December 15th, Year 3 of the Vow
Jude’s fallen asleep on the bus. I generally don’t like to write while moving in a vehicle, but how could I not account for the best day of my life while the happenings leading to the event that made it great are still in my mind! (Sort of a run on sentence there, but that’s precisely how I feel.)
The LORD’s put me on a pause for my blatant disobedience lately, and I know I should be disturbed that I sinned against Him, it’s just that I officially have Jude and winning him is more than euphoric… It’s security. It’s a sense of home. It’s a sense of belonging. And I know the LORD is supposed to be EVERYTHING to the believer, but He made me to commune with other humans.
Truthfully, I’m the worst at letting people into my heart. I’m usually a vault because I’ve been hurt so many times. Jude, I let him in right away. I didn’t hold back, and normally I’m too reserved. It’s why I always get dumped. Like, Brynn was the first significant other where I ended the relationship.
It was three and half years ago, and Brynn and I were talking about getting married. I wanted my life to be with her. I had to go home for a short trip, a cousin on my mom’s side just died. I didn’t let Brynn come with me because of how religious my grandmother was, and still is. Grandma knew I was dating a woman, and she never mocked me or made me feel bad about it, but she never let me leave her house without mentioning once if I wanted to know the Father who is in heaven, I needed to accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, and I needed to repent of my sinful acts, which included ending my relationship with a woman.
I struggled my whole life (until a few years ago), with whether or not God was real. Even after my mom died, and my sisters and I found out my father was a Modern Nazarite, I had one question for God: Why did God let me get kidnapped and brutally tortured and sexually abused at the age of 9 for several months?
I could not fathom that if God was good, why would He allow such wretched, unspeakable acts happen to children?
The minister at my cousin’s funeral didn’t sugarcoat anything when presenting the Gospel at the end. The minister said all folks who don’t accept Jesus and accept Him before man (everybody) then the Father would deny them and not know them come Judgement Day.
Never underestimate a grandmother’s prayers, and her prayer must have finally been answered that day. I thought about all the things my grandmother and mother had said my entire upbringing. I remembered Sunday School lessons and the invitations to accept Christ. I remembered when I would wake up screaming in the middle of the night, reliving every vile thing that was done to me– how my grandmother and/or my mother would come into my room. They would hold me and sing a song about the Lord over me and the peace that swept over me. In that moment, I realized my grandmother and my mother were who they were because of Christ Jesus and I felt so empty and broken inside, if my family was right about the-God-thing, only Jesus Christ could remedy that internal issue. I went up to the altar at the funeral and finally accepted the LORD Christ Jesus as my Savior.
I broke up with Brynn in a text. Then my sisters shared how they were answering the call to be a Modern Nazarite and suggested I consider it.
I knew why my sisters really decided to join. They wanted to get to know our father more since he was our only living parent.
He was hardly ever home when we were growing up. I’m actually shocked he was around enough to produce five children.
And though my mother helped me after my kidnapping, she pulled away from me, it was mostly my grandmother who was my mother. I never got the chance to ask my mother why she withdrew from me. Did she feel responsible? Did she not understand how to be there for me?
I was grateful for the times she was there. The sound of her heartbeat as she held me close was the only thing that relaxed me at moments.
Even after months of salvation, I was still attracted to women, and Brynn had the audacity to pay me a visit all the way out in New Mexico to win me back, and I almost gave into her, but my sisters revealed Brynn was with the Vampira Coven and our relationship was fake. Leece and Brynn got in a pretty heated combat battle and Leece probably would have killed her, but I begged Leece to spare her life. Brynn attempted to sway me to leave with her, but I said no.
The next day, I went with Leece to a training session with father and the rest was history.
I’m purposely not letting myself fall asleep on this bus. It’s one of my rules. The last thing I need to do is cause mass panic because of my blood curdling screams in my sleep or from waking up suddenly to escape the torment of my night terrors.
And I’m nervous… Jude is a really compassionate guy, so I know he won’t have an issue with the scars and brands on my body, and maybe for our first time making love he won’t say anything about them, but probably the following morning or hours later, he will ask me to open up about what I went through and I can’t go there.
