Sunday, February 26, 2012

Turbulent Tropics

I absolutely love reminiscing!  One of my favorite things to do is to bring up past memories with my friends and family members.  I relive these moments in my head before they spill out in laughter or crying or whatever emotions they entail.  A lot of times, I pull out the photos to reminisce even more.  It’s my way of enjoying those times again.  How about you?  Do you love reminiscing as much as I do?!


There are many memories I love to think about, but there’s one I’d love to tell you about right now.  My husband and I can laugh about it now, but at the time – trust me – we weren’t laughing!  Let me tell you more…

My husband and I got married the summer of 2004.  Since my husband is a farmer, we took a short mini-honeymoon for a few days immediately after our wedding.  We decided to wait to go on a bigger trip in the winter, because it would be easier for my husband to take time off and it would be fun to enjoy the warm weather, since we live in the Midwest where the winters are cold and long.

We spent six months waiting for our tropical dream getaway to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  During our wait, and as you already know, we got pregnant with our daughter.  Because I was so sick and because there was a risk traveling overseas to a third-world country while being pregnant, we debated whether or not we should still go.  We knew a couple who had gone while they were pregnant, so we talked to them.  They gave us some pointers to help with our decision.  We also talked with my doctor and she said it would most likely be safe, as long as I didn’t drink the water.  So, we decided to keep our travel plans and head to Punta Cana in Jan. 2005.

The day we left, it was a very cold day.  The wind-chills were well below zero so it made boarding the plane to a warm, tropical resort even sweeter.  We were both excited to spend seven days in the sun, enjoying each other at an all-inclusive resort.  Our flight was between 5-6 hours long, so we had plenty of time to talk, watch movies, read, and sleep.  We did a little of everything .  Since we were 3 ½ months pregnant with our first baby, I thought it would be fun to talk about baby names.  During our flight, we narrowed our names to the top three girl names and top three boy names. 

After a long flight, we landed at the very small airport in the Dominican.  We made it through Customs before loading onto a bus to drive to our resort.  The bus ride was about a ½ hour long, but it only seemed about 10 minutes.  The sites we saw tore at our hearts and actually made us somewhat regret going there for fear of our safety!   Mountains of garbage littered the streets and ditches.  There were kids running around in tattered clothing.  Families stared at us from their shacks.  This country was poverty-stricken and it made us feel almost ashamed that we were heading to a 4-Star resort for a week.  Reality struck – we weren’t in America and we decided we’d better take the advice of many others to stay on the resort.

Seeing our resort was a welcome site.  It was guarded all the way around with large decorative fences and men dressed in uniforms with machine guns.  The security men made us feel safe and unsettled all in the same breath.  What had happened that this resort needed to be guarded by men with machine guns?! We soon forgot as we felt paradise envelope us.  The resort was gorgeous!  The beach was unbelievable and we were so excited to relax and enjoy everything our honeymoon was ready to offer.

The first couple of days were paradise.  We spent most of our days on the beach relaxing and saying how happy we were we came.  We were both careful not to drink the water or have any ice in our drinks.   I even went as far as to keep my mouth completely closed while I was showering and not to use any water when brushing my teeth.  We cautiously chose our food at each meal and were pretty confident we would both be just fine.   Despite all of our precautions, the second night took a turn for the worse.

We had gone to bed feeling great.  After eating a wonderful supper at a Japanese restaurant, we danced a little under a starlit sky before going to bed.  Somewhere around 1 a.m., I woke up.  You know the feeling…that gurgling in your tummy that keeps getting louder and more unsettled.  After trying to decide what was going on with my stomach, I made a run for the toilet.  It wasn’t long before I realized this wasn’t going to be a one-time thing.

I spent most of the night vomiting and sitting on the toilet.  As the night went on, I got weaker and weaker, since I couldn’t even keep any water down.  By 7 a.m., I was so weak I could barely stand.  I was delirious and told my husband we needed to get on the first flight out of there so I could get home to make sure our baby was o.k.  Obviously I was in no condition to head back to the airport, make it through customs or get on a plane for 6 hours.  After about another hour or two, my husband decided I’d better go to the resort clinic.  I was so weak that he had to carry me to a golf cart to get me to the clinic.  It was over 80 degrees and I was shivering and barely knew where I was at.

