Monday, November 30, 2015

Grace Abounds in Deepest Waters...

What is your deepest fear? What are you most afraid of? Although I am not afraid of death, I do fear how I will die. I fear death by drowning. Can you imagine? Simply thinking about drowning is enough to send chills down my spine. The heaviness gripping at your lungs, heart hammering against your ribs as you panic to rise to the surface, desperate for a gulp of air. The darkness crushes you, enveloping your body as you grow tired from thrashing against the very water that will thrust you into the next world.

I was drowning. But it wasn’t water that was crippling me – it was shame. It was guilt.
What I am about to share with you is going to be messy. It is intimate, and it will have potential for great misunderstanding. I pray, Father God, give me the words.

I had an affair. I had an affair with a married man. I walked away from my marriage.

Allow me to rewind time for you –

My parents divorced when I was seven. Although I wasn't conscience of it for many years, my parents’ divorce destroyed my security. My daddy was everything to me. Not having him as a constant in my life left me feeling alone, unworthy and unloved. It would lead to a lifetime of poor choices. As a teenager, once I discovered that a boy’s attention made me feel good, I regularly exchanged sex for a few minutes of “love” and “worthiness.” I grew up in a “churched” home. I believed there was a God, but I wasn’t aware that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew that God was disappointed in my choices. I began to believe that the “bad” things that happened in my life were God’s punishment for my bad decisions.

And yet, I have spent years looking for someone to fill my deepest desire to feel loved and valued. *There it is. Right there. That sentence would become my demise. It would become my shame, my guilt and the ultimate collapse of my marriage. You see, I now know {at the age of forty-one years} that there is only one “someone” who can fill my desires. That “someone” has been beside me from the beginning. That “someone” was with me as I lay on my bed at the age of seven, griping my Maggie doll, trying to make sense of a crumbling family. That “someone” was whispering in my thoughts each time I gave myself to a random boy, desperate to feel valued. That “someone” has fought for my attention – fiercely making known that He is the answer. That “someone” is Jesus Christ. And if I am to be honest with myself, and with you – He wasn’t enough. I never knew how to allow Jesus to be enough. Or maybe I was too selfish to allow Jesus to be enough.

Two years ago my oldest son became entangled in a web of drugs and lies. It began the downward spiral of a family that from the outside looking in looked “together” and “wholesome.” Just four years prior, my little family of four and I became Christians – all of us turning our lives over to Jesus. We attended church together. We were involved in various church activities. We were developing friendships with “church” people. Life was good. Isn’t it amazing how the despair of a child can absolutely annihilate a marriage? In this case, my oldest son was not the biological child of my husband, which only added to the messiness of the situation. 

When I needed emotional support, I felt like my husband was lacking in empathy. When I needed spiritual support and guidance, I felt like my husband was flawed. When I needed to be held, my husband was not available. Our conversations became arguments. Our arguments became knock-down, drag-out fights. There was name calling. Threats of divorce were tossed around like a ragdoll. When rare moments of opportunity to spend time together presented itself, we chose to spend time in separate rooms. Our marriage was in shambles. But I was coping. I was coping by painting a fairytale marriage for the public to relish over. And I became brilliant at storytelling. I created a “hottie hubby,” a man who was an American hero. I generated conversations that would ensue laughter from my followers. I composed scenes of an enchanted family – happy in our home filled with love and giggles. How could I allow the public to know that my marriage was collapsing when they already were aware of my unraveling son? I needed others to think that I had some area of my life in control – my son might be failing, but by golly, my marriage was strong. …It’s numbing to live in such a lie.

I sought refuge, when I should have been seeking help.

In January I began a new job as Vice President of Marketing for the Missouri Baptist Foundation. I had prayed about the position with the Foundation since October when the job was “unofficially” offered to me. I had not been looking for a new job, in fact, I had a job that I absolutely loved and I was good at. But this job at the Foundation seemed like the right move. I felt like God had answered my very specific prayers, leading me to accept the position with the Foundation. My boss, Chris, was a familiar friend. Chris and I attended church together. We served on the praise team at our church together. I led the children’s choir at our church and Chris was my accompanist. Chris and his family had volunteered many times with me at my previous job. Our families had become friends, often spending time together on the weekends.

