Counting It All As Loss

Recently, I mentioned that it is “difficult for me to share” these intimate details about my past. Many would assume instantly that given the content of my past that the difficulty arises through shame or embarrassment. Yet, Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely get embarrassed, I am an open book so to speak. No, the difficulty comes due to the innate desire within people to look for a reason to enhance their position by looking down on those in what they may consider a lowlier position. For me, in the past, as I have shared my stories face to face, there have been many times that I have witnessed the light bulb of self-righteous illumination in the mind of a person mid-sentence. The realize how much better of they are that me and stop listening for a brief pause to assess my much lowlier position well elevating their superiority. Yes, I can see that process take place in their momentary glazed over eyes followed by a swift shift in expression.

Yet, I continue to share and quickly wrap up my story because I realize at that point I have lost them. They are not ready to hear more because the essence of God’s glory has been lost to esteem their own.

As I share intimate details in what I pray to be God’s timing I am drawn nearer to God. I recall our past together and all that he has done to save me. He called me valuable and pursued me with his beautiful, perfect parenting: teaching and shepherding of my life.

Deconstruction began, rebuilding took place, he was the architect. He knew my foundation, supplies, tools, timeline: he assessed every detail and did everything according to his perfect blueprint. For me, there is no shame that can be made of my past because it is my past with God. Our history has made me who I am. Just as the builder of a beautiful historical landmark doesn’t look at her progress or finished work and consider all the tribulations she endured with regret: rather she considers the beauty of the process, how she triumphed, cherished and found valuable each part of the process with brought her to completion.

So I count as gain everything I once counted loss just as Paul has spoken in Philippians 3:8-10 when he said “[…]Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,[…]. 

Single Mother By Choice

I became pregnant at nineteen.

Allow me to give you the back story. My parents were separated, divorced, yet on and off again and again. My mom was Hispanic and Catholic and my dad had anger issues and grew up in a terribly abusive situation (that I learned of in my 30’s). I grew up scared, insecure, feeling unloved and even hated by my family. My childhood was one of violence, inconsistency, sexism, and confusion. When I became 12, I had realized that my parents we “crazy” and lacked any ability to manage their own lives much less mine. They would let my brother (who was a year older than myself) do things like date and live freely and when I’d protest they would say, “he’s older than you.” So the next year when I was that age I would mention that last year when my brother was my age he could “_____.” That never worked. If I got caught speaking to a boy (at the age of 11 was the first time I recall but many times after) I would get beat with a belt or smacked around.

You could image how angry I became. I had no power, no autonomy, and no voice.

My mom would follow me and try to catch me doing “things.”

My dad would tell me how worthless and stupid I was in front of everyone.

This was the perfect recipe for a hateful preteen and destructive teenager.

Here I went, on the path to getting free. There really is nothing worse than being in this powerless state and cycle of abuse. On my own at least I knew that I could choose the ways I was going to live. Self-destruction mode hit. I was fearless, strong-willed, rebellious and the fact that I knew I couldn’t make my parents love me made me hell-bent on making them hate me. I was okay with being hated. I was rude and mean and truthful to a fault.

But inside, I was naive and broken seeking peace and love. To rest in someone’s presence.

Men were that for me. I met many men who liked me, even at age 13 I remember my friends’ uncle’s having crushes on me. Everywhere I went, I was sexually harassed so that I thought it was a normal part of life.

God’s saving grace for me was that I was a bad-ass. I was tough on men and anyone else who tried to get something from me. I didn’t trust anyone. I just enjoyed the attention.

So when I met the guy who eventually got me pregnant it was because he was also a bad-ass. Tattoos, big muscles and he would throw down with anyone who even looked at me. He protected me and that I had never known. He gave me everything he had.

He was in and out of jail throughout the 3 years we were together and wanted to marry me. I wrote him in jail when I could, I never visited and told him if he wanted to be with me he should stay out of jail. But we had a “connection.” Two damaged people I guess.

On one of his stays in jail that lasted about 8 months, I prayed and told God I wouldn’t go see him if he let him get out. Well, the next week or so I received a letter that he would be getting out soon and immediately knew that I would go see him.

Turns out he got me pregnant on purpose thinking that I would be trapped.

I went through denial and 7 pregnancy tests before I accepted that I was pregnant.

