Tag Archives: Surrender

ALL In

Original Post was on Dec. 20, 2013

Surrender done right is not a one-time act, it’s a lifestyle. There is the initial time where you make the choice to go “all in” with the Lord and surrender anything you can think of, but then it’s important to continue in that manner and begin living a life of surrender, by daily giving everything to Him.

On New Year’s Eve 2011 we were having a huge party, Christian style, in other words, no drugs or illicit sex, just a bunch of people having fun together who used to partake in all of that. Everyone was dressed up, everything was decorated and the bass was bumping. It reminded me of my clubbing days, except that I was in my right mind and not intoxicated. Going dancing at clubs used to be my favorite hobby, so giving it up was really tough for me, but I knew I needed to though, because of all that went along with it. I actually started going to dance clubs twice a week from the age of fourteen and it had been 5 years since I had been, so this party was a safe way for me to enjoy something old in a new way.

As I sat at my table catching up with some folks a techno song came on that I used to dance to when I was high on Ecstasy. I instantly felt paralyzed as I stared off into space. It was like I was back there. Most people who use Ecstacy take a half of a pill and sometimes a whole pill for an entire night, however there were many times that I took multiple pills in one night, sometimes as many as five. It still amazes me that I made it out alive. The song reminded me of my second marriage…my ex-husband, you see, he is the one who introduced me to hard drugs which he encouraged me to use with him for the purpose of “spicing things up.” In my healthy frame of mind, I now know that His definition of “spicing things up” is equivalent to what most people would consider to be sick perversion. Due to the drug induced daze I was in, it took me a long time to realize that I had passed from Party Girl to Drug Addict.

I was shaken out of my triggered state as I heard clapping and people chanting my teenage son’s name “Stefan, Stefan, Stefan” I turned around to see that they had made a big circle out of people around him and wanted him to show off his moves. He jumped into the circle and danced to the song that had reminded me of something evil. Without Stefan’s knowledge, God was using him to heal me. Happy tears filled my eyes as I knew the Lord was taking that moment in time to replace an old evil memory with a new innocent one.

We were having a talent show that night and everyone was working on their talent, but I didn’t have anything in mind yet. Then the Lord impressed on my heart to dance for Him to that song. So as the talent show was coming to an end I asked someone to start flickering the lights as if to create a strobe light effect. I had everyone make a huge circle on the dance floor, grabbed the mic and said “Earlier there was a song that played that triggered me really bad to the point of almost ruining my night, but then I saw my kid dance to it. I used to go “all out” in my past for Satan, so tonight I’m going to surrender all that I am and dance for my Savior Jesus Christ.” I made my way into the circle and danced like I’d never danced before, giving all the glory to my Lord. A bunch of my Girls joined me on the floor to show their support. I started bawling. It’s a good thing it was dark, so they couldn’t see my tears. A bunch of my boy’s friends came up to me after and were shocked “Dang, we didn’t know you could dance like that.”    “Ha, ha…there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

Once again I chose to surrender all, not holding anything back. I went all in for the Devil in my past and now I needed to do the same for my Savior only in an appropriate way. I even gave Him dancing-one of my favorite things, He changed it and gave it back. What are you still holding onto that the Lord is prompting you to surrender? You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

A Good Trade

20131013_094312A dear friend of mine asked me to pray for his niece who was hooked on heroin and involved with a much older man in an abusive relationship. Over the next several months I prayed earnestly and specifically as I could vividly imagine what she was going through. Several months later the Lord had His way and brought her to live in the ministry that I worked at. She strutted in with her hardened exterior, sunglasses to cover her black eye, dressed head to toe in black, topped off with a leather jacket, combat boots, a tutu and several piercings on her face.

She didn’t believe in God at the time, but she knew of Him through her grandpa whom she dearly loved. She was in no way a Christian at the time, on the contrary she actually used to be a practicing witch. We shared similar personalities and past experiences, making it easy to become very close as I took her “under my wing.” I didn’t push God or my beliefs on her, but I in no way hid my faith either. I shared my past experiences and how I was able to get out and stay out.  She watched and wondered, later telling me that she admired the freedom I had and secretly desired it.

A former Atheist had the privilege of leading her to the Lord and a former drug addict (me) had the privilege of teaching her how to surrender her life to Him. Keep in mind that I had nurtured this relationship for some time, so she knew I cared about her and respected her. Once she was saved and had the desire to get free and grow in Him then I was able to help, because it’s impossible to help someone who isn’t ready or doesn’t want it, but if she is…watch out, she’s about to grow rapidly. And she did!