Once we got to the clinic, my husband carried me in and set me down on a leather couch.  I don’t remember much because I was so weak.  I do remember there were several others in the clinic with the same symptoms.  Eventually, I was laid on a stretcher and pushed back to the ER.  The doctors tried for a long time to find a vein to hook up an I.V., but because I was so dehydrated, they weren’t having much luck.  After what seemed like eternity, they finally found a vein and started pumping fluids into me.  Because I was pregnant, they weren’t comfortable treating me any further and said I needed to head to the hospital, which was off the resort.  Remember the things we saw before making it to our resort and the guys with the machine guns?  We were told to NEVER leave the resort and here we were getting ready to leave.  Both of us were scared, but we needed to do what was best for me and our unborn baby.

The ambulance ride took about a ½ hour.  I moaned and groaned in pain most of the way.  My husband honestly thought I was going to die.    At least my vomiting and diarrhea had stopped so there was a little bit of relief for me.  Our tropical honeymoon in paradise seemed more like a horror movie at that point!

After a lot of waiting, I was finally admitted to a room on the second floor.  The hospital reminded me a lot of what an American hospital in the 1950’s would’ve looked like.  It was very small and had out-of-date d├ęcor and equipment.  Both my husband and I weren’t sure what type of care I would receive, but we didn’t have many options at that point.

Then there was the language barrier.  Luckily there was always one nurse per shift who spoke broken English.  In H.S., I had taken Spanish and had somewhat kept up on it, so I was able to vaguely communicate with the nurses and doctors, but it was still very scary.  Being in a foreign country, unable to fully communicate is a very unnerving feeling!

Very long story short, I spent 2 ½ days alone in that hospital.  They wouldn’t let my husband stay, so each night, he was forced to take a cab back to the resort alone.  Our cellphones didn’t work, so once he walked out of the room, I didn’t know if I would see him again.  It scared me to death that he would get mugged or even worse, killed, and that I’d never see him again.  I spent both nights in and out of the bathroom letting the virus run its course and watching Spanish T.V.  By the third day, I wanted to leave in the worst way.

On that third day, a nice female doctor finally gave me an ultrasound to confirm that our baby was still o.k.   Seeing her little heartbeat was a welcome site, one that was met with tears of joy.  Eventually we slowly got into our cab to head back to our resort.  This was the longest ride of my life!  My stomach was still a mess and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back without an accident (and, no, I’m not talking about a car accident, although Dominicans are crazy drivers!)

The rest of our honeymoon was spent trying to recover and yearning for it to end.  A day or so before we left, my husband started getting sick.  We started and ended the same way!  We couldn’t wait for our trip to begin and then we couldn’t wait for our trip to end.  I’ve never wanted to get home more than I did at that moment!

Once we made it home, we saw on the news that there had been a noravirus outbreak down there and they actually had to shut down the borders.  We were very thankful we had made it out before that happened!

For about a couple weeks afterwards, our bodies had to detox themselves from the virus.  I had huge cold-sores all over my entire face and didn’t feel very good.  I looked like an alien!  Eventually, our health improved and we could smile about our “dream” honeymoon.  The main thing is that we made it out alive and our baby was o.k.

Thankfully, my husband and I were able to get reimbursed for almost all of our costs due to the outbreak.   We decided we would take our money and save it for another trip to somewhere in the U.S.  Guess what?  It’s been 7 years and we still haven’t taken that second honeymoon!  I saved all of our medical receipts for proof, so maybe someday we can enter a contest and win a trip.  Until then, we’ll just laugh about our romantic getaway!  ;)

Do you have any stories where something that should've been fun somehow went terribly wrong?  I love a good story.  Please share! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Technical Difficulties

For some reason, I'm having some technical difficulties with the last post.  It looks all jumbled and has different sized fonts.  Then, in the title, I canNOT get the 'O' capitalized in 'One'.  Since I'm a perfectionist it's driving me crazy!  I've tried to go in and edit the post off and on today, but it keeps telling me "Blogger is unavailable".  So...  I will try again later.

One Nagging Question, one Crystal Clear Answer, and On My Way to Healing

Do you ever have a question in your head that just won’t go away?  This past year I’ve had many questions!  But one question kept eating away at me.   I wrestled with the reason I turned away from God even after growing up in a wonderful Christian home and having a fairly strong relationship with Christ going into my freshman year of college.  In a very short amount of time, I made a conscious decision to turn away from God.  Why?! How? !

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the God-given opportunity to talk at a weekend retreat for teen girls.  My talk was a breakout session called “Dating and Purity” and through this talk, God answered my question.

Maybe you’re dealing with a similar question.   I’ve included my talk for those of you who would like to read it.  At the end, I will reveal what God revealed to me.

