Recovered Relationship Part Three
July 1 2023
I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ who Celebrates Recovery from…financial struggles.
What was the insanity of my life before recovery…my most recent bought was right before COVID we helped my sister move from TX to CO with nothing but an overnight bag. We offered to help her rebuild her life…on credit cards. We believed we would have plenty of time to pay them off. What we couldn’t predict was when the pandemic hit 9 months later my husband would be reduced to working part time. By the grace of God my sister was working full time at a nursing home and was able to pay us rent for her space to make up for part of the loss. When we added up the debt we had accumulated 25k in debt and our income was about to be cut in half.
What are some of the circumstances that others can relate to… growing up my mother never openly talked about money. I never saw her budget or use credit cards. My step father was an investment banker and my mother was a bank teller. They raised 3 kids including myself. I got new clothes and shoes once a year for school. I didn’t have the desire to sign up for anything “extra” curricular. Content to read in my room or hang out with friends. My parents didn’t encourage me to do anything.
We never left state for vacations, our vacations consisted of drives to theme parks in Houston and Dallas, 3 day trips where we stayed in a hotel 2 nights, one day to arrive and swim in the pool, then one day to play at the park and early the next day we checked out, visited the surrounding cities before driving back home. We drove to the beaches like Port Aransas and Corpus Christi several times a year. But those were day trips we never stayed the night. But it never occurred to me we were not wealthy. Wealth was defined as something different if I had a roof over my head, utilities, clothes and transportation we were living large.
In the 5th grade when my mom divorced my step father we moved in with my grandmother I think this is when I experienced poverty. All I know is I didn’t have a roof to call my own for the first time in my life and so began the 28 moves till I was 28 years old.
My mother passed away when I was 13 and this is when I learned to budget. My mothers’ death benefits gave my brother and I $300 a month till we turned 18 my sister turned 18 the day we buried my mother so she had no benefits. Shortly after school let out we moved out of my grandmas. My portion of the rent on a two bedroom apartment in 1988 was $150. I shared a room with my sister as we always had growing up. $50 for utilities. $20 transportation for a bus pass. Leaving $80 for food, entertainment, clothes, shoes and medical each month. And that’s how I survived till I turned 18 my senior year of high school. Looking back I see how the grace of God was with me. Within a year my sister and I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment on our shoe string budget. We always budgeted and spoke openly about money every penny. Because we had to survive on every penny. I didn’t start keeping money in a piggy bank till my son was born. There was no such thing as spare change. Every penny had a purpose.
I got my first job working as a movie theater attendant. Anything above $300 and I thought I was rich.
I took a gap year after high school to work even more. Became an assistant manager of gift shop. Learning the benefit of not having parental authority is I became what was called a “ward of the state” meaning my education was mostly paid for. So I tried to make up my freshman year of college in summer school. After all I had graduated with honors how hard could it be but found out how foolish that decision was.
By the spring of my sophomore year I managed to get off probation and start making sense of things when I met a boy on college leave at work. He was going to a school in CO and invited me to visit for spring break. The 1 week visit turned into 2 weeks and I dropped out of college, pawned everything I owned of value and with a backpack and suitcase I moved to CO.
I got a 1 room place just off campus that I paid for with a credit card and so began my descent into debt, I worked two jobs to survive. My life was work, sleep, eat repeat.
And finally a breakthrough I got a job across from where I lived. Then I met my first husband who promised to take care of me and in exchange I took care of his 1 year old son. His job transferred him to TX where he immediately lost his job. I quickly learned he couldn’t hold a job for more than a year. In that time we lived in garages, motels, in extreme poverty, By the time his son was 3 we gave him up for an open adoption due to the financial burdens we carried. And I went back to working, 3 months after I was hired the company relocated to CO. So back to CO I went.
We lived with his siblings before we found our own place. Several years later my job filed for bankruptcy and I was out of a job for 1 week because even though I didn’t know God He was watching out for me.
I was applying for a retail position and someone in the dressing room overheard me. It was the manager of another store around the corner from where I was applying. Her district manager gave me a manager position in a mall near where I lived and I was quickly promoted to a larger store so we moved to live closer to it.
Within 2 years I left my first husband and moved in with the man who would become my second husband. He worked for the airline industry and during our time together he showed me most of the 52 states. He took care of the finances. I gave him a portion of my check each month and the rest I was able to keep for myself. I never had money to spend before so I felt like a kid in a candy store. By the time I left the world to serve God 10 years ago I was 12k in debt.
