Deborah Smart - Creating Sanctuaries

written byDeborah Smart
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Full Written Transcript: Some of the information was eliminated from the podcast because of the time limit.

If you followed me for a minute, you know I am a Christian, a follower, and believer that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I have predestined my life to live a certain way. Even in the bible, it says that God knew me even when I was in my mother’s womb. He had plans for me to prosper.

This month is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. I often wondered as I experienced domestic violence and child abuse if these were all part of God’s perfect plan for me. All I know is this. I love who I have grown to be today. Throughout my experience with abuse, even as a child, I was lead to create my own sanctuaries and safe places to go to. In my pre-teens, I spent my days out of school with a foster family who raised me for the first three years of my life while my mother got her own mental health under control. At 12, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and protector of all things evil in my life. I suffered from night terrors that were so real I would, if asked would swear on a stack of bibles it really happened. In my teens, I turned to write. Writing took me out of my world if I wasn’t spending time at my friends’ homes, who seemed to have the perfect parents.

I married at 20 because that was the only way my father would allow me to leave home. He didn’t believe in young girls living alone. My husband and I were good friends and our marriage worked until he decided on a career change which took him away from our home and me. I bowled five nights a week and eventually started taking courses at night in an effort to get my degree in business.

My Dad was right, young women should not live alone. My husband was a narcotics police officer in Philadelphia. He worked nights and was constantly in dangerous situations which he could not talk about. The loneliness and isolation were unbearable, and I eventually strayed. My husband and I agreed on an amicable this day if we see each other, we are on friendly terms.

I married again at 28. My knight in shining armor turned out to be a dragon in disguise. For over 2 years, I experience verbal and physical abuse. Because I did not have a family unit to return to, my parents had divorced and my relationship with my parents lacked the compassion and kindness I hoped to receive. Plus, they were angry I had divorced my first husband. My father didn’t support me when I called him with a cry for help. In his mind, I was my mother’s daughter. That is a story for another time.

One night on our way home to Bensalem from hanging out in Center City Philadelphia, I had said something, and it triggered a beating. We were driving home in our two-seat TR-7 and he was hitting with his fist. I had no place to go in the two-seater and tried to block his blows. The next morning, I arrived at work with a black eye. My supervisor sent me immediately to Wills Eye Hospital for examination. A couple of days later, I was called into the center of the bullpen where our cubicles were four desks with a table in the center for a meeting. My co-workers had met and decided it was time for me to find a new home. One of them had just started working with us and she had a home with a room waiting for. It was a brilliant decision because she lived in Runnemede, New Jersey, and my husband, who was from Michigan, only knew how to drive across the Walt Whitman to Atlantic City.

It took a couple of months before I made the move...but I did.

A couple of years later, at 34, I divorced and married my third husband. He was someone I met as I was going through the separation process from husband number two and was my crisis clinic. I had become an outsider to my immediate family for good reasons. He was always there when I needed someone to count on other than my co-workers.

Ten years into our marriage, he came down with diabetes and refused to take insulin or accept the fact he had diabetes. He beat and verbally abuse me. His uncontrolled diabetes affected his temperament and his personality changed. A year later, I had enough and wanted to leave, yet I couldn’t. I didn’t want to move from this relationship into another without understanding why these relationships turned sour.

Therapy helped me unravel a lot that I held inside about my childhood abuse. It let me know as a child I was not the villain. It also explained my need to find someone who loved and cherished me.

I stayed in my marriage and we worked through the abuse and in 2003, when he passed away we were friends and he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Around 2002, I started attending an outreach meeting facilitated by a minister who had a manuscript he wanted to be published. That meeting was divine intervention. His book was never published, but I became one of his bible students and then after my husband’s death, I found my way to join his church in West Berlin, NJ.

I wrote about his experience in my book, “Joy Comes Through the Mourning”. I write about the series of processes I put myself through during the mourning and grieving process. I hope you would be interested in learning more about my four-year experience as a widow.

Yes, I married again in 2008. During the past 13 years, I have learned how to create my sanctuary and I am living the best life I can under my current circumstances. My husband is seriously ill and I am his sole caregiver. Each day is full and rewarding because I have created a world where I can go where ever I want and talk to friends throughout the world.

During my Christian development process, I became a Certified Bible Counsellor. Even though I am not actively counseling, I use those skills when I work with my clients who are writing about their abuse experiences.

I will put together a pdf that you can download on my resource page Episode 15 and it is also available on the coordinating Podcast Blog for Episode 15. Note: PDF delayed.

What I discovered over the last couple of years is the importance of Self-Care. I achieved this through self-counseling during my training at Living Word Bible Institute and also my church’s Green Grove Baptist Bible Institute. I am not a certified or licensed minister, yet I have been given the spiritual gifts and skills to help people through their process of grief, abuse, and self-actualization.

The pdf will take you through a personal data inventory. It’s so important that you know who you are and what makes you tick. It identifies information about your health, religious background, marriage and family relationships, and personality traits.