Our relationship was unhealthy. Fighting ALL the time, drama and the long distance aspect made it more intense. I broke up with him all the time and he would cry or threaten that he would kill himself so I’d stay. Eventually, though I really couldn’t take the drama and fighting and I was enjoying the baby growing inside of me and being pregnant. It was so beautiful and the contrast between the life I had created and the Life she deserved became evident beyond anything I could ignore. So when I was 3 months pregnant I told him, “your stupid if you kill yourself, but that’s your choice.”

The beautiful part is that I always believed in God but always did what I wanted and for the first time in my life I knew that if I believe in God that I need to make the decision based on that belief. Friends and some family had some advice: have an abortion, get married to him. The advice to get married was from my grandma, I told my mom, “HELL NO, I’m keeping my baby and chalking up my losses!”

When I was pregnant with my daughter, God came into my life and revealed to me in almost an out of body experience, that he loved me. I felt His presence. All the times he had protected me, reached out to me and guided that stubborn me flashed before my eyes and I realized that this baby was a gift from Him. Such an undeserving woman. I gave my life to God that day in my bedroom, alone, not a Christian person in my life. I had no idea what to do. I stopped every obvious sin, smoking, drinking, all the evil things that I believed were washed away and I began cleansing my life.

The problem was that after a while I was empty. Sin was trying to have its way with me again. I eventually came to realize and can express it better now, that I had emptied myself but had not nourished my Spirit. I had not filled myself with God and fell easy prey to sin.

While I was pregnant I was proposed to three times and I refused to even consider it because I knew that God had a better plan for me. One was a friend of mine who I had known for years who was a marine. He said that if I married him he’d get more money from the military and he could take care of me. That was kind but no. I was certain, 100% certain that God had a better plan. Another was my friends’ boyfriend (weird I know!) Obviously NO! And the other was the baby’s other biological half, NO! In my life as a single mother, I had three other opportunities to be married, one was a thoughtful and kind man who worked as a marine biologist. Another man was a millionaire who owned many large hotels. He was already married but changed wives every four years and said I could be his next wife and after the four years, I would be set for life. And the other a man who worked for the oil company who was also very well off. All of these opportunities tempted me ever so slightly, yet I knew that God was amazing and after all, he owns the whole world. I am also a very passionate and honest woman so I never could do something that required of me to pretend. There were times I wish I could have and even tried hard to do so but it proved itself to be a physical, mental and emotional impossibility for me.  I couldn’t sell out. To the millionaire wife hopper: I told him to his face that I could never do that because I believe in God. “He said, “I do too.” And I replied with, “yeah well, I also deserve better and I’m not afraid of the future.”

It’s difficult to exploit a woman who is sold out for God.

Another date went like this: this young man put his hand on my thigh. I’m guessing he was hitting on me for a while. I became irritated that he was trying to manipulate me so I said, “Well, you like me right?” Would you buy me a car or put my name on your mortgage or credit cards?” He replied, “No, I hardly know you.” I said, “Exactly. Now get your hand off my thigh.”

Obviously, I have shared in this blog my successes but I must be honest that I had many failures leading me to the strength that I had in these situations.

The fight is continual but it’s 100% worth it to keep getting back up and back in the ring.

Ladies! We are told that we can’t want anything or we are gold diggers, shallow and all the like. But we can want EVERYTHING! Independence, Freedom and True Love. All can be found in the purest form in Christ. He truly supplies it all. If we find a life partner, great. But if not that’s wonderful as well. We need to rebel against the world and our own lies from within and be truly SOLD OUT for God, who gave everything to be with us.

 

TALKING ABOUT SEX IN CHRIST SETS OUR GIRLS FREE!

