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My Story: Masked to Truefaced

My Story: Masked to Truefaced

Robin Sampson has written several homeschool and Bible study books see them here. 


I reveal a deep, dark  past in this post—trusting God and others with who I really am. This was extremely difficult to share but I feel God wanted me to be open and transparent. The entire truth is not revealed as I must protect the innocent. But much of the story is here. We all wear masks, not only to make ourselves look good, but we are often motivated by a sincere desire to make God look good. The authors of a book entitled TrueFaced (Bill Thrall, John Lynch, and Bruce McNicol) explain that Christians wear masks because of sin—either sins committed by us or sins committed against us. If the sin is ours, the response is guilt. If the sin is against us, the response is guilt, hurt, shame, blame, fear, denial and anger.

I wore a mask for both reasons.

Living behind a mask makes me feel like I’m doing okay, but the mask is bondage to sin and shame. To live without the mask is to be known to God and others. Without the mask I can walk in the light and be loved for who I am. It is powerful and freeing.

The Truth Does Set Us Free

I am a recovering codependent and survivor of a narcissistic abuse. Codependents have a tendency to get involved in abusive painful relationships with people who are unreliable and emotionally unavailable. I’m still in the process of turning these details over to God and allowing Him to purge me of the sin and pain. Most of my life I have run on a performance treadmill, attempting to earn love and acceptance from God and others. The result has been a mess.

“We will never please God through our efforts to become godly. Rather, we will only please Godand become godlywhen we trust God.” TrueFaced


Rebellious Childhood

The development of codependence has its roots in dysfunctional family systems and occurs over a fairly long period of time. I did not know about codependency and narcissism until I was in my fifties. My childhood was difficult. Due to family illness I was left alone, and as a result I was sexually abused by different non-family members beginning at age 5. It lasted over a decade. The shaggy hairstyles, bell-bottoms, rock and roll, make-love-not-war Seventies welcomed my rebellious spirit, and my life became even more broken and littered with hurts, failures, and mistakes. I smoked pot and experimented with other drugs. Each summer I spent time with my sweet godly grandmother who faithfully planted spiritual seeds in me. I saw Jesus in her love, and as a result I longed for my own relationship with God, and talked to Him often.

Seeking Acceptance in Religion

jAfter a few years of teenage rebellion, due to my grandmother’s influence I became a Christian and got involved in the Salvation Army and Young Life. I deeply wanted to follow Christ but continued to battle shame and guilt.

Married at 17

I married at 17.  My husband was a drug addict and a pathological liar. I had three adorable little girls in five years. I love babies and toddlers. We didn’t have much materially but my hands and heart were full. I was either breast feeding or pregnant during our seven-year marriage. I was determined to raise my children in a Christian home.

In my zeal I went from the life of a sinner to a religiholic (a workaholic is preoccupied with work; I was preoccupied with legalistic religion). We moved to North Carolina to be near my grandmother.

Steeped in Legalism

We joined a small, legalistic, independent fundamentalist Baptist church (IFB) and went every time the door was open. (“We,” meaning the children and me; my husband did not attend.) I kept the nursery during church and taught Sunday school. It was one of those churches where if you missed a Wednesday prayer meeting you’d better be really sick or you got condemning looks and attitudes. I wasn’t fed much spiritually at church because I was busy earning love and approval watching children. But I was learning about the Bible at home. I had a deep desire to read the Bible and began buying devotionals and Christian books. I asked question of the pastor reading through the Old Testament. I always got the same answer “the Old Testament was done away with.” Church attendance and Bible studies were duties. I tried to control our family with my lists of Christian rules, and I sincerely thought I was on the right path, but my artificial rules and regulations sucked the love of God out of our family. My husband was rejected by the church members. On one of the rare occasions when he came to church with us (twice), the second time he went forward for the altar call but was told he could not join the church until he proved himself. He was so embarrassed he never came back to church. After that he had several affairs, and finally abandoned us when I was pregnant with our fourth child. I filed for divorce a year later, and we didn’t see him for the next fifteen years. His children never had any relationship with their father except one daughter who got to know him a few years before he died in 2012. I was completely rejected by the church I had served for five years. I was told I had not been submissive enough to my husband. It was a small church and I think they were afraid to have a single pregnant mother with three children and no income. After the divorce, the churches we visited over the next few years were either afraid of us or were too legalistic for a divorced mother. After several rejections, I stopped trying to find a church. (For more see IFB Flowchart and IFB Common Practices).

How Christian Legalism Leads to a Culture of Sexual Abuse

 

Single Mother with Four Children and No Support

I was left to raise four children without child support for the next six years. I was desperate to feed my children, and did the best I could. I empathize with the millions of single mothers in America who struggle to feed their children every day. I supported our family with waitress jobs and selling Tupperware. I met a man who knew my grandmother from church. We dated briefly and then married. He had custody of his three teenage children and I had a newborn and three children under five. It was a disaster, and the marriage ended after seven months when I found out he was having an affair. Two failed marriages by the age of 25 meant more guilt and shame. I moved back to Florida from North Carolina and struggled to make ends meet. I worked several waitress jobs at the same time, and even got a job in a nightclub for a while.

We slept on mattresses on the floor, ate our meals off a cardboard box, skipped many meals, and collected soda bottles from ditches to buy medicine. We lived in a two-bedroom duplex (we did not qualify for welfare because I had boys and girls, and we needed at least three bedrooms.) The church never helped me. We usually had no electricity and often had no water because I didn’t make enough to pay our basic bills (we pretended we were camping with candles). We never had any furniture and could barely afford clothes and shoes from the Goodwill store. I used an ice chest to keep food cold, and filled up empty milk jugs with water from nearby church spigots in the middle of the night so we could flush the toilets. My rent was always late.

Homeless

A few weeks of the children having the flu cost me two weeks’ work. Two weeks without pay resulted in an eviction notice. As I was preparing our old rusted-out car to be our new home, packing our few belongings and making beds in the seats, my neighbor saw me crying in the driveway and asked questions. She told me about a nearby Christian children’s home that could help us. She wasn’t a Christian but she offered help.

Children’s Home

I was devastated. I had never been away from my children overnight except when I was in the hospital having a baby. I can’t tell you how painful this was for me. My neighbor took me to meet the directors of the children’s home, the Blues, who were loving, caring people. I had to choose between living in a car or leaving my children until I could find a safe home for us. In October 1980 I reluctantly left my children at Central Florida Children’s home.

The Blues were wonderfully sympathetic Christians and charged me an incredibly low rate to feed and house my children each week, but it was still the worst day of my life. After I had placed my children into the children’s home. I drove to a park and screamed at God, “You said you would provide for my needs, and now you’ve taken my babies!” I cried hysterically for hours…but the next day I realized He had answered my daily prayer, “God, give my children a Christian home.” It was hard to understand at the time, but it was a blessing that godly people were caring for my children and they were attending a Christian school while I had a chance to get back on my feet.

Police Academy

My generous, sweet friend JoAnn let me move in with her and her mom. I joined the Orlando Police Academy. I was a scrawny 100 lbs, but I made it through the academy. Once I became a police officer, I had the opportunity to work off-duty jobs for extra income. I could only visit my children on the weekends. I worked 80–120 hours a week as a police officer, sometimes not sleeping for two or three days, but I was able to save enough money to rent a house with JoAnn and get my children back home before the end of the year, after being separated from them for five months.

Family Again

Once I got the children back in 1981, I still had to work at least eighty hours a week to pay for childcare for the four of them. I was exhausted for years, going from one job to another, and back and forth to different babysitters. We struggled for the next five years, but we did okay. I saved enough money to buy a small home in Pine Hills, Florida. We had a bit of normalcy—at least for a family of four children and a single mother with several jobs. I took every extra job I could find, but there was still never quite enough money to live on. It was a continual stress and struggle.  One trip to the dentist or car repair shop put us behind again. In the sixth year of being single I was faced with foreclosure on our home. Childcare for four was more than my salary (why I worked three jobs) I could only get ahead with help. I called Louise Blue at the children’s home and she arranged for my children to stay again for a few months until I could get back on my feet. In 1985 my children returned to the children’s home for a few months. I’ll never forget the day I told them they would have to go back to the home for a while. The look in their eyes haunts me to this day.

