Tag Archives: new life

Trusting Him in Transparency

Originally posted in October of 2013.

I’ve heard it said many times before “us women have to wear so many hats.” Why don’t we change the word, hats to masks? Isn’t that what it really means anyways? I know that’s not how it’s taught, but isn’t that what we as women tend to do? Generally when this term is used, we change our personality based on the “hat” we’re wearing at the time. We act one way at church, another way at home, at the office, out with the girls and when no one is looking.

I used to call myself a chameleon, because I changed my “mask” to suit whatever situation I was in, so that I would be accepted. I used to believe it was a good trait…I was a people person who could fit in anywhere, taking the verse “becoming all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) way too far AND out of context!

Fast forward: After six years of being single, I felt I was finally ready to re-enter the “dating scene!” I had completely put my trust in the Lord to protect my heart and to choose the right guy for me. I vowed to be the real me-right from the start, genuine. It was important that I portrayed the new me accurately, because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of “taking it up a notch or down a notch” to get a man’s attention, as was the habit in my old lifestyle. My desire was to be loved for me, not some mask I created to be accepted. Thanks be to God, I was a whole person…not a “half looking for another half, trying to make a whole” – I was a whole person looking for another whole person to share my life with, not willing to settle for half of God’s will for my life or even three quarters of it – I wanted His PERFECT WILL!

Not long after mustering up the courage to join an on-line dating site, the Lord brought my attention to the man He had chosen to answer my prayers with. Matt lived nearly five hours away, which forced us to get to know each other long distance. Early on, we exchanged several emails and texts in which I shared pieces of my background, a basic summary.  It wasn’t long before Matt starting asking for details. Despite having told my story on countless stages with hundreds of people in the crowd, I found myself afraid to tell this audience of one.  I feared that the specific details of my past would be “deal breakers” for this promising new relationship.  One night, over the phone, I answered Matt’s questions. I told him… “Matt, I gotta keep it real with you- I know that being vulnerable with you means risking you rejecting the real me, but this is where my trust in the Lord will win over my fear.”

In anticipation of his response, my fear rose, my heart dang near pounded out of my chest and I braced myself for the worst possible outcome. In my mind, I could already hear him say: “Whoa…Michelle, uh…ya…we get along really well and you’re really cool and all, but ya…that’s just too much for me to handle. I don’t think this is going to work out between us.”

He never answered that way, in fact, he responded with, “Wow, you have been through a lot. I can’t even picture you in that lifestyle. I am so proud of the woman you have allowed God to make you into. Thank you for doing the hard work to get healthy. I am so blessed, because of it.” You see, Matt and I have very different pasts. There were SO many details from my past I was obligated to share with him, and he had only about three to tell me! I wanted him to like me so much, but I wondered if a guy “like him” could fall for a girl “like me?” The answer: YES, most definitely YES! You see, despite the choices I made in life, I remained God’s creation and He approved of me and so did the man He had prepared for me.

My faith in the Lord grew to a deeper level when I decided to be the real me and put away the masks I would wear to impress people. A true woman of integrity where my insides matched my outsides, deciding to wear the same “hat” no matter where I was at or what I was doing. Hiding behind the masks to “protect myself” did feel safer, but it wasn’t real. It wasn’t me. What helped me the most was to remind myself that God hand crafted me and loved me for me, right from the beginning, so if God approved of me, then why shouldn’t I?

“If God is for me, who can be against me?” Romans 8:31

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Seeds

So maybe you aren’t a gardener like me, but you are the master gardener (for lack of better words) of your own life. You choose the seeds to plant in your garden. You decide whether to water, fertilize or plant in a sunny area. However, in the end it is God that brings the harvest. He says “a man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

You want a new life? You want things to change? Then change it, by planting different seeds. Start making different choices and your life will begin to transform.

One good decision after another, results in a good life. One bad decision after another, makes for a bad life. I find it funny when I get a call from a Girl who’s life has fallen apart and she doesn’t understand what transpired. Hmm…let’s take a look at your life, “Oh, you’ve been getting drunk on a regular basis, you’re living with your boyfriend even though you both claim to be Christians, the two of you fight all the time, you’re miserable, insecure and wonder what happened?”

