Category Archives: Featured story 3

Throwing Away the Remote: A Lesson in Courage


 

 

 

Flipping the page on my Alaska Wildlife calendar to a new month I’m reminded of an encroaching anniversary.

I’ve lost track of how many years passed since my home break-in but even without a calendar on the wall I internally sense its date. My first clue? Something in my spirit hungers for more control. From serving eight years as a volunteer for women’s crisis centers I learned that need to control is a common denominator among survivors of violence. Not surprising when you consider that during the commission of many violent episodes/crimes, victims are generally at the mercy of the perpetrator.

For hours during my home break-in, I didn’t know if I would live or die. Wickedness taking the form of a human held me prisoner at gunpoint, my only recourse to endure his abuse or perish. In those dark hours, with control stripped from me, helplessness assailed me. Even for weeks following I was not in control. Fear gripped me, preventing me from living my life. Every noise startled me. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep without nightmares, couldn’t step outside the shelter of a friend’s home without trembling, couldn’t look people in the eye without crying, couldn’t watch tv newscasts without feeling sick. Aftermath of violence rendered me helplessness in nearly every aspect of life.

A lie took root: Absence of Control equals Helplessness. The remedy appeared obvious. The more I control my world the less helplessness I experience. In a misdirected attempt to avoid soul agony of helplessness & vulnerability, I convinced myself I must always be in control. Some control proved helpful like planning where I ventured out to and for how long, making sure to return home before dark. Other decisions seem random. I controlled the length of my hair, lopping it boy short for the first time in my life. I wore unattractive colors & frumpy clothing. I isolated myself from everyone, including friends. Many nights when insomnia owned me, I took refuge in television, not for my viewing pleasure but mechanically pressing a remote control every few minutes for hours until I drifted off exhausted. It seems so ridiculous now but at the time, I felt powerful with control literally at my fingertips.

Problem is my controlling spiraled out of control, ruining relationships, isolating me from people who love me. Control cost opportunities, rendered me a slave to lists and self-imposed rules of how life must be structured for my protection. Need to control narrowed my world, prohibiting me from venturing too far beyond the familiar and manageable. It chained me to routines, limited my circle of support, prevented me from trusting, robbed me of freedom, cheated me of JOY in living and loving. Ultimately, control consumed me.

What I needed wasn’t control but courage. Friends told me how brave I was for living through a violent attack. There’s nothing courageous about being a victim. Courage can only be found in choosing to move from victim to survivor, choosing to FULLY LIVE as a Survivor.

Control is the antithesis of courage. Despite my best efforts to appear brave, I realized bravery cannot emerge as long as I control everything because control roots and thrives in fear.

As long as I knew exact outcomes, hid behind routines, averted vulnerability by limiting my friendships, as long as I buried my heart and surfed through meaningless relationships like channel surfing with a remote control, true courage evaded me. I was, in fact, cowardly hiding behind a thin veil of false bravado destined to unravel in ugly ways.

True bravery emanates from staring down our fears, especially the fear of losing control. Courage emerges when everything in me shouts, “RUN! HIDE!” but I choose not to, when outcomes are shaky & threatening and I risk anyway, moving forward even in uncertainty but with resolve to conquer. “Courage”, as my dear friend Marshele Carter Waddell puts it, “is running up to the dark and taking one more step.”

The truth is, the more I tried to control the more I became controlled. If I honestly believed in the Sovereignty of God, I had to surrender control to Him. Surely the God who numbers the hairs on my head and watches over lowly sparrows cares about my struggles, right? {Matthew 10:29-30} But surrender seemed like giving up, admitting defeat, weakness. I fought until I nearly destroyed myself. The longer I avoided raising the white flag, the deeper fears bored into my soul and the emptier I became. No 12-step program delivered me, no magic formula to follow…just a simple prayer of relinquishment, a commitment to reach out to others for love & support and a long journey of intentionality to trust my Creator with details of my life every moment, every breath, every heartbeat.

