In 1991, Tim Davis and Karoline Martin first met by literally crashing into each other on a Colorado ski slope during vacation.
At the time, Davis was a double-amputee, U.S. Marine Corp veteran and boys' correctional facility employee in Paso Robles, Calif., and Martin was an able-bodied U.S. Army veteran and equine-assisted therapist-in-training from Malvern, Pa.
Theirs had a happy ending, though — the two got married in 1998, said Karoline, who now is legally blind from wet macular degeneration.
A difficult early life
Born in Germany, Karoline moved to the U.S. when she was 16. She lived in a children's home until age 5, when she was adopted and was raised Catholic through her elementary years. After that, she had no structured religion until she joined the Army.
“For three months, my bunkmate kept bugging me to go to church with her,” recalled Davis, “and just to get some peace, I finally attended a service with her. When I heard the sermon with its message of, 'God loves everybody and that he is always with us, and that we were all created for a purpose,' I became extremely angry.”
The reason? Davis had lived through a horrific childhood that no child should ever have to experience, and because of the emotional scars she carried, didn't see how a loving God could let her suffer.
This deep-seated desolation and fury continued for six years, and from ages 26-38, she found her solace elsewhere.
Becoming a Wiccan
A longtime fan of Fleetwood Mac, Davis knew her favorite singer in the band, Stevie Nicks, was a Wiccan. Intrigued, Davis explored these tenets and decided this was something for which she felt an affinity.
“I became a solo Wiccan — rather than seek out a coven — and kept it to myself until 1993, when I began studying therapeutic riding as a career,” said Davis, who taught in the therapeutic riding field for many years. “Some of the therapists were involved with alternative philosophies, and I felt they would be empathetic with my Wiccan, so I began talking with them and experiencing gratifying energy flow, and felt accepted for my beliefs.”
Fast-forward to the years beyond the Davises' 1998 wedding, several years after their fateful ski crash. The couple currently makes their home in the Columbia City rural area where they keep their horses and other animals at TKE Farm.
In 2002, Karoline met Tim's Aunt Alvie in Kentucky, which became a turning point in her life.
“Aunt Alvie knew I wasn't Christian, but she always said I was the daughter she never had and loved me unconditionally anyway,” said Karoline, who has been legally blind since the age of 26.
The two women took to each other right away, and during one of Aunt Alvie's Bible readings to Karoline, she talked about baptism, which the latter had not known about. After the religious ritual was explained to Karoline, she had a sudden flashback.
While on tour in Germany in 1985, Davis was walking by a quarry, loaded down with her backpack and weaponry. She was talking to God, saying she was tired of the harsh military life and desiring to marry and raise a family and asking, if it were God's will, would he send her a sign things were about to change for the better and that it was OK to leave the Army.
“I think I needed to prove to myself that God did not exist because, if he did, his so-called love for me would require him to do something to help me change my ways,” she recalled. “I was hot-tempered, prone to fights and being trained toward more violence.
“I was raised in an environment of fear, hate and severe abuse, and was tired of being alone and I wanted to be loved and at peace with the world around me,” said Davis, who was the first woman to earn the Recondo Badge, which was from a course for survival training used by U.S. Special Forces in the 1980s.
The surroundings were completely flat, and there were no obstacles in her way; just the cliff that overlooked the quarry. Without warning, Davis lost her balance “for no explicable reason” and fell over the cliff into the water. She swam to shore, but for years has reflected on that day, wondering what caused her unexpected fall into the water . . .
“Well, honey, you done been baptized!” said Aunt Alvie when the story was shared with her. Karoline, upon hearing those words, suddenly was chilled with goose bumps, realizing she had indeed been given a sign.
“God obviously did something that day, but I was too blind to even realize it,” Karoline said.
Putting their faith to work
According to Tim Davis, his wife started listening even more closely to the Bible readings, and he observed with avid interest as his aunt gradually delivered Karoline from Wiccan into Christianity.
“They'd stay up 'til 3 a.m. talking,” recalled Tim Davis, who was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during military service in Vietnam. “When I first met Karoline, I didn't consider myself a true Christian. My parents did not go to church but listened to Oral Roberts on the radio on Sundays, so I never knew of Jesus or God.
“Karoline was the first Wiccan I had ever met, and I was so in love with her that it didn't matter. She explained it to me early in our relationship, and there was no evil or devil that I saw,” he said. “She had her beliefs, and I had little.
“We had been friends for many years before we married or felt anything for each other, Tim Davis said. “I am closer to God now than I have ever been because of her religion, and she is very close to God and her faith is strong. God has brought us closer than ever. Our daughter, Emily, has also helped lead us to the Lord.”
Tim, who is a full-time official with the U.S. Quad Rugby Association and who works nationwide tournaments each weekend, and Karoline have spent the last several years putting their faith to work through several venues.
They have been foster parents for several children over the years, have hosted eight foreign-exchange daughters from all over the world, and have adopted one of their foster daughters, Seria.
“Adopted children were heart-grown; biological children were home-grown,” said Karoline.They have also traveled globally on mission excursions. In January, they will travel to Uganda to help homeless children and to work in a home for abandoned babies. In May, they will go to Vietnam, where they will help in an orphanage and also aid PSTD-stricken veterans in their healing process by taking them to their combat areas.
They later will also travel to Ethiopia, where they will care for babies. They have also been involved with an organization whose focus is on rescuing children from the sex trade.
While a devout Christian, Karoline Davis still treasures some aspects of Wiccan. A major Wiccan belief is that, “Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive,” she said.
“Christianity offered me an example of unconditional love that touched me to my deepest core,” Karoline said. “Wiccan was my stepping stone to Christianity — instead of just appreciating the Earth in all its splendor and beauty, I now appreciate and love that which created the heavens and Earth. Instead of separating myself as being better than others, I now realize I am no better than the least around me.
“Christ's love is deep and profound and, when I open myself to love others as seen through Christ's eyes (not man's), I receive great joy that only can come from my God, who created me to love as he does.”