I’ll tell ya what happened. One bad choice after another landed you in this miserable situation you now find yourself in. Sorry, I know the truth hurts, but it also has the ability to set you free as well.

My life used to be an absolute mess too, but then I heard that God could change my life. I thought He would just say the word and my life would change, as if to wave the magic wand and presto, but that never happened. My life actually got worse. It took years before I finally realized that God wanted me to participate in the process of my life transformation. He wanted me to take responsibility for my own actions and start making healthy choices, by using His power to pull it off.

I realized that I had a ton of little opportunities all throughout the day, so I started making good choices and doing the right thing even though no one was watching. Being a “bad girl-gone good” was very difficult, but once I made a habit of making healthy choices, I began to see the desired results and the healthy habit became easier to maintain.

The Bible says “He that is faithful in the small will be faithful in much.” Luke 16:10

For the last year, I’ve been planting seeds with very little growth, so it seemed. I’ve worked so hard, diligently doing things that are outside of my gifting and experience as I’ve tried to get this ministry off the ground. Here’s me keeping it real…I was uncomfortable, anxious, and had bouts of disbelief while waiting for results and not seeing them right away. It made me question whether I had what it took to accomplish what I knew God had called me to do.

Those fears and insecurities came from not being able to see instant results. The results were coming, but I couldn’t see them. Besides do I really want results that happen quickly, only to die just as quick as they came or do I want results that last a lifetime? The latter of course. It has taken patience and trust on my part to not give up and keep going and I’m so glad I did, because it’s finally happening. What if I would have given up?

A few months ago things started to change…I started meeting like-minded women in my area with a heart for Jesus and doing His work. Then over the last few weeks things have really started to pick up. People are approaching me who want to help get this ball rolling, donations are beginning to come in and a couple of churches and other ministries have expressed a desire to partner with Purely His.

I say all of this to encourage those of you who have been working really hard with little to no results, planting seeds with no visible harvest to speak of. Please keep planting those good seeds, because they are taking root, deep roots that will be strong during the storms that are sure to come. Those plants will begin to shoot up before you know it and the harvest will be plentiful! You may even have to hire people to help you reap. I also challenge those of you who’s lives are in turmoil…start making different, healthier choices. You won’t regret it.

I understand that others choices affect our lives negatively too, but we can’t use them as an excuse. We are responsible for the way we choose to respond and what seeds we choose to plant.

God will not be mocked. Plant good seeds = good life. Plant bad seeds = bad life.

 

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.

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)

Stephanie’s Story Part 2

This blog is written by Stephanie Thorne, who is one of our awesome mentors!

….continued from Monday’s blog.

I bet you’re wondering how I went from pregnant and alone to having a wonderful family…the answer is: a car accident and God’s crazy sense of humor.

At the end of February 2008, there was a horrible car accident on a back road that I often drove. The driver’s name was Stephanie Baker and my maiden name was Baker, fortunately I was not the driver of that car. There was another girl with the same name and age, with a male passenger that was the same age as my baby’s biological father. I started getting phone calls around midnight and the phone continued to ring for three days. God used that horrible accident to show me how many people truly cared about me, including my ex-husband. He also used it to soften my heart for what was to come.

My ex-husband frantically tracked me down at work after checking the hospital that he thought I was at. He was adamant and said that he needed to speak with me and refused to be put off. After much pestering on his part and a nagging feeling in my heart that I should meet with him, I finally agreed. We decided to meet at a local restaurant, thinking if nothing else it would get him to leave me alone. I was about four months pregnant at that point and was totally showing, so it was pretty hard to hide.

I sat in front of him ashamed of where my life had taken me, and was waiting for his inevitable, judgmental kiss off. After all, he knew that I was pregnant and he was not the father obviously. Besides, why would he treat me any different than everyone else had? They all treated me like the outcast I already believed I was, so I braced myself for what he was about to say.

However, his response shocked me…he told me how scared he was when he thought it was me that had the accident and that’s what it took for him to realize that he still loved me. He asked my forgiveness for his part in our divorce and everything else. I couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth. He went on to tell me about this little church that he had been attending and how accepting they were of him and how much he had been learning.