Glance again at the calendar on my wall I commit the date of the break-in to the Lord. I won’t be controlled by fears in this season. My heart beats a little faster when I think of that night but I recognize fear sooner when it attempts to slip through cracks of my brokenness. I’m quicker to declare I will not let fear rule, not let it constrain me anew to channel-surfing-type control. Instead I choose to throw away the remote. I risk more. I forgive quicker. I laugh louder. I love deeper. I live freer… I live courageously.

~~~

DiAnna Steele is A Christian Speaker and Writer living in Colorado Springs , CO with her family and a 6-pound killer terrier. With more than 15 years speaking for Fortune 500 companies and major non-profits, DiAnna discovered her true joy is found in focusing her talents on Christian venues. She is available for speaking engagements and is a favorite for women’s events. It’s been 2 decades since she became a survivor of a violent crime. www.DiAnnaSteele.com .

Karen Justice Guard Interview

 

Breathe Again Magazine:  Karen you are on a journey. You have been on a journey for a while. You have written several books,founded a welfare to work program in California. You own a restaurant and now you are in the process of releasing the follow-up to your first book, which was Keep Showing Up.  Lady what haven’t you done?

Karen Justice Guard: That’s great. It is a great, great question. You know, life is such a journey and I think God just keeps giving us more lessons to move forward. And I just keep showing up for the next lesson to just be renewed and just keep moving forward, so you know, God just keeps moving me forward to the next lesson.

Breathe Again Magazine: Amen, and you just keep showing up. That’s good.

Karen Justice Guard: Yes

BAM:Who is Karen Justice-Guard ?. I know you are this beautiful blonde bombshell out there in California but tell us who you really are?

Karen Justice Guard: Well you know, I think that was maybe one of my problems. We  have this outer shell and people, places, and things get us lost with the outer shell.  At 50, I discovered I  had one thing to change, which was everything.

 I could dance,  I was an entrepreneur, and I was beautiful on the outside. But I have these demons and that would be like ,”same movie, different phase” . I kept  taking things on but it was never enough, I couldn’t do enough, and I wasn’t enough, and I just  ended up being a people pleaser.  The new book I wrote talks about anger, justification, forgiveness, addiction  and so much more. You have to peel away the anger.

Breathe Again Magazine: Yes

Karen Justice Guard: And you have to peel it away. Here is an example; I am an identical twin.  When we came out, I had a lazy eye and kind of smashed face, so everybody wanted to hold the pretty baby.  And people would come up and say, “Can w hold the pretty baby?  . Well, I made a decision at a very young age that we live in a cruel world. I made a decision at that age that I would b a people pleaser.

When I was 8 years old , in the early 50′s , I can remember being spanked at school. It wasn’t like today, where you can’t touch a child.  The teacher came up when we were doing vows, took a pencil and  poked me in the ar. I remember running to the principal’s office. Blood was coming down my arms so bad  they called my mother. Well, my mother had agoraphobia and my dad was alcoholic, so they told me to get back to the class. There was no one to protect me .I remember running all the way home. Years later, I ended up being a victim of domestic violence.

Breathe Again Magazine:With no one to protect you

Karen Justice Guard: Right.  And through those times you know Dr. Phil says that tragedy like that will set a child back, you know, when something that traumatic happens, it will change a person. I shut down learning because it was in front of my peers and were doing vows when this happened. So, we have to go back to our childhood.

Breathe Again Magazine:  I’d  like to go back to when you talk about the inner demons you battled because people  only saw the beautiful blonde bombshell. They saw you being successful, they saw you writing books, and they thought you had it all. But inside, you were battling something and no one knew about the inner demons you had to deal with. You’ve been way up and you have also  been way down.

Karen Justice Guard: Right.

Breathe Again Magazine: Talk to me about… I  read your first book, “Keep Showing Up.” You had to overcome many things. You did it…But then you went back. Talk to me about that.

Karen Justice Guard:Exactly.  You see, my family came from a lot of generations of child molestation . No therapy and things talked about, and alcoholism,it wasn’t like it is today.

Breathe Again Magazine: Right.

Karen Justice Guard: I grew up around so much sexuality that by the time I got into drugs at 18 or 19, I was just numb. I had to go back and  interview my family and that’s the second book/ workbook that I just wrote.

Breathe Again Magazine: Wow!

Karen Justice Guard: I had to figure out what happened to me. How could I be so successful? Why I could help the world? Why I have all these addictions? How come I got into food addiction? How come I got into drug addiction?  I could be so blind and have this reading problem? I just kept messing up. What was my problem? You know, what was going on with me . I had to go back and figure out what was missing. I had to peel away all what was going on, and understand the generation curse …and understand where it came from.

Breathe Again Magazine: So Karen do you believe when you wrote the first book you were not truly healed? You wrote in your introduction,  “It was a draining experience to revisit all the horrors that I have been through and happened and that I went to the dark side again. In fact, it really did make me kind of ill. You see, since the first book I did recreate the situations that were once harmful to me again. That was confirmation that there was definitely something wrong and I knew that I needed to start over. This book allowed me the opportunity to show the humble human side of having to admit the fault and get it again.” So, do you think that because you went back because you were not truly healed from the first time?

Karen Justice Guard: Absolutely, and because God was in the center of it.

Breathe Again Magazine: So what was in the center of it?

Karen Justice Guard: The ego and easing God out. I would take my will back, take the credit back, and then I would debut again, and then I get living again, and I become human again. It was all about me and all about money, and it was about all the things again. People, places, and things – I had to have my power back.

Breathe Again Magazine: I think that is so dynamic that you brought that up because it is so true, so many of us go through that circumstance. We take God out of it. We throw him in  when we want Him to be in it.   I always tell people, “You cannot pimp God. You cannot take Him off the shelf and use him when you feel as though you want to use Him, but then when you don’t want to play with Him any longer, you put him back on the shelf. It don’t work like that. ”

 

Karen Justice Guard: Peeling away the layers is very important. And just because we do the inventory process, and just because we show up on a daily basis, doesn’t mean that we are cured. Let me give you an example.  12 years ago, I was down in Santa Cruz and I picked up a neighbor, he had a swollen  stomach, smelled like alcohol. This was before I was even know that I had hepatitis C. “I said you smell like alcohol.”

He goes, “Yeah, I am dying of Hepatitis C.” and I said, “But you smell like alcohol.” I remember noting to myself, “How could you drink alcohol if you are dying of hepatitis C?” I said to myself, ” I would never do that.”  11 years later, I ended up drinking when I had my sober living housing program. I was selling real estate, had a ride and was making a ton of money. All of a sudden my liver disease attacked my kidneys. I got up to 201 LBS, it attacked my kidneys, my cholesterol went to 300. I went on chemo, I almost died. I knew God was disappointed. He took everything away from me.  The market crushed and I lost a million dollars of the property. I was humiliated. I ended up in a crack house.

Breathe Again Magazine: Jesus!

Karen Justice Guard: Two months it took me to realize that it wasn’t the crack that got me there, it was alcohol because I was in a blackout.

Breathe Again Magazine: Wow!

Karen Justice Guard: That was my bottom, that was my bottom, and I lost it all. I was humiliated and that was my bottom. After all what I had done, everything that I had worked for all those years, and that’s where it took me. And in the last four and a half years I knew I was no on God’s side anymore, and that’s why I had to turn my life around.

Breathe Again Magazine: Yes.

Karen Justice Guard:  I mishandled his gift.

Breathe Again Magazine: My, my.

Karen Justice Guard: And you know what? I knew that I didn’t shine in God’s light but it also says in the Bible that when get  back on the right side, God will give back 10 fold. That’s not why I did it. I knew I had no integrity. I knew I didn’t look good in God’s eyes. And I knew  for the first time in my life that I needed to walk right and I needed to have integrity and I that I needed to recast my life with the better light, not a dim light, not a bright light but a shining light, and that I needed to do everything different. So in the last four years I started to do things different.

Breathe Again Magazine: Karen I really want you to encourage someone right now that feels like they keep doing the same thing over and over again and they know it’s wrong. Encourage that individual that has not forgiven themselves but wants to move forward.

Karen Justice Guard: I would just tell you the problem in front of you isn’t as big as the power behind you and the power behind you is God.

Breathe Again Magazine: Amen.

 

 

Depression

Embracing Reality and Experiencing Freedom

 

 

For me, admitting my struggle with depression was taboo. It was something with which Christians should not struggle and for many years I was ashamed to admit my own battle with it. I lived under the assumption that depression is a state of mind and not a medical condition. And though I knew people who took medication for depression, and some of them Christians, relying on medication was a copout. Is life really that difficult that a person should succumb to depression, especially Christians whose reliance should be on God? With some gumption and good sense anyone can get over it. I was going to get over it and so should everyone else. Besides, all one really needs to do is pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on. It did not occur to me that depression could be more than an occasional bad day or that some people do not even have boots. I realize now that my pride and ignorance not only caused ceaseless anguish in my own life, but more significantly hindered my ability to empathize with and comfort others.

My struggle with depression began in my early twenties. I do not recall a defining moment that initiated the depression, except that circumstances were far from favorable. I was living and working in a small, rural community with little social outlet, and my two closet girl friends and colleagues in ministry had moved away. I was single and very lonely. I often felt “down in the dumps” and did not enjoy life or my usual hobbies and activities. There were also the frequent sleepless nights and, consequently, lack of energy and motivation. Most notably, there were the recurring thoughts of suicide and the night I nearly ended my life with a bottle of aspirin. Yet even in all this I could not bring myself to admit that I needed help. I was too ashamed of my depression to even confide in my Christian brothers and sisters so I withdrew from the body of Christ, those with whom I most needed to be in fellowship, accepting solitude over community.

Only recently, some twelve years later, have I come to acknowledge that my depression is a real medical condition and to willingly accept help in treating it. The breakthrough has gradually come over the course of the past few years; ironically, in the midst of the darkest and most difficult circumstances of my life in which tears, brokenness and loneliness have been constant companions, to the point that I “do not even have boots” many days.

I vividly recall the defining moment when I finally acknowledged my need for help. In tears, I called a friend and mentor from church, a minister on staff, confessing that I was not handling circumstances very well, and for the first time openly admitted my struggle with depression. He encouraged me to seek counseling, which my church offers at no charge, and assured my first appointment was scheduled with ease. He also encouraged me to consider prescription medication.

Medication has helped me manage my depression but counseling has been the most helpful. I have learned a lot about myself and how to be honest with myself and others about my depression. Most significantly, I have learned how to let others care for me. The greatest breakthrough was about a year ago, when in tears and brokenness I confided in my discipleship class at church about my struggle with depression. To confide in a trusted friend and mentor took strength; to confide in a community of Christians took courage I did not know I possessed.

As I have become more honest and open with others I have seen the fruit of their prayers and support. I have learned to rest in God’s unseen arms, trust in His unconditional love and hope in His unfailing promises. What once appeared to be a hopeless situation has become hopeful as I have allowed others to care for and about me, blessing me with their presence in my life and reminding me that I am never alone; I belong to Christ, my hope is in Him, and I have the support of His people.

I have not welcomed the dark and difficult circumstances of the past few years, but I am thankful for the greater purpose they have served in my life. Depression is no longer my shameful secret. It is a fact of life for many people and the reality of my own existence. In finally acknowledging my struggle with depression, not only have I emerged wiser, stronger and more confident of who I am in Christ, but I have experienced freedom to minister to others who struggle with depression. My pride and ignorance have been transformed into empathy and compassion. Rather than being a forbidden topic, my own experience with depression is an opportunity to express concern for others – to pray with and for them; to cry with them, encourage them and support them; and, ultimately, to love them as Christ loves them.

I have relinquished my burden of shame and guilt, I have embraced the body of Christ, and I have experienced the freedom to minister and be ministered to. I am forever blessed and grateful!

