Saturday, October 30, 2010

That Darn Faith

When I'm in bed alone in the mornings, (not completely jack russell fur baby is coiled up like a snake on my feet), I usually reach over and grab my phone. Habit. I check to see if I have any texts, e-mails, any scrabble games going on, and of course...facebook. This morning the first thing I read was from a friend of mine that I've been friends with pretty much forever. He has confessed his uncomfortableness with my change of attitude and faith in the "unseen". Today...he had questions about faith. What exactly it is, how it is I could continue to trust someone I don't see or hear. Which of course started the wheels of my brain for the day, (BEFORE a  single cup of that's saying something!) So I turned to my devotional...and what'd ya know! Just the answers I was looking for.

Why is it so hard for us to trust our lives to the care of God, whose eye is always upon us? I don't know about you, but I would rather walk with God in the darkest valley than walk alone, or with a stranger in the light. But what is faith? Faith is not a sense, sight, or (here's a tough one) reason. Faith is simply taking God at HIs word. And God's Word tells us in Romans 10:9: "If you declare with your lips, "Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

For some people that's just way too simple. They want to make salvation much  more difficult. But it isn't! Our salvation, thank God, depends on God's love for us, not our love for Him.

Sometimes we just have to let go, and let God. Watch THESE sweet testimonies, and be restored.

Funny Friday

A day late!! But I had to get it in there!!! Pardon the absence. It's not all the way funny...because it's painfully true. Kind of puts things in perspective don't you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Testimony Tuesday

Today we meet Brenda who is recovering from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and alcoholism.

As I was growing up, my family attended church every Sunday. The truth was, though, that we got dressed up once a week so that everyone in town could see how religious we were, only to return home to drunken rages and abusive lives.

My father was an alcoholic and as his drinking worsened, so did his abuse. At first it was strictly verbal, but around the time I turned nine it turned physical. My mother and I were the primary targets. I remember one horrible night watching my dad attempt to strangle my mom. I tried to stop him but he threw me across the room and kicked me several times in disgust.

The abuse in my life wasn't all perpetrated by my father. I also suffered sexual impropriety at the hands of other family members. Three of my grandparents were also practicing and abusive alcoholics.

Despite the chaos, I excelled in school. Tragically, though, at the age of eleven I too discovered alcohol. Suddenly I felt comfortable in my own skin. I began to drink more often, always to the point of passing out. At age 14, I acquired a fake ID so I could buy liquor. I wore heavy makeup, acted out sexually and tried drugs. As my alcohol and drug use increased, so did my promiscuity. I relied on relationships with men to feel loved and to soothe the pain of my childhood. I was sexually active with multiple partners from the ages of 14 to 25, during which time I had two abortions.

I continued to believe I was in control of my life, but this was not the case. I was fired from my job, which had entailed traveling across the country for a large corporation. I never traveled without a supply of illicit drugs, and I'd drink to the point of blackouts and sleep with strangers in every city. My boss caught me in a lie that put the company's reputation at risk and he rightly questioned my integrity. My shame was compounded when I received a DUI that same year and realized that my live-in boyfriend was dealing drugs from our home.

Spiritually bankrupt, I sank to the lowest point in my life, crying out or God but truly expecting nothing. I was in bondage to alcohol, drugs, sex and the aftereffects of my childhood abuse. I was at this point willing to do anything to obliterate the pain. After a failed suicide attempt I entered treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. There I was introduced to the secular 12 steps but steered clear of the God I'd known as a child-the one who had deserted me in my suffering.

Although I managed to stay clean and sober for 8 years, other addictions filled the void. I became a workaholic who would turn around and spend my hard-earned money on other temporary fixes. I dined at the finest restaurants and began struggling with my weight, all the while continuing on the path of destructive sexual relationships.

Just when I began to wonder whether that was all there was to life, I received a job offer that promised to relocate me to the other side of the country. Far away from family, friends and accountability, I slipped away from reality almost to the point of relapse. At that point God intervened and saved my life. Several of my new business associates were bold enough to talk about their church. I had never witnessed young, successful adults talking about a church with such enthusiasm. For the first time in my life, I began hearing the true message of hope. Pastor spoke about a ministry called Celebrate Recovery and I wondered whether God could truly love me in spite of my sin and shame.

