Category Archives: Celebrate Recovery

The Scars of Abortion

I want to share a story with you. It’s a story of pain, tragedy, death, love, and redemption. It’s a story that, until now, only two people have heard. It’s a story that I have hid in my heart due to my fears of judgment or condemnation from other people. A few weeks ago, God placed it on my heart to share this story and I have been reluctant to obey. After much prayer and attempting to bargain with God, I find myself sharing the story of my abortion.

I’m not sharing this for sympathy or attention – but to acknowledge the glory of God and how He can and will redeem us from our darkest sins.

Whether you choose to believe it of not, the psychological scars of abortion are devastating.

I was twenty years old. I was in college. I was in love. I drank a lot and I didn’t know that I was hiding behind hundreds of masks to hide my true self. I didn’t know who my true self was. I didn’t believe that anyone loved me for who I was. I believed that I only deserved love if I was “good enough” to earn it. I believed that he only loved me because I did things for him. I had no faith in God. I didn’t understand who He was. I pretended to be someone whom I thought others would love. I didn’t trust people. I was lost, but I didn’t know I was lost. I thought that my boyfriend was the only person who was looking out for me and I worshiped the ground he walked on and I would have done anything for him.

I always wanted a family. My own family was dysfunctional as child and I longed to have a family of my own – a family that included a mom, dad, and child(ren). I thought, if I could just have that, my life would make more sense and I would be okay. I thought I had found true love. I thought he was the man I would marry. He seemed to be the first man I had ever been with who was interested in more than just that “one thing”. I was broken though. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but my life was in shambles and I was grasping for control.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was scared but I was elated. I thought that he would be happy and that we would become a happily ever after family. But I was very, very wrong. When I told him, he said that he would support whatever I chose. But he kept pushing for abortion. I was terrified of losing him and I didn’t want my child to be raised the way I was, without a father. If we had this baby, I would disappoint my family, I would never finish school, I would never amount to anything, I wouldn’t be a good mom. In short, I would be a failure. I had never given much thought to the topic of abortion in my past. I always thought I was pro-choice. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I always thought it wasn’t for me. The more he suggested it, the more I wrestled with whether or not I was okay with it for me. But if it was legal and our government said it was okay, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Abortion was a way of making sure that I didn’t have to give up on my own dreams. After many weeks of coercion, I agreed to “take care of the problem”.  He never seemed to give any thought, and nor did I, to how going through with this would change our lives forever.

I sat in front of my computer, very hesitant. I didn’t know how hard it would be just to type the words “abortion clinic” into the Google search bar. The results appeared quickly and I had the name and number for the place I needed to call. I picked up my phone and dialed the number. I just stared at it for a minute, trying to give myself the courage to press send. When I did, I felt like the line rang for eternity. I was finally greeted on the other end by a young woman with a chipper voice asking, “how may I help you?” I stumbled through my words and I struggled to get them out, “I-I-I-I n-n-n-need to have and a-a-a-bortion.” She responded in that same chipper voice, “Okay, no problem. We can help you with that problem.” She then proceeded to tell me what I needed to do, how much it would cost, and how I was doing the best thing for my future. She set up my appointments and told me not to worry. She told me that everything would be back to normal once it was taken care of.

The clinic required a “pre-op” appointment. I went to that first appointment by myself. I was young, scared, and confused, but I was convinced that if I ever wanted a chance to have the life I had always dreamed of, I needed to go through with it. That appointment was overwhelming. I heard all the scientific facts of the thing growing inside of me and how this was the best thing I could do for my future. But no one ever spoke of the growing mass in my belly as a baby. No one told me that my baby had a heartbeat. No one told me that my baby could feel pain. No one told me that my baby was a baby. These are things that I wouldn’t learn until after it was over; after I couldn’t change my mind. They tried to prepare me for what my body would experience as a result of the procedure. They explained that there would be some pain involved but that after a few days I should feel pretty normal again (what they didn’t know, and neither did I at the time, is that I didn’t know what normal felt like). They explained to me that I may experience a little sadness but that would simply be the result of my hormones getting back to normal. But what they didn’t try to prepare me for was the emotional distress that would pour into my life after “my mistake was taken care of”. No one told me that the abortion really meant ripping my baby limb from limb from the warm, secure home he had, had for 11 weeks in my womb. By the time I left that appointment, they had convinced me that I was doing the right thing. The doctor and nurses promised me freedom and happiness once they had “fixed” the mistake that I had made. I was sure that if I let the thing developing inside of me turn into a baby, my life would be ruined.

I had to wait three days before I went back to the clinic for “the procedure” as they called it. But those few days felt like an eternity. I felt like an inmate on death row who was waiting for her sentence. I was terrified of what was going to happen, but I was sure that once it was over my pain would be gone. Those days dragged on in a haze of confusion and alcohol abuse. I was sure I was doing the right thing. I was sure that everything I was feeling would go away once the problem was gone.

It was like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and everyone around me promised that if I stepped off the edge, I’d find happiness, freedom, and peace. But the voices I kept hearing all around me were 100% contradictory to everything I was feeling. I didn’t know at the time that what I was feeling was love and compassion for the life inside of me. I thought I was feeling contempt for it and would be glad once it was gone. I felt trapped and I didn’t know whether to listen to the voices or my feelings. Most of my history had taught me that my feelings couldn’t be trusted, so I was quick to disregard my feelings.

I was a control freak who felt like I had lost all control of my body and my life.