~~~

 Peggy Molitor lives in Quincy, IL.  She acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Education from Northwestern College and later attained a Master of Arts in Religion from University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  When she isn’t busy with her organizing and cleaning business, she spends her time writing Bible studies and articles for Christian publications.If you would like to contact Peggy about any of her written work, you can email her at peggylynn6@yahoo.com

The Safer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically throughout my lifetime, I’d recall that moment of shame.  I would see in my
minds eye…that tiny little girl walking down the sidewalk toward home with wet pants and the
weight of guilt and shame on her shoulders.

I was six, and in the first grade when it happened.  The teacher hadn’t allowed me to be
excused to go to the bathroom and I’d wet myself.  I was mortified beyond belief, having to sit
there knowing everyone knew.When finally I was dismissed I remember seeing Mom and Dad coming to meet me and how I ran and hid behind the bush on the corner to keep them from seeing me.  It wasn’t until much much later I would realize the significance of that moment and the mighty part it played in my entire life.

My father was a heavy drinker.  We weren’t allowed to call him an alcoholic, though.  I’ve heard the statement “A family is only as healthy as its secrets” and now I know what that means.  As a child, however, I didn’t.  Even though we didn’t admit to this secret we all knew it was there.

We all lived with this crippling pain.

My mother was an emotional person, and had several nervous breakdowns throughout my
growing up years.  She screamed and cried a lot and I always felt it was my fault and grew up
under this shadow of guilt.  She did take us to Sunday school every week, though, and I learned to
love the Lord.  I believe He was the only stable thing in my entire childhood.  But due to the fact I
lived in such a strained environment, I never “really” trusted Him either.  I always felt I was
playing a game, nobody knew about but God and me.  The very fact He knew, too, caused much
stress in my life.

When I became an adult, my faith was there, but it was never strong enough to cause me to
trust God 100%. I never talked about my feelings of inadequacy, because I actually believed if you loved God the way you were supposed to, you would be happy all the time.  I was once more just pretending as I’d always done.  What was wrong with me?

I had a rough time in marriage as well.  It never fulfilled my aching desire for love and I ran
away from them as well.  After two failed marriages, I’d given up on ever finding a life’s mate.  I
wanted no part of love or marriage.  My two teen-aged daughters and I lived alone for seven years.

Then I met Bob.  At last I could be happy…but only six months into the marriage I
awakened to the same old feelings of failure.  At this point I was having anxiety attacks… at times
hardly able to breath.  Hearing the word divorce caused me to want to vomit.  How could I possibly call myself a Christian?  I wanted to run so fast and so far no one would ever find me. I knew of course, this wasn’t the answer, but I was so tired of playing a silly game and not having any idea what the rules were.  I didn’t even want to live if this was the way the rest of my life was going to be.

My sister, who of course, had grown up in the same environment I had, began to go to
A.C.O.A. (Adult children of alcoholics).  I was almost mad because I, then, had to face something
I’d never faced before.  My father, who’d passed away six years prior, had been an alcoholic.
I watched as she became a whole person, I watched as she began admitting things and
allowing the anger she’d hidden for so long, come out.  I began to envy her, and wanted what she
had for myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I could find out what was wrong with me.  I never went to
A.C.O.A. myself, because I felt it was just a bunch of people who blamed their parents for their
own mistakes.  I was wrong.  It is a wonderful support group allowing people to finally talk about
their pasts they had lived with in fear and shame their entire lives.

At this point, I began realizing that maybe I wasn’t to blame for everything.  Finally I began
realizing I was only a product of my environment and was seeking the love and stability I’d never
found as a child, or through marriage.  I couldn’t function as an adult, when I was still a child in a
grown-up body.

I started searching my past for the beginning of my shame.  When had it begun?  What had
caused me to go through an entire lifetime of guilt?  Why would that one tiny insignificant
happening in the first grade cause me to still feel such pain when remembered?  So many questions I’d never given credence to before.I then began to remember my childhood.  It had been a blur except for that one incident of shame I remembered to well.  Why did I have to be so perfect?  Why was I so very very ashamed of wetting my pants.  It wasn’t the end of the world?