In the summer of 1997 I first attended Celebrate Recovery. I fell in love with Jesus Christ and made Him my Higher Power, and through the experience I was also reunited with a man I once hurt but who is now my loving husband. We serve God together at Celebrate Recovery and live to offer our experiences, victories and hope to other hurting people. Like Mary Magdalene my bondage to the "demons" in my life was broken by Jesus.

I have more love in my life than I'd ever before imagined, more friends than I can count, a devoted husband, a darling baby daughter and a God who has delivered me from bondage. My purpose in life has been clarified: I'll follow God's leading with all my heart and help others find their way out of darkness. I've also discovered my life's verse: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6

What did you think of Brenda's testimony? I can relate on a high level because I too struggle with sexual addiction. Please take time to read the story of our "sister in shame" Mary Magdalene in John 20:1-18. Her deliverance from bondage to Satan had left her with a depth of devotion to Jesus the other disciples lacked.

There's a sharp contrast in this story between Mary Magdalene and the male disciples. Her gratitude for recovery had made her a permanent, faithful servant of Christ. Although each of the disciples had received a special call and commission, they lacked Mary's history of bondage. Only John among the Eleven witnessed Jesus on the cross. Mary Magdalene was there, supporting Jesus and his mother and aunt. And Mary Magdalene and another Mary followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to see the location of the tomb (Mark 15:42-47)After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene led other women to the tomb to anoint the body of her Savior (mark 16:1)

The deeper our bondage, the greater will be our gratitude for God's grace. This equips us, like Mary, with a story and dedication to Jesus that many other disciples lack. The pain of Mary's past kept her close to Jesus even when others deserted Him.

GOD NEVER WASTES PAIN!!! He used the pain of Mary's past to shape her into his messenger. Jesus wants us to tell our stories! Tell others there's nothing more to fear; after all, you've seen the Lord! We can tell our story to those who languish behind locked doors and look for opportunities to share it with the fearful, the imprisoned, the hurting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Failing Success

This journey to sobriety is anything but uneventful. My husband and I love ufc and watching mixed Marshall arts fighting. I've never NEVER watched a fight without a joint and plenty of booze to knock me into a coma until next week. Seriously...thank goodness we record them because I wake up the, wondering who won the fights and re watching them again nursing my bottle of water and handful of aspirin. Sounds like a terrific time doesn't it?

Saturday was the big fight with my favorite heavy weight and I was ubber excited. Though gloriously exhausted from the two hour drive to Tulsa, the massive amount of knowledge received at the CR one day, and the 4 hour drive back...oh, why 4 hours? Because I'm blessed with internal navigation (scoff) and ended up driving up to good ol' Joplin, Missouri on the way back to Arkansas. That's time number 4 I've done that. If I hadn't been trying to stay down the right road spiritually, no one would have been able to stop me from swinging by Downstream casino to blow off steam with a cocktail and blow some money I didn't have to blow at the slots. But, instead I laughed, then cried as I got lost, stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere, (you'd think for this being my 4th time getting lost I'd remember my way back from the lost place without getting lost, wrong) and asked hillbilly santa...who was as nice as he was creepy, how to get home. He was precious in not making fun of my idiotness and got me back on track. Then once finally in Fayetteville where I'm never EVER leaving again, I met up with my husband and our local watering hole/sports bar. Alright Jessica, here's your test. Cute little waitress bounds up and asks us what we want to drink. I looked around the place watching people drinking their rum and cokes (my favorite mixed drink) laughing and cutting up, or pouring from their 3rd pitcher of beer of the night that just was getting started. "Sigh...Dr.Pepper please." Nursing my dr. pepper like it was the last beverage on earth I chatted about my wonderful day with hubby before the fights began. We ordered a super healthy dinner...I had a Reuben sandwich extra kraut (of course) and hubby had two chili dogs. Fights began but I couldn't pay attention. I couldn't get into it like I usually do. Sure I still enjoyed watching grown men dance around the ring and try to figure out who was bleeding and from where, but the truth was, I just couldn't do it. The smoke in the air, which with weakened senses doesn't bother me a bit, was making me incredibly sick to my stomach. I craved air, I craved...of all things, water. I needed to get out of there, and fast. So I apologized to my husband who is an old hat compared to me at resisting alcohol, and dashed out the door for my car. Driving home my eyes began to sting even more but this time it was because of emotions, not cigarette smoke. I cried the entire way home. This is going to be harder than I thought. It's so embarrassing to say, but it's like mourning a death in a way. Driving into my mixed neighborhood of families and college kids, every garage where college people resided was open with tv's and kegs and coolers and laughing, ridiculously jovial drunk kids in them. Pulling into my dark driveway I sat there with the engine off and I heard it, "Be still. Know I am God. I have plans for you Jessica. You're MINE. Trust Me, lean on Me." I smiled, got out of the car, shook my head at how silly it would sound to someone who has never struggled with an addiction as strong and life altering as alcohol but make no mistake, is very REAL. I could never ever in my wildest dreams imagine doing this alone. I can't. I won't. I'm leaning on the everlasting arms, and it feels sssoo good to admit just how powerless I really am.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mind If I Brag?

