merry hearts ministries

Growing up, I had always heard people say, “Well, the good Lord will never put more on you than you can bear.” I now know that it is not true. He will. He will put more on you than you can bear even if it takes breaking you to get you to come back to Him. He loves you too much not to. The truth is that He will never put more on you than HE can bear. I know this because that is what He did for me.

I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized at the age of 13. Although my childlike faith carried me down that aisle that morning at my Granny Suzie’s church, I was never rooted and grounded in the precious Word of God. It was not until much later in my life did I discover just how spiritually malnourished I actually was. As a young adult I learned that being a Christian is not at all about religion but is everything about relationship, a real everyday, walking by faith, relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

I was married to my childhood sweetheart by the age of 16 and was a mother for the first time by the age of 19. Our son, B.J., came along just five years later. Infidelity by my husband of 10 years invaded my marriage in 1990 when B.J. was only eight months old. After trying so hard in our own strength to try to make this marriage work, we separated for good in 1993. I was a terrified single mom by the age of twenty-eight.

There really are no words to explain the pain that one experiences when a marriage ends. There are no winners in divorce. It is always devastating for the children and always affects so many people. Little did either of us know at that time was that the one thing that was needed for real healing in our marriage was a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a real relationship with Him that is lived out day to day.

After our final separation in the spring of 1993 I decided that this was my chance for a brand new start. The Word of God tells us in I Peter 5:8 that we are to be sober-minded and alert because our enemy, the devil is a very subtle deceiver. It says he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Little did I know at that time that my selfish desire for that “brand new start” would play right into the enemy’s plan to try to totally destroy me.

Shortly after my separation from my husband, I met a man named Paul.  We hit it off immediately after we met. We had so much in common and I just knew that this was it! My one true love had finally come along. Convinced that I had finally found someone to “really love me”, I immediately (just a few months later) agreed to move to Myrtle Beach to live happily ever after with Paul along with my daughter Nicki (who was nine years old at the time) and my son, B.J. (who was only three
and a half).


What I did not know was that Paul, whom I had only known for a few months, was a "recovering" cocaine addict. I had never been exposed to someone using cocaine and I now realize that I missed many “red flags” that went up during our time together.


What I am about to share with you are some of the most painful memories that I all from that summer in 1993. The main purpose for this written testimony of my life is to be an encouragement to others who may have “messed up” so bad that they  feel like the Lord is surely through with them and certainly could never use them. I know because that is how I felt too. But I have good news…God loves you and He is willing and able to forgive you and restore you.


 I am a living testimony of what the power of a Holy God can and will do in the life of someone who will fully surrender to Him. The Bible is clear to tell us that God is faithful and just to forgive us of ALL of our sins if we just confess them and then He even cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness! I can honestly testify that He still gives me amazing grace on a daily basis.

It is only because of HIS strength that I can even begin to write about my life. Remembering our past is not always an easy task…for me it has been one of the most painful things that I have ever done. Nevertheless, I can’t help but share what He has done for me because I know where God has brought me from! I also know that in the middle of all that has happened to me, my God has been and will continue to be FAITHFUL!

On the morning of September 7, 1993 B.J. woke up with a bad cold. He had a little fever but mostly just a runny nose. B. J. stayed at home with Paul that day since he was sick and could not go to daycare. That evening when I returned home from work I noticed that B.J. still did not feel well. His nose was still running and he felt warm. I remember giving him children’s Tylenol, washing his little face and putting him to bed.


As I kissed him goodnight, I told Paul that if his cold was not better tomorrow that I needed to take him to the doctor. Since we just moved to the area, I decided that I would just take him to the local Urgent Care. The next morning when I woke up and went into the kitchen, I can still remember seeing B.J. sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal. Paul had gotten up earlier than me and gave Nicki and B.J. their breakfast while I was getting ready for work. I thought that it was a good sign that B.J. was eating breakfast and must be feeling better. I kissed them goodbye and told them I would see them at lunch.


The last happy memory of my baby boy was at lunchtime that same day when I went home for lunch. B.J. was in his room in his bed with his toy dinosaur that he called his “Barney”.  I went in to check on him and he woke up and smiled at me. I told him that I loved him and kissed him on the forehead. I said “I love you baby.” He said “I love you too…more every day!” I kissed him goodbye and went back to work. Little did I know that those were the last words I would ever hear him say to me.


I will always have a hard time forgiving myself for not taking him to the doctor that day at lunch but Ihonestly had no idea just how sick he was. Later that day at approximately 3:15 p.m. Paul called me at my office and told me I needed to come home and get him and Nicki right away. He said that B.J. had stopped breathing and Myrtle Beach Rescue was taking him to the local hospital! "He just had a cold!" I told him. I could not believe what was happening. Looking back, I know that it was the Lord that drove me home that day because I have no memory of getting there.