Mr. Right

Hand out pieces of paper.  Ask the girls to write down characteristics and personality traits they don’t want in a date.  Ask them to do the same for someone they do want to date.  Ask girls to share their lists.  Discuss.

Looking at the lists we’ve come up with, who should you choose?  You probably know who you should choose, but if this were a real scenario, who would you really choose?  Let’s compare with what the Bible says.


What Does God’s Word Say? 

Let me throw out a couple more things to help you make your decision.  Open your Bibles to:

Titus 2:2, 6 


New International Version (NIV)

2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

These two verses mentioned a couple personality traits.  What were they? 

Self-control is mentioned twice.  What does it mean to be self-controlled? 

The dictionary says: restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires.  It can also be defined as one of the fruits of the Spirit.  Basically, it’s what you do or don’t do with the temptations you face. 

How can you have self-control in dating?  Allow time for girls to respond.

Let’s continue in verse 7: 

 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

So what traits should your date have?

Temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love and endurance.  Have godly mentors or men in their lives.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do on your dates.  I want you to make your own conclusions after listening to my story.

My Story…

So now we know what type of guys we should be dating.  I know that’s easier said than done cuz I’m not that much older than some of you.  I want to share something from my journal when I was in H.S.:

Sept. 26th, 1995 (I was in 10th grade): “I’ve really been thinking about guys. I need a boyfriend already!  Seriously, I’m 15 and I’ve never even gone out with anyone or kissed anyone yet.”

Oct. 28th, 1995:  (I was writing about a guy who liked me). “He’s all I ever think about.  I think about my first kiss and actually going out on a date.  I’m 15 – well I’m going to be 16 in 4 months – and I haven’t ever gone out with anyone yet.  It’s really depressing!”

Nov. 7th, 1995: “ All I can think about is how bad I need a boyfriend right now!”

Feb. 7th, 1997 (I was in 11th grade): “I’ve been feeling pretty low about myself.  I want a boyfriend so bad.  It seems like everyone else but me has one.  Even my brother has gone farther with his girlfriend than I have.  I guess I could try going out with Ryan, but I don’t really like him and he kind of freaks me out.  At least I could go out with someone though…”.

I was obsessed with guys!  I knew who I should be dating, but I just wanted to date anyone.  At the time, I didn’t care if he was a Christian or not. 

Lemme tell you a little more about myself…

I’m the oldest of 3 kids and grew up in a wonderful, Christian home.  My parents were very passionate that we knew about Jesus.  We attended a Lutheran Christian school when I was in 2nd-8th grades.  During my time there, we did a lot of Scripture memorization and had a Christian curriculum, so I knew more about Jesus and the Bible than most of my peers.  In 9th grade, since the Christian school only went up through 8th grade, I transferred to the public H.S.  I had a relationship with Jesus and read my Bible and did devotions all throughout H.S.   I went out on a few dates in H.S., but for the most part, I didn’t really date, even though I wanted to in the worst way.  I hung out with a good group of girls, so we didn’t drink or do anything “bad”.  On the outside, I looked like a good Christian girl.  And, I can honestly say, I did have a relationship with Christ.  I can tell you I was actively going to church, reading my devotions and the Bible, praying and walking with the Lord all the way up through my H.S. graduation.

When you graduate from H.S., you’re excited to venture out on your own and experience the adventures life has to offer.  Many of you are at this point in your lives.  I couldn’t wait to graduate and go to college at UW-River Falls.  I was going to graduate from college and have a glamorous job traveling the world.  My priorities had changed, since my H.S. journals, I didn’t want to get married, so dating wasn’t really on my scope of things to do.  Sure, if I was asked out, I’d maybe go on a few dates, but at that point I decided I didn’t feel like wasting my time when I wanted to focus on my career.  Just like in H.S., I still wanted to date guys, but not seriously.  Basically, I had no intentions of getting married, so I figured I would just casually date, which by the way, is a very dangerous road to go down.



I also remember, because of my sound Christian up-bringing, I prayed that God would bring me godly friends at college and prayed for wisdom when choosing the college I would attend.  He made it very clear that He wanted me at River Falls and he also sent me Christian friends.  During the first semester of my freshman year of college, I met a group of wonderful, Christian girls.  But, I also started hanging out with another group.  For most of my freshman year, I lived a split lifestyle.  I acted one way with my Christian friends and acted another with my friends who didn’t act so Christian.  I was at a crossroads in my life!  About three fourths into my freshman year, I rarely did anything with my Christian friends.   By the end of my freshman year, I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want anything to do with God.   Do you know that song by Casting Crowns, “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away.  It’s a slow fade when black and white turn to gray.  And thoughts invade, choices are made.  A price will be paid.  When you give yourself away.  People never crumble in a day.  It’s slow fade!”   I slowly started to make poor choices and little by little I gave myself away in so many areas of my life.  By the end of my freshman year, I had completely turned away from God.   How could’ve that happened when I was walking with Him only nine months earlier?!