The scripture God gave me for her was “Old things pass away, behold a new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17 or as I like to say “out with the old and in with the new.” I always challenged the “fighter” in her to get rid of ANYTHING that stood in her way of total freedom in Christ. “You went all in for Satan, so why would you give God any less?” I lovingly nicknamed her “Camarillo the Southwest Princess” or Cam for short.

I always start small, so the first thing I asked her to surrender was a shirt she wore all the time (including to Bible study) that said “Satanic” on it. She said “What’s wrong with my shirt?” I laughed and said “You’re kidding right?” She giggled and then chucked the shirt into the dumpster. I encouraged her to get rid of anything from her old life that triggered her, made her feel shame or represented glorifying another god.

Her appearance offended a few people who thought that she shouldn’t be “allowed” to wear certain kinds of clothing or have all the piercings on her face, because she didn’t “look” like a Christian. Well what does a Christian look like anyways? Some suggested that I have her take them out, but I knew that I needed to wait on the Lord’s timing, so that she would be ready to surrender that part of her past. I have learned to follow Jesus’ example by focusing on cleaning the inside rather than the outside, besides the outside eventually begins reflecting the inside on its own. Side note: I am NOT against piercings or tattoos, I have them myself, in fact my son is a tattoo artist and I even paid for his first tattoo as a graduation present. This was a personal journey that this particular Girl was on and the piercings represented her old life that she was trying to rid her present of.

Several months had passed and Cam was now living with me. She came in one day with some of the Girls and noticed a ring I was wearing that had a huge amber colored stone, she grabbed my hand to admire it “Shell that is a seriously awesome ring!” She giggled and said, “Can I have it?” I kept showing it to her as I plotted my move. “Here, want to try it on? I’d be willing to trade you.” She responded, “For what? I don’t have anything.” I replied, “I know…I’ll trade your tongue ring for my ring.” She started cracking up as she proceeded to unscrew it from her tongue and spit it into my open hand. Then she took my ring, put it on her finger and said “Thanks Shell that was a good trade.” I went over to the garbage can to throw away her spit covered tongue ring. “Out with the old and in with the new.”

Camarillo still comes to me for advice, encouragement and prayer, but I also go to her for the same things now. That’s how this whole thing should work. The Girls you mentor should pass you up or at least become your equals, spiritually speaking. She has over three years clean and hasn’t been in an abusive relationship or any other romantic relationship since. I can’t wait to meet the man that the Lord has picked out for this precious beauty of His. She faithfully serves Jesus wherever she goes, looking for opportunities to share His goodness with others. Her outside is still edgy but her heart is all mushy for Jesus. Her demeanor is full of joy and humble confidence in Him, all because she made the choice to give it all up for Jesus who gave it all up for her and now she’s one of His miracles. She recently informed me that in the not-so-distant future she’ll be moving to this area to work alongside me in Purely His, so we can reach the un-reachables together. My heart is overjoyed by this news!

I spoke with The Southwest Princess today to ask permission to share this story with all of you and she said “Yes!!! I’m honored that you would want to write about me. Surrendering is never pleasant at the time, so glad I did it!!! Still have to do it constantly though. Lol.”

What’s in the way of you becoming all that God has destined you to be? Is there something that the Lord is asking you to give up for Him today?

Big Difference

I’m a huge advocate for surrendering your whole life to the Lord, verses part of it. I used to view the act of surrendering as giving up. I for one did not want to be categorized as a quitter, so it took me a long time to finally do it. I now see it in such a different light, it takes a real tough girl to surrender everything. It’s takes guts to trust someone when everyone else has let you down. Please hear my heart on this, I’m not encouraging you to surrender everything to an imperfect person, rather to a perfect God. He has your best interest at heart.  My story of surrendering to Him was very gradual at best. There are three distinct times that stick out to me.

My parents took me to church until I was six and told me about Jesus, so I innocently believed, so much so, that He became very real to me. I remember talking and singing to Him on my own. He was my best friend and we had sleepovers every night. Jesus was fun and He didn’t ask much of me. We just liked hanging out together. After the divorce, my parents stop talking about Him and we no longer attended church. I still believed He existed, but the further my family moved away from the Christian lifestyle, the easier it became to only talk to Him when I needed help and besides I had a new best friend.

