Equipped for Recovery-News/Updates

The workshop is less than a month away and we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure your experience is amazing and life-changing. Wondering what to expect at the workshop?

Less than a Month Away

The workshop is less than a month away and we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure your experience is amazing and life-changing. Wondering what to expect at the workshop?

Join us on September 10, 2022, for an afternoon of discovery, and interactive learning as we delve into your recovery toolbox to equip you for recovery!

What is Recovery?

“Recovery is commonly defined as the process of getting better from an illness or otherwise returning to a state of physical and mental health.” –Lives of Substance

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered 12-Step program, uses the phrase, “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” to describe the program’s focus. Everyone experiences one or more of these over the course of their life, making recovery an essential part of our lives. Overcoming the inclination to use unhealthy and destructive ways of coping with life stressors, hurts, traumaor anything that disrupts our well-being is a lifelong process. Building and maintaining a Recovery Toolbox of healthy coping tools, knowing how to use them, and using them regularly greatly improves our chances of success. The “Equipped for Recovery Workshop ” offers the opportunity to explore your toolbox, add new tools, revitalize existing tools, and practice what you learn.

Click Links below to find out:

Who Should Attend?

What to Expect (Sneak Peek)

What is Interactive Learning?

Live Experience and Livestream Experience

  1. Jillian Roberts-Live experience Host
  2. Carla Alvarez– Livestream Experience Host

Four Interactive Sessions

  1. Boundaries
  2. Journaling
  3. Self-Care
  4. Accountability

Guest Speakers

  1. Kelly Mata
  2. Charlotte Thomason
  3. Krystl Michalek
  4. Mike and Jennifer Orenstein
  5. Korine Martinez and Angellee Jones

Giveaways

  1. Drawings at the end of each session
  2. Participation prizes during each session

Buy your ticket today!

Register Early- Limited Seating Available for Live Experience

Shout Out to Our Sponsors

We are so grateful to our sponsors. Check out the video for more about our first Builder Level Sponsor, Michalek Plumbing, and see the list of Suppliers who provided gifts, resources, and snack items for the Equipped for Recovery Workshop.

Opportunities Still Available

For Major Sponsorships Click Here

Want to customize your sponsorship package? Click Here

I’m Not One of “Those People”?

Sometimes I still struggle with asking for help because I don’t want to be a burden or I think my needs aren’t important, but I also struggle with self-reliance. Because I grew up in an abusive home, I learned early that I couldn’t rely on anyone for help.

We all struggle with something, but admitting we need help is often difficult.

Over the past few weeks I’ve recalled just how scary it was for me to admit I needed help when my life was falling apart around me. I was, after all, trained to help others. Surely, I didn’t need to seek help for the anxiety, depression, and destructive behaviors that disrupted my life. I thought, “Something must be wrong with me. I should be able to handle this on my own.” Pride overtook reason and I rationalized, “I’m not like those people,” but, in reality, I was no different than the individuals I worked with daily in my job as a social worker. I realized everyone struggles with something and there was no shame in admitting I couldn’t manage my struggles without help. I was, and continue to be, one of “those people,” because “those people” are every human on the planet.

Seeking Help is Not a Weakness

Sometimes I still struggle with asking for help because I don’t want to be a burden or I think my needs aren’t important, but I also struggle with self-reliance. Because I grew up in an abusive home, I learned early that I couldn’t rely on anyone for help. My sense of self was grounded in the belief that seeking help meant I was weak and that was terrifying. My survival depended on withstanding the onslaught of evil that surrounded me. Yet, I also discovered an ally in Jesus, who bolstered me up during moments of darkness. While He didn’t rescue me from abuse, He did protect my soul. My faith gave me hope that there was a possibility of something better.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31

Do You Love Me?

Many individuals read this passage as simple guidance for interacting with others, but in actuality, the words also refer to how we feel about ourselves. For years, I couldn’t give or receive love because I hated myself. Plus, I felt unworthy of His love because my behavior was far from what I believed He would accept.

Separating my behavior from my identity was agonizing. Everything I did was powered by the belief that I was nothing, a product of evil, a worthless piece of garbage, and completely unlovable. In my hopelessness, I contemplated suicide several times. I saw no way out of my situation and believed God had given up on me, but each time I wanted to take my life, God showed up in rather dramatic ways to stop me. He never forced me to choose life, but sent someone to encourage me. I was not alone and, for a brief moment, I believed I was loved.

