Thursday, August 2, 2012


It has been WAY too long since I've posted!!  I apologize for not staying connected a little better!

As I said awhile back, we enjoy our summers on the lake and since water and computers don't mix, I wouldn't be posting as frequently.  I guess I've proven that statement to be true... 

I do, however, want to update you with how we've been doing.  We've been enjoying our summer to the fullest and pray you have been, too!  We've had a couple of camping trips, lots of visiting with friends and family, even more swimming on the lake and enjoying our flexible and ever-changing summer schedule. 

In addition to lots of fun, summery activities, we've been praying earnestly for God's will in our lives.  We're still in a season of waiting, but we're doing very well.  I can honestly say I'm o.k. with waiting.  It's been nice to fully hand God the reigns and let him work everything out.  I still don't know if He wants us to stay or leave and there are still many unanswered questions looming overhead.  But, we can feel God working things out and changing our hearts, so that's good enough for us right now.

One of the areas God has convicted my husband and I on this summer is in regard to our bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness towards my husband's family.  None of those things should be taken lightly and we've been praying for God to work in our hearts.  We've read several books about unforgiveness (Praying God's Word by Beth Moore; Choosing Forgiveness  by Nancy Leigh DeMoss; The Bait of Satan by Bevere) and all of them have had really good points.  We've also listened to Bitter Root, Rotten Fruit which is a sermon that you can find at  Each book, sermon and conversation with trusted friends and family have been tools for us  to keep chipping away at the big boulder in front of us.  We cling to the promise found in Philippians 1:6

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus".  Praise God - He's not finished with us yet! 

As I write this post, I'm noticing we only have about a month left of summer before school starts.  *Sigh*  There are reasons I'm looking forward to school - a more structured schedule, earlier nights, - but I always hang on to my summers with a tight grip.  I LOVE the warm weather and lazy days at the beach with my kids!  It's always difficult for me to say good-bye to summer and welcome Fall in.  But, there are many things to look forward to this fall, too.

One in particular is a wonderful opportunity God is giving me.  Since I spoke at an event for teen girls back in Feb., God has absolutely burdened my heart for these girls.  I've had this intense desire to help them, so they don't make the same mistakes I did.  I knew I wanted to continue helping, but I wasn't sure how God would use me.  So, I prayed.  Then, in Mar., I attended an adult Sunday School Class on Discipleship and Mentoring.  For three months, we learned about the mentor/mentee relationships that occurred in the Bible and how we could follow those examples.  During those three months, we prayed that God would send us a mentee.  At the beginning of the summer, I continued to pray about being a mentor and how God could use me to help teen girls.  Only a couple weeks ago, my husband and I prayed one night about this burden on my heart.  We decided we wouldn't call our Youth Director just yet, but we'd wait and see what God would do.  One week after praying, our Youth Director called me!  He asked if I would be interested in being a Shepherd or Small Group Leader this year at Youth Group.  Talk about an answer to prayers!  There were still a few things that needed to work out with childcare and things like that, but within a week, God worked those things out, too., and confirmed that He did, in fact, want me to shepherd this upcoming school year.   I'm very excited for the priveledge and challenge that is ahead of me with teen girls!  I will also be hosting a small group Bible study on the first Saturday of each month for teen girls, as well.  Please be praying for me since this is a huge responsibility and one I don't take lightly!

In addition to serving God in the Youth Group, I am also Coordinating one of our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and MOMSnext group, which runs Sept.-May.  For those of you who don't know, MOPS is for moms who are pregnant or have kids five years of age and under.  MOMSnext is for moms with school-aged kids.  I am very passionate about this ministry and I'm excited to see what God has in store for our group!

Overall, I feel like this upcoming year will be one of exploration.  Not only do we need to explore our options with my husband's family and his farm, we need to decide what I will do with my future career.  I worked fulltime outside the home until our daughter was 15 months.  Then, I quit my job to be at home with her, while sub-teaching at four area schools.  Our daughter just turned seven years old in July and our son will be five years old in November (where has the time gone!!).  My husband and I have always said I would need to go back to work once our son was in Kindergarten or First grade.  He'll be in Preschool this fall, so I have a year or so to figure out what God wants me to do.  I'm looking into the possibility of going back to school to get my teaching degree in the Fall of 2013.  I would need to go fulltime for two years and then complete one semester of student teaching.  Or, I'm exploring what it would take to launch my ministry, Break of Dawn, as a full-time career.  The other options are to continue being a fulltime stay-at-home mom and subteaching on the side or trying to find a job within the school so I can be home with the kids during the summers.  Only God knows what our future has in store, so we're putting our hands in His and enjoying the ride!

