Dat3 Rap3

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A re-post from an earlier blog entry…..

 

It was a usual weekend for me.  Get off from work, do some hot yoga with my neighbor, stay up late at the beach party…then party the next night.  But this weekend would end in an unimaginable way.

It would haunt me for years.

My sister had introduced me to a guy who I’d been going out with for about two weeks.  He was good-looking, played soccer, and knew how to have a good time.  We didn’t know each other that well, but I had started to enjoy the attention from him and the excitement of driving around in his sports car.  In my eyes, it was all just fun and games.

We were invited to a party, so of course I went along.  I don’t remember where it was or who was there, just that it was a good time and I had fun.  After a few hours, he asked me if I would like to go back to his friend’s house for an after party with a few other people.  So I did.  We all watched TV together, and had a couple more drinks.  The last drink I remember having before everyone left the room was Captain Morgan and Coke.  It wasn’t my favorite, but it was a drink, so I took it.  By the time I had almost finished it, I realized we were alone and that there was a bed in the room.

It was like a horror film, where you can only see moments of the screen and actor’s faces.  Everything went black, and I was scared.  I knew something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t scream or stop what was happening.  Lights!  I could see the room, and I was on the bed.  The guy I thought I could trust was trying to have sex with me.  I tried to push him off, but felt so weak.  Plunging back into the dark I could hear myself screaming now.  “Get off me!  Stop!”  It was useless.  Lights went on once more, and I was in pain.  A blazing, burning pain.  I knew there must be something wrong.  Before I could sit up and see what was happening once more, I fell into a deep sleep, darkness caving in….

and the dream I thought I was in, vanished.

Morning light crept through the blinds.  I sat up, sweating.  What in the world did I dream about?  And then I saw it.

blood

It was all over the sheets that covered the bed I was laying on.  My stomach turned.  I suppressed throwing up.  Questions raced through my mind.  What happened?  Where is everyone?  Am I ok?  Was that a dream?  Where did this blood come from?  The facts were there…it was mine.  But I refused to believe it.

I tore off the sheets and threw them in the trash.  Fearful of what anyone else would think if they saw me in such a state.  Nothing happened, I told myself.

Nothing.

I don’t remember how I got home, or if I even saw anyone else who had come over the previous night.  All I remember was the pain – and the thought that kept playing in my head…nothing happened…nothing happened…nothing happened…nothing happened…nothing happened.

I must have repeated that phrase a million times.  It became truth to me.

And Th3 Mov3r Mov3d On

N3w Lif3

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Let me first begin with saying that this post is out of the ordinary for me.  It does not go with the timeline at hand, but I HAVE to write about it.  Other than salvation, this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me.  It’s so simple when it is laid out and you finally SEE it with unclouded eyes.  But it was not that way for me – it took me 7 years to see.

I know that this is not a new concept, but it’s a breakthrough for me.  It has changed my life, and thus the lives of everyone I know and will know in the future.  I feel like I have been given a new life.

Freeing from Within

Do you have a sin, a secret sin that NO ONE knows about?  Do you dread anyone finding out?  Are you married and even your spouse does not know about this sin?

You are in bondage to that sin.  It eats you alive as you struggle to free yourself from its grips.  Nothing works to free you from it.  You feel as if God ignores your prayers.  But still you are silent.

 Time to break the silence.  Confess it.

Even saying it out loud makes you cringe, or want to vomit.  This will be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life.  But it is the way to freedom.  It is the way to clean out your closet.  You can be free of soul decay and depression.  Your insides will no longer feel dead – they will be so alive it will feel as if your heart wants to burst from your chest.  How do I know?  I have been there.  I have trudged for years of loneliness, searching for answers…going through counseling, pleading for God to remove the thorn.  When it was in my own power to do so.  All I needed to was to confess to my husband and my healing would begin.