Can I take just a second to brag on my God for a bit? Yesterday I attended the Celebrate Recovery seminar in Tulsa and it was WONDERFUL. The worship was fantastic, the teaching was superb, the testimonies were almost too much to handle. What a great time with other cracked pots out there. They always introduced themselves like this:

Hi, my name is ______. I'm a believer and follower of Jesus Christ who's recovering from.....

They ranged from co-dependency to fear to cocaine addiction to grief. Then everyone in the auditorium (roughly 200) would say "Hi....". It was great. So, in keeping with that theme:

Hi, my name is Jessica. I'm a believer and follower of Jesus Christ recovering from co-dependency, depression, alcohol and sex addiction as well as attempted suicide.

Real. Man I love real. Being real, seeing's just good. Everyone took the mask off so we could see the rawness that was there. And ya know was WAY more beautiful than the mask.

Then My husband who can count on one hand the times he's been to church went to church with me!!!!!!! Hallelujah!!! I was so proud of him, and so humbled by the work God is doing in this formally very satan gripped home. It was defiantly strange going to church with someone who hasn't gone much. When the Lord's supper was passed around the poor fella didn't know what to do with it. When a couple went through the doors to be baptized he leaned over to me and whispered, "where are they going?" Sweet fella. Is it a coincidence he has just today started having Sunday's off even though the entire time we've been together he has NEVER had Sunday's off and now that's his permanent schedule? I think not. When we walked out he looked at me and said, "Ya know, the few times I have been to church, they always seem to have just what I needed to hear, something that pertains directly to me."...I just beamed and said, "They did!" God knew you were coming! Of course he blessed our sweet pastor with just the right words to say.