Chris and I spent a lot of time together traveling for the Foundation. Hours of car time initiated hours of conversation. Over time our conversations grew more and more personal and eventually we both began to divulge our deepest secrets. Both of us were struggling in our marriages. Both of us were seeking refuge. Chris became my confidant. He became my feelings of value. He became my feelings of worthiness. Chris became my refuge.

Do not be fooled - our affair did not start with our first kiss. Our affair began well before I even accepted the job at the Foundation. I specifically remember meeting Chris for the first time at church a few years earlier and thinking he was attractive. Blond hair. Blue eyes. Dimples. He sings. He plays the piano. He’s wildly talented. He was a spiritual leader within his family, and within the church. He is sensitive. He is kind. He is attentive. This is when the affair began.The affair manifested in my mind with each one of those thoughts. My downfall was that I did not capture those thoughts from the beginning and dispose of them immediately. Rather, I allowed those thoughts to grip me – placing a stronghold on my heart. Chris made me feel good – my iniquity {my flesh} was ruling over my spirit, and I allowed it.

This next part is what can be misunderstood…

I was aware that the affair had consumed me. I was fully aware that what I had become raveled up in was a sinful relationship. I was aware that what I was doing was wrong.

But I was exhausted of the fighting. I was depleted of the desire to continue to “try.” I was weary of the loneliness I felt. I was depressed. I was worn out from meeting the public’s perception of who “Betsy” was – giggly, upbeat, always smiling and positive, entertaining and hilarious Betsy. Inside I was screaming. I was beaten up. I was broken. I was living the life of one person on the outside, while living the life of another on the inside. I was sharing my testimony, preaching authenticity, when all the while I was living a lie. I walked away from my marriage because I desired to live in truth.

I am mindful that my words could possibly be the motivation for someone in a similar situation to seek help, and I find great peace of mind in that possibility. However, I am also conscience of the risk I am taking that someone else might interpret my words as permission to leave their marriage. I am convicted to share these truths, of which I fully believe:

I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I believe God created marriage as a covenant to last a lifetime. I believe God created marriage as an image of how Christ loves His church. I also believe God allows a marriage to end when specific sins have been committed. I believe the Church is a place to protect and guide individuals and families in bleak and complicated situations. I believe God would have wanted my marriage to be healthy and remain unbroken. I believe God gives us free will. I believe God is conceiving a different kind of miracle in my life – one of healing and redemption and true joy. I believe God is using my mess to be my message to others that are hurting. I believe no one should walk away from their marriage without first seeking help. I also believe only you and God know what is best for you.

Psalm 139: 1 & 2 ~
 “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”

Who am I to hide my thoughts from Christ? I covered my sin, burying my shame and my guilt deep in the pit of my heart. I made a choice to share my deepest desires, my heart and my emotions with a man that was not my husband. I justified my choices by convincing myself that I deserved to be loved. I deserved to be valued. I deserved to be paid attention to. I made choices that damaged my marriage, my family, my friends, my church, my work and most importantly, my walk with Christ. I made choices that carried shame. I walked away from my marriage. The ugliness of divorce has taken its toll. My affair planted rumors and gossip.  I have sobbed. I have thrashed against the suffocating waters of shame and guilt. I was drowning. Yet, God's grace abounds in deepest waters. Christ has covered me with His immeasurable grace. The more I am learning about Christ’s love, the more I recognize how unreasonable my definition of love was. Love is not an emotion. Love is unconditional. Love is unchangeable. Love is a commitment. Love is a choice.
The Bible says that God works ALL things for His good. I am clinging to this promise. I am not proud of the choices I have made. But I am also fully aware that God does not want me to continue to walk in shame. God is redemption. God is restoration. God is reconciliation. God is grace. God is mercy. God is unconditional love.

God is enough. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear...

What I love most about my walk with Christ is that each and every day I have the opportunity to examine my faith - through prayer, scripture, Christian studies or Christ-filled friends, God reveals ways of new growth and brighter paths. It is important for me on my faith journey to reflect - where would I be if I didn't have Christ's presence in my life? God knows that many times I have called out the name of Jesus in times of darkness and confusion but also in times of joy and thanksgiving. It is also important for me to share my journey with others - to "be God's light" that shines through me for others to witness. It seems fitting, this last week of 2014, to share where my faith has taken me this past year, particularly a testimony of listening for and hearing God's voice...