I remember arriving at the hospital and seeing the rescue personnel standing outside. I asked “Did you bring my little boy here?” The shaken look on their faces was one that I will never forget as they pointed towards the emergency room doors. “He’s in there” they replied. As we entered the E.R., Paul, Nicki and I were escorted by a nurse to a private office where we met with the doctor. “Despite everything we could do…he didn’t make it”.


Sometimes I still hear that doctor’s voice in my dreams. Even though it has been over 15 years now, I sometimes still have reoccurring dreams that I see rows and rows of doors and I can hear B.J. calling me. I see myself running from door to door frantically looking…but I can’t find him! I hear him crying but I can’t get to him! It was especially bad the first few years after he died.


Although I don’t talk about it a lot, I still struggle with guilt sometimes. I cannot even begin to explain the amount of guilt that was loaded on me that day. I know why people ask …“why?” My mind that day and especially my heart could not accept this as my reality. B.J., my beautiful three- year-old little boy was gone. “But…No! No! He just had a cold! I don’t understand” “He just had a cold!” My life changed forever that day.


One of the most painful things about this whole tragedy was the factthat someone that I cared about was responsible for his death. I remember the nurses and doctors asking about some bruises on B.J’s legs, back and stomach. “What are you talking about? He just has a cold! He just has a cold!” I did not understand what was going on. But I would later discover that there were a lot of things that I would not understand.


Paul confessed to Myrtle Beach detectives that evening to losing his temper on Tuesday, the day before, and pushing B.J. down. When B.J. fell down, his head hit the floor with such force that it bruised the back of his brain and started a slow bleed that would continue until it took his life. Once Paul realized what he did, he said that he immediately picked B.J. up and told him he was sorry. Of course, to a child when someone says they are sorry, everything is O.K. B.J. never told me anything about Paul pushing him down and Paul never told me about this happening either.

I did not have a clue that any of this had happened until the detectives told me the next day when they questioned me at the police department before they would allow me to leave the state of South Carolina. I could not believe that this man that I loved could be capable of something so horrible!


Since the assault happened on Tuesday and B.J. died on Wednesday, South Carolina Department of Social Services was sure that I knew about it and failed to get him proper medical care! Not only did I lose my little boy that day, I lost Nicki too. You see, later the same evening, South Carolina Department of Social Services came and placed her in a foster home. Unfortunately, it would be a whole month later before we could cut through all of the red tape between North and South Carolina and be able to get Nicki back home.

A lot of the details of the time just after B.J.’s death are still somewhat foggy. I can only really recall bits and pieces. I do remember being interrogated by the Myrtle Beach police the next day…I was questioned for over 4 hours before they were finally convinced that I did not know that Paul had assaulted B.J. the day before. The Department of Social Services would never accept that fact. After a month in foster care, Nicki was placed in the custody of her grandparents who lived over an hour away from me at the time. I was allowed only “supervised” visitation with her for one hour a week. It nearly pushed me over the edge to be classified as "a terrible mother". I was at my lowest point during this time.


Paul was arrested for Homicide by child abuse and later pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He received a twenty-five year sentence under the old sentencing laws and was released from prison in September of 2006. I have been asked how I feel about him getting out of prison and I guess that you might say that I really don’t know how I feel. There are still parts of this “healing process” that leave me feeling a bit numb. I have forgiven Paul for what he did. I have also learned that forgiveness is not a feeling...forgiveness is a choice.


My hope has always been that Paul will allow the Lord to use Him for His glory and that He too will share his story as a testimony of our God's amazing grace. I understand that he accepted Jesus as his Savior since being in prison and I honestly do pray that it is true. Because, you see, that same love, grace and restoring power that the Lord has given to me has also been extended to Paul. God is no respecter of persons. None of us are worthy of His grace…it is a precious gift that is available to anyone who will come to Him.

Still, I can honestly testify that our God’s grace is sufficient! You see, I was living so far away from the Lord at that time. I was suicidal, drinking; partying and just plain did not care. My life was over. I had messed up so bad that I really truly just wanted to die. I felt as if no one would really miss me if I were gone. I felt like Nicki would be so much better off! Can you see the deceiver at work? The devil is very
good at what he does. But praise God for the Word of God because in I John 4:4 God’s Word tells me, “Ye are children of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

I can remember going back out to look for a job. I was so full of shame. Most everyone in our small town knew what had happened to me. I can remember when people would ask me if I had any children and sometimes I would even act like I did not hear them so I would not have to explain. I worked several temporary jobs in the Smithfield, North Carolina area before I finally got the nerve to apply at the District Attorney’s office in Johnston County. I was convinced that Tom Lock, the elected District Attorney, would never hire me once he had heard all about the things that had happened to me. Little did I know that our God had a plan even then!