And then Dec 2015 the unthinkable happened. My husband fell off my neighbors roof head first and suffered a traumatic brain injury among other injuries but that story is for another testimony. The rest of the debt was revealed while he was in a coma. Numbers started adding up, bills started arriving and payments were due. I didn’t know the life he gave me was all on credit. 40k to be exact. And when the medical bills came due after the insurance paid out almost 5million dollars our cost was 120k for his 41 days in the hospital and rehab.
God found me in 2009 and for 21 years of making ends meet on my own I never looked to Him for help with my finances until that year.
As I said before by the time I left the world to serve God I was 12k in debt that I paid off immediately when my 401k was cashed out. Then when my husband fell off the roof for a year we added to the credit card debt trying to pay off the medical debt first. I tried to get a job to help but I kept being turned down for being what they called “overqualified”. Even in the denial it was God’s saving grace. At my last application submission I heard God say in my Spirit to wait and by the end of Oct a month later we learned my husband had been paying into an accidental death and dismemberment insurance that covered medical expenses outside what insurance covered.
We had up to 1 year of the accident to file a claim. And by the end of Nov we were medically debt free. Now came the credit card debt. By this time we found ourselves 60k in debt. We had been living on credit cards the entire year paying for food, gas, our sons needs. Basically, whatever wasn’t a medical bill, insurance or mortgage and utilities was put on the credit cards.
In Dec we laid it all out for the first time in our marriage. Humanly speaking it should have taken us 7 years to pay it off. When I saw what God could do with our medical debt, it gave me faith to believe He was able to do it with our personal debt. After all I was only believing for half the miracle He performed the year before. So we became faithful to paying it all off.
We began our debt journey by reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Saved a 1k emergency fund as suggested, stopped using credit cards, created a cash system for tithe, food, transportation, housing and then put every extra penny we had on the debt.
We kept the internet, turned off the cable service. Watched public TV and for movies we had our DVD collection. We didn’t eat out. Had breakfast for dinner and soup and salad at least twice a week to cut back on food expenses and learned to live on a $5 a day per person food budget and gave $10 to our son to manage as he saw fit.
We found other ways to save like the 3 squares of toilet paper for pee and 4 squares for poop method, we shopped at goodwill for clothes, and took my husbands 401k to a minimum contribution. We cashed in life insurance policies, relying on company sponsored ones instead. Made coffee instead of buying it at our favorite coffee shop, used reusable coffee pods instead of kcups and asked family and friends for gift cards for Christmas and birthdays to cover anything we couldn’t afford. We started with our lowest debt snow balled it into our highest debt including car payments. Even put our taxes toward the debt. By Aug I owned my car free and clear and had no debt to my name. By Feb the following year my husband was also debt free. It didn’t take us 7 years by the perseverance, endurance and grace God provided it took us just over a year to pay everything off.
As a child I found joy in buying new things to make me happy- clothes, knick knacks, crafts, jewelry. As an adult that joy got more expensive in taste. I soothed myself by shopping when I wasn’t engaging in my other addictions. I tried to escape the pain of my past by shopping on the internet. Holding onto my anger and resentments affected me when I depended on the joy in physical attachments, possessions, vacations and people. I thought my husband was taking care of everything. It wasn’t till his fall that I realized it was too much for him to carry alone.
About a year after the debt was paid we realized we didn’t need that much to live on. So we created a bare minimum budget and whatever we brought in over we gave away above our 10%. We could have never fathomed that in 1 year we were able to bless those in need with over 25k in tithe. And we lived comfortably on 50% of what we made. That triggered a give it all away response hence the start of this testimony helping my sister the next year but that experience was a learning one too.
I should have been enslaved to my debt for 7 years but God freed me in less than a year. Every time we paid something off it was like giving ourselves a raise. You could say my husband got 9 raises over that year because what we didn’t have to pay a credit card or make a car payment. Everything was cash in our pockets. He didn’t have to work as hard anymore. No more overtime. He actually took his two days off for the first time since I met him. We still have our struggles it’s a monthly battle to stay mindful of how much we are spending we have not perfected it but God is still working in us to do what pleases Him. Right now we have a 3k debt we are tackling when I became comfortable and thought we didn’t need a budget anymore. Lesson learned again.
I love people with my time, my talents, my acts of service and less through physical gifts. I have nothing I can offer but I offer everything I have.
I rely less on physical things to make me happy and more on just enjoying the conversations and learning about people and their stories than the money we spend.
I gave God control of my resources, now He gets the first portion and we live on the rest and rely on Him for the wisdom to distribute it effectively. I can officially call myself a philanthropist who manages how we give.
