Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

My spiritual battle with food November 14, 2012

When I was a child and adolescent, suffering from the affects of domestic violence in my home and the subsequent sexual abuse, food often became a source of comfort for me. Sugary sweets and carbohydrate rich foods satisfied a deep emptiness within me, if even for a short time. Looking back, I know that I did what I needed to do in order to survive that time period. I do not blame myself for the choices I made at the time because I was managing the best that I could with the resources I had available to me. At the time, the method worked for me. Unfortunately, it also ingrained a pattern of self-reliance on food that has stayed with me into adulthood.

 

Its been about 12 years since I have been out on my own and sufficiently distanced from my perpetrators. Yet, the method of using food as a coping mechanism has remained. Now this habit has begun to affect my health. I am overweight and at high risk for diabetes. I am lethargic and easily exhausted. I am unhappy with my appearance, but even more so, with the way that I feel physically.

 

For years, the truth that I lack self-control and am not properly caring for the body God has blessed me with has weighed heavily on my heart. However, whenever I have attempted to change my habits, I always succeed for a while and then revert to old ways.

 

Around May of this year, I picked up a book at the Christian bookstore – Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. With the help of this author, I have come to realize that my battle with food is a spiritual one. God cares about what I eat and turning to Him as my source of strength in this battle is the only way I will ever defeat the power that food has over me. I have also learned that when I value food above everything else, when it is the one thing that is constantly consuming my thoughts, I am worshiping another god besides Jesus. I am breaking one of the ten commandments by putting food above God. With this realization came the understanding that I have to replace my cravings for food with cravings for Jesus because He is the only one who can fill the void in my soul.

 

For the first time in my life, I have been able to tackle the issues of healthy eating and exercise with motivation that is greater than this world. It isn’t about losing weight or looking good, but about being obedient to God’s will for my life, which is to be wholly dependent on Him and Him alone.

 

On July 22, I began using a fitness app on my iPod called My Fitness Pal. There, I track my calories every day. I also started walking more with both my husband and some close spiritual friends. I have surprised myself with the distances I have been able to walk. My initial goal when starting this journey was to lose 20 lbs by Thanksgiving, which I have already achieved. But my greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do. And my relationship with Him is deepening because when I am struggling with cravings, I turn to Him to get me through.

 

I have added my weight loss badge to my sidebar so that my progress will be continually shared. I have 42 more lbs to go to reach my goal weight.

 

This is just one more step I am taking to reclaim all that was taken from me by my abusers. I hope it will serve as an inspiration for others to do the same.

 

RKB

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Rock Bottom October 31, 2012

Filed under: Abuse — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 11:44 pm
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I may have hit one of the deepest pits of despair that I have ever experienced. I haven’t felt this alone and hopeless since I was in high school and in the throws of my sexual abuse. It seems that God is teaching me lessons lately about the people in my life not being as trustworthy as I thought they were or as they should be. Here is the problem with this: I already know all about broken trust. I spent my entire childhood learning the lesson that those who should love and support us no matter what, don’t.  Why then, does God find it necessary to drive this point home? I mean, really, I get the picture!
In addition to this, I find myself in a position of being abused all over again by a person in seniority to me. I cannot escape it without sacrificing my livelihood. But, on the other hand, what does allowing it to continue say about me? After years of self-empowerment and personal growth, which included setting boundaries with my abusers, how can I possibly stand by and allow myself to be bullied without taking ten steps back in my healing? And why on earth does this person have this much power over me?

 

I’m listening to this song on repeat right now:

Nothing is Wasted, Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
[x2]

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

I just keep praying over and over again that the line I placed in bold happens really soon. I am not sure how much more I can take.

RKB

 

Tara – September 16th September 16, 2012

Filed under: Jesus — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 11:03 pm
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I cannot believe its been 15 years.

It was 15 years ago today that the world lost an incredibly beautiful soul, my friend, Tara. She died in a life flight helicopter after a car wreck in the early morning fog on her way to college classes. It was through this tragic loss that Christ brought me back to Him.

Just prior to Tara’s death, I found myself escaping the emotional pain of my sexual abuse by drinking, getting high, and fantasizing about ending my life. I had attempted to tell my mother about the abuse, but she did not believe me, so I recanted and found other ways to forget that it happened. However, I despised myself and the person I had become.  I knew I was sinning, but I had found a group of friends that encouraged my substance use and I was enjoying fitting in for once in my lifetime.  Every day I continued these behaviors while telling myself I would change tomorrow.

One day tomorrow almost didn’t come.  While driving to a friend’s house, I was in a terrible car accident.  I was told I only lived because I wore my seat belt.  My car was totaled but I suffered minor injuries and physically recovered quickly. Emotionally, though, I was a wreck.  When you’re an adolescent, the finality of death is hard to grasp until you experience it. For the first time, I began to realize I was not immortal.

Just two weeks later, Tara died.  She was young, smart, and talented.  Suddenly mortality was staring me in the face. I have to be honest and clarify that Tara was not a close friend of mine before her death. I mean, we hung in the same circles and had many of the same friends. We did high school theatre together and I shared a music folder with her in Varsity Choir. I knew her, but I did not know her well. Yet somehow, her death deeply impacted me. Unraveled me even. In fact, this tragedy changed the course of my life forever.

