Servant Girl

“Don’t be embarrassed of humble beginnings” she said from the pulpit.

“Ya, that’s easy for you to say, as you stand up there and I stand back here holding the door open for the leaders as the Greeter.” I sarcastically thought to myself.

She continued to share her story “I wasn’t always a pastor’s wife, you know. When I first got saved I used to clean the church.”  

“Okay, now you have my attention. YOU used to clean the church?” 

I felt so embarrassed. There I was thirty years old in drug rehab, my life was a mess, and I was doing the lowest job available. I was the Servant Girl. And believe me, that was not the last lowly job I had in rehab either, I cleaned church bathrooms, did weekly car washes on the corner to raise money, worked at a carnival, washed dishes, served food at banquets and much more.

One of the things I liked about living in the women’s home was the potential to become a leader, however the other women who were “less qualified” kept getting raised up instead of me. I went through a lengthy season of envy and arrogance not understanding why I wasn’t  a leader yet and the other girls were. I was so much better than them, because I had the leadership skills and the desire to be used as a leader.

The other Girls were getting raised up on average of 2-4 months after arriving, it took me 8 months to finally figure out the secret-I needed to be a humble servant to lead the way Jesus leads. I learned that things in the Christian world worked much different-it was the servant-the lowly humble one that got to be the leader, not the know-it-all arrogant one, like myself.

I envied the pastor’s wife who spoke that day and the other leaders, because I wanted to be where they were. I admired the way they got to dress and how people responded to them. No one even noticed me. The scripture below resonated with me at the time, because I didn’t want to be a leader so that I could serve, I wanted to be served and get all the attention.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others Matthew 23:5-7.

The Bible says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up James 4:10. Here are a few ways that I humbled myself, try them and see if it helps you become more of a servant leader.

  • Do something for someone who can’t do anything for you. Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:11-14
  • Serve in secret. Purchase something and give it to someone in need and don’t tell anyone you did it. “What your Father sees you do in secret, He will reward you openly.”
  • Volunteer for a humble position at church, like cleaning the bathrooms or taking care of kids in the nursery. A behind the scenes kind of serving without recognition. “The least of these will be the greatest.” Matthew 19:30
  • Hang out with humble people, especially Jesus. The more we hang out with Him-the more we become like Him and He is humble. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
  • Submit to whomever is in charge, whether they know what they’re doing or not. The best leaders are the best followers.

My first position I had as a leader was “Chore Checker” where I got to inspect the Girl’s rooms in order for them to have coffee in the morning. That was 7 1/2 years ago and I have been a leader ever since, getting raised up steadily all the way to “Head Staff” which was second to my director, then I became the “Women’s Director” at a Christian ranch, then the “Ministry Coordinator” at my last church and now I’m the “President & Founder” of Purely His, Inc.

I actually love to serve now and purposefully put myself in positions of serving, like working at our coffee stand at church. Most of what I do, I do for free, like spending several hours a week ministering to women and families in crisis, I also teach and share my story without recognition or financial benefits. However, that doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I know that my Father in Heaven sees me, my Heavenly reward will be great and that’s what really mattes to me now, because I was saved to serve.

I am a servant Girl and proud of it!