The remainder of my college years was spent living a very spiritually reckless lifestyle.  I wanted to do whatever I wanted and have fun while I was at college.  I was sick of being the “perfect” firstborn, the high-achiever, a people-pleaser.  Since God had all of His rules and none of them would allow me to live the party-lifestyle at college, I reasoned that I wanted nothing to do with Him.

Because I turned away from God, my life was a mess.  Sure, at the time, if you would’ve asked me, I would’ve told you I was having the time of my life.  And, on the surface, I looked like I had everything put together.  I had good grades, my peers and professors like me, and I worked just about every day of my college career.  But deep down, I was miserable.  I knew what I was doing was wrong, so I dealt with a lot of guilt.  I started drinking a lot.  When I was drinking, I did a lot of things that weren’t good.  I crossed the line many times with guys.  My college drinking turned into a drinking problem that followed me into my adult life.  I had to drink every day and it wasn’t just a little bit.  Dabbling a little bit at the start of college led me down a path that caused me to need more and more.  That’s how it always works –remember, it’s a slow fade.



During these years away from God, not only did I struggle with a drinking problem, but I struggled mildly with anorexia and bulimia.  I had a horrible self-image and because I wanted attention from guys, I put my health at risk to be “pretty”.  Sometimes I dressed inappropriately.  I talked very dirty and swore all the time.  I smoked here and there.  I did crazy things when I was drinking and sometimes even when I wasn’t.



I ended up graduating from college early in just 3 ½ years due to my internships.  One internship extended even after I graduated.  There’s an annual national beef cow show that’s held every Jan.  Because it’s such a huge show, my company asked me if I would come to Denver with them.  So, in Jan. 2002, I went to Denver for 10 days.  Before heading out to Denver, I went to Kansas City early to meet up with my co-workers to help them get ready for the show.  We decided to head out to Denver a couple days early to meet up with some of their friends before we had to work.  The second day we were out there would impact my life more than I ever knew…



My friends and I went out and drank a huge amount of alcohol.  At some point, we ended up meeting up with one of my co-worker’s friends.  Eventually we ended up in their hotel room. Since we were all so drunk, I really don’t remember much about this part of the night.  What I do remember is that I had either fallen asleep and woke up or had gone to the bathroom and came out to find no one was in the room except for me and one of my co-worker’s friend’s friend.  I remember asking where everyone went, but I don’t remember what he said.  That’s when my life changed forever.  At that moment, I was raped.  I-was-raped!    I was thrown on the bed and, because I was so intoxicated, I couldn’t move or do anything about what was happening to me.  After this guy was done, he threw my clothes at me, barely let me get dressed and literally shoved me out the door.  Here I was in my early 20’s, I was fairly successful and I was lying on the floor in a heap as a rape victim.  He got what he wanted.  He used me.  He shoved me out.  It was such an intimate violation and it left me in complete shock. 



By the grace of God, I made it back to our hotel across town.  The next morning, I woke up still in denial.  Have you ever woken up and been all happy and then that feeling hits?  You know the one…  That bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.  I woke up that morning, happy to find I was in my hotel room.  I reminisced saying, “Wow – what a night!”.  But something didn’t seem right.  I thought a little longer.  And then it hit.  Oh, THAT.  I decided there was no way I was going to mess everything up by telling everyone I was raped.  I took the blame and decided because I was so drunk it was my fault.  I decided I would just pretend like it never happened and I’d be o.k.  For the most part, that theory worked.  At first I’d think about the incident here and there, but honestly I just shoved the whole memory down and pretended like it never happened.  I didn’t even shed one tear!  I didn’t tell my co-workers, I didn’t any of my college or H.S. friends, I didn’t tell my family, I didn’t tell my husband -  I didn’t tell anyone!  The problem with that theory is you can’t just pretend like nothing happened!  It doesn’t work that way…



During H.S., my parents told me about my aunt being raped at a cattle show.  Only a year or so before I was raped, my cousin, who is only 2 weeks younger than me, was raped by multiple men at a party because she was so drunk.  Both times I remembered thinking something like that would never happen to me.  Now I wear the same title – “RAPE VICTIM”.  NEVER in my wildest dreams did I EVER think I would be saying that I am a rape victim, but I am…  Maybe you’re thinking you’d never let anything like that ever happen to you.  That’s what I said and look at what happened. 

