Blog #Addiction


30Sep

Maribeth Ditmars has gone through child-loss, addiction, and adversity. She has learned that we all want God to use our gifts, but we also have to let Him use our suffering too.

Maribeth Ditmars

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3)

We All Want God to Use Our Gifts, but We Have to Let Him Use our Suffering Too.

One summer day I had to ask myself this question: How do you tell a ten-year-old that he has cancer? My husband, Rob and I sat our son, Chris, down on the sofa in the family room to share the news. I remember glancing out of the sliding door that led to our pool deck. It was a beautiful June day and I could see the water toys scattered about, a super-soaker, an inflatable alligator, a few throw toys. But what struck me the most were the fingerprints on the glass slider.

Those handprints had a been placed there in rushed innocence, by the hands of a carefree little boy who had darted in and out while we called out “Shut the door—the air is on!” I swallowed hard as I gazed at those prints and smudges. Moments before, they had been annoying, now suddenly, they had become precious. They had become the fingerprints of a lost childhood.

This began my family’s four-year roller coaster ride into the world of pediatric cancer. A year battling for remission, two glorious years of relative health, and one final year struggling unsuccessfully to keep our Chris alive.

How do you tell a fourteen-year old that he’s dying? Well, in our case, we didn’t have to. Chris already knew. He took me aside and spoke softly, so his little brother, Jarrod, who was seven at the time, wouldn’t over-hear. Not only did Chris know before the doctors did, he had accepted it.

How is this possible? That a teenager, usually the most selfish and easily annoyed species that has ever roamed the planet, could be so stoic, so loving. It was possible because our Chris, in his short, powerful life, had learned 2 things. Two things that took me over five decades to learn. Two things that many people never learn.

Chris had learned to trust God, and he had allowed God to use him. Chris had claimed the promise of Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s face it, we all want the Lord to use us, don’t we? We want him to use the good stuff—our talents, our successes. (Anyone ever prayed something like this?) Oh Lord, make my business successful so I can tithe huge gobs of money to the church. Here’s one of my favorites: Please make my books best-sellers so I can further your kingdom. After I wrote my first book, and my friend, Lisa, sent a copy to Oprah—I was sure that phone was going to ring! Not only did Oprah not call, her staff sent the book back, saying that they don’t accept unsolicited material.

God wants to use all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly. He wants to use our suffering. That’s exactly what Chris allowed Him to do. Despite his many months of grueling chemo, Chris spread laughter on a cancer ward. He told jokes. He did impersonations, and he never passed up the chance to tell us that he loved us.

Of course, there were many times when Chris felt extremely ill, and he wondered aloud why God allowed kids to get cancer. At the time, I wasn’t in the word, and I had no comforting scriptures to refer to. I had to admit, “I don’t know.” I still don’t know.

You see, until my brave 14-year old son stared eternity in the face, I had only been a nominal Christian. I had been raised in a household where we went to church on Sunday, but I had never understood what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But Chris’s suffering made me a seeker.

I started speaking with pastors, chaplains, and clergymen. I learned that sin was not only in the hearts of humans, it had infected the entire world. One priest explained that cancer is the result of living in a fallen world. Chris and I discussed this at length, and he was able to accept it and realize that he wasn’t being punished. It’s like the story from John 9 when Jesus healed the blind man. The disciples said, “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And do you remember what Jesus said? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” … “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him—that is what the Lord did in my Chris’s life. Over those four years, we watched in awe as Chris’s body grew weaker—his spirit grew stronger. He went to be with the Lord about a month after he turned fourteen. On his deathbed he thanked Rob and me for being such good parents. He told us repeatedly how much he loved us. He smiled and reminded us of the nicknames that he had for us when he was little—Daddio-Spaghettio and Mommy Meatball. He pointed to his schoolbooks on a shelf and said, “I won’t be needing those where I am going.” As the hour drew near, Chris could only speak in a whisper. He said, “Jesus is going to call me really soon, Mom and Dad, and I have to go.”

Chris’s faith was life-changing for me. Up until then, I had been just going through the motions of being a Christian. Chris’s peace and his assurance of heaven had not come from anything that we had taught him. It was a divine gift from the Holy Spirit. The Lord used Chris’s suffering to wrench open my heart. I realized that God wasn’t healing Chris in the way that I had expected, but He was healing Chris for all of eternity. Or as Chris said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to get my hair back and my six-pack.”

I’d like to be able to tell you that I went on to make uplifting speeches and to help other parents who had lost children, but I didn’t. During Chris’s treatment, I had come to rely more and more upon my false idol—alcohol. And before I knew it, I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to. I was drinking because I had to. 

That’s one of the important differences between an alcoholic and a nonalcoholic. Without help, we can’t stop. We obsess over alcohol. We plan our entire day around alcohol. And we aren’t always obvious. I still held down a job, and I didn’t wear a trench coat and carry a brown paper bag. 

Here’s another example. We have all had to take medicine that has a warning label about mixing it with alcohol. Well, the normal person, the normie as we call them, reads the label that says: “Do not drink while taking this medicine. Alcohol may intensify the effect.” So, then he says oh, I’ll skip that glass of wine with dinner. But the alcoholic—we read that same warning and we go YESSS (hand gesture).

So, the result of my addiction was that I was using alcohol to numb my grief. I had not tapped into the power of Jesus Christ. 

I’ll never forget the morning that I finally had a spiritual awakening. I was driving to work, and it was 8:30 in the morning. 8:30 AM and I was already bargaining with myself about how much I was going drink that day. At the time, I had this theory: Three drinks is the lady-like limit. You know—3 wishes, 3 wise men, 3 blind mice. 

But then I realized 2 things. First, I never really poured 3 drinks. It was just one long drink that I continually freshened up—you know, like the bottomless bucket of popcorn you get at the movies. Secondly, and even more important, it occurred to me that normal people do not think about this stuff at 8:30 in the morning!

It was in that beautiful moment that I surrendered. I looked up to the Lord, and I said, “It’s got me. Please help me.” You see, to allow God to use us fully, first, we must surrender. He can certainly use us without our cooperation, but if we are to become that person that God designed us to be, we must be fully surrendered. Chris had been fully surrendered. Chris had discovered how to have a true relationship with Jesus.

Not long after I surrendered, I became active in a twelve-step program. Out of respect for its highly successful tradition of anonymity, I don’t name the program, but it has worked for me for the past 16 years. 

Once I began doing the steps, I realized how Biblically based they are, and I threw myself into the process whole-heartedly. Now a number of years later, I have had the high honor and privilege of mentoring other women struggling with addiction. 

For several years, I ran a recovery meeting at a women’s department of correction facility. When I walked in there for the first time, it looked like a room full of inmates. It didn’t take long for the Lord to open my eyes. Soon I was seeing, moms, daughters, wives, grand-moms, sisters. 

In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I began to see my alcoholism as a gift. It is a gift because it has allowed me to minister to these women. We share a common suffering, and I get to bring to them a common solution—the power of Jesus. Not long ago a woman approached me. I’ll call her Joan. She said, “Maribeth, do you remember me? I was at the jail where you used to do your meeting. I have a good job now, and I haven’t had a drink in three years.” 

When I was doing my meetings in that prison, I told the women the story of how I ran marathons to raise money for cancer research in memory of my Chris. When I was in my forties and early fifties, I ran 7 distance events all over the world and raised $40,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I shared my running motto with them, “The older I get, the faster I used to be.”

When the women heard my story, it inspired them to organize their own relay. They plotted a track on the facility grounds, made t-shirts, and walked and even danced in memory of their loved-ones—some lost to cancer, many lost to addiction. They had teams that decorated their water stations with different themes. I remember my favorite one was called “Twisted Sisters”. The energy and the atmosphere was more like a college campus than a DOC facility. I looked up to heaven and said, “Chris, look what you started!”