Over the past year my faith walk has been a walk of patience, forgiveness and gratitude. I have shared in a previous post the journey that my husband and I, along with my ex-husband and his wife, traveled with our oldest son, Hayden. A path of poor choices, difficult decisions, confusion. A path that has found the road to healing, grace, mercy and trust. I have also experienced forgiveness in a healed relationship with my father. I have come to understand, through prayer, the things I could not see - truly a forgiveness that can only come from God. I have been extremely blessed by new and growing friendships, employment opportunities, women's conferences and church family and my heart overflows with gratitude.

But perhaps the greatest area of growth for me this past year was the desire to seek God's voice, listen for God's voice and to hear God's voice. It is no secret that I am one to make decisions based on what I want, how I feel and how I can gain. I desire instant gratification - so when I excepted a new position with The Food Bank of Central Missouri back in May, I knew immediately I was exactly where I needed to be. I did pray about the position before accepting - and I honestly felt God's approval. Working for a non-profit organization whose mission is to feed the hungry - I was humbled to be a part of such an amazing task. To physically stand in front of people who didn't know where their next meal would come from and to hand them food to fill their pantry - well, it filled that "instant gratification" desire. I didn't need to "wait" to see the fruits of my labor - it unfolded before my very eyes.

So it comes as no surprise when I share with you that eight weeks ago, when approached by a friend about a new position within his ministry at the Missouri Baptist Foundation, my faith was being tested once again. Our first conversation left me thinking of possible friends I may have that would fit the role of this new title - I certainly didn't think I might be interested - I was still "new" at The Food Bank and I loved my job. But then my thoughts changed as I learned more about this ministry. The more I talked with my friend, the more my heart began to whisper to me: pray. I am certain I first "heard" God when my friend shared with me that he would like me to fill this position, but wanted me to really pray about it - and he would be in prayer too. I immediately went to my husband and shared this offer with him and we agreed to both be in prayer.

Now, you should know, I am a "specifics" sort of gal. I need to see and hear God through specific events, people, scripture, etc. I share that with you because this is how I pray - I ask God to "specifically" show me. So my prayer was exactly that: "Father God, I need you to show me three times where you want me to be. God, should I stay with The Food Bank? Should I take this offer with the Foundation? Show me the way, God." I was looking for "clues," so to speak - and I patiently waited.

Certainly nothing happened overnight {the way I preferred} and I must admit that at times I was growing weary - impatient. Many times my husband needed to scold me - revealing to me that I was, again, thinking in the flesh and not by the spirit. However, over the next few weeks, God did, indeed, uncover three things that led me to believe that He was pointing me towards the Foundation job.

And sadly, friends, I have to admit that I STILL was uneasy. I loved my job at The Food Bank - did God really want me to give up this passion? I needed one more "sign," if you will. It was a Saturday afternoon. My husband and I were sitting on the couch and I confided in my husband that I was leaning towards the Foundation job but I was still restless over the decision. My husband asked what the restlessness was about and I shared with him that I simply didn't have the heart to tell my current boss at The Food Bank that I was going to leave my position and take up a new job with the Missouri Baptist Foundation. I had only worked for The Food Bank for a mere eight months - I adored my boss and I didn't have the heart to face him. My husband responded with, "Let's go to God with this." Of course! - So we did, in that very moment..."Father God, I hear you. I see with my heart that you are pointing me towards the Foundation. But God, you know my struggle. I don't have the heart to tell my current boss that I am leaving. So God - I need you to take this struggle. If I truly belong at the Foundation, I need the strength and the confidence to tell my current boss - I need you to take care of this for me."

This is where I relish in sharing my testimony with you - this is the part I love - when I want to climb to the rooftops and yell for all of creation to hear - "GOD HEARS OUR PRAYERS! GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS!" I also want to be sure to share with you that God doesn't always answer prayer so quickly - but in my case, in this moment, He did.