So I stood on the edge of the cliff and looked over the expanse. I didn’t want to step off the edge because I didn’t know what I’d be falling in to. All I could see was endless darkness. But I also didn’t want to walk the winding path that was behind me. As I turned to assess what the scene behind me would behold, the twists and turns horrified me. I saw wild beasts that looked ready to attack if I tried to take even one step forward. Thorns and thistles lined the path and darkness consumed it. It was intimidating and terrifying, but I could see the terrors and could prepare for how to handle them. The voices inside of me told me that if I went down this path it would hurt, I would disappoint and hurt other people, and that I would fail; but those same internal voices told me that I could and should take the risk. But then there were the louder, more tangible, external voices that urged me to step out into the vast unknown oblivion. They promised me love, security, freedom, and acceptance if only I took the step off the cliff. They promised me that what I couldn’t see in the unknown was a better life, a life free of my “problem”. They told me I could trust them. In a desperate attempt to find love, safety, and acceptance, I abandoned my own feelings and decided to step off into the oblivion. But that one step left me falling into a darkness that I didn’t know how to handle.

It’s funny, really, the lies you believe when you have no foundation of truth.

The night before the “procedure” he had promised he would be with me, he promised that he would support me through the whole experience because, as he said, we were doing the right thing. But that night, I experienced the first in a long string of broken promises. He didn’t show up and I was left to wrestle with my confusing emotions on my own. I was unable to sleep as my mind kept taking me back to that cliff and the fear of the unknown that I was about to enter into.  When he arrived at my house the following morning to take me to the clinic I was filled with anxiety. My thoughts were running in so many different directions that I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I felt alone, scared, and out of control. I placed my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being into the hands of the man that I thought loved and would only do what was best for me, not knowing at the time that my safety and security were the last things on his mind. He told me we were doing the right thing, and I believed him. But if this was right, then why did I feel so wrong? If this was right, why did I feel so condemned? If this was right, how come I felt so ashamed? If this was right, how come I felt like, from that moment on, I needed to guard this secret with my life?

Entering the clinic was overwhelming. I was walking in, a scared, twenty year old, pregnant young lady and I was promised that I would be walking out as a freed and happy young adult with a bright future. I was consumed with confusion as I was greeted by smiling faces. How could they be smiling about something that felt so wrong to me? I was deceived and I didn’t know that behind those smiles were people just waiting to take the life of the unborn mass of cells that lay within my abdomen.

We had a seat in the waiting room and it felt surreal. I was buying into the promises of freedom and I couldn’t wait to reach the other side of this, to be free of the feelings that this pregnancy had brought upon me. I had been convinced that everything I was feeling was not negativity toward the procedure but actually toward the pregnancy. My name was called; I squeezed his hand, and walked through the doors that I would never walk back out of. After several needle pricks, my arms were left sore and bruised. I was asked to change my clothes and have a seat in another waiting room. This room was full of terrified girls and young women. We were all waiting to hear our names called so we could get this over with. The room smelled of shame. At the time, I assumed we were all just ashamed of our pregnancies. If you don’t know what shame smells like, step foot into the waiting room of an abortion clinic, it’s an unmistakable smell that one can never forget. A few of the ladies tried to make small talk, but mostly we all just kept to ourselves, trying to hide our faces.

One by one, our names were called and one by one our babies were murdered. Finally, it was my turn. Finally, I would be getting that freedom that I was promised.

I followed a nurse back to the “exam room”. I think death chamber is a more appropriate name. I’ll never forget this doctor as long as I live. He was wearing sky blue scrubs and a face mask. I have often wondered what he was hiding behind that mask. But what horrified me were his eyes. His eyes were like ice and it chilled me to my bones. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in the presence of evil and my consciousness shut down.  I had made myself become numb; I felt like a zombie. I had absolutely no control over my body. The doctor and nurses spoke to me and my body responded to them, but I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I followed orders and laid down on the table. I watched as the doctor pulled the stirrups out, placed my feet in them, and strapped my feet down. At the same time, a few nurses were on either side of me securing my arms. One nurse injected a medication into my arm that would sedate me and I felt a cold sting run through my veins. I felt as if I had just been injected with the ice from that doctor’s eyes. The medical team was busy with mindless chatter as I lay there helpless and afraid. It was as if what they were about to do to me meant absolutely nothing to them. But I still thought they were helping me. One of the nurses urged me to close my eyes and promised I would be asleep before anything started. That’s when I felt the doctor touching me and I felt a warm tear streak across my cheek. The doctor said, “this will be cold,” as he pushed the frozen ultrasound probe inside of me. I felt like I had been penetrated by the evil I saw in his eyes; but he was helping me, right? My mind was starting to feel cloudy and I was beginning to lose consciousness and that’s when I heard the doctor’s voice again. “Wow, that’s a strong heartbeat. Oh, no wonder, there’s two.” It was in that moment that I changed my mind. I tried to speak and struggle free. My mind was screaming, “let me go, let me go,” but the drugs they had given me had done their job; I was too weak and disoriented and my eyes closed. The last thing I heard was the distinct sound of two very strong, very healthy heartbeats.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up to extreme pain and I heard the humming of the torture device that was ripping my babies from their home. I tried to scream, but nothing would come out. Then I felt that cold, evil sting in my arm once more and I was again unconscious. The next time I awoke, I was being forced from the exam table to a wheel chair. One of the nurses pulled on my arm and almost yelled for me to “wake up and move.” I groggily followed orders, still unable to comprehend what was happening. Was it over? Was I fixed? Was I free? As I stood up, I was overcome with pain and I nearly collapsed into the waiting wheel chair. This was their first time in my life that I had ever been blinded by pain. This is when I first realized that I was falling and I couldn’t catch myself. But I was sure that those promises of freedom, love, and happiness still waited for me.

