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

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

Speaking

I would love to join you for your next event.

I am available to speak at retreats, workshops, small gatherings, podcasts, and social media interviews. I am available for virtual events and, to a limited degree, live events. I am willing to share on a variety of subjects ranging from my testimony, to teaching, or facilitating discussions including:

  • Reconciling Faith with the Existence of Suffering
    • Addressing the Emotional Problem of Evil
  • Moving from Surviving to Thriving
    • Contentment and peace are possible for Survivors of childhood trauma
  • Finding God in the Darkness
  • Managing Grief (Help for the Helpers)
    • Helping first responders, social workers, therapists cope with the loss of a loved one.

Feel Free to contact me with details about your event and questions you may have.

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

SPRING BREAK SPECIAL!
Get a signed copy for 9.99 and receive a a free gift with your purchase.

SPRING BREAK SPECIAL!
Get a signed copy for 9.99 and receive a free gift with your purchase!

Order now and receive a signed copy of What Kind of Love is This: Finding God in the Darkness.

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!

Trauma, Addiction, and Recovery

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Ep. 3- airs on Saturday March 12, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST! In this episode, my guest, Cheryl R. Luke, and I will discuss: How trauma places survivors at high risk for developing addictive behaviors. Hope that is found in programs like Celebrate Recovery Personal insights from our experiences

Chatting with Charlotte-LIVE

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Ep. 3- airs on Saturday March 12, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST! In this episode, my guest, Cheryl R. Luke, and I will discuss: How trauma places survivors at high risk for developing addictive behaviors. Hope that is found in programs like Celebrate Recovery Personal insights from our experiences

About my guest: Cheryl Luke currently serves as the National Director of Cultural Communities for Celebrate Recovery. She has been in ministry for over 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience about the affect of trauma on all aspects of a survivor’s life. She is one of my dearest and nearest friends whom I’ve known for two decades. Cheryl’s passion is helping individuals discover and reach their God given potential. She is a frequent guest speaker at events across the globe at Women’s conferences, retreats and workshops. Her smile and her love for the Lord is contagious as she draws her audience in with her unique speaking style that sometimes includes an unexpected song that fits a specific audience. Cheryl engages her audience in such a way that you feel like you’re in her living room listening to a friend share their passion and experience. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to hear her story, her insights, and her wisdom about trauma, addiction, and recovery! #celebraterecovery #mentalhealth #addiction #recovery #PTSD #survivingchildhoodtrauma

Not a God of Immediate Gratification

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Lead me in your truth

and teach me, for you are

the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:5

Surrender and Devotion

Note: In the 7 months since I posted this blog, I’ve experienced many victories, had expectations shattered, dreams fulfilled, and attempted things I never dreamed I could do. Sometimes I grew impatient because God was not acting “fast enough” for my liking. Yet, He always made a way for His plan to come to fruition.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads as I contemplate the path forward. As I considered what to share this week, this blog brought me comfort and reminded me to be patient, wait for the Lord to move, and to be still and listen for His whisper.

Surrender and devotion dominate David’s writing. Throughout the Psalms, he lays his life before the Lord and says, “teach me.” He knows his limits and desires to learn from the Lord. He basically says, “Lord, I can’t do this without you. I need you to guide me and help me know the truth.” However, he does not demand an immediate response from God. Instead, he says, “I’ll wait for you all day.” He makes his plea, then waits.

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Moving too Fast

During the early years of healing from childhood trauma, I didn’t wait on God to teach me or lead me, and it almost destroyed me. I rushed to remember everything as quickly as I could and I set unrealistic goals for completing the healing process. The result- a year in a psychiatric day program. I could not work, nor was I emotionally available for my daughter. I pushed my mind beyond the brink and feared I would never return to normal life. Still, God did not abandon me. He waited for me, guided me and helped me recover my sanity.

Listen, Rest, and Learn

As you or a loved one progresses on their healing journey, remember to pace yourself. Listen to God’s whisper, listen to those that care for you, breathe, rest, and wait. Healing is a journey, not a destination.

The Faces of Love-Eros

Lewis’s discussion of Eros is perhaps the most complex and yet most relevant of all the loves, in both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces. Of all the loves, Eros ignites the most emotion for it is what Lewis describes as “being in love.”[1]

Part 3 of a four part series based on an essay I wrote a few years ago. In this segment, I discuss eros or romantic love.

Love is a universal subject for writers, artists, and musicians both past and present. However, current media often presents love as sex and sex as love.  Social media creates a new expression of love through the click of a button on a smartphone.  Commercials for sexual enhancement and performance products appear on prime time television.  Sex is no longer taboo to prime time television rather the more sex, the higher the ratings.  Relationships change daily on Social Media with a single entry.  Our attempts to define love devolve into meaningless memes on Social Media that reflect our attempt to oversimplify the complexity of love. While engaging the hurried, hurt confused and often angry skeptics of our current culture presents a significant challenge, adding Devine Love to the equation increases the difficulty. Somehow, we need to slow down, take a deep breath and turn off the smartphones long enough to experience and understand the complex subject of love. Fortunately, C.S. Lewis was a master of slowing down the hurried mind with profound, provocative and engaging writing. In keeping with his style, Lewis offers two books that address the subject of love in unique yet complementary ways, a propositional work, The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces, a rewriting of the Psyche and Cupid myth.  While in The Four Loves, Lewis adapts four Greek terms to present a propositional explanation of love, he brings the terms to life in Till We Have Faces by drawing the reader into the experience of the characters. While each book eloquently depicts love’s complexity, the rational approach to defining love found in The Four Loves and the imaginative approach of Till We Have Faces enhance each other to provide a complete understanding of the nature and complexity of love.

