Womanhood

Daily in Need of Grace

Grace is something that I am in need of daily. If you knew my family and how I was raised, you wouldn’t expect the life I’ve lived. I was the good girl, in church with the whole family every single time the door was open, I sang in the choir, served in the nursery… I did all the things a Christian girl was supposed to do. Yet, it didn’t get me anywhere. I was lost, in need of a Savior.

My mom told me growing up that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was around 5 years old. The problem was, I didn’t remember it. At all. Being from a Christian family as a youth we were required to have daily devotions, at 12 years old I was fascinated with the book of Revelation (still am in fact, I LOVE the Left Behind series). It was during my personal devotion time that I came across these verses…

Revelation 20:14-15, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

That night it hit me that I was one of those “whosoevers” that it was talking about. I knew that my name was not written in the book it was speaking of. I knew that I was lost. I was blessed to have my mom by my side that night as I knelt and ask Jesus into my heart. It is a memory that I will never forget and I’m thankful that I listened to the Lord pressing onto my heart my need for Him that night.

I can’t tell you that from here on out that my life was lived for the Lord and that I honored Him more than I didn’t. It just isn’t so. Even after becoming a princess of The King, I didn’t always live for Him. My teen years and young adult years were times that I was often need of an extra dose of grace.

The hormones that hit you as a youth and young adult are brutal, they come on with a ton of bricks and if you aren’t prepared for them, then you’ll end up in quite a mess. Before I was 16 I had lost my virginity and then had my heart broken by him and his family.

The best summer of my life followed that heart aching time in my life. My grandparents allowed me to accompany them to Mexico to spend the summer there working with mission teams coming from Texas to work with the local churches. It was exactly what I needed, a time away from life back home and a focus on the Lord and His work. I was geared for heart break again because as my grandfather told me, “You wear your heart on your sleeve”. I ended up leaving Mexico despising all men and swearing to never get married.

Never getting married didn’t last long. I said, “I do”, just shy of 2 months after I turned 18. While this marriage ended in divorce less than two years later, I was given a precious blessing during that short time. I became a single, divorced mom, but I walked away from physical, and emotional relational abuse that forever left it’s mark on me. Grace was a word I didn’t feel I deserved, but was something that I so desperately needed.

I am stubborn and tend to think I can take on the world and don’t need anyone’s help. At times I’ve even thought I didn’t need God’s. This was a downfall several times throughout my life, but through it all God’s grace prevailed. At 21, I became an unwed mom, living at home with my parents and my two little blessings. Before my next birthday, I said “I do” again and we became a family, a blended family with yours, mine and ours.

Over the last 9 years we’ve been hit with many blows to our marriage, but through it all God’s grace has been there. Just as it always has been throughout my life. Without God’s grace I never could have found my way through separation, adultery and resolution in my 2nd marriage. If I chosen my own way as I’d done throughout the rest of my life I would have been divorced a second time. Yet, I finally saw that going my own way had never gotten me anywhere. I knew God’s grace is what would see me through, through to His plan, His will for my life. I took a leap of faith and decided to trust and follow Him this time.

It’s amazing to look back over all the bad choices, see the signs I missed, the things I should have done but didn’t, and see God’s grace throughout all of it. He never let me down, His grace is what saw me through it all…it prevailed through everything. His grace is enough for me. For all the things I’ve done, the things I never did, the life I have now and whatever the future holds for me.

Womanhood

Being “Good” Doesn’t Mean You’re Saved – A Testimony

My Life as a Good Christian

I asked Jesus into my heart at the age of 6. At that same age, I was baptized. I was relieved I wouldn’t go to hell if I died. That used to be my testimony.

But here is the rest of it.

I continued to grow up with a love for church and Jesus, and a desire to be “good.” But it didn’t mean that I was truly saved.

I went to church my whole life. I appeared to be a “good” girl, and grew into a “good” teenager. I was active in children’s ministries as a child, sang solos in worship services and children’s musicals, and attended youth groups and camps as a teen (was even nominated as president of the youth group and preached a sermon in church one year). By all outward appearances, I was really “good.”