My sister began learning about co-dependency and living in a dysfunctional home.  I had a
lot more to admit to than my father being an alcoholic.  As I studied books on this subject, I began
to see things differently.  It wasn’t me alone that caused Dad to drink and mom to have emotional
problems.  They’d had those problems long before I was ever born.  I then became aware that I was trying to be perfect so they wouldn’t have a reason to drink or scream. That was why I felt such shame in the first grade.  Not only shame, but fear; fear dad would be angry, and this would cause him to drink.  Fear mom would be embarrassed and she would start to scream.  This was the reason I’d hidden behind the bush when I saw them coming.

Now I understood.  But there was more to it than that; much more.

One day, Mom and I were talking and I brought up the incident at school.  How I’d run and
hid behind the bush to keep them from seeing me.

“But, Marcia,” she said in a strained voice.  “There was no bush.  You ran to us and cried.”

My heart stood still.  What did she mean no bush?  Why that bush was as real as the
whole experience itself.  I thought I had things kind of straightened out in my mind until I heard
that.  I actually became numb.  Suddenly I knew the truth!  There WAS no bush.  I had invented it in my mind to keep everyone from knowing my pain.  I was forty-five years old and still behind
that bush.  My child-within had never grown beyond that day of shame and fear.  Every time I was forced to face anything that was a challenge I had run and hid behind my safer… my place where no one could see me, and my failures.  I knew them, though, and they were killing me.  No wonder I could not find forgiveness, I was hiding from life, from reality, and God.  I was searching for the perfect love that man cannot give and unable to trust God enough to realize He was the only one who could.

For the first time in my life it all made sense.  I knew I needed to go back to the beginning,
back to my imaginary bush.

I sat alone in my living room and prayed for My Lord to guide me.  Closing my eyes, I
could see myself as I was that very day so long ago.  Alone, tiny, frightened, with straggly hair,
crying softly.  Tears stung my eyes, as my heart went out to this child…. myself.  I called my name and assured this fragile six-year old it was alright to come out.  “It’s Okay, I forgive you, I love you.”  I whispered.  At that moment I became painfully aware of the fact that I’d never loved
myself before.  I wrapped my arms around myself and wept unashamedly as I knew I’d left the
bush behind.

After forty-five years of unnecessary guilt and shame, I was free!

I then knew, I could handle this marriage, because I was no longer seeking a little girls
dream.  Man is not capable of the kind of love I desired.  Only our God in heaven can fill the
emptiness left behind from a dysfunctional childhood.

I can now forgive myself, knowing there was a reason for my behavior.  Even though
dysfunctional living had played a large part in the way I was; I could no longer blame that.  Nor
was my past something I needed to hide from.

God says in His word He forgives sin.  I believe that!  No longer will I allow a past riddled
with shame keep me a shelf below the blessings my Lord has for me.  At last I can face up to life
without shame and guilt clouding the view.

 Marcia Leaser is a freelance Christian author with over nine hundred things published to date.A children’s book Frizzeldee’s Catastrophe was published in 2009 and a women’s devotional  - “Every Step of the Way” will be released in 2012. www.forhismercyandgrace.com

A Sister’s Love

Laleise

After she and her sister had not spoken for a year and half, Laleise Curtiss would have never predicted what would bring them together.

Laleise was born in Detroit, grew up in Cleveland and moved to Virginia Beach 15 years ago.  Curtiss and her sister had not spoken to each other in a year and a half and suddenly her sister found out she needed a kidney transplant.

“It was at that time, I knew this was God’s doing,” said Curtiss.  Hereditary medical problems from their father’s side of the family is  what led to her sister needing the transplant.  She flew to Cleveland, where her mother and sister resided, to be tested as a match for her sister.  “I found out that there is only a 15% chance that siblings are even a match,” said Curtiss, “The tests came back that I was a perfect match.”  Curtiss continued to make several trips back and forth to the Cleveland Clinic and the surgery was performed on June 1, 2007 at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Since that day, my sister and I now talk to each other every single day!” said Curtiss.  When asked what led her to the decision to donate a kidney to her sister, Curtiss said, “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit led me to do what I did.”  Curtiss admits that she was nervous, anxious and scared about the procedure but there was one thing that kept her strong, “I purposely kept myself away from naysayers, doubters and those trying to sow fear,” says Curtiss, who was focused and courageous.  “I stayed in prayer, which took all that away.”

The night of the surgery while they were in their separate recovery rooms, Curtiss said her sister called her on the phone crying, “She said thank you, you saved my life, I love you and I feel so much better already.” Curtiss and her sister had not even finished recovering before their bond had been renewed.  “Like I said, we went from not speaking for a year and half to now talking every single day,” said Curtiss.

The procedure was harder on Curtiss than it was for her sister because the procedure is harder on the donor than the recipient.  Curtiss had to be hospitalized twice after the surgery and ended up staying in Cleveland over a month to recuperate.  “Our theme song is “Never Would Have Made It,” by Marvin Sapp,” said Curtiss.  Curtiss’ sister gave her the CD for her birthday, and said that she would have never made it without Jesus and her.  “I know that without Jesus neither one of us would have made it,” said Curtiss.

Both Curtiss and her sister are now doing very well.  “My sister is back to her old self,” says Curtiss, “She finally put on some weight.”  Curtiss’ sister had lost so much weight that she had to pin and tie her belts around her clothes to keep them from falling off.

Curtiss admits that this experience has taught her so much and she has learned to appreciate life much more.  “I have also learned not to take the small things in life for granted that most people do, including being able to even urinate,” said Curtiss, which her sister had completely could not do for months.

Curtiss, now 46 years old, is employed at Aviation Company in Moyock, North Carolina as an accountant executive for Black Pages USA and is the outgoing President of the National Council of Negro Women, Norfolk section, and will assume the role as the second vice president of the Urban League Guild of the Hampton Roads, NAACP, Virginia Beach Branch.  She is also an Advocate/Ambassador for the National Kidney Foundation of the Virginias and speaks on their behalf.

Curtiss plans to start a non-profit RLC Foundation in memory of her father who died in 2009 after bleeding to death when his dialysis catheter dislodged.  Robert L. Curtiss had been on dialysis for eight years.

“I want to spread more education and awareness regarding organ donation,” said Curtiss.  Curtiss noted that live donation is quicker and better and educating the population’s minority is important, especially for African-Americans. “We shy away from organ donation simply out of fear due to lack of knowledge, which is why we perish.”