Remarried

Soon after, I met an older man who knew I was desperate to get my children back and he offered to marry me. I married him due to my exhaustion and desperation, not out of love. I told him I did not love him, but he said it was okay, I would grow to love him. He promised to take us to church and put the children in a Christian school, so I agreed to marry him in April 1985. I was grateful to have my children back and for the security of knowing I could feed and house them.

Instead of trusting God, however, I trusted a man to solve my problems,
and my sin had a domino effect on many people’s lives.

Homeschooling

We started attending a mid-size, balanced Southern Baptist church in Florida. Our pastor led my husband in the prayer of salvation. I believe my husband was sincere, and he was baptized that week. A year later, because of my husband’s business, we moved to Tennessee.

We placed the children in a private independent Baptist fundamental Christian school in 1986. Many of the other children were in the school because they had been kicked out of public school. Because the socialization was so negative and my six-year-old son was struggling to learn to read, we made the decision to homeschool. Eventually people from our church in Tennessee asked me to speak about raising children and homeschooling. Here is a photo after I spoke on Mother’s Day (with my girls and my sweet grandmother). 

Our Homeschool Story is here. Homeschooling was very rare in 1987 but growing. I started traveling to give workshops in various churches in the surrounding areas to help people start homeschooling. I had three more children and worked hard toward my goal of becoming like the Proverbs 31 woman (a wife of noble character). I taught my children at home, sewed all their clothes, baked bread, and taught the girls to sew, smock, quilt, cook and clean. I was grateful for my children, a home, and food.

We joined a balanced Assembly of God church. I have fond memories of the close fellowship we experienced for over five years. We made many friends there that I still have today. The only negative was our experience with a liberal youth group that planted seeds of rebellion in my teenage girls.

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This is a photo of my first seven children (see family photos from the 80s here). We were happy in our church. All of us were very active and involved, and life was good—at least I thought so—for a while.

Homeschool Business

I wanted to teach my children about running a business, so they started selling books in the back of the room when I spoke about homeschooling. Our little homeschool business grew rapidly. The children helped me send out newsletters and catalogs. My husband had a roadside real estate office, so I asked if we could sell books there. Our first store was about 500 square feet. The little store did well.

I cut and pasted photos of my favorite books and made a catalog in MS Word and began mailing them out. Orders came in and we ran out of room so we turned our barn into a shipping department.

After a few years my husband started helping with our homeschool business, and we moved from Knoxville to Nashville and rents a 2,000 square foot building, part of it was a retail store the back was the shipping department. It grew. All of the children worked at the store and we hired employees.

One of the best thing I ever did was have the children work in the stores as they all grew up to become business owners. In the state of Tennessee you must register with the state or a Christian school in order to homeschool legally, so we began Family Christian Academy (a homeschool umbrella school). In five years the business grew to six homeschool stores in three states, a catalog business, and the school had six thousand students. I was determined to work hard and protect my children from the evil influences of the world.

 

Patriarchy Homeschooling

We were in a patriarchal community (patricentric movement) in its infancy, which has since grown to have a huge presence in homeschool conferences, online forums, and catalogs. Homeschooling in the patriarchal way brought in man-made rules and regulations (females always wearing dresses, men having “full quivers,” baking our own bread instead of buying ready-made, the right number of school hours, submissive daughters doing anything to please their fathers, etc.). I had new rules to follow too—and I thought that maybe this time I could get it right, and I was willing to work hard to do it. At this point I thought our marriage had normal ups and downs but I felt I never could please my husband.

I read all the books I could find on marriage and parenting in hopes of fixing all the problems that resulted from our involvement in the patriarchy movement. Ninety-five percent of their goals are good, but there is also a very extreme and dangerous emphasis on submission, and a “work harder” mentality that is a breeding ground for legalism and abuse. false_teachingI truly believed I was on the right path, but the “fruit” I produced proved otherwise. I lost my temper a lot, among other things, and when my children hit their teenage years they rebelled.

Joining a Cult

My husband was an Italian from Rochester NY. He met an out of work Italian fundamentalist Baptist pastor from his home town. They had much in common—mainly they were both control freaks. Family Christian Academy needed a pastor in order to be legal, so my husband joined forces with the Italian pastor. My husband supplied the building and administrative management while the pastor preached. I was completely against the association and made it clear that I felt he was a cult leader, but I was overruled. This is when our family really began to go downhill. Together they created a King James Only church. The teachings there were insane.

They actually believed any Bible other than the KJV version was from Satan. When another version such as NIV was mentioned from the pulpit, men in the church would scream, “Burn it!” My husband didn’t even believe in KJV-only teachings, but he loved the doctrines of female submission and women being quiet in the church. The pastor was as controlling as my husband. We weren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom during services. Our family relationships spiraled downhill rapidly. Looking good from the outside became much more important than loving one another.

“It is a grave disservice to the heart, soul, body and spirit of a woman when she is given the subtle message that the truth of her own pain is not as important as the reputation of the ones who inflict it.” —Quivering Daughters

images (2)I tolerated the rejection, belittling, and constant name-calling by my husband because I was a submissive wife. He used the Bible to justify the abuse. After my seventh child was born, my husband became furious because I had gained a lot of weight, and often told me he did not love me.

All of his focus went to my three young daughters, promoted and encouraged by the patriarchal movement. The women-stay-at-home movement encourages young girls to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry.  Most people outside of our family thought my eldest daughter was married to my husband. It was sick and it was wrong.

My husband discouraged my daughters from marriage completely because he needed my daughters to work in our business, but eventually some of my daughters rebelled and ran off to get married anyway. Teaching that young women cannot leave their father’s home unless they are marrying is going beyond Scripture and focusing on man-made rules. For more on the Patriarchy/ Patricentricity movement see Thatmom PodcastThemommaknows.com, or QuiveringDaughters.com and How Christian Legalism Leads to a Culture of Sexual Abuse

I lived in deep denial. My closest friend once told me, “If being in denial was an Olympic sport, you would be a gold medalist!

My formula for coping with the dysfunctional mess went something like this:

  • Step 1: Denial (Pretend there is no problem or pretend I don’t feel the way I feel).
  • Step 2: See some of the problem, blame myself, wallow in shame.
  • Step 3: Work harder, try harder, eat more to comfort myself.
  • Step 4: Fail.
  • Step 5: Blame myself, wallow in shame.
  • Step 6: Lose it. Eat more.
  • Step 7: Blame myself for losing it, wallow in shame.
  • Step 8: Emotional collapse.

 

Workaholism

In trying to fix our family, I ignored the cultic influence of the church because I couldn’t change it, and just kept trying harder. I studied my Bible at home and had Bible study with the children but I also passed down to my children unhealthy habits of performing to earn love and acceptance.

Instead of teaching the love of God, I taught them (more by my actions, not my words) how to run on the performance treadmill and jump through behavioral hoops taught by patriarchal man-made rules instead of God’s Word. I was extremely critical of myself and others. While I was running on the treadmill I had a judgmental attitude toward anyone who wasn’t on the same treadmill I was on. I worked on the outside instead of the inside, and externally we appeared to be a godly family, but internally each of us was unraveling. We began to live like two separate families.

My husband took my older children to work with him at eight in the morning and didn’t return home until after eleven each night, working them for fifteen hours a day. They spent the day either in the bookstore or in the shipping department, while I stayed home with the youngest children, homeschooling and writing.

My husband and I argued daily. I was so frustrated; our entire lives were so focused on making money that we no longer had a family, just a work crew. I was very distraught that my husband treated my oldest daughter more like a wife than a daughter. They went out to restaurants almost nightly while I stayed home. He often took her on trips and bought her jewelry. He never bought me birthday gifts but often bought her gifts like  a diamond bracelet for her birthday.

I called our pastor for counseling. Counseling was really strange. My oldest daughter (in her twenties), my husband and I went together because the pastor was also concerned about my husband’s relationship with her. My husband cunningly turned every accusation of his inappropriate relationship with my daughter into an accusation about my anger. It was not productive. Eventually even the pastor suggested that my husband choose me or my daughter. My husband told me to pack my bags.