It all started when Tony was in Iraq.  I fell into a sin that I have spoken about before – porn.  If you have not read my story until now, you will want to go back to the beginning to understand.  After he returned home, I thought things would return to “normal” and we would live as a happy couple.  Little issues here and there – but nothing major.  I was wrong.  It was rough.  For years we struggled through marriage like many do.  We went through phases of really good times and others that were so low that I had thoughts of ending my life (more on that another time though).  It wasn’t just our marriage though that was bothering me.  I kept secrets from my husband.  I forgot them at times, but they would surface in ugly ways through thoughts or during fights.  I would inevitably push them back, which would further disfigure the thoughts – twisting them into lies.  I started being suspicious of everything my husband did.  From where he was during the day to what he had been looking at online while I was not with him.  It was a slow climb to becoming a dripping nag who thought less of her husband than I did of complete strangers.  My very rigid and legalistic upbringing did not help either.  My hypocrisy grew.  I was guilty of a sin that I swore never to tell my husband, and here he was, just trying to be a good husband, lover, and friend to me.  Not to say he was always without fault, we all sin and he did to, but this story is about me and my much larger part in the whole mess.  

So my secret sin grew, and I started seeing the images I viewed when he was gone, in my head.  Bit by bit any sexualized scene I had ever seen (my past before marriage was peppered with sin and sinful activities) started to make its way into my thoughts, especially when we would be intimate.  I wanted to please him, so I would think on those images, movies, etc. to enable myself to be further aroused.  The world tells us so many lies – especially about sex.  Fanticizing about anything other than you and your spouse is opening the door to sin.  It’s a personal invitation to it, and my door was open.  As with many sinful patterns and struggles, I had good spurts of time, and bad ones.  I would go through seasons of time where I would pray earnestly that God would free me from my sin.  That He would remove the thoughts from my mind.  That He would erase the images I had seen.  But there were also seasons where I chose not to try.  I just didn’t care.  This went on for almost 7 years, start to end.

Until this week.  (YES!  This week!  Crazy that someone can be that lost in something and they JUST KEEP GOING. – There IS hope for YOU!)

alone

I had a choice.  Either I could keep going with my cover up, adding to the pain in my life and our marriage (and every other relationship for that matter), or I could come clean and confess.  I took the leap and confessed to my husband – it was one of the hardest – no it WAS the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Tears flowed down my cheeks, and I felt as if I would vomit from the sheer sound of the words exiting my mouth.  Once I let go and started talking, the words flowed freely, as did the tears.  I asked for forgiveness and appologized for what I had done.  My husband graciously forgave me, held me, and continued to talk about what was going on inside me.  We talked for a long time that night – into early morning.  It was one of the best nights of our marriage.  I feel like we grew closer that one night than we have in years of time.  The sin that held me back was gone, and so were the walls I had been building up between the two of us.  

The journey is not over, and I am taking the below steps to make sure that I stay focused and on track.  I know there will be future failures, but as far as it is up to me, I will never withhold a securet like that from my husband.  I feel clean inside and I am bursting with joy.  It’s the best I have felt in YEARS.  God is so good and so forgiving.

So how do you change?  How do you even take the first step towards this FREEDOM?

 1. Confess

Confess your sin/s to not only God, but also to the one whom you have sinned against.  Is it your spouse?  You have to say it to them – you have to be open and honest with them.  It may hurt them, but it’s better than the hurt you and they are going through and will continue to go through if you do not confess.

Ask for forgiveness.

 2. Determine the weak moments your sin takes place.

When are you most prone to fall?  When do those thoughts or actions usually take place?

Recognize those moments.

 3. Prepare your arsenal of defense.

Internal rolodex of truth words (scripture, spoken words from and to your spouse, etc.).

Personal photo book and personal video memories of spouse & self.  (Ex. Intimate images, images of the way your spouse looks, etc)

When you need this defense, you will be ready with things to replace the negative/destructive images, etc that come to mind.

 4. Practice this – put it to action!

5. Repeat and PRAY

*Add to your library every day

*Practice replacing thoughts/images

*Confess of failure if/when it happens

*Pray for help and partner with your spouse to heal

Looking on with N3w Hop3…

Th3 R3turn

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Christmas Eve 2006.  Eli was one year old and had only seen his daddy a hand full of times.  It was like he was going to meet him for the first time.  I hadn’t seen Tony for 7 months, he had been gone for 11 months now.

On My Way Home!

On My Way Home!

Leaving the House to Pick up Daddy!

Leaving the House to Pick up Daddy!