My senior year of high school, I went to a Christian music band’s concert (anybody remember Geoff Moore and The Distance?), and felt guilty for being mean to my younger sister, and being disrespectful to my parents (yeah, that’s about the worst thing I ever did growing up). So I cried, and went up front at the end of the concert and “rededicated” my life. Shortly after, I spent the night at a friend’s house and saw her having nightly devotions, and although I had grown up in church, I had never heard of the idea before, nor had I ever seen anyone doing that. So I started having nightly devotions too.

In college, I was still a “good” person. I participated in lots of Christian groups on campus, went on mission trips, and consistently attended church. I still hadn’t drunk any alcohol or tried drugs, had sex, or done anything “bad.” Someone had given me a devotion book for college students as a high school graduation gift. I began reading that. When I finished it, I bought more devotion books, and read them. I still hadn’t read my own Bible yet.

I got married a few months after college graduation, to my college sweetheart of all four years. We rented a tiny one-bedroom apartment, and found a little church we joined and attended together, and enjoyed married life as a “godly” couple, participating in church activities. I volunteered in the church nursery, because that’s what everyone else did who was married and wanted children but didn’t have them yet. I began work as a public school teacher, because I loved kids and I wanted to “help” others, and teaching gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. But I still hadn’t read my own Bible.

My whole life, I had talked the talk. I was “godly,” “good,” a “people-pleaser” and an outspoken “Christian.” I knew I was saved and would go to heaven when I died. I didn’t doubt that. After all, I had “made a decision” and I had been baptized. That was all there was to it.

The Dark Side of Me

But, there was a dark side to me, one that I didn’t realize had anything to do with my salvation, or had anything to do with my life as a Christian kid. You see, I struggled with severe depression from middle school through high school. I was a loner. I hated myself, and I hated other people who made me feel like an outcast and invisible. I thought more than once about suicide, and I would purposefully hurt myself, hoping someone would notice the bruises and show love to me, but no one noticed. I was miserable inside.

As I began to read devotion books (and in effect, my Bible too) in college, my attitude about myself changed. I began to see that I was loved by God, and I began to meet a few authentic Christian peers (not fake ones I had known my whole life) who loved me and accepted me in a Christ-like friendship based on acceptance and grace. My boyfriend (my future husband) and I grew together in faith and I experienced his friendship and love for me was based on who I really was, the good and the bad. Having a few true Christian friendships, experiencing true God-honoring love (a relationship with a boy who didn’t just want sex – yep, we were still virgins when we got married), and beginning to pray and spend time with God daily, helped me to grow out of my depression and self-hate.

After marriage, I continued to read devotion books, listened to Christian music, read Christian fiction and nonfiction, and could spew out all the normal Christian cliches and responses to any issue. I served at church, attended fairly regularly, and lived a “Christian” life. I witnessed and shared (what I thought was) the gospel with others, acting all godly and “happy.” I was a pro at hypocrisy, but didn’t even realize it. I just thought that was how Christians were supposed to act, so I copied the act. And I was very good at it, so good that I even fooled myself.

But inside I was a wreck. After working as a teacher in the public school system for several years (at a highly “Christian” school community), the high stakes testing, general stress, low pay, micromanagement, and disgruntled parents (at my inability to accept their children’s misbehavior and disrespect) began to get to me. No matter how hard I worked, or how many long hours I put in, or how many parent-teacher conferences to try to people-please, I failed. And my heart failed. I just wasn’t “good” enough. I began to have self-doubts again. I began seeing a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. He claimed I’d had OCD my entire life and was misdiagnosed as a teen. I was put on a high level of psychiatric medication, and began to see some relief, but not completely. The fact was that my heart was still wretched, and no medication or psychotherapy would heal it.

The Change in My Heart

I just wasn’t happy inside. I went to church, smiled, talked the talk. But I didn’t believe it. Everyone at church began to seem fake again. I began to doubt anyone really believed what was preached – who out there was smiling, talking the talk, …pretending, just like me? Did everyone feel this way, and just no one talked about it? Maybe being a Christian just meant that you could be around “happy” people who made you feel like you were a “good” person. Maybe God wasn’t even really real, just something that people made up so they could “fit in” and “feel good.” Maybe I was just doomed to be one of the few enlightened people who saw the fakes and just had to pretend that I didn’t notice (since I knew I was also one of them).