Who would have thought that my son’s short, powerful life would have a positive impact on these precious children of God? Lord had taken our currency of suffering and exchanged it for grace. You see, when we allow the Lord to use our suffering in this way, our suffering becomes sacred. Our Chris didn’t make a global impact with his suffering, but I believe whole-heartedly that he fulfilled the unique role that out Lord intended for him.

This thought gave me comfort as we adjusted to life without Chris. We didn’t get over it. You never get over the loss of a child. Now our hearts forever beat with a limp. We still had our other two children, Erin, who was 18 when Chris died, and Jarrod who was seven. 

Erin had been 14 when Chris was diagnosed so her entire high school experience had been overshadowed by Chris’s cancer. Erin was a good kid who was very involved in dancing, so we were grateful that she had that outlet.

We didn’t know it at the time, but it was during those years that Erin tried drugs for the first time. While we were distracted with Chris and learning to numb ourselves with alcohol, our beautiful daughter began dancing with the devil. She hid it for a long time, got married, had two kids, then got divorced. 

After her divorce she and our older granddaughter moved in with us. The younger one went to live with her Dad and his Mom. Not long after they moved in with us, Erin lost her job. She was depressed and sleeping all the time. I started taking over the parenting role of our little Saradi, who was 6 at the time.

One day, I was putting away laundry and I walked into their room to put it away. I opened a drawer and found drug paraphernalia. Suddenly, it all made sense. We had been suspicious, and we had questioned Erin, but she had an answer for everything. Perhaps you’ve heard this saying: Do you know how to tell if an addict is lying? Their lips are moving.

We gave Erin 10 days to find a new place to live, and we told her that Saradi was staying with us. She didn’t argue. I think she was relieved. She knew that no one else could take better care of her precious daughter. So, there I was, a sober woman of grace taking care of a beautiful little girl. I think I was a better mom to Saradi, than I had been to Erin. We had Saradi for several years while her mom slowly got better. What a blessing that time was.

Saradi thrived at school and in the youth group at church. When we rode to school in the morning we would pray together. Saradi and Jarrod became like brother and sister, and we had laughter in the house again. Erin went to rehab, and slowly got better. We made her earn our trust back, and over time, we gradually released Saradi back to her. First, it was supervised visits at our house, then it was an overnight, then a weekend and so on. My own personal struggle with addiction had positioned me perfectly for the role I was playing. I am happy to say that today our Erin is drug-free and successful.

Our second son, Jarrod, was also transformed by suffering. Jarrod was funny, intelligent, and charismatic. But he was also extremely ADHD and impulsive. Let me tell you, this boy did wonders for my prayer life!

One afternoon, when Jarrod was about seventeen, I got an urgent phone call. “Mom, Mom, I’m in pain.” “What’s wrong?” I said. “I was riding my bike on a ramp at the skate park and I fell. My collar bone is poking out! Ahh, it really hurts!” “Jarrod, hang up and dial 911!”

Now, I have to say, I was touched by the fact that Mom was the first person Jarrod thought to call, but given the fact that I have no medical training, and we lived an hour from that park, I probably wasn’t the most logical choice.

But that was our Jarrod, by the time he was 5 years old we had lost count of the ER visits. I remember rushing him to the hospital one time, and he was so small he was still in his child seat. He had a towel pressed to his head to try to staunch the flow of blood from his latest gash, and he just said very calmly, “Mommy, how long do you think we’ll have to wait in the ER this time?”

One time, Chris had only been home from a chemo treatment for about an hour, and Jarrod had managed to run full speed into a door jam, leaving behind a substantial piece of flesh clinging to the molding.

It was this nonstop, dare-devil nature that eventually did Jarrod in. On July 4th, 2015, Jarrod went spearfishing against our advice. The conditions were extremely poor, and he was free diving with no air tanks. He was accidently shot in the head by another diver and he never woke up again. He was 21 years old.

So, I lived every mother’s worst nightmare again. But I wasn’t the same person that I had been back in 2001 when Chris went to be with the Lord. By 2015, I had been reading the Bible for 12 years. I wasn’t just reading the word. I was studying the word. I had been transformed by the renewing of my mind.

And I had witnessed this same transformation in Jarrod when he was 19 years old. He went out with some friends who were up to no good. They got caught burglarizing some unlocked cars and Jarrod ended up in jail. That same Jarrod who made everyone laugh with his impersonations of Johnny Cash, that same Jarrod who used to interrupt me to show me funny YouTube videos of people falling, that same Jarrod who called me “Mama-wah—he did this. 

Do you know what the hardest part about visiting your child in jail is? You can’t touch him. Our visits consisted of a video image. But I’ll never forget the day I visited, and Jarrod told me about Ephesians 6:10.

“Mom, this is so cool,” he said, “Did you know that the armor of God has a belt of truth and a breastplate of righteousness. There’s a shield to protect you against flaming arrows of evil. Every single part of the armor has meaning.” He went to explain about the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. When he spoke, he had a sparkle in his eye, not unlike his brother Chris had had 14 years earlier when he had told us that Jesus was coming.

So like Chris with his illness, and Erin and me with our addictions, the Lord had come to Jarrod in his brokenness, in his suffering.

After Jarrod was released, we had the best conversations. We discussed spiritual warfare, God’s plan for marriage, and what Chris must be doing in heaven. Out of our 3 children, Jarrod was our deepest thinker. Oh, how I miss our talks.

 And Jarrod had developed a servant’s heart. One of the last things he did before his accident was to have a cookout for the homeless. He and a friend had caught dozens of mangrove snapper, and Jarrod had come home all excited and had asked Rob the best way to cook them. “Dad, we’re gonna get a portable grill and take them down to the homeless camp.” The light in his eyes reflected the joy in his heart.

When I was a child in the late sixties there were a lot of civil rights marches and Vietnam War protests. (Not unlike what is happening today.) Because of the  rioting in New York,  the mayor enacted a curfew. You might remember this famous public service announcement: “It’s ten o’clock and do you know where your kids are?”

Well, I can answer definitively. I know where my boys are. I can’t hug them, I can’t email them, and sometimes I pretend that they are away getting their doctorates at The University of Heaven. But I do know where they are. 1Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  A lot of people in my position have lost that hope. Folks who have buried children, had their lives torn apart by addiction, bankruptcy, or they have faced adversity so overwhelming that they see no way out. I stand before you to tell you there is a way out, and it is Jesus Christ.

My family’s suffering has given me a platform to offer hope to others. It has also produced many amazing connections-or should I say, divine appointments.

I have a fireman friend named Bill Lavin. He was one of the first responders who entered the twin towers when they were under attack. Afterwards, the fireman received hundreds of letters from children all over the country thanking them for their bravery. When one of those schools was leveled by hurricane Katrina, Bill asked them what they needed the most. The answer: We have no place to play. So, Bill and a crew of volunteers traveled to their little town and built them a brand-new playground. This was the birth of The Where angels Play Foundation. 

Since then, the foundation has built over 50 playgrounds all over the United States and even one in Rwanda. Most of the playgrounds are built in memory of children who have died, including 26 playgrounds built in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

If you ever get a chance to visit beautiful South Lido Park in Sarasota, Florida, you can find playground number 48, nestled under the trees along the white-sand beach. It is built in memory of Chris and Jarrod Ditmars. The panels are adorned with original family artwork and that references our favorite scriptures. If you look closely at the helmet-like shell of the sea turtle you’ll see the words, “Ephesians 6: 10-18

7 pm each evening in New York City the residents go to their windows and clap for the medical personnel, the first responders, the caregivers, and everyone else who risks their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all united in our suffering.

Jesus’s suffering was necessary for our salvation. Without it, we’d be lost. I think that we become an authentic part of the body when we allow the Lord to use our suffering as well.

