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Don’t Give Up

God loves you. Please hear me out. God loves you! Nothing you’ve done and nothing you do can ever change that fact, that truth. So many times, the enemy would have you believe that you’ve gone too far, made too many mistakes, slept with too many people, had too many drunken nights and “high as a kite” days to ever make it back into God’s grace.

Do you want to know the truth?

On your worst day, God still loves you. On your best day, you’re still not perfect. None of us are. And God loves us anyway. You have to pay attention to who has your ear. Who or what are you listening to? God is not a man that He should lie. His word tells us that He loves us (John 3:16). So, if what you’re hearing is anything other than God loves you, it’s not from Him.

Now, don’t get me wrong. God may not be happy with some of the things you’re doing, things that He considers sin. But, He still loves you. And, He will still accept you back into His family, if you would only repent, turn from foolishness, and follow Him (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Take heart and be encouraged. It’s not over for you. You who was considering suicide, you who’s been depressed for years, you who feels like you’ve messed up one too many times, you who feels like a failing mother or a failing father…You are still here which means you still have a chance to get it right, to let go of the pain, deal with your past (or your right now), and embrace God’s goodness and love for you and your life.

I’m praying for you and believing that God will do what needs to be done in your life.

Don’t, I repeat, DON’T give up. God has a plan for you! 

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Beauty for Ashes

 

pic with dad“How do you love God, the Father, when your only experience with a father has been anything but righteous or right?”

My biological father, who should have protected me, groomed, brainwashed, and abused me. I became his child-bride, and for over a decade, I was under his control: mind, body, and soul. I still remember how he made me “marry him” in a promise covenant before God. Initially, the promise was to last until I was seventeen, however, as I found out, breaking free was not going to be easy. By seventeen, I was ready for freedom, but he would not allow it, using tactics that were anything but loving. I was forced to continue being sexually abused for four more years.

Fast forward three years. I’d had a child, married my college sweetheart, had a second child, and was living in Europe. Although I knew God and believed in Him, I didn’t really understand how to properly view Him as my heavenly father…the fatherly example I had made it hard for God to connect with me. I had walls up unaware of how to let them down, or a desire to do so.

God knew He would have to intervene for true healing to take place in my life. In a pure God move, I connected with, Herb and April Adkins, a Christian couple that I attended church with while in Europe. They were the coordinators for a women’s conference that was to take place nearby in early 2012. I needed change, was tired of being tormented by my past and felt the women’s conference would be just the thing.

On the last night of the three-day conference, at about 12:30am, while sitting at a table eating Hawaiian pizza, Herb said God had revealed that I would be one of his spiritual daughters. Though I wasn’t sure what to think of it at the time, his words resonated with me. The following day, with tears in my eyes, I told him, in front of his wife, that I received his words as truth. I was going to have a second chance at this father thing.

I was going to have a real father. Wait! What?? What does that even mean?

After returning home, I told my husband about everything that happened, including the words spoken by Herb. To my surprise, he was excited for me. I then proceeded to ask my husband questions, with all sincerity. “How does this work?” “How do you have a father?” “What does the relationship look like?”  After much prayer, and with overwhelming anxiousness, I allowed God to show me, through Herb Adkins, what it was like to have a real father.

The blessed thing about all of this…there was an instant God connection. Over the next few months, Herb and I talked via phone, text, Facebook messenger, at church, and via hand written notes. He and his wife, April, invited my family to be a part of their family. They even went so far as to discuss an adult adoption (that’s a real thing) to make our family bond official. Our families grew closer and closer, to the point where newcomers in the area didn’t know that we were not blood-related. My children looked forward to seeing their Granddad and Nana April, Josh was happy to have some wisdom talks with his father-in-love, and I was ecstatic that I actually had a father, on this side of heaven.

God was showing me that He did love me, He had not forgotten me, and He would restore what the enemy took from me. He allowed me to experience the love of an earthly father, which caused me to be more open to God’s fatherly love and affection toward me.

It has now been more than five years since God placed Herb in my life, and our genuine, Godly father-daughter relationship has only grown stronger. I refer to him as Dad, not Herb, not spiritual father…affectionately, sincerely, Dad. Why? Because that’s who he is to me. In five short years, he has shown me more about Godly, fatherly love than I had previously learned in all my prior years. I have God to thank for that. Dad, along with Mama April, considers me to be one of their own, no different from their biological children, and it’s a beautiful thing.

God gave me beauty for ashes. Because I finally understood what it meant to have a real father, and what that love was to look like, I was able to open up to God, my Heavenly Father, and develop a closer, more genuine relationship with Him, the One who loves me unconditionally.

So, how do you love God the Father when your only experience with a father has been anything but righteous or right? For me, it was nearly impossible, but because God loved me so much, He extended grace and mercy and provided another, Herb, who showed me what a father’s love looked like, enabling me to truly accept and embrace my Heavenly Father’s love, and open the door to true healing, peace, and joy.

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Me Too

When I first heard about the #metoo movement, I didn’t realize the magnitude and how this would impact me emotionally and mentally. Not because I wasn’t sympathetic to it, but because I had experienced it. Though I wanted to put up my own #metoo status, I didn’t. What will people think? Not everyone knows that part of my truth.

I allowed fear to stop me from showing support to a community that is larger than many people realize, a community of women and men that have been battered and broken, if not physically, then mentally, and emotionally…at times, losing our identities due to forces beyond our control.

So, today I say #metoo. I was only a child, confused, manipulated, and abused. It caused turmoil, confusion, and more trauma than could be imagined. But, God! Though this recovery road has not been easy, He has never left my side. Even when I wanted to quit on life, God wouldn’t let me. He, with the help of trusted family, friends, and mentors nursed me back to a place of peace and sanity, helping me see that my story has not been in vain.

Yes, I was broken mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Yes, my heart grew cold and I found it hard to find beauty in anything. Yes, I lived a life of numbness, and initially lacked the ability to be a great mother or a loving wife. But, because I chose to trust God, because I chose to put off shame and pick up grace, because I chose to tell my story, to own the truth and forsake the lies, I have been able to experience a peace that surpasses all understanding and joy that no man can take away.

This is not to say that I never have rough days, but to show that God can work a miracle out of a mess. God can redeem your #metoo no matter what it looks like. I challenge you to own your #metoo, not to shame you, but so you can heal. Being honest and telling the truth is the first step on this road to recovery. John 8:32 makes it plain: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Don’t let it define you; instead, let it propel you into something greater than your circumstances.

As always, be blessed and be a blessing!

- Erica Inspires