Written by Tiffani Addison

http://addison86.wordpress.com/

Forgiving the Unspeakable

Lori McKenney PictureExclusive Interview with Nicole Cleveland

Forgiving the Unspeakable
My Father Killed My Mother

Recently I met a woman by the name of Lori McKenney. Little did I know she would be such a fireball for the Lord.

From the time she picked up the mic, I knew there was a story to be told. You see, when some people are changed they walk it, they talk it. That’s Lori.

Lori has been through many trials in her 40 something years she’s been on this earth. But forgiveness seems to be at the center of it all.

My prayer is that you see God through her testimony

In this interview we talk about how she forgave her father for killing her mother
while she was outside playing. If you have unforgiveness in your heart may I encourage you to let it go?

BAM: I believe what you have to say, people need to hear. I have been blessed to hear a little bit about your testimony and I came out to your book release party. Congratulations on your new book “Transformations”.

Lori: Thank you very much.

BAM: I know you are excited about it.

Lori: Yes, absolutely. The phones are still going. I’m so excited.

BAM: That’s such a blessing. Now your testimony has a lot of forgiveness wrapped up, tied up, and tangled up in it. You have had to forgive family members, friends, and the people closest to you. I really want you to talk about forgiveness and how you had to forgive your father, because that touches the core.

Lori: Yes, first I want to say that it was definitely God that did it because there was no way what my father did I would have ever imagined that I would have to forgiven him. As a young child, I didn’t have a childhood like most children did. I had to come home to my grandmother and my dad shooting back and forth because they didn’t like each other. It consisted of sometimes bullets and sometimes axes. But praise be to God I never got hit.

I remember we came home and my dad made me go outside and I was on punishment. That’s how I really knew that my dad premeditated murder. He made me go outside and my mother used to be a prostitute. You could look out the back door and see where my mother was. My dad used to make me go over and get her. But this one particular evening, he went over to get her. My grandmother told him she wasn’t there. He made me go outside. So when my mother came in the house my dad took a double barrel shot gun and killed her.

A lot of anger, bitterness, and rage sat in me. I began to hit the streets. I became a run away, living in woods and in and out of foster homes and in and out of the system. Always fighting. My life just spiraled down. Then I began to get in other relationships with people that was the same way. Fighting and anger and bitterness set in. How I forgave my dad was a process with time. I kept going to God because I didn’t want to keep holding this. I couldn’t be around him for 2 minutes. We would have cook outs and I wouldn’t go to cook outs. Even if I got the muscle to go see him I couldn’t be around him. I gave myself a time limit. I could be around him 2 minutes and that’s it. Anger would always set in. One particular evening the Lord really dealt with me and asked me to forgive. It took some time, but I made a decision that I was not going to allow this situation to hold me hostage anymore. I couldn’t go further in my life, in my ministry, with my kids. It held me in captivity for years.

BAM: Right, now let’s back up a little bit Lori. Now, you talked about your Father and grandmother shooting back and forth with actual guns at each other. Then you also talked about your mother being a prostitute. So you haven’t had a healthy upbringing or childhood. Then after your father killed your mother you had to make a decision within yourself and decide to forgive him because it was holding you hostage.

Lori: Absolutely. I think the most powerful thing was, I tried to go on with life pushing that aside, but it would always come up. I had to make a decision. The only way to go on with life and this won’t haunt me any more, I had to forgive. I started reading scriptures on forgiving. I didn’t want to want to forgive. I could justify why I didn’t have to forgive him. Because I would go to school and see other mothers there and I was angry that my mother wasn’t there. When a girl goes through the growing up things, I felt like I was deprived because if I had my mother there I would have got the things that most girls should have gotten.

BAM: And you blamed your father.

Lori: And I blamed him. I blamed him for everything. You know… just girlfriend things. When I would go to the mall and go to places and the enemy kept rewinding. He would make sure I saw things that had to do with mother and daughter. In whatever situation. Those things held me captive. It made me depressed. Depression went to suicide. I tried to kill myself. I began to start reading the word and crying out to God. Fasting and praying. But only when I made a choice to release this and to forgive. My life has never been the same. If I would have known that I could have went on and released that a long time ago verses me going through all that turmoil.

BAM: Tell me what was the time span that it took for you to forgive. From the time he killed your mother, and I’m so sorry for that… It’s such a terrible loss and the time that you forgave him. What was the time frame, how many years?

Lori: I’m 46 now; it’s going on 4 years that I forgave him. It took me a long time.

BAM: A long time. Wow!

Lori: A long time and the reason it took so long was that I could justify why I didn’t need to forgive him. I knew he did his time in jail which was a year, but he didn’t do my time.

BAM: 1 year

Lori: 1 year. The purpose of 1 year is because at my grandmother’s house there were always murders down there, so this was just another murder. So my thing was they released him for a year, but in my mind he was going to not be released until he died, in my spirit.

BAM: Isn’t that something though? I don’t believe you are alone. A lot of us, most of us, have certain things we forgive people for, but there are some things that are justified, in our minds, they are justified that you’ve crossed the line. That just can not be forgiven. When God said it’s forgiven, it’s forgiven.

Lori: Exactly

BAM: He was not the only one you had to forgive. You had to go through domestic violence, you were abused physically. Is that correct?

Lori: That’s correct. I went into a marriage that I stayed in for 20 years. This man beat me; he burned my hair, told me not to cry while he snatched my hair out, and had multiple affairs with family members. I had to forgive family members who had been with my husband and even people that went to school with me that had been with my ex-husband and it had gotten so bad to the point that God was still dealing with me but he wouldn’t let me get revenge. So I became angry with God because his word was saying something different than what I wanted to do. Yet I knew that in order to be released I had to forgive but my ex-husband –he sliced my face.

BAM: Jesus

Lori: When he sliced my face, I’m like ok God, you are showing me the scripture of ;”forgive them for they know not what they do”, but God why is it that people keep doing bad things to me and you keep telling me to forgive. I got to a point where I got angry with the Lord because revenge set it. When revenge set in and it got so strong and you stack everything up that has gone on against you, it kind of makes you torn between the word and the reality of what happened to you.

BAM: How did you forgive your ex-husband?

Lori: That took another process of time because I had to get out of the relationship. Once I got out of the relationship, I had to forgive him for the multiple affairs, I had to forgive him for having affairs with my family members, and then I had to forgive the family members for doing that to me and then what he did to me physically. That took a lot of counseling, a lot of me talking it out, people told me to pray about it, pray about it, fast about it. I didn’t have a chance, I kept it all in and I became explosive. But when I got to a point where I had to do it again, I had to make a choice. And how I made a choice was I remember reading a passage, it was something I was reading in a magazine and it let me know that God didn’t cause me to be abused. When I said ,God has not caused me to be abused then I made up my mind that if God has not caused me to be abused, then God doesn’t want me to sit around suicidal, he doesn’t want me to sit around with unforgiveness, then I had to do it again. I had to make a choice. I’m telling you it was not an easy choice to make. Here I go again; I wanted to justify these things that happened to me. But the minute I said God, you take this. I know what they did to me was not my fault. I stopped blaming myself, it went away.