It helps you through knowing the challenges you currently face:

  1. What challenges are you experiencing...break it down personal challenges vs business challenges.

  2. What have you done about it so far?

  3. What are your expectations? How long will these challenges hold you back from moving forward?

There is also a Self-Confrontation section to help you do through a process of Self-Discovery.

Creating sanctuaries will be the theme throughout October. I have always wanted to begin an online counseling service sanction by my church. When and if it happens, I will be very happy to make that announcement through Smart Talks with One Smart Lady. So please subscribe to my podcast and also subscribe to my home on the web - One Smart Lady Productions dot com.

Creating Sanctuaries continues the conversation about Domestic Violence and Abuse Awareness. Deborah talks about her experiences with domestic violence in multiple marriages and how she has learned to create a sanctuary to keep her mind at ease and focused on her daily life.

She admits without the Lord's loving guidance, mercy, and grace, she does not know what her life would be like today. She truly likes who she is and what she has become despite the abuse she experienced as a child and married woman.

The following are excerpts from "Joy Comes Through the Mourning" I excluded from reading them to save time. I want to give you examples of how I created an emotional sanctuary through my writing letters to the Lord, letters to Donald, my late husband, and how I created a game of reading and learning scripture based on my birth month and day.

Write It Out Loud!

Over the years, even when I was going through tough times, I wrote letters. I wrote them to God, the person who hurt me, or to myself. I want to share with you the letters I wrote to Donald and to the Lord. They are not too intimate and personal to share. I found it necessary to just write my thoughts, no matter how crazy my thoughts may have been. Some of these letters will not make any sense, but what does when you are grieving? What they do is give you a glimpse into my mind and emotions as I healed. Begin to write your own thoughts in a composition book that you keep next to your bed; or near you where ever you are.

I also found that writing down sermons in my own words and taking notes helped me to understand what the Pastor and Seminar Leader were teaching. I also included some of my sermon notes in this chapter. Without attending group bible studies and church, I believe my healing would have taken a lot longer. God did have a word for me during this time and did help me go through the mourning.

I also believe that I was and am where He wants me to be because I spent so much time writing to Him and meditating on His Word. Obedience is also the key to finding joy and peace through this horrible phase in our lives.

I also learned the importance in growing in the Lord to receive the Fruits of the Spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit o love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Against such things, there is no law." Galatians 5:22

All Things 6-24, In Search of My Life Scripture

Looking back on this time, I realize that through my grief; I was grasping at anything that would help me stay focused on the Lord. I knew that during my period of denial and loneliness; I had to hold on to my sanity and my faith that he would bring me through.

I have embraced the importance of reading and seeking the Word every day. It is also said that everyone should have a life scripture, something that they stand for and strive to always follow. I did not know what mine was, so I decided to have fun while I searched for it.

So I decided one day to read chapter 6, verse 24 through every book in the Old and New Testament. I selected my birth date because I had not yet developed the ability to remember the chapter/verse of scripture. I know my birth date, and now I just need to learn the scripture. I don't want to memorize it without fully understanding what I am memorizing. I think that is the fallacy of memorizing scripture. There are many who can quote chapter and verse, but when asked what they get from the scripture, they cannot tell you. Ask someone what the shortest verse in the bible and they will tell you, John 11:35 "Jesus Wept". Ask them when and why He wept; they would probably have a very hard time doing so.

I believe we are predestined to have multiple options to follow in our life. Our choices depend on the closeness of our relationship with God. It depends upon when we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts. It depends upon whether we are in the word, praying and listening for the Lord's voice to guide us...

The following are a couple of verse-24 in Chapter 6 throughout the Bible.


"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

This verse over the years became very clear to me as I struggled to build and maintain my business and pay my bills. I learned to understand this was a warning not to covet the wealth of others in this world. I want wealth. I want it so I can live comfortably and be able to help others prosper.


"And she went forth, and said unto her mother, what shall I ask? And she said, "The Head of John the Baptist."

This verse for me shows that not all mothers are righteous.


"But woe unto you that are rich! for you have received your consolation."

This scripture identifies with those who trust only in their wealth and who lack a trusting relationship with God.


"When the people, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum, searching for Jesus."

This scripture tells me creating a sanctuary is essential to be alone with the Lord. When he walked among them, people hungered to be with Him and will travel to find him.


"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen."

When you take the time to look deep behind the stories in the bible, you will find the words are speaking directly to you. These are just four scriptures Chapter 6:24 KJV included in "Joy" from the New Testament. I am now curious about continuing the game.

I created my sanctuary to help me through the grieving process.

Five Stages of Grief

  1. Denial and Isolation

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance

These stages come in no particular order. I list them so you are aware of them and can seek help as needed.

You have to figure out what works for you? If you are living in a dangerous relationship, and you cannot leave immediately. Put a plan together to leave. Steal away hours to be alone with the Lord. If you can seek counseling.

Here is the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline - 800.799.SAFE (7233). 

Dating Relationship Abuse: Text
LOVEIS to 77054 or call 866.331.9474

Call if you are concern about your computer being monitored. It's safer.