But then I met two people who were real. Two people who I saw through their life that they truly loved God. These two women had a profound impact on me. One of them struggled with a very sad and tragic event, and still praised God in thankfulness and expressed peace that surpasses all understanding. It was a peace that I couldn’t understand if I were in her shoes, and it left me feeling like I was missing something in my relationship with God. The other woman was a sweet older lady, who loved God so much, and had such an intense desire to glorify him through her life that she spent over two years counseling me, guiding me, and helping me to sort through my issues, showing me my own sin (gasp! me!? a sinner?) and spent time in God’s Word with me, without pay, week after week, never giving up on me and my questions and doubts. She taught me how to be a true child of God. She taught me about true salvation. She guided me in how to be a good wife and mother. Her Bible was so marked up on each and every page, and I would just stare in astonishment at her, that someone could love God and His Word so much. I had never seen that before.

Although I was baptized at age 6, and rededicated my life at age 17, I was 33 years old when I was truly saved. Saved from my sin, my selfish, wretched, hateful heart – recognizing my need for the Savior. I actually heard the true gospel for the first time, after so many years in church. I began reading my actual Bible, and put down the devotional books, self-help books, and Christian fiction to focus primarily on reading God’s Word for myself. I finally understood my need and my weakness, my inability to keep pretending and being a “Christian” it on my own. I actually got down on my knees, and prayed specifically for God to lead me, asking Him to take my whole life into His hands, and committed to follow His will, and stop trying to control things myself. I gave everything to God, and asked Him to forgive my hypocrisy and my sin. I finally saw myself as a sinner – I saw my sin of selfishness, and a cold, dead, and hateful heart. I asked God to take those things away and make me new. And I asked Him to grant me that so very strange thing to me – the peace that transcends all understanding, so I could finally experience true joy as a child of God.

And it was truly amazing to me, and instant… He granted my requests! I no longer felt depressed or anxious. I no longer needed psychotherapy or medication for “OCD,” I no longer had a hate in my heart for circumstances of life, myself, or others. Yes, it was instant. I mean, that very minute! I can honestly say now that God lives within my heart. He helps me when my sinfulness rears its ugly head again, and I have a joy and a peace that I never knew before. I have a love for others that can only be of God. I no longer live in fear of man (a people-pleaser), but I live in awe of my Father, and in reverence for His grace and His power in my life, and in deep, tearful gratitude for what He did, for ME – even knowing all I did (and still do) in sin against Him. It’s a peace and joy I can’t express in words.

I’m still able to be hurt, I’m still weak, I’m still sinful, and I’m still depressed and anxious sometimes. The hardest part is knowing that I’ve hurt so many friends and family, and led them astray with my hypocrisy, and knowing that they can’t forgive me until God grants them that ability. But God gives me strength that I need to overcome all that. And he gives me the ability to keep trying, to love and serve Him, and the desire to glorify Him in all that I do.

I pray that God would grant that understanding for everyone. I hope my testimony stirs up a desire, in those who read it, to seek God. Ask Him to be your Savior, and seek to learn more from His Word about what it means to be a real Christian. I hope that it also stirs other Christian women to honor God’s pull on your heart to mentor younger ones, who are struggling in their faith. Show them your marked up Bible, share with them your testimony. It may be you that he is calling to lead them to Him, and to experience true salvation.

“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you His favor and give you His peace.” ~Numbers 6:24–26

Womanhood

My Potter’s Hand

As I reflect on my life, I can’t help but glorify God for the journey He has mapped out for me. Each moment and lesson has had it’s purpose in moulding, stretching, crushing and humbling me. This route I travel prepares me for my calling and ultimately, my final destination. My fingers have been pried open from expectation’s I’ve clung to, being replaced with the hand of God who plans my voyage.

The road I’ve walked passed through the Valley of Death, where I watched three of my sons grasp at this fleeting life to gain eternity. I’d have preferred to bypass this valley to the sunny plains of life where I could nurture them with the milk that saturated my flesh, my arms empty. I’ve realised I’d have passed by the broken pilgrims along this pass, missing the opportunity to share in my Saviours comfort.

My journey included a flight over the ocean to a foreign land where nothing and no one was familiar. I’d have preferred to stay in my home land, growing in wisdom with my parents by my side. Instead, God drew me closer to Him in my loneliness. All distractions removed, I searched His Word gaining understanding and the desire to worship Him with my life.

This traipse included inadequate funds to provide for a growing family. I’d have preferred a satisfactory income, enough to see us by. If I had my way, I would have missed seen God work in miraculous ways to provide all our needs. I learnt to show compassion and give to those in need, knowing it was done for me.