Positive Results

My tear flooded eyes prevented me from seeing the results. I kept pushing the steady stream out of the way in order to see what my future was about to hold. POSITIVE. I ran out out of the bathroom, down the hallway and out to the front yard. I fell to my knees and cried aloud to the Lord “No…what am I going to do?? I don’t love him. This wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I was going to be married to a man I loved first.” 
I was 17 at the time and one would have thought that I would’ve been happy, since I was the girl who used to cry each month when I got my period, as early as 14 years old. I did want this baby, but not THIS WAY. My child deserved a mom AND dad and I knew I wasn’t going to stay with him as soon as I saw the results. It was just a Summer fling, I never expected it to be anything more. I wasn’t serious about him at all and then I found out that I was having his baby.
I  walked back inside, showed him and my mom the test and said coldly, “I’m not going to stay with you. I don’t love you. Sorry.”
He was so confused and stunned. First he finds out I’m pregnant and that’s enough of a shocker, but then he finds out in the same breath that I’m not staying with him to raise  our child. Later that night I woke up to the sound of little pepples hitting my bedroom window. It was him. I opened the window to him trying to persuade me “What are you doing Michelle? You are pregnant. We should stay together and raise this kid. There is no reason for us to breakup.”
“There is a perfectly good reason. We don’t love each other and we shouldn’t stay together, just because I’m pregnant. I’m sorry.” I dug my heels in and he finally left. I only saw him a few more times over the next couple of years.
Our son was born in June of 1994 and his dad wasn’t present, because I didn’t stay in contact with him. My kid finally met his dad when he was 10 months old at his dad’s work during a lunch break. They looked just alike. I brought him to see him 1 more time a few days later and that’s when he informed me that his girlfriend and him had a baby girl which was only seven months younger than our son and that they were getting married. He showed me a picture of his daughter and she looked just like our son.
I couldn’t hold back the tears. I instantly started crying and thought “My son could have had that. He could have had a mom and dad who were married, but I chose not to.” I felt so guilty and envious in that moment. I lost contact with his dad soon after that and that was the last time my son saw his dad.
Growing up without a dad was really hard for my kid. He wasn’t sure of himself, always tried to prove that he had what it took to be a man, he assumed the role of “man of the house” early on without having a role model to mimic. I used to ask him “Do you want me to try and find your dad? Do you want to meet him?” His casual response was always “No, not yet.”
Every long term relationship with a man was in hopes that he would be a dad to my son, but it never happened. A couple of men pretended, but one can only pretend so long. It broke my heart that I broke my son’s heart. He deserved a dad and I was selfish and didn’t allow it to happen.
Fast forward: Our life had been put back together. I had been clean and sober for five years, was in full time ministry and the boys were doing great. My oldest was 17, the same age I was when I got pregnant with him, however, his lifestyle did not resemble my lifestyle at that age and I was so proud of that. He had men who were like uncles helping him learn to become a man. Life was good.
He came home one day and said “Mom, my sister found me on Facebook and then right after that my dad sent me a ‘friend request’ too.” 
“Wow, Son…that’s crazy and cool. Have you responded yet?”
“I messaged my sister a couple of times, but that’s it.”
“How are you going to handle your dad? Do you want me to sit with you while you respond?”
“Sure, I guess.” We sat down in front of the laptop and he blankly stared at the screen as I intently looked at his eyes trying to understand what he must have felt. Continuing to look at the screen he said, “This is so weird. What am I supposed to say?”
“Look at me for a minute, what is on your heart to say right now?” And I snapped my finger. He replied “Uhh…I don’t know what to say??” I said “Then write that son.” So he did.
His dad quickly replied “I have thought about you every single day, I’ve been searching for you for years. I love you son and I’m so sorry that I haven’t been there for you, but I want to be there now if you will let me? You have 3 other siblings a 16 year old sister, 9 year old brother and a 1 1/2 year old baby sister. We live in Florida and we would love for you to come and visit someday when you’re ready.”
Seventeen years he went without a dad and then God delivered. He didn’t get a new dad that I found him-God restored his real dad to him. In one moment, his whole life changed. He was wanted. He was loved. He was missed. He was searched for. He mattered.
He began talking to his dad, sister and the rest of the family several times a week. Learning about each other and catching up on time that they thought was lost forever. Three months later my brave 17 1/2 year old son took a plane ride to Florida and met his dad for the very first time that he could remember. They spent two weeks together and it went better than anyone could have hoped for.
That next summer he spent six more weeks with his family, came back home , graduated from high school and then moved down there permanently. He’s been living there for a year now and things are going really well. He is an intricate part that was missing from their family. Even his step mom has brought him in as her own and has never made him feel like an outsider. He gets to be the big brother to 4 siblings now.
From the time I got pregnant I spent years being afraid of the day I would have to tell my son why he didn’t have a dad, then I spent years after that fearing the day that he would meet his dad, by the time it actually happened I realized there was nothing to fear, but fear itself.
Take heart-it’s never too late to get back what the enemy or your own bad choices have stolen from you. I talked to my twenty year old son this morning and asked him how his relationship with his dad was going and replied “It’s going pretty good. We’re getting a lot closer now. It’s pretty weird to think back and remember that he wasn’t there all those years, because it’s just seems so normal now.” 

High Heels

20140503_171234Last week my husband and I had the rare opportunity to attend an evening church service together, without our kids, so we decided to make a mini date out of it. But shortly before we left I received a phone call from a woman I currently mentor who wanted to introduce me to her daughter that night at church. It was a pretty big deal, because I had been mentoring this mom on how to relate to her daughter who struggles with major sexual sin and calls her parents “vanilla” because they don’t have a clue when it comes to her current lifestyle. I told her I would make a point to get sidetracked on purpose while we were at church, so I could meet her and hopefully make a connection.