I learned through Celebrate Recovery that I don’t need to feed my needs with anything but God to fill me. It’s all connected physical, Spiritual, emotional, financial, He is the source of it all. So when one area of my life is out of balance the other areas compensate. There should be a daily sifting and sorting and checks and balances. Before it gets out of balance.
My relationship with my husband has improved because a lot of the stress we carried came from the financial stress. The time I spend with God is free so I spend lots of time with Him. When I am hurting I pray. When I am tired I rest. When I am angry, resentful or stressed I work through my feelings by doing an inventory worksheet so that I can see it from a black, white and red perspective. Blank ink, white paper, blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony. I fellowship and break bread with people. I send out weekly accountability reports because I hid a huge portion of my life from people for so long now I live for all to see what Christ has done in me.
All my life I searched for love in everything but God. And Celebrate Recovery helped me to find that love only comes from Him. Not in Family, not in friends, not in relationships with people, not in my job, not in what I do. I am loved not because of these I am loved because I belong to Him. Period. And nothing and no one can separate me from that.
I encourage a newcomer with the ministry motto “one day at time”. We have been given 12 hours. I can’t change yesterday, what I did or who I was. The only power I have is in this present moment right here, right now with who I am today. I try to make it matter, make it count, cause I won’t get this day back again. And I may not have tomorrow, as my husbands’ fall taught me. But what I did today will matter to someone because I shared it with them.
When it comes to finances Psalm 37:19 They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough. And Ephesians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
There are things in this life money can’t buy love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and wisdom…these all come from God the benefits He gives and if I look in each day hard enough I will find them all in my day without having to spend a single cent. They are found in me to give freely and in the people God puts in my life to share it with. Wealthy is the person who has the things that money can’t buy.
Recovered Relationship Part Two
June 9 2023
I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ who celebrates recovery from alcohol misuse since Oct 2011
What was the insanity of my life before recovery… I replaced my tenacity for foolish things with a career as soon as my son was old enough to be enrolled in full time school. By the grace of God I found a job that allowed me to work Mon through Fri with weekends off. It even allowed me to drop him off and pick him up and work the remaining hours of my shift from home. I know that was God sent, I had never heard of a job like that before. I had the hope that one day I could afford to provide for us on my own. I turned to alcohol to drown the painful memories of the life I had before.
I stayed sober Sunday through Friday and drank till I threw up and passed out Friday and Saturday. At first it started as a celebration for my sexual sobriety. Instead of a coin I treated myself to a glass of wine and that turned into a bottle and several shots, a few years later I hit bottom literally.
I had my first drink after my moms funeral. My brother got a hold of 2liter California Coolers for us. And with every sip I took a Tylenol trying to take my own life at 13. I woke up the next morning with a hangover and threw it all up. Guess it just wasn’t my time to go.
The lowest points I can remember during my drinking was on Halloween I had a highly flammable costume and almost fell into a fire pit at my sister in laws house. On the way home I opened the car door while it was going 40mph to vomit all over the side of the road and side of my seat and seat belt. It was snowing so I convinced my husband it would be a great idea to go sledding. We took our son to the school nearby he took my son up first then myself. After our runs we both jumped back in the car to shield ourselves from the cold as I reached over to turn the heat up I heard the loud sound of what can only be described a deer hitting our car and saw my husband in the fetal position on the ground. And all I could think was where is the sled?
It had slid under the car and was on the other side of the parking lot. My son heard sirens and immediately thought the cops were coming after us. And in a panic told his Dad “We gotta go!” Which sent my husband into a lauhgter he couldn’t control. He hurt real bad for several weeks after that. Come to find out he fractured a few ribs sledding down that hill like Chevy Chase from the Christmas Story. By the grace of God he hit the car sideways crushing his arm into his rib cage. It was then I made the unspoken promise not to drink heavily with family. It was one thing for my drinking to hurt me but to get the two people I loved involved was a hard limit for me.
So I drank with coworkers instead. While away at a work conference I drank myself into a druken stupor, after work of course. I almost lost my sexual sobriety with a married coworker. Walked back to the hotel room from the bar with a woman coworker who wasn’t as drunk as I was. She saw me safely to my room. Not before I gave my number to the last guy I saw on the street. I tried so hard to forget only to go back to what I knew.
I took a shower and passed out with the water still running and the bathtub plugged. I woke up drowning. Crawled out of the tub. Looked in the mirror to see if I had any noticeable gashes the last time I fell in the tub at 5 years old resulted in 6 stitches on my eyebrow. I still had to show up for the conference the next morning. It was team introduction day. Once I saw that I was fine I passed out on the bed. Only to be woken by my boss already in the conference room. I confessed I overslept.