I couldn’t even go back to school when I came home. I was homeschooled until I was 14, when I was able to cope being in crowds again. If I can avoid crowded places all together, I’m better off.
After riding the bus for 20+ hours, we’re finally in Patriot City. I have to wake up Jude.
December 16th, Year 3 of the Vow
Fresh memories (of the past two days as Mrs. Priestly) fire in my mind like a movie montage on fast forward. They repeat and each time jolts me with euphoria and joy. I’ve been awake for 48 hours and I don’t want to go to sleep. When I sleep, the happiness will end. My mind will reset back to dark mode.
Some may think insomnia is torture, but it isn’t. It’s endurable. I’ve asked God to make me forget and though I’ve made great strides to forgive, I cannot forget.
I’m surprised I didn’t kill Sibusiso last week. I stared at him, knocked out on the ground for a good three seconds. I held the handle to my blade that was holstered on my hip. The urge to cut off his groin and shove it in his mouth and then slit his throat was strong. The desire was great enough for me to visualize it in my mind.
One thought stopped me. “No one is good, only God is good.” Jesus quotes usually redirect me all the time. The Savior keeps on saving, which is good, for my sake, and others I guess.
Why did those red letters of Jesus stop me from committing cold, blooded murder?
It reminds that the most vile of humans can possibly be redeemed if they choose to accept God’s grace and forgiveness by accepting Jesus as Lord and as Savior. It reminds me that everyone must be forgiven simply because God demands it. Sure, forgiving those who sinned against you can be great medicine to your soul, but forgiveness is clearly the bigger antidote for the sinner.
This is just my observation, but the believer is only inspired to draw near to God knowing they’re truly forgiven for being a sinner. Being aware of one’s sinfulness creates a desire to learn how not to be sinful and the believer desires to be like God as best they can. Not for power and authority, but to fulfill their purpose to reflect God’s likeness on the Earth. Somehow, within time, the believer understands sin makes horrible people who they are, and just like the believer was once a sinner against God, by believing the Gospel fully anyone can be separated from the identity of sin and form a new identity in Christ, which is not to be perfect, but to be a child of God… who doesn’t sin for self reasons anymore, just by accident. And for accidental sin, that is where God’s richness in mercy, kindness, and grace comes in handy, because God understands we don’t know any better, but He’s willing to help us work on it.
As I ran out of that warehouse, I thanked God for not letting me sin against Him by taking vengeance into my own hands, and murdering the man I claimed I forgave.
I’ve never shared what I’m about to write down.
I was 9 years old when Sibusiso’s men kidnapped me. I was fetching a bucket of water at 4 in the morning, so I could take it back to Grandma’s hogan to heat on the wood iron stove, and then pour into the bath for me to bathe before school.
Out of nowhere, a black van sped in front of my path to the well (when I was little the well was a mile away from the hogan before Grandma installed a new one next to it years later), screeching to a stop abruptly. I screamed and I was startled that I almost got run over. Plus, I had a deep gut feeling that something was wrong. The back doors burst open and two masked men jumped out holding pistols. One prepared to offer cover, and the other snatched one of my pigtail braids. I kept screaming and I kicked and punched him trying to get away. None of that worked, so I bit him, and he hit me in the head and it was lights out.
I woke up in a filthy, damp basement. I was cuffed in chains inside a cage. Someone changed my clothes from my warm winter garb, to what we would consider a T-Shirt Dress today. Petrified and desperate for my grandma or my mom to save me I was crying and pleading for help. Though I knew no one could probably hear me. After a really long time, when I started to get tired, I decided to do what grandma would do.
Though I wasn’t sure if Jesus was real, I prayed to him and begged Him to get me out and to save me.
When the door at the top of the stairs opened, I half-hoped my prayer was answered. As footsteps descended the stairs, I grew more and more scared.
It was Sibusiso dressed in a three piece suit. He was alone. He came up to my cage and crouched low, squatting he held his position. He rested his forearms on his thighs.
He titled his head attempting to parallel my face, which was on the floor of the cage, as I laid on my side sobbing.