I shared the exciting news with my husband and he replied “That’s very cool…I know that you’ve been eager to meet her. It’s a nice night out, would you like to ride the street bike or take the truck?”

“Okay Husband, this might sound silly, because I would rather ride on the bike, but I also want to wear my new sexy high heels, which would mean we would have to take the truck, so I’m a little torn.”

“Well, what do you think this Girl would respond to most…you wearing jeans and carrying a helmet or a dress and your new shoes?”

“We are totally on the same page! She’s the reason I want to wear those shoes, first of all they’re awesome, but mostly because I think she’ll notice them and it might give me an in.”

My memories took me back to my lifestyle prior to going all in with Jesus. I always had a desire to be good someday, but my misconception of Christian women held me back. I thought “How can I ever be a no makeup wearing, baggy jean dress with no waist, bun on the head, with white socks folded over leather strapped shoes, soft spoken kind of Girl? NO THANK YOU!” Now I get that this is not what most Christian women look like, but it was my perceived reality.

At that time, sex exuded from every pore in my body. Not only did I think about sex all the time, but I dressed in a way to make others think about it every time they saw me. From the top of my head-down to my high heels, my look screamed stripper, prostitute or slut. I loved turning heads and raising the eyebrows of everyone I walked by and became addicted to the attention I got so I sought it constantly, but it was never enough.

Several years later I attended a church service while in rehab and I looked on the stage to see my pastor’s wife wearing a really cute suit, make-up and very sexy high heels. Not only was she pretty, but she was classy, Godly and spoke with power and authority. There was nothing soft spoken or frumpy about her. Seeing her dressed this way gave me hope that maybe I could become like her someday…Godly AND sexy.

My hope for this “chance” meeting at church with the young lady was that she would be able to see that Christian women come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds and that she could fit in too. So I decided on wearing a black dress and my new high heels, but as soon as I slipped the shoes on, the fear of judgment gripped me and I called out to my husband. “I can’t wear these shoes to church. There’s no way. They look inappropriate and people aren’t going to know why I’m wearing them and they might think I have the impure motives.”

My husband came back into the bedroom and gently but firmly replied, “First of all, you look gorgeous and Godly. You do not look impure, so don’t fear judgment. God is going to use you tonight to reach a very lost Girl, so you should wear the shoes.”

“Okay, if you’re sure that I don’t look inappropriate then I’ll wear them.” Even though I was afraid of judgment that night, I wore them anyways and pushed through the fear. Throughout the night as the fear came back I just kept reminding myself that I was a new creation, forgiven, pure and set apart for God’s purposes.

I did have the privilege of meeting her daughter that night and we connected, so now I have a relationship with both mother and daughter and I’m excited to see how the Lord will be using me in this family’s life!

What Satan meant for evil-God used for good. I used to use those types of shoes to lure men for dishonor-now they’re used to lure Girls for honor. You see, the Lord can and will redeem anything you surrender to Him…even High Heels.

Vanilla Coffee

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My husband came in the house with a bag of groceries the other day and said “Hi Babe, I decided to slow down on buying coffee from Dutch Bros, so I bought some flavored coffee from Winco to save money and cut back on sugar.”

I thought to myself, “Oh no…please don’t say vanilla flavored coffee.”

Feeling proud of himself, he pulled the small packages out of the grocery bag, looked at them and said “I got two flavors: vanilla and chocolate macadamia nut!”

Me: “Of course you bought vanilla flavored coffee.”

Husband: “I take it you don’t like that kind of coffee?”

Me: “No, the smell of it is a major trigger for me. It reminds me of the first abortion I had.”

Husband: “I’m sorry, I’ll just put it out in the truck and take it to work with me. There’s no reason for you to go through that.”

Me: “Tempting, but I think today is the day for me to face this trigger head on. I’m going to make a pot of it and replace an old horrible memory with a new memory.”

I walked over to our coffee bar, opened the white bag of freshly ground vanilla coffee and took a deep whiff. I instantly felt sick to my stomach, like morning sickness. “Lord, please redeem this smell. Please heal me and remind me of my new life. I do not want to fear this smell anymore.” I scooped the fresh grounds into the coffee maker, poured the cold water in and pressed the ‘on’ button. The aroma filled the air. Not only did I feel sick, but shame and guilt accompanied it. I wanted to go outside and get away from the smell, but I stood still instead.