I was moved to a recovery room where four recliners sat side by side. Three of the chairs were already filled with shamed and hurting young women who had, like me, unknowingly just committed the biggest mistakes of their lives. I painfully made my way into the chair and quickly fell back to sleep. I was only vaguely aware of the busyness around me as everyone else seemed to go about their business. As I opened my eyes again, a male nurse approached me, sending me into a panic. He had the same icy eyes as that doctor; however his voice was much gentler. He told me that it was time for me to get dressed and leave. My head was foggy and my legs were unstable, but I felt sure that as soon as I could get out of this place, I would experience the freedom I was promised. No one had prepared me for the amount of physical pain I would be in. I got dressed and was only able to half listen to the instructions the nurse was giving me. He then walked me to the back door and led me out of the building where I found my boyfriend waiting to take me home. At the time, I wondered why we weren’t allowed to leave out the front door after the procedure, now I realize that they don’t want the young women in the waiting room to see the pain and despair on our faces – that might lead them to change their minds. That’s why they made us use the back door.

I had expected him to take me in his arms and tell me how much he loved me. I had expected him to embrace me and tell me he was sorry for my pain. I had expected him to comfort and protect me. But all I really got was silence. More broken promises. Where was my freedom? I felt more bound, confused, and ashamed than ever. I couldn’t even look at him. On our way home we stopped for lunch and I looked at him, with hatred in my voice and said, “it was twins.”

I didn’t realize then, how much I already loved them.

The weekend was a blur of pain, sleep, and crying. I hated sleeping because I was overcome with grief in every nightmare. I caught glimpses of the baby boy and girl that I had just killed. They wanted to know why I didn’t love them. They wanted to know why I had killed them. They wanted to know why. And so did I. But when I was awake, I was in such a tremendous amount of pain that I could barely move. I was sure though, that I deserved this pain. The babies in my nightmares told me I did too. Being awake and facing the physical pain was better though than being asleep and having to see their small, mutilated bodies crying at me. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t think I would survive. I truly believed that this pain would literally kill me. And a part of me hoped it would. I didn’t believe in God at that point. I thought God hated me and had forsaken me many years before. But I cried out to Him, asking Him why He was doing this to me.

He stayed with me for most of that weekend. I probably would have taken my own life if he hadn’t. Two days was not enough time to heal, but I told myself it had to be. Monday rolled around and I had to convince myself that I was fine. I had to forget the pain and move on. After all, I had been promised freedom and I was determined to find it.

The promises were all broken. My boyfriend’s support quickly dwindled as did my trust and faith in him. I had placed my body in his hands and allowed him to control me and he shattered every fiber of my being. I was determined to never be that vulnerable again. I was determined that no one would ever have that kind of control over my life again. I was determined to regain control of my own life.

The promises that the doctor and nurses made to me about love, acceptance, safety, and freedom were all lies. It was never about love, it was about death. It was never about acceptance, it was about alienation. It was never about safety, it was about fear. It was never about freedom, it was about bondage.

In an attempt to cope with and hide my pain, I turned to drug and alcohol abuse and I also struggled with self-harm and bulimia. These things only deepened my shame and left me bound in my despair. I did all I could to avoid feeling the pain.

This story took place just over 6 years ago – January 11, 2008. In these past 6 years I have hidden and run from much of the pain I have felt.

I stepped off that cliff and I started falling. I was terrified by what the impact would look like once I finally hit the ground. Would I break and shatter and lose it all once again? Or would God’s loving arms catch me before the impact could ruin me?

I choose to believe that God will catch me. No other promise has felt as secure as that one.

Facing the pain of the abortion was hard. It was, after all, a choice that I made. I cried many tears and yelled at God many times. But trusting in myself and what I could do had obviously not been helpful, so the only choice I had left was to trust the God who said He could heal me.

I think we get so bound by our shame that we convince ourselves that IF God is real, He can’t forgive this and that we are hopeless. But that’s why I wrote this, it’s not hopeless and you are forgiven. You just have to trust Him. Trust is hard and can sometimes be painful, but it’s worth it.

It is only by trusting God and allowing Him to show me the depth of my sin and shame that I have been able to find freedom. I have worked through the “Surrendering the Secret” Bible study and Celebrate Recovery step studies. Those, along with lots of prayers and tears, have helped me to understand who God is and who He says I am. The shame of abortions is real and it is deep. Most women hide it so deep that they don’t even realize how much they’re still hurting.

I hid it for 5 years before I realized how much I was still hurting from it. After 5 years of hiding the pain so deeply, I had forgotten how to feel it. It’s taken this past year to work through and process all of the shame and emotions I’ve felt.

It’s odd really, when women choose abortion they choose it because they don’t believe that they have any other option. We’re promised freedom, but what we find is the furthest thing from it.

I’m sure there will be controversy about the topic of this post, and I’m okay with that. My goal isn’t to make everyone happy, but to simply share my story in hopes to help someone else. I want it to be known that I will not engage on any arguments or debates and any condemning comments will be deleted.