“Your father ruined my life. Everything I love, GONE! Now, I heard you’re his favorite daughter little NYE-KEE…” He paused just to chuckle sinisterly. “So I will ruin his life, by ruining you. When you see your father again, tell him that everything I did to you was because of him.”
Then he got up and left.
At first, he starved me until I couldn’t move and then one of his men would bring me burnt bread, which I would scarf down. Sometimes he wouldn’t give me any water and I had to drink my own urine that served as the toilet in my cage. That happened for what felt like forever and I couldn’t fathom it could get worse, but it did.
Before he would give me bread, he would let me out of the cage and make me beg for it, if he wasn’t satisfied he would take off his belt, pull up my sham, and beat my bear back until I bled.
I really thought it wouldn’t get worse than that. But, of course, it did.
In order to get water, I had to allow him to sexually abuse me. That started out gradual. Stuff I don’t really want to write down. If I refused to “play with him”, as he would phrase it, he would beat me with his belt and then pleasure himself in front of me.
That’s when I started dreaming of ways to die. Sometimes, I would make him angry when he came down, just to get him to beat me up and I hoped he would beat me so badly that he would kill me.
In time, he brought friends and I was the source of entertainment. Sometimes they gave me alcohol or got me high, just to see how I would act and what I would do. On those nights, they thought it would be fun to burn me with cigarettes and cigars. On another similar drug-related night, they all branded their initials onto my body. SP is branded on my stomach under my belly button. QKN is branded on my inner right thigh. And KX is branded on my lower back. Some kind of doctor came to check on me a lot after that to make sure I didn’t get infections or something.
The final night I saw him, he didn’t make me beg him for food, or do any naughty favors for water, and his friends weren’t in his company. He told me something strange…
“I have seen the future, Keke,” That is what he called me. “You grow up to be a beautiful woman. A wife, a mother, oh, and you follow in your father’s footsteps. It is almost like you were never here.” He laughs subtly. “Which is fine, I can live with that. I hear often the LORD is good. Perhaps, one day He will show me mercy. But until your future arrives you will travel a dark path that will serve my Papa well, and I will be rewarded now.”
He opened the cage. He reached for me, but I flinched, jerking away from him, and I scooted to the back of the cage to stay far away from him. He invaded my space anyway and took keys out from his back pocket and he undid my chains. I closed my eyes anticipating he was going to grab me by the arms or by my hair and pull me out, but he just backed out of the cage and stood up.
“Your father and his friends are coming. They should be here any moment. Remember, tell him what you went through was his fault.” He chuckled and then he spun around and ran up the stairs. He left the door to the basement open.
Next there was a boom of the front door being blasted open. The ruckus of gunfire and combat. Men yelling out in a war rampage cry or in pain. It only lasted a few minutes. I heard someone yell, “Sibusiso is getting away!”
Then my father came running down the stairs. When he saw me, he collapsed to his knees and he wept with relief that I was alive but also from the sight of me. My hair was matted, I was covered in filth, and my sham was never changed… I smelled deplorable. He held his arms out to me expecting me to run into his arms, but I hated him and I knew Sibusiso was right, it was my father’s fault I was ever in need of rescue from such torment. (Well, I realize the truth now, my father was never to blame, that was all Sibusiso’s choice.)
I told him, “I hate you!” And I lunged at him and I started smacking him in the face. He didn’t stop me. He closed his eyes and let me hit him. Mama Ricki rushed in and picked me up from behind. I still kicked and screamed, yelling about how much I hated Blaze Samuelson.
I relive many nights of what that monster did to me when I sleep at night. I have forgiven him. But I can’t forget what he did to me. I’m not sure I ever will.
Though I don’t want to close my eyes, my eyelids are too heavy to keep open. I must sleep.
December 21st, Year 3 of the Vow
Uh, I’ve gotten lazy with my diary entries since becoming Mrs. Priestly. Of course, I’ve always used my work diary for work related things, not personal things, but I haven’t been using my personal diary either.
I thought the other day I wrote down all the wonderful events leading up to our elopement, but I didn’t, I just penned down the dark history of my kidnapping, which was a little therapeutic. I’ve been able to honeymoon blissfully with Jude. I finally got him to journal a bit, just because I’m trying to make him more disciplined when we get back to working on missions for the LORD.