My husband walked back into the room and noticed that I was pretty uncomfortable to say the least and asked, “When you smell vanilla coffee brewing, where does it take you back to?”

My body was stiff and there was a very distant look in my eyes, “I’m standing in the living room of my small apartment, looking towards the kitchen. My roommate bought vanilla flavored coffee. It’s brewing and the smell has permeated the room. I’m 19, pregnant, sick to my stomach and contemplating abortion. The thought of killing my baby feels like a part of me is about to die too. My son is only a year old and I’m working a dead end job, so I can’t imagine being able to take care of another child. The father of the baby is a nice guy, but that’s not going to stop me. I lied to him and said I miscarried.”

Husband: “I’m sorry that you had to go through all of that.” He came up to me, wrapped his arms around me and prayed that the Lord would heal me and remind me of the woman I am today.

Me: “I’m tired of avoiding this smell and getting triggered every time I smell it, it even bothers when I’m in the coffee isle at the grocery store.  I’m going to pour myself a cup and drink it while we sit together. I’m tired of the Enemy using this smell to torture me.”

We made our cups of coffee and headed to the sunny back porch. We enjoyed each other’s company and our coffee. I must say, I was surprised that I did not gag…I actually enjoyed it, as I thanked the Lord out-loud for my new life.

Smells and music are huge triggers for most people and you never know when a trigger is going to get hit, so it’s hard to prepare for. However, when it does happen, you can choose to keep the trigger OR  be healed from it. So the next time one of your triggers gets hit, try something different than before. Face it, walk through it and make a new memory on top of an old one. It is also powerful to talk with someone as it is happening and explain what it was like to go through it. Is there a smell or a song that you have been avoiding, as well, because the Lord wants to completely heal you, won’t you let Him?

Single Mom Situation

Being raised by a single mom was hard, being a single mom myself was even harder. I just kept thinking “Get it together Michelle. Women do this all the time.” I had to bring home the bacon AND fry it up. I was the nurturer AND the disciplinary. I used to think “It’s so nice to not compromise with a man on how I raise my boys” but that also left ALL the decisions up to me and that wasn’t nice.

My boys went without material things and opportunities that they really wanted, because I couldn’t afford them. More was required from my children, especially my oldest who became the man of the house at a very young age. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid, but that’s the way it had to be. I depended on him to help me with his brother and do the “man chores.” I always knew that I wasn’t just raising little boys, but men. I just wish they didn’t have to grow up so fast, but that’s the way it is when you’re surviving through life together.

When we went to church, I felt out of place as a single mom, like an outcast or marked woman. I felt like people looked at me and thought “Well you made your bed, now lie in it.” I felt like married women pulled their husbands closer when I was around and I wasn’t invited to the small get-togethers, however I probably would have been too uncomfortable to attend anyways. It made me feel like I needed to get married, before I would fit in with the whole “God thing.” Now I realize that those are a lot of assumptions, but they were my truths at the time.

Sometimes married women would say “I don”t know how you raise your kids on your own. I have a tough enough time and I have the help of a husband.” Well, if raising kids with a husband is hard too, then raising kids alone is brutal. When questions or comments came up like that, it dawned on me that even though we live in a society where being a single mom is common, it wasn’t God’s design for families. The reason it was so hard for me was because it was never His intention for my life or anyone else’s.

The Lord loves single moms and we as the church should too. I want to challenge you to look up the words “widow, orphan or fatherless” in the Bible and see how many times He mentions them. Just to clarify, when the word “widow” is used in the Bible it is not just referring to an old women who’s husband died, it speaks of single moms and how they are greatly loved by God. In fact, the Bible even says that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” James 1:27. Now, does that sound like a God who looks down on single moms?

No matter what the circumstances were that led to your single mom situation, please know that the Lord is there to be a Father to your children and a Husband to you. I know that sounds really weird if you’ve never heard it, but it’s true. He is The Great I AM. He can provide protection, guidance, finances and comfort. He can be the head of your household, if you will allow Him to take that place and all it takes is a decision to surrender everything to Him and then to walk out that decision with Him. He knows that you’re having a hard time and He wants to help you through it all. Won’t you let Him today?

Irreconcilable Differences?

I am very happily married now and enjoy living with my husband. Our long distance relationship was such a blessing, because it helped us build a healthy foundation as we focused on communication, verses being physical. We learned to be friends before becoming spouses, by hanging out and talking about things that friends talk about.