Asking for help, seeking out friends and family in times of stress keeps me grounded and prevents relapse when triggers or temptation occur. Everyone needs help if for no other reason than reminders that who we are is not defined by what happens to us or by our struggles. Our identity is in Christ and that never changes.

Equipped for Recovery Workshop-September 10, 2022-Hutto,TX Livestream also available!

Hear more of my story, learn and practice new tools to equip you for recovery from trauma, addictions, or simply navigating life stressors.
Get Tickets Here

Equipped for Recovery Speakers/Hosts

I’m surrounded by an amazing group of speakers for the upcoming Equipped for Recovery Workshop!

Carla Alvarez-MAA, Author

Livestream Experience Host/MC

Carla Alvarez is a founding board member of and contributing editor to An Unexpected Journal. She lives in Houston, Texas with her three daughters. She holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. She is a writer for RaisedtoWalk.org, and a Bible teacher for Bright Sheep Ministries.

Live Experience Host/MC

After great success in the corporate and non-profit sectors, Jillian is now a Professional Freelancer. Her services include Virtual Administration, Non-profit Financial Consulting, Personal Identity Coaching, and is a certified Notary Signing Agent. Single mom of two amazing teen boys, she delights in watching them grow into manhood. She is an engaging Public Speaker who is able to bring laughter and joy to any audience. Website

Jillian Roberts-Professional Freelancer
Korine Martinez-MAA-Educator-
Angellee Jones-Worship Leader

Speakers-Journaling

This mother-daughter duo brings energy, creativity, and passion for sharing God’s love wherever they go. Korine holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University and currently teaches High School English at Hitchcock High School. Angel joined the staff at Hitchcock this year as an Aide. She also serves as the worship leader for The Way Worship Movement.

Krystl Michalek-Associate Professor, Doctoral Candidate @ Life Christian University

Speaker/Show Runner-Self-Care

Krystl has a passion for missions, teaching and conveying God’s Word to others. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Texas at Austin, a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Theology from Life Christian University and is a doctoral candidate at Life Christian University. She currently teaches at Life Christian University’s Lockhart Campus and serves as the CFO-Advertising Director of Michalek Plumbing. Website

Speakers-Accountability and Support Systems

Mike and Jennifer Orenstein have been married for 30 years. They raised three amazing men and are new parents to one feisty Australian Shepherd. Currently, they are pastoring and leading the recovery ministry at Shoreline Church. “God has called us to do hard things – really hard things. Things that will leave us marked forever, but will also leave a mark on the world.”

Mike and Jennifer Orenstein-
Recovery Pastors
Kelly Mata-Pastor

Speaker-Welcome

Kelly is passionate about helping people in a very authentic and practical way. She loves to share wisdom and encourage others and see them overcome whatever barrier, pain or challenge they may be going through, as they grow into doing the same for others. She loves to laugh and enjoys serving God as she serves people from all walks of life.

Speaker/Organizer -Boundaries

With a Master of Science in Social Work, a Master of Arts in Cultural Apologetics, over 30 years of experience in social work, and as a survivor of childhood trauma, Charlotte Thomason has seen, both professionally and personally, the devastation created by child abuse. She wants to use her experience to bring hope to those who feel lost and hopeless due to childhood trauma and bring encouragement to those who help them.

Charlotte B. Thomason-MSSW, MAA, Author, Speaker

Learning Brain vs Survival Brain

In the video, Dr. Ham excellently explains the impact of trauma on learning. While his intended audience is teachers, the points apply to survivors of childhood trauma.

Thoughts on Video by Dr. Jacob Ham

Learning vs Survival

In the video, Dr. Ham excellently explains the impact of trauma on learning. While his intended audience is teachers, the points apply to survivors of childhood trauma. The rock illustration provides a clear image of the effort involved to access the learning brain when the survival brain dominates a person’s actions and reactions.

Dr. Ham also stresses that a strong support system is vital to the child’s ability to relax, have fun and learn. Without such a system, a child becomes overwhelmed by the circumstances and cannot see beyond their immediate surroundings. Instead of enjoying life and learning, the traumatized child worries about the next episode of trauma.

As I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I did well in school given the abuse I endured. Where did I get enough emotional support to counter the dominant survival brain? I recall times when I struggled with learning and those were the times when the abuse was the most severe.