The following Monday afternoon, my boss at The Food Bank called my cell phone. When I answered he shared with me that he was resigning from his position at The Food Bank to begin a career with The Missouri Baptist Home and would be leaving at the end of December. ....My jaw hit the floor. It was in that very moment that I heard God's voice. I knew where God wanted me to be and the future He has planned for me. It is with extreme thankfulness and excitement that I announce I have accepted a position as Vice President of Marketing and Client Relations with the Missouri Baptist Foundation.

This was a test of my faith - a test of patience, prayer and truly listening and hearing. A test of obedience. And I am confident in saying I passed. And I reflect, once again - where would I be without God's presence in my life? God will always be my guide - whether the journey is difficult or easy - God is always with me. God refreshes me through His Word, prayer, friendships and His presence.


Thursday, November 6, 2014


Any parent who has watched a child depart from the ways of God to follow the path of addictions knows what heartbreak it brings to a family. A little over a year ago when faced with the ultimatum of "home" or "drugs," our oldest son chose the latter. The ache I felt for my first born child - the sleepless nights, the confusion, the anger - oh, the ANGER - I was consumed. I wrestled with God many, many nights. I begged and I bargained. 
More times than not, we didn't know where our son was. Countless times I wondered if he was even alive. When it rained and thundered I felt like God was mocking me - knowing that I felt a storm inside my own heart. I shook my fists and I cried out - "I cannot do this anymore." 
Looking back, I see that this wasn't just about my son, Hayden - this was about me too. This was about surrendering completely to God. Trusting God. Praying for His will, not mine. 
The turning point for me was in the form of a prayer -yes, I had been praying all along, but the difference between my prayers before and this particular prayer was in one simple statement: "Lord, I give Hayden to you." "Simple" isn't the best word to use, because those words were the hardest words I had ever released from my mouth. But they were also the most freeing. You see, this particular evening I nestled into the silence around me. I closed my eyes and I  created a vision of the Cross. I imagined myself 
walking hand-in-hand with my son towards the Cross. A sense of peace begin to absorb me. As we came to the foot of the Cross we stopped, and I let go of Hayden's hand, placing him at the foot of the Cross and I whispered out loud, "Lord, I give Hayden to you." From that moment on, every single day, I prayed that same prayer, replaying that same vision in my mind. It wasn't a one time prayer, nor was it a one time vision. It was a necessity to get me through the days, the weeks, the months ahead. I can honestly say that eventually I had the confidence and the peace to know that God had a plan - and God works all things for the good. I also was at peace with knowing sometimes God's plan is not our plan...not MY plan. God's plan might include taking Hayden from this Earth – and I was in a place in my walk where although that would be terribly heartbreaking for me, I would trust God. So I waited. I continued to pray, faithfully, every day. But I was patient. Yes, I still worried from time to time – I am a mother, after all.
About two months ago Hayden returned home. He made a decision to turn himself over and to begin changing his choices, his lifestyle. I knew we had a long road ahead of us, it wasn't something that would happen overnight, but I was relieved and grateful.
But I was also right back to the beginning – wanting things my way. Praying to God, actually telling Him what to do, "Father God, please let 'this' happen - make 'this' happen - do 'this'." I've been praying that way since Hayden's return - and I was curious as to why I felt like I had lost my peace. 
On Monday evening, in my quiet time, I began to pray. Tuesday morning Hayden would face a judge and learn the consequences for the countless mistakes he had made over the past year. My prayer began like this, "Father God, please make the judge tell Hayden he has to enter into an inpatient drug rehabilitation. It's the only way he will be able to conquer this addiction. Please make the judge see through Hayden and the help that he really needs. ...blah, blah, do 'this,' do 'that' blah blah..." I stopped. I sat in the stillness and I realized what I was doing. Again, I was wanting to control the situation. Control has always been my downfall – I like to be in control, and the irony is I have never been in control! I changed my words, "Father God, I pray for YOUR will in this situation. I pray that YOU will do what ever will allow Hayden to strengthen his walk with you. I know that you work all things for the good, and you will not forsake me nor will you forsake Hayden. I trust you completely."

The judges decision was to allow a second chance to Hayden. Hayden has until January 4th to enroll in an outpatient drug rehabilitation program and to complete the program within six months. If Hayden can return to court at the end of his rehabilitation and prove he completed the program, the judge will completely wipe his record clean.