I have comforted other women who have lost children. I have lifted up suffering alcoholics. Rob and I gave our once shattered marriage to Jesus, and He healed it. I wake up every day and strive to walk the unique path that the Lord has set out just for me.

***Click on the photos below to be brought to Maribeth's ministry site & to purchase her books. She is available for speaking and school programs.***

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12Aug

Yancy once lived a life of fornication, using drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. It never crossed his mind that there was a judgment coming for the choices he continued to make and that he could repent of his sins until one day—God revealed Himself to him taking his life from rebellion to freedom in Christ.

Yancy J. Arrechea 

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Before I gave my life to Christ in March of 2018, I was living a worldly lifestyle of fornicating, sleeping around, doing drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. I had no idea that there was a judgment coming to mankind or that I could repent of my sins. I was never told about the grace of God, the finished work of the cross, or witnessed to by a Christian. My journey began Thanksgiving 2017 when I was in my living room high as could be on drugs (marijuana, ecstasy), but as I looked up, I saw an opening in my ceiling that began as a white circle. When I looked again, I saw a man with a bright light coming from Him, and His arms were wide open as if to embrace me. Around Him were clouds and angels. It was the brightest thing that I have ever seen! I automatically knew who He was and I remember saying to myself “Jesus, What are you doing here?” Mind you, I probably never said His name before other than when I would use His name to blaspheme and curse. I'm talking about my dead days here when I didn't know Christ, but I knew who He was at that moment even though I was high because I had an instance of clarity that I will never forget! When this happened, I had no biblical knowledge, but this experience remained in my mind and heart until the Holy Spirit came to me a couple of months later and my whole life changed forever.

March of 2018, was a very tragic moment in my life as it was after the death of an uncle, the anniversary of my grandmother's passing, and the deaths of my pets. I was a mess as it very much felt that things were falling apart around me. So one day, I got high again after smoking about 5 joints back-to-back which was my coping mechanism—an addiction stronghold that had come down the generational line. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that the way I was living my life was offensive to Him. Yes, somehow I recognized His voice. God continued to speak and said that if I continued down this path that I would perish. Well, right there and then, I accepted Him into my life. He began to show me the things that He wanted out of my life such as, my lying and having sex with men. Yes, I was a homosexual and engaged to two men before believing the lie that I was “born this way”. I now understand that it was due to generational sins, curses, and Santeria/witchcraft from past generations. There was an open door for a spirit to infect me when I was yet in my mother's womb then, there were molestation's as a child from relatives. At this present time, I was still living with my then fiancee but for the first time in my life, I could see that it was wrong to be with a man and I wanted nothing to do with it. I want everyone to understand that when I was in the world, I was completely blinded and saw nothing wrong with the way I was living my life. I also would like to encourage those who witness to homosexuals, to do it out of love because you won't win them any other way. They are just looking for love in all the wrong places being deceived by the prince of the power of the air which is Satan and all his demons.

I was drawn to the King James Version of the Bible and began to read John 1:1. My mind was blown away, and I knew without a doubt that Jesus was God and He was talking to me all this time. It was Adonai, Elohim, and the Great I AM that had shown Himself to me as a burning bush as He did with Moses. By Thanksgiving 2018, God put the hammer on me and told me no more and that my partner had to go! I was still struggling with letting him go and my demons saw that I got saved and didn't want to let me go. It was a struggle, but I wanted Jesus a lot more, so I broke up with my partner. I kept the house and he packed his bags and went peacefully. God's hand was working mighty in my life and continues to do so. I had a lot of fear and worry about how I would afford all the bills alone, but I'm telling you two years later, the power and water never went off and I never went hungry. He has blessed me every single step of the way and has been so faithful even in my unfaithfulness towards Him. When alone, the Lord began to pull me away from people. I just worked and went home and studied the bible and prayed and little by little the Lord had delivered me from fornicating, pornography, and masturbating. Now, don't think that I didn't mess up because I did. It was a sanctification process. But eventually, those “big” sins were out of the picture. The Lord led me to Pastor Robert Clancy on YouTube from (The Narrow Path Ministries: Catch the Fire of Repentance Revival), and through his teaching, I learned about spiritual warfare, generational curses, binding, and loosening, and deliverance. It was just me and the Lord for a while. I wouldn't look at men or women, but then eventually I got bored. With this sudden drastic change, I was missing my old life. Let's be honest, this life of denial that we must live of not fulfilling the desires is not for the weak, but the strong. I'm being transparent here okay. It was around August of 2019, and I was living as holy and righteously as possible. I even got water baptized with evidence of speaking in tongues. I began to work a lot of hours which left me very tired and I was not taking the time to get alone with God and read the bible as I was or attending church. I became spiritually weak and when my birthday came around I thought…“one time won't hurt” and I relapsed using drugs. This was the biggest mistake ever! I got STUCK for almost 6 months smoking weed and taking meth and I hated every single moment of it! Everything from my past came back as I was secretly sinning badly. I ended up like King Nebuchadnezzar—he was so proud God needed to humble him by having him live in the wild on all fours. I feel I had the same experience, and I lost my mind. Now, that I look back, Jesus was right there with me the entire time and drew closer to me even though, I was in willful sin against Him. I honestly don't remember much from August 2019 to January 2020, somehow I still went to work, got paid, and I didn't kill myself  or someone else out on the road. It was a miracle! You might be wondering if I had anyone to go to for help and the answer is no because nobody in my family was saved and when I would try to reach out to my pastor, the enemy would hit me with deep shame and condemnation. I had almost given up all hope. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit Himself put His right hand on me and broke all the chains of the heaviness off of me. When He restored me to Himself, I cried like I never did before. It was like I woke up from a 6-month nightmare. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. The healing process began all over again, and I had to regain all the ground that I had lost and come out of sin little by little as before. The Lord revealed to me that I wasn't rooted and grounded in the Word of God and He allowed certain things to show me my true self. I began to be able to recognize His still soft voice even more, and He had shown Himself in different parts in my life so I can get strong in Him. The thing that hit me the most is when He told me that this was my first major storm and it blew me to the ground and how great my fall was, but He stood by me—He held me by His righteous right hand and carried me when I couldn't walk. I'm telling you Jesus is amazing! Please, don't take advantage of Him as I did. I hurt Him so badly and so thankful He forgave and restored me. I learned a really good harsh lesson that I couldn't have learned any other way.

Please pray for one another and reach out to that brother or sister you haven't heard from in a while because you don't know what might be going on in their lives. Another thing I want to mention is that as I was coming out of sin, I had to suffer the consequences. And let me tell you, I sure did because for a while I would hear demons running up and down my stairs, they would shake my bed, make noises in the walls, and even growl, but God put in my spirit what prayer I needed to speak out loud to renounce, denounce, and repent of my wicked ways. I called down fire from heaven, and all the fowl unclean spirits went running out of my house after breaking curses. It was a difficult and tedious thing to go through, so I urge you to draw near to God and stay there. Stay at the feet of Jesus and don't look back to your past and open those doors of sin again. I learned that all my sinning gave legal ground for a very high-level powerful demon to kill me and that thing showed up at my house less than an arm's length away, and if I had not been under the precious blood of Jesus Christ it would have killed me! But God had mercy on me and the Holy Spirit rose from within me so powerfully that I prayed in the spirit so loud and so fast and powerfully that the Holy Spirit used my vocal cords and tongue to help me repent and cast that thing away. Ever since then, I have drawn near to God and I'm never looking back! The love, mercy, and compassion that Almighty God had towards me have helped me come to have a newfound fear and reverence of Him. He’s worthy to be praised and of denying self and taking up your cross daily. I'm back to walking in the Spirit, sober, back in the Word, and living a life that will honor and please Him. May God bless every single person who reads my story. I love you all, but Jesus loves you more. Repent and turn to Him for He can deliver you for He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. His words are the truth! God does not lie and He will never forsake you! There is no weapon formed or fashioned against you that shall prosper.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Proverbs 30:5)

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17) 

Yancy was blessed by the teaching of Pastor Robert Clancy and it's my hope and prayer that his ministry can also help in your healing and freedom in Christ. Below are links to Pastor Robert Clancy's ministry site and YouTube channel.