I nervously waited with my father-in-law, him holding Eli, while I fiddled with a welcome home banner.  We came a little early just to be safe.  There was a news station there, covering a story of some soldiers returning home after leave, so when they saw us and heard our story, they decided it was exciting enough to see on the news.  I gave my consent to have us filmed welcoming him home and asking a few questions, but before I had even finished talking to the anchorman, a very familiar voice said hello.  It was Tony!  He had arrived a half an hour early!  In the shot, it opens with me jumping into his arms and screaming with joy…then crying with relief. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life.

As the short interview began, we told a little of our story and that Tony hadn’t seen Eli for over half of his life already.  He was one year old and didn’t know his daddy save from a couple visits and frequent videos and pictures.  It was amazing to see his little face staring at this man who was now holding him – I wondered what he was thinking. If he recognized his face from photos, or his voice from infancy or the videos he’d sent of reading books and talking to Eli.  The photo below is one day after the return – Christmas Day.  Eli looks pretty taken by his daddy…and vice versa.

25 Dec 2006 030_2

 

We had been married for 2 years…together for 1.

Lif3 is not always how w3 plan it.

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Th3 Mov3m3nt

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You have the ability to be part of a movement.

Part of saving lives.

Part of healing the broken.

Part of putting an END to human trafficking.

It’s everywhere and it’s real.

This is the food of human trafficking: PORN.

Think not?

Then watch this.

Fall3n

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When I think about the year Tony was deployed, my heart is filled with both joy and heartache.  Joy for the amazing year of seeing Eli grow and learn.  Seeing his first everythings – first tooth, first real food, first word, first step, etc.  It’s also filled with heartache because of poor choices.  Poor choices in fights, poor choices in my own decisions…

My stomach turns to even write about this year.  There was so much grief, more than I talk about, more than I like to think about – more than I choose to remember.  Maybe this is one of the roots to my continual need of healing and grace from Christ.

I saw Tony a total of 30 or so days that entire year, and many of them were filled with fights or sadness.  It seemed like any time we were together, we would be fighting about something.  We would CHOOSE to allow a disagreement to ruin the short weekend or week we had together.  The unity we did have surrounded its self around parenting Eli and enjoying the “new” things he was doing.  Anyone relate to this in their life?  I’m sure there are more of you than would care to talk about this.  But have faith if you are out there.  There are better days.  Humility is for the strong, not the weak.  Choose humility and your fights will fade.

At home, we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment by ourselves (Eli and I), there were many many lonely days and nights.  I cried myself to sleep if I wasn’t already awake trying to get our stubborn sleeper to sleep himself.  Phone calles were frequent, but on the nights and days I did not hear from Tony, I would wonder what he was doing, and if he was ok.  He was part of an infantry unit and they would frequently be on long missions, with days at a time of no communication.  The phone calles were better than in person talks usually.  But when they were bad, there was no way to call back and apologise.  No way to take back what could have been the last words spoken so many times.  My heart aches at the thought of these moments.  If I could go back in time and re-do life, these would be the days I would choose.

I also fell personally during this time.  I let my real relationship with God slip, and started to look for other fillers.  Eli was first and foremost, but when there was no Tony around, I was left so lonely.  I deeply wanted companionship or distraction.  I tried pouring into my family, but it didn’t work out the way I had hoped.  Weekends were the worst.  Everyone was busy doing something or being somewhere – but me, I had nothing.  Family said it was too much to have Eli there during their “rest” time…friends were busy with their family….and I was alone.  I fell.  I can count two times that I fell, and I fell hard – I looked for satisfaction and intimacy and distraction from porn.  I said it, I said the 4 letter taboo word that no one likes to talk about or admit.  It’s one of the ugliest words in our language.  Images and horrible feelings and emotions are tied to this one word for many many people.  For some, it’s their master to whom they are enslaved to.  To others, it’s the devil who took away their beloved husband or wife.  To others it’s a sick sinful trap that they get caught in once or twice and feel a lifetime of regret.  That last one would be me.  I look back and question myself – why?  Why would I want to see something that makes me sick?  Is it like the people who compulsively eat non-food items?  Is it our broken sinful nature prodding us to do something against what God’s plan and design is?  Maybe a blend of those – maybe loneliness, but that would be the lest reason I think.  It’s not giving you companionship – it’s driving you away from it.  Makes you hide and regret and pull away from others.  As a victim of rape, this was the last place I EVER thought I would be.  But that’s the truth, and it’s been a long road and continues to be a long road away from it.