I broke down and lost my way when my eyes were taken off His plan. I searched to fill my time with a meaningful task, one that will leave a monument on the path I walk. I found dissatisfaction and frustration instead. The garden God planted me in grew weeds as my focus shifted to fulfil my selfish ambitions. Through the grace of God, I was re-directed towards my calling where I embraced the realities and responsibility of motherhood. Now I desire to encourage wives and mothers, who might have lost their way, to cling to their supreme vocation of raising eternal souls for the glorification of God. Our time and effort will not be acknowledged in this world, but it will impact infinity.

If the pathway I travelled, had been mapped out differently, I would not be who I am today. Every trail He used has not been in vain. Everyone of them shaped me for His pleasure. I can’t think of a more superior place to be than in my Potter’s hand. Where He’ll continue to fashion me into the wife and mother he designed me to be.

Our voyage’s are unlike each other. The gardens we’ve been planted in are unique. God will use our trials and afflictions to purify and utilize us. He doesn’t waste anything. He gives us beauty for ashes. He makes all things work to the good of those who love Him. He is sovereign, and nothing can separate us from His unfailing love.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; And perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

Marriage

Strengthening Your Marriage While In Crisis Mode

It is easy to assume that in our married life that trouble is not going to make it’s self comfortable. In fact most of us probably never even thought about the issues our marriage could potentially face.I mean really who thinks about family members getting sick, family members passing on, job loss and spiritual struggles when they are looking at their husband’s on their wedding day. When these crisis situations occur we are often ill prepared and we often times do not handle them very well because something inside us will just not allow it. We wives go into fix it mode and we forget often times that our husband’s are there to help as well.

 

The question is how do we keep our marriages strong while we are living in crisis mode? How do we continue to nurture one of our most important relationships on this Earth? You see it is easy, as women, to withdraw ourselves. To bottle up everything that is going on. Yet, this leads to hurt feelings and un-needed stress on our marriage. Now I am not saying that our husbands don’t do the same but today I am only speaking from the vantage point I know.

These crisis moments are actually good things. They are molding moments. They allow us to depend on each other in ways we never thought possible. We can learn to rely on each other for support and actually grow stronger as a unit. The key however is good communication. We can not allow ourselves to shut down and such out each other. Of course this open communication thing also requires listening to our husbands as well.  This type of communication will strengthen  your marriage far above anything that you can imagine and it will also insure that you are on the same page. This is extremely important for me since my husband and I both see things totally different. Being on the same page also insures that the crisis situation at hand will not become a crisis situation in your marriage.

Take time to pray with each other. Often times I forget to pull my husband in on my prayer sessions when I am praying about a problem. It is just as important to have prayer time with our husband as it is for us to have prayer time alone. Seeking counsel from God together helps you both see into each others hearts. Not to mention it is such a soothing sound to hear my husband pray with me about a crisis I am dealing with. It in fact deepens my love for him even more.

Remember that you are facing this crisis together. Often times if I am dealing with a family situation I forget that though it may be affecting me directly it is still affecting my husband because what affects me in fact affect him. If we would spend more time working together we would actually remember  that we are not facing the world alone. We would remember that we are in fact a united front against the world.

Do not allow the crisis to consume you. I am a self proclaimed recovering worrier. I can allow a problem to consume me. The problem with this is when I do allow it to consume my thoughts guess who is put on the back burner…My dear husband. This in turn once again causes hurt feelings and a lot of confusion. Allowing a crisis to consume you can help bring your marriage to it’s knees. Remember to instead continue to put your husband first and then move forward. As long as you are practicing open communication and praying together this will be easy to do because he will already know what you need and you will know his.

Crisis situations are always going to pop up. It is just a fact of life. However instead of letting it hinder our marriage how about we allow it to strengthen it.

Parenting

Goodnight Ark: A Review

One of my favorite parts of the day is reading my little girl her bed time story. Lately though, she has been reading good night stories to me. Today, I am excited to share one of our new favorites, “Goodnight Ark”.

Good Night Ark   tells the story of Noah and the ark in a humorous way for children. It parody’s how many nights go in lots of our households- with extra people in the bed! Noah is trying hard to get some sleep, but his new animal friends just won’t let him! It makes light of the age old question of how Noah would get any sleep with all those animals!