How Christian Legalism Leads to a Culture of Sexual Abuse

Divorce and PAS

The marriage ended in a messy divorce in 1998. I can never fully describe the impact the divorce had on our family. Divorce causes deep emotional pain and everyone involved wants to blame someone. Any military man will tell you that the way to pull a divided group together is to give them a common enemy. Thats’s what my ex-husband did. He insidiously turned each of my children against me by making me out to be the enemy—and I gave him the ammunition. This is known as Parent Alienation Syndrome. It is an insidious form of child abuse resulting in decades of pain. 514_400x400_NoPeelAlmost twenty years after my first four children had been in a children’s home, my ex-husband used that event in our divorce papers to try to get custody of our three young children. It didn’t work, but it tore me apart—he knew my hot button and used it.

He never spent more than ten minutes a day with our youngest children, yet when we divorced he fought for custody—and I was shocked. We settled on joint custody. My ex-husband convinced my oldest daughter—his step-daughter—that it was her biblical duty to live with him and care for the youngest children when they had them three and a half days a week. He used her for the next fifteen years to cook, clean, care for his children, and run the homeschool business. She never dated until she was 39 years old.

My ex brainwashed every one of my children.  I was falsy accused for over ten years and didn’t even know the lies were being told. By the time I found out it was almost impossible for them to accept truth. To this day, one of them deals with false memories (even when we show them photos and documents to show they are false.) Years of toting children back and forth between families, re-opening wounds with every trip, was horrible. I was angry and bitter and fought weekly with my ex. I poured myself into work—I schooled the children and then wrote curriculum for sometimes up to ten hours a day. I repeatedly forgave my ex-husband and prayed regularly for him for many years. He had also grown up in a very dysfunctional family, and hurt people hurt people.

Re-Marriage, More Children

In 1999, I married a man who had two adult daughters, and together we had two more children, so together we have eleven children and fourteen grandchildren.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Heb 12:2)

Sin Summary, i.e., Unmasked

What gives me, a divorcee, the right to write about God?  My past includes rebellious teenage years, failed marriages, and judgmental legalism. I am a sinner. I have asked for forgiveness from God and my family. God has mercifully forgiven me, and some of my family has forgiven me, for which I am grateful. Should Christians who have been forgiven have to endure the results of their sin? Yes, sometimes. Forgiveness and consequences are not opposite ends of a spectrum. Together they establish an essential part of the Lord’s plan for believers. Consequences are circumstantial.

My wrecked relationship with several of my children—the most painful thing I have ever experienced—is a direct consequence of my sinful choices. I’ve repented and apologized repeatedly for those many years that I was wrapped up in spiritual self-reliance and cheated them of the joy of life in union with Christ.

My of my children have forgiven me except one who I pray for fervently. She was the quiet one, deeply damaged. I believe with everything in me she will heal one day.

The rest of us are extremely close have a good relationship but we are all still in a healing process. One of my consequences is watching my adult children struggle with the aftermath of our broken family. If you have known the pain of a divorce, you have felt a small portion of the pain you feel when you are rejected by a child.

If I wrote a book about our lives I would title it “Separate Realities” because we all have such drastically different views of what happened. My children know I love them. But it took years of un-brainwashing. To the right is a photo from a family get-together that my husband and daughters planned as a surprise for me in 2011.

Consequences

Despite my desire and efforts to obey God and forgive my ex-husband, the bitterness and anger I carried toward him resulted in heart disease and other health problems. I had open heart surgery at the age of 51 and three more heart surgeries in the next five years. Sin has consequences, but God uses His grace through sin’s consequences to draw us closer to Him!

Moving from Religion to Relationship

I made a lot of mistakes, but I can say, as God as my witness, I have never met anyone that has sacrificed more for their children, and everything I have been through has brought me into a deeper walk with Him. I am learning to accept that the truth may never be understood this side of Heaven.

 “the change which the writing wrought in me was only a beginning—only to prepare me for the gods’ surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound.” C.S. Lewis

My pain has led me to God. I go to Him with my hurts, cries, frustrations, and anger.

I cry out to You, God in my pain, because You, alone, know me and understand all that is going on around me and in You alone do I look for help. I give You my hurt, confusion, and all the mix of emotions I feel now, and ask for Your mercy and grace. I cry out to you for my children who are grieving as well and claim the power of Your Holy Spirit to minister to them. I thank You, O God, that You are our refuge and strength, our help and our God.”

The Christian life is dwelling in union with Him. I love the way Mike Yaconelli explains this:

Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of spiritual life begins where we are now, in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality; not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and instead seek God, the One who is present in the tangledness of our lives. We need to simply enter His rest and watch the freedom from our mess begin to unfold. As we dwell in union with Him we become transformed into His image, being changed by His glory. Without the Vine to bring nourishing sap to the branch there can be no fruit.

Freedom comes from knowing truth—and the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Freedom does not mean lawlessness. Freedom in union with Him is freedom from shame and not from responsibility. We have a responsibility to submit. God’s Spirit can do His work only as we yield to Him. Jesus came to show us the love of God; when we yield, that love flows through us. Getting off the performance treadmill was a long, complicated, and messy process. I had a lot of shame and misperceptions to overcome.

“God’s ultimate goal is maturing us into who he says we are, and then releasing us into the dreams he designed for us before the world began.”~TrueFaced

The Rest of the Story

I continue dealing with the consequences of my life of sin. It’s a journey; we have come far, and we have far to go. It’s easy to lose focus and rely on working overtime to please God through our good works and righteous behavior, but we can never do it in our own strength.

At the very root of all Christian life lies the thought that God is to do all—that our work is to give and leave ourselves in His hands, in the confession of utter helplessness and dependence, in the assured confidence that He gives all we need. ”

The great lack of the Christian life is that, even where we trust Christ, we leave God out of the count. Christ came to bring us to God. Christ lived the life of a man exactly as we have to live it. Christ the Vine points to God the Husbandman. As He trusted God, let us trust God, that everything we ought to be and have, as those who belong to the Vine, will be given us from above.” —Andrew Murray, The Secret of God’s Love

Due to the divorce and the many lies my children were told, I was on very shaky ground with several of them for years; but after my ex-husband died in 2013 (no longer here to twist the truth) they have all reconciled with me. I will always regret missing precious years of some of my grandchildren’s childhood.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. —1 Corinthians 4:5

I still struggle daily but God reminds me how much He loves me and that I can rest in His strength. He reminds me that He used David, the woman at the well, and even a stubborn donkey—and He can even use me.

robins_childrenFamily Update

  • My oldest daughter, Belinda, married in 2013 and has two lovely, sweet step-children Victoria and Alex. Belinda (Lori to our family) continues to run Family Christian Academy in Nashville while living in Alabama helping her husband run his restaurant.
  • My second daughter, Rebecca (Well Planned Gal) is mother of five (Jenny, Abby, AnnMarie, John, and JoeJoe) and CEO of HEDUA she designed  (Well Planned Day Planners  for homeschoolers and publisher of Family Home Education Magazine).
  •  robin_sampson_grandchildren
  • My precious third daughter Victoria has gone to Heaven. Nothing I have ever experienced prepared me for the pain of losing a child. She was my best friend. God is walking beside me continuing to heal my broken heart. We sold our small farm and animals in Tennessee and moved to Florida to be near Victoria’s three boys: Stephen, Timothy and Brandon. We now live in Titusville.

vickys boys

  • My oldest son, Danny, lives in Nashville and owns a lawn service company. He has four  beautiful boys, Jordan, Kevin, Matthew and Timothy. (Matthew went to Heaven the day he was born, three months before Vicky, its comforting to know they are together). Danny’s wife Ashlie is a wonderful, loving homeschool mother.
  • My fourth daughter, Regina, is  mother to two  adorable girls Scarlet and Isabell. They live in Nashville.
  • Anthony graduated with honors and received a BS in two years at Full Sail University and now working in graphic design in California.
  • Michael is a security guard at a school for the blind in Nashville.
  • I am still homeschooling David (17) and Christopher (15).

Why Am I Being So Transparent?

  1. God can redeem all the empty, pointless pursuits of my past, which means He can redeem anyone.
  2. When we are open and honest about our messy spirituality, it encourages others who may be feeling that everyone else has it all together.
  3. I trust God is doing something good for all of us. Romans 8:28
  4. I don’t want to wear a mask. I want to be TrueFaced. I want to trust God and others with who I really am. Healthy relationships can exist when you feel free to peel away the mask and become who God created you to be.
  5. Submission does not mean you have to be a doormat. A controlling, abusive marriage in the name of God is an excuse for abuse.