He is more than “just my husband,” he’s my brother in Christ, my ministry partner and best friend. He loves me like crazy, makes me laugh all the time and has my best interest at heart. Don’t get me wrong, he has flaws, he’s not perfect, but I choose to love him anyways. We wrote our own vows for our wedding and one of the things I said was “I realize now, that when I make a commitment to marry you, my vow is actually to the Lord. Worst case scenario: you fall out of love with me in 10 years…my vow is that I will still CHOOSE to love you as unto the Lord.”

“Happily ever After” is a choice. A choice to never give up-to never have a back door. In recent years, the Lord has given me a righteous anger towards divorce. I want nothing to do with it, including condoning it. I’m not condemning anyone who has gotten one or considering it, in fact this is the third marriage for both my husband and I, so please know that this doesn’t come from a place of judgment, rather from a person who has been deeply affected by divorce, both as a child and then a participant. I am also affected by my husband’s divorces, because our past/his past affects our present.

I don’t tell you my story to show you that “the grass is greener on the other side,” because it isn’t. We’ve just learned how to finally water the grass on our own side of the fence and make it grow. It’s taken us three times to finally get it right and there is a trail of broken hearts and dreams left behind us. We both admit that we contributed to the problems in our past, those marriages failed, because we failed. Yes it takes two to make it work, but it also takes two to tear it apart. We have chosen to learn from our mistakes and apply what we’ve learned.

I meet women all the time who want to bitch and complain about their husbands, but I always look at her and say “So what is your part? Tell me how you are contributing to the problems in your marriage.” When you complain about your husband, you are speaking death over him and over your marriage. Let’s talk about you instead. I know that your husband has issues, they all do, but so do you. You’re not responsible for his actions-you’re responsible for your own, so change your behavior and watch the marriage change. We as women have a lot more power and influence than we give ourselves credit for, so don’t wait for your husband to change, you go first. Here’s the thing…the grass may look greener on the other side, but wherever you go, there you are. You are part of the problem, so change, as unto the Lord.

I understand that some of you have some pretty crappy marriages right now and you feel powerless and hopeless, but you can choose to put the Lord in the middle of your relationship and change yourself. Those are two things that you are in control of and they can change everything. Return to Jesus your First Love and He can change your second love.

In Mark 10:9 it says, “What God has brought together let no man separate.” Including you. I know what you’re going to say “But what if God didn’t bring us together?” Well you are together now and God allowed it, so stop searching for excuses, because it sounds like the guy in the Bible trying to find a loophole, “So Jesus, who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29

I hear this one a lot too, “Well God wants me to be happy that IS what life’s all about.” Really….???? Show me that in the Bible. I have never seen that scripture before. The Lord does bless us with the feelings of love and joy, but not by doing things our own way, but His way. He wants us to be obedient to Him and through that, we are happy. Our existence is to please Him, not us. He wants to heal our marriages and use them for His glory. I have witnessed God heal marriages that were completely over, minus the papers being signed and He intervened. Now those same couples are experiencing “happily ever after” His way.

For the Girls who aren’t married yet…when you CHOOSE to marry a guy, CHOOSE for life, no matter what. For the Girls who are always encouraging your married friends or family members to leave their husbands, because “they deserve better.” Knock it off. The Devil is using you and you become an enemy to God’s plan for their marriage when you do that. We as Christian women need to support marriages and encourage them, because it’s hard enough when the world offers so many back doors to walk out of. Let’s not be one of them.

Happily Ever After is a choice and it is possible, but you’re going to have to decide to make it happen. I choose Happily Ever After, will you?

 

 

Healed Again

A couple weeks ago, my husband asked if I’d be interested in joining a gym with him. A gym membership?? Uh…no. Well…I don’t know…maybe? I hadn’t been to a gym since I gave my life to the Lord and gave up all the things that blocked my relationship with Him and I still avoid certain places to keep from backsliding into my past and into the addictions that used to own me. I always considered the gym atmosphere as a “meat market” in other words, a place to check out guys and “hook up.”

It took years to train myself to look at men in the eyes and not just check out their bodies or use my body to entice them. I worked so hard at training my mind, eyes and body to follow the Lord and not my lustful desires. So when Matt asked if I wanted to join a gym, I got scared. Was it a safe place for me, him, our marriage?

I shared my hesitation with my him and explained that I understood that most people look at a gym and think of it as a place to get healthy, but I viewed it as an unhealthy environment full of temptation. There would be a lot of men there, but also the competition and comparison that I may fall into with other women. I assured him that I wasn’t afraid of having a wandering eye, I was just scared because of what it USED to be for me. There were so many fears, so many “what ifs?” However, I know that the Lord redeemed me and I needed to trust that He could even redeem the gym atmosphere as well, so we decided to take a tour the following morning.