You Lead, I’ll Follow

Finding God’s will for your life is hard….but I think that’s the problem. We’re all looking so hard to do great things for God that we miss the small opportunities that He gives us. We miss the ways in which He is using us now. We want to serve Him in magnificent ways, and we seems to somehow forget that sometimes, the most magnificent service is the mundane, ordinary, and boring everyday tasks that not many people want to do.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I get stuck sometimes…frustrated…because I want to serve God. I want to share Him with everyone around me and tell people all that He has done in my life. But sometimes, that just means living my life, trusting Him to get me through every day, raising my children to know and love Him, honoring him in my relationships with other people. Most often, He asks us to serve Him in ways where we don’t even realize we are serving Him.

Luke 16:10 – One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

I think, at least for me, the biggest focus should be on trusting Him to get me where I need to be. I hate stepping out of my comfort zone, but some of the best memories I have are when God has used me to serve Him in areas that extend from my comfort zone. God has recently presented me with another opportunity to serve Him. It’s an opportunity that I am excited about…but it is also an opportunity that asks me to exit my comfort zone and trust Him more. It’s an opportunity for God to continue to show me how faithful and trustworthy He is. It’s an opportunity for me to extend to others the grace, love, and mercy that have been extended to me.

Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

God has given me passions and dreams and He has gifted me in certain ways. It is my job, no matter how small or how large, to use my gifts in a way that honor and serve Him.

You Lead, I’ll Follow
Where do You want me
My heart wants to know
Is it here, is it there?
Guide my steps as I go
I’ve walked around blindly
Looking for Your will
All the while You were asking
That I simply be still
Am I longing to serve You
Because of Your grace and mercy
Or do I seek recognition
Which is just serving me
I ask You to search me
Show me the truth
Take away anything
That’s not pleasing to You
You say You will use
The wounded and weak
So here I stand now
Ready to hear You speak

When I was lost
You brought me Home
You showed me love
When I thought I was alone
My heart, once empty
Has been filled to me brim
With the life You gave me
When You freed me form sin
I’m not who I was
And I’m no longer in chains
I’m not bound to my past
You took away all my shame

So let me take this new life
And make it be known
With my Father, my God
I’m never alone
Bring me to places
That will challenge my fears
Through the thick and the thin
I know You’re right here
So wherever You want me
That’s where I’ll go
No questions asked
You lead, I’ll follow


7-in-7 #6: A Poem for a Codependent

I’m a little late with #6….but here it is…

There’s a story I want to tell you
About a little girl
Who fears your rejection
From the depths of her world
You smile or frown
And she picks up on that
She adjusts herself
To be what you want
But what is she learning
In this little game
That if you’re not happy
She’s not okay
She convinces herself
It’s on all her
To keep the world spinning
Now it’s all a blur

She’s burnt herself out
She’s tired and worn
And your absent acceptance
Has left her torn
She is who she is
That’s all she can offer
She can’t try so hard anymore
She’ll never be “better”
So take it or leave it
Is all she can say
Because your acceptance
Doesn’t define her today


Leaving a Legacy

When I leave this world, I want to leave a legacy behind me. I want to live in such a way that when people look at me, they don’t see me. I don’t want to be remembered for the things I did, but I’d rather be remembered for how I loved. That may sound incredibly self-centered, but it is actually God-centered.

I recently went to a funeral for an amazing man, who started the Celebrate Recovery ministry at my church. Celebrate Recovery has changed my life. I came to Celebrate Recovery not believing in God; actually, I didn’t believe in Him and I hated Him at the same time. Through Celebrate Recovery, I have learned to see who God is and how He loves me.

This one man has touched so many lives. I only met him once, but he impacted me more than he could’ve ever known. He loved imperfect people like Jesus and shared grace and hope whereever he went. His legacy will live on forever.

A Legacy
A man is a man
We’re all flesh and bone
But some leave a legacy
Like a carving on stone
Some men live their lives
As an offering of love
Sharing grace with each life
Who is blessed with their touch
That’s who Tom was
His heart will always live on
Because of the impact he’s making
Even after he’s gone
Day after day
God is molding my heart
Changing me, through the ministry
That Tom was called to start
I didn’t have to know him
For his life to touch mine
Because the life that he lived
Showed me a love, so divine
The works of his hands
The loved that he shared
So the whole world would see
That God loves and God cares
Tom knew that God blessed him
So he loved others like Christ
Not knowing the world would change
By the effects of his life

Men like this are rare
Their legacies are far reaching
And even after they’re gone
Their lives don’t stop teaching
The hearts that he’s touched
Have turned around to touch me
So I can share with another
How I’ve been set free
But really, what I’m saying
Is look at the love
From a Father who’s grace
Is always enough
No, Tom wasn’t perfect
But his love sure did shine
And even though he’s now gone
His legacy spreads like a vine


Weekly Writing Challenge: Life Change in a Split-Second

The moment he told me he had always loved me, my life changed forever. After that moment, I could never go back to life as it was before.

As a kid, I loved standing on the shore of the ocean. The unknown out in front of me; a beautiful, open expanse of water that could take my life easier than I knew, or cared, at the time. This unknown caused my stomach to turn and my heart to flip, but I always dove in head first. I was ready for the adventure that the crashing waves would provide for me, or so I always thought. The adventure, on more than one occasion, had proven to be more than I could handle though as massive wave crashed against my small frame. Several times, I fought against the waves, always thinking I was battling for my life. One wrong move, one slip of the hand, one missed kick of the foot, and the wave would win. But this vie for life, this rush of adrenaline, this risky chance, is something I enjoyed taking, as summer after summer I ran into the water, at the mercy of the waves. Little did I know this would become a metaphor for my life.