I moved out my mom’s house at the age of fourteen and lived with a friend and her dad. They attended church, so naturally we went together. Shortly after, I realized my need for a Savior, I had accumulated my own sin and needed forgiveness. One day, the pastor closed his sermon by asking us all to repeat after him, so I did. I surrendered my heart to Jesus that day, but only enough to rid myself of guilt and get my ticket into Heaven. I thought that was enough. The gospel he preached made me believe that life was about to get really easy from there on out and all my pain would go away, similar to how you hear Heaven described. I walked out of the church that day and walked right back into my sinful lifestyle, not changing a thing. I had the desire to repent, but not the willingness. I chose to hold onto the same sins, friends and habits, only now I was feeling regret and conviction when I did something wrong. I called Him the “Buzz Killer.” He got in the way of what I wanted to do, but I still ran to Him when I needed help. That was the extent of our relationship in my teens and twenties.

Thirty years old, absolutely broken in prayer at the altar. Praying for an hour prior to the church sevice was customary in the Women’s Home. “Lord, I want to leave this place, so bad. I’ve already been here two months and I want to go home. Please give me a sign…I want Your will for my life. Should I finish this program or go home with my boys today?” I started to head back to my seat, my stomach turning in anticipation of His answer. Just then I saw my family walk into the church, I was so excited to see them! We found a spot together and I tightly hugged my boys. It seemed they grew bigger each time I saw them, which made me want to go home even more. My step-mom asked how I was doing and I sadly replied “Not so good. I don’t want to be here anymore…I really just want to come home with you guys today.” Her and my dad exchanged concerned glances and then she turned back my direction to say “We had a feeling that you were wanting to leave again, so your dad and I already discussed this…Michelle, the boys are welcome to stay with us as long as they need to, but until you complete this program you are not welcome at our house. I’m sorry.”

Immediately following the bomb that was just dropped in my lap, the Men’s Home leader approached me and said to my sulking face, “I need you to go on stage and share your experience about the rehab conference we just went to.” The words stumbled over my protruding bottom lip as I said, “Oh my…um…I don’t think I’m the right person to do that. I can’t.” He looked past my eyes and into my spirit “What happens to fruit that stays on the vine too long? IT DIES. You are ripe and ready to be picked. You’re going up right after the third song. Get ready.”

The music started and we stood up to sing “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God…” My angry, confused yet peaceful tears flowed as I realized that God had just answered my prayer, not the answer I was hoping for, but He answered nonetheless. I thought to myself “I’ve lost everything…my ankle is broken, I have a cast and crutches for the next several months and now I can’t go home until I finish this stupid program. It’s not like I could get a job in my condition anyways. All my bridges are burned. Now what?”

It was decision time. Was I going to keep doing just enough to get by or was I going to give it my all? I had the tiniest bit of faith left and I was finally willing to throw the last of it in to see what happened, besides I had nothing left to lose. It seemed easier to do it when I had nothing, compared to having a lot, but it wasn’t easy, just easier. It was my turn to speak, so I used my crutches and made my way down the aisle, trying to muster up some courage. Shaking nervously I reached for the microphone and a huge rush of adrenaline shot through every vein in my body. I spoke about my experience at the conference where I spent the entire time asking God for a sign whether I could go home or not. Then I shared how I just received that answer. I boldly proclaimed to the church full of people that I would be completing the program and graduating. I was no longer going to be a part-time Christian, but I was surrendering all that I was to Him. The entire crowd rose as they gave me a standing ovation. I can still hear my dad’s proud whistle above all the cheering and clapping.

That was the first time I truly surrendered my will for God’s will and I have never gone back in any way. I am still growing and still surrendering all that I am to Him. There is a “Big Difference” between surrendering your heart to Jesus and surrendering your life. Let me clarify this term to you “fighters” that don’t like the idea of this, it isn’t giving up in the way of failing, it’s trusting the Lord enough to hand your life over to Him, so He can make a miracle out of it. It’s a win-win. This is what faith in action looks like. Take a look around your church or the rehab you’re in…you can tell the ones who are serious and the ones who aren’t. Those who surrender little-grow little, if at all. Those who surrender all-grow fast and continue growing.  It’s not too late to make a different choice. Do you want to go “all in” or just stay “partly in?”