We walked in the front doors and the smell of sweat, tanning oil, and cologne permeated the lobby. It smelled the same-it looked the same and the fear set in. Just then a cute little gal approached us with a warm welcome and off we went to tour the building. I nervously clutched my husband’s arm, looking at the floor or off in the distance trying not making eye contact or watch people work out. I probably looked insecure or stuck up, but I went into protective mode anyways. I was feeling really uncomfortable, but fighting through it by praying silently, “Lord remind me that I am new. Remind me that I am not that same girl and I have nothing to fear.”

We sat down with the young woman that gave us the tour and started talking about membership then she shared part of her story and my ears perked up. I asked questions and she answered. She really opened up to us and in return I shared parts of my past that she could relate to, including why I was so intimidated in that place. We ended up talking for quite a while about everything, but the membership. We shared some really intimate details and connected on a deep level.

I was completely in my element talking freely about Jesus and what He’s done in our lives. You see, the Lord used me to encourage her and used her to make what was once evil into something Holy. That was the day that God turned a “meat market” into a place of ministry. He took an unhealthy place and made it healthy again, just like he did with me.

The Lord has healed me in so many creative ways, but this was a good one, a really good one. He used a new memory to replace an old memory. I actually met with her a couple days later for coffee and we picked up right where we left off and both of us could see how the Lord has made our stories intertwine and now we’ll write a new chapter together. “Writing HIStory through our story.”

Let me ask you, is there an area in your world that needs to be redeemed, whether a street or a building? I encourage you to ask the Lord to redeem that place for you too.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:10

Good Witch or Bad?

Screenshot_2013-11-11-18-35-17-1This blog was written by one of Purely His Mentors: Camille Trimmer.

As a kid, I loved going through my mom’s stuff. I remember being in her room one day; I saw this pretty little bag, colorful and decorated with shimmery stars. It felt like a deck of cards inside, so I loosened the draw string, which revealed that it was, in fact a, deck of cards. There were strange, yet intriguing pictures on each card. I knew enough to know that they were tarot cards. The ones that psychics used to tell the future. My mom walked in as I was looking at them and freaked out because now she had to “cleanse” them for a month before she could use them again. That’s right…. just because I touched them. I thought it was pretty goofy and dramatic, but still held an interest in them.

Freshman year, I met the lovely Nikki and her and I became friends and inseparable shortly after meeting each other. We were very much a part of “the weird group” in high school, consisting of your typical goths/punks/druggies/rebels. I spent the night at her house most of the time. Her mom was hardly ever home and let us smoke and drink. Now, I knew Nikki was into some weird stuff. She had already told me that she was Wiccan, “which was not to be confused with a witch!!” Heaven forbid I ever call her that. No, she explained that Wiccans had rules. Standards. Principles. Whatever.

Nikki and I got together at her place after school. She was teaching me to belly dance. After we were done one day, Nikki asked me if I wanted to call upon spirits with her. Well… why not? We already had the lights out, curtains closed, candles lit. I suppose I’ve always been perceptive to spirits, even before I got saved. I could sense energies, and I knew this was real and not just some fluke. Afterwards, I told her I wanted to become Wiccan. Then began my training process. She also began training my boyfriend at the time. It’s funny to think about it now… but he and I became very competitive throughout the whole thing. Witches vs. Warlocks?

My parents shipped me off to Arizona right before my sixteenth birthday. There I lived with my Grandma to learn not to be such a problem child. No more Nikki, no more Chris. I wasn’t even allowed to contact them. Living with my Grandma really brought my Wiccan activity to a halt for a while…. But after running away so many times, I landed up in foster care. There I had much more freedom to practice Wicca. My foster dad picked me up from Juvi and the first thing I did when I got my personal belongings was put on my pentagram necklace. It didn’t faze him. My foster mom said I was allowed to practice any religion I want without their judgment. Sweet, this was a first. So I made myself at home there and had my very own Wiccan altar in my room.

Wicca is an interesting religion. While I did believe in gods and goddesses and even felt a connection with certain spirits… I remember feeling that I was really my own God. My only true rule being “and these eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, and harm ye none, do as ye will.” Living in a very prominent Mormon town, I got into religious debates on the daily. Most classmates thought I was a Satanist and I thought they were stupid. I didn’t even believe in absolute good or absolute evil.