I started with the District Attorney’s office in May of 1995 and by June of 1995 I thought that once again I had found someone that was really going to love me. This man was someone that I had gone to college with and had known for years. I was convinced that it must be God’s will because he had custody of his little 4 year old boy and he needed help raising him and… I had so much love to give so… I married again in June of 1995.

I had never been exposed to domestic violence before, until now. I had heard about it from co-workers that had handled domestic violence cases in my office but I had never been exposed to this kind of anger until one day in my new marriage it reared its ugly head. I learned very quickly that I had just made a terrible mistake.

I soon learned that I did not want to make this man, my new husband, mad at me because I had just begun to see a side of him that I had never seen before. At first it simply started with cruel words. Later I learned this to be a form of verbal and emotional abuse. Then I experienced isolation from my family and close friends. Signs then came in the form excessive jealously that I had not experienced while we were dating.

One of the most hurtful things about all of this is that he had me convinced that he truly loved the Lord and that he loved me and his son and just wanted to have a happy Christian family. We attended church on a regular basis and I thought that maybe with some time and patience he would change. Unfortunately it would only be five weeks after we were married when he would lose his temper in a violent rage and slam my arm in the back door while I was trying to get away from him. The Lord was with me that night because I did manage to get my keys and get away and go to my mother’s house with just the clothes on my back. Thank God Nicki was not there that night! I was so ashamed…so broken and once again…a total failure!

I will never forget the next day at work. A co-worker noticed a huge bruise on my arm and knew exactly what had happened without me even telling her. She was so kind to me and even offered to let me stay with her if I needed somewhere to go. Again, little did I know that God was taking care of me even in the midst of some of the darkest days of my life. I soon learned that this man was not willing to seek help for his violent temper and I had to think about the welfare of my self and my little girl now so I never did go back to that marriage.


Thank God forthe courage to leave that situation and not look back. So many womenjust accept that type of behavior as normal and get caught up in the enemy’s trap and lies that tell them that this man is all they could ever get. In the few weeks that I had worked in the District Attorney’s office I learned that abusers have to seek help for themselves and this man was not willing to do so. I had already lost so much in my life and I just could not take any more chances on losing all I had left. I have since learned that he never did receive the help that he needed and that he did marryagain and did abuse again!

After I was divorced again in 1996 I would finally learn what it meant to have a real “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. It was not until then that I got serious about the Word of God. When I finally got into the Word of God, it got into me and I can honestly say that I have never been the same! I learned that some of the things that I had been “taught” about God and about my relationship with the Lord were not contained in the Word of God at all! I discovered that instead of needing a relationship with a man to complete me that I had a relationship with the Creator of the universe that was getting more beautiful each and every day!


I learned that I was a brand new creature in Christ Jesus…that old things were passed away and that everything was brand new. He taught me to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things in life that I needed would be supplied by Him! Just the mere fact that He would still want to have anything to do with me still fascinates me to this day! What an awesome Lord we serve!


On December 31st of 1996, I knelt by my bed and surrendered everything to the Lord. Jesus had become my Savior years ago but that day I cried out to Him and told Him that I needed Him to be LORD of my life! Before that day, I had been trying so hard to find the perfect man to complete me…someone to bring me happiness and joy. Little did I know that the perfect One was there all the time and His name is Jesus Christ.


I realized that evening that Jesus really is enough. I told the Lord that if He never sent me a husband that I would accept that but that more than anything else, I promised to serve Him for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, I still had to confess to Him… “Lord, you know my heart and you know that I have always wanted to be a loving wife and mother and …Lord, if you do see fit to send me a husband…please…please Lord just send me a man that loves you! “Lord, if he loves you, I know that he will love me and will take care of me and he will let me love him and take care of him…oh…and Lord…if he could play an instrument, that would be great too because I know you want me to sing for you!”


Funny as it may sound that was my prayer that evening. Little did I know what the next few weeks would have in store! On January 7, 1997 Danny Allen and I went on our first date together to church at the Erwin Church of God where I was singing that evening. A mutual friend told me about him and that he was a kind man that was looking for a friend. I did not personally know Danny at the time but I knew of him and everyone that I talked with that knew Danny Allen said that I could not find a better man to go out with…and they were exactly right!