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” ― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

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91 comments

  1. Thank you for such an honest, wonderful post!!!

    littlesanctuary (Kim)’s last blog post..linkage

  2. Ahh, yes…it’s all about relationship vs. religion, isn’t it?

    Sigh…I’m hesitant to tell you how amazing you are, Robin…because I KNOW it is HIM thru you…so, I’ll just say…”thank you” for being so transparent. You don’t HAVE to pour your heart out this way, yet.. you do, and as a result, many are encouraged.

    We ALL need Him…we ALL sin. May we continually give out the love/mercy we’ve been given by Him…the author and finisher of our faith.

    Much Love,

    P*

    Heb. 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;

  3. Wow, Robin!!!!What a post!!!!!

    Very well said. Thank you for being so honest and true. You are a blessing! We need more of these posts in our Christian/Jewish roots communities. I’m sorry you had to live in so much shame from the church, of all of the religions in the world “Christians are the only ones, who murder their wounded” 😳

    “Freedom comes from knowing truth – and the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Freedom does not mean lawlessness. Freedom in Him is freedom from shame and not from responsibility. We have a responsibility to submit. God’s Spirit can do His work only as we yield to Him. Jesus came to show us the love of God; when we yield, that love flows through us.”
    “God took me on this journey to learn of Him through the Hebrew roots of Christianity (which can also turn into legalism if one is out of balance) to prepare me for His plans for me.”

    These two statements are very well said.
    Love and prayers,
    katia

    Katia’s last blog post..May/June flowers

  4. I think this post will bless many… it is rare you hear real testimonies that detail a hard journey rather than the misconceptions through denial. It makes it harder when the reality does not measure up to the ideals that people spread to feel like one can ‘measure up’. Thank you for sharing this.

    Angela’s last blog post..A blink and the week is gone!

  5. Robin,

    Bless your heart…what an amazing post. I’ve walked the path of having been sexually abused and always driven to earn approval. The Lord has rescued and redeemed me. Amen, to all that you’ve written. God is good!

    Yvonne’s last blog post..Heart of the Matter Conference Winner is….

  6. Robin.. I so needed to hear that you’re not perfect, that you too have suffered the pain I’ve suffered.. And to see how God has worked in you, and healed you. I’ve received that same healing.. the touch that I’ve responded to and touched back. – the hurts still keep coming, but when we keep our eyes on Yeshua, and keep walking in his ways – the words of Psalm 62 have impacted me in the last day. I Won’t Be Moved!

    And I can see that you too have heard God’s word, and you too will not be moved.

    Sombra

  7. You are so right, it is our personal relationship with Christ that counts, not a set of rules or performance – it is our total dependence upon Him that we can walk in fellowship with Him and other believers.

    Have you ever read “True Spirituality” by Dr. Francis Schaffer. There is a chapter in there on true guilt and psychological guilt. He happens to be one one my favorite Christian authors. This is a good book to read once a year.

    I wish you continued blessing for you and your family.

  8. Hi Robin,
    I hope your feeling better? I appreciate your post today as your probably the most transparent person I know, your you. One thing is , you remember where you came from….we all should. Right now Im in a situation in my life I feel like Im fighting against the current…no church to go to, churches here have absolutely nothing for kids or teens? My marriage is in trouble due to so many things going on in our home…but I keep the hope and pray that God will intervene. Im tired of pretending it will all go away…Im sorry to per say DUMP, but I would appreciate prayers, Im at the end of my rope. I have been praying for a church, restoration and healing in my family, and for God to help me to be the woman of God and mom he wants me to be.
    I love this blog, as you can get so much encouragement and love here. You have been a blessing to me and boy do things touch home. Praying for you .

  9. Your story is such a testimony to what God really do in someone’s life once they truly give it up to Him. I know that everyone is not perfect and we all struggle. It really disgusts me when the Body of Christ shuns those who need Him most because of the self-righteousness. I pray that He will continue to keep me for being self-righteous and not feeling self-pity for myself.

    Thank you ever so much for all your post. I think you are definitely encouraging and motivating homeschoolers and mothers in the Biblical-lifestyle.

    Love
    MJ

    Miss Jocelyn’s last blog post..Resting In The Arms Of Grace

  10. Tamara Scire

    Thank you for your transparency Robin. I, too, have lived most of my life trying to impress and please others. It has, at many times, been more important to me than God, it was my god. Honestly, as I got to the end of my rope two years ago, I was surfing the internet, asking God to lead me to truth and “magically” your HOW website came up. It was like fresh air.

    God has turned your “ashes” into beauty and glory for Him and He is blessings us through your testimony and the knowledge and truth He has given you.

    I’ve just recently began remembering some sexual abuse that happened to me MANY years ago, I firmly believed that if God didn’t have access to my heart I wouldn’t be able to handle this shocking and horrible truth. But, because He continues to help me and lead me to truth, He also leads me to healing which is exactly what my heart needs. As I take off the cloak of shame, He can then put on the cloak of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Before, my heart was so “black” I didn’t have room for what God had for me.

    Now, He is truly my Savior, not just giving me eternal life but also giving me abundant life here on earth (John 10:10).

    To Him be glory and honor!
    Tamara Scire

  11. Tamara,

    That was beautiful. Thank you for the image of the new cloak.

    Robin @ HeartofWisdom’s last blog post..Working Harder is Not the Answer!

  12. Robin, I have been a reader of your blog for many months now, but was not familiar with much of your testimony. Thank you for sharing. I now have even more reason to admire you and the grace of God which is so evident in your life. God will bless you for sharing your ups and downs with us!

    Candace’s last blog post..Summer Olympics & China lapbook

  13. Beulah

    Hi Robin
    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony and being so real. I forward your story to a couple of friends Shalom to you!

  14. Thank you for writing so humbly, Robin. It is so easy to identify with what you have written and I appreciate your transparency. Thank you for sharing His love. It always amazes me how God takes the hurts in our lives and brings about transformation, not only in our lives but to bless others as well. Thank you. Praying you are feeling better and know how much you have blessed another momma.

    In Him,
    Dawn

  15. That’s why it is called amazing grace!!!! Thanks for sharing. Our best witness is “our story”!!! Like the woman at the well, our story will preach every time. We need to boldly proclaim what God has done!!!! God’s blessings to you and your family.

  16. Robin thanks for sharing (more of)your story. Some of the details are different but pretty darn close to my own story.(I think mine might involve more crime and lifestyle sin?) God called my current husband and I out of our lukewarmness about 10 years ago after much pain and heartache from our sins. Now it seems like in time of great stress (our youngest died in April after a bone marrow transplant) I can fall back into my same battles with shame and performance anxiety. I know it is the enemy getting me in my “weak” spots. I LOVED The Shack for thesame reasons. (also because Mack over his “great sadness”)Thank you for your transparency and your ability to teach us all through your own story.
    I pray for your health whenever I think of you or see you have updated your blog. We need you in our lives Robin! You have been such a “teacher”to me and my family for years now. We use HOW and read all your stuff!
    Julee
    mommy to many
    7 bios, 13 adopted
    2 waiting to see again in Heaven
    “expecting” 2-3 more littles from Ethiopia soon

  17. Terri Layne

    Oh my goodness, Robin, what a powerful testimony! It takes a lot of courage to be so open. I have a testimony also, but I often hold back because I am afraid people will despise me, or avoid me, or reject me. I have to remember that God gets the glory in any good that people see in me, not me. It’s a tough thing!

    God bless you so very, very much! Just your testimony is encouraging to me. My life verse is also Ps 90:12, after a scare about a pituitary tumor this summer. So glad God has chosen to keep you with us!

    love in Him,
    Terri Layne

  18. I enjoyed reading this testimony. I was from a similar family, and now I am finding the life of freedom and obedience that comes from relationship with our living God. Praise God that if we seek Him with all our hearts we find Him.

    Carol

  19. Robin, your formula for coping with the dysfunctional mess describes how I dealt with things in my life at one time!! I am also learning to build a relationship and show my children that instead of trying to prove that I can do everything and please everyone so this post has really lifted me – I know I’m not alone thankyou for your honesty.