My practice continued for years, up until I moved again.

Now we’ll skip ahead to where I get saved, baptized, and start living for the Lord. I’m at a Ranch in the middle of nowhere Oregon. Life is good and I’ve left Wicca behind along with a ton of other junk. I was living with Michelle in her cabin and I woke up one morning very distraught. We had a Girl’s meeting that morning and right afterward I said “Michelle, I really gotta talk to you. Something happened last night and it’s hard to explain.” She replied with “I have to talk to you too. I have a feeling I know what you want to talk about.” Well, what happened is that I slipped into the astral plane. I suppose its best described as lucid dreaming, but not always being able to control what happens throughout the dream.

I explained to her that I was in the woods nearby and I could see the eyes of demons staring at me. I could feel them burning with hatred towards me. I knew they wouldn’t, and even couldn’t, attack me, but I was still fearful. They knew I wasn’t on their side anymore. After telling Michelle the dream, she told me that she had a dream about me and woke up with a loud thought “WITCHCRAFT.” Weird! It was definitely the Lord. I think He was preparing her for what I was telling her that morning, because here was Michelle who knew nothing of Wicca on a personal level, telling me that we need to close that door. We prayed that morning and I denounced Wicca aloud. I haven’t had any accidental slips into the astral plane or any desire to practice Wicca since that prayer.

Thinking back on it now, I can see how lonely I was practicing Wicca. I don’t know how to better explain it, but I believe this goes for most other religions as well, because you can’t have personal relationships with these gods and goddesses. There’s rituals and ceremonies and offerings that must take place and even then, you can only hope that they’re pleased with you. When you ask Jesus to be your Savior, you know that He died to have a relationship with you. That you are not just praying to a distant God, but to a loving Father who calls you His child.

You see, Purely His Mentors like myself come from all different backgrounds. Michelle has been mentoring me ever since I gave my life to the Lord, sharing the hope in Christ that SHE had, so that I may share the hope the hope I now have in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the old things pass away and behold a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 This scripture is an amazing truth to me and can be the same for anyone who gives their life to the one true God who laid down His life for you.

Sharon’s Story Part 2

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Continued from Monday…

Of course, some choices were made with careful thought, and a tremendous weight of uncertainty about what the right decision would be. But that care and concern came WAY too late. Years into the marriage I agonized over whether I should stay with this man, knowing he was an alcoholic and verbally abusive to my girl, but not wanting to have another failed marriage and raise another child without her daddy. I had discovered a real relationship with God a few years before this day, prayed that He would change my husband and asked for whatever it took to make him realize his need for God. I had no idea it would take the devastation of ugly truth for him to understand his desperate need for a savior.

The awful day that truth was revealed, our life – our whole family’s life – came crashing down around us and I saw clearly just how widespread the devastation was. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix what my choices had a part in destroying.

That’s where I was on May 9, 2011. I was no longer that youthful 23 year old wearing rose-colored glasses, believing life would work itself out just fine. Instead I was 45 years old, once again a single mom living in an apartment, now afraid to make ANY decision, knowing how dangerous wrong choices could be. On that day I believed I was not going to be able to keep my daughter from killing herself – eventually she would succeed. I was so overwhelmingly exhausted, afraid, and hopeless. The promise in that pill bottle called to me. I tried to think about my daughters and my granddaughters with hope for the future, but the despair blocked my thoughts of them. I tried to remember God’s promises that had carried me through the past year, but I just couldn’t feel His presence. I kept telling myself that even though I didn’t FEEL those truths, I needed to remember to ACCEPT them anyway…but the feelings were winning. That night I opened the bottle and began swallowing the pills.

This is where you can be, if you think you’re the only one who will pay the consequences for your choices.   It can lead you to a point of desperate awareness of all the hurt you’ve caused and your inability to go back and fix it. When you make decisions, be certain that you’re okay with taking everyone you love on that path. You can be assured they will be forced to walk it with you! If you chose wrong you’ll be left with regrets, lots of regrets, and destruction all around you. Whether you chose a pill bottle, alcohol, sex, food…whatever method of forgetfulness you choose, the consequences will still have caused destruction.

Let this part of my story be the warning sign that catches your attention. If you’re the woman making a decision you know in your heart will be harmful to someone, hear my warning and STOP! If you’re the woman who was hurt by someone like me, please know that my heart hurts for the destruction that’s happened in your life. My prayers are with you both, and my desire is to help women understand how terribly destructive our actions can be when we make decisions with such casual disregard for others.