You see, when you turn away from God, whether you make a conscious decision like I did, or just dabble outside the boundaries that God sets up for us, you put yourself in harm’s way.  Ten years ago I was raped and I’m still dealing with the pain from that 5 min. part of my life.  In order to cover up the pain, I developed a serious drinking problem.  That drinking problem affected my first job out of college.  Being raped and making poor choices affected my marriage.   At several points, we weren’t sure we were going to survive our marriage!  The hours and hours I’ve spent crying are more than I can count.  The money and time I’ve spent at a counselor’s office is way more than we can really afford.  I haven’t mentally been there for my kids.  The pain this has caused my family has been huge.  My parents feel like they were failures.  Poor choices affect more people than just you!  The choices you make now and into your early adulthood WILL affect others.  They will affect your family, your friends, your spouse, your kids.

This is the part I want you to really pay extra close attention to…

Remember, I grew up in a Christian home and I had a strong walk with God when I went to college.  My parents were wonderful and they taught my siblings and I well.  They were very open with us and we had a lot of really good conversations about sex.  I knew about all the risks – STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, that depression and suicide is 12 times higher in sexually active girls, and about the risk of getting raped or something worse.  It’s really hard in a moment of passion to stop.  There isn’t a statistic in the world that’s going to scare you enough when you’re to that point.  And then when you throw alcohol in the mix, it’s even harder.  Something clicked in me and I listened to Satan.  ‘Have fun!  Everyone’s doing it!  You already screwed up, so there’s no point in stopping now!’  When you listen to Satan’s lies, you ALWAYS lose.  Not sometimes, ALWAYS.  When you sin, no matter what that sin is, there’s always a consequence.  The little bit of fun you’ll have is NOT worth the pain, regret, shame, guilt and consequences you’ll have to deal with as a result of crossing outside of God’s boundaries. 



The Solution

So where do we go from here?  I had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ and I made some really bad choices.  How do you make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did?

It’s actually very simple:  Everything starts with your relationship with Jesus Christ!

Again, I had a good relationship with Jesus leading up to my six years away from Him.  But, I wasn’t pure in every area of my life.  My heart wasn’t pure because I was dabbling too much in what the world says was o.k.  When you dabble, you become desensitized.  Things that seemed shocking at the beginning don’t seem so bad after a while and you slowly start to do more and more of it.  Let me explain:

Look at your life.  What type of music are you listening to?  Who are your friends?  What words come out of your mouth?  What T.V. shows and movies are you watching?  What magazines or books are you reading?  What websites do you look at?  How are you dressing? 

You’re in the Dating and Purity session.  This isn’t just sexual purity we’re talking about.  If your only goal is to be a virgin on your wedding night, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a great goal to have, but it isn’t the only goal you should have.  There are lots of teen out there who are doing everything but having full sexual intercourse.  They’re having oral sex, making out naked, and fondling each other and who knows what else.  They’re listening very sensual music.  They’re watching very graphic movies.  They’re reading smutty books.  Purity is way more than just sexual purity. 

What does the Bible teach us about Purity?

A lot of this info I’ve gotten from Dannah Gresh’s “Pure Freedom” videos:

Please turn to Psalms 51:5. 

Ps. 51:5 –   New International Version (NIV)
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

So how were we born?  Sinful.

So are we pure when we’re born?  No. 

We were born sinful or in other words we weren’t pure at birth. So obtaining purity is something we have to work towards.

Now turn to Luke 17:1. 

Luke 17:1 - 1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come…

So what’s this verse talking about?  Temptations.

Temptations will come.  We will be tempted!

So what do you do when you’re faced with a temptation? 

·         Get out of there!  Physically leave or mentally leave. 

·         Talk to the Lord. Ask for help. Recite scripture out loud.

·         Identify the issue as an actual temptation.

·         Tell a friend and be held accountable for future temptations in that area.

If you walk away from a temptation with God’s help, you’re learning how to live a pure life. Purity is a process of saying no.  It’s not a sin unless you act on it. 

What will ensure you to a life of purity?

You can determine in your head all you want that you’re going to lead a pure life, but you’ll never be able to accomplish that goal.  You can listen to your parents, your youth pastor, read Christian books, look at Christian websites, attend events just like this one, and you still won’t be fully pure.  Think back to what I said:  YOU can determine all YOU want that YOU’RE going to lead a pure life…   Did you catch that?  YOU, YOU, YOU!   YOU can’t do anything on your own.  You need God’s help to be pure and blameless before His sight.  Only He can teach you!

