Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Testimony: From addict to free

I apologize in advance for the length.

This post is for the Proverbs 31 online Bible studies blog hop. We are currently studying, Limitless Life by Derwin Gray. For this week’s blog hop, I’ve chosen to share my testimony of going from addict to free that corresponds with Chapter 2 of the book.

I actually have 2 testimonies of going from addict to free.

The 1st is my addiction to cigarettes. I had been a smoker for about 17 years. I started when I was 20 & ended up officially quitting in 2011, after several failed attempts. I had gotten sick with a bad case of bronchitis and the last thing I wanted to do was smoke. It took about 2 weeks for me to get over the coughing & being sick, but it was enough to get me started on my road to quitting smoking. By God’s grace, I am proud to say that I have been smoke free for 3 years now & I think it’s been one of the best things that I have done for my overall health and well-being.

My 2nd testimony of being set free is a little bit more personal for me & the fact that I am able to write & share this with you today is only because of the work that God has done in my life. Especially since I dealt with this addiction in silence for about the same time that I started smoking. It was one that has caused a lot of shame, guilt & fear - which was an addiction to pornography. For many years I carried this addiction that no one knew about & I was too ashamed to admit. But through God’s grace & mercy, He made a way for me to be open & honest with some people through my church & I am now set free of my addiction.

My addiction started when I was in my teens and my parents were going through a separation. I had been snooping one day & came across some of my dad’s adult magazines & ended up sneaking them up to my room. By the time I had graduated high school, my parents had divorced and even though I was a Christian by this time – I accepted Christ at 15 – I was devastated. Instead of turning to God for comfort and help during this time, I kind of went through this rebellious stage. I was looking toward others to find my worth and security.

My porn addiction escalated when I got into a relationship with a guy I had met at a bar where my coworkers and I went for karaoke & several months later, I moved in with him. His roommate had a huge porn collection that my ex & would sometimes borrow videos to watch when he wasn’t home. Over the years that we were together – which was 8 – we ended up using porn to “enhance” our relationship.

Several months after we broke up, I had been working for a company of over 1000 people & I started dating a guy who worked on the same floor as I did. We went out for almost a year & broke up after I started attending & joined a local church with my mom. While we were together, we would visit adult stores because he knew about my previous relationship & how we used to watch movies together. This was my last relationship I’ve had. I’ve been single for almost 10 years now, but I also thank God for this season of singleness.

I ended up attending this church for 5 years until I felt that it was time for me to move on to another church. The church I had been attending is considered to some a legalistic type of church. So while I was a member, I learned a lot about God, but didn’t really have a strong knowledge of his love for me. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t doing enough for Him. So, after I left that one, I took some time off and about 6 months later, I started attending a spirit-filled non-denominational church. Four months after that, I ended up joining that one & becoming a member.

During this time of singleness & church attendance, I spent time growing my relationship with God through prayer & bible study, however, I still continued struggling with my addiction to pornography in which no one knew about, except God. I kept going through the sin-confess-sin-confess cycle for years until last year when I told God I was finally done & something needed to change.

For many years I had been so embarrassed, ashamed, guilty and fearful of my addiction. It almost seemed taboo for a woman to struggle with this type of addiction. And even if they did, it wasn’t something that was talked about in the open. At least where I came from. But God, in his grace & mercy, answered my prayer & made a way for me to be open & honest about my addiction with some trusted Christians that I had already been seeing for prayer and counseling.

I was nervous about contacting my prayer counselor & spilling my guts about something that I had never spoke a word to anyone about, except anonymously online to strangers. But I was shocked & relieved when I received a response from her thanking me for my honesty. She was so gracious & didn’t judge me. We set up an appointment for me to meet with her & 2 other ladies for counseling & an anointed prayer session. After the appointment was over, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was also able to share my freedom with a lady I had met with later to set up getting re-baptized that weekend at church - I was baptized once when I joined that church after my relationship ended.

Afterwards, I had set up weekly meetings & bible studies for several months to keep myself accountable, but to be completely honest, I really didn’t need it, other than to help grow my relationship with God. The reason I say this is because I truly believe that once I was open & honest with several people about my addiction & then getting re-baptized, I think it helped fortify my freedom.

This was back in July of last year & I am happy to say that I am completely free of my addiction. I have not had any urges to look at a movie or magazine of adult nature. And if I do come across something like that now, I just shut it off or walk away from it because it no longer serves a purpose in my life.