    Love Sarah

  20. What a blessing your testimony has been to so many readers! I am rejoicing at these comments! Matt and I are still trying to shake off the sins of feminism and selfishness that were ingrained into our hearts with all the dysfunction we each grew up in.
    I am so amazed that our children are who they are in spite of our marriage and stupid things we still do and say! That in itself has been a miracle of God!
    Thank you for your transparency. It is so hard to recount all of those memories. What a blessing your testimony is though today!

    You said several things that stuck out as so important in a Believer’s life:
    #1 I write for homeschoolers to motivate and help other moms avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made. The writings are positive and encouraging, so they may leave you with a false impression of my family.

    I have been accused of appearing to have the perfect family. I wonder if people really believe that or if it was really meant to be an accusation. I have a clear enough grasp of reality to know that no one has a perfect life. Sure, when I see the good things or a sweet spirit in someone, I want to strive to be more like them in that area, but I know that does not mean they have the perfect life.
    It is important that you presented this in two separate issues, but also the same: the Life of a Believer and Homeschoolers. Many times, both parties are touted as high and mighty, self-righteous and hypocrites. And sometimes we are. And sometimes we are standing so strong on our beliefs that there is no other way to look.

    #2 (which can also turn into legalism if one is out of balance)
    This is so true for anything. And it can happen without our recognizing it. It is so important to really know the Word, and even moreso, the character of God. Would He do this? Would He believe this? Is this Him??

    #3 We Needed Relationship Not Religion. So many Believers get caught up in the fact that we must do this or that. Honestly, we can do nothing. What needed to be done was done, and we don’t even know what to do if we don’t have the relationship.

    #4 I continue dealing with the consequences of my life of sin. It’s a journey and we have come far, but we have far to go.
    Oh, if only repentance took care of the consequences!! Oh LORD, how much simpler life would be. But then we would not grow and learn. And neither would our children. There is a great value in consequences. Praise God for His sustaining power through them.

    Robin, I am so glad you are where you are today in the LORD!! How merciful He is to save sinners like us. I would be dead in an alley somewhere if not for His mercy and grace.
    Thank you for sharing this part of your life and making it so clear that we can deceive ourselves as Believers. I think that is the worst deception. Self-deception. It is much harder to recognize than the enemy’s. But, God will show us if we desire to humble ourselves and seek Him. He will be found.

    I love coming here. I feel like I get a Bible Study each time!!
    Thank you for all the time you put into your posts!
    LOVE!
    ~J

    Jacque’s last blog post..Tote & Tee Giveaway!

  21. I hope you are feeling well. I missed the whole hospital episode, but I know that your health is an ongoing request.

    What a beautiful testimony of God’s relentless pursuit of you. I think everyone’s thankful that you shared so many intimate details of your pain, all for God’s glory.

    Why have we got it so mixed up about The Relationship? Our Small Group leader compares it to people who have entered a restaurant, but are sitting in the waiting area for a while. They can hear the laughter and fun inside, but can’t get in. Many people in our churches are in that “waiting area”, they are at the right place (figurativley), but don’t seem to get out of the waiting area into the party.

    Thank you for your last comments on my blog (about knowing how much He really loves me – and not fretting). They steered me right more than you know!

    Bobbie-Jo’s last blog post..Contentment

  22. Hi Robin,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story on some other christian’s reactions to your remarriage. I have been divorced for many years and was saved after my divorce. I have a lovely daughter who is currently at ‘normal’ school though I really want to homeschool her. At the moment, though, her father will not allow this. However, I’m still getting discretely prepared because I know that God is the one that has laid it so much on my heart.

    I found your website after a supernatural impartation of wisdom at church and am so blessed to see that someone else has a similar heart to mine. I loved the extracts of the heart of wisdom and delight based learning books available on your website and am hoping to purchase the full books as soon as possible.

    Also was delighted to find out I wasn’t alone with struggling to create order and beauty in my home!! I have got a copy of one of the books that you recommended, ‘Messie No More’.

    Thank you so much for being you.

    Blessings,

    Joy

  23. What a powerful testimony. It is true demonstration of the Awesome God we serve. He is able to anything with anyone even a wretch like you and me.

    Hadias’s last blog post..A Day in the Life Of…Blogger Book Club #3

  24. Robin ~ Thanks for visiting the Lylah Blog and for your comment on 10 quick tips to improve your listening skills” …

    on another note ~ I’m so glad for the visit here to your world and I can see that probably you and I are singing off some of the same soap boxes.

    Blessings on you and your homefront! You Go Girl!
    Lylah

    lylah ledner’s last blog post..10 quick tips to improve your listening skills

  25. I read some of your blog and I have to say you are an amazing woman!! I am 33 yrs old and was homeschooled as a child until my Senior year of Highschool where I graduated two years early. When we started homeschooling in Colorado it was illegal!! My mom helped paved the way for other homeschoolers! Yippee! I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world…..Be proud of what you do and the mom that you are… 🙂

    Tiffany’s last blog post..One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, FOUR! 🙂

  26. Um what can I say? I am thankful to the Lord, that He rescued you, saved you and has you firmly in His grip.

    I want to sit with you over a nice warm cuppa (it’s winter here in AU) and just share stories, knowing that it’d be for the glory of God.

    To Him be all praise, glory and honour!

    Blessings to you,

  27. Absolutely fantastic and superb. I knew there was more to you- I knew you had to have suffered to produce the phenomenal Bible studies that you have. I knew it!!
    So glad you turned your life and mind around.
    Blessings,
    Eren

  28. Robin, I truly thank God for you. In many ways you remind me of my own mother and myself, having grown up under a mom who was ruled by fear of man (the performance treadmill)…I too have walked that route.

    what you wrote here is so true for many. To this day I’m captivated by the Love of God because it’s so different than what I grew up under. His mercy is amazing and His grace to make a garden where there seems to be only parched places is wonderful!

    I’m so glad He’s restored and is doing this work through you, it is a beautiful testimony!

    Sheila

    Sheila’s last blog post..We’re builders- Part 4: Offered to be consumed

  29. Tara in VA

    I loved your post.

    I grasped the concept of “relationship” with Jesus while receiving counciling/discipling at Grace Ministries in Manassas, VA. I was definitely on a performanced-based-acceptance cycle. What I learned there changed my life. I read a book they recommended, “The Confident Woman” by Anabel Gillham. Also her husband’s book, “Lifetime Guarantee” by Bill Gillham. For the first time in my life The Good News was REALLY GOOD! For anyone who is interested in either of these resources, you can check out their website, http://www.lifetime.org.

    With the understanding of my identity in Christ and His love for me, I was able to read the Bible with new eyes. A few years ago, I began exploring my Hebrew Roots. Without having experienced/lived the Grace of a relationship with Christ, the beauty of the Holidays and the Sabbath could have gotten lost in self-imposed performance-based-acceptance legalism.

    My apologies if I moved my soapbox to your blog, Robin! But I can’t stress enough how transforming this has been!

  30. Dear Robin,

    I’m so thankful that you wrote this post. I was curious about different aspects of your large family, and this explains some things you’ve written in the past. I wanted to know more about you, because it helps me to pray for you and your family, and I can defend you, if need be, when questions arise from people who are not so gracious about things like divorce and forgiveness of past sin. You know I’ll always be in your corner! I see Jesus in you. I know your heart is right and that all you want is to love and obey Him. Jesus forgets our sin, so who are we to remember and shun people for past sin?

    You’ve said in the past that some of your family members are not happy about your fascination with Hebrew roots. I have found that studying Hebrew roots helps us balance our understanding of God and His ways. I’ve seen people get legalistic about it, but I’ve seen wonderful fruit from it, too. We have benefited greatly from deeper study of the Old Testament and Jewish ways of thinking.

    Thank you for giving us more of your testimony. I really wanted to know more of what has made you the person you are.

    You ought to write a book about your testimony!

    Love,
    Penney

    Penney Douglas’s last blog post..The Best Dad in the Whole World

  31. Regina

    I’m very proud of you Mom. I’m glad that both you and I have found this connection with God. Thank you for being a wonderful mother.