So far, as long as Jude is next to me, I’m sleeping okay. And I don’t remember what I dreamt when I wake up. I can sense it was nothing good, but at least I’m starting to forget the night terrors. He must be praying for me.
The other day, after I taught him how to ice skate, we came back to our beautiful colonial hotel suite. The room is painted pastel blue with white pinstripes, and the furniture is various types of cream and anywhere from pastel to sunflower yellow. He collapsed onto the bed, tired and exhausted. I lied next to him and snuggled him securely. He was too wiped out to snuggle me back.
“Ice skating is worse than training.” He said out of breath.
“You’re a noob, it’s hard for beginners.” I reassured him.
“I think I’m a quitter, I’m not doing that again.”
“We’re going again tomorrow.” I said.
“I think I can give it one more try.” He sighed.
That’s why I married him.
December 25th, Year 3 of the Vow
Today was lovely and then it wasn’t.
Despite the fact I woke up at 2 am from night terrors. Jude woke me up. Apparently, I was crying out for help. I assured him I was fine, but he stayed up with me for an hour until he involuntarily fell back asleep.
I stayed up. I began my morning routine. I stretched, did my super sets of sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, etc. Then I bundled up and went for an hour jog. Not very familiar with the neighborhood, I just did circles on our block. It felt weird to have a place to call home away from the Rez.
I was the only Samuelson sister to be the nomad Nazarite, traveling wherever the mission took me and staying out until the next mission called me elsewhere. My sisters used the Rez as a home base like my father did, and, like my father, they keep their godly call a secret.
It was nearly 5 am when Sarah was in the kitchen brewing coffee and making breakfast. She was shocked to see me up so early.
Normally, I liked to shower immediately after a run, but the coffee just finished brewing and I knew I’d need caffeine to power through the day.
Sarah paused her breakfast preparations, and we sat at the island that also served as a bar to dine at.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you do love my son, don’t you?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, with my entire being. I’ve never loved anyone like the way I love him.” I defended myself.
I knew why she asked. I told her slightly before Levi died, that I wasn’t in love with him, but that I would marry him to honor my father and to not shame the Priestlys.
Thanks to the empath-like gift of Nazarites, she knew I wasn’t lying.
We were interrupted by a fully dressed Caitlin walking down the stairs into the kitchen. Her makeup was even done. Who is all put together and ready at 5 in the morning? Sarah was still in her pajamas.
“Good morning,” she smiled as she brushed past us. Very familiar with where things were, she pulled a mug out of the cabinet above the coffee pot and poured herself a cup. She drank it black without anything in it.
Sarah said morning back, but I refrained pretending like I didn’t hear her. Not sure why the jealousy monster is coming for my soul but it is. Holy Spirit, help me not to give into jealousy.
Way delayed, I finally greeted Caitlin a good morning.
Caitlin had two seating options beside me or on the other side of Sarah. She chose neither and remained standing, leaning up against the counter across from the island counter-bar. She asked, “Would you like help with breakfast Sarah?” Then she took a sip of her coffee.
Before Sarah could answer, I said, “I can make breakfast. Give you two a break.”
They both accepted my offer. Without finishing my coffee, I raced upstairs to shower, and I made a ton of noise in the bedroom rifling through my bags to find an outfit to outshine Caitlin. Did all that ruckus disturb Jude? Not at all. He slept so good, he was drooling on my pillow. His body was spread out across the bed with legs on his side and his torso and head on my side. That was another annoying thing. Sharing a bed with him was like wrestling in our sleep. I wake up sometimes because he kicks me in the legs and slaps me in the face. I have scratches on my cheek from his fingernails. I never thought I’d have a separate sleeping area from my spouse, but to live to a ripe old age, I may have to. I’m actually surprised I haven’t had any bouts of PTSD from his aggressive sleeping habits. Seriously…
I whisked back downstairs to make a beet tomato salad, scrambled eggs, and I served mixed berries. Right at 6 am, the men groggily joined us at the island to eat. Joshua loved the salad I made, he said his mother made it many mornings growing up. Sarah liked how my eggs were fluffy and not dried out but not slimy. Jude struggled to eat what I made. I apparently served his least favorite things in the world, which he kept expressing low-key in between bites by saying, “Scrambled eggs are sort of for little kids, right? But these are so good.” Or he said, “Gotta love beets cause they’re so healthy.” Really ticked at him, I ignored him.