Let me explain. My life has brought me through a series of waves that I have continuously battled against. Waves of shame, anger, depression, guilt, frustration (you get the picture) were constantly telling me I was not good enough, that I would never amount to anything, that no one loved me. And I battled these waves for as long as I can remember. I thought if I was stronger, if I could fight harder, if I could find the right “weapon” to fight with, I could win. But I spent most of my life struggling to keep my head above water. The waves always seemed to be one step ahead of me and I was slowly drowning.

I was almost 24 the first time I understood that my dad loved me; and once I knew that, I was done fighting. I gave up and let the wave of love take over me. I succumbed to honesty, truth, and faith. This time though, the wave was not trying to pull me under. Instead, it washed me onto the shore and landed me on my feet.

You see, not knowing my dad for 23 years of my life had taken its toll on me. I was torn, battered, bruised, and broken. Just a few weeks before my 24th birthday I talked to my dad and he shared some of his life with me. But the moment he spoke the words, “I have always loved you,” I felt secure. It was that moment, that exact second, that my life changed forever. Knowing how my dad felt about me was freeing and I exposed my hidden heart to him. I confided in him things I had never told another person. All my life, this is all I had ever needed – to know that my daddy loved me.

Sharing my repressed and forgotten hurts with my dad spurred me onto an emotional journey of healing. That is where I found Celebrate Recovery. Through the CR program I found healing, love, acceptance, peace, joy, and belonging. I discovered who I am – I am not my past, I am not what I have done. I am a loved and cherished child of God and NOTHING can take that away from me.

 

This post is written in rsponse to the Weekly Writing Challenge.  Check out the link to see more about it or to join in.


I’m Not Who I Was

I have a heart that longs to serve God. I would like to say that I have always had that heart, but that is not the case at all. A year ago, I had preconceived notions of who I thought God might be. But as in most other things in my life, I had only jumped to conclusions before knowing all the facts. I didn’t understand God for who He was. I thought IF God was real, then He hated me and He was simply waiting for a moment to strike me down. I have since discovered, though, that I was very, very wrong.

I’m not who I was, but not because I did anything to fix myself. If I was left to my own devices, I would have killed myself by now. I do not say that to be morbid or depressing, but simply to be honest. I was on a downward spiral through most of my life and I was quickly destroying myself. Satan did not need to get involved in my life to make me miserable; I believe I was doing enough of that myself. When I finally realized something had to change, I thought I had fallen too far. I never thought God could pull out of the pit of despair that I had found myself in, nor that He would want to.

Because of God’s grace, I am not who I was. He has changed me from the inside out. The simple fact that I long to serve Him, proves that He has done something in me to change my heart, because I would have never developed that longing on my own. Shortly into developing my relationship with Christ, God showed me that He wanted me to minister to high school aged kids, specifically girls. I knew that, that was not where He wanted me at that moment; I had plenty of healing to do myself before I could’ve even considered helping anyone else. But I also know that one day, that is where He would get me.

Luke 16:10 – Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

So trusting in His sovereignty and providence, I have gone through a long and arduous healing journey. It has been painful and educational. I have learned a lot of God and myself. And I am not done. I will be on this healing journey until the day He brings me home. I am a codependent. My recovery will take place daily, for the rest of my life. I am a walking relapse.

I feel unworthy of all the God has given me and I am blown away and awe-struck by the fact the His Son, Jesus Christ, DIED FOR ME!! But in the feeling of unworthiness, God continues to bless me more than I could have ever dared to dream.

This past week alone, He has given me so much healing and freedom. I am astounded. I thought I was free already and I didn’t think it could get much better…BUT IT DOES; AND IT DID!!

Ephesians 3:20 – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

At last week’s Celebrate Recovery meeting, I shared my testimony for the first time. I walked into it shaking; I was terrified. A friend told me that once I opened my mouth the Holy Spirit would take charge and the nerves would be gone. I didn’t believe her; I thought that might’ve been true for her but I doubted that it was true for me. There I go again, not trusting in God’s power. But this friend of mine was correct.

As I stepped up to the front of the room, I hugged my sweet friend with tears already in my eyes and I was almost wishing I could just run out of the room. I’m kind of glad that my voice was already scratchy because I think that made the shakiness in my voice less noticeable. Well, as I looked out at the audience and saw all the people who came out to support me, I was calmed when I realized that these people were there for one reason and one reason only – they loved me. And because they loved me, they were there to support me. I looked down at my papers and I started to speak and that’s when I felt it – the Holy Spirit. My anxiety and nervousness disappeared and I was calm. The time seemed to fly by as I spoke the words that God wanted me to speak. The next thing I knew, I was done and I was being engulfed with hugs. I heard things like, “I love you,” and “I’m proud of you,” and “thank you,” and “that was encouraging,” and “I love your honesty.” These are all things that I never thought would come from me sharing some of the darkest parts of my life with other people. I was encouraged, loved, and humbled. But most of all I realized how free I am

I thought before I shared my testimony, that God had set me free from the bondage of my past; I didn’t think it could get much better. Boy, was I mistaken. I’m blown away by how free I feel now and how much support, love, and encouragement I have received as a result.

Sharing my testimony gave me more healing than I even realized that I needed. Still feeling unworthy, I was realizing that God would use me right where I was.

Then, yesterday, I attended the Celebrate Recovery One Day Seminar. I had been feeling a little unsure about stepping up to a leadership position in Celebrate Recovery. I mean, how could I be a leader when I still had so much of my own junk to work on? In retrospect, I am understanding the silliness of that statement.