    I love you,
    Regina

  32. Wow! Over the years you have been such a blessing and encouragement to me through your writings- you are truly a precious sister in Christ. Thanks for always reminding us of His Grace and Goodness through it all! MeritK

  33. Jennifer in TX

    Thank you for sharing your story! You have so much to teach and share and I so appreciate that you do just that.
    You know, reading child rearing & homeschooling books, often I think these people are not for real. Life just isn’t that smooth. It is such a blessing and I feel honored that you shared with us where and how you have gained wisdom.

    Jennifer

  34. KristinaP

    The comic was perfect! I plan on sharing that with several homeschooling friends.

    Needless to say, Robin, watching God work through you helps us all to keep our eye’s on Jesus. When you share these feelings it helps all the rest of us know that we are not alone.

    Blessings

  35. woo hoo! Excellent post. I have been saved for 24 years and while I wouldn’t say I was stuck in “religion”, I was definately a performance, by the rules kind of girl. I’m only 39. In the last few years God has taken our church and our lives on a journey into intimacy and freedom. While still living holy and righteous lives, just not out of legalism but out of honor for the one who gave us life.

    I’m just now starting to read The Shack!
    I’ll be by often to visit.

    Kirstin’s last blog post..Recipe: Homemade BBQ Sauce

  36. Jillian Fourman

    Hi Robin,

    All I can say is WOW!!! You have been through SO much and YOU have come SO FAR!! I am truly blessed by your writings and pray for your healing physically quite often. And I pray for healing mentally and spiritually as well for you, and your children through all the years.

    We think we have it all together but yet are struggling……it is so hard today in church and marriage and trying to be a Christian in this world without hurting but loving one another.

    My journey has been hard….too much to detail but similiar…ya know blending of families…abuse…stuff…etc.

    I am still homeschooling but almost done. Now I wonder what my children’s future is….as they wait for God’s leading while 1 is going through such physical illness as well as myself, and 1 went through terrible illnesses for over 11 yrs then has come to a place where he is managing….I have homeschooled through terrible chronic illness but I think we have learned to care for one another through it all. And deal with another adult child going through deep valleys…and trying to restart his life….with a sick finance so we await the outcome…..what a season in the journey….and myself as well.

    Thank You for sharing your life, I know you have alot of good memories to outweight the hurtful ones 🙂

    Just remember Psalms….they are my favorite and encourage me to keep climbing the mountain as I am looking forward to the view at the top!

    Luv and Hugs, Jillian in TN

  37. oh robin! your journey brought tears to my eyes; God *bless* you, my precious sister! i can *sooo* relate to many of your experiences. i, too, grew up in chaos and abuse, and, by God’s grace, experienced a profound conversion to Christ in my mid-20. unfortunately, i soon fell into EXTREME legalism (an amish-mennonite group)… then proceeded to try about every denomination you can think of. i finally, joyfully, discovered Messianic Chrisianity… and soon mourned the rampant legalism there.
    to make a *looong* story short, God used my learning about our Hebrew roots– espeically through your sweet books and ministries!– to lead me back to Holy Mass and the *beautiful* (and spiritually and emotionally healing) Catholic Church i grew up in! i could not *believe* how “Jewish” the Mass is! learning about Hebrew roots and celebrating the holy days connected the dots for me, and made the *entirety* of the Scriptures, as well as the writings of the early fathers make sense.
    glory to GOD! today i am finally ***home*** and at peace.
    🙂
    i praise our *God* with you that you, too, have found peace in our glorious Savior!

  38. I honestly thought of you as perfect, so I’m shocked to have been wrong again. What a great story! I wonder how many thought David was perfect, LOL.

    “Christians are the only ones, who murder their wounded”

    I had a similar church experience as a young minister and didn’t return to church for 25 years. Now I fight back tears every Sunday as I understand how BIG God is through His people, people like you.

    Gettin’ real is the way to really get to people. Bravo.

  39. Our politics may differ. Our Christianity may differ. Our thoughts and views on life may differ. But the things your write never fail to encourage. Be they on your blog, or on twitter, I see and feel the love of God poured out through your words.

    It is a wonderful thing.

    God bless.

  40. WOW thanks for posting part of your journey on your blog. I’m a single mom of 2 and a grandma to 1. I was saved as a teenager but strayed from church after my first marriage (ladies in the church were telling my family members that my husband was going to kill me)

    Married a 2nd time for convenience as well and that turned into disaster and he ended up in prison. Then I realized I couldn’t do in on my own so I returned to my Lord and Savior. Thought I had found a good man and we were married he attended church w/me when he was in town (he was a truck driver). Well at the end of being married 2 months (we dated 5 years) he sent a text message telling me to get out of the house he was bringing his girlfriend home. (that’s the last I ever heard from him and yes it was by text message) So again I thank you for sharing your testimony.

    I still have things that I’m working on but I’m not doing it on my own anymore I’m depending on Jesus!!

  41. Allison

    Robin…I’m going to come back and read this all the way thru when I have time to think. My heart just broke though when I read thru the first few paragraphs and got to the part about the abuse you endured. I am so so sorry friend. You and Beth Moore both! Anyway, I’m so glad God’s brought much healing to you. I have to apologize because the other day I commented on wishing to have had your upbringing. I had not read this post otherwise I wouldn’t have made such an insensitive comment.
    I was remembering your godly grandmother you spent time with in North Carolina who showed you Jesus. I’m sooooo thankful you had her.
    Anyway, you had written about her in another post where I saw it..it was the same year 2007, when she went home to be with her Jesus.
    Anyway, I am sorry for the hurtful comment I made, not realizing just what you had been thru!
    I am very very thankful you have your grandmothers legacy and spiritual blessings that come with that.
    In Jesus’ Love,
    Allison

  42. Allison

    Hi Robin,
    I’m sorry to keep commenting on the same post. I was so moved to tears to hear of the things you have gone thru in your childhood and then as a single mother. With all the pain you’ve gone thru I think, how? How was she ever able to write HOW??? I’m so glad you found the love you so longed for and were delivered from the performance treadmill. I thank God for you sweet sister in Christ. It’s so healing for me to hear of what God has done for you. For the record, you never did come across as trying to look as though you’re the perfect homeschool family. I think people may have assumed that you were just because you have written Heart of Widsom. Oh I’m so glad God healed you! And boy do I understand more the why behind your “cardboard testimony”. Is that what they called it when they held up the signs?
    I’m so happy that God pulled you up out of the mire clay, set your feet on a firm foundation, put a new song in your heart and is the lifter of your head!
    Thank you for your testimony,… thank you for being transparent.
    Love in Jesus,
    Allison

  43. On my worst day, in my greatest failure you were on my side.

    On my worst day, in my greatest failure you saw the best in me.

    On my worst day, in my greatest failure you saw a good end for me.

  44. Loved this sharing Robin. Will keep you in prayer. God bless.

  45. I know, it is the way it is… but it is heart-breaking.

    I am praying for you and your family, Robin. May Yehovah God restore your relationships and bless you and keep you in his Shalom.

    I know you have learned a lot in all of this… but, oh. 🙁 May he heal your broken heart.

    Love you~
    J

  46. I just love you to pieces. You didn’t have to share this, but I am so glad that you did. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has a story of shame. I nearly couldn’t make it through Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free”. I can see that you might be right there along with me crying and eating chocolate. 😉 I wish I could curl up in your living room on your couch and stay up talking with you. You are the amazing person that you are today – a masterpiece, the potter’s Magnum Opus – because of each stroke and each tear that you shed.

    You radiate His love. He has made you a lamp – a shining light on a hill. I’m so happy to know you, Robin.

    (((HUGS)))

  47. Let me add an -s to that final word “heart”.

    May he heal your broken hearts.

  48. Isn’t it ironic that we tend to believe that the more we share our shortcomings/sins, the less we’ll be loved and accepted by God and others? In actuality, the opposite is true…as you have proven here. Just when I thought I couldn’t love/appreciate you any more, I do.:o)
    Thank you, Robin…for being a continual blessing to me and so many others. I love you & pray for you often.

  49. Thank you for your post! It helps me to read this. I’m a single Mom who adopted kids. I have been intentionally ignored by every homeschool group I’ve applied to, but HAVE at least received graciously given help at 2 or the three Churches we’ve attended. I’ve been thru a few of the events you’ve lived thru, too. It’s helps to hear others have “endured” but not lost faith.