Let’s look at Titus 2:11-14. 

Titus 2:11-14 says:


 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIV)

New Living Translation (NLT)

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed (another word for taught/teach) to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

English Standard Version (ESV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

So what ensures us to live pure lives?  God’s Grace!  God’s grace purifies us.  God’s grace teaches, instructs, or trains us! 

Let’s review what grace is:

This info comes from (http://www.bibletimelines.org/framedgrace.html)

Grace is much different than Justice and Mercy:

  • Justice is getting exactly what we deserve (which when you’re talking about sin, our just punishment is death).
  • Mercy is not getting the bad that we deserve.
  • Grace is getting the good that we do not deserve.

Simply put, Grace can be defined as God's unmerited favor. God's grace is something God does for the benefit of His people just because He loves them. Grace can never be earned, it's totally free.

So, God gives us something good we don’t deserve.  He gives us wisdom from His Word on how to live a pure life.  Remember, He teaches, instructs or trains us. Get into the Word and presence of God through prayer every day.  Ask Him to show you His ways.  He promises He will!  And, find an accountability partner to help you along the way.  That’s so important!

If you nurture your relationship with Christ, then, and only then, will you be ready for a relationship with someone here on earth.  EVERYthing must be sacrificed to love Christ.  Even if that means giving up a relationship, an activity, a hobby, cleaning out your closet, or who knows what else.  Start with your relationship with Christ and leading a pure life.  Then let God bring you a date when He knows you’re ready.

If you’ve already crossed the line in regard to dating and sexual purity, it’s not too late.  Don’t accept the lie that I did and say since you already screwed up, there’s no point in trying.  TODAY you can start fresh.  You can start over!  Confess your sins and ask God to help you start over.  He loves you more than you can even comprehend and the second you ask Him, you’ll be pure and blameless in His sight.   You see, purity has nothing to do with your feelings.  Even if you don’t feel pure, God sees you as pure and He loves you.

If there’s something you need to confess – a secret, a sin, something you’re struggling with -  first and foremost tell God.  Then find a trusted friend or family member, a counselor, a youth group leader or whoever and tell them.  Don’t do what I did!  Don’t shove it down and try to forget about it, because that never works.  You can’t have the relationships that God intended for you to have unless you deal with your past, your hurts, your struggles, your sins. Once you finally verbalize the issue, the devil has no power over you!  He can’t use it as blackmail against you.  Then, and only then, can you begin to heal!

Look at James 5:16:

New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.



Conclusion

Take a few moments to reflect.  Analyze your life and ask God to show you the impurities.   Ask Him to forgive you and to teach you how to live a pure life.  The wonderful thing is that no matter what you’ve done, the second you ask for forgiveness, you’re pure!  God looks at you and you’re as white as snow to Him.

So did you catch the answer?  Only a week before my talk, God surrounded me with His presence and His answers.  I spent a night praying, watching Dannah Gresh’s purity videos, and searching the Word.  At the end of my time with the Lord, He reigned down the answer to my question and the direction He wanted me to take my talk.  It was that tingly, warm-all-over feeling that left me wanting to dance around.  I started praising God and thanking Him that He made it so crystal clear. 

The reason I decided to deny God after 18 years of walking with Him, is because I wasn’t pure deep within my heart.  Prior to getting to college, I was doing everything I was supposed to do – reading my Bible, doing my devotions, going to church.  I stayed away from the things I was supposed to – drinking, drugs, and sex.  But, in the core of my heart, I wasn’t right with God.  Really, all I was doing was using Him to keep me out of hell.  I went through the motions and used God when I needed Him.  When it came to the temptations I was facing, I relied on myself instead of calling out to God for help.  Even though I seemed to be going in the right direction, I wasn’t.  I had a heart condition – I wasn’t pure.

Remember what I said in my talk?  Becoming pure is a process, only possible because of God’s grace and through His instruction.   He purifies us from the inside out.   Once we’re purified, we’ll be able to have the relationships God intended us to have and to live out His will for our lives. Praise God!