During most of my childhood, I loved school. School provided an escape from the trauma. From the first day of kindergarten through most of the third grade, my teachers created the environment that Dr. Ham describes in the video. At the end of third grade, I lost my teacher’s respect when the teacher caught me cheating. (which I did to avoid losing a friend.) I also lost the friend. My support group vanished as did my ability to control my survival brain. I did not regain my love of school until Junior High when I formed friendships and the severity of the abuse decreased.

However, there is an aspect of the battle that Dr. Ham doesn’t address—The role of faith as a support system. I knew Jesus from a very young age, but I did not fully understand God’s unconditional love. I did not understand the idea that Jesus was in my heart, so I sought Him in the external world. When I could not connect with God, my survival brain took over and my performance in school declined. When I connected to God (Jesus) my learning brain seemed stronger and I performed well in school.

As an adult, understanding how the brain functions helps me cope with my emotional response to triggers. I know when brain fog settles in, it’s time to engage in self-care, rather than beat myself up for not being able to think.  Dr. Ham states that “survival brain trumps learning brain every time,” but there is a way to alter the automatic response. When my survival brain kicks in, I’ve learned to pause, focus on who I am, rather than what survival brain tells me. God determines who I am, not the world. I also have a support group that prays for me. I realize I don’t have to fight my battle alone, but I have to ask for help.  Now, admittedly, in times of intense stress, I do not always remember to use these tools, but when I succeed, learning brain trumps survival brain. The rock (from Dr. Ham’s video) gets pushed to the top of the hill and stays there.

Community, support, faith and accepting that I need help are key components to short circuiting the survival brain response. Science explains how my mind reacts to trauma and triggers. God provides tools to level the playing field. Both are essential to healing from childhood trauma.

Equipped for Recovery Workshop-Interactive recovery workshop
9/10/2022 In-person and virtual!

Learn more about self-care, support systems, boundaries, and taking thoughts captive!
Tickets available now! Click Here to register

One Year Later-A Note to My Younger Self

Today, on the release anniversary, I wrote the sonnet included in this post to continue the conversation. The sonnet has the same form as the four sonnets included in the narrative and honors the child whose courage and faith allowed me to tell my story of sorrow, hope, and redemption.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.

Today is the one year anniversary of the release of What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness, the memoir that recounts my journey to understand love and accept God’s unconditional love. Throughout the narrative I include conversational sonnets to give the reader a reprieve from the horrific events of my childhood. However, the sonnets serve another purpose. I wrote them to my younger self to encourage her to tell her story. So, today, on the release anniversary, I wrote the sonnet included in this post to continue the conversation. The sonnet has the same form as the four sonnets included in the narrative and honors the child whose courage and faith allowed me to tell my story of sorrow, hope, and redemption.

One Year Later-A Celebration

Oh, child so fair, what do you need today?

A year is gone and here we are again.

Oh, child so fair, I don’t know what to say.

Oh, Little one, are you free from your pain?

Oh, child so fair, you are so brave and strong.

You told the tale, defeated fear and doubt.

Oh, child so fair, do you know you belong?

There is no need to hide or sneak about.

Oh, child so fair, the journey must go on.

Oh, little one, walk with me as we share

The hope we found in the eyes of the Son.

And now you know Jesus was always there.

They know your story and they have not fled.

You can stand tall; you have nothing to dread.

More Sonnets, Letters to my younger self and the full story of sorrow, hope, and redemption!

What Kind of Love is This?
Audible version available for free with membership Click Here
Paperback version on sale for 75% off Click Here

Because We are Good

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?” 

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“How could God love the family members who hurt me?”

Note: As I prepare to launch ticket sales for my upcoming Equipped for Recovery Workshop, I’m reminded of why I began the journey of sharing my story with the world. I want others to know the peace and contentment I’ve found along the path to recovery from trauma, addiction, and mental illness. I’ve not held a workshop in years and I am excited to get back to what I love. This post, from a few years ago gives a glimpse of things I learned about love, hope, and healing. 

As I struggled to comprehend how God could love me, I struggled with an equally troubling question, “How could God love the family members who hurt me?”  Such questions are common among women who experienced abuse as children.

For many years I simply could not understand why God did not stop my family’s abuse.  I was angry at God, yet I never lost hope that someday I would understand.  I wish someone would have pointed me to St. Thomas when I was overwhelmed with anger and guilt.  Now, do not misunderstand, I eventually forgave and moved on. However, I think St. Thomas’ argument about the basic concepts of ‘being’, ‘good’ and how He views sin may shed new light to help women who struggle with how God’s love extends to their abusers.