When we teach our daughters of abstinence I find that it’s always important to acknowledge that culture tells them that if they are valuable and beautiful that boys will want to have sex with them or date them. We need to stop telling our daughters they are “pretty” and remind them that it is not their job to be “pretty.” We need to remind them that their value is intrinsic and given by God. Our children are not saved because we are saved; that needs to always be in our conversations. To say God says,”….” But also that even if a person didn’t care about God, this is relevant because “….” When I teach my teen about sex, I start with God’s design then I tell her that His guidance is one of wisdom and one evidence of this is the design of the female body that for a woman to enjoy sex a man has to “give himself for her.” In other words, he needs to please her sexually, first. That is one reason why God has given sex and intimacy as a gift between one man and one woman. I ask her if she thinks a 16-year-old boy would care to please her sexually and why a young girl would even bother having sex with a stranger who has done nothing for her and does not intend to or even know how to please her sexually or in the basic ways of life. Neither child has the resources, energy, knowledge or selflessness to serve each other in a capacity other than friendship and can only cause each other pain. But we must also acknowledge that hormones are a part of us and that masturbation is the safest way to protect themselves. I realize that this is such a topic that may make many blush but I think Christians have neglected these topics for far too long and have been a part of shaming one another and our youth. Our daughters are not “damaged goods” if they make a mistake and have sex or get pregnant. Many never consider the virginity or purity of their sons and put sexist oppression upon their daughters. There is always the option to turn back to God. Saul murdered Christians, repented and is in heaven today. Sexuality is beautiful and a part of who we are. I believe that if we freed our daughters to speak about this, “the problem that has no name” (The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan) We could teach them to truly be free to be abstinent or WAIT FOR THEIR TRUE LOVER as I like to call it.

Freedom For The Woman in Me.

I will start by acknowledging that many of the thoughts, beliefs, and values that I will call attention to may cause my reader to consciously or unconsciously label me a feminist. But I plead with you to fight the urge.

A woman’s thoughts, yours and mine are free of categorization.  All people, women included are more than titles and labels. We have been taught that free thinking for women is dangerous and in order to protect ourselves and others, we label ourselves and others. This way of thinking reinforces inferiority within our minds thereby proving that even we as women devalue our own ideas, thoughts, and words. We will never obtain freedom in this manner because when we speak of equality leading to the evolution of mind, body and spirit for women we are automatically categorized and swiftly brushed off even by those we call sisters.

Many would agree that the title of wife and mother are the most sought after among women and many women swiftly, naturally and devotedly cling to them without any dream for another. The woman, who surrenders willingly her entire being to her title often never addresses her inner person on a deeper level? With no other identity, the sole identity of that women rests upon her husband and children. She has become consumed with her transition of ease to the position of wife and mother under the formation of her natural capability to find a man and conceive a child.  Women who choose to remain single or not have children become the nemesis of those whose women who identity for themselves and every other woman that the purpose in life for the female population rests in motherhood and marriage.

The businesswoman, the career woman who has a life outside of her family or no family at all is often to the shame of her people, looked down upon, criticized and harshly judged for leaving her post. For her husband having to make his own dinner and her children being managed by another.

Often wives and mothers, oppress their own people and are often the first to praise a man for making their own dinner or changing a diaper. Why the divide? Why are women so intent to oppress one another?

This brings me to a place in my own life where I imagined what I could be if I had lived a life without labels. What legacy my ancestors would have left for me had they lived without oppression, without these expectations that defined them before they were even able to decide who they were. The permanent labels that never allowed them to reinvent themselves or take risks. It seems the only risk women were able to take was sexual.  there was always someone who found a way to exploit her only means of fraudulent freedom, was the freedom of her sexuality.

“Just label them a slut and it will make all decent women not want to take part in it, but we’ll use the free-spirited, the ones who can’t play by the rules, the ones who are too alive to play dead.”

These beautiful women strong, brave, yet broken. They began with the spirit of a child but by nine years old, many had joined the cult of culture. You become who you are told you will become. If you are a woman, you will be objectified, devalued and belittled by men and women.

But I will tell you, that God has not put this on us, God has given us freedom in Christ. If you want to lead, YOU LEAD! if you want to work, YOU WORK! If you want to stay single, STAY SINGLE! 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.” This statement is that “I” have the freedom in Christ to do ANYTHING. No one can tell me that I can’t. If I choose to sin, that is on my head, and God will treat me according to what I have done. If I am in fact a new creation then my heart is changed and the Spirit leads me. I don’t need anyone to control me because I have the Spirit of God in me. Yet this is exactly what we see in the church, women are not allowed to become pastors or teach. If I am led by God who is anyone to tell me otherwise and whom shall I obey, God or man?

Here in 1 John 2:27, John says, “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. -John 8:36

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.         -1 Corinthians 13:33

For there is no partiality with God. -Romans 2:11

This is the unified work of scripture. One breath. Yet those who follow traditions of men keep women from our purpose in serving God. May it never be so! Women, take your cross and follow God, put behind you the yolk of slavery that has oppressed you and your ancestors and has led many astray!