1 John 1:8-9


New International Version (NIV)

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


I still have a long ways to go with my healing process.  The last year has been a journey in regard to my rape experience and one that I will continue on for years to come.  As for my quest to purity...obviously none of us will ever become fully pure until Jesus brings us home.  Until then, we can lean on God and ask him to teach us. 
It’s my hope through my Blog, Break Forth Like the Dawn, you’ll find healing.  Not only is this blog very therapeutic and healing for me, I pray you’ll break free from your past hurts and be healed from your current conditions.  Ultimately, I pray God would give me words that would encourage you and help you break out of darkness into the light.  "Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear..." Isaiah 58:8.

God Bless!



Great places to begin on your road to healing:

Celebrate Recovery:  Celebrate Recovery is a program designed to help those struggling with hurts, hang-ups, and habits by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through the recovery process.  http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

Advocacy for Abuse Victims (AVA)  http://www.covchurch.org/abuse/

Focus on the Family:  Find a Christian Counselor Near You  http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/articles/consider_counseling.aspx

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network  http://rainn.org/

Hope for Healing:  Where Abuse and Rape Survivors Find Hope http://www.hopeforhealing.org/

Sunday, February 12, 2012

More on S-E-X

Last week I talked about that three letter word – S-E-X.  Sex!  This word has the power to cause many to blush and stammer, giggle and make jokes about it.  It’s highly integrated and mainstreamed in our culture from the clothes we wear, to the billboards we see, to the music we hear, to T.V. shows, commercials, movies, magazines, books and the list could go on and on.  Sex is everywhere! 

With the breaking news of the Penn State Sex scandal, among many others, it makes every parent wonder if they should lock their kids up in the house and never let them leave.  Parents have to worry about teachers, coaches, friends’ parents or relatives, friends’ siblings, neighbors, their relatives, church members, and church leaders sexually abusing their children.   The statistics are frightening:

About Victims

·         44% of victims are under age 18

·         80% are under age 30

·         1 in 3 to 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused

Sexual Assault Numbers

·         Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually abuse, molested or assaulted

·         There is an average of 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year

Reporting to Police

·         60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police

·         15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail

About Rapists or Sexual Abusers

·         Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim

·         38% of rapists or abusers are a friend or acquaintance

Statistics from www.rainn.org (The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)



Does anyone else want to scream????!!!!!

God created sex and, within His boundaries, sex is a beautiful thing.  He created it to be fun for couples, to feel good, and to bring married couples closer to each other.  Having sex with someone is the most intimate expression of love.  It’s not something that anyone needs to be ashamed of.

But for some, hearing the word sex brings up images of pain, hurt, guilt and shame because they’ve been abused or hurt by sex.  Maybe they fell into temptation and gave away the gift they wanted to give to their spouse.  Even in Christian marriages, sex causes pain, conflict and frustration.  Why is that?  Why is something created by God such a painful subject for so many?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at an awesome event for teen girls.  My talk was entitled “Dating and Purity” and several girls came to me afterwards with their painful stories, telling me how they’ve been hurt because of sex.  It made my heart break for them and it hit way too close to home.

I have my own painful story about sex…

A month ago, during the second week of Jan., 2012, I celebrated a 10-year anniversary.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t an exciting anniversary or one that I even wanted to remember.  Back in Jan. 2002, while I was out in Denver, Colo.,  I was raped.  I-am-a -rape victim… 

While I was out in Denver, only weeks after I graduated from college, and a year after my husband and I started dating, I was finishing up my internship with a beef breed association in Kansas City, Mo.  My co-workers and I decided to head out to Denver a few days early, since we had gotten everything done in the office, before we had to work at the Natl. Western Stock Show.  We had plans to go skiing and do some sight-seeing.  Unfortunately, our plans got a little side-tracked the second night, and we decided to hit the bars.  We drank an excessive amount of alcohol and by the end of the night, I was raped. 

One of my co-worker’s friend’s friend (got that?) had shown interest in me at another national show only a month and a half earlier in Louisville, Kent.  I made it very clear I was dating my now husband and wasn’t interested in doing anything with him.  I was still friendly but didn’t reciprocate any of his flirting or advances.  Somehow that night, we all ended up in their hotel room.  Again, since I was so annihilated, most of the night is a blur or completely blank.  At one point I woke up or came out of the bathroom to find that I was all alone with this guy in their hotel room.  At that moment, my life changed forever!  He threw me on the bed and raped me.  RAPED ME.  Because I was so intoxicated, I couldn’t do anything about it.  It was a very helpless and out-of-control feeling.  After he was finished, he threw my clothes at me and told me to get out.  I begged him to let me stay until the morning since I was so drunk.  I couldn’t really remember where our hotel was and didn’t want to ride a cab in the condition I was in.  He refused and after I was dressed, he literally shoved me out the door.  I hit the wall and crumpled into a heap on the floor.  Here I was in my early 20’s, being fairly successful, and I had just been raped!  I was in complete shock and denial.  By the grace of God, I made it back to our hotel all the way across town without any other horrible things happening to me.  