We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature.

The initial question is: Does God love all things equally?  The answer is no. When you consider all the things God created, He definitely has a hierarchy.  He loves humanity more than animals or rocks or trees.  Why, you may ask, because humanity is rational and created in His image.  We are second only to the love God has for Christ.  We are beings created in God’s image and hold a place higher than every other creature. God came to earth as a man, not a rock or a tree. He did not come as a dog or a cat but as a man.[3]

How does this affect a survivor that questions God’s love for their abuser? First, as we determined in Part I, God loves all things. Secondly, He loves humanity more than other things because we are beings, not things. As I stated in Part I, we know that every being that God creates is good just because God creates it out of His perfect goodness. Based on the definition of ‘being’ in the glossary of St. Thomas’Shorter Summa, being means “that which is, whether actual or potential and whether in the mind (a ‘being of reason’) or in objective reality (a ‘being in nature’).”[4] In other words, a being exists as an entity that has qualities and potential.

What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.

What happens after creation does not change the fact that God created beings that are good beings.  Even a being who makes choices that lead to evil are still beings, which exist no matter what choices they make. God’s love for that being that He wills good to does not change. What changes is God’s love of our actions and choices, which affects our relationship with Him.  No matter what, the good being still exists.  God still considers the creation good.  He still loves the being (person) that He created.

However, as C.S. Lewis describes it in Mere Christianity with each choice we make, we either become more a heavenly creature or a more hellish creature.[5]   If we think of it as two aspects, the person, and the choices that change the relationship, we might understand the concept better.  The person(being) is always loved because God created us.  However, the choices we make either bring us closer to God or move us farther away.

God knows the potential of each person and wants us to receive the fullness of the good that He desires for us.[6]  He desires this for all His creation including abusers.  He loves them because He created them and they exist, but He does not love what they do.  The more they sin, the more they lose the humanity God created in them. Sin decreases their ability to experience the fullness of life and removes their desire to know God.

In all of this, God loves them as the being that He created. When they yield to evil, He cannot interact with them because evil does not come from God.[7]  While this explanation may seem too rational for some survivors, for me, it clarifies how God could love those who abused me.  Knowing that God loves all His creation, but not their sin makes sense to me.  When I combine that knowledge with faith, I understand that even when I feel ill-equipped to show love to those, I care about, I can ask Him to help me love them.  He will empower me with His strength.  He will be there. Perhaps understanding that God loves all things and that we are second only to Christ in His hierarchy will help you accept God’s love and the fullness that He desires for you. Perhaps you can fully comprehend John’s statement, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.”[8]

Want to learn more, have an opportunity to practice some of the tools I’ve used over the years, hear from others about their journey and what has helped them, and network with like minded peers? Join me at Equipped for Recovery on September 10, 2022. Get Tickets here.

[3] Peter Kreeft, A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica ; Edited and Explained (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993),  86.

[4] Ibid, 28.

[5] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 86.

[6] Kreeft, 85.

[7] Ibid.

[8] I John 3:1-3.

What Kind of Love is This?

As I held my beautiful newborn daughter for the first time an unfamiliar feeling flowed over me. As tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought, “How can I ever give her the love she needs?  I don’t know what it feels like to be loved as I love her.”   As Korine opened her eyes, I prayed, “Lord what kind of love is this?”  How do I show her this kind of love?”  My greatest wish was to show my daughter the love I never received.  I wanted her to feel the depth of love that I felt at that moment.

As tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought, “How can I ever give her the love she needs?”

As I held my beautiful newborn daughter for the first time an unfamiliar feeling flowed over me. As tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought, “How can I ever give her the love she needs?  I don’t know what it feels like to be loved as I love her.”   As Korine opened her eyes, I prayed, “Lord what kind of love is this?”  How do I show her this kind of love?”  My greatest wish was to show my daughter the love I never received.  I wanted her to feel the depth of love that I felt at that moment.

To me, love meant abuse. Love meant pain, betrayal, and isolation.

As I look back on the experience, I understand why I felt so lost when it came to showing love to anyone, even my child.  To me, love meant abuse. Love meant pain, betrayal, and isolation.  For much of Korine’s childhood, I was a mess of depression and anxiety.  As I journeyed through the darkness created by the abuse I endured as a child; I often could barely put one foot in front of another.  I made mistakes. I felt helpless. Worry plagued me that I was a horrible mother. But in the midst of the chaos, somehow, Korine felt loved.