As I sit here and type out our testimony, I have tears - read the judgment you see it? Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. 

I think of my own baptism just five years ago – when Pastor Mark held me under the water and I came out of the water a new person in Christ. I had put my old self to death, I had been given the ultimate gifts of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I fall every single day on my faith journey, and yet Christ grants me those same gifts each and every day. Hayden's judgment is an amazing example of who and what Christ is to us. Hayden's journey is a part of his testimony – and also to mine. A lesson of surrendering completely to a God that loves us unconditionally. A God that works all things for the good. A God that fills us with joy, peace and hope. 

A God who wants ALL of us, completely - to trust in Him and to "Be still and know that He is God." Psalm 46:10 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Article #15: "God Has A Sense Of Humor!"

Let me begin by saying that the following story could have happened to ANY one of you ladies who are reading this. I know that I am NOT alone in this...I am NOT oblivious to the obvious...and I am NOT an idiot, (at least that is what I am telling myself).

I began my day with a dental appointment. I think all of you would agree that beginning the day at the dentist’s office is not the best way to begin a day, right? To add insult to injury (pardon the pun), I was having four cavities filled (as a side note, I would like to say that I am thirty-eight- years-old and I have NEVER, EVER had a cavity. Then, last week at my annual check up, BAM! I have FOUR cavities)!

Having four cavities filled at once (actually it's more like drilled, poked, prodded, pinched, polished) required a "numbing" medication to be administered to the left side of both my bottom and top jaw. My lips felt fat, hot, and tingly and when I tried to talk; I sounded like a stroke victim. The entire left side of my face was numb. I could not feel a thing, and when I got into my car and looked into the overhead mirror, my left cheek was sagging.

The reason I am sharing with you the details of my dental appointment is because I need you to fully understand and vividly picture what I looked like, what I sounded like, and what I felt like. And because I think (if you will agree) that I can somehow blame the numbing medication for the stupidity that I was about to display.

I left the dentist’s office and drove to my next appointment, not really with a doctor, but an appointment for my very first mammogram. What a day already! And it was only nine o’clock in the morning!

I was running a little late for my mammogram appointment, so I was feeling flustered on top of feeling foolish with the left side of my face hanging, hot and tingly. I checked in with the receptionist, who gave me a clipboard and pen, asking me to fill out a "personal information" form. I sat in the cool leather chair, placed my Vera Bradley bag beside me, and began to write.

"Ellyn Dudenhoeffer?" the mammogram technician called my name...


I stood, grabbed my bag and handed the clipboard over to the technician. I followed her into the back room. I was guided to a dressing "stall," and the technician set out two wet wipes to wipe any and all lotion and deodorant from under my arms. She pointed to a pink (the official color for breast cancer awareness) hospital robe and said, (pay attention here)...

"Remove everything, opening goes in the front..."


Did you get that? Let me repeat what she said...

"Remove everything, opening goes in the front..."


She left the stall, and I began to undress: shirt, camisole, bra, dress pants, and underwear. There I stood, naked as a jaybird. I grabbed the wet wipes, wiped the lotion and deodorant from under my arms, and slipped the pink hospital robe on, the opening in front. But the pink hospital robe was not a robe; it was merely a "top"....a sort of “hospital gown” that stopped at the waist.


This could not be right. I was completely naked and the "robe" only covered my ta-ta's and some of my stomach. So I thought what ALL of you would have thought; she probably meant to say, "Take off everything EXCEPT your underwear.” So I slipped my panties back on.


There I stood, underneath the fluorescent lighting, inside a 3 x 3 stall, freezing, wearing a pink "half" robe, opening in front, and panties.


I drew in a deep breath.


I exited the stall and walked into the dimly lit room where a large machine (undoubtedly invented by a man) stood, waiting to poke, prod and SQUEEEEEEZE my breasts between two four inch plates of glass. I stood in silence as I waited for the technician to join me. "Excuse me, mam?" I jumped, startled from the break in silence. I turned, and there stood a young woman in a pair of dark green scrubs. "Yes?" I responded. "Um, you can leave your pants and lower garments on!” She smiled sweetly as she walked away.