Those methods of drug and alcohol abuse were already a crumbling facade and Tara’s death unmasked me. Looking back, I can see how God used Tara’s death as a tool to reach me during an otherwise unreachable time. He succeeded. After her death, I knew that I had to get my life right with God. I began to understand that I would not be on this earth forever and I longed to be a better person. I knew I had to stop drinking and using drugs and trust that God could save me from the tragedy of my past. I slowly disentangled myself from my former friends and I broke my bad habits easily. I had new strength in Christ. I am so grateful to God for His redemption. He never stopped calling me to Him, but in  the wake of a tragic loss, I was finally listening.

I will carry Tara with me forever. She holds a piece of my heart and will never be forgotten. I’ve always wanted to thank her family. Here is a letter I wrote to Tara’s family but have never been able to send:

Dear Tara’s Family,

I’ve started this letter a dozen times.  Each time I do, I delete it before its finished.  Every year at this time, I think about your family.  And I think about Tara.  This year, I hear God telling me that its time.  So I will complete this letter and send it to you and know that God is giving me the courage to tell you my thoughts at the exact time that you need to hear them.

I didn’t know Tara well.  We had common friends and were at the same gatherings, but we rarely had conversations just between the two of us.  We were both in choir.  One year, we shared a music folder, which means we sat right next to each other during countless practices.  She had the voice of an angel.  I can still hear it sometimes.

It was the beginning of my senior year and I was at my lowest low.  I had been sexually molested by a church youth group leader for over two years.  When I told my mother, she didn’t believe me.  I was alone, vulnerable, and without a single trustworthy person in my life.  I was drinking and doing drugs to numb my pain.  I hated my life and I wanted to die.

Then Tara died.  Though we weren’t close friends, her death affected me profoundly.  I halted my sinful behavior, detached myself from negative influences, and clung to the Savior of my soul.  My relationship with Jesus grew deeper and deeper.  Tara’s death was a turning point in my life.  If it had never occurred, my life would be drastically different than it is today.

Over the last years, I have heard countless sermons, studied numerous passages, and had many discussions about how God can bring good from a bad situation – beauty from ashes.  In each of these situations, I always think about Tara’s death.  I’ve seen so many people struggle with this concept, yet I never have.

Tara’s death was for me.  My fear, and what has kept me from sharing this with you for years, is that I might sound pretentious.  However, my intentions in saying that is to give you hope.  I’m sure her death was not only for me, as others were surely also affected, but it was a tool God used in my life.  I can’t begin to understand what it is like to be in your shoes, but from talking with others who have experienced great loss, I think maybe you struggle with why God lets bad things happen.  Maybe you often wonder – Why did she have to die?  Or what beauty has come from these ashes?  For a Christian, those are tough issues to deal with.  And perhaps you think you’ll never understand any of it this side of heaven.  I hope to give you a speck of God’s purpose while you are still on earth.  What I want you to know is that Tara’s death was not in vain.  At least not to me.  You see, my life is part of the beauty that came from her ashes.  I pray that brings you comfort.

I often visit Tara’s grave – usually in September and December and a few other scattered times when I’m in the area.  Sometimes when I’m there I weep and sometimes I smile.  But most of all, I am filled with immense gratitude.  Because her life was taken, my eternal soul was saved.  I will live a lifetime in awe of God’s wondrous ways.  And Tara’s memory will be alive in me always.

God Bless You!

  • And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God… Romans 8:28
  • We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  2 Corinthians 5:8
  • For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.  2 Corinthians 7:10
 

Joy in the Morning September 14, 2012

Filed under: Healing,Hope,Jesus,Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:50 am
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One of  God’s most beautiful promises:

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

My new day is dawning and as God reveals more and more of it to me, He takes my breath away.

Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman

It was the day the world went wrong I screamed til my voice was gone

And watched through the tears as everything came crashing down

Slowly panic turns to pain as we awake to what remains and sift through the ashes that are left behind
But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams we have this hope:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now, and let the tears come washing down, and if you can’t believe I will believe for you.
Cuz I have seen the signs of spring! Just watch and see:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…

I can hear it in the distance and it’s not too far away. It’s the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast. I can almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away, and say, “It’s time to make everything new.”
“Make it all new”
This is our hope. This is the promise. This is our hope. This is the promise. That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes… out of the ashes… That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that He’s made out of the ashes… out of the ashes…
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of this darkness… new life will shine and we’ll know the joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…beauty will rise!
Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise

 

Grad School September 9, 2012

I am in graduate school while working full time. Its been three weeks since the start of Fall Semester and admittedly I am overwhelmed and exhausted and not sure how I can maintain this pace. This blog is very important to me because it is something that God has been nudging me to do for a while and it is a way for me to live out my life’s purpose of helping and supporting others. I remain committed to this call but I also think its important to share what a struggle it is for me to find the time and energy to share my story with others. At the end of the day, when work and homework have sapped every bit of attention I have, the last thing I want to do is revisit the memories that cause me so much pain. In those moments, I remind myself that someone may benefit from what I have to share and somehow Jesus provides the strength that I do not have within myself. I love to write and so I shall write for anyone who cares to read. I choose to be a survivor.

Perhaps one of the reasons I am really feeling emotionally drained today is because I watched a video and read a chapter for my social work class that covered the topic of sexual abuse. This issue is very personal to me so seeing others suffer from the affects of sexual abuse causes me feelings of sadness and maybe even despair. Why on earth do we as a society allow this pervasive issue to continue eroding our children generation after generation? It baffles me and infuriates me. I hope that someday I can play a small part in changing the way the world responds to sexual perpetrators. Maybe I already have… more on that later. Now its time to sleep.

For those who are feeling exhausted like me, know that God is with you.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

 
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