After his sincere apology and forgiving each other, we started dating each other again. It took a lot of grace, healing and marriage counseling, but we decided to get remarried! My wonderful husband not only took me back with wide open and accepting arms, but he also adopted my daughter before she was even born. She heard his voice from inside me, and he was there to feel her kick for the first time. She was and is always on his mind and heart. He has loved her as his own and has never treated her as anything less than his princess.

Even though God had blessed both us in this way, I still constantly dreaded the day that we would have to tell her that the only daddy she had ever known was not her biological dad. I kept imagining the questions she would ask and rehearsing the answers that I would be ashamed to give her. Just a few months ago that much dreaded time had come where I had to face my fears and tell her the truth. We wanted her to hear it from us, so that we didn’t risk her hearing from someone else, as we live in the same town as the biological father.

My heart felt like it was about to pound out of my chest when the time came, but once again the response I dreaded, didn’t happen like I imagined. When we finally laid it out in an age appropriate manner, she simply accepted it and went on with her night. This daughter of ours is crazy smart for a five year old and is so secure in her daddies’ love that it was no big deal. I looked at her confident response and thought “What an incredible picture of the Father’s Love for us. We should all be as secure as she is.”

So there you have it…my life went from bad to worse and now a miracle. God has brought me to a place of redemption through His mercy, grace and protection. I am secure, most days, in who I am to God, but when the hard days come and it’s hard to remember, all I have to do is look at the security in my daughter eyes and I snap out of it. Thanks be to God, who restored everything that my sin and rebellion had stolen from me.

White as Snow

How is someone with a past like mine, able to walk in purity presently? The short answer: forgiveness.

The Lord does not hold my past against me or over me anymore. He paid the price for my sins-and I am not responsible to pay Him back. It was a free gift…all I did was accept it. In return, He set me free from the bondage of addiction, shame, guilt and mental illnesses. The choices from my past, no longer define me. I have been made new!

“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

The Night My Virginity Was Restored!

 

Prior to our wedding night on December 16th, 2012 I had never made love. It was THE BEST night of my life! I had always thought that “making love” meant going slow, but that term was redefined for me that night. I was so…very, very wrong!  One might assume that with a sexual past like mine I would have a solid understanding of what “making love” consisted of, however this path was one I had never walked before…I had nothing to compare this to.  For the first time I was genuinely loved for the real me, not just my body or how I performed. It was the fruition of our real love for each other.

We drove to our hotel after the reception was over, strolled into the lobby with our luggage rolling behind us when I started cracking up. My laugh must have been contagious, because he looked over at me and started laughing too. “What are you laughing about?” He chuckled. I giggled and nervously replied “we’re married, we’re in the lobby of OUR hotel, and we’re about to go up to OUR room?!”

A few days before the wedding, he asked me “Michelle, what would you think about waiting until we arrive in Hawaii to consummate our marriage?” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I have WAITED 6 YEARS, 9 MONTHS and 9 DAYS to have sex!” Actually that’s not what I said, but it was what I thought! I reluctantly agreed after he shared his reasons with me.

Actually, it was kind of nice to have the pressure of the “wedding night” expectations relieved. However, the idea of being unclothed in front of each other for the first time brought anxiety on us both.

Meanwhile, back at the honeymoon suite…I took a deep breath and thought to myself…I AM SO NERVOUS!!! We were standing face to face, well more like face to chest (he’s a foot taller than me) when the time had come to drop my dress, so I mustered up the courage and just did it. As my dress and his jaw dropped simultaneously to the floor, I instinctively rushed to cover my eyes. I laughed uncontrollably-my hands absolutely glued to my face! My brand new husband, recovering from shock, said “WOW, Michelle you are so beautiful” as he nervously checked out his new bride. His gentle way eventually gave me the courage to uncover my face.

That was the night I had looked forward to, yet greatly feared, for many years! “What if I get triggered and my addiction returns?” Here’s the crazy part…I felt like an innocent bride, one that had never been touched by a man. I actually felt more pure that night than I did when I was thirteen. That was the moment I KNEW, without a doubt, that God had truly healed me!

Fast forward: we didn’t wait till Hawaii!!!

So how does a woman who has “crossed the line of no return” have her virginity restored? Continue to “follow me” as I blog the details of how this miracle happened for me and can happen for you or someone you love.CRW_7794[lux]