I loved how easy to read this book was. As a mom, this is important to me- I want my little girl to be able to read the book along with me. The pictures are beautifully done. I also love that the author used some unusual animals in the story- like a quail! There are lots of repetitive words and animal sounds for the early reader to be able to help you read the story to them. It’s bedtime theme makes it a great story for bedtime.  I would say this book is geared for ages 3-8.

Now, if you are looking to teach the story about Noah’s Ark – in it’s complete, Biblical way, then this might not be the book you would use .There is no reference to Noah building the ark, to his wife and sons (or their wives). It actually looks like Noah was on the ark by himself with all these animals. Noah never gets off the ark in this book- he barely gets any sleep! I really loved this book as a story book – and a sweet, funny story line- but I would not use it on a Sunday Morning when i was teaching Bible story. I would us it in the preschool setting the week I teach Noah’s Ark – but I would be teaching that this book is fiction and not meant to tell “the whole story.” It would be a great story to use for a compare or contrast activity.

All in all, I think this book is an awesome book for homes. There is nothing that goes against our Christian beliefs – and it led to some great conversations in our household.

Womanhood

Taking off the Mask – A Personal Testimony

I was brought up in a Christian home. I attended a Christian school for 13 years. I was saved at the age of 8, but didn’t take my personal relationship with my Savior seriously until later in my life.

As a teen, I was caught up in things that I shouldn’t have been. I pretended to be the good girl, but behind closed doors I wasn’t who I appeared to be. I carried the shame of my behavior for years. I knew I was not pleasing the Lord with my life.

I was married at the young age of 19, and within 3 years we had 3 children. I was overwhelmed with life and didn’t have time to think about my relationship with God. I was sad and depressed even though on the outside it seemed I had everything under control. I didn’t enjoy being a wife or a mom. My husband worked long hours and he didn’t realize how bad I was feeling. There were times I was tempted to walk out and just leave everything behind.

Thankfully at the age of 25, someone sent me a Bible in the mail. When I opened it, I began to weep. My heart was broken. All those guilty feelings washed over me again. I sat down and began to read those beautiful pages of that leather bound Bible. Right there in my kitchen, I rededicated my life to Christ. As I was praying, all those feelings of guilt and condemnation were wiped away. My Savior became my best friend that day.

I won’t lie and say that things were perfect from there on, but life did become easier with someone to help me. God was there when no one else was. He was my strength and my strong tower. He was the rock I could depend on no matter what was going on in our lives.

Since that day on my kitchen floor, God has blessed my husband and I with 4 more children. One of those little ones went to be with Jesus in June of 2006, but we will see him again. We have seen God work miracles through the passing of our son, and we are at peace.

Today I know that I no longer carry burdens alone. He is there with me, carrying me through the storms of life. I am so thankful for His mercy, grace and love and I want to share Him with everyone I meet. My goal in life is to serve Him until my last breath and to give Him glory with all I do and say. He is my all in all!

Bible Study

A New Adventure: Blogging Through The Bible

The most important thing you can do is to read your Bible. I know that sounds almost cliche to say as a Christian – but it is true. The way that we sustain our spiritual walk with the Lord, the way we grow as a Christian- is through reading God’s Word. Today, I am excited to announce that I will be joining Courtney, from Women Living Well and Good Morning Girls in “Blogging Through the Bible.

In the past, Good Morning Girl group sessions lasted 8 weeks. You would read one chapter a week – usually breaking that chapter up into 5 pieces. Sometimes, we would hop around the Bible. However, this time, it is going to be different. This time, we are going to strive to accomplish a big goal. We are going to read through the Bible. Not in one year- like most plans, but over over three.

Each day, we will read one chapter of the Bible. We will bounce all over- starting in Esther. What an amazing book to start in – one that speaks of a woman’s faith and courage to stand – even when it seemed like it could cost her everything – even her life. The reading will be seven days a week -not five. It will be simple. It will be the Bible.

Each week, on Friday’s, I am going to write about what I have read that week. I may include a video. But, I want to share this journey with you. I want to be accountable- not just to a small group- but to my readers here as well.

I have only ever read through the Bible once, in my 17 year walk with the Lord. I want to read it – and not just check the boxes (although if I am honest, my OCD brain loves them!) but to dig in deep. To really pull it a part. To examine in. Then, on Fridays, I will share those post with you.