For some, associating the term love to God brings up fear and anger rather than peace and joy.

As the years passed, I constantly wondered: How could I love my daughter when I felt so unloved?  How did I know about unconditional love?  Sure, I considered the idea that the source was God, but I never completely believed He could love me or show me how to love someone else.  I knew God loved my daughter, but could not comprehend His love for me. I experienced intense emotions associated with what I thought was God’s love, but seeds of doubt kept me from fully embracing the idea that God loved me. I had faith, but rationally, God’s unconditional love eluded me.

Eventually, I realized my story was common among survivors of childhood abuse. For many, scripture and faith may provide a level of healing. However, the idea that God could love them simply does not make sense, which makes accepting His love nearly impossible.  While they can accept Christ and love God, many women need to understand how God could love them.  Like me, they may believe that God loves others but struggle with being loved by Him. For some, associating the term love to God brings up fear and anger rather than peace and joy.

St. Thomas Aquinas provides answers to the question, “How can God love me and How can God love the person who hurt me?”

Fortunately, a medieval philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas provides much needed and reasonable answers to the survivor’s questions. “How can God love me and How can God love the person who hurt me?”  St. Thomas answers the questions by skillfully marrying reason and faith in concise arguments that may help survivors understand the extent of God’s love.

St. Thomas begins by explaining what he means by God’s love, which helps eliminate the distorted view of love that survivors of sexual abuse often have of the term.  According to St. Thomas, “God loves all existing things.”[1] St. Thomas continues by explaining that because God’s will is the cause of all things, any existing thing exists because God willed that it should exist.  From Genesis, we know that at the end of every day of creation, God looked out on what He had created and said, “It is good.”  It is reasonable then to say that we are good just because we exist. Since according to St. Thomas, love means to will good, God loves all things, no matter what happens to you.  God created you. Therefore He loves you.[2]

Such a description may take some of the mystery out of the nature of God’s love. For a survivor who often views love as power, control or pain, considering the alternative that God’s love means that He wants only good for you may help you see God differently.  He is not the father, uncle, cousin or brother that abused you. His expression of love means He wants the best for you, with nothing expected in return.  He does not want to control you but wants you to experience unconditional love.  Just as I experienced incredible love for Korine the day I held her for the first time, God loves me simply because I exist. The knowledge helps me understand that the kind of love the Father has for me is the love of a Creator for His creation.

Other relevant posts: What Kind of Love is This?- Part II  What Kind of Love is This? Part III Sonnets

[1] Peter Kreeft, A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica ; Edited and Explained (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 85.

[2] Ibid.

Father’s Day-A Reflection

Father’s Day is sometimes difficult for me. Most years I ignore the multitude of Father’s Day posts that fill my social media News Feed, but some years, the words of praise and love bring tears of sorrow and anger to my heart.
The intensity of the emotion surprises me because I forgave my father years ago. Today, I want to revisit a post I wrote a few years ago. Perhaps my words will comfort other survivors who struggle with the celebrating Father’s Day.

**Repost of my thoughts on Father’s Day.

Father’s Day is sometimes difficult for me. Most years I ignore the multitude of Father’s Day posts that fill my social media News Feed, but some years, the words of praise and love bring tears of sorrow and anger to my heart. I want to scream, “I don’t miss my Dad! I don’t have anything good to say about him!” Perhaps others who experienced abuse have similar thoughts on the day that honors fathers. The intensity of the emotion surprises me because I forgave my father years ago. Today, I want to revisit a post I wrote a few years ago. Perhaps my words will comfort other survivors who struggle with the celebrating Father’s Day.

Forgiveness not Acceptance

My father stole my childhood and my innocence from me at a very young age. The abuse continued until I left home at age 18 to go to college. My father cared about only one thing-making certain I knew he was the only person who would “love me.” I was his property and his toy.

In his later years, my father was broken, disabled and senile. He never asked me to forgive him, but I did forgive him. I turned him over to God and let go of my need for revenge or retribution. The act of forgiveness came after I allowed myself to experience the anger, sadness, and loss of my childhood. Forgiving him did not mean I welcomed him back into my life. I did not.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes, “I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you’re turning a central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before… slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.”[1] As the years passed by, I saw my father turn into a shriveled, broken hellish creature who lost his grip on reality. I think there came a point when he relinquished his humanity for the pleasures of the flesh and he was lost for eternity. He died alone in a West Texas nursing home.