Yes, God rescued me from myself that night but the consequences I had wanted to escape were still there and we still had to walk through some incredibly difficult days. However, over time I’ve experienced His redemption of my broken life. My life now, is hugely different and I don’t take any of these blessings for granted. My precious daughters are alive and well and just six months ago, they BOTH walked me down the aisle and gave me their blessing as I started life with an amazing man that God chose just for me! Our God can and DOES restore broken lives, even if you’re responsible for the brokenness. I don’t deserve what He’s given me, and I will be forever grateful for the mercy and grace He’s given to me so freely! Let this part of my story bring you hope that all can be forgiven and even used for His honor and glory. This is why I have decided to take part in the ministry of Purely His where I am blessed to walk alongside women who are also desiring to make healthy choices. Writing this blog was a big step for me…this is what it looks like to truly “Drop your mask and keep it real.”

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Sharon’s Story

IMAG0999-1This guest blog was written by Sharon Tucker-another one of Purely His Mentors.

On May 9, 2011 I just gave up. The consequences in my life had become too overwhelming. I was online looking for something to hold onto, some reason to keep going and I saw these words “It may be that your whole life was meant to be used as a warning to others.” Those dark forbidding words caught my eye and everything in me KNEW they were meant for me. I took hold of the container sitting next to me on the bed. My life had become the warning for every young woman who thought her choices were no one else’s business. Young women, just like the one I had been, dismiss warnings with these types of statements: “If I’m making a mistake, I’m willing to pay the consequence, so don’t you worry yourself about MY choices”. Oh, the arrogance of youth!

I had always been a pretty optimistic person, but the year prior to this day had been overwhelmingly dark and full of hopelessness and fear. I had to hold myself back at times from becoming the crazed person on the street corner shouting at people to repent and turn from their wicked ways , for surely they are destined for hell. I wanted to grab hold of people and scream at them “Do you have any idea what kind of hell you’re headed towards?!”

Please be warned! This is where YOU can be 20-some years later when your self-centeredness catches up with you. You too can be at your darkest moment, contemplating what I was contemplating. I had refilled my prescription that day. I refilled it even after my decision a week earlier to stop using it. I recognized it wasn’t for sleep any longer, it was for forgetfulness, the relief of nothingness. When I took the medicine I had no dreams, I wasn’t awakened in the night remembering what had happened and how I was responsible for so much of the trauma surrounding me. The nothingness was a wonderful reprieve I had come to rely on. That day, when I went back to the pharmacy and refilled my prescription, I knew it wasn’t for sleep. It was so I didn’t ever have to wake from that blessed reprieve again.

Over the prior year well-meaning friends kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. Over and over I heard them say the hurt caused to my youngest daughter by my ex-husband was his sin, his choice. But I knew the truth – I had my own part in the harm that’s come to my family and others. His choices AND my choices led us to this day.

It was my choice to have sex at 16 and become a mother at 17; my choice to blithely bring my precious first daughter into a life of chaotic relationship with her father and me; my choice to raise her without God in our lives (because I was doing just fine all on my own, thank you very much!).

After that marriage failed, it was my choice to then date a married man; my choice to move away from the area with him, leaving his wife and children without their husband and father; my choice to marry this man.

It was my choice to adopt another precious baby girl; my choice to become a mom with this man I already recognized as an alcoholic; my choice to raise her in an unstable marriage.

What choice did anyone else have in these decisions? Absolutely none. The only two who had any choice in the matter were the two of us. We left a swath of destruction in the wake of our selfishness.

We left a woman alone to take care of herself and the three children they had previously promised to raise together. We left that woman to face living the remainder of her life alone and eventually to face treatment for cancer without her husband by her side, a cancer that took her life. We left that – and so much more – in our wake.

We left his children, all of them, behind. We left them too easily, convincing ourselves they would be just fine without him there every day. Telling ourselves it was better they spend “quality time” with him in a peaceful environment than to be with him daily in the midst of a stressful marriage. How stupidly careless we were with all of their lives!

We left my oldest with a divided family, having to adjust to stepparents, then to go through difficult days without her mom present because of the chaos going on when my youngest disclosed the abuse – the secret she had kept for too many years. We left my youngest angry at God and hating herself, self-destructive in a horribly disfiguring way, with no sense of how valuable she was.

Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away. Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. “Look, Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.” Lamentations 1:8-9 (NIV)

Read Part 2 of my story on Wednesday……

Michelle's Blog