Now, here is where you come in. I would love for you to join me. If you head over to the Women Living Well site- the forum is up – you can create a group, or join a group. I will host a group on Facebook – for encouragement ,and also for reading the Word of God every day. Request to join! I will give this link several times a year.

If you get behind – don’t give up! Every day, God’s mercies are new. Every day you can begin again. Let’s be an encouragement to each other!

If you have come over from Women Living Well today – welcome! I am so excited to be a part of the administration team and look forward to serving you! I hope you will find the encouragement on this blog to an encouragement to you and your walk – and worship- of the King!

Comment below if you are joining in (with my group or not!)

Don’t forget- the Kelly Adoption Bundle is coming your way NEXT WEEK! Tune in Monday to see the great bundle we have!

Bible Study

Beauty From Ashes – An Abortion Testimony

For as long as I can remember I have always felt worthless, not good enough for anyone or anything. My parents had a nasty divorce and like most young children, I believed it was somehow my fault. In the years after my mom fell into a deep depression and lashed out all her anger at me often telling me I was worthless, just like my dad. My self-esteem continued to be shattered as I was bullied through out middle and high school. Not only did the girls spread nasty rumors about me, but they also poured soda in my locker, would steal my books, and threaten me. As if their torture wasn’t enough to break me, an upper-classman raped me my freshman year. I was 14. Like many girls who are raped, I kept it a secret as much as I could. Who would believe a nobody like me?

By my senior year the count down to graduation was on! I promised myself as soon as school was out I would leave my small town and start a new life, a fresh clean start. That year ended up being the worst. Two of my best friends died and a guy I trusted decided to drug and rape me. Yep, again. I was raped again! This time I couldn’t pretend it didn’t happen because this time I was pregnant. I drank and partied a lot, even made out with guys, but I didn’t sleep around. There was no doubt how I got pregnant and at that moment I wanted to die. A week before my rape I was videoed saying, “Abortion is wrong! Even if I got pregnant I would NEVER have an abortion.” Yet living in that moment I didn’t see another way out. I was completely terrified. Graduation was fast approaching and all I wanted was to leave, to escape, to be someone else. I had been told by almost everyone I knew that I was no good, worthless, a nobody. Why couldn’t I just disappear. Suicide seemed like the best answer. I stood in our kitchen with a carving knife in my hand ready to end it once and for all. This was how I would be brave. I went back and forth debating to slash my wrists or cut my throat. Tears flooding from my eyes. I wanted to leave a big bloody mess for my mom to find. I wanted her, the mean girls from school, the guys who raped me to know they caused this. They pushed me to end my life. In the midst of my sobs and the chaos going through my mind I heard God say, “This is not the end for you. I will use this someday for good.” I really thought I was losing my mind. Why would God care whether or not I died? He didn’t protect me from any of this! Where was He when all of this was going on? I was so angry with Him! I heard my mom getting out of her bed so I threw the knife down and went to my room.

The next day I wrote the guy who raped me a letter telling him that if he paid for the abortion I wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened and I would move away when it was over. I did confess to a few friends, but no one tried to talk me out of the abortion. There was no Google or YouTube for me to search for truth in 1998. I didn’t know about pregnancy resource centers who are available for girls with unplanned pregnancies. I was too afraid to tell my mom or anyone in my family, the ladies from my church, school teachers, or any other adult. I was frightened they wouldn’t believe me about the rape, that they would tell me I deserved it and I would have to stay trapped in that town forever. When I was 16 I had watched a movie that showed protesters outside an abortion clinic screaming “baby killer” and threw things at the girls going inside. The movie also had the protesters blow up the clinic. On the way to my appointment I hoped those protesters would be there. I knew if I was faced with any opposition I was chicken out. I was not brave, I was scared, numb, naive, and greatly confused. I knew what I was a bout to do was wrong and I desperately wanted someone to stop me, but when I got to the clinic no one was there.I walked in and told the receptionist I was raped and wasn’t sure if I wanted to have an abortion. She told me to talk to the nurse. I told the nurse and she told me to tell the counselor. I told the “counselor” and she told me to sign a piece of paper saying I understood the procedure. I signed it even though I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand anything. How come no one wanted to help me? I guess what everyone said was true, “If you get pregnant from rape, you have an abortion.” And so I did.