Note: Get yourself a KEYWORD STUDY BIBLE AND TEACH YOURSELF THEOLOGY. Don’t let anyone define who you can be in CHRIST!

 

bibleb2

From this Bible:

https://www.amazon.com/Hebrew-Greek-Key-Word-Study-Bible/dp/0899577555/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=V36T742CZH2WQ3AZB9D3

What Kind of Woman Am I? Decide For Yourselves.

So last night, I went to a party. Eventually, for one reason or another, I referred to myself as feminist many times. I had thought of myself like that when I was a teen never having seen the women naked in the street expressing their hate for the world and themselves.

Eventually, I met some true feminists, I thought, “I do not agree with them at all and they seemed to lack the fullness and peace that I had and wanted more of.” So, I decided I wasn’t a feminist. I stopped thinking about those things after I became a Christian. I couldn’t understand how God wanted women not to “speak” in the church, but I agreed that if that’s what I was told was God’s decision then I would listen because I love God and want to be faithful.

Well, as I began taking college courses, I ran into many educated women who referred me to some well-known books on women’s issues of the past and present. The Creation of the Feminist Consciousness by Gerda Lerner was given to me as a gift from one inspiring instructor. The book is undeniably informational and captivating. So many of the thoughts and history of women of the past that I had always wondered of was put together in complete fullness. Eventually, I came upon, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan after reading these two books, it’s as though my eyes were opened. Not just with information, these writers weren’t trying to convince me of anything. I needed no convincing. What they spoke was the words of the life that I had lived, the secret struggles of my mind, heart, and soul that not even I could put words to.

So, I thought, I can be a feminist, in a good way. Maybe a first or second wave feminist. After the party, I went to sleep, woke up and felt so dirty for having referred to myself as a feminist. I comforted myself with the notion I was only “trying on the title.”

It’s easy for the average woman to relate to this. When you speak of feminism to women at work and at church you get a quick, stand-offish glare. I think they may have heard the hype.

Well, I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, be a feminist.

So, what am I?

I realize that I don’t want a stereotype that forces me into a category of people that is known for disgracing women, children, and men.

So, what can I be called? What category do I fit in?

I thought, “why don’t men who desire to challenge their exploitation have to have a title that creates an encompassed identity for them?”

Is the feminist movement just another way to round up, discredit and pass off women?

Well, I don’t need a label; the world has already given me plenty.

Our history as women can only be avoided if one does so intentionally. There was a day that women could not get an education, they had no freedom, no hope, no lives aside from the value with which a man placed on them and it was ever fluctuating. Based on beauty or sex/reproduction alone. Nothing else was of value. If a woman wonders how much of that past ideology still lingers today, she would not have to ponder the thought long. In every piece of our conscious and unconscious lives, many of our sisters are still in the same captivity. Like a lion in a wire cage who sees the thin gate enclosed around it and forbids itself to even try to escape, not realizing the power that is permeated within its being. Women comfort ourselves in religion, in marriage, in relationships and the like, settling for what is far beneath our capabilities because we have been told that we should not take a place of power. A place of freedom. So, we tell ourselves that we want to get married, have kids, be a stay at home mom-but why? We feel unattractive no matter how attractive we are until a man’s eyes wander towards us and at last, we feel beautiful- but why? We are single but desperately want a partner- why?

If you think you have none of these, you need only look at a young girl of twelve and beyond. Why are they so desperate? Is it that they have some inner gauge that still measures their value based on those primitive lies that they are only as valuable as a man says they are? Is it that they keep believing what they are told? Is that the mysterious reason for Eve being so easily deceived by Satan? She was so gullible, so foolish. She did not count the cost of her foolishness and believed what Satan told her. Is this decided tactic for deception still as easy today? Deceive the woman, she’ll believe you. If you’ve ever seen Jehovah Witness’s in action, they often do outreach to women, especially Hispanic women. Because often enough, they don’t know what they believe and when you tell that deceiver, “no thanks, I’m a Christian” they say, “so are we.” What questions are left to be asked, and will this woman understand what she is up against? Women need to know what we believe and be on guard because there is a real fight to take us captive. We need not be fooled.

I decided who I am in Christ.

What I am is just a woman-

A woman who loves to work hard and wants to achieve all that I am capable of no more, no less.

I want to be respected because I am human and not disrespected or oppressed because I am imperfect or a woman.

I want to be free to worship God without inhibition, without worrying if I’m “too much” or “too little.”