BAM: I think a lot of times people blame themselves. They feel as though it’s my fault that this it happened to me. I must have done something wrong. Especially when it happens over and over and over again. It seems like it’s a cycle.
But Lori I want you to talk to the people that are listening right now that may be in a situation where they can’t forgive and they’ve held this thing and they’ve been hurt and they’ve held it in their heart and they won’t let it go. They are being held hostage. What advice would you give them right now?

Lori: One of the main things that I would give them that helped me get delivered was a picture in my mind of a warden. A warden has the right to release a person or has a right to give a person a life sentence. I do prison ministry so I remembered that. I was thinking in my mind when I go in with the people that had done wrong, they were sorry for what they had done, but they had to do the sentence. I became compassionate for them, even thought they said they were sorry for what they did, they still had to do the life sentence or years they had. I’m not a warden within myself. I became a warden. One of the things that will have you is you have to remember number one – it’s not your fault. Number two – in order for God to release you of the things you’ve done wrong to people, you have to in exchange release the wrongs that people have done to you.

BAM: That’s good.

Lori: That is one of my biggest things, I didn’t want to allow the things that happen to me in life to hold me in captivity. Where I couldn’t enjoy life. You will not enjoy life if you have unforgiveness. You will always stay sorrow and you will always be bitter. Depression will always come to you. When I made a choice, I want to live. I don’t want to live in the past. You have to make a choice. I can’t keep living in the past. I have to rid of the past and go forward. But only when you make a choice. When you make a choice, I’m telling you, you will live again.

BAM: I think it goes back to the childhood prayer that we learned in kindergarten. Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass again us. We can’t be forgiven unless we have forgiven others. It’s so important. I’m so glad you touched on that.

Let’s talk about that book. Tell me why you wrote Transformations Lori.

Lori: Transformation is defiantly about my testimony. It defiantly talks about the heart of it being forgiveness as a matter of fact. I did the four stages of a butterfly. The metamorphose process. What it is is that we got to stop fighting the process and let God transform our life. The egg stage is the things that God calls us to. What his purpose is for you in life. That’s the egg stage. The caterpillar looks ugly. They want to kick it because they don’t think it has a purpose. That’s what most people think about our lives. It has no purpose and because it has no purpose they speak negative about it. Sometimes we even speak negative about our own dreams and goals. So that’s how I dealt with the caterpillar. Then we go to the cocoon stage. The cocoon state, you know it hangs on a string and it’s brown. It looks dried up and ugly like there is no life in it. Sometimes the things we go through in life are so hard and so heartbroken. It has so much anger and pain that God can’t get the glory out of it. What that cocoon stage is when God begins to close you up and he begins to speak to you, he begins to heal you and tell you based on the word of God. Jeremiah 29:11 “the things that I have for you are good and not evil. There is an expected end.” The part I love the most is the caterpillar, how the caterpillar always get his color in the trials and what he went through. So everything I went through in life is how I became a butterfly because I got my colors through my bruises. I got my colors through my sorrow. Never knew to this day that it was making me into a beautiful butterfly. So I explain in the book that the metamorphose process is all apart of God’s plan. He said there is an expected end.

BAM: That’s right and you talk about how many believers have a hard time excepting that transformation is apart of God’s plan for their lives. You also talk about how we accept address changes, income changes, management changes, even physical appearance changes, but we have a hard time accepting that change from that simple nature to that of a wholly people. I think it’s so important.

Lori: Yes and I think that everybody agrees that we need a change, but only a few are willing to change.

BAM: True, now tell us how to get your book.

Lori: Go to the website. www.lsktransformation.com or you can go through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles. Call me at 757-806-9315 or email be lrandolph41@hotmail.com

BAM: Tell us about Life Saving King Ministries What exactly is that?

Lori: Life Saving King Ministries is the ministry that God has birthed out. That particular ministry is a world wide ministry. It’s what I do with my books and CD’s. It’s mainly conferences of teaching people to transform their life. We’ll be doing seminars out of that on how God wants to transform your heart, your mind. It’s a world wide ministry. We also have LSK ministry this is where we teach people from city to city that there is a book inside of them. Teach them how to start with the book, on napkins, on paper and teach you how to put it together and help you all the way until the day you print.

BAM: That is wonderful. Well you know what Lori, I thank God that we were able to meet and that you were able to join us today and talk about forgiveness, the butterfly stage and your book Transformations. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Lori: Thank you for the opportunity.

BAM: You’re welcome

Visit Lori’s site here for more information on her book.

“Where Is The Victory In Death?” A Testament of Faith

Donita Edwards PictureThere I was driving home from work and my cell phone rang. It was my dad calling. He began by asking me a routine question then I recall him saying, “I got a phone call today that Chris Sessoms was in a car accident.” I expected him to say something along the lines of “pray for Chris” or that “Chris was in the hospital.” I continued listening but to my shock and dismay, he replied, “Chris died this morning.” For the next two days I was literally plastered to my living room floor crying out to God to help me make sense of it all.

As the tears flowed, my soul ached and yet my heart seemed not to be affected by pain of this tragedy. From deep within my gut, a wrenching accordion of pain and hurt flooded to the tear ducts of my eyes. I could only cry and read Scriptures to find relief. It was in the next two weeks that God would birth a message within me that I now entitle, “Where is the Glory in Death?” taken from 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

You see, I believe that Chris was with us on divine assignment. He was the type of person who had a burden for human welfare that went beyond his finite capacity. He was young, full of hope, loved the Lord and his family. In all that, the circumstances surrounding his death left many people perplexed. According to reports, he was driving to work on the road leading from his home, and seemingly without rhyme or reason, his vehicle went off the road, flipped several times, before ejecting him from the driver side. No sign of skid marks; no impact with oncoming traffic; no inclement weather; no inkling of what caused the fatal accident. The July 17, 2009, local paper’s headline simply wrote “Norfolk councilwoman, Daun Hester’s brother is killed in a single vehicle crash.”The facts were simple, yet questions arose in the minds of every person who loved and admired Chris –what happened? how could this be possible? why wasn’t he wearing his seat belt? why such an unexpected tragedy? The fact is that nobody knew.