I hid my actions from my husband and punished him for things he didn’t do – accusing him of all sorts of things.  My thinking was, if I had done this – then what has he done???  But my thinking was distorted.  I was disconnected from reality.  I needed to live life without always thinking someone else was doing something wrong, and to be on the lookout for signs of it.  Searching web history, looking at everything that crossed his eyes, pestering with meticulous questions of where he had been or what took him so long.  These are the days I wish I could erase.  That’s the not so funny thing about sin.  You can’t.  It is forgiven, but it’s not gone.  We are broken, we cannot just forget and move on perfectly like Christ can.  Trust is not the same as forgiveness.  When you lose trust, it takes time to rebuild.

My hope is that I can help others to rebuild their broken lives. My hope is to keep rebuilding mine.  To be free one day of the pain of my past.  Sadly, we will never be completely free until Christ returns and makes all things new.  How I long for that day.

So th3 mov3r waits…

Nin3 Months

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This wasn’t how I had thought nor planned things to be…in 9 months, I would be a MOM.

A mom at 22 years old!?!?! 

I thought my life was over.  How many couples get pregnant in the first 2 months of marriage? I cried for about a week…and then got over my self and my selfishness and decided to be happy and enjoy the mirical that was happening inside my body.  I stopped trying to fight what God’s plan was, and just enjoy what He had laid out for me.

It was a rough 9 months.  I worked part time as long as I could, but I had such severe “morning sickness” that lasted ALL DAY, I finally had to quit due to not being able to even BE at work without running to the restroom every 10 minutes.  Although I was sick for the first 6 months, it was amazing to experience all the milestones  of being pregnant.  The first heartbeat – the first sonogram – the first kicks – and more.  I didn’t start to really look pregnant until I was about 7 months into it.  I felt better as I got closer to my due date, and delivery was a breeze!  I would swap the first 6 months for 6 deliveries like that one – any day!

After Eli was born, Tony started talking about his old Marine Unit that he was first part of and the fact that they really needed officers.  After a week of so of him talking to the reserve unit, he said he was considering deploying with them for Iraq as an infantry officer.  I flat out laughed at the statement, thinking it was a joke, but when he said he was serious – my jaw dropped.  I just did not get it.  AT ALL.

Why would anyone choose to deploy?

To Iraq?

As an INFANTRY Officer???

I tried to understand, I even said that I did – but honestly, I did not.  It took years to get though this, and in the end I finally had to choose to not understand WHY, but rest in the comfort that I knew my husband loves me and our family more than anyone else in the world and would do almost anything for us – but this was not about US.  It was about defending our country and serving in War.  It was about leading a bunch of lost men and trying to be a light to them in a very dark and hopeless place.  He did well, and was saught after for advice, which spurred the writing of his first book: The Living Image.

Some times you will go through tough times and will not understand the other side of the situation, or the reason behind it.  It’s OK.  You don’t have to understand everything.  Actually, the most imoprtant part is HOW you react to it and how you treat the other person/people.  You are still called to love them as well and be a light to them.

It was the day of our one year anniversary when Tony left for training to go to Iraq.  Once again, I saw my life as being over.  I felt like a single mother.  It was going to be a rough 11 months before he would return home.

Tony! Aug 20, 06 001

So the Mov3r Cri3d, and Wait3d…

W3dding B3lls

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It was my 21st birthday.  I had plans to spend most of the day with Tony.  Everything was prefect…except the weather, that was cold, rainy, and grey.  What can you expect from Michigan in early winter?

Sitting in the warm house, hanging out with him and his dogs, I was somehow talked into taking a walk in the cold, rainy outdoors.  We often walked behind his house and through the trails near-by.  About half way through our walk, he stopped and pointed out a tree with some letters carved out of it.  I didn’t think much of it, and tried to dismiss it as some kids having a little fun and carving initials into it as symbols of “love”.  But this one was different, he said.  And as he said that, he pulled out something from his pocket and said, “I think it says, Eli will you marry me?”  Shocked and delighted I accepted and took a closer look at both my new ring and the carving.  Below is a photo of the tree, and a few other items we put together with our wedding vows (which we both wrote individually, then shared at the ceremony).