I don’t see that the church has been able to foster a woman’s identity without exploiting her and I see plainly now how Eve was deceived so easily that it makes me conscious of my own failures to think critically. This means that it is all-the-more pertinent that we women aspire to scholarship in the church. An expectation that has been held for men only.

This is my heart for women. I do not believe that a man-led church can grow women in this way. They do not have any need to challenge a woman to be fruitful in the regard of theology or leadership. It is simple to search the scriptures and see that what Paul was referring to when he said women should not “teach” in the church. In just a few hours of research, I found supported text that spoke of a more accurate translation. One of those was written by John Dickson, “Dickson makes the point that in our context we use the word “teach” in a broader range of ways – everything from sermons to Sunday School lessons, to giving instruction in sport, or a job. Paul, however, uses the word in a very restricted way to mean the original passing on of what was to become the Scriptures as we know them today. The work of memorizing Jesus’ words and the events of his life became the task of qualified men, like the passing on of the Old Testament Scriptures, had been. Memorization was valued above the written word in that culture at that time.
Therefore it is not biblically accurate to use the word “teach” in relation to a sermon. We would better reflect Biblical terminology if we were to use the word “exhort” or “prophesy” to refer to a sermon. The tasks of exhortation and prophecy were not restricted to men so Dickson makes the comment there is no reason why women cannot fulfill the task of bringing a sermon.”(Dickson)

So, I decided I could not deny this scholarly and accurate information that was presented to me as well as the Spirit inside of me with which I know God personally that this is God. This is His true meaning. He never meant for me to feel discarded or exploited.

When you consider the rest of the Bible as well as the women of the early church this translation makes so much more sense. Search the Scriptures for yourselves.

Beauty

So here I sit, pondering what it means to be a woman. When I come to the core of who we are I can’t help but always come back to the word “beauty.” What does it mean to be beautiful? At one time being beautiful meant being tall, thin with large breast and a nice butt. That is not what I refer to as beauty. Today, “beauty” is defined by outward appearance, even more so by a common law of “sex appeal.” As women, there isn’t much that we covet more than “beauty.” We walk through malls and shops spending more money than we have just for a chance at it, we hate other women we believe have found more than us, we flaunt whatever we think we might have in order to test our assets on the nearest unsuspecting but appreciative glance. We pile on makeup, take pills, tuck this or that or let this or that hang out.

All the while we have been so misled in the attainment of, and the desire of, “beauty” that we haven’t stopped to consider that we already may have it. This beauty, that ALL women possess is found in our spiritual selves and our mental and emotional capacity to ignore the beautiful impostor and to fight for the real thing.

I will tell you, it is not easily attained but it is worth finding.

It can’t be bought at the mall which is bad news but the good news is it is free of charge. Not easily attained but by sweat and tears, it can be brought forth to any woman who is tired of always grasping for but never coming close.

The beauty that is undeniable and undefinable comes from the character of a woman’s soul to the depth of her heart via the dedication of her mind.

No one can define her, no one can take it from her and no one gets to decide if she’s, “hot or not”.

Why?- because it’s something that she IS, not something she has.

Let me start by giving an example. Have you ever met a woman well past her 70’s whose husband loves her and thinks she’s the most beautiful woman in the world?

That’s it! She has the eyes of the one man who matters to her. If he says she’s beautiful who can argue? Who gets to define the woman? No one else matters and there’s no denying his desire for her. So he lifts her up because he realizes how valuable she is.

What if each woman lifted herself in that esteem? Would she be confident single, as a single parent, or married to a man who valued her because of her value for herself? Yes, because her value was established and came through her knowledge.

Has your mom ever looked at you and told you “you’re beautiful?” Your dad? A friend? How did you feel?

Yes, we have all done it… replied with a “yeah right.”

But why… because we don’t think it’s true.

If beauty is defined already then you may be sure YOU don’t meet the mark…

that’s what we believe.

Why do we believe that?

Who has decided what is beauty?

God has.

God says that its possible to be more beautiful with age.

Yes, with wrinkles and all.

How?

Because He has already defined beauty.

So… okay… even if a woman didn’t want to talk about God.

There’s more just less beautiful because I believe and have found to be true, that without God no human can know themselves fully or be full, completely and perfectly at peace. Similar to trying to get through Europe without a map or knowing the language. Everything would make more sense if you had direction and foundation. God provides both in life.