Pastor Robert Clancy (The Narrow Path Ministries: Catch the Fire of Repentance Revival)

Pastor Robert Clancy on YouTube 






 

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25Nov

George Carneal, was raised in the Bible Belt, by a Southern Baptist minister. Throughout his school years, he was tormented with physical and verbal abuse. George was called a queer, faggot, and a homo. Eventually, he turned his back on God, the church, and fully immersed himself in the queer culture. Today, he shares what God's love has done for Him so others can also break free from the lies and grip of sin.

"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us."  (Psalms 103:12)

George Carneal -- Author, Speaker, Singer/Songwriter

I’m a Baptist minister’s son who grew up in church and gave my life to Christ when I was seven years old. I also struggled with a same-sex attraction. Living in Tennessee, in the Bible Belt, in the 70’s, homosexuality wasn’t a topic I heard about unless some random person was making a derogatory comment about “fags.” 

All through school I was tormented with physical and verbal abuse with one guy threatening to slit my throat. Being called a queer, faggot, homo, I didn’t understand how my peers were able to identify something about me that I hadn’t been unable to understand and come to terms with myself. This was confusing.

At church, the pain was compounded by the inevitable sermons on Sodom & Gomorrah. I felt condemned by God for something I didn’t ask for. On the inside I was filled with rage and told God I hated Him. I suffered in silence.

While heterosexual peers dated, I spent 12 lonely years yearning to be loved by a man. A random encounter with a guy out of high school confirmed this is who I was…a homosexual. Shortly after this encounter, my father was relocated to a church in Florida.

Not long after the move, I ran into a guy who invited me to a local gay bar. Walking into a bar filled with attractive men was overwhelming and exciting. I finally found a “home” where I wasn’t being bullied, could be myself, and be around other guys like me. I craved affection from guys and became promiscuous. 

Since countless “loving Christians” insisted that God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah because of vile perverts like me, that God created AIDS to kill queers, and that I was destined to burn in Hell, I believed that maybe God does hate me. So, I turned my back on God, the church, and fully immersed myself in the queer culture.

Sadly, after three years in the gay life, I was masking the pain with drugs and alcohol. Pornography became a part of my life, I developed a sex addiction, became a hustler (a male prostitute), struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and eventually attempted suicide. I felt no hope. 

My journey would eventually lead me to Nashville where I met a guy, we became boyfriends, and moved to Los Angeles. I secured a job in the music industry.

After seven years, we broke up because I was still tormented and struggling with my faith and sexuality. I longed to be in church and eventually found a church home. I was filled with constant anxiety for fear that these Christians would discover my secret.

After church I cruised adult bookstores and bars because I was so hungry for affection and love. Random encounters meant quick sex, but I didn’t care…it was a brief moment of feeling desired by a guy. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was searching for something to fill a void in my life. I had yet to comprehend that Jesus was the answer.

After a mild confrontation with a deacon over rumors regarding my sexuality, I left the church and found a gay-affirming church with a homosexual pastor. Surely, I would find the answers and come to accept that God made me this way. The turmoil was still there. Unable to find concrete answers, I left that church.

Working in the music business, I had the chance to meet and be around countless celebrities/rock stars/movie stars. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, many believe that fame and fortune will bring happiness. However, some celebrities weren’t that pleasant to be around and appeared to be just as unhappy as I was. I personally knew miserable people with immense wealth. It was clear.  Money and fame doesn’t bring happiness.  

I extended my search into the occult, new age and Hindu arenas hoping to find different paths to get to God. I still yearned for Him even though I wasn’t sure He wanted anything to do with me. I had no desire to serve Satan but wondered if God was holding out on information that Satan was willing to impart. Could I get to God through a supernatural means?  

Casting love spells seemed appealing...as I desperately wanted a man to love me, but something in my spirit...compelled me, not to open that door so I didn’t. I spent countless hours in new age/occult/psychic bookstores, browsing through various books on “world religions”, while waiting to have my tarot cards read by psychics. I was desperate for answers yet became cynical when all they could provide was vague information about relationships and financial issues that could be applied to anyone. 

The New Age emphasis on sacrificing ourselves for the good of mankind, fighting darkness that was consuming the world, appealed to me. The search for “ascended masters” to become more enlightened intensified….with no luck.

Attending a Hindu temple in Hollywood, the “teacher” read from sacred Hindu texts, even God’s Word. While Jesus was respected as a great teacher, He was also equal with other Hindu gurus. That was unsettling. No matter how confused I was, something was settled within me that Jesus was God’s Son and no one compared to Him. I also knew idols had no power and I certainly wasn’t going to bow down and worship them.

Additionally, the new age and Hindu (even Buddhist) teachings regarding reincarnation were distressing. My current life was one of misery. The thought of being reincarnated, coming back to live many lives over and over and over in order to become perfect, striving to reach moksha (Hinduism)/nirvana (Buddhism), without any knowledge of past mistakes in order to do better in the next life, brought about more despair. 

Deep within me, I knew Jesus was the one, all-sufficient Savior who paid for my sins on the Cross. Instead of me having to do the work, Jesus did the work and that comforted me. God confirms that we live once, and then...the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).  I eventually, rejected the Occult/New Age/Hindu teachings.

I wanted a relationship with God, but I didn’t want to be around Christians. I hated them. Church was a place of anxiety for me. The thought of attending church was like going into the lion’s den.

Disillusioned with life, one night I drove to a Christian bookstore in Long Beach. I searched for books on suicide, but from a biblical perspective. After one failed suicide attempt, I was ready to try again. However, I feared God would send me to Hell for taking my life. Suicidal thoughts were as common as what I thought about eating each day. The depression was brutal. I cried all the time. The voices in my head tormented me. I needed peace. Finding nothing on the subject, I sat on the floor and cried.

I went back to the bars and slept with men in order to mask the pain, the loneliness, only to struggle with constant heartache as I desperately searched for love.

Sitting at a dive bar in Hollywood one night...(among the prostitutes, hustlers, former jailbirds, drag queens, kids tossed out of homes because they were queer, women whose wrinkled faces revealed difficult lives, and old gay men getting drunk at the bar)...I faced the cold, harsh reality of life. This could be me. My heart hurt for those people. During this time, I was unable to share how much God loved them by what Jesus did on the Cross because, I couldn’t see it for myself thanks to mean-spirited “Christians”. I was a vile homosexual. I had no hope yet something had to change. I couldn’t do this any longer.

A television commercial from a local church advertised a Bible Study on the book of Genesis. I felt led to contact them and spent two years attending that Bible study. I hungered for God and enjoyed studying His Word. My view of God started to change. I eventually started to see that God didn’t hate me. He hated my sin. There was hope that I could have a relationship with God! I also met Christians who truly had the heart of Christ as I slowly immersed myself back into the church.

God eventually led me to a Baptist church through a retired pastor. The current pastor moved to have a class for LGBT individuals. I was excited because I would now have a safe place to meet others struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the pastor and teachers were moving us in the direction of “Being gay is OK, we’re under Grace, God created you that way” and I was confused.  Scripture is clear we are not to abuse God’s Grace (Romans 6:1-2; 14-15).

I had heard numerous stories of LGBT individuals whom God was bringing out of that life so I was perplexed as to why the pastor/teachers were pushing us into that life. I was now more confused. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted dealing with this issue, especially when I didn’t ask for these feelings! 