Lewis’s discussion of Eros is perhaps the most complex and yet most relevant of all the loves, in both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces. Of all the loves, Eros ignites the most emotion for it is what Lewis describes as “being in love.”[1] He quickly distinguishes Eros from sexuality by saying that “Sexuality may operate without Eros or as part of Eros…My treatment rules out mere sexuality-sexuality without Eros-on the grounds that have nothing to do with morals; because it is irrelevant to our purpose.”[2] Throughout the discussion of Eros in The Four Loves, Lewis attempts to distinguish between Venus (sexuality) and Eros, “a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved—a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality.”[3]  Similarly, Lewis describes Eros through Orual’s thoughts during her second trip to the Grey Mountain. Although she refuses to yield to the possibility, Orual considers that she “should leave[Psyche] alone”[4] because “She is ten times happier,” [5] when she makes her second trip to the Grey Mountain.  Orual wrongfully concludes that “there is a deeper love than theirs who seek only the happiness of their beloved.”[6] Orual dismisses the existence of Eros because, at the time, she cannot comprehend such love.  The reader feels Psyche’s sorrow that her sister doesn’t understand the love she has for her husband, much like 21st-century apologist attempting to explain love to a young person, who can barely look up from their phone.  While the propositional language of The Four Loves may not engage the young person, Psyche’s plight might interest them simply because it is a provocative story of love.


[1] Lewis, The Four Loves, 91.

[2] Ibid., 92.

[3] Ibid.,94.

[4] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 138.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Lewis, The Four Loves, 121.

Covid-19 Hidden Impact for Trauma Survivors/ Tips to Cope

Updated Repost: I wrote this in the middle of lockdown 2020, not realizing that we would still be managing the COVID Pandemic in January 2022. While we are no long in lockdown, the world remains on edge. Reviewing this post brought me comfort today. I hope you find strength in the thoughts I presented nearly 2 years ago. The message remains the same. I still have a choice how I respond to the triggers from the past.

Updated Repost: I wrote this in the middle of lockdown 2020, not realizing that we would still be managing the COVID Pandemic in January 2022. While we are no long in lockdown, the world remains on edge. Reviewing this post brought me comfort today. I hope you find strength in the thoughts I presented nearly 2 years ago. The message remains the same. I still have a choice how I respond to the triggers from the past.

The Covid-19 virus has upended everyone over the past few weeks. While the new normal creates havoc for nearly everyone, I’ve realized a hidden impact for trauma survivors. With each new restriction comes less control over my life, which triggers old fears and sometimes anger. At first, I dismissed these thoughts as silly considering the restrictions haven’t significantly changed my lifestyle. Yesterday I realized why anxiety and anger resurfaced. I feel the same loss of control I felt as a child when my family members abused me, but I also realized I am not a powerless little girl anymore. I am a strong, healthy woman who knows the truth about my identity.

I can choose how I respond to the triggers from the past.

Several years ago, my late husband, John, told me a story that illustrates one way to manage the emotional turmoil the current circumstances create. The town he grew up in has a city park with an old playground. The playground includes one of those old merry-go-rounds which consists of a circular platform with bars for standing. The riders push off the ground to increase the rotation speed of the merry-go-round. Sometimes one person stands beside the equipment to push it to maximum speed. Running on the platform will also increase the speed.

Keep Your Eyes on the Tree

One day, John and two friends (all of them in their 20s) decided to see how fast they could go and still stand up. So the contest began. Each attempt ended with falls, bumps, and bruises. They ran fast, but at some point looked down at their feet. When they did, they fell. After many attempts, John’s friend suggested they focus on the tree that stood next to the merry-go-round. When they kept their eyes on the tree, they did not fall. The speed increased far beyond what they thought possible. Then they looked down, and chaos ensued. Years later, while on a mission trip to Haiti and felt overwhelmed by the darkness that surrounded him. As he prayed for peace, the events at the park came to mind. He heard a whisper, “Just keep your eye on the tree.” He had the sense that the tree represented Jesus Christ, who hung on a tree for us.

As you struggle with old tapes in these uncertain times, remember to keep your eyes on the source of comfort. You are not a helpless child living in a chaotic and abusive world. You are a survivor. You are loved by the one who died for you. Keeping my eyes on Him when anxiety and fear threaten my peace, helps ground me in the present. For me that means turning off cable news, listening to music that soothes, reading scripture and stopping the thoughts that creep into my head before they take root. None of these things change what is going on in the world, but they change how I navigate them.

Changing How You Cope

As a survivor, you have learned ways to manage triggers, but some of those may not be available now. It’s hard to change our way of coping, but not impossible. Draw a picture, write a poem (even if you don’t think you can), stay connected via texting and phone calls. Find an online church service. Reach out and let someone know this is a hard time for you. Above all, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because this triggers emotions you haven’t felt in years or months. Change your focus. Keep your eyes on the tree. When you look down and fall, get back up and try again.

We can support each other through this season: Share your coping strategies, your struggles and get support in the comments.

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