27 oCT 2006 020

We walked back to his house, he lit a nice warm fire, and then began to wash my feet.

WHAT?

Yes, you read right.  He washed my feet, and told me why as he was doing so…
It was a symbol of his desire to be a servant to me in marriage much like Christ was to his disciples in the upper room the night of his betrayal.  This act of selflessness struck me and has stuck with me since that day – and has run true in our ups and downs of marriage.  It’s not been perfect, but God blessed me with a man who desires to serve others with everything in him.

Preparations for our wedding quickly unfolded and we set the date to some time that upcoming spring.  The whirlwind begun when my oldest brother (and his wife) received news that they would be visiting home in January, but would be sent to Hawaii straight afterwards.  After talking with my siblings (there are 6 of us!), they all stated that they  too could be in the area in January and would be able to be at the wedding if we set the date to January.

Yikes!

After talking about the possibility, we decided to go with a January wedding.  I scaled back work, and we planned like crazy.  My parents paid for one item, my wedding dress, which I found for $250 – on sale at David’s Bridal.   Loved the dress, but thought the wedding would be vastly different from what I had imagined as a little girl.

And it was.

It wasn’t a bad thing, just not as fancy.  But that is life – that is reality.  We can imagine things being perfect, but we still live in a broken world.  Everything effected by the fall – and that fairytale wedding and marriage is just that…a fairytale.

Now before people think I am bashing my wedding, let me express that it was a beautiful wedding full of family, friends, and a good time had by all.

sc0017b934

…and th3 whirlwind continu3s…

Th3 On3

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After my trip to West Virginia, I came home ready to heal from the hurt of losing my dear friends, but not ready to start a new life again.  I had been through so much in the past 3 years, and didn’t want another roller coaster.  Little did I know I would soon meet my future husband…

I started going to a church near by where I had friends from my childhood.  I knew it was a good church and it was a clean start for me, and no one there REALLY knew my past.  So I felt safe.

Much of my free time was still spent working on 1,000 piece puzzles in my parents’ basement while listening to music.  It felt good to be alone and think things through.  I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or how I could pursue ministry, but I knew I wanted to reach out to young women who had been through trauma.

After weeks of my friends trying to get me to come out and go to social events, I finally gave in.  Some guy from our Sunday school class was having a karaoke party with potluck.  I was won over by the fact that he was “cute” and “looked like a football player”.  Although my heart said I was done with guys, something within me said I should go that night.  I met the host, and thought he was cute and very intriguing.  I had not met someone like him before.  Confident – funny – kind and thoughtful.  He paid no attention to me though, so I hatched a plan that week to get to know him better.  I invited my class out to go dancing (I was still slightly “rebellious” for a Baptist), and also to go on a white water rafting trip back to West VA.  Several others thought it sounded great, including him, and plans were starting to take shape.  Unfortunately, the others dropped out of the rafting trip, so I called him up to let him know the bad news – there would be no trip.  So much for my plan.

To my surprise, he asked me out over the phone after he heard the news of the no-go trip!  I was shocked.  This wasn’t how things usually happened to me.  It was so foreign.

After that first date, we didn’t miss seeing each other in a 24-hour period until he deployed to Iraq.  (But that’s another story.)  We were swept away in thoughts of our future together, and both knew we’d found our sole mate.  It’s hard to describe love, it’s hard to remember everything that happened during that time, but I remember it as one of the happiest times of my life.  Everything seemed to work smoothly – and even when we had bumps along the way, they didn’t bother us at all.

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Tony & I while we were dating

I was in lov3.

Jump3r

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After returning home (I went back to my parent’s house to mend my relationship with them as much as I could because I knew it was the right thing to do), I could not stop thinking about the last two years of my life and how they had impacted me.  I felt like the joy of it all was slowly being stolen away and replaced with a sadness I could not bear.  I could not grasp why a good God would allow two young people to be killed – and for no apparent reason!  I spent most of my time for the next few days in my room, working on puzzles and listening to music.  It felt better to just be alone.