I kept my promise and moved a few days later. I didn’t just leave my small town, I left the entire state. I moved in with my dad and began college a week later. I thought I could finally start over. That’s the lie they tell you when you have an abortion. You can go on with your life as if nothing happened. Only something did happen and it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me. I started going to a Christian club on campus. I had gone to church enough to know how to act like a Christian. Smile a lot, carry a Bible, don’t drink, don’t party, be good, be happy. Then one night I began to have horrible nightmares. Bloody, gruesome nightmares. A little boy was screaming for me to help him, but my rapist was there and I was paralyzed with fear. Many were much worse and vivid, so much so I started to drink again to numb me. I couldn’t tell my new Christian friends or the director of the club. I believed they would, judge me and kick me out. I was afraid they would call me a murderer and would realize that I was worthless. This went on for months until I was arrested for under-age drinking. Instead of kicking me out, the director and his wife sat me down and asked me what was going on. At this point I realized I had nothing to lose so I confessed everything to them. I held my breath waiting for them to scream “baby killer,” but they didn’t. They told me they loved me and they were sorry I had gone through all of it. They also told me that Jesus loved me and they led me to Christ. I wish I could tell you it was happily ever after, but that’s not how Satan works.

Shortly afterward I met my husband and we began dating. He came from a good, Christian family and I assumed he was too good for me. I had told him about my past and for some strange reason it didn’t scare him away. I transferred to a university the following year, he had gotten his first job four hours away. I was gone from my Christian friends who knew the truth about me and Satan let me believe that I couldn’t talk about it at my new school. Satan loves to get us isolated, feeling alone or abandoned. It’s easier for him to attack us that way. My nightmares came back and I began drinking again to escape the pain I felt. I wrestled with God about my abortion. By this point I didn’t care about my rape anymore. I finally understood I didn’t abort my rapist’s child, I killed MY child. My flesh and my blood. I knew Jesus forgave me, but I refused to forgive myself. I diligently worked toward forgiving my mom, the bullies, and my rapists for the things they did to me, but I vowed never to forgive myself. Finally one day I fell at the altar at church and cried out to God, “What do you possibly see when You see me?” And He told me He saw me as beautiful. That day I quit using alcohol to cope with my issues. I graduated, got married, started teaching, had a baby and I thought that was it. My life is good. Except that I killed my child. That was still there.

I figured I could volunteer at a CPC and try to keep other girls from having an abortion and that would somehow right the wrong I had done. The precious director of the CPC told me because i was post abortive I couldn’t volunteer until I had gone through a post abortive Bible study for healing. I tried to explain to her that I was a Christian, I was good, Jesus forgave me, all was well. But she insisted I do the class so I gave in, That’s another lie Satan tells us, that we are ok. He will gladly use the Bible to convince us we don;t need further help or healing. He wants to keep us in bondage so we aren’t free to be who God created us to be. I hated the class! I hated having to talk about my abortion, about my anger, my grief. I held on to my fear, shame, & worthlessness with every fiber in my being because I deserved to carry that pain. Only that’s why Jesus died, to set me free. And one night during the study I read from Isaiah 43 and as I read the words, ” Do not fear, for I have REDEEMED you, I have called you by name, you are MINE!” I could feel the Holy Spirit releasing me from the shackles I clenched to. The more I read the more I could feel the love of Christ wash over me and I was healed! No more shame, no more guilt, no more fear, no more worthlessness! It was gone! I felt like a new creation!

At the end of our Bible study we had a memorial for the babies we aborted. It was a beautiful time that brought even more healing. I realized it was my unborn son, Joshua, who led me to Christ. My love for my son is as real as my love for my other children. My love for him and knowing he was with God in Heaven made me press hard to truly know Christ. Joshua never took a breath on this earth, but he helped lead his momma to Christ! Every life is valuable and important. No matter how conceived, every person is created by God, in His image, and He has a plan for everyone! The Lord has since called me out to speak about my rape and abortion. I now lead other women through a post abortive Bible study to help them find further healing in Christ. I’m active in many pro-life ministries in my state and nationally. God has truly given me beauty from ashes. He has turned the absolute worst thing in my life into something for good. The epitome of Romans 8:28.