Early in the day, someone said that being a leader did not mean that you had to have it all figured out, but more so, you needed to realize that you did not have it all figured out. I have been given some of the most wonderful leaders in my recovery process and it can be a bit intimidating if I think that I can never be as good as them. But I do not think that those are the thoughts that God wants me to have about becoming a leader. I do not think that God wants me comparing their gifts to mine; we are different people with different gifts and God will use us in different ways, all for the same purpose.

Not too long ago, I knew someone who hurt me deeply. In my process of recovery, I thought I had forgiven him. But one thing I realized yesterday is that I was still very hurt by and very angry with this person. God showed me this when, Johnny Baker, the Celebrate Recovery Pastor at Saddleback Church got up to speak. He looks just like the man who hurt me and my heart started doing flips. I got fidgety and very anxious from the moment I saw him and I thought that what was supposed to be a great experience for me was going to be terrible and that maybe God was showing me that I wasn’t cut out for leadership yet. But as the day progressed and I realized why I was feeling the way I was, I was able to process through the pain. Before I left last night, I went and spoke to him. I did not explain to him why I needed to talk to him; I do not feel like that was necessary. However, for my own healing, I simply needed to talk to him. I shook his hand, talked with him a bit about The Landing, and he introduced me to someone else who I could give me more information about how The Landing works. It was that short conversation and his gentleness that allowed to extend forgiveness to the man who had hurt me years before. God gave me so much healing yesterday, healing that I did not even know that I needed. The Enemy does not want me to step into leadership and I truly believe that he was trying to get to back down yesterday, but thank God that He is stronger and than the Enemy and that He knows where He wants me. As long as I’m willing to listen to the call of God on my life, He’ll make a way for me to get there.

Ephesians 4:12 – Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

So speaking of The Landing; yesterday was the first time I had really ever heard of it. As soon as Johnny Baker started talking about it yesterday my sponsor started elbowing me as I was already thinking that this was where I wanted to be. I do not know how God wants me to be involved in The Landing. I do not feel worthy to even be a part of it, so I have many insecurities swirling around my head about it. But I know, by the pulling I feel in my heart, that The Landing is where God wants me.

The Landing is how God is going to allow me to help high school kids.

I am humbled at where God has brought me to today. I am in awe of the power He has and I am blown away that He would bless me as much as He has. God has pulled me from the pits of my despair and is now placing me in a position where I can share what He has given me. I just pray that I will be a good steward of the things He has given me and the I will extend the grace He has shown me to the people around me.

 


Right Where I Am

I think we all struggle with thinking we’re not good enough and working hard to get where we need to be. While hard work isn’t a bad thing, hard work for the wrong reasons is. Working to get where you think you need to be is just absurd (I know because I’ve done it). God would rather we work hard to glorify Him and trust Him to get us to where He knows we need to be.

This morning, I came across a beautiful thought by Oswald Chambers, “Never allow yourself this thought, ‘I am of no use where I am,’ because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed.” It made me think of where I was before I came to Celebrate Recovery. I believed, IF (and it was a BIG if) there was a God, then He couldn’t possibly love me or use me where I was. I always thought I was too broken to be of any use to the God of the universe and too bad to be loved by Him.

Oh how I was mistaken!!

How often do we try to get ourselves out of whatever circumstances we’re in? We, in our human nature, try to avoid pain at all costs. But in trying to avoid it, some of us walk straight into it. I know that’s what I did for MANY, MANY years. In trying to avoid pain, I had trapped myself under layers of masks, lies, and hurt that I wasn’t able to get through on my own. So God, being loving and faithful, sent people into my life to break down the barriers. It’s been a year since I began Celebrate Recovery, and in that year I have learned that God IS using me, right where I am.

It still astounds me that God isn’t going to wait until I have my junk together to use me, but He has been using me from the beginning of my recovery (even though I didn’t believe it or see it at the time). God is using me right now, right where I am. I mean logically, He can’t possible use me where I haven’t been. And knowing that makes me thankful for where I am and where I have been. I’m not proud of my past by any means, but I no longer regret it because without it I wouldn’t be right where I am today.

We live in a broken, fallen world and until Jesus returns, there will continue to be pain and heartache, but our gracious God will continue to use that pain and heartache to glorify Himself. The question is, are you willing to submit to His will for your life?


Ripe for Harvest

Last night, I had a short talk with someone who talked about how, since he first gave his life over to Christ, all he’s wanted to do is share with other people and let others know how amazing He is. And that got me thinking, isn’t that what all of our lives should be about? I know that’s what I want my life to be about but I also know I don’t do everything I should to serve and share Him with those around me.

This morning, in my devotion, I came across Matthew 9:37-38 – He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” I’ll admit the reference to a field and harvesting here at first confused me a bit. But as I began to understand these verses, I was pleasantly surprised by what I was reading.

Jesus is referring to people as being ripe for harvest, meaning that many people are ready to turn their lives over to Christ, if only someone would show them what that looks like. So He tells us that we need to pray that God will call workers to reap the harvest, meaning that we’ll pray that more Christians will share their faith with nonbelievers. Something I think is important to remember though, if you’re praying this prayer for God to call more people to share their faith – don’t be surprised if He calls you. We should always be prepared, as Christians, to witness to others and help lead them to Christ.

I know, in my life, if it weren’t for two people in particular who, I believe, God had called to guide me to Jesus, I would have walked away from the church and never looked back. But God, knowing that and because He is faithful even when I’m not, called two people, my dad and my Celebrate Recovery sponsor, to serve Him and show me the Way.