  50. Thanks so much for this honest testimony. I know that it has helped me, and that it will help many other people. God bless you.

  51. Dolores Woodrum

    What a blessing you are, Robin, to so many people…including me. Your story is amazing, and your courage in being transparent will encourage others to find freedom and healing by taking off their own masks and being TrueFaced. I love you.

  52. Lisa Arndt

    Dear Robin, All I can say is now it’s official:
    You are my “hero”!! Of course, Christ is my ultimate hero but your story is absolutely fascinating and inspiring. I just plain love you my dear sister in Christ. From Lisa a single homeschooling mom with many regrets about my past but living now in God’s wonderful grace. You have helped me on this journey since the day I came across the Heart of Wisdom teaching approach.

  53. Hey Robin,
    Thank you for sharing your heart here…. the redeeming hand of God is written all over this story!!!

    I see you love some of the same authors I love… Mike Yaconelli, John Lynch, Wayne Jacobsen…. love them!

    I too am journeying out of religion… it’s what I write about on my blog!

  54. Robin,
    I know that took a lot of trust in God, to share what you have. I know because I have been going back and forth on sharing my story as well. So far, I am winning out over God, which is not a good thing. I struggle with what “other people” will think.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It touched me deeply. I am a single mom, and have struggled for years, even when married.

    May Yehovah bless you beyond measure, and watch over your entire family, and touch their hearts.

    (((((Hugs)))))))
    .-= Stephanie Bateman´s last blog ..Am I Thankful Enough? =-.

  55. This is the second version of your story I’ve read. Your expression of your “messy spirituality” is moving as one would expect because you are God’s perfect workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and created to walk in perfect works created for you. How can you do that if you’re dishonest? You show His strength in your weakness and you bless so many.

    As a prodigal returned to God and to my mom, I’ll pray with you for your broken relationships. My mom prayed for me for 27 years and we were both rewarded with a relationship to one another that far surpasses anything we had in the past. Hold onto hope for it will keep you praying.

    Your blog is second to none.

  56. kelly ormiston

    God bless you for you honesty, you are such an encouragment to others. You are in my prayers. Jeremiah 29:11 has been the scipture I have had to stand on through many trials. I know it can encougage you. I also suffered abuse in childhood, marriage at a young age, abandoment with young children by a drug addicted husband, he did seek rehab and said he excepted the Lord, I thought the marriage was restored only to be deserted again several years later when he left with another woman. My older children have no relationship with him after many painful experiences for us all. I became an R.N. and worked long hours, I remember standing in line at the grocery store at midnight to use food stamps with my little children while I was trying to get through college, because I was so ashamed at 23 years old. Years later I remarried, a man that knows the Lord, we have 2 children together, he loves us all, the grown children and our little ones, and takes good care of us. We are blessed with much, I no longer work outside the home. I am finally learning what the peace of God is for the first time in my life and I am 49. Better late than never. I can look back and see how God was with me every step of the way. I have such compassion for young mothers and children, that have been abused and abandoned. I know we would not be the woman of God we are today with out the past experiences we have went through. You are touching the lives of many women and giving them the courage to talk about the past so they can fully heal, including me. Thankyou for allowing God to use you. Sisters in Christ

  57. Jennifer

    Wow!!!! May God continue to pour His abundant blessings out on you as you live an authentic life, living the life of Christ in you, our hope of glory. I know this sounds kind of strange in a way….but I am so happy to see your testimony. So happy to see someone be transparent. I long for more authenticity and transparency in the Church (not the building we go to!) My heart is overflowing because, even though I was saved with the message of Christ’s righteousness as my own, I still fell into that oh so common legalistic trap after a few years. Just recently, God has been revealing again His deep love for me and His bride and showing me the rest that is mine when I keep in step with His Spirit – so that He can live His life through me.

    All glory to Our Great God! Can’t wait to meet you in heaven, sister! 🙂 And, I will pray for you and your family as He leads me.

  58. Thank you for sharing. May God bless you richly, more than you can hope or imagine.

  59. Thank You,
    you wrote what all of us feel daily. We forget that we live for Christ not for man. I did not know how hard your life was. We all should take off our masks.

  60. You are a wonderfully strong and resilient woman, and I thank YHWH for protecting and bringing you through all these struggles! Blessings!!

  61. Summer

    There are so many similarities, but I would most likely be your child. Although I would not volunteer to do anything in my life over again, I wouldn’t change it for the relationship that I have with God today. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful testimony. I also wanted to recommend a book “Spiritual Disciplines for Physical Healing” that is very short but powerful (and $2!) – http://www.scribd.com/doc/18777167/Spiritual-Disciplines-for-Physical-and-Emotional-Healing

  62. Hi,
    I was googling “hebrew homeschool curriculum” and I found your site. I was looking for a curriculum that would bring more of the Hebrew roots, and finding something that would reflect more of the non-schedule life that we choose to have.
    My husband and I have 6 children (age 11 months old-14 yo). I’m re-married and they are all my bios kids. We do not go to Church, we have stopped going about 3 years ago. We pulled our kids out of school. I do not want to be distracted away from my home duties any longer, put up with “Christians” that can not handle the truth of the Word of God, and having to hear Christians gossip or dress sensually and guys not standing up as leaders.
    Husband believes at this point that Church are seeking to please the flesh of their members rather than lead them to confess and repent and practice Christ-like behaviors. So for now, we say we are being on-hold… like Moses when he “disappeared” from the face of the earth until God called him.
    In the mean while we strive to find a way to character train our children and lead them to KNOW HIStory and find their call in Him. It’s a hard work, one that most women chose not to do. I sometimes feel lonely, but not too overwhelmed because I don’t entertain friendship that questions our walks (so I’m not often offended or in a defensive spot haha)
    I was wondering about your background when I found this page. I am thankful.
    I understand.
    I relate.
    I want to say thank you for showing an example to a younger mother. I am 36 years old.

    I want to pray for you and restoration with your broken hearted children if I did understand correctly.

    Thank you for repenting to them. I do so with my children when I make my time more valuable than theirs and I show my flesh rather than Christ being magnified.

    I am glad you are walking away and practicing freedom in Christ rather than a legalistic religion. Hurt people want rules to satisfy their souls that struggle with believing that they are accepted and forgiven by Christ WITHOUT having to redeem themselves. Co-dependency…. can be ugly.

    Abba,

    I thank you because I was searching for something that fit our thoughts on our raising your kids.
    I was searching for something that would help me train your children yet in your standards, going back to your roots.
    Father as i read about Robin, my heart felt compassion for her heart and the desire for restoration with her children. I know from first-hand that restoration is a process and takes as much work as raising kids… It takes years. Father, I bring to you ALL her children, all of them into your hands, her kids, her kids mate or wives or husbands and friends. I pray that you move ALL her children to know you and seek you and also come to forgive you but also in the mist of the pain, to acknowledge their fears, hurts, and speak it out loud, that they may be free and can heal and forgive as well. Restore their hearts, keep restoring Robin’s heart as well so she may be there in times when her children will want to connect intimately with her. I pray before all that they find you Jesus.
    Keep Robin in health and give her wisdom in her choices.
    I thank you and ask in the Name of Jesus.
    As it is.

    Forgive my mistakes for I am French native. My english is probably a bit weird here or there. 🙂
    Natacha

  63. I cannot express my feelings of oneness with all those who have written to you. I am in awe that all these stories are so similar, everywhere. We all want relationship not religion, we all need to be accepted into the beloved, we all have been hurt, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. I have never met you, nor any of the above bloggers, but I love all of you with the love of God, who drew us all to repentence and gave us a safe harbor. Many blessings of God upon you and your readers.

  64. Hey Robin,
    I found you when looking for a review on Truefaced. I attended the Truefaced Intensive in Tulsa in November. It was a life altering conference for my husband and I…

    We’ve been learning to live in our true faces for a bit now. I’ve been writing on my blog about my journey. I am so blessed by your testimony.