I snuck in just as team introductions began. I sat in the back trying to pull myself together. Not doing a very good job. Seated beside a complete stranger. I threw up in my water glass. He nursed me back to health like the good Samaritan and handed me his business card and said “If you need someone to talk to I’ve been in your shoes.” I didn’t even know what he was referring to.
When my name was called I stood up, smiled and waved at the room. And flew home happy to put it behind me. I would later learn a coworker took a photo of me passed out at the airport and sent it out as an office meme. That feeling of never being taken seriously wasn’t a fluke. The next day I was called into the office I thought I would be fired for sure but my boss showed me that grace wasn’t just a prayer and gave me the number to the employee assistance helpline. I guess I wasn’t doing a good job at holding it together. There was a crack in my cistern and I was leaking.
By the next conference I was 3 months sober. In a small business room of 20 people half co workers, half executives of a multibillion dollar corporation we played the getting to know me game. 2 truths and a lie. I told a lie and did a cartwheel to prove it. Yes an actual cartwheel at the front of the room. I was wearing dress pants and made sure my dress shirt was tucked in. I was memorable I got some applause, the life of the party. At dinner an executive approached me and gave me a high five. I made an obvious impression but to my boss not a good one.
Once again when I got home he called me into his office. I thought it was to give me props on my performance. After all I didn’t drink. I didn’t make a fool of myself, so I thought. He had me sit down and asked me how I thought it went. I said fine. Then he looked me straight in the eyes leaned forward in his desk and a said a set of three words I had never heard in my life. When they landed on my ears, tears immediately overwhelmed my eyes. I couldn’t even look at him blind sided by his response.
He said “you are qualified. I wouldn’t have created a position for you if you weren’t. You don’t need to do cartwheels to prove your worth. Look at me when I say this. I need you to hear me loud and clear… you are enough.”
In the past I used sex, alcohol, spending, binge watching TV, reading, internet surfing to escape the pain of my past. Anything so that I could numb and not have to think about it. But the drinking was different. I drank to forget it, to have a good time, to relax. I expected people to be reason for everything. Reason for love, joy, peace and when they fell short of my expectation I was more than disappointed.
It’s been 12 years now since I passed out from drinking. Communion taught me over the years that what God created for celebration the enemy quickly misused. I drink for the new life God has given to me and a drink for the promises to come is all I have these days. He has given me more ways to experience and celebrate lifes joys and drinking isn’t a must.
My son knows the addictive genes he comes from and we talk more openly about the things that weigh heavy on our hearts. We don’t try to hide or deny them anymore.
I don’t drink as much or as often as I used to. I share my problems in safe places. I am more honest about what I am feeling not afraid to face the feeling head on.
Since being a part of Celebrate Recovery I learned the importance of fellowship. That it is more than just going to bible study, more than just showing up for church. It is having real conversations with what is going on in the key areas of my life. Who would have thought that my problem was not the only thing going on in my life. I had a whole life separate from my problems, that were actually going pretty good. And it was important for me to see that.
The relationship with my husband and my son have been restored. It’s not the same as it was but it’s a good kind of different.
I am grateful for the testimonies of people who have been through the fire and come out not smelling of smoke. You’d never know to see these people what they have been through. I love the small groups where we have a safe place to share our feelings uninterrupted. And the continuous bible study as we put the steps into practice. A motto in recovery is that it works if you work it and you are worth it. Meaning if I don’t apply the steps I have been taught they will go in one ear and out the other the only way to stay in the learning frame of mind is to keep applying, keep getting through each day with these 12 steps 12 hours in front of me.
I felt lost, I didn’t know where my tribe was till I came to this small group in this small chapel Fri nights. Its like going to church with family. They know me by name. Not by my sin, my name. And even though they know my sin they love me the same.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 …We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us.
I turned to alcohol because I didn’t have the ability to process the pain I was in. But Celebrate Recovery showed me I could handle it with God and even more than that with people who had been hurt, were hurting so that they would give me the same comfort God gave to them and we’d get through it together.
June 2 2023
I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ who celebrates recovery from sexual sin since Dec 2009
Every testimony starts with a story this is the insanity of my life before recovery… I was married twice, my second husband was the first man I committed adultery with toward the end of my first marriage. I had more than 20 partners in the span of 20 years, multiple abortions and STD’s, obviously I didn’t know God then but even still He knew me.