I sat in my car so many times and cried, banging the steering wheel, yelling at God, begging Him for an answer, for peace! I often prayed this sincere prayer to God: “If homosexuality is OK in Your eyes, give me peace about it and I trust You will put a good Christian man in my life who will love me. If homosexuality is wrong under all circumstances, give me peace about it, help me to recognize it, and I will still serve You.”

As the months passed, wanting to believe that “gay is OK”, I was still tormented. I said enough and accepted that it was not in God’s will. I left that church, turned my back on the gay life, repented, and truly surrendered my life to Christ. The most amazing thing happened. God gave me what I had longed for my whole life...peace with myself, peace of mind, and finally...peace with God! The issue has been settled and I am no longer tormented in my mind or by my past! (Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12; Romans 8:1)

Numerous LGBT individuals have accepted that homosexuality is not a part of God’s plan. Some LGBT individuals have transitioned successfully into a heterosexual life. Those who still have a same-sex attraction, like myself, have chosen celibacy. We desire to live a life that honors and pleases God. I’ve been on this path for about 13 years now. 

The Apostle Paul asked God to “remove the thorn in his side” and God responded with “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If this is to be my thorn, so be it. What matters is that God provided the healing I needed in order to have the strength to walk away from that life. My desire for sex with men no longer controls me!

This journey has been difficult, but I praise God for bringing me though it because I now understand God’s grace and His mercy. There is hope for everyone no matter what your bondage is….drugs, alcohol, food, sex, pornography, even issues of shame, rejection, abuse, rape, guilt of abortion, criminal activities, etc. If one is truly sorry and repents, God’s free gift of salvation is available to anyone who wants it (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid it ALL on the Cross at Calvary when He shed His precious blood for our sin. God desires to have a relationship with you but you must come His Way and that’s through Jesus.  (John 3:16-17; 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Give your life to Christ today and know real peace. You matter to Him!

Blessings,

George Carneal

Purchase George's book --- Amazon (From Queer to Christ) Available in both Kindle & paperback.  

**In the back of George's book, he put all the talking points the LGBTQ activists and Christian liberal theologians use and he debunks them with Scripture. He says..."So if you have individuals in your life who are not willing to listen to this give them the book or at least get it and familiarize yourself with those talking points so when they do come at you and say no; no it's okay you can give them scripture because they are not going to sit down and study God's word to get the truth for themselves."

~George Carneal

George Reveals the Truth About the LGBTQ Agenda on CBN News

George's Interview on the Homekeepers Show - (Christian Television Network)

Janet Mefferd Today Show

Christian Life Magazine 99.3 FM Interview with host, Chris Rose




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11Aug

Dana Repetti, grew up in a dysfunctional home filled with hate, fear, alcohol, abuse, and witchcraft. Her childhood caused her to have overwhelming fear, and she became a people-pleaser with a very low self-esteem. At the age of seventeen, Dana had her first abortion. Through it all though, Dana, has learned about the beauty of God's love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. She is now helping others to do the same and has written a wonderful personalized devotional called "Being Immersed in the Father's Love".

Dana RepettiDana Repetti

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalms 27:13)

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 8:1)

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. I was a very depressed child and full of fear. My perspective on life and how I processed life was through a very negative lens and filter. Even though I was saved at the tender age of twelve, there were a whole host of strongholds that I would have to take captive to the obedience of Christ throughout my lifetime.

When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my mom prayed that the memory of what I had endured as a child would be wiped clean. That all I would remember was from Salvation onward. I must confess I only have glimpses of my childhood.

What I do remember is that my dad was a very angry man. He was very scary to me when he got upset. Growing up in my house there was a saying, “Children were to be seen and not heard!” and I never felt as if my opinion mattered, or that I had a voice. My self-esteem was very low. I really did not know how to think for myself. I was very much a people pleaser. As long as I did everything right, I was a good girl, but if I did something wrong or that appeared wrong, I would pay the consequence. As a little girl, it felt as if it was the end of the world. I always wanted to do everything right. This perception would carry on well into my thirties. It would take a very long time to find my voice and for God to bring me into what His thoughts were towards me and what His word says about me.

My mom was a very depressed mother and wife. I always had the feeling that she hated me. When I would look into her eyes, they appeared very dark and I saw such hatred. It felt as if she wanted to kill me. I’m sure that was not the case, but it was how I felt during those years of my life. I hated going to sleep for fear that in the middle of the night; something or someone would come in my room and hurt me. I would sleep with the covers up to my neck; face the door so I would be able to protect myself, still totally frightened. It felt as if I never slept. This went on from the age of five, until I was twelve.

My mother dabbled in the occult. She would have séances, levitate, have premonitions, consult palm readers, psychics, read tarot cards and play the Ouija board. There was a lot of demonic activity in our home to say the least. She also was an alcoholic and was suicidal. I would come home from school and find her at the bottom of the basement stairs blacked out, not knowing if she was dead or alive. I remember being afraid all the time not knowing what the next day would bring.

My parents would argue and fight, which seemed like all the time to me. It was very intense and very loud. There were so many sayings in my family growing up like; we’re loud, we’re Italian, that’s how we talk, if the truth hurts, each followed by very negative, outspoken comments. No! All of which consisted of arguing and verbal abuse, yet while not understanding that as a child and living through it. I thought that was normal. There was one time my father came home from work and found my mother sitting on the floor in the corner of their bedroom, in the dark with a scotch glass in her hand. She was drunk and they began to argue. This argument must have been so intense because it is etched into my memory. My mom threw the full scotch glass at my father. I ran to my room like so many other times and would pray that God would make it stop, that they would not get divorced. I was always so frightened and living on the edge. I did not realize at the time that I was a depressed little girl as well.

I was raised as a Catholic while growing up and went to a Catholic school. Very often before heading to school, my mom would play a song from Helen Reddy, “I am woman”, and she proceeded to tell my sister and I, never to forget that we were women. There was one day my mom was so angry, I can’t remember why, but she told me she hated me and to go, get out of the house and go off to school. I remember feeling devastated. My fears of her hating me were becoming true. I was so broken that I hated the day I was born. I remember saying to God, “why, why was I born into this family. I wish I had never been born.” Sad I know. Around this time in my life, I was in a store and I saw a keychain with a witch on it. So I purchased it and I gave it to my mother and said, “This is who you are to me” and sang her a song called Witchy Woman. After I told her again saying, “This is who you are to me!” She said,”I know.” and proceeded to hang it on the knob of the kitchen cabinet. So there it stayed.

As I stated earlier, I don’t have a lot of memory of my childhood, but I remember feeling very dirty whenever my dad would hug me. As a little girl, I remember finding Playboy magazine’s under his bed on his side. For some reason, I always was able to relate to someone who was sexually abused. I only have glimpses of certain things and questions as to why I would feel so hated during those years. Before my dad passed away in 2010, I felt impressed by God to speak to my dad and released him from any torment he might be going through, from guilt of the past. I was so nervous, but I knew it was something I had to do. My dad had leukemia and meningitis to the point that it affected his brain. In the past, if I would have brought this up, he would have been on the defense and reacted angrily. Instead, he allowed me to share all my questions and concerns. I told him that God wanted me to come to him so he could be released of anything that may have taken place in the past that if anything did occur, I had forgiven him. It was the most loving and freeing time I had ever had with my dad. He had no such memories. I am sharing this to show the goodness God has to tend to the issues of our hearts. He took care of my father’s heart as well as mine. I watched God be faithful to His word in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” My dad went to be with the Lord two weeks after my visit. Gods timing and ways are perfect. I have learned to trust and obey Him even when it’s scary.

At the age of ten, I was about to make my first communion. I always loved God. He placed within me a heart that loved Him and always wanted to help people despite what I was living through. The night before I was to make my first communion, I prayed that God would allow me to die in a car accident. I thought if I died on my communion day, then I would go straight to heaven and would not have to go to purgatory. My understanding was that people had to pray you out of purgatory; after all...my mother was a drunk and she hated me, while my dad only went to church on Christmas and Easter. In my mind, I would be stuck in purgatory forever and never make it to heaven. I prayed and prayed and was so disappointed when it did not happen.