I woke up the next morning and, like almost all rape victims, I blamed myself because I was so drunk and decided if I didn’t tell anyone, it was as if it never happened.  It was a moment I would try to forget and move on with my life.  And, for the most part that worked.  At first I thought about it a couple times here and there.  At the one-year anniversary I remembered it and after that I NEVER thought about it again.  I medicated the memory out of my mind by drinking almost every night.  That went on for several years and, as you know from my other posts, I continued on with my drinking and partying lifestyle until I became pregnant with our daughter.  In order to survive, I shoved the whole rape deep down within my sub consciousness and didn’t give it another thought for over nine years.  That all changed Mar. of 2011…

Many of you know that this year has been a very challenging one for our family.  In Dec. 2010, my husband and I made a pact that we wouldn’t let another year go by like the last ones –we wouldn’t continue to let the dysfunction from his family affect each of us, our marriage and our kids any longer – we were going to stop the cycle!  Due to the stress with my husband’s family, the two of us have had our moments with our marriage, as well.  One night in Mar., we had an argument.  We both ended up praying separately “Help us God”.  Be careful what you pray for cuz you never know how God will answer that prayer! The next morning I decided to listen to a Hearts CD called “The Uncommon Woman” by Susie Larson.  While I was listening, she talked about how she had been sexually abused by her older brother’s friends as a 9 yr. old in the laundry room one day when her parents weren’t home.  She never told anyone and tried to act like nothing even happened.  She went through the rest of her childhood and teen years appearing on the outside she had as if she had her life all put together.  Good grades, good athlete, big achiever, popular.  BUT, on the inside she hid a dark secret.  The statements that brought me to tears went something like this: “When you don’t deal with the past, you can’t have good relationships with those around you.  They might be o.k. for awhile, but at some point, your past will affect you and your relationships.  You won’t be able to experience relationships to the fullest or on a deep level unless you deal with the past.  No matter how hard you try, you can never get past those issues unless you finally deal with them.”  BOOM!  Instantly this exact thought came into my mind: “Tell {my husband’s name} you were raped!”.  The strange thing about this thought was I hadn’t thought about being raped for almost nine years and I didn’t even remember that it happened.  I honestly thought “What – I was raped?!  How could that be?!”.  I dropped to the floor and started sobbing.

Later that afternoon I told my husband I was raped.  He was the first person to find out after 9 nine years of keeping this secret hidden.  After a couple of months of counseling, I finally told my family.  Every time was very emotional, but the great thing about telling them, was it wasn’t a secret anymore.  Instead of having to deal with it alone, I had a support system and I had my family praying for me.  This secret had no power over me anymore!  It’s certainly been a journey this year, but I can honestly say I’m healing and doing much better now that I dealt with my secret.  God saw me that night in Denver.  He saw the pain I hid.  God sees you and He sees your secrets and your struggles and your fears.  Don’t hold it in anymore!  Share your story and begin to heal!  Cuz here’s the truth – you’re NOT alone!

Here’s a verse that I’ve held on to this year:

New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore confess your sins [hurts, struggles, fears, secrets] to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16



I love that!!!  Many of us may have been hurt because of sex, but life doesn’t have to end there.  We can tell a trusted friend or family member, a counselor, or whoever and get our secret out.  Then we’ll be lifted up in prayer and the enemy has no power over us.  Once we seek out professional help, we can finally begin the healing process.



If you’ve been affected by sexual abuse, molestation, or assault, help is out there!  I encourage you to visit www.rainn.org (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) and to contact Focus on the Family at  http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/articles/consider_counseling.aspx to find a Christian counselor near you.



No matter where we’re at or what we’ve done or what’s been done to us, we can go to Jesus!  Enjoy the "Come As You Are" lyrics...

Come as You Are Lyrics by Pocket Full of Rocks

He's not mad at you
He's not disappointed
His grace is greater still,
than all of your wrong choices
He is full of mercy and he is ever kind
Hear his invitation, His arms are open wide


You can come as you are,
with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are


Louder than the voice that whispers your unworthy
Hear the sound of love,
that tells a different story
Shattering your darkness and pushing through the lies
How tenderly he calls you,
His arms are open wide


You can come as you are,
with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are


You can come as you are


You can come as you are with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus


You can come as you are