I had my first sexual experience at the age of 4 watching Jaws. Trembling from fear on my stomach resulted in something I couldn’t explain till I lost my virginity at 15 years of age. I was sent to my room where I perfected sin in privacy. I used sexual gratification to soothe myself to sleep, to wake up, when I got home from school and when I was bored. It wasn’t till I was 15 that I realized all the fuss was about something I had done for myself for the last 10 years of my life. So you can imagine how this shaped my mind. Dictated my life.
At that time I did not have a relationship with God. Growing up my religion is what I would call a holiday catholic making church a priority in times of great grief or to mourn Easter and celebrate Christmas or weddings. Baptized as a baby. I was raised by my single mother from 9 years of age and completed communion at 13 after my mother died. I was asked to leave confirmation class until I knew what I believed but I believe it was because I had too many questions. So the extent of my belief was non existent and it was reflected in the way the relationships I had with people. I used them to get what I wanted. If I couldn’t get anything from them, well my truth was then they were of no use to me. Steeped in sin from the start.
The lowest point of my addiction was Dec of 2009….
I was driving home after leaving the hotel from my last act of adultery. I must’ve put the sun visor down to give myself one last look and when I got in the car I couldn’t even stand to look at myself.
When I turned out of the driveway the sun was in my eyes and my sunglasses had fallen off the passenger seat so I drove into the light refusing to put the visor down. That is when I heard a voice inside mind say “What are you doing?” I was on my way to pick up my son from his Christian private school. We may not have had faith but we knew if he had any chance of hope for a better tomorrow we’d point him in the direction we heard was right but didn’t receive for ourselves.
I thought it strange, gifted in word, if I was talking to myself I would have asked “What am I doing?” But the voice said “What are you doing?” As though it was something apart from me. I didn’t reply.
I parked beneath the cross in the pick up lane and again the voice asked “What are you doing?” and I thought okay either I have lost my mind or I am having a conversation with God, my Maker and Creator about what I was doing with my life. And thought with animosity well, lets go. I confessed to myself and to God what I was doing and why I was doing it. I argued with God how I didn’t know what love was because no one had ever shown me and that is when my son jumped in the car. Buckled himself in the backseat. And said I love you. And it hit me all at once love was no longer about me, it was bigger than me. It became my son that day.
All my life I had I coped with my hurt through sexual gratification. From this world I learned to get attention by the way I dressed and I protected myself by secluding myself. Our family secret was adultery. I was born into. The day I was born my father chose to be with the woman I would later label my step mother. When I was mad I roared and cursed, I lashed out, I hit and as I got older I learned to pay back evil with evil. I escaped my past by reinventing myself in new jobs. New relationships. The fruit of my past sins made me a very bitter, cold-hearted person. Yet love was born of this, came through this person I had become who thought relationships were supposed to be like Disney and hallmark movies. Boy meets girl, boy chases after girl, she falls in love with him, he takes care of her and they live happily ever after but my life was far from that.
How did recovery find me…
In 2019 I met a woman at my womans bible study who introduced herself by her Celebrate Recovery introduction. I was shocked by her honesty. I was going to invite her to my church and before I could mention it she said she attends celebrate recovery meetings at Colorado Community Church. I said with excitement that’s the church I go to. She said she lived in a sober living house and had not chosen a church yet but went to different ones each week in the area. I wished her well. I was glad she joined our group. Then as I drove away from class I kicked myself for letting her stand in her truth alone and not admitting to my own recovery. By this time I was 10 years sober. I figured I would tell her next time I saw her. But she never came back to class. Several weeks went by and she was still on my heart. Then my pastor made an announcement on the pulpit that Celebrate Recovery was back to meeting in person on Fri nights after COVID and I thought two things. I could casually run into my new bible study friend and let her know she was not alone. And two my husband could use a support group for his own recovery so really I went for them not me. I thought at 10 years of sobriety I was a veteran at recovery.
That was almost 3 ago years. Since joining the ministry I spend more time than I ever had before with God through my Word and studies. The program mapped out the tools I was already using in my faith it just put them in a step by step format that I could easily understand so that I wasn’t all over the place a little here and there. It also gave me a safe place to express my emotions and not be ashamed for having them.
The most significant step that had an impact on me was the Principle One, I am not God. I cannot fix or change anyone only myself.
After God and I had it out in the carpool lane. I stopped committing adultery in my marriage cold turkey. I became a faithful and devoted wife. I started watching teaching on TV not yet ready to go to church and listening to nothing but Christian music. That was the extent of my Christian journey but I knew there was more I wanted more. So I started watching more teachings Monday through Friday and thought that was enough. Then a year into my sobriety my husband took the day off to take our son to kinder and his girlfriend texted looking for him at work.