Two years later, I am now twelve years old. My mom made the decision that she is going to take her life. She said that she had such a sense of peace in making this decision, and we were all better off without her. That day, God interrupted with His divine appointment. She was in a store that morning and she ran into a cousin of hers that just moved into the area we were living. Being polite, my mom invited her over for a cup of coffee. Her cousin had given her heart to the Lord and was a born-again Christian. She began to share with my mother about how much Jesus loved and cared for her and how He died to take away her sins and redeem her life. The whole time her cousin was talking, she thought she was crazy, while she knew the plan she had in her head to take her life. As her cousin was leaving, she said to my mom, “Marge, Jesus loves you. He truly does. Just give Him a try, ask Him into your heart and to forgive you your sins.”

That evening, my mother could not get out of her mind what her cousin shared with her earlier that day. She cried out to the Lord and said, “Ok Jesus, if you’re real like Alice says you’re real, I ask that you forgive me of all my sins and come live in my heart.” She began to feel a hand go over her mouth trying to suffocate her. During this struggle, she kept hearing her cousin’s voice in her mind saying, “say Jesus is Lord!” She began to scream in her head, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord!” At the end of the struggle, she saw in her mind’s eye a vision of Jesus with His arms wide open saying, “Marge, come to me. You’re my child.” The next day, my mom poured out all the alcohol we had in our house (we had a fully stocked bar) and threw away her cigarettes as well. My father thought my mother had a nervous breakdown and he was very angry. After all, that was a lot of money to throw down the drain. My mom’s old man (spirit) died that night and she became a new creation. The power of sin and death over my mother was destroyed that evening, through the blood of Jesus Christ. My mom went to her cousin’s house the next morning, banging on the door saying, “What did you do to me?” Her cousin began having bible studies with her, praying and taking her to church. One night after my mom got home from church, my father put my mother up against the wall and said, “It’s Jesus or me!” my mom said, “It’s Jesus” and he let go of her. So now we are going to check out this church my mother is going to, making sure she is not involved in a cult. My dad would say,”I was born a Catholic, I will die a Catholic.”

In July of 1974, a Friday evening, we visited the church my mother was attending on Tuesday’s and Friday’s. I was amazed by the love, joy and peace these people had. I wanted what these people had. I asked my mother if I could go to the altar and receive Jesus in my heart. At first, she said “no”, nervous of what my father might do. My father would not think twice about hitting someone if he felt like they were bothering him or his family. He grew up fighting people his whole life. I asked again and this time my mom said “yes.” As I went up, a young man asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I responded yes!

Well, my dad was furious. He went up to the altar to grab me away from these crazy people and when he went to grab me, I immediately got filled with the Holy Spirit and he fell. My father tried again twice to get me and each time he kept falling down. He would look around, but there was nobody there. God was trying to get his attention, and that He did. My father gave his heart to the Lord that evening as well. God is amazing.

The Lord answered my prayer that evening. When I was ten, I wanted to die and go to heaven, fearful of being in purgatory. Two years later, my old man (spirit) died when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was forgiven, redeemed and had the promise of eternal life. I no longer worried about not making it to heaven.

I continued to live in joy and happiness like I never experienced before. Things were so much more hopeful and peaceful. I would attend church every time the doors were opened. I was involved in Sunday school and went on to eventually teach the two-to-four year olds who attended. I was also, involved in a youth group and helped with VBS. Life was good.

Then at the magical age of fifteen, this young man liked me. I was so flattered. He was four years older than me and on the worship team. He asked me out to the church’s Valentine’s dinner. The only problem was, I wasn’t allowed to date until the age of sixteen and I was only fifteen and a half. So I did what any teenager would do; I pleaded my cause. What magically happens in six months? After all, I will be sixteen! He’s on the worship team! I wore them down and they gave in. This would be the beginning of compromise entering my life. Slowly he became my everything. I lived to please him. In April of 1980, in my senior year of high school and at the age of seventeen, I became pregnant. I was full of fear and wanted to marry him and have the baby. We were both terrified of what my parents might do. He said my parents would kill us. So the spirit of fear drove us to make the horrible decision to have an abortion. I truly wanted to be married and have this baby. While we drove up to the abortion clinic, there were people with signs outside and one especially, stood out to me, “Mommy, don’t kill your baby”. I was sick. I wanted to die. I wanted to run from this place and I really wanted to be married and have the baby, but fear had the loudest say. This so far, was the most horrifying experience of my life. I came out of that room so sick and hatred immediately filled my heart. I would not be the same person for many years. I still wanted to die. I struggled with thoughts of suicide. The only thing that kept me was the fear of going to hell. I went into a severe depression, where guilt and condemnation were always present within me. My father told my boyfriend that he was to stay away from me, that he did not know why his daughter was so depressed. This caused more hatred to fill my heart towards my parents. I told them I hated them for breaking us up. In my mind, the only way to make what we did right was to eventually be married. This is how my seventeen-year-old mind was processing everything at the time. The enemy had me believing so many lies. I felt as if I could never be forgiven. I murdered my baby.

I continued to spiral downward. I told no one of what I did. The only people who knew were my ex-boyfriend and me. I lived with shame, guilt, condemnation, self-hatred and offense towards my ex-boyfriend for a very long time. This secret seemed to be with me every moment of every day. It was my constant companion, a continual reminder of what a failure I was and that I didn’t deserve to be forgiven. The enemy had gained access of my thought life and I believed every lie he spoke. My heart became so calloused and hardened. I began to run from my thoughts by living for whatever gave me pleasure at the time. I wanted to fit in to this new world I was about to experience. The world of sinfulness. I began to drink, party, do drugs, go clubbing and do whatever I wanted to do. I hated myself. I wanted to hide from anything that had to do with the Lord. This continued for about seven years. The only problem was that God never stopped pursuing me. I couldn’t hide. I had a praying mom and I was continually convicted by the choices I was making. Psalms 139:7-8 & 11-12 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8.) If I make my bed in Sheol, behold You are there 11.) If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me” 12.) even the darkness will not be dark to You, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”

I had no rest or peace. My parents were always praying for me. The Lord truly leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the one. At this time in my life, even this disturbed me. My parents would make me go to church and of course, God was always pursuing me, but I would choose to resist. There was a visiting evangelist this one Sunday and after he spoke, he had an altar call. Of course this altar call was for me, but I would not go forward, so he came to me. He said, “Jesus forgives you, now forgive yourself.” I thought if you only knew the extent of my sin, my secret, you would not be saying this to me. I murdered my baby; this is the most unforgivable sin in my mind. I could not receive what this man was speaking to me at this time in my life. My secret had me bound and truth could not enter in.

I grew tired of dating and the life I was living and I decided to pray to God, not believing He would want to even listen to me, but I prayed. I said, “Lord I am tired of dating. If you can hear me, let the next person I meet be the one I marry. I don’t care how long it takes or what he looks like, it can even be ten years from now, just let him be the one. Please, I’m tired.” The very next week, a client who went to the hair salon I worked at, asked if I wanted to go to a Fourth of July party. He was nice to talk to, but definitely not my type. I thought well, God totally did not hear my prayer but I had nothing else to do, so I went. In my rebellion I thought, my parents never like who I bring home...let me bring someone home they truly would not like. After all, I didn’t even like himHe was nice as a friend, but in no way was he boyfriend material. He was extremely wild. The stories I heard scared me. We began seeing each other more and more and before I knew it, we were dating. Then when I brought him home, my parent’s loved him! I said you have to be kidding me; I don’t even ‘like him - like him’. They said, “There is something in his eyes, he seems genuine.” About a month into our relationship, we slept together and I got pregnant. I told him I was pregnant and that I was having an abortion. I had already made plans and my girlfriend would be taking me. He said, “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” I said, “yes” and I have already made the arrangements!” I did not even care what he thought. I told him, “I already had an abortion from my first boyfriend, and I am not ready to be a mom!” My heart was so cold, calloused, hard and selfish. My secret was out. He was the only one I had ever told about my first abortion. I went on to have that abortion and we never spoke of it again until...well, I will get to that a little later in my story.