My dad introduced me to his faith, he taught me what it was about, and showed me the unconditional love that goes along with it. I was angry at my dad and rensentful for his 23 years of absence, but God still called him to show me the way to the cross. All my early questions about why I should believe, what I should believe in, and who exactly Jesus was, my dad answered. He gently guided me to God’s Word and pointed me in the right direction. It is because of my dad’s guidance that I was led to get saved and baptized. He didn’t give up on me when I, literally, laughed at him when he told that Christ died and rose again for me and that He took the punishment for my sins. He kept trying.

Then there’s my Celebrate Recovery sponsor, next to my dad, she has done the greatest thing for me that any one person could do for another – she loved me through the pain of my recovery and showed me that I’m never too broken for Him to put me back together. She loved me through the shame and guilt of my past. She guided me to His Word when I thought I couldn’t keep going. She prayed for me and with me to make it through the toughest parts of my recovery. She didn’t give up on me or my recovery, even when she probably had every right to. But because of the love of Christ within her, she endured the journey with me even though it wasn’t easy – for that, I will be forever grateful.

My dad showed me how to turn my life over to Christ and my sponsor helped me learn how to, daily, turn my will over to Him.

My point is that if we want nonbelievers to believe and turn their lives over to Jesus Christ, then we need to be willing to share our faith with them and love them through the hard times. We need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and bring Christ to places where His name has been rejected or misunderstood.

John 4:35 – You know the saying, ‘four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around, the fields are already ripe.

What Jesus is saying here is to stop making excuses. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t go out of my way in some circumstances to serve others and share my faith because a part of me thinks that, that person(s) just isn’t ready to accept Christ. But that, my friends, is just laziness. Jesus tells us that people are ready to be harvested; all we need to do is open our eyes and look.

So let’s open our eyes. If our faith is as important to us as we say it is…then don’t be afraid to show it. What we are really talking about here, is the eternal life of the ones we love. Are we willing to leave that up to chance? Who knows, maybe you’re the one person God is calling to bring someone to know who He is and if you don’t answer the call, no one else will. Don’t be lukewarm in your faith.

Revelation 3:16 – But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!

When we understand what He gave for us, we are willing to give all for Him. He came not to be served, but to serve. And that’s what He calls us to do. He wants us to serve one another with joyful hearts. What makes me joyful about serving, even when it’s something I’d rather not do, is remembering that in serving others I am actually serving Him.

I want to give Him my all because He gave me His. The transformations have already been great, but the best part is that He’s not finished with me yet. And if you think He can’t do the same thing in your life, you’re greatly mistaken. You are never too broken, there are never too many pieces, for Him to be able to put you back together and turn you into the masterpiece He created you to be. Finishing my Celebrate Recovery step study has placed a stronger desire on my heart to live my life for Him and to share His love , grace, and mercy with a world of broken people. Finishing my step study has taught me that if I want to keep all that He has given me, I need to give it away and not just when it is convenient for me. I’ve learned that God will use my biggest mistake/failure/heartbreak (whatever it is that has brought me the most pain in my life) as my platform to serve Him. And now, being set free of the guilt and shame I once felt, I am free to joyfully and lovingly do just that. It is my desire to dedicate my life to broken and hurting people. Why? Because He dedicated His life to me.


Because I am His

Over the past few weeks I have been bombarded, in nearly every study I have been doing and books I have been reading, with the truth of who I am in Christ and who I was made to be. I did not realize it until a few days ago, but it seems like God is trying to tell me something. Something I really need to tune in and listen to.

Ephesians 1:5, 13 – he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

When I came to know Christ, almost a year ago, I did not know who I was or who He was for that matter. I was lost, with no clue how to get to where I needed to be. It’s like I was wandering in the mess I had made of my life and I did not know where to begin to get out. It seemed the more I tried to fix things, the worse I made them. It was a cycle…a cycle that I was trapped in.

Then, as a crazy turn of events, I met my dad. With his faith, he contradicted everything I had believed. And through a series of serious and life changing conversations, my dad led me to believe that this whole Christianity thing might not be so crazy after all.

Through another series of unexpected events, my mother-in-law led me to Celebrate Recovery. When I first showed up there, I was like, “Seriously, what am I doing here!!” The first lesson I heard at CR was on Sanity. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. It was when I heard that, that I realized there might be something wrong with me after all and maybe this program would be good for me. I felt like I had spent the previous 24 years of my life doing the same things over and over and over and over (you get the picture) and always expected something to be different. It never dawned on me that if I wanted things to change – I would have to change.

But the thought of me having to change terrified me. I did not like who I was or where I was headed, but changing meant facing the unknown and I did not know if I was ready for that. You see, my life had been built up of mask upon mask, and removing those masks terrified me because I did not know who was under there and what if, when all the masks were removed, I found out I hated that “me” just as much as I hated the masked “me”.

But God put some wonderful people in my life to help me through the scariest parts of the transition. As I began my Celebrate Recovery step study, I was forced to answer some hard questions about myself. I really had to look at myself and look to the core of my emotions and pent up feelings. It was quite overwhelming when I realized I had suppressed my feelings for the last 24 years and was forced to face them. I’ve never known how to deal with anger, sadness, frustration, betrayal, etc.  For most of my life I just pushed those feelings away because I was afraid to feel them, but I was learning I had to feel them if I wanted to be healthy. So I processed through things that hurt me when I was 8 as well as things that hurt me just the week before. The feelings were all so fresh that is didn’t feel like there was any time lapse.