So if you chose to ignore that what I am saying is still relevant.

What we think of beauty is not real. There is no standard that we can attain that appearance brings.

Some people think skinny women are beautiful, some Asian, some tall, some short.

Because there is no definition I can be sure that it is a concept brought about because women are intrinsically beautiful and someone decided to rate us based on our outward appearances to whatever best pleased the eyes of the beholder. Because it is only defined by each passerby we can be positive that the definitions set before us every day are only a deception to keep us distracted in the mirror rather than at peace in our souls, with one another and with who we are. Our looks are just a chance, in fact being sexually exploited has been something that we have dealt with for so long that somehow we have come to accept it so much that we dress for it, and try to be “nice” to every guy that gawks at our ass or asks for our number, when all they want is to extend opportunity to continue the harassment in a more private area.

Most women don’t understand that this is not an authentic appreciation of their beauty.

Woman have the power to break free from the lie that we are NOT the standard for beauty by forgetting about the outward appearance all-together except for that which comes with proper self care and love, and forge a new path, for the present and future women of the world, by instead pouring our minds into books, our sights on mentoring younger women and searching for Truth and Wisdom.

WE ARE the source of beauty in this world. We get to define what it means to be a woman and what beauty is and is not.

What makes you “feel” beautiful isn’t always what true appreciation feels like, it can just be what we’ve been given thus far.

C’mon Sisters, Let’s demand True Appreciation of Womanhood!

Let’s start with the woman in the mirror!

The Purpose Behind the Blog


                      I decided to start this blog because God gave me a life and a story. 

He made something beautiful out of me and not only me but each person he has called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. I have shared with you the ugly truth about where my story has begun for the purpose of giving God glory for each day before, after and in between it all. To confess to you and to Him that I remember and will never forget where he has brought me from. His love is so great and powerful that it truly does save! It saved me! Oh to be humbled by the mercy of our amazing Savior, Father, and Friend.

As I write to you,  I also write to God and to myself for the purpose regaining the passion that I once had and long to have again for the God that saved me on that beautiful day. Not only did he take off the blindfold but he so patiently teaches and walks alongside us through each moment until now. He is still changing us and still merciful to us…..Amazing!!

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power

and the kingdom of our God,

and the authority of his Messiah.

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

who accuses them before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

They triumphed over him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony;

they did not love their lives so much

as to shrink from death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens

and you who dwell in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea,

because the devil has gone down to you!

He is filled with fury,

because he knows that his time is short.”

~Revelation 12:10-12

Truth

I have been a Christian for twelve years now. Hard to believe time goes by so fast! One thing I am always amazed by is that twelve years ago, even 7 or 5 years ago. I would never have imagined my life as it is today. There are some foundation life lessons God taught me that made it possible for me to be free from my past and my sin although this is a continual process. One of these lessons God taught me was to know “truth”. Truth in the world as a whole but more specifically in the privacy of my own mind. This verse was on the dashboard of my car. I must have thought about it 100 times or more a day.

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)

God taught me to differentiate between His voice and all the other voices in my head. It was clear that when God was teaching me he was gentle and his direction was clear and specific. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33). My thoughts were confusing and very feeling orientated. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12) Then there was Satan’s voice, ever condemning and never hopeful. God’s word warns of this. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8)

Even though I have not attained perfection (obviously). God has brought me so far from that girl I was twelve years ago. I pray with each passing year I will be a daughter who is increasingly faithful to her calling.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Still So Far to Go….

I have shared with you my story of how I came to know the Lord. There is instant salvation of which I am assured and comforted in knowing and having my eyes opened to the Truth. As believers and followers in Christ, all find our complete and perfect joy. Unfortunately and fortunately we still have a long way to go from that day forward.

After God showered His love upon me on that beautiful day, I was able to see clearly for the first time in my life. As though a blinder had been removed from my eyes. I knew I had to change everything. I also knew I was weak. How weak? I had not yet known. (“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”~Matthew 26:31)

At the time of my salvation, I had before that day, been a young lady ensnared in all kinds of addictions. I had previously thought that I was pretty good, compared to some of the company I kept. I reveled in the thought and feeling that I was “free.” I believed I was able to do and live however I chose and no one controlled me. I have heard people say that being a Christian is terrible because of all the “rules” and “regulations. It had never occurred to me until I had decided that I no longer wanted to live this life apart from God anymore. I wanted to honor God. My desires were different and the life I wanted to live was one of real freedom. I had not known how truly enslaved I was but when I tried to not drink or do drugs or date men who didn’t value purity, I found that traps were set around every corner I walked. I could not get free from the very things that I at one time believed were my very freedom. So who is truly free? Is it the person who lives for themselves, doing whatever it is that they “desire” at the moment? Or is it the Christian, who does what God has called them to?

