My Declaration of Independence

What Does Freedom Feel Like to You?

By: Susan Deborah Schiller    Photo Source

In the mini-memoir series

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My granddaughter experiences freedom when she's climbing rocks, her hands digging in the dirt, up high in the mountains. That's the kind of freedom God designed all of us to enjoy. For me, freedom has been purchased in "rising up" to defeat the exploiters and abusers in my life. Going to court has been like rock climbing, for me, but the victory felt just as joyful as my granddaugther's experience, I'm sure!

A short story from my mini-memoir….

Waving an over-stuffed file in the air, the circuit court judge declared my victory. While speaking directly into the microphone that had been recording this hearing for nearly two-hours, the judge said, "I find no credibility in the defense and therefore, I am deciding in Ms. McKenzie's favor." Switching the recorder off, he motioned for me to approach the bench, and said, "I hope you will NEVER sign another contract like this one!"

I was awarded full pay plus extra for the grueling month and a half I had worked for more than 400 hours – hours that my employer had decided not to finish paying me for.

When my former employer first spotted me at the hot springs mineral pool she saw a defenseless, broken woman who had been abandoned by her husband. With smiles, charm, and an A+ Christian atittude of charity, she wined and dined me into her motel. 

The day she hired me her mask dropped and all pretense of love and charity was exposed.

She gave me a suite next to the office (caused me to be dependent upon her for a place to live). We signed a one-year contract where I was to work part-time in exchange for rent (she had no intentions of honoring the contract and suspected I wouldn't enforce it). It seemed like a God-sent opportunity to soak in the nearby hot springs while having plenty of free-time to support my writing habit (I didn't get much writing done, because she changed the terms and enforced a 24 hour work day, 6 days a week). I had attracted just another abuser into my life.

I had to rise up, otherwise I would continually be seen as "prey" for the next abusive person, whether employer or friend. I had to take action, to go on the offensive.

Controllers work in predictable patterns and it usually begins with spotting someone who appears weak and vulnerable, in their eyes. If you're a "nice girl" watch out!

"I only hired her so I could go on vacation, your Honor!" whined the motel owner. "I haven't been able to get away from the motel for over a year. I wanted to see my kids!" She was a victim-turned-predator. A victim mentality makes you a soul-sucker. You may drain the life out of other people.

The judge replied, "Are you telling me that you hired Ms.McKenzie to run the whole motel for you, working full-time, for just $400 a month?"

The motel owner mumbled something incomprehensible. The judge repeated his question two more times before she finally answered, "Yes, that is the salary we agreed upon."

It was the only time the motel owner was truthful. If I had known she only wanted me to manage the motel during her vacation, I would not have felt bound to honor the one-year contract. I would not have furnished my apartment. I would not have cancelled plans for another job that had been offered to me. 

The truth will always come out, sometimes when you least expect it. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it means there will be a struggle, but love always wins.

"Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win" ~ Bernadette Devlin

It's a leap of faith. I am learning to rise up. I'm crossing over from a fear-based life history to a love-based reality.

Where do you want to be, one year from now? Whatever you speak (or write) is what you get.

Belief and faith are similar, but two distinct entities. Beliefs are formed by what you tell yourself every day, whether in thoughts or spoken words. 

As Christians, we so often "believe" but when it comes to taking action on our beliefs, we stumble. Faith without works is dead. Even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed, God is searching for you right now, in order to boost your faith with even more. He wants you to WIN, to SUCCEED, to OVERCOME all the evil in the situations surrounding your life.

I share my victory with you today, to encourage you that no matter how dark it is, look for the Light and run to it! God's already got the people, the resources, and the strength you need to win this round. So speak it out, declare it… it's your inheritance, in Christ Jesus!

This blog is my “Declaration of Independence” – publishing my life story is an act of rebellion against the controllers. Writing my life story is an act of rebellion; indeed, an act of violence against my oppressors. But more than that, it's a map to a better world – I am writing to an inner land of freedom.

Is there something you need to take action on today, to give your beliefs wings? To rise up?

Do you have a personal declaration of independence? Is it written? Do you speak it out day after day, hour after hour? How serious are you about freedom? I'd love to hear from you!

Related stories you may enjoy…

Rak Chazak!

Beware of the Strong Woman

The Beauty Within

Rise Up A Warrior

Your story matters! Let's write ourselves into a better world!

I'd love to share with you: "On the Way Home". It's Volume One of my upcoming book. You can pre-order a free copy by registering here.

With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate her way out of hell to a rich and satisfying life. In her lifetime, Susan has served in duties ranging from home school mom – to pastor –  to full-time deliverance minister – and to Midwest regional prayer coordinator for a large international ministry. These days you can usually find Susan soaking in her favorite hot springs pool, reading a book (or several), blogging, baking bread, or hanging out with her family and friends. You can pre-order a free copy of Susan's upcoming book, "On the Way Home" by registering here.

Copyright 2014, Susan Schiller,  For reprint permission for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Corinne Floyd April 24, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Thanks Susan- love your declaration.  I have dozens and dozens of quotes, scriptures, and words that I have collected –  printed on recipe cards and held together with a big ring.  I sit down and flip through my cards.


Ligia April 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Hi Susan,

This is an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it.

God bless!



Susan McKenzie April 24, 2013 at 7:08 am

Thank you, Ligia, for stopping by 🙂


Yetunde April 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm


Once again tahnks for the stories you share. They are meant to bless others and I'm sure they do. I usually tell people that "I know how you feel" is only right if the person saying those words has indeed walked the path of the victim.

Healing comes when thee words are spoken and out there. I'm also looking forward to your book.

God bless


Susan McKenzie April 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

You’re right, Yetunde… to say “I know how you feel” and really mean it is sometimes not even needed to said, once you’ve shared your story. Being transparent, people are eager to share with you their own story… because they can look you in the eyes and know, deep down, that you understand.

It’s a blessing… you are a blessing, Yetunde!


Susan McKenzie April 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Scriptures my friend Kimberly Dimck offered… so powerful!:

Isaiah 42:3~He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope. He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged.

Isaiah 54:17~But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. And everyone who tells lies in court will be brought to justice. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!

Isaiah 59:16~He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his mighty power and justice.

Isaiah 61:8~"For I, the LORD, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.

Ezekiel 34:16~But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes — feed them justice!

Hosea 2:19~I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.

Psalm 37:6~He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Psalm 37:28~ For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 40:9~I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O LORD, well know.

Psalm 45:4~In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!

Psalm 89:14~Your throne is founded on two strong pillars — righteousness and justice. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.

Malachi 3:5~At that time I will put you on trial. I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.

Matthew 5:6~God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

Matthew 12:18~"Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.


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