Throughout most of the journey, I struggled with who I was in Christ. I struggled with seeing myself as God sees me and not as the world sees me. I struggled with not being ashamed of myself and who I was because He isn’t ashamed of me. I struggled with realizing that He really could love me even after all I had done. But thankfully, God gave me a wonderful sponsor and spoke words of love and wisdom into my life. She helped me to see that I am loved and I am cherished by my Heavenly Father.

I never got to be “daddy’s little girl” growing up, and that is what I wanted more than anything else. And even though I now have a healthy relationship with my dad, a relationship that I wouldn’t change for anything, I will never be able to change those years of longing for him and I will never be able to go back in time and be “daddy’s little girl”. But what I now know is that it’s not too late to have that relationship with God. I am His daughter and He wants me to come to Him, as a child who just wants to crawl up in her daddy’s lap and know she is loved.

Psalm 68:5 – Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

Over the last year, specifically the last eight months, I have come through a tough battle with myself and drawn closer to God. I have cried, I have laughed, and I have felt more love that I ever knew existed toward me. I have learned who I am in Christ and I have been able to rest in that.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 – For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.

But now that I am nearing the end of my step study and planning to share my testimony and become a leader at Celebrate Recovery, I have been faced with a lie that I am not good enough. I have forgotten who I am in Him and for the last few weeks I have been faced with an immense amount of insecurity about who I am. I have really struggled with fear of becoming who I used to be, forgetting that Christ died so I could be set free from that slavery and because of Him, I now have the power to say no to temptation and turn away from my sin.

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (What an amazing truth that I don’t have to EVER go back to where I was; He freed me from that.)

Thankfully though, God hasn’t given up on me and He still continues to show me more love and grace than I deserve. He continues to pour His blessing into my life. In the last few weeks, He has really been showing me that I am who He says I am, not who I believe myself to be. After all, He made me and He knows me better than I do, I’d rather believe and trust Him anyway.

Romans 8:17 – and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.


Rivers of Life

A few weeks ago I read that the lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing. God has placed many people in my life who have blessed me, whether they know it or not. I could go through a list of all of the people who have been a blessing to me, but quite frankly, I don’t think we have the time for that. So really, I just want to elaborate on a few things.

I have been attending Celebrate Recovery for 11 months now. It is a ministry that has changed my life and I constantly thank God for the ministry itself and for the people it has brought into my life. CR is the first place I’d ever been in my life where I felt safe. No judgment. No criticism. No condemnation. No rejection. Just acceptance, love, encouragement, and support. It’s a wonderful and amazing place where I have learned to be able to share the hurts in my life with other hurting people.

Among the wonderful people I have met, there’s one woman who stands out above the rest. A woman who has encouraged me and been a blessing since the first day I met her. There was something about this woman on our first meeting that made me think, “I need to know this woman; there is something about her that I want…joy and peace. I want that!” Without saying a word, she quickly took all the misconceptions I had about God and shattered them by showing me love. She helped turn this agnostic in a believer. She encouraged me and motivated me, just by her actions.

Hebrews 13:7 – Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

My point is that she has blessed my life more than she will ever know. I have often prayed before that God will use me in someone else’s life the way He has used her in mine. I don’t know if it sounds selfish or not, but I’ve wanted to be able to use the past hurts in my life to support and encourage someone the way she has done for me. I don’t want my hurts to have been in vain; if I can help one person because of what I’ve been through – then it will have all been worth it. And I know that God doesn’t waste a hurt, so He will use mine. But it also may not be the way I expect to see it.

I learned something this morning that shocked my heart. It makes total, logical sense, but I guess I just never thought about it. “Jesus said that, if we have received His fullness, ‘rivers of living water’ will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even ‘to the end of the earth’ regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow – ‘This is the work of God, that you believe’. God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.”

John 7:38 – Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

Like the source of a river doesn’t know where it’ll end up, we don’t necessarily know where our blessings will end up. A river is victorious, it rages through or around obstacles to complete its journey. Sometimes it can be frustrating to see God using the lives of the people around me to glorify Him and I’m left wondering, “What about me, God?” It’s moments like this that I think it’s important to remember that we need to focus on the Source of our river. We may be at an obstacle that is impeding our flow, but the Source will give us the power to go through it or push us around it. We may not see how He is using us, but it’s vital to recognize that just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The rivers of life have unbelievable power, whether we know it or not. I think me writing a blog is a perfect example of that. WordPress tells me how many people view my blog and what countries they’re from and sometimes I find myself wondering about the people who read what I post. Because when I first started this blog, I just assumed the only people who would read would be my own family and friends. Oh, how wrong I was. God has taken my minimalistic thinking and made it bigger than I would’ve thought. I’ve had people leave me comments about how I’ve encouraged or inspired them, and my first thought is generally, “wow, really? I did that?” I think I underestimate God a lot. God didn’t give me a dream of writing without having, in advance, an audience planned out for me. He already knows who will read my blog (and if I ever quit being lazy and write my book, He knows who’ll read that too) and He knows what I’m going to write even before I write it. He knows who it will be a blessing to even if I don’t…and I guess I’m okay with that. And when I share my testimony for the first time in November (I’m already really nervous and filled with butterflies about this and it’s not for 2 more months) I know God will use it to make a difference, even if I don’t see it.

I want to be a humble person, so I’m okay with not knowing where my rivers of life extend to. I’m okay with not knowing how much of a blessing I can be in other people’s lives. Knowing those things may only cause my ego to swell. So I’m okay with letting God be in charge of things. After all, He does have a better perspective than I do.


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