Bible Study

Wisdom and Happiness

What is the connection between happiness and wisdom? Is there a connection. According to the Word of God, there is. As Proverbs 3:13 states, a man is blessed if He has wisdom. Other places in scripture, the word blessed can be translated as happy. Happiness is often based on our circumstances- and even though our circumstances are not always good, wisdom reminds us that “All things work together for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.” Wisdom reminds us that in our moments of weakness- HE is made strong. I think it is because we realize that wisdom is so much more then head knowledge- but goes out into the way that we live our lives. That my friends, is understanding.

This is why I think it is so important to get yourself connected with a Bible reading plan, and even a group to be accountable to.  It is why I talk about the Bible – and share devotionals on the Word of God – often. I truly believe that it is the bread of Life- that is sustains our spiritual walk with the Lord. I believe that we become spiritually sick without our time there.

This is why I am so excited about Friday’s here at Women of Worship. Two post will go live. One will be this awesome link up – it isn’t going anywhere. We will continue to offer these great, short devotions that meet people right where they are at. Then, we will also do a blog through the Bible post. We will move slow and steady through the Word of God- and I will choose one chapter a week to highlight.

The reason? God’s Word never returns void. It truly is the only thing that can bring life and blessing into your life.

Parenting

Adoption: Not Just A Journey For A Baby (Homestudy Pt 2)

A few weeks ago, we finished our home study process. I wrote the post about this first visit- and how you can prepare. However, what they don’t usually tell you when you are starting the process is that the word “home study” doesn’t mean one visit- it means multiple visits and talks – and it means digging down and sharing things you might not have talked about in a long time.

 

Our second visit didn’t happen in our home- it happened at the adoption agency. I didn’t get to go with my hubby- we had to go alone. I walked into the agency that day not really knowing what to expect. I was met by our social worker – and taken into her office – and there, sat a couch.

Yes, a couch. I didn’t think of it much at first. I mean, one of my old pastors had a love seat in his office at one time. Comfy chairs. I figured it was just a nice and comfy place to sit. I was then asked to fill out a questioneir. I felt like I had already filled out a ton of paper work. After all, another term for adoption is “paper pregancy”. So, I filled in the survey about drug and alchol use. Wasn’t hard since I never struggled with those things.

We began to talk, and I realized why there was a couch. I felt like I was being psychoanalyzed. We talked about my whole life- and how I dealt with the cards I had been given. From having only a mom till I was three, adjusting to having a step dad (which was hard- since I don’t remember ever adjusting!), the entrance of sibblings, being picked on, my families socioeconomic status. College. Past relationships. The list was long- and old hurts came back up.

I left the office feeling different than when I walked in. I know the reason WHY behind the questions – but I still struggled with the old feelings that were there. Feelings of not being accepted or loved. Not being enough. I had the day off that day, and so I took myself to the local coffee shop, and pulled out my trusty Bible.  God spoke very boldly to me that day as I read Psalm 139. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. His thoughts toward me are precious- and more than the numbers of sand on the shore. He knew me in my innermost being. He created me. He loved me.

It was in those moments, as I read these reassuring words, that I remembered the process that I am in-  adoption. That I am going to bring a baby home who is going to have to deal with some of these same feelings. Even though we will always tell our child how loved they were by their birth mom – there might be questions of that love. Even though we won’t care if their skin looks like ours- they might get asked hard questions or get picked on. They will have to adjust- even though they are a baby, I won’t be the voice they are used to, or the smell of their birth mom. They will get siblings. Their story will be written differently then others. God will use that.

I saw God weave my story into the story of my unborn child. I cried tears of joy as I understood – from Heavens persepctive – why some of the things have happened to me over my life. I felt incrediably loved in that moment- that God would care so much for me, that He would plan out things that would bring me to this very moment- and prepare me “for such a time as this”.

I was able to praise Jesus in that coffee shop. I am sure I looked like a crazy girl. I am. Crazy in love with Jesus- and the child He is forming for our family.

I say all that – for this reason- God’s ways are higher then ours. If you are going through an adoption, and you are in the part of the journey where you are being “studied” – remember – God wrote your story. Let others study it so that they may see the fingerprints of God all over you, and praise Him for His unique care over YOUR life.

Don’t forget- this week we are promoting the bundle sale that will help with our adoption. ALL of the funds raise -every dollar given- will go toward that adoption. We are trusting God for 1,000 bundles to sell – can you help?