesus. So here you have this introduction to charismatic church, via your mom, your non denominational church, your grandparents and your dad. And now this Jewish version of Christianity. Yeah. And so like it, like, Did you feel like you had just finally found your this was the way that you were supposed to worship? God Almighty?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. And I and logically, it made sense. Because, you know, here, you've got Jesus, and he's saying all this stuff, and you're like, what the hell is he talking about? Because, you know, he's in a very specific time in a very specific place and, you know, a very specific culture. And, you know, there wasn't really meant for our ears, right? I mean, and then to be introduced to all these other factors that you don't find in the Bible. You know, you don't you don't find it in the Bible. You find it in Israel when you're staring at the same thing that you know, Jesus stared at and, and you're, I mean, it's, it's just totally it's, it's totally different. And I got really angry actually with her. I got really angry with American Christianity. I mean, I still am but for totally different reasons. You know, I just very angry with American Christianity because it was like, there's a verse in the Bible talking about milk and meat. And and to me American Christianity was all about just drinking milk and there was graduation to meet, you know, there's there was no there was no umph to it. You could fake all the own few want, but it just wasn't there. So. But by the time I gotten to Israel and such Well, I found that. Wow.

Leah  
So how long were you in Israel, that first time you went?

Unknown Speaker  
So I think that first tour was a little over two weeks. And I had come back for my 11th grade year and fired up all that stuff. And I started challenging my Bible teachers. Ah, oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  
Which,

Unknown Speaker  
yeah, I, you know, like I was doing excellent Jesus. And in 11th, grade on different passages, and I was cut God, I was bringing in all kinds of like history and geographical facts and cultural facts. And my and my Bible teacher at the time was, like, didn't know what to do with it. Because even though like he was working with, you know, his coworker was the person who taught me about all this stuff. Um, there was a real disconnect. Between that party, you know, that particular teacher and, you know, my other Bible teachers after that, so there was just a real big disconnect.

Leah  
So they didn't know what to do with you.

Unknown Speaker  
You, oh, I had red marks all over my exit Jesus.

Unknown Speaker  
Let me tell you,

Leah  
gosh, and

Unknown Speaker  
yeah, and these are people who like went to seminary. And so right now, so

Leah  
some of these answers to these questions, you're probably like,

Unknown Speaker  
these are simple questions that can be easily answered. If you just go back to you know, where the hell Jesus was, you know, like, come on.

Leah  
Oh, my gosh, doesn't that just kind of point to I interviewed April, a couple of weeks ago, and she kind of went through a similar journey to you. And that, you know, she was, you know, fundamental Christian, and then she became a Messianic Jew. And then she became Jewish. And like, at one point, she was like, making charts. Like, she was studying this so intensely, right, the history and the Scripture and the Torah, all this stuff. And she was like, making charts that she was taking into show like her pastor, and like, the leaders of the church, say, like, no, look at like, you know, no, this is the way it is. And she was accused of making, or what would they call her? a cult chart maker or something like that, right? I gave her this, like you are a cult chart maker. But like, it's very difficult when those who are supposed to be an authority over you and know more than you do. Who don't even have the basic fundamentals of what it means to be a Christian, whatever the hell that means, but

Unknown Speaker  
right, it is a wide interpretation. As it turns out, yeah, I don't know if you know this, but

Unknown Speaker  
Oh, God.