I admit I attacked him when she tried to reach him a second time while I was holding his phone asking him about her. I hit him till I was exhausted, which didn’t take long. My hands were bruised, bloodied and swollen. I wanted him to hurt physically as bad as I was emotionally hurt. When the dust settled. I cried out to Jesus. It wasn’t enough to confess my sin I also cried out for my deceased mother and my grandmother. Who left men because of adultery. I felt a single drop of rain fall from a cloudless sky and a voice in my head shout “Enough! She is mine.” I went back to the church Mothers day 2013. I was baptized in a horse trough June 2013. And Sept of that year our basement flooded and I learned my husband was still talking to the woman that brought me to my knees.
I didn’t speak a word to him. Instead I waited on a Word from God. I didn’t want to speak till He spoke to me. 7 days of silence in prayer waiting. Knowing He spoke to me not once but twice before I wanted to hear from Him again. And I sat in my backyard and waited. My neighbor furiously chopped down a fruit tree in her backyard. I hid behind sunglasses the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. I was listening to Christian music on my ipod hoping to hear a Word. Something. Watching dragonflies dance in my yard.
And then it came “Be still and know that I am.” I didn’t know enough of the Word to know what that meant so I said know that You are what? Going to fix this. I am going to need more than that I argued with my Creator. And I felt the weight of a hand on my shoulder. I closed my eyes almost afraid to know who or what was behind me and in that moment a flashback sequence of my life came to mind of every time I thought I was alone and afraid and He was with me. Beside me. Holding me. Carrying me through. Peace beyond my understanding washed over me and I knew that He was always with me, would always be with me even in this. So I went inside and asked my husband for a divorce. I explained I had found what makes me happy and for the first time it wasn’t a man. I wanted him to be happy even if it wasn’t with me. I knew it would be well with me with or without him.
I learned in recovery that it is very important that you allow God to replace your character defects with positive changes. So one of the biggest changes for me is that I am faithful. To God and being faithful to Him overflows in faithfulness in all my relationships. I no longer turn to sexual sin to please myself or others in times of distress I turn to God now. In prayer, in praise, in all of it, with all of it. He can handle my feelings.
When I am not working on the things of God in my personal life I am working to serve my family and others to make their lives better.
Labor Day weekend 2014 I left the world to serve God after all He had seen me through. When I understood the brevity of my life. I asked God what I should do? What He would have me do? I heard Him say I should share His Word. I thought like Moses who would listen to me. I gave Him every reason why I was not a good candidate for what He was calling me to do and I heard Him say “with the gift I have given you.” Been sharing my walk of faith ever since. To anyone who would listen.
Sometimes it is difficult in recovery to see the positive changes that God is making in our lives. I
have been able to accept and enjoy my growth because I see the fruit of my life is that I don’t need to feel joy to experience it. No longer a physical but emotional, mental, spiritual growth that makes me feel good about who I am in Christ. I know that He died for me and my sins and for that I am indebted with my life.
The way I see it, I was made this way for a reason. The hardest thing I have ever had to give up was myself. To have the opportunity all the time to gratify my flesh and not give in to the temptation is all God.
I went from someone who found satisfaction in myself almost 4 times a day for 31 years and now my life is less about me and more about the people God has given me to share it with. I call the morning my I AM time because that is the time I get to spend with Him and receive His love for me through self care trust me when I say not self pleasure. It is when I get to rest in His Word, pray, sing praise, watch teachings, take care of my shelter for His glory, and take care of my temple for His glory, even something as simple as lighting a scented candle, applying flavored lip balm and body spray just to workout are some self care practices I find joy in.
I learned that fellowship is a key to my recovery. Before Celebrate Recovery I saw two people outside of my family once a month or once a season. I went to church and a womens bible study but I didn’t have relationships with anyone. Now my calendar is full. I keep one day for me but make a plan to see people 6 days a week, wether it be for study, working out, breaking bread, mentoring or church. I am the one that arrives early just to fellowship first. I no longer find comfort in isolation. I am more accountable. I am a better friend, sister, aunt, mother and wife because of my relationship with God first, me second so that I can give to others. CR has given me a compass for my faith and when I get distracted or veer off the path I know I can always just get back on it.