I posted my talk, "Taking Off Your Mask", that I gave back in June.  You can find that below this post.

God Bless and we'll be in touch - Break of Dawn 

Taking Off Your Mask

(Some of the information will be review from some of my previous posts, but be sure to scan towards the end)

Back in June, I had the priveledge to share my story at a local church. I'd like to share my talk, "Taking Off Your Mask", with you....

I want to start tonight off with a true story I found online because it sets the stage for the rest of my talk.  It’s from a blog called Internet Café Devotions.

The Devotion is entitled: “Who Is That Masked Woman?” and it’s written by Leah Adams.  She’s known for her ministry “The Point Ministry” which focuses on leaving behind a godly legacy.  You can find out more at

She posted her devotion to Internet Café Devotions on :

Posted: Apr. 12th, 2012

So here’s the story:

Recently, I went to the funeral of a woman I have known all my life. I went to the funeral solely out of respect for her family. I wish I could say I remember her fondly, but the truth is, I don’t. The memories I have of this woman consist of her saying very ugly things to some of my family members. Often when she saw us in public, she would turn her head so she did not have to speak to us. She was highly critical and downright mean with her words where my family was concerned. In spite of the bad history, I have forgiven her for her actions toward my family.

When the funeral service began, both preachers who delivered the eulogy talked about what a wonderful encourager this lady was to those in her church and community. They spoke glowingly of her generosity to those in need and her love for Jesus, her family, and her church. The pastor informed us that he was reading her favorite Bible verses which had been taken from her apparently well-marked Bible. Her memory was honored by the speakers with glowing words of praise for her character, generosity and love for the Lord.

I was in total disbelief. I had this insane urge to scream. In fact, it was all I could do to keep myself from standing up and saying, “Excuse me, I must be at the wrong funeral. I don’t know the person speaking about. Don’t mind me. I’ll leave now.”

I maintained my decorum, smiled kindly at the family, got in my car and shrieked to the teddy bear that rides in my back seat, “I CANNOT STINKIN’ BELIEVE WHAT I JUST HEARD!”

It was the most bizarre thing I have ever experienced. I go to the funeral of one person – someone I knew as a person who was particularly mean and nasty to my family -  but the person who is eulogized appears to be a totally different person. I kept pinching myself, but I know I was at the right funeral. All the family was there, but for the life of me, I did not recognize the person of whom the pastors spoke about.

So what do you think of this story?  Have any of you experienced something similar?  Have you ever thought you really knew someone only to find out they were totally different from who you knew them as? Allow for brief discussion.

Now let’s take a look at ourselves.  What would people say about you?  Are you consistently the same person all week long or do you change depending on who you’re around?  Is there something in your past that you feel like you need to keep hidden?  Do you feel inferior around a certain group of people so you try to impress them and gain their approval?

Take a look at these masks.  Show laminated masks on craft sticks. Look at the woman on the poster.  Behind every mask there’s a woman.  A woman with hopes and dreams, with a unique personality, likes and dislikes and past experiences.  All of these things shape her into who she is.  But, she still has that mask on.  We can speculate that each mask symbolizes a different persona or characteristic.  How about you - do you have any masks that you wear? I would have to say most of us wear at least one or have worn one at some point in our lives.  Why do we as woman tent to hide behind these masks?

Now, before I go any further I want to throw in a little disclaimer.  I am NOT a professional speaker!  How I ended up here speaking was because Cindy and I had a conversation last Oct., so Oct. 2011, before a MOPS meeting.  After talking a bit, she invited me to share my story.

My story is deeply personal and so I ask for your discretion and respect with how you’ll share it or who you’ll share it with.  It’s always a good idea to be careful with people’s “stuff”.  O.k.  So enough of that!

This is My Story…

I’m the oldest of 3 kids and grew up in a wonderful, Christian home in southeastern Minn.  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 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.  I couldn’t wait to graduate and go to college at UW-River Falls.  I was going to major in Ag Marketing Communications with an Animal Science minor, graduate from college and have a glamorous job traveling the world.  I didn’t want to get married or have kids.  I was going to be this big career woman.  Isn’t it funny how little we actually know about what we want in life?! 

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 or I had different “masks” that I wore when I was with each group.  I acted one way with my Christian friends and acted another with my friends who weren’t so Christian.  Looking back I realize I was at a crossroads in my life!  Literally, I was standing at a road.  One way was the easy way and the other was the narrow way.  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.   That makes me think of the 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 – that’s only about 9 months - , I had completely turned away from God who I had an 18 year relationship with.   How could’ve that happened?!  It was like a divorce…  How could I fall out of love with someone I had spent so much time with for 18 years?!  To this day, even though God revealed the answer to me, that question still really bothers me.