Leah  
So you, you went back to Israel then was at the next summer?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. So then I went to Israel, again, for my second tour between 11th and 12th grade. And that was a much different trip for me. Because I had gone through a very, a very difficult time. I, at one point in my 11th grade year. And I had moved out of my house, from my father and I had moved in with my grandmother. And a man, it was just it was a very difficult time and and during my 11th grade year or so, I got involved with a family outside of my high school outside of my normal Christian world who were very religious as well. And I wouldn't say I wouldn't say religious, they're very spiritual. And they, the husband of that family had actually gone with me on my first tour to Israel. Wow. So that was how I knew him, okay. And he has like, nine kids or something like that I just a big family and, and his wife was like, the shit like she was just awesome. And I had been starving for family. Right. And they welcomed me with open arms. I mean, so I was over. Like, most kids my age and 11th grade were like going to the movies or, you know, going out to eat with their friends and you know, doing like, normal 11th grade type of stuff. And here I am. On the weekends, like right after my marching bands, you know, Friday night football night, and I'm driving 45 minutes out to their house to spend the weekends and we would like we would hang out we would. I was very close with the parents. I was not with the kids. I was kind of indifferent about the kids. all nine of them. Yeah, there's a lot of kids Jesus, um, and, but the parents I was really close with, and they were very welcoming. And I just had a lot of love for them. Because they gave me what I needed at that time. Um, which, you know, was love. I mean, they really did. Yeah, wow. Yeah, so I, they, I don't know. You know, we would like on a Friday, Saturday night, we would listen to some gospel music and read the Bible. And, you know, I'd be slain in the spirit. All this kind of stuff. And it eventually got to the point where I was able to open up more about some of the stuff that had happened to me. Uh huh. And, and I opened my mouth up to the wrong people. Oh, and it turned into a whole thing where I ended up moving out, wow, from my dad's and moved in with my grandmother for a little while. And, and I have part of the bargain, I suppose. To move past mm is events was that I give up this family, because there were concerns that they were brainwashing me. And which was heartbreaking. It was very emotional time. So I had given up that family, because they said it's give up the family, or you don't go to Israel for the second tour, and it was I didn't know what to do. I mean, I'm, I'm How old am I? I'm 1616 something. Right. I mean, this is totally new for me. I mean, and I, my heart's desire is, you know, to go back to Israel to get my questions answered. And to really experience to really experience God. Right. And,

Unknown Speaker  
yeah, I did what I had to do at that point, and I gave that family

Unknown Speaker  
terrible choice you were confronted with

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. And so when I, when I gave up that family, I had emailed them one last time, and I said, you know, don't worry, I'll be back. I'll be back. But, you know, till I go through with the second tour to Israel, and everything and and then so I went on that second toward Israel. And I had a, I had very, it was just a very different kind of trip for me because of the stuff that had happened. And at that point, for some reason, butterflies really were a thing in my life, like, for some reason, butterflies would like show up at certain points. I don't know why I look back on it. And I'm pretty sure that I was like, holy.

Unknown Speaker  
I don't know. I don't know. It could be anything at this point.

Unknown Speaker  
So, um, and you know, I'm standing there in Israel, and I'm looking out over mosquito Valley and northern Israel. And you know, in the Bible, mosquito Valley is where Armageddon takes place. And it's in like, historically miguelito is a very bloody place. I mean, you're talking, like thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who have died in this valley, this mosquito Valley, like over the course of, of, you know, thousands of years, because of the way the land is shaped. You know, like, you go the path of least resistance, which is that valley. And so a lot of people were killed. And here I am, standing looking over this valley, and I see like this white butterfly, like, go across in it, and I just burst into tears. And the lady who had had the tour, I was very close with her, she was a mentor of mine. And she, you know, was just kept hugging me, she knew what was happening, what was going on. And, you know, she had a lot of love for me for sure. And all this stuff that was happening, so and it was just a, at that point, like, it was a very spiritual moment. For me, it was very genuine. And it hit me in a way that my previous toward Israel never had. Because you know, it for me, it was about perspective. You know, so I'm looking over mosquito Valley, and you have all these, all this historical bloodbath that goes on there. And at that point, it was, and at the point that I was standing there, the valley is just lush and green and beautiful. I mean, it's just gorgeous. And they like, do a lot of farming there. And, you know, cuz farming and blood is great. And I don't know. Anyway. So it had offered to me a new perspective on the situation that I had gone through. And yeah,

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