In one single event, the passing of a dear family friend, God has shown me hope. Death is a final hope. The Lord revealed this final hope as He drew my attention to Revelations 6:9-11 where there will be a testifying of every soul concerning the “who, what, where, when, and why” of every death. You see, I now realize that God knows the ins and outs of every man’s death and He gives us the opportunity to live an abundant life even while we do not understand all of the details. What we see and hear in the local news, what we read in an obituary, and even what we know about how the person lived or died is not the final chapter. What is recorded in heaven is the final word.

“Where Is the Victory in Death?” Now I know. The victory is my confidence in Christ. He brought closure to my aversion of death and He can do the same for many others who are facing unforeseen calamity. Amidst the chaos, tragedies and disappointments of this world, I have chosen to place my faith in God. I live because Jesus died on the cross for me and that’s enough! Surely, we cannot handle the pain of death and tragedy alone; however we can handle it knowing that Christ picked it up and overcame it at the cross. And because He rose in victory, we, too, can share that victory. You see, there is victory in death!

Rev. Donita Edwards, Associate Minister & CLC Director
New Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church

Love’s Reciprocation

heart (2)

Like a puppy in a cut-rate pet store, she’d experienced nothing beyond the most basic feeding and cleaning. The resulting inability to receive tenderness caused her to stiffen upon any human closeness. Though she’d loved him nearly forever, a clinging parasitic fear prevented her from offering love’s reciprocation.


Thomas had poured kindness, laughter and gentleness over her-but she had been an infant regarding the acts of love. It’s lack in her world prior to Thomas’ entrance had authored this crippling disease of mistrust. Still, whenever he was near, she secretly and deeply inhaled his Old Spice and gloried in his carefree jokes and deep belly laughs. She could sense that her rejection of his affection caused him genuine sadness. To this, she could relate and was ashamed at her inability to return what he so freely gave. She feared that eventually, he would tire of trying, offer no more chances. She was afraid of losing his love, of losing him and being forever alone. But a stronger fear prevented the revelation of her heart.


Thomas sang. He sang loudly and often. Sometimes, he would sing specifically to her. She gleamed inwardly while smiling painfully at her shoes, secretly memorizing his lyrics. His simple music unlocked a dazzling universe. Entertainment to others, it was breath to Crystal. She so wanted to be like him.


Daring to experiment, she found a private stage in the upstairs bathroom. Locking the door and starting the tub water, she nightly voyaged into a land of near enchantment. With time, as long as the door remained locked, courage found its way into her heart and her voice began to undulate with strength in bold swells. First reaching the depths of dark oceans where once she swam, it swirled into heights of unforeseen freedom. Using resources of spirit, mind, body and emotions to sing, it was as if a great bird lifted her through peaks and valleys, navigating effortlessly. Yet, still uncertain of her ability, she imitated feathery voices of popular vocalists. And always, she left her bathroom stage in silence, hoping if any had overheard, they’d pretend otherwise.


But Thomas never had been much of a pretender and today, in the tiny span of time between table-setting and dinner, he’d invited her to join him on the swing.

Look at that sunset, Crysti…isn’t it beyond gorgeous? “

Tongue-tied, she managed a brief, “Um-Hm.” She knew he had her here to talk about more than sunsets. It was pretty much set in stone that at this time of day, she was in the kitchen helping Momma.

It’s the vivid colors that make it fantastic,” he continued. “It wouldn’t be half as good without that boldness. Music is a lot like a sunset. -You Follow?”


I don’t think so.” she answered. She felt her stomach tightening.


He sighed softly. “You know, I like singers who give it all they’ve got…gutsy, like this sky. Whispery singers don’t take your breath away like a sunset. People anticipate those striking colors, the unexpected hues…That’s what makes sunsets worth waiting for. People like the breezes, it’s true, but they want the strength of a storm, the vibrancy of a sunset. They want something that’s going to stir their souls, not their hair.”


Crystal remembered her breathy imitations and blushed.


Crystal, sing with all the colors mixed in your heart…the sadness, gladness, confusion, clarity. Use your colors…even the ones you want to hide because they scare you or you think someone else won’t like what your reveal. Be a sunset, Crysti. You will stir souls- I promise.”


Crystal’s voice, suddenly a treasured possession, welded itself to the base of her throat while tears spoke her healing. Evening’s mist began to rise as the sun’s colors began to give way to the shadows of night. Momma called them in for dinner. The world changed color and with it, Crystal’s heart. His words, wise with love’s fullness, had brought Crystal to realize she had a gift to offer. A gift that was hers alone.


Her heart quaked with fear, gratefulness, and love as she offered her greatest gift to her adopted father.

Daddy?”

Yes, Crysti?”

I love you. I really do. I love you with every color in my heart.”

I know you do, Crysti…I always have known.”

Crystal believed at that moment, that the loving and caring Jesus that Thomas had told her of time and again, was truly real. And if he were anything at all like her daddy, she was ready to get to know Him.

She leaned in closely to her daddy’s side as they walked slowly beneath the old oaks toward the kitchen. The smell of roast chicken slid across the air, beckoning them with Momma’s home-cooked greeting. Four brothers rushed in from barn, garden and yard, the screen door squeaking and slamming with each rowdy entry.

Hmmm, guess I need to get some grease on that door.”

Crystal smiled and hugged him tight, “Yeah, guess so.”

Cindy Hailey is a freelance writer and Christian vocalist. Military life has provided her over twenty-five years of opportunities for travel and flexibility in careers. She writes about adoption from first-hand experience and this piece of creative non-fiction is based on an episode from her own life. Cindy believes her writing and vocal gifts carry the responsibility to impart encouragement into the everyday lives of everyday people

Infidelity, Do You Stay or Walk Away?

A Nicole Photo 5Every time we turn on the tv, there is a story about another spouse being cheated on? Or it’s the same story with more partners surfacing which affects the loyal spouse even more. From feelings of hurt, disappointment, denial and even anger, when a spouse has an affair it makes the spouse at home take a look at themselves like never before. Initially, you begin blaming yourself – maybe you didn’t cook enough, gained some weight or was too independent or something else. You begin to go through in your mind many reasons it happened which at the end of the day, you are at the root of what happened.

For those of you reading this article understand there is a battle that is going on in your mind. Let’s face it, it all starts in your mind and that is the same place that it can be stopped as you prepare to handle the cards that you have recently been dealt. This last weekend, I went to see “Why Did I Get Married Too” by Tyler Perry and there it was on the screen as if Mr. Perry had been watching my life. Lo and behold this character “ Pat” played by (Janet Jackson) was a successful author of the book, ” He Cheated, So Now What?” In reality, I’ve authored a book with a very similar title ”So He Cheated, Now What?”