I have been on both sides of this fence. I know that these chains were heavy and burdensome that even when I saw the road I was taking was destructive I could not go another way. It was as though someone else had taken hold of my life and was dragging me willing to my own demise. Until God stepped in and took off the blindfold I was then able to see I was headed toward a cliff. Even after I realized this, I tried to stop doing all the things that God’s word calls sin but I could not. It seemed the road I had traveled for most of my life was such a clear path, I had traveled on it for so long that it was clearly marked for me. This new path that God was taking me down was not yet developed. It was harder to see and travel on. I needed to hold onto Him and rely on him each step of the way. I was willing!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~Galatians 5:1

In the Making

I was born in Chicago Illinois in 1982. I obviously don’t remember much about most of my childhood. At about age twelve is where I can look back now and see who I was beginning to be and I have some memories. To be honest my childhood was filled with fear, nervousness, confusion and the constant feeling that I was not loved. I constantly felt alone and that my family did not see anything good in me. I can remember testing the boundaries of my parents love and finding it didn’t go very far. I constantly assessed whether I was loved by them or not. Apparently, that was very important to me. Their love was very “conditional” as far as I could see.

At a young age I was constantly observing others; their behavior, their friendships, their sincerity, everything. I saw people that were happy and people that were hurting. It was in many ways like I could feel their happiness or pain. Aside from what life was like at home and the ways that shaped me there was a disposition that was with me from the womb.

My family was not perfect and now I am able to see that my parents did what they thought was right at the time brought about by their own childhood abusers. I know that they- similar to us all, have many areas they could point to that they wished had been different.

As far as I could see at the time, my mom and dad accidentally had 3 children. My dad was annoyed with us for being children and also had an anger problem. My mom always told us that my dad did indeed love us but just in a “different” way. My mom had no college education and therefore had to work very hard and long to pay bills. They were very controlling and abusive and rules were made up as we went. There was no logic to them, no explanation or consistency, not even between my rules and my brothers. I didn’t feel that they could handle their own lives much less mine.

From twelve on I began to rebel against them. The tiny amount of love they had for me turned to hate rather quickly as I began to question their authority and the more they turned against me the more destructive I became. Believing no one loved me and my life didn’t matter all that much I began to get into marijuana and cigarettes at twelve years old. By the age of 17, there really wasn’t much I hadn’t done. My dad had always told me that I wasn’t smart enough to become anything so I would have to get by on my looks (which like most young girls I didn’t believe to be much).  It seemed with all of my other “issues” that I also couldn’t learn. No matter how hard I studied for a test I would fail it. I barely made it through my freshman year of high school and dropped out of school at the beginning of my sophomore year.

Dropping out of school was not much or a difference in my life since I rarely had gone but it did free up my life so that I could go anywhere I wanted. All I had ever dreamed of was getting away from my family so this seemed to be a perfect time. Needless to say, I left home and had some crazy adventures, most dangerous and troublesome.

All along the way, I had some amazing experiences with God. Some people think that your experience with God begins when you are saved. When he comes in and opens your eyes to the war of good an evil that we all live in, but I will venture to say that it begins from the day you breathe your first breath.

One memory that stands out to me is during the time I was at the train station in Indiana. While I was there a homeless man passed by me and gave me a crack rock. He told me it was worth two hundred dollars and that I should sell it. Not really knowing what to do with it. I wrapped it in tissue and put it in my purse. Later a young man asked me if I would like to smoke some marijuana with him. We went behind a building to smoke it. What I later found out was that it was black expo weekend in Indianapolis. Apparently that weekend they load up the city with a lot of police. Needless to say, we were arrested. It was a weird situation because they took us to the side of a building and interrogated us. After they went through my things and found this drug I started crying. Being seventeen I knew they would call my parents. That was my biggest fear at the moment. I pulled it together and told them that a man gave it to me and told me to hold it for him. I told the officer that I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want him to come looking for me and I had never even seen crack before so I didn’t know if it was like acid which got into your skin, which is why I wrapped it in the tissue (that part was true). Anyway, they eventually let me go. As I got on the train to Michigan I saw a big black billboard with small white letters that read “If you are looking for a sign from God this is it”. I pondered that in my heart the whole ride. I never saw a billboard like that before or after this one.