I did not know at the time that Danny had never accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior but that evening we talked a lot about the Lord and he confessed to me that He knew that the Lord had been “dealing” with him. I started praying that God would somehow use me to show him the marvelous love of Jesus Christ and He did! Danny asked the Lord to take control of his life just a few weeks later while we were on a youth retreat with my church in Gatlinburg Tennessee! Oh, and guess what? Danny even plays the piano and sings! You see…it pays to be specific in our prayers!


The Lord had truly answered so many of my prayers! Danny and I were married on February 1, 1998 and we have never been more in love than we are today. I will never forget the day Danny proposed. It was February 27, 1997 and was B.J.’s birthday. I was at work that morning and it was very hectic that day. About midmorning a deputy came over to our office and told me that the District Court Judge wanted to see me in his chambers! I was terrified! This could not be good. I can still see the Judge standing there when I went in. He was just standing there with his arms folded and looking very serious.


“Come on in and shut the door” he said. “I need to talk to you about something that has come to my attention recently” he went on to say. “I understand that there has been some flagrant fraternizing between you and one of our local deputies.” I was in shock! I was just about to bust out crying! Then he cracked a little smile and said “The best thing you can do is get married!” Just then Danny came out of the judge’s chambers restroom (where he was hiding) and asked me if I would marry him and gave me the most beautiful engagement ring that I have ever seen! Of course…I said yes and the rest is history! I have seen the Lord become so real in his life and I can honestly say that I have finally found real love but it was only when I did it the Lord’s way and not my way.


One especially beautiful blessing that God has given me is Danny’s son, Jason. I have truly grown to love him as my own. Jason has a wonderful wife Emily and a beautiful little boy, Connor and precious little girl, Macie. When Connor was born on April 27, 2006 he looked so much like B.J. that it simply made me weep. Another wonderful blessing is the way that Danny has loved and accepted Nicki as his very own. I can honestly say that Danny loves Nicki and has always made sure that she was well taken care of…even when she wrecked her first car before she finished paying him for it.


Nicki married a wonderful godly man, Allen Williams, on July 1, 2006. Praise the Lord! God had answered another prayer! On November the 11th of 2007, Nicki gave birth to a beautiful little boy that she lovingly named "A.J." after his Uncle B.J and in February of 2010, she had a beautiful little girl, Lyla Faith. Now, I am a "Nana" to two wonderful little boys and two precious little girls! They are truly one of the greatest joys of my life. I love my family. I am a living testimony that my God is a wonderful healer of wounded hearts and a restorer of broken lives.


Today, I am currently working full-time for the North Carolina Courts at the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office as a legal assistant. I left the District Attorney’s office in Johnston County in 2005 to attend Bible College for a year. After Bible College, I knew that the Lord was directing me to go back to the workplace to share the love of Jesus with everyone I come into contact with.


In addition to working full-time, I am having the time of my life ministering the Gospel in song, in comedy and as a Keynote speaker for Women's Ministry events. Danny and I have traveled several hundred miles since answering the Lord's call in 2005 and have been truly honored to minister in over 150 local churches in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.


I LOVE what He has called me to do! I feel like it is what I was born to do. It is amazing how God has used something as silly as my comedy character, Eula Mae Etheleen Ledbetter, to get people to tear down their walls of pride and really begin to examine their lives and the example that they live on a daily basis. My heart's desire is that when people meet me, whether I am speaking, singing or even filing a document with the Clerk of Superior Court, they will know that I love the Lord Jesus and that I am not ashamed to tell anyone.


I sincerely believe that a child of God should be the kindest, most loving and joyful person that this world has ever seen. In the world that we live in today, we, as soldiers of the cross, should stick out like a sore thumb! We are called to be the light of the world and I am so thankful that the Lord has given me so many opportunities to tell the world about Jesus!


My prayer is that my story will be an encouragement to you and to those you love. My sole purpose in life is to testify to the goodness and marvelous, endless grace of God that is available to everyone through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


I titled this testimony “I love you more everyday” because it is the last thing I remember B.J. saying to me and also because the Lord revealed to me that He loves me MORE EVERYDAY TOO!


John 3:16 reminds us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life! Thank you Lord for loving me more…every day!


Please feel free to contact me if I can ever be of help to you or to someone you love. God bless you and thank you for taking the time to read this. I will close with one of my favorite passages of scripture.  Psalm 34:1-4 I will bless the Lord at all times; HIS praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.


Contact Information:
Teresa & Danny Allen
2351 Zacks Mill 7276Road
Angier, North Carolina 27501
FACEBOOK: Merry Hearts Ministries