  65. phyllis

    this is really wonderful! i’m so uplifted! i feel my faith rise and i trust God to sort out ALL that’s wrong with my life. i’ve just read true faced and you’re like a real role model of what the book is about.
    i have so much further to go but i’m encouraged that it is so possible to be healed and restored and sin resolved. no matter how messed up it is.

    your honesty is so refreshing. i wear a mask wanting people to think highly of me but really, i think so highly of you!

    the picture at the staircase!!! a masterpiece.

    love u! bless u!

  66. Alicia

    Thank you so much for this post. It has encouraged me and built up my faith. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. Blessings to you and your family.

  67. michelle

    Robin, I love the sincereness, opennesss, honesty, and transparency of this post. There is much to glean from in this post. I have suffered abuse in so many ways. Through two years of counseling and a lot of prayer, and time away from the church, I am healing up. I appreciate your time in sharing this. There are a number of links that I will be checking out. Thanks for opening your heart.

  68. Robin
    I have nothing but a deep admiration for you…
    Even if you weren’t walking…during those times you fell…G-d was still using you…for such a time as this when what you have been through can just blow other peoples socks off!
    This is an incredible story! I got tired just reading it and yet you are filled to the brim with hope, and light. I hope I can meet you someday..you have to be one of the strongest and real women I have ever known or heard of! Bless you sister….bless you!

  69. Katy Waldrop

    Thanks soooo much for sharing this. That denial list was pretty interesting to read seeing as how it is very familiar to me… I see what a beautiful work YHWH is doing with your life and I am greatly encouraged. We’ve recently gone through a hard time, but your story really did a number on my self pity! Thanks! Love you sister and hope that I get to meet you one day.

  70. I have reread this many times because there is so much to learn from your shared experiences. I have also found that it is easy to get caught up in the legalistic doctrines because they are rampant in the homeschool groups. The one thing that rings so true is that there is no love in those groups that work hard to promote their loveless hyper Calvanistic,dominion based theology. There is a pride that is poisonous. Thanks for sharing. You are such a blessing to the body of Christ in so many ways.

  71. My husband and I are also have a large family, we, too,are blended. Between the 2 of us we have 10 children, and 2 grandchildren, with number 3 due in 3 weeks, and numbers 4&5 due in Sept. No, numbers4&5 are NOT twins, they have 2 different moms.

    My step-daughter who has one of the grandchildren plans on home-schooling her when it is time,(she is only 17 months old now), but mom and dad both have learning disabilities, so I more than likely will be the one doing the home-schooling.

    Rose’s last blog post..Looking for a Job!

  72. Kathy Richards

    Thanks for that, especially that part at the end. So often when you read a story of how someone was far away from God, the assumption at the end is that they are now fully devoted and living a life exempt from struggle and pain. I think’s it’s important to be honest about the fact that we are still wretched sinners, but we strive to become more Christlike out of love and profound gratitude for what He has done for us. Thanks for pointing me here.

    In Him,

    Kathy Richards (katdish)

  73. Kimberly

    Thank you for sharing that. How horrible! For years we went to a holiness pentecostal church that was very patriarchal and abusive too. It took years to leave. We started going to the church up the road from us (which is IFB but not even close to what you’re describing…your description of how they treated you is horrifying and not what Christ would want!)…and we’ve received healing and encouragement to walk by faith instead of by the oldness of the letter. It’s hard because those pentecostal holiness people drilled so much stuff into my head about losing my salvation for any infraction…but it’s been good to get to a place of healing.

  74. Nolvia

    Wow! What an incredible testimony! I love how you continued in persistence to follow Him when you had so many obstacles and distractions. Thank you for your transparency and honesty! You are amazing! Blessings!

  75. LucyAnn Marx

    Great story! Many thanks for sharing. I am a single homeschool mom and can really relate.

  76. Thank you so much, Robin, for sharing your story!! I can relate. I have a child that will not have much to do with me right now. It hurts! No one knows how much, unless they too have experienced it. I cannot tell you how much it means that God would use you to minister to me in this way. I know that some of what has happened to me is because of my past sins and rebellion, even though I thought I was following God. What makes things difficult is not the ex-husband, (he’s not even in the picture now), but my own mother that has “aided” this situation to get to where it’s at. (My oldest is living with her now.) Painful, to have not only a child, but your own mother, reject you. I know God has a plan. And I also know that one day He will have me tell my story. (For now, I cannot share publicly, not wanting to disrespect my mother, and I still have 2 young children at home. When they are older, perhaps…) God has healed me, and is still healing me. But the pain from a child’s rejection, especially when it’s been fueled with lies, is hard. I am so thankful for my husband now, who doesn’t quite understand, but is there for me. And thanks to God, Who uses people like you to minister to people like me.

  77. Tanya Pierce

    I was in a similar situation. My ex-husband had several affairs while demanding me to be submissive. He LOVED the Patriarchy Homeschooling Vision Forum crowd becuse it put me in my place and kept me off his back when I caught him in lies.

    Getting a divorce is horrible for the kids and should be avoided at all cost. But in my case if was necessary. The adultry and lies would not quit. I struggle being a single mom but I am FREE FROM LEGALISM!!!!!

  78. I was blessed by your post. I needed to read this today. I struggle with perfectionism due to my abusive childhood. It is hard to homeschool with that struggle. I have to stay on my knees giving it back to him every day because of the perfectionist tendencies which want rob me of enjoying my children.

    Your blog was an encouragement to keep pressing forward in surrendering that false idea of a “perfect homeschool”, “perfect mom”, “perfect….”. God’s hand is on this post. It is an encouragement for the rest of us dysfunctional homeschooling moms so that we can see the beauty in our dysfunction because where we are weak he can be strong, and His glory shines through much more brilliantly. What beauty has come out of your ashes.

    Thank you for sharing. I have been tremendously encouragedYou are so loved…

  79. Sharon Tullis

    Thank you for sharing! I have a couple friends who I plan to share this with. I know several families who have been wrecked by the religious beliefs you mention.

    It amazes me how much you have done in your life, most lives would not have even half this many events! I pray your children are all able to forgive and that you can have the rest of your life building great relationships. I hope they can understand that you had three strikes against you from the get go, that you did the best you could with what you had available, both materially and mothering, that you were so very young during most of the painful events. I hope they can understand that many of the negatives were actually a result of your effort to do better for them. I am sure they are coming from a position of the trauma, they suffered, which was not fair. Every child has the right to expect their parents to do well, but that is not always the case. Yes, you and other adults in their lives made some bad choices but the healing that God can bring is so much better! The fact that you now know the wrong and do not live that way any longer is to be rejoiced. I love that you recognize and take responsibility for the life you lived! The fact that you have owned up and asked their forgiveness is huge! Your children should be thankful!

    I am 59 years old and my father still abuses me at every opportunity. God has healed me and I have a great marriage and children/grand children, so I rejoice. God has placed me in a position to be my father’s only care giver, he does not live with us. After a recent ungrateful abusive rant, where my father stated how good a parent he has been, I could do nothing other than turn to my REAL Father and find peace!!! God is big enough!

    My husband and I look forward by choice! We do not look back with bitterness, blame or resentment. There are days when we fight the temptation to go there but God has done too much for us to abandon Him and turn back! We have attempted to do better than our parents and desire our children to do better than us.

    I will continue to pray for you and your family. I am sure that God will use your story for His purpose!

  80. Wow, Robin!! I am speechless really…and that doesn’t happen much. Your story, so heartbreaking and redeeming all at once. God is using your life to teach about His love and grace. What an amazing testimony!

  81. You have had a profound effect on my life in a beautiful way and I KNOW that God’s hand was involved! When first I read about your curriculum, and knew nothing other than that you were a homeschool mother of many, I figured you were like all the other homeschoolers I knew, i.e. no REAL struggles….meanwhile I was dealing with a terrible situation in my marriage and an out of control, angry teenager who was showing the fruit of that marriage that needed to end…Then after a few months I read your testimony and was quite blown away! So just want to say thanks!

  82. Yes, what Lena said. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing it.

  83. AAHH – Robin you sweetheart! Thanks for sharing. Moving, touching . Inspiring. You always been gifted to write and this gift shows forth in this.

    I am touched because “been there and done that!” It hurts. G_d heals

  84. Very moving. Thank you for sharing.

  85. Wonderful testimony! Thank you for sharing it; it’s something I pray will help others heal from their pasts or help them see what’s going in their present lives.

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