Things began to get serious between my boyfriend and me. He wanted to get married. We were living a partying lifestyle, drinking, smoking pot, snorting cocaine. It was crazy to say the least. All of this while knowing what God wanted. Even though I was living like this in my mind, I could not marry anyone who did not receive Jesus as their Savior. Crazy I know, so I took him to church to see what he would do. I knew in my mind if he did not believe the same way I did, I could never marry him. He was the type of person that would never do something he didn’t want to do. So I knew if he were to receive Jesus as his savior, it would be because he truly wanted to. Well, you will never believe this, that traveling evangelist was at my church again and had an altar call for Salvation. I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Would you like to leave”. He said, “No, I want to check this out. I want to go up front.” I went with him and he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The evangelist said to him, “Is this your wife?” and he said, “No”. The evangelist nodded his head and said, “someday!”. John drove home that evening and said this was better than any high that he ever had. God had answered my prayer that one night when I said I was tired of dating. John and I have been married for 32 years. We have three children and four grandchildren at this current time.

I would love to say that we immediately served the Lord after John received Christ, but that was not the case. We continued living a compromised lifestyle. Got engaged, got married and four months into the marriage, I was pregnant with our first daughter. We discussed living right before the Lord, now that we would be parents. We had a friend that would come by every Saturday and bring over cocaine. This was my husband’s drug of choice. This one Saturday evening he was over, I went into the bathroom and began to pray. I said, “Lord, we promised to stop this and live for you. Please show up. Let us never do this again. Deliver us.” I started praying in tongues in the bathroom. The gifts of God are truly irrevocable. I went out into the living room where they were waiting for me and I was filled with words of knowledge. Our friend could not open his hand to put the cocaine out on the table. He was flipping out as God was speaking through me. He kept saying, “Man, I can’t open my hand.” John was getting very angry saying, “Put it out!” and his friend kept saying, “I can’t”. Then John told me to “SHUT UP”. Filled with the Spirit, I remember saying, “Satan would love for me to shut up, but I am going to speak what the Spirit tells me to speak”. I continued to speak whatever the Spirit had me speak. At the end of this encounter, John’s friend opened his hand to put the cocaine out and it was all melted. John got delivered that night and we have never touched any drug again after that evening, nor returned to a compromised lifestyle. His friend came to church with us the next day, as he was blown away at the events that took place that evening.

Our journey with God began after that evening. I had asked God to forgive me of my sins, but forgiving me was a lot more difficult. Now would begin a process of many strongholds breaking off my life and my mind being transformed, renewed through the word of God and confession of my sins. I no longer kept what I was struggling with a secret. When we moved to Pennsylvania and got involved in a church, around the age of twenty-eight, we were asked to become youth leaders. My conscious would not let me be free to do ministry with the guilt I carried around of having two abortions. I confessed to my pastor what I had done. He led me in prayer and gave me the scripture in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I read it and thought it was good. It wasn’t until I meditated on what it truly said, that I was set free from the guilt of my sin. It said, “ALL”, unrighteousness, not some. The word ALL jumped off the page. All means all, not some. I began to reason in my mind. If God can forgive and cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness, how can I not forgive myself? Am I greater than God? No, of course not. So I prayed and said to the Lord, “Jesus thank you for forgiving me of ALL unrighteousness. No matter how big the sin, I choose to forgive me! Enable me to love and serve you all the days of my life. I did not deserve this grace and mercy, but I receive it in full measure. I Love you with all my being and I am eternally grateful to you.” It is the truth of God’s Word that sets us free from our own reasoning and the lies of the enemy. God is truth and there is no lie found in Him.

At around the age of thirty-six, John and I went through a program called Cleansing Stream and that was the first time we ever spoke of the abortion we had when we only dated for a month. God brought much healing into our lives at this time.

James 1:2-4  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3.) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4.) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I have lived through many trials throughout my lifetime. There would be too many to write about in this testimony. From 2008-2015 John and I walked through a very difficult season in our lives. During this time, I chose to rise up in my Spirit man and declare the goodness of God in the land of the living, regardless of the circumstances or outcome. John and I lost our home of twenty-five years due to the economy affecting his business. I was in a car accident in 2012, with no health insurance and during that time, lost four family members to cancer and illness. Out of this, God would have me write a personalized devotional, “Being Immersed in the Father’s Love” in obedience to the Lord’s directive. This is His heartbeat to all His Children. It is a personalized devotional that Immerses you into His kind intentions towards you through His word, no matter what the circumstances. Whether you know the Lord for one day, one hundred years, or not at all, this devotional will touch your life in an intimate way. He is a good, good Father! He orders our steps. The good steps and the hard steps. Receive His love, His truth, and His promises. May every lie be broken and cast down in Jesus name! Amen!   

 


Join Dana's Devotional:    Being Immersed in the Father's Love Devotional        

Dana's Ministry Videos     

Dana's Testimony on Victorious Life TV with Lisa Buldo

Being Immersed in the Father's Love (Purchase on Amazon---Great Reviews!)   

Kindle Version is Available


Description of Dana's Ministry in Her Own Words:

"Come and be immersed in the overwhelming love of God the Father. Encounter His desire and the kind intentions that He has for you through the personalizing of scripture presented in this devotional. Picture a waterfall of God's promises washing over you and fully immersing you through the faithfulness of what He has promised to you in His word. Where negative mind-sets and perspectives will be washed away and replaced with great worth and value. Experience how you will be enabled to have victory in your life even while encountering difficult trials and circumstances. Your trust and faith will increase as you engage with Him. He is desiring you and is willing to give you all that He has promised. Come and encounter the goodness of God the Father and allow Him to lavish His love upon you. All you need to do is be willing to receive what He is providing. He is trustworthy and will not disappoint! Come and be immersed!"      

~Dana Repetti






 




 


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03Jul

Emily's, dark past included many failed relationships, an abortion, addiction, welfare, and single motherhood. She became so hopeless, that she came up with a suicide plan. However, a chance meeting with a stranger, changed her life forever!

"Neither is their salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven whereby we must be saved."  (Acts 4:12)

Emily Myers


This is the story of how God intervened in my broken life and turned my past into purpose.....


In 2012, I was a single mom on welfare, unemployed, and addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was hopeless and in despair with a suicide plan, when a chance meeting with a stranger changed my life forever. I met a woman who invited me to an addictions program called Reformers Unanimous at her local church. It was there, that I was faced with the most important decision of my life.


I grew up in a very religious home with a large family. My mom was loving and attentive, but unfortunately both of my parents came from abusive childhoods, and so that cycle continued. My dad drank alcohol every night, and was violent and unpredictable. His unfaithfulness toward my mom affected our family greatly. There was no moral compass or guidance for my siblings and me. My childhood (and eventually adulthood) was marked by fear and mistrust of everyone. I was taken out of the family home several times as a child, living in various institutions.


I spent adulthood trying to escape the pain of my childhood. Failed relationships, abortion, drugs, alcohol, regret, guilt, shame, 10 years of counseling, multiple 12 step groups, false religions, self-help books, and the list goes on. I needed an identity, but couldn’t find one. What was missing? Why did I feel so empty inside? These questions haunted me every day.


