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

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.

Past Events

The pandemic opened up new platforms for me and others and virtual events became more acceptable to media and the public. Since the release of my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness, I’ve participated in multiple interviews, podcasts, and events on a variety of topics.

Here is a sampling of recent events

Hope Today-Healing from Child Sexual Abuse Trauma

Today I had the privilege of being the guest on Cornerstone Television Network’s program, Hope Today. I must admit I was more nervous about the interview than normal because it was a live broadcast. However, the hosts immediately put me at ease. Their approach to the interview allowed me to share aspects of my journey that I’ve not shared on previous programs.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share moments when God showed up to give me hope in the darkest moments of my childhood as well as the importance of both counseling and faith in my healing process.

The Everyday Royalty Podcast with Keri Kitchen

Talking to Keri Kitchen was like talking to a friend over coffee as we discussed my journey to find God in the darkness and move from victim mentality to realizing I am not defined by the trauma I experienced as a child.

Good Morning Ozarks

Interview with Annie Broughton on Niteline.

She asked some tough questions, but we had a great conversation. Click here to watch

August 7, 2021-Virtual Book Launch

July 10, 2021 Santa Fe, TX Book Launch Party

Celebrate Recovery Austin, TX June 10, 2021

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.

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

A New Thing-New Beginnings

We cannot change the past, but we can look for evidence of God starting a new thing. He can water the deserts, clear the wilderness, and chart our course for whatever plans He has for us. We cannot see Him at work unless we keep moving forward. 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

As we begin a new year, Isaiah reminds us to keep our eyes forward. While I don’t think he intends for us to forget the lessons from the past, his prophetic words stress the importance of seeing God at work even in desolate times. 

Our vision gets clouded when we focus on missed opportunities, failures, or hardships from years gone by which may cause us to miss the wonder that awaits us in the new year. We cannot change the past, but we can look for evidence of God starting a new thing. He can water the deserts, clear the wilderness, and chart our course for whatever plans He has for us. We cannot see Him at work unless we keep moving forward. 

Reflection

Where do you see God working in your life?

A Letter to Baby Jesus

Jesus was fully divine and fully human. What went through Mary’s mind on that night so long ago? How can we relate to her mixed emotions as she gazed on the face of God.

[Repost] For some reason I’m already thinking about all things Christmas which is not my normal pattern. I generally wait until mid-December to put up my tree and other decorations, but this year, the celebration of the birth of our Savior already brings me joy. In anticipation of the event, I thought I’d repost this letter. I wrote it a couple of years ago for another website as part of their Advent Calendar and posted it here last year.

As you know, if you’ve followed me for anytime at all, I love writing letters to express my thoughts and feelings. The letter below is a letter to Baby Jesus. For those who are familiar with the song, “Mary Did you Know?,” some of the inspiration comes from the lyrics of the song. In the letter, I express my journey toward understanding and accepting God’s unconditional love. It has elements of my experience as a new mother, my journey to freedom, reflections on Mary’s experience as she gazed on her newborn son, how important Jesus is to me and all of humanity.

Dear Baby Jesus,

The good news of your birth announced by the angels was not just for the shepherds gathered round the manger or the Kings who found you by following a star, but for all humanity. As the day we celebrate your birth draws near, I thought I’d write you a letter to tell you how much you mean to me. 

You came into this world as an infant who depended on your mother, Mary for all your needs. She was not much more than a child herself on that night long ago, but she knew that God had touched her. I wonder what she thought as she held you for the first time. Did she see the man you would become? Or did she only see her son and feel a mother’s love? Maybe she wanted to hide you away and protect you from harm. Did she wonder what God had in store for the beautiful boy that she held so close to her breast. How could she fully understand what the future held or how you would fulfill your destiny? 

You were fully divine and fully human, but when she kissed you for the first time, Mary touched your divinity with her humanity transposing divine love into human expression. For years, I did not understand the love Mary felt for you. Nor did I understand God’s unconditional love. The revelation came forty-one years ago, when I gazed upon my newborn baby girl for the first time. As I held her, joy and peace filled every fiber of my being. In that moment, your divine love for me intersected with my human frailty. I finally understood that your entrance into the world as an infant demonstrates that intersection. You were divinely conceived but born to a woman. Humanity and divinity united to bring salvation.

I rejoice knowing you remain steadfast and that your love never fails. I rejoice knowing that your divine love still intersects with humanity. What began 2000 years ago in a manger, still brings peace to the hearts of humanity. 

Your adopted sister,
CHARLOTTE THOMASON

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