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.  For those of you who are mothers with firtborns still under your roof, pray that God would show you if he or she is struggling with pleasing people.  They might look o.k. on the outside, but on the inside they’re struggling with trying to keep everyone happy and trying to be perfect.  It’s just something to think about.  Back then I reasoned, since God had all of His rules and none of them would allow me to live the party-lifestyle at college, I decided 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.  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.

During those years away from God, not only did I struggle with a drinking problem, but I struggled mildly – if that’s even possible - 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”.  I dressed inappropriately.  I talked dirty and swore.  During my college years, my personality had taken a major detour!

Even though it sounds like a complete train-wreck, my life was somewhat on track. I ended up graduating from UW-River Falls in just 3 ½ years due to my internships.  One internship extended even after I graduated.  It was with the American Hereford Association down in Kansas City, Mo.  I lived there during the summer between my junior and senior years of college.  There’s an annual national show, called the National Western Stock Show, that’s held every Jan.  Because it’s such a huge show, the AHA asked me if I would come to Denver with them in Jan.  So, in Jan. 2002, I went to Denver with the American Hereford Association 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 sight-see, ski and 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 co-workers and I went out and drank a huge amount of alcohol.  We were all over Denver in the bars.  At some point, we ended up meeting up with one of my co-worker’s group of 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.                              [Pause for 10-15 seconds] .  Even though this is the fourth event that I’ve uttered that phrase it never gets easier.  It’s always very hard telling people your darkest secrets and there’s always a lot of emotions that come up.  But, ten years ago, 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 hotel hallway out in Denver 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.  Because it was so painful, I told myself I would just pretend like it never happened. 

By the grace of God, I somehow 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…

One morning in Mar. 2011, I was listening to a CD, titled “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 your husband you were raped!”.  The strange thing about this thought was I hadn’t thought about being raped for almost nine years and because I had shoved this whole memory so far down since it was so painful, I consciously didn’t even remember that it happened.  I honestly thought “What – I was raped?!  How could that be?!”.  Then everything came rushing back and I remembered.

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 you and you and you and He sees your secrets and your struggles and your fears.  I want to encourage you to let it all out.  Don’t hold it in anymore – take off your masks!  Share your story and begin to heal!  Cuz here’s the truth – you’re NOT alone!

I’m a mess!!!  I’ve already mentioned many of my issues, but I’m going to remind just in case Satan tries to tell you – and trust me, he will over and over - that you’re the only one who’s struggling.  In addition to being a rape victim, I had a major drinking problem (it wasn’t just a college thing.  It continued excessively after college.  I had to drink a lot every night.  This pattern didn’t stop until I found out I was pregnant with Andrea in Nov. 2004 when I had to stop – thank God!), I struggled mildly with anorexia and bulimia, if that’s even possible (in between my jr. and sr. year of H.S., I became obsessed with losing weight.  I would only allow myself to eat the very smallest Tupperware bowl of food at meals.  If I ate too much, I would throw up.  I ran a minimum of 3-5 times a day.  The only reason I didn’t have to go to treatment was because my mom was praying her eyeballs out.  Slowly during my senior year I came out of it, but still relapsed a couple times all the way into my sophomore year of college).  And that’s not all -  I’m on anxiety pills to help me deal with the issues we’ve had this past year,  I have anger issues – I’ve screamed and yelled at my husband and kids.  I’ve slammed my kids down into their chairs, and there have been times I could’ve seriously hurt them.  I struggle as a mom, I struggle as a wife… I have image issues – the thought of going out in public without all of this make-up sends sheer panic racing through my blood.  I have abandonment issues from the tumor I had as a baby and the list could go on and on. 

Listen to this…  There are women in here who are silently struggling with depression and have thought about committing suicide or have anxiety or a failing marriage.  Maybe some of you have had an abortion.  Many you’re being abused or have been abused.  Some of you have had miscarriages that you’re still hurting from.  Maybe you’re up to your neck in debt and have no idea how to get out.  Maybe you have a gambling problem.  Maybe you’ve had a physical or emotional affair. You’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, the internet, to lying, to stealing or some other addiction.  Let’s face it - we’re all a mess!  We need to wake up as women and stop being so judgmental and putting up our fakey fronts or masks so we can heal and help each other.  We need to pray for courage to share our stories and help each other along the way and lean on God for support.  Obviously I realize some of us are more private than others and you may not want to stand up in front of a group like this and tell all, but just tell someone.  Tell a counselor, your spouse, a trusted friend or family member.  Get it out because once you do, you can finally start to heal. 