By 37, life had come undone. I couldn’t handle one more failure, and the only way out that I could see...was death. I made the decision, that I was going to kill my daughter and then myself. It was no coincidence that shortly after this, I saw a news story about a woman in Florida who had the same idea, however...her son died and she survived. For that reason, I delayed my actions for several weeks and that is when God intervened by putting the Christian woman in my path. She showed me a kindness and acceptance that I had never known. She didn’t judge me, and wasn’t afraid to jump into the mess I had made of my life. If that wasn't enough...she held my hand through the darkness. For the first time, I saw the love of Christ through another person! Curiosity got the best of me, and one night I attended the program. There was a preacher there named Mitch Zajac, who shared his incredible story of redemption. He was as hopeless as I was before he too, was faced with a decision to make. He explained why Jesus came to the earth over 2,000 years ago. He came to seek and to save the lost! I knew I was lost! And, I knew I was broken! He asked me this question with urgency:  "If I were to die in a car accident that night, would I go to Heaven?" I thought I would go to Heaven, but according to the Bible I was wrong. I realized I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I had been wrong about many things, but I knew I couldn’t be wrong about that. My whole life hinged on whether I would accept Christ or reject Him! I chose to accept Christ's payment on the cross for my sins, and in that moment...a burden was lifted from me that words can’t describe. Shame and guilt vanished and although, I still had the same problems, I now faced them with a new hope.  


Within a year, God blessed me with my best friend, Andrew, and we have been married 5 years! Our marriage is happy and healthy because God is the best matchmaker! I have been completely clean and sober for 6 years as of 2018! Through Biblical counseling, the Reformers Unanimous program, weekly Bible class, and church services at Valley Forge Baptist Temple, in Collegeville, PA,...I have experienced complete victory over addiction! Most importantly, God gave me a clear conscience after forgiving my sins. The one who made me is the only one who could fix me. God was the missing piece!!



***Valley Forge Baptist Temple in Collegeville, PA***                                                                                     

***Valley Forge Baptist Temple (Biblical Counseling Center)***


***Mitch Zajac, had the opportunity to share his testimony on CBN's The 700 Club this past year. Today, Mitch is a traveling evangelist, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Feel free to contact Mitch for prayer and questions about Jesus and salvation***        

                                                                     

Making a Living from Anger (Mitch's Story)       Mitch's Ministry Site      Talkin' Faith TV Show      

Reformers Unanimous








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03May

Through years of physical and emotional abuse, Surya Nycole, has allowed God to use all that she has gone through for His glory. Today, she has a recovery ministry helping others overcome their life trauma's. Surya is also a worship leader, speaker, and author. Please take some time to listen to Surya's videos. They will encourage you and those you love and care for.



(Mark 8:34-38)   "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”


God uses us! Even in the midst of our sin, our pain, and especially in our sorrow. He uses ALL things for good, not only for those that are hurting, but also for those doing the hurting. Today, I am going to encourage you with one of my many testimonies of how God carried me through, healed me, and helped me grow in my relationship with Him!

It’s no secret that I am a single mother—I never married my son’s father however—my pregnancy was a medical miracle. In the past, I had many woman issues that left my ovaries scarred, and even experienced cancer scares that brought on several surgeries which took half of my cervix. My odds of pregnancy became 50/50—50% chance I would get pregnant, and 50% chance that I would get pregnant, but with extremely high odds of not carrying full-term or miscarrying. I left that appointment filled with sorrow—grieving my dreams of becoming a mother. I knew God, but as any immature Christian, I believed I didn’t deserve to be healed and/or blessed, and that I was the one in control. I began to gather paperwork to start the adoption process for a special needs child and MY plan was to mail it out on my 30th birthday. But even in the midst of my sin, God had a different plan!


Unmarried and in an unstable relationship, I became pregnant in December 2009. Needless to say—I had a high risk pregnancy. I was excited to become a mother, but I feared losing my baby, especially knowing that I did not become pregnant in a way that pleased God. The father of my child was in and out of my life, coming back with temporary positive gestures that sometimes lasted only a few hours. Often he would leave after horrible actions of cheating and verbal abuse. I was about 4 months pregnant, when I prayed about getting back together with my son’s father. God showed me two roads that I could chose to take—The first road would lead to a dark and heavy-hearted path with a terrifying forest—The second road would be breathtaking, beautifully bright, and like open and clean fresh air. While God showed me the 2 choices that I could take—I chose the dark path. I wanted my child to have a family—I’m sure you are thinking—Why didn’t you choose the sunny road!?!? But, I had already had years of false Biblical teaching at this point and in my mind, I was going to do whatever it took for us to be a family even though, his father was abusive, struggling with substance abuse, and would cheat—I thought I could fix it all!


At the time, I became pregnant, I was a worship leader. Yes, even those in ministry struggle with their flesh. I was in serious emotional pain and confusion, but I led worship every Sunday and I praised God! This is truly where I deeply learned how to praise Him during the storm, and let me tell you—I praised Him! I never missed a Sunday—I kept moving forward and put on a smile that I call “Gods smile”, because without Him, it would not exist!


About a month after I had my son, his father became physically violent on top of all the verbal abuse. He didn’t want to be home, sober or faithful. Every weekend, I obtained a new bruise to replace the one that faded from the time before. His face would literally change and I saw Satan in his eyes. In the midst of Satan trying to break me down, I got right back up. Literally, he would throw me across the room, and I would just stand right back up. I didn’t hit back, I just kept getting back up to face him. Maybe it was a mistake, because it angered him even more, and made the situation worse. But, I had been in abusive relationships in the past where others often blamed me for not standing up for myself. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I wasn’t going to just lay there anymore.


Well, yep—even 6 months later—I still wanted my family to work, but the abuse continued to get worse, and as it did— I did my best to hide what was truly going on in my life. It did help that he wasn’t home much though. Months after the birth of my son, I started going to therapy because he started making me believe that I was crazy and needed help. I sure did need help, but not the kind of help he expected. I didn’t admit to the physical abuse because I knew my therapist would have to report it, and—I was beginning to believe, that I provoked it, therefore—in some way, felt I deserved the way I was being treated. My therapist was a Christian woman, and she helped me see that I shouldn't blame myself because it wasn’t my fault. It took me about 2 more months to kick him out for good—not because of therapy, but because my son got hurt. Most of the time I got hit, my son was in his bedroom, or—I wasn’t holding him at the time when his father became violent. However, this time—he pushed me hard while, I was holding him and his 6th month old little head, flew into the door, leaving a bump that swelled. My thinking at this point was, “It’s one thing for me to be abused—I can take—but for my son to get hurt, it is not OK!” It was extremely difficult because no matter how much you don’t like being abused, you’re so messed up mentally you don’t know up from down. But, I kicked him out and got an order of protection. It has been almost 8 years since that day.  


Unfortunately, we still have to deal with him, but thankfully—it’s from a distance. He still continues to struggle with his flesh, and we continue to pray for him. He’s not very involved father which, is a blessing because he’s not healthy enough even to be a part-time father. I forgave his father years ago, while I was still healing, because it’s not about how I feel—that’s the key to growing spiritually. I want my son to know God is the reason for the path that we are on in life. With all my heart, I want him to know God the way I have come to know Him, so he doesn’t waste his life floating through the world encountering or causing pain because of his own pain or confusion.


God has taught me that forgiveness is not only for me, but also for my abusers. He showed me how they were at one-time victims too. I have learned such a depth of forgiveness with understanding that I never knew before. God has given me strength to realize why I got into abusive relationships. He has healed me, and now uses me to help others! All of the evil that I have encountered, and participated in—He now uses for the good of strengthening me spiritually and others! Today, I not only minister to my son, but also to those in recovery from all kinds of traumas. He uses me as a mind, body, and soul coach to all. He has given me the ability to relate in ways that many cannot. This trial was painful on many levels, but it brought me closer to God, has become part of my purpose, and is one of my favorite testimonies!








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