Caitlin just had to say, “I was going to make French Toast with turkey bacon.”
And of course, Jude said, “French Toast is my favorite.”
I did my best to hide how I felt. But it was hard. Caitlin may have been an imposter, but she knew Jude so well. I was ashamed that I didn’t think to ask Sarah what Jude might like for breakfast. I just selfishly made what I wanted to make, what I felt like…
Jude rescued himself by encouragingly rubbing my back and whispering in my ear, “Caitlin can’t cook her way out of a paper bag. I practically starved when I was with Celly.”
I remembered Jude was my husband. Not Caitlin’s.
The rest of the day was not too interesting. We opened the rest of our gifts in the living room. Everyone got more gifts than I did. I just got keys to the house (as a pre-Christmas gift Jude’s parents gave us the deed to the house and our own set of keys, last night on Christmas Eve) and today for an actual Christmas gift, I get a picture frame heirloom (meaning it had been in the family for generations).
Sarah and Joshua doted over Caitlin with lavish gifts. She got fancy clothes, jewelry, electronic devices like noise-canceling headphones and a new cell phone. I know they spoiled her because she was the mother of their first grandchild, but I think they went overboard. Jude got a bunch of cool stuff, too, that I planned on stealing from him. A new tablet, noise-canceling headphones, a new pocket knife, and active wear for working out. Some of his new sweats looked comfy for lounging.
The rest of the day, we all went our separate ways. Jude took me for a joy ride around town to show me all his favorite spots. We definitely parked off the side of the road, to a woodland area, near a hiking trail, to make up for risky business we abstained from in the house.
We even did dinner on our own, eating leftovers from last night’s meal. Jude and I ate in his room. I forced him to look at decorating concepts on his new tablet since I planned on redecorating the entire house to make it our home. He objected to all of my ideas because he liked how everything was. I proceeded to use the power of seduction to get my way, but my plan was foiled by a knock on the door.
Jude got up and opened the door to Caitlin, who was in tears, with her mascara running down her cheeks. She barged into our room and incoherently, and hysterically went on and on about something as she paced the room.
Jude eventually snatched her by the shoulders, forced her to breathe better and to calm down, and asked her to speak slowly…
“I was laying down for a nap… and then Annabella’s astral projection spirit appeared in my dream. She tried to ask where I was. She said if I didn’t come back she would use Hera in the spring equinox sacrifice.” And then she flung herself into Jude’s obligated embrace and she clung to him weeping.
Joshua and Sarah rushed to the room. Caitlin was so overcome by grief that Jude had to explain everything to his parents. Sarah swooped in to take Caitlin into her arms, which I was grateful for.
“It seems we need to consult the LORD and ask what we should do.” Joshua said.
And we all bowed our heads as we formed a circle to pray. Caitlin still crying… Joshua led the prayer, but the LORD was silent. He did not give any direction, which was strange, surely God would want to deliver an heir to one of His beloved Nazarite families.
The LORD clearly spoke to me (to my heart), “Wait to rescue Hera, save Jenessa first.”
“Who is Jenessa?” I asked.
“My sister,” Caitlin said.
Sarah explained the reason Caitlin joined her coven early was to spare Jenessa from ever having to join and become a vampira witch, but now that Caitlin fled the coven and renounced witchcraft, Jenessa would most likely be pulled out of her foster care home by Annabella and be forced to replace Caitlin.
Wiping her tears and smudging her face grayish-black from her running mascara, Caitlin asked, “What about Jenessa?”
“The Lord said to save her first, and to wait to save Hera.”
The Nazarites in the room knew I was telling the truth. We agreed. We’d plan to get Jenessa and reunite her with her sister first and then, when the LORD instructed, we’d rescue Hera.
February 23rd, Year 3 of the Vow
That’s how long Jude’s been gone,
And it’s my fault. I
*Edited by Kristen Wenneborg