I feel like I have been given a fresh start in life & I know that God has a plan & purpose for my life. I do hope that I will eventually end up getting married one day, but this time, I am going to do it God’s way. I am also going to cherish this time that I have as a single person & use it serve God the best way I know how, especially when opportunities like this one open up for me to share my story with others.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Made to Crave, week 2, 1 Peter 5:7


My goal for this study was to concentrate on drawing closer to God through quiet time, bible study & prayer, more so than the food aspect & the way I crave other things instead of spending time with Him. So, I'm continuing this week to do the bible verse mapping and sharing what I've learned from our verse for the week.

1 Peter 5:7-8 (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

(I made the above graphic with @visualpoetry. An app I found for the iPhone.) 

I love how after I read Chapter 4 on Sunday & seeing the verse for the week that I actually had to put it into practice. Without going into too much details, I will share that back in Oct of '12, I was given a promise from God and that it was only here recently within the last few months that I started to see manifestations of it starting to come to pass. However, this week, I guess in a moment of vulnerability the enemy came in & started to plant some doubts in my mind to get me discouraged & give up.

This was on Sunday night,and by Monday morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard in my spirit "things are not always as they seem. The enemy wants to steal your joy and your peace, don't let him." Then later that afternoon, he reminded me again, "do not give up."

I love how the word for this week is "determination". I think it's perfect for what I am going through right now & how the Lord reminded me not to give up. It's so easy to do sometimes when we "feel" like things are not going as we planned. We let our guard down for one moment and the enemy decides to step in and plant seeds of doubt & discouragement, then we are tempted to give up trying - whatever it may be.

Not to give the enemy more credit than he deserves, but it's sad that he knows us better than we know ourselves, especially during times of weakness and vulnerability. He's studied us for a long time and knows exactly what buttons to push to get us to question God. Just like he did with Eve. That is why I had to include the rest of the verse above.

I wrote the following prayer poem on Monday while I was reflecting on this verse &  going through my moment of doubt & questioning.

Lord when temptations come & life feels out of control
Remind me to look to you, the Lover of my soul
You know me better than I know myself
It is only in you that I will find my rest
The enemy prowls around seeking someone to devour
I need to be on my guard, each and every hour
He wants to kill, steal and destroy the hope I find in you
But I know that with you by my side, i will get my breakthrough
You are my shelter & fortress, in you I can stand
You hold my very life in the palm of your hand
You care for me deeply, because I am your daughter
Bought by the blood of your son & cleansed by the water
I love you Lord because you first loved me
and in your arms I'll always be
safe and secure no need to fret
Because your have not failed me yet.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Made to Crave, Week 1, Psalm 84:2

This post is a part of the Made to Crave online bible study from Proverbs 31 ministries.


For this blog entry, I chose option #2 which is to "Unpack our scripture for the week and share with us what you learned"

MY SOUL YEARNS, EVEN FAINTS FOR THE COURTS OF THE LORD; MY HEART AND FLESH CRY OUT FOR THE LIVING GOD. -  Psalm 84:2 (NIV)

MY SOUL = Very being, essence
YEARNS –desires, pines after
FAINTS – becomes weak
MY HEART – inner man, mind, will, heart
AND FLESH - flesh
CRY OUT – shout, sing for joy
FOR THE LIVING – alive
GOD – almighty

Psalm 84:2 - Amplified Bible (AMP)
2 My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God.

Does my soul yearn, even faint for the courts of the Lord?
Do my heart & my flesh cry out for the Living God?
Or does my soul, my very essence, crave or even desire other things before God?

These are the questions that come to mind when I begin to unwrap this verse. If I am being completely honest, I wish I could say that I do put God above everything else or that I “crave God” more than anything, but I don’t.

It becomes very apparent to me especially when my flesh would rather sleep in that extra 30 minutes in the morning than get up & spend time praying or reading my Bible before leaving for work. Or when I come home in the evening & plop down on the couch to watch TV to relax instead of being more intentional about reading one of the many books that I’ve bought & haven’t read yet. One that will enrich my spiritual life & help me to grow as a Christian.

Yes, my soul & my heart desire to spend more time with God & to be in his presence. Especially since I know that on those occasions when I am intentional about spending that time with God, there is fullness of joy in His presence. I always come away feeling refreshed, renewed & restored. But my crazy flesh wants to get in the way.

For me, this "made to crave" journey is going to be more about craving God & His presence in my life than it will be about food. I've done this study several times before & in the past it had been about food & weight loss. But the more times I've gone through this study, I've realized that it's more about putting things or craving things more than I do Him. Through the past times I've been through this study, I have lost weight, controlled my food cravings & quit smoking. But this time, I'm going to focus more on what is keeping me from spending more time with Him.