I looked down at my bare legs, already showcasing goosebumps from the cold air. I didn't even bother to look back up; I was completely horrified! OF COURSE I can leave my lower garments on, because this is a mammogram! A test for your ta-ta's! This appointment has NOTHING to do with my lower body! How. Could. I. Be. So. Stupid?


I quietly and quickly slipped back into my stall and replaced my slacks and shoes and then slipped back into the room just in time to meet the technician who smiled at me and said, "Okay, let's get started..."

I’m not certain that this story has a moral, really, except I am pretty sure that God must have an extremely healthy sense of humor. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and He has had some pretty good laughs at my expense!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Article #13 "The Perfect Christmas Letter"

Every year I attempt to write the "perfect" Christmas letter. You know the one, bragging on my three "precious," "angelic," and "oh-so-intelligent" little boys; my "strong," "hard-working," and "sensitive" husband; and the job that I "absolutely love." Christmas is a time for joy and the spreading of good cheer, so naturally we write Christmas letters to our family and friends of only the pleasantries from the past year.

The year 2009 was a rough year for my family, and I remember all too well that early December evening as I sat down with my laptop, cursor blinking on a blank Microsoft Word template, awaiting the first tap tap taps of my "jolly" news from 2009 for our annual Christmas letter. I began to type:

"Dear loved ones,

I hope this letter finds you rested and content during this busy time of the year. 2009 has certainly been...."

And then I paused, searching for the perfect word to describe what 2009 had brought for my family. The year flashed before me, and a thought crossed my mind: what if my letter wasn't all rainbows and lollipops? What would my letter look like if I was honest about it all, and I didn't leave the "bad" out?

"Dear loved ones,

We are flat broke. We embarked on a basement/master bedroom remodel that is now going on year two. All of our savings are going into this major headache of a project, and we had to use the Christmas money that we get from my father to purchase gifts for the kids...from "Santa.” Mark and I have had four major arguments this year, one in which I stomped out and "hid" at my office for eight hours (but boy, did I get a LOT of work accomplished)! I've been diagnosed with diabetes on top of my epilepsy, and my skin cancer has returned for the fifth time, requiring me to receive radiation (golly, that's always fun). Jackson still struggles with his reading, Benjamin quite frequently gets a spoonful of horseradish for foul language, and Hayden...well, he's a teenager (that should sum it up for you). My job is extremely stressful, and the probability of me meeting my goals are slim in this economy. Mark has traveled more this year between his job and his obligation with the National Guard than he has in the eleven years we have been married, leaving me (sometimes weeks at a time) to be alone with the three boys and all of their extra curricular activities. My license was taken away for six months due to the epilepsy, and so I was dependent on others for even small things, such as going to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. Mark had to have a root canal, which set us back an entire house payment, and the family doctor had to write him an excuse to give to his commander stating that a bad knee would keep him from completely participating in the National Guard PT test. My father is suffering from MS, my mother suffers from constant worry about my father, my brother, my special needs sister, and the world in general, and my siblings...well, that's another letter. Some days I feel like I'm going to explode; other days are great, and that is the beauty of mood swings..."

I sat back in my chair to evaluate what I had just typed. I had to smile. This is why Christmas letters are limited to only the "good,”- my goodness, I wanted to jump off a bridge after reading all of that!

But I continued my letter...

"and yet, despite all of these struggles, God has been so good to us! In February I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. In April we became members of a church that we adore! In May, Mark and I were baptized. The boys have made new friends through youth groups and Sunday school. Mark and I have been blessed through the church with new friends who have the same morals and life goals as we do. Just last week our oldest son Hayden was baptized, having accepted Jesus has his Lord and Savior. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table, and we both have jobs that we are passionate about! So to sum it up, 2009 has been LIFE CHANGING for us. We are coming to know Christ in a more intimate way, and we are amazed at what we were missing out on before!

And so I write to you, wishing you a very Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless you as he has blessed our family: with faith, knowing that He is God; with commitment, to build on our relationship with Jesus; and with light, the light of God to help us find our way through the darkness!"

There it was, my "perfect" Christmas letter! The good, the bad, and the ugly! This has become our new annual letter - a way for us to share with everyone we love a message that no matter how bleak life may seem, there is always light!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
The Dudenhoeffers