Oftentimes, people pattern their lives after what they see on the big screen. In “Why Did I Get Married Too”, Pat (Janet Jackson) provides tips to trusting your spouse that brings some interesting dialogue amongst the characters in the movie, especially Angela, (Tasha Smith ). “So He Cheated, Now What” offers steps to healing and restoration after an affair. This book is written to help women rebuild the love and trust. Real and raw emotions are revealed in order to help someone else that might be suffering alone and behind closed doors.

The number of people committing infidelity seems to be rampant at this time and what you are not hearing is how do couples survive after the affair. How does the wife forgive the husband that committed infidelity or that husband forgive the wife. In “So He Cheated, Now What”, readers will get insight into a marriage that survived an affair.

Whether or not you decide to stay in your marriage after an affair should be weighed very carefully: (1) Consider the reason why you are staying – is it so the other woman cannot win; (2) Is it just for the kids and then once they are gone you are out of there; or even (3) Because you have heard from God and are being obedient to his leading you because he knows the BIG picture.

If you choose to stay, ensure you follow these beginning three rules:

(1) Forgive and do not throw it up in the spouse’s face that committed infidelity.
(2) Recognize that rebuilding trust and your relationship is a process, it will not happen overnight.
(3) Communicate truthfully what your feelings are.

“Regardless of who commits the infidelity, what happens in your marriage is between you and your spouse. When you bring in outside people, you tend to get the worldly view on how to handle a situation. Being a STRONG woman of FAITH, I look forward to that daily guidance from God. I don’t take it for granted, yet appreciating it more and more. As you are preparing to make decisions about your marriage, think about the BIG picture and what you want to accomplish long-term” says Cleveland

Nicole Cleveland is the author of So He Cheated, Now What a survival guide to overcoming an affair in your marriage. Nicole is available to speak at your marriage workshops, retreats, youth groups or even nonprofit event and you may contact her through her website at www.nicoleonline.com.


I Don’t Really Want to Hurt My Child

Baby Crying PictureDarcy’s training pants were wet again. Again!

Marching over to my two-year-old daughter, I directed her into the bathroom. As I struggled to pull down the soaking pants, I felt a rush of frustration and a sense of failure.

“Darcy, you’re supposed to come in the bathroom and go in the potty chair. Why can’t you learn?” I continued to berate her. As I began spanking her with my hand, my tension and tired¬ness found an outlet. Spanking changed to hitting.

Darcy’s uncontrollable screaming brought me back to reason. Seeing the red blister on her bottom, I dropped to my knees.

“How can I act this way?” I sobbed. “I love Jesus. I don’t really want to hurt my child. Oh God, please help me.”

The rest of that day I held my anger in check. The next day started out pleasantly. I watched my happy daughter. /How could I ever be angry with you or want to hurt you?/

But as the day progressed and pressures closed in on me, I became impatient. I looked forward to a few moments of peace while Darcy and two-month-old Mark took their naps.

Telling Darcy to play quietly in her room, I rocked Mark to sleep. Just as I laid him carefully into his crib, Darcy burst into the room shouting, “Mommy, I want to color.”

Mark woke up crying. I grabbed Darcy by the shoulders, shook her, and screamed, “Shut up! Shut up! I want him to go to sleep!”

Both Darcy and Mark cried as I shoved Darcy aside, rushed out of the bedroom, and walked through the house, banging walls, and slamming doors. Only after I kicked a kitchen cupboard and dented it did my anger subside.

As the weeks turned into months, my anger habit worsened. At times I grew so violent that I hit my toddler in the head. Other times I kicked her or slapped her face.

As a Christian for ten years, I was ashamed. /Oh, God/, I prayed over and over again, /please take away my anger/. Yet no matter how much I prayed, I could not control my anger when Darcy didn’t perform according to my desires. I turned into a screaming mother wondering whether I might kill Darcy in one of my next rages. In time, I had to be honest with myself–I was abusing her. “Oh, God, no, I’m a child abuser! Help me!”

I was afraid to tell Larry, my husband. /After all, he’s a policeman. He’s arresting people for the very things I’m doing/. I certainly couldn’t tell my friends, either. What would they think of me? I led a Bible study. I was looked up to as a strong Christian woman. But inside I was screaming for help.

One day I realized Larry had left his off duty service revolver in the bureau drawer. Convinced God no longer loved me and had given up on me, I concluded suicide was the only answer. Then I wouldn’t hurt Darcy any more. But then the thought sprang into my mind. “But if people hear a Christian like me committed suicide, what will they think of Jesus?” I couldn’t bear the thought that Jesus’ name would be maligned, even if I wasn’t acting much like a Christian.

Even though suicide was no longer an option, I didn’t have any hope. /God doesn’t answer my prayers for an instantaneous deliverance of my anger, so He must not care/. I was in a pit of despair and depression.

One day, I shared briefly with a neighbor friend about my anger. She didn’t condemn me like another friend had when I’d tried to share my pain. She even indicated she felt angry towards her children too. /Oh, Lord, maybe there’s hope for me after all/, I cried out when I left her house that day.

From that point on, God seemed to break through my despair and little by little revealed the underlying causes and the solutions for my anger. And there were many. I had to learn how to identify my anger before it became destructive. I forced myself to believe God wanted to forgive me-over and over again. Reading books about disciplining children effectively, I became more consistent in responding calmly to Darcy’s disobedience. She became better behaved.

I also copied verses like Ephesians 4:31 and Proverbs 10:12 onto cards, placing them in various locations throughout the house. As I took Darcy into the bathroom, I would be reminded that “Hatred stirreth up strife; but love covereth all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). These verses helped to break my cycle of anger.

Eventually, I had the courage to share my problem with my Bible study group. James 5:16 admonishes us to “admit your faults to one an¬other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” They prayed for me and their prayers indeed had “wonderful results.”

Through a difficult process of growth of over a year, God’s Holy Spirit empowered me to be the loving, patient mother to Darcy that I wanted to be. I learned many principles during that time that I now share in the parenting books I’ve written like /When Counting to Ten Isn’t Enough/ (Xulon Press). I also teach parenting seminars.

I’m thankful to the Lord for healing the relationship between Darcy and me. A beautiful 33-year-old, Darcy has for¬given me for the way I treated her and we share a close relationship

Although I wondered during that unhappy time of my life whether God could ever forgive me for the horrible things I’d done, I know now that He has. As Psalm 40:1-3 says, He pulled me up out of my pit of destruction and set me on the solid rock of Jesus.

Kathy Collard Miller (www.KathyCollardMiller.com) is a popular women’s retreat speaker and the author of 49 books including /Women of the Bible: the Smart Guide to the Bible (Thomas Nelson).