Oh how I do love to brag on my God. I did purchase the celebrate recovery Bible at conference yesterday and there are some powerful testimonies in it. So, I'm delegating Tuesdays on this blog as "Testimony Tuesday"...I pray you'll be encouraged. What is the Lord doing in your life right now? What prayer requests do you have? What is satan trying to steal away from you? Joy? Your spouse? Your child? Your willpower? I'm praying for you. You're NOT alone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have to tell you some more truths. I am an EXTREMELY co-dependent person. I got pregnant when I was 19 and have been with some sort of man, boy, boy-man, man-child, (come on...aren't they really all one in the same?) since. When my second husband left me HIGH and DRY with two children (one a baby) I was immediately searching for the next one to at least help take care of me. Co-dependence. I found...well...several. None of them ever darkened my front door, but they were there to provide me with the things I felt I needed. Companionship (however brief), making me feel like I was important, (however even BRIEFER), Really the only thing I was seeking at the time. After all, my new little restaurant job wasn't paying the bills that were piling up on a single mom of two...who had an increasing alcohol and prescription pain pill addiction. Co-dependence. Numbness. Then I met my current husband. He was the best provider of it all. He was handsome and paid attention to me, he helped me with money and I didn't have to do anything weird or uncomfortable to obtain it. He had alcohol in abundance. He had drugs. SCORE! Then I lost my job....and moved in with him. Co-dependence. Fear. We had some great times, we had some horrible times. Times occasionally got out of hand and I would end up with large bruises and scars on my body. But he was "taking care of me". Co-dependence. A Prison. We made it through storm after storm after storm, and somewhere along the line things just clicked in his head. This isn't life. This isn't the life we agreed we wanted. We are never going to make it to our future if we stay on this rigid path. So he stopped the drugs. He stopped the drinking. Co
-dependence? I wasn't ready to stop, but now I was all alone doing it and that was no fun. We got married one gorgeous June afternoon, just us and the pastor in the middle of a park with a lovely gazebo behind us. Immediately after we said our I Do's and got back in the car...the sun disappeared and there was a downpour. Then as quickly as it began, the crying clouds dispersed and a rainbow emerged. It was like a metaphor for our entire relationship. And the floodgates behind my eyes erupted. It was still several months before I would feel the tug on my heart strings from my Father in heaven saying that's enough now, return to Me...I have much greater things in store. Co-Dependence. That's the kind I can live with. But now I am a married woman. With a husband...who though loves me dearly, and luckily struggles with the same things I do, he has never met my Maker. He asks questions about Him almost daily, (especially now that he sees his bride falling head over heels in love with her Savior). But that joy, that peace, that un-conditional love, it's an enigma to him. He's only known bad, rebellious, lost, Satan gripped Jessica. This reborn, shaken to the quick, cry at the drop of a hat, broken, humble, newly co-dependent on the King of all Kings Jessica is confusing and doesn't look quite right. I can't talk my husband into walking to the cross with me. But I can walk there, hold out my hand, and beckon him to come with me, beside together we can rest awhile at HIS feet together. Fall in HIS arms...and as man and wife, experience that co-dependency that we were made to feel. Co-Dependent? Here's more information

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Already Been Decided

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

God has already decided to make you more and more like Jesus!

Because He's committed to this process in your life, God uses every circumstance in your life to shape you to this end. Even when evil things come into your life from evil sources, God's able to take those experiences and use them to strengthen you, get your attention, and refocus your life on Him. Read that first sentence of today's  passage again. Lock it into your mind. When difficult times come, trust God.

As you read the whole passage it becomes clear that this work of God to make you like Jesus is a continuous process that starts when you're born again and continues until you're finally with God in heaven, "glorified."

God's reminding you (and me!) today that while He's constantly working through your circumstances, they'll only make you more like Christ if you respond to them with trust in God and a willingness to choose His way in your life.

Dig Deeper!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Am Free

My name is Jessica. I'm a 29 year old housewife and mother of two, step mother to 4. I love to blog about simple things like cooking, books, homeschooling, and home life. As much as I envy those cute, happily ever after, life appears to have gone smoothly blogs, as much as I have tried to imitate, I just can't. That's not me. That's not the path I chose. I took a much harder, rockier one, and on chose me. Although I am now just a simple housewife, the road has been anything BUT simple. I've also been:

Divorced twice, arrested, molested, sexually assaulted, verbally/emotionally/physically abused. Addicted to drugs, food, pornography, sex, self mutilation, and alcohol. I've had 3 miscarriages. I have attempted suicide and have been put on psychiatric watch for days at a time. I have exchanged sexual favors for money and/or drugs. I suffer from depression and am on medication to stable my imbalances. I've lost countless friends and family: some to death, other's by my own selfish deeds. So why am I here?

Because I have a God. I have a Savior that is bigger than all that has, (and still does!) tempt me. I have a friend, lover of my soul, Father, companion, guide, Teacher, Master that has wept with me while I was weeping, (and wept for me while I was too distracted to notice...or care). Who held onto me refusing to give up. A God who wanted to take me to the mountain top, but gave me free will, and let me fall into and wallow in the pit for awhile. So, though this blog I pray will for the most part be upbeat and restoring, I can't pretend I come from a place as simple as most of those, "mommy blogs" out there. My dark past is a cross I bear that I use to hide but now use as a testimony of where I've been, and by HIS grace alone will never return. I must daily be restored in HIM! God bless you, I'm praying that you be restored right along with me!