About a week after returning home the funeral plans were made, and I started planning my trip to be there for it.  I met up with a couple other guides, and we headed off to Ohio for the funeral.  We stayed in a few campers on the church grounds, where Lindsay’s dad was senior pastor, and many of the church members brought in food to fill in the gaps between pot-lucks and restaurants.  There was a small burial with family and close friends; followed by a bon-fire where we all shared stories about Jason and Lindsay.  I have not cried and laughed so hard in my life in the same day since that night.  What an amazing time it was to share freely, and allow our emotions to be expressed.  Although the formal funeral was beautiful and emotionally stirring, nothing that week compared to the bonfire with family and friends.  It is truly one of the most memorable moments in time for me.  I started to see that God had bigger plans than we could imagine, that I needed to look at this through a different perspective.  If Jason and Lindsay were there that night, they would have been happy that we celebrated their life in that way.

At the end of the week, none of us were ready to say farewell again…so a few of us didn’t!  We decided to take a week trip to West Virginia and go rafting on two of Jason and Lindsay’s favorite rivers, the New River and the Gauley.  It was an unexplainable feeling – such freedom!  I was elated to celebrate their memories and live in some of the same moments they had experienced.

The New River was first, and although it was very fun; it paled in comparison to the Gauley.  But I won’t get ahead of myself just yet.  I need to talk about “the jump3r” first…

It was about ¾ of the way to the end of the New River, and although we had thoroughly enjoyed the day, there was one more treat before ending for the day.  A 70-foot bridge.  To some, this sight would be enough to make you cry…but not to us.  It was pure joy.  Why?  Because we were going to jump off of it!

I was the first to reach the top of the bridge, and felt the pull to jump first.  I had never jumped of something this high.  I’d done 45 at the highest, but had seen others jump from 100 foot bridges and thought to myself that they were crazy.  70 wasn’t that bad…just enough to be a rush, not enough to kill me.  Before the group was all there, I jumped – feet first – lifejacket and helmet on – feeling the rush of my life.

 It was amazing.

It was freeing.

I loved it.

The following day we rafted the Gauley.  It was the first day of release, which means we were pretty much insane to even attempt this trip.  Several times I was asked if I was SURE that I wanted to go, and each time I assured my friends and fellow guides that I was ready.  I was itching to raft a river like this!

We arrived at the river to find several groups scouting out the river, some heading home and saying it was too high to raft.  There were no public trips being run, only private raft-at-your-own-risk ones.  The water was half way up the trees, and the waves were as big as one-story houses – and I am NOT exaggerating.  The flow was closer to 10,000 CFS compared to the several thousand it usually ran on a good day.  I was so scared and so excited at the same time.  It was like a dream.

The Gauley proved its point to us that day, and even flipped us once.  No casualties, no injuries.  Just a bunch of wet, cold, tired, and hungry rafters at the end of the river.  We flew down it in record time due to the high and fast flow.   If I could go back in time, that trip would make it on the top 5 list for sure.

As our trip came to a close, and we said our good byes and went our separate ways, I went away a changed person once again.  I was deeply impacted by a God that could create such majesty.  Those two years I had…

  …rafted some amazingly powerful and dangerous rivers,

climbed many granite rock faces,

hiked through beautiful canyons,

slid down God-made rock water slides,

climbed behind waterfalls, hiked Half Dome,

jumped off cliffs and bridges into the water,

went spelunking for the first time,

swam in murkey underground rivers and in strong currents,

felt like I was not alone in the world,

shown Godly love from some of the most amazing people in the world,

felt my heart-break at the news of death,

rejoiced in knowing that I would see my friends again,

and had celebrated in life by experiencing God’s amazing yet dangerous creation.

I was Mov3d by His Cr3ation.

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Lindsay, Myself & Elizabeth @ Staff Retreat

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Staff Retreat – Crazies!

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Getting ready to Raft the New River!

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Sad hugs Good-Bye

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Hiking Halfdome – you Can’t Not get Dirty

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Halfdome

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4,000+ Feet up at the Summit of Halfdome

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