My journey of recovery involves more study time in His Word. It’s taught me that when I am hurting I know I can reach out to my forever family for prayer. When I am exhausted I can here’s a thought I can rest and not feel guilty about it. And when burdens weigh heavy on my I can turn them over to Him. I celebrate my weekly victories when I dance during worship, I lift my hands to pray, I give glory to God for all that is good in my life, even if that good came from somebody God gets the glory. His presence has been a blessing.
Grateful for my Sponsor for walking me through this journey, for my sisters in faith who prayed me through it, for brothers in faith who helped me to give grace to men in my life who hurt me by sharing their hurts with me and showing me what men of God should look like. The big group becomes small when I share my feelings in a safe place, through classes and my time teaching.
As I said in middle of my story I didn’t think this place was for me. And when I heard the honesty of women with courageous hearts to be vulnerable and go deep so that they could walk on water with God Himself I wanted to go with them. I serve God by teaching kids the same tools that helped me in my own recovery because no matter the age we all have hurts, hang ups and habits God is working with.
Like when I decided to share His Word with others I know that if I didn’t give back to the ministry that gave me so much I could lose what was given. By not being in it, not making it a part of my daily part of life. The tools are useless unless they are applied.
To the newcomer I would say you are looking at someone who has broken all 10 commandments multiple times and even made some up that aren’t even written on stone and now I live by the 9 fruits of the Spirit they are written on my heart and always on my mind. And I am happy to share that walk of faith through teachings and with anyone that will hear it.
Before the world had me, I belonged to My Father, He held me in His arms before He sent me down. He knew I would forget Him and like the prodigal son I would return to Him one day. Greater than a wedding band He shed His blood for me. He called me His before this world did and one day I looked down and saw it my own hand… Isaiah 43:1 …listen to the LORD who created you…the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” And I have been His ever since.
…and forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matthew 6:12
When a paralyzed man was brought to the foot of Jesus in Matthew 9:2 he said to the man “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” Before he died on the cross for sin, sin was already forgiven. But still the world needed his blood. Later in verse 12:31 He says every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven- except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.”
Blasphemy is defined as the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things. Profane talk. In Greek to slander. For me the Holy Spirit represents the wisdom of the Word. The wisdom of His Word. So anyone who mocks this wisdom. Scoffs at it, is in danger, in danger of being a fool for thinking they don’t need God. I know that when I didn’t know His Word I still knew what was right and wrong but chose not to pay attention to it. I reaped the consequences in my life for the things I did that were wrong. Because even in the Word it says you cannot mock the justice of God. Galatians 6:7
When wrong was done to me. I justified the wrong I had done. Blaming others for my inequities. Like my ancestor long before me when Adam who blamed Eve for his reasons for doing what was wrong in Genesis 3:12. Or like Cain in Genesis 4 who could justify killing Abel because by comparison his offering was greater causing God to reject his own. What if there was a better calf, a fatter calf that Cain could have offered the LORD but chose to hold back, keep for himself. The day that greed was born. Perhaps God knew this had nothing to do with what Abel gave but Cain looked directly at him and disregarded his own lack. By comparison his only defense was to hide his lack of trust in God. Was he so different from his parents who also took, wanting more. Not content with what they had? I understand no amount is too large or small for God as long as it is the best you have is what I have been taught in the widows offering in Mark 12:42 her two small coins was more than those who gave even more because she gave all that she had. Talk about trusting in the LORD.
I was watching a documentary the other day about a psychologist who interviews death row inmates. And it said in a sense people who grow up to do wrong were not born this way they were made. We breed a society where differences are frowned upon. We make people afraid of being themselves. We teach them how to hate through our own hatred. The psychologist ends with ‘Can anyone be a murderer? I believe so. People who kill others are made not born. The more we understand the genesis of violence the harder it is to draw a line between guilt and innocence. Sanity and insanity. As human beings we struggle to cope with the need for protection, the desire for revenge, indecency, morality, to understand sometimes means to forgive. These days people are not in a very forgiving mood. Ted Bundy was right we are more fascinated by what the crime was, the gory details of it than why it was done. It is the act of sin that fascinates us. Tickles our limbic systems. No wonder people fight for seats when a crime is being committed rather than respond they want to view it. Is that part why I do what I do, perhaps, I wouldn’t be surprised.’
When she said this I immediately thought of Hebrews 12:24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. And yet even this sin could still be forgiven, he suffered the consequence but again God still protected him.
You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Ezekiel 28:15
Can I pinpoint the exact sin in my life that lead me to this life wrought with immorality, indecency, that made me to believe I was unlike everyone else. That my difference was impurity. The moment fear enveloped me and protection from those who were meant to love me was taken from me. When men sought to do harm to me that made it okay in me to inflict harm on others because of what was done to me. Or was it the day that I learned to find satisfaction in something that wasn’t God. To please my flesh in such a way that I could get it to relax drift away. In sexual sin, in a bottle, in a drug, in an act of anger in the fits of rage.