I could look back and remember countless stories like that where God stepped in and protected me from myself. Even when I didn’t change or give him credit. My mom had always taught us about God. We went to a Catholic church here and there. My mom read her Bible pretty often. There was always a lingering sense of God in my mind. I always told myself “God understands”. I believed he knew that I have to do what I had to do and somehow he didn’t mind. I guess since I didn’t know any other way to live.

Still seventeen and headed to Michigan. I lived with some hippies for a while. Life was “fun”. That was all I really cared about what having a good time and not having any rules. I found peace in feeling that I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This was one thing that kept me single and having a lot of friends that were men with no problem keeping it that way, even though now I realize that the hope of more was how I got them to do so much for me. I stayed with a few different people and eventually met a guy and had a nice dysfunctional relationship with a guy who had recently been released from prison.

I eventually made it back home to Illinois with my mom. My dad had moved back in which was terrible for me. He wasn’t living there when I had left. I never believed he loved us based on his behavior and the fact that my mom would take him back when all he did was hurt us meant to me that she didn’t care about us either. This made it hard for me to be near him and also to trust anyone. I was very skeptical of people.

Eventually, I left home again after my dad had lost his temper over some dishes I left out and pushed me into the kitchen counter. I was so afraid near him so I went to live with a close friend and his family. We had a group of friends so I was very close to them distance wise and that was nice. I felt safe there and his parents welcomed me to stay as long as I would like. I wasn’t planning on staying long I was saving up to move to the Florida Keys. I eventually did and the story goes on and on. Crazy living for about 8 months and then I went back home to Illinois. Many moments I could look back on now and see how my perfect loving Father was with me the whole time.

Throughout the course of this time, I stayed in contact with the guy in Michigan. We saw each other once in a while and I believed I really loved him. He was controlling, abusive and in and out of prison though so I kept my distance. Always waiting for him to change but never putting my life on hold for him. That was one good thing that I learned from watching my parents relationship. I wasn’t going to settle, permanently anyway.

Fast forward three years, I was now 19. I remember sitting on my front stairs after just thinking about this guy I thought I loved. Maybe I did… I prayed for him. I prayed; “God if you let him out jail… I promise I won’t sleep with him.” Well, God did let him out of jail. A few weeks later I got a letter from him saying that he was going to be released and he wanted to see me. I immediately made plans to see him. Completely aware of the promise I had made, knowing full well what I was about to do.

It wasn’t long before I found out I was pregnant. As you can imagine, this is where my life changed. For the obvious reasons, but also that I knew in my mind and in my soul that this was a crossroad. For the first time in my life, I had to live what I claimed I believed. Was God okay with my life cycle of sinning and confessing? Did God really not care that I “had to do what I had to do”. If God was real and he was watching over me I had to keep this baby. If God did not exist and cared nothing for me then I could have an abortion and move on as many people recommended that I do. There was only a small minuscule moment in time that it took me to decide. In my head and in my heart I knew that this baby was my family and how could I kill my family member knowing that God allowed this and that I was not innocent in these results. I cried I was so scared. I did not know what I was going to do.

Eventually, I had to tell my parents. I remember my mom was in the kitchen. I said, “Can you come outside, I have to tell you something.” Before we made it completely out the door she said, “You’re pregnant aren’t you?” I said “Yes.” We both cried together and she said she would take care of me and be there for me. This was the beginning of God’s restoration in my family. She was there for me and so was my dad. My whole family was on a path to restoration and healing because of this beautiful little baby that was to come into the world.

There was something stirring in my soul ever since I found out I was pregnant. God was reaching out to me. I remember this moment clear as day. I was in my bedroom alone, aside from God and the baby in me. I felt come over me a complete and amazing feeling of love. God’s love. I saw my past life flash before my eyes and all the evil things I had done. I realized at that moment that God loves me. He had all my life. I saw all the moments he had protected me and all the ways He had blessed me. Even in my suffering, He was with me. I decided that day to give Him my life. I fully trusted Him, I was fully His and I wanted to have the love He freely offered. I wanted the life that He created me for.