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Deep roots of loss and rejection began to grow in me from day one of my life.  My biological mother was a drug addict and led a very promiscuous lifestyle.  In the 1980s, she had four children within four years, and she gave us all up for adoption.  I was the second child born to her.  I was adopted as a baby and raised just south of the Chicago, Illinois suburbs in a small farming town.  The only parents I have ever known are my adopted parents. 

I was raised as an only child.  My childhood was not an easy one.  My Mom was very abusive.  My Dad spent most of his time working, leaving me alone with my Mom quite often, which was never pleasant.  My childhood was isolated and very rough. 

My best friend growing up lived across the street.  Her Dad was the pastor of the Baptist church near my house.  I began going to the youth group with her and eventually started attending church there.  While I did grow up going to church and gained knowledge of Scripture, I didn’t have much Spiritual growth there because it was a very religious environment.

My Mom was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in spring 2003, during the second semester of my freshman year of college.  She underwent chemotherapy and fought the disease hard for a little under two years.  In February of 2005, she chose to stop treatment and began hospice care.  I left college and moved home mid-way through the second semester of my junior year because I wanted to help take care of her.  She passed away in July 2005, just 11 days before my 21st Birthday.  I was engaged to be married at the time.  In September of that same year, my fiancé was killed one afternoon by a drunk driver on his way home from work.

After my Mom died, my Dad retired and moved back to his home state of Kentucky to be closer to his family.  On New Year’s Day 2016, he suffered a massive stroke, which rendered him disabled.  I quit my job and moved to Kentucky to be near him.  He needed a great deal of care.  Just as I had felt with my Mom, I did not want a stranger taking care of my Dad.  The thing about caregiving is that it is very easy to put your whole identity into taking care of that person that you love.  Before you know it, you have no sense of who you are anymore.  My Dad passed away this year, also from cancer.

Through a series of bad choices I made in an effort to be independent, handle everything on my own, never ask for help, and never allow myself to need anyone, I landed myself into a slow fade of problems and addiction that sent me spiraling downward.  I made a completely mess of my life, all while keeping a smile on my face and pretending everything was okay.  I hurt people close to me by being dishonest and hiding the truth of what was going on in my life.

I came to the Hope Center for Women in May of 2017 very lost, in all the ways a person can be lost.  I had created a mess of my life.  I had no idea who I was anymore.  My parents had both passed away and I felt like my whole life history left with them.  I was 32 years old and I felt like an orphan.  I was so far from God.  I felt like no one saw me, least of all God.  I was at the point in my life where I was so hopeless.  I did not see any point in continuing to go on.  I had no one and nothing mattered to me anymore. 

Since coming to the Hope Center for Women, the entire atmosphere of my existence has shifted.  This home gives us the opportunity to be still and sit at the feet of Jesus for an extended period of time.  We are hidden and protected from the world and all its distractions, while we learn to better hear the voice of God and walk in the Spirit.  We are so well loved from the moment we walk in the doors of the home and we are surrounded by Kingdom-minded people who call us higher and deeper in God.  We are encouraged daily to let go of our pasts and focus on our identity in Christ, His call on our lives, and the future He has in store for us.  Through all of that, God gives healing to our brokenness.

While the experience is good, it also hurts.  There are growing pains involved in learning how to die to ourselves daily, so we become more like Jesus.  God put us in the fire and refines us while we are here.  Purification is a hard, but necessary process.  It is not easy when God brings all of our junk to the surface.  It is painful when He has to pull out those negative things that have taken such deep root in our lives.  But at the Hope Center for Women, He has given us people who love us despite our junk.  They love us enough to bring correction to us when its necessary and give us a safe place to mess up, learn, and grow.  They give us a covering and a haven under which we can let God teach us to be who He created us to be and they call out the beauty and gifts in us.  They teach us that it is okay to just be who we are because who we are is good.  We get an entire year to sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him love on us with perfect love that drives out every negative thing.

Because of the Hope Center for Women, I have a personal relationship with my heavenly Father that is more than I ever imagined it could be and getting deeper all the time.  He sees me, He knows me, and He loves me.  He is continually teaching me who I am in Him and I am slowly learning how to walk in the new identity He has given me.  I am not rejected.  I am not abandoned.  I am not alone.  I am not an outcast.  I am not a failure.  I am accepted.  I am loved.  I am strong.  I have a Spiritual family.  I have an inheritance.  I am chosen.  I have a high calling on my life.  I am everything His Word says I am and nothing less.

"Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Lord will fight for you.  You only need to be still."
(Exodus 14: 13-14 NIV)
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