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 1 Corinthians 15:56
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Dying every day since that day. To myself. To this creature of instinct. I could place blame on everyone and everything for becoming what my life represented, death. Easily find every person in my family that came before I was made the wage I paid to become. Jesus said in Luke 17:1 There will always be temptation to sin but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. I made up my mind one day that Jesus paid the penalty for all the things I did because the moment I refuse to believe otherwise will result in a wage I can’t afford to pay. People see death as finality. But someone can be dead while still being very much alive. I stand before you today as a child who can count the times on one hand I have seen my biological father, have spoken to him. I am dead to him even though he is a priest, I am his sin, a reminder of his unfaithfulness to my mother, his own adultery. Yet still Jesus calls him forgiven I have to live as though he is because to try to get back the years stolen, the years he didn’t give a damn what happened to me is a burden Christ also carried on the cross.
What do I gain by holding onto to vengeance and hate, what power is there in that? Only weakness can be found. I cannot begin to understand the ways and thoughts of God. Perhaps God saw that by his influence I would not become who I became. Following a false teaching. Being led astray. Instead I lived my younger years under a heavy hand guided by harsh discipline and punishment no child should be subject to. Because of this upbringing I sought to do more in my life than I had ever done even if the price of discipline was at a cost. God turned what was meant for my harm it into a skill of perseverance, endurance and strength. I knew that I could separate myself from the comfort of what my flesh desired because I was trained to do so at an early age.
And even then God knew that I would be without my mother at an early age he set the plan into place to remove the grip from my step fathers strong hand permanently. But still the scars remained. I look back with grace and can see how the events of ones life can lead to the outcomes of ones doing.
I have a nephew, my brothers son who grew up unwanted, he was taught that his life had no meaning, no value so when he and his friend didn’t think twice to take what wasn’t theirs to take by force in order to be set free of the life they were given it cost both the mans life and their own. And even still I know that he is forgiven. He could blame the way he was raised, his absent father, his unloving mother, his sexually and physically abusive grandfather or the friend who convinced him to commit the crime in order to fit in, be loved and accepted in a world that didn’t accept or love him from birth and still nothing would change. So even a broken justice system needs to be forgiven.
‘To understand means to forgive.’ The psychologist said. To that I would add to live as though you are forgiven, because that is the only way I can live with the life I was assigned to carry in spite of holding onto the belief there was a better way perhaps this was God’s best for me in order to get me to where I became.
Like John the Baptist in prison in Matthew 11, I had my doubts about a God who could save. I had my doubts about a Savior who could stop the pain. He had a message sent to John in verse 5 and 6 the blind see- I didn’t see that God was with me the way he was with Cain in spite of all he had done protection and provision still followed him all the days of his life as they followed me.
The lame walk- my life could very well have resulted in me not doing anything. Choosing to stay as I was. Blaming my past hurts and pains on why I couldn’t move on, paralyzed by my pain but instead I choose to get up from it and walk toward a future hope I couldn’t imagine for myself only knew where I was I didn’t want to remain. I had a choice to get up.
The dead are raised to life- the way I was raised I was given a dead life, nothing in it gave life or hope to anyone. I was taught to survive because everyone was out to hurt me from the start, to take my life. So I turned my life to God at 39 I gave it to Him to raise me. I made the decision to live as though He truly was my Father and I had no other. He raised me to a new life.
The good news is being preached to the poor- and the good news was He did. My life is shared among many. Some might say their survival guide. He adopted me as His own. I call Jesus my brother because we have the same Father born of Spirit not of flesh. I know this flesh all too well it resulted in my death. But through the life of Jesus the way he lived I have life in it. I have a life in Him.
And God blesses those who don’t turn away because of me-on the cross Jesus forgave my sins. He forgave every one of the 10 commandments written in stone and the ones I created that weren’t even on the list. By His suffering He forgave every time I committed each sin not once in my life, multiple times. And even more so than that He forgave everyone who sinned against me. He didn’t stop it, he didn’t remove it, he didn’t prevent the wrong that was done to me. He simply forgave them so that I could be forgiven for the things I did in vengeance in retaliation. Like Adam I could easily say to God I sinned because of the men you gave to me. Or like Abel I could deny my wrong because of those who came before me but instead because of Jesus I can live forgiven I can't turn away from that, it is the only way I live.