God was the consistent thread.

How do I celebrate Father’s Day with such a father? I always knew God was present in my life, but that may not be true for others. I am thankful for the prayers of many that kept me safe from death on more than one occasion. My father could not take away my faith. My heavenly father somehow always showed up when I needed Him most. I did not always understand God’s methods in my trials but looking back He was always there to save my life, direct my path or provide a comforting word. God’s actions modeled what my father should have done. He knew what I needed, and did His best to provide for me, not always in the way that I wanted or thought He should, but as a faithful parent. My journey was long and difficult, but the consistent element was the presence of God and Christ.

I believe I can celebrate Father’s Day because I do have a Heavenly Father who cares for me and loves me unconditionally. However, for some, celebrating this Hallmark holiday feels forced and uncomfortable. For others, the day triggers feelings of anger, fear, and resentment. For those individuals, I want you to know that it is okay not to celebrate a day that honors fathers. However, I invite you to consider the idea that there is a heavenly father who loves his children.

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952), 86.

You are Not Alone Tonight

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me.

Repost: I posted this blog nearly 3 years ago, but the last few weeks reminded me of the significance of the decision I made to live 46 years ago. Suicide is epidemic across the globe and reflects the hopelessness felt by so many. I wanted to share this part of my journey again today with the hope that it will help someone choose to live.

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me. I had forgotten the significance of divine intervention in my life. I realized that after years of healing, studying and recounting the details of my journey, I was spiritually complacent. The complacency crept in while I moved on with my life.  I spent years sorting through memories and putting together the enormous puzzle of my life. I created a program that blended faith and reason to navigate the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing, but tonight I rediscovered God’s touch.

I felt the power of His presence in my life that I have not experienced in a long time.

Tonight, as I completed the chapter in my memoir about one of the darkest, yet most significant moments in my adult life, I decided to write a letter to the young woman who decided to live. At age 22, I believed that God hated me because I couldn’t stop acting out sexually. The chapter details the events of that night, but my experience after recounting them is the subject of this post. I think I finally understand my 22-year-old self and the significance of God’s intervention. I wanted to thank my younger self for the choice she made after God stepped in.

I still had a choice even after my pastor prayed over me.

Perhaps, you have faced despair and considered taking your life or you know someone who faces that choice. I share the letter I wrote to my younger self in this post to share the new insight I gained from traveling back to the night I chose life. God did not beat me over the head with a burning bush experience, instead, he sent a messenger in the form of my pastor. My pastor did not know I was on the verge of suicide and I never told him. His purpose that night was to give me hope. I think sometimes a simple message of “I am here. You are not alone, tonight,” might be the key to saving a life.

I am thankful that my pastor listened to the prompting to call me that night.

The letter below reflects what I want to tell my 22-year-old self as I close another painful chapter in my life with renewed hope and faith in the power of divine intervention.

You are Not Alone Tonight, Charlie

Hello Beautiful,

You are beautiful, Charlie. You are more beautiful than you realize. Tonight, I agonized with you and felt the despair and hopelessness of a young woman who desperately searched for love. I cried with you as you pleaded with God to set you free. My heart broke tonight when you lost all hope and wanted to end your life. You don’t understand yet why God intervened tonight, but you will. You don’t know for sure that the love you feel from God right now will last, but you will. You wonder if you will ever be free from the torment of the emptiness in your soul, but you will.

You felt beautiful tonight for the first time in a long time. You felt God’s touch, and you remembered it from when you were a little girl. Although you don’t remember the details of the times Jesus held you in His arms, tonight you remembered how safe you felt. Those feelings are real memories. One day you will know all the times Jesus kept you from losing your soul. You are not evil. You are beautiful.

Tonight, I want you to rest and know that all is not lost. Tomorrow is a new day, Charlie. Sleep well and know that you are not alone tonight.

Love,

The Charlotte that you will become because you chose to live tonight.

Get a signed copy of “What Kind of Love is This?”

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What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness is a story of hope, a story of determination and redemption in the face of unspeakable abuse and despair. Survivors deserve to experience hope and contentment as they navigate the triggers, fears and doubts that fill our days.

Order your signed copy today!


ENDS 3/20/22!

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