James 5:16 states:

New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore confess your sins {struggles, fears, addictions, secrets} to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

We are NOT victims – we CAN heal!

Now how many of you thought you knew me?  I’ve known many of you for years now.  The thing is that none of us fully know each other or know what goes on behind closed doors.  I know for a fact that I’m not the only one struggling with some of the things I mentioned.  Christian women have issues, too.  Gasp – can you believe that?!  It’s not just people who aren’t living their lives for God who have problems.  We ALL have issues and God put us together to help each other. 

So where do we go from here?  How do we take off our masks and have authentic relationships with those around us?  How do we live a consistent life no matter who we’re around?  We don’t want people to go to our funeral and have the people in attendance screaming at their teddy bears like Leah did in the story I started my talk with, right?

Here’s how we can answer those questions…  Isn’t it absolutely AWESOME, I mean just awesome and amazing, that Jesus gave up His beautiful and perfect home up in Heaven for us?!  Jesus came into the cold, sinful world for us!  With all of our scars and all of our messes and broken pieces.  The big, messy sinners that we all are!  He came to earth as a baby to give US – each one of us -  the gift of eternal life.  He loves each of us SO MUCH that He would come to earth as a baby and then die an excruciating death on the cross for us.  Because of us, He died on that cross.  He loves you and wants desperately to have an intimate relationship with each one of us. 

Please turn your attention to the video:


When we fully grasp how much God really LOVES us, then we can take off our masks!  There’s no reason to hide anymore.  God wants us to be the same person all week long, no matter who we’re around.  He wants us to be real and authentic in our relationships.  Ultimately, He wants us to boldly illuminate His Son Jesus and not cower behind a mask.  We can finally do all of those things when we invite Christ into our lives and bask in His love!   If you remember anything tonight, it’s that Jesus LOVES you!  

When you take off your mask, this is what you’ll see…

Show a loving picture of Jesus.

Not only do masks hide your face from others, but those masks also obstruct your vision of yourself and of Jesus.  After you take off your masks, Jesus will help you see everything more clearly.

I want to thank you for letting me share my story!  I hope because of my openness, God will give you the courage to tell your story and get help if there’s anything you’re silently struggling with.  Please don’t hesitate to call or email me after the meeting.

I have a handout for you with a couple of resources.  [Pass handouts out]  {See Below}

Large Group Discussion

Does anyone have any questions?


We only have about 5 more minutes.  In Acts 2:42-47, it talks about the fellowship of believers.  Every time they came together, they v.42 “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread (or eating together), and to prayer. V. 46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together…they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad a sincere hearts, praising God”.  So tonight we came together.  So far we’ve eaten, heard a teaching and have prayed.  Right now I’d like to praise God and just marvel at how much He really loves us.  Without making anyone uncomfortable, I’d like for you to turn your attention to the screen again and we’ll sing a song about God’s love.  If you’d like to stand you can.  If you want to sit and pray, feel free.  This is your time to reflect on what you’ve heard and allow Jesus to wrap His arms around you and pour His love on you.  After we sing, I’ll send the night in prayer.  Let’s sing…


Dear Lord, There are women in here who needed to know how much you love them.  Oh how you love us, Lord Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus, for all that you’ve done for us!  Let us bask in your love.  Give us the courage to share our stories so we can take off our masks.  Let us build each other up, encourage each other instead of judging and breaking each other down with our words and actions. We wait excitedly for the day you call us home or come back for us.  Until then, let us have an eternal perspective and shine like the stars for you!   We – LOVE – You!  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What Should You Do If You Need Help?

Find a trusted friend or family member and tell your story!  Go to a counselor and get help.


Celebrate Recovery

Help with addictions, hurts, hang-ups and habits.  In addition to going to extensive Christian counseling at an agency in the Cities, my husband and I have attended the Celebrate Recovery group in New Richmond at the Methodist Church and it’s been very helpful.  There’s also a group in Stillwater that’s a little bigger.

AVA (Advocacy for Victims of Abuse)

Talk to Cindy Morhland for more information.

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

For rape victims and others who have been sexually abused, molested or assaulted.

There are MANY other resources out there, so search the web for something specific and then go from there.  I’m not going to tell you that it’ll be easy – it’ll be the hardest thing you ever do!  BUT, you’ll be healthier because of it and you’ll be able to have the relationships that God intended for you to have.

God Bless - Break of Dawn