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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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

 

Family Tree August 28, 2012

Filed under: Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:00 am
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Its always helpful for me to have reminders that I do not have to become like my parents and I can choose to stop the cycle of violence. I thank Jesus for giving me the freedom from my past in order to make that choice. Here is a song that illustrates that freedom in a beautiful way.

Family Tree
You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

No, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
No, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

~ Matthew West

 

Unwanted and unheard August 27, 2012

Filed under: Religion,Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:01 am
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When I was a little older, 10 or so, my mother once told me that when she learned of my conception, she wept. She said she prayed that I would not be born. She said she was devastated by the realization that she would be bringing another child (I have an older sibling) into a home filled with violence. Violence at the hands of the one who was to protect her and us. I know she didn’t say it to be hurtful. I think it was an attempt to explain how much she wished she could protect me. No matter what her reasons though, the idea that my mother never really wanted me stayed with me always – arising during my darkest moments in life. She actually hoped I would never come to be. God apparently had other plans.

My mother often looked to my sister and I for guidance, advice even regarding the domestic violence. As young as six or seven years old, I can recall my mother weeping on her bed, bruised, sometimes bleeding – as my sister and I quietly assessed her physical injuries, she would ask us – “What should I do?” I was placed in the role of parent before I ever had a chance to play the role of the child. I struggled to find the right words to offer her comfort in those moments because I had no example to follow, no parent to which I could model my behavior. Still, I remember trying my best to convince my mother to take us far away. Mature beyond my years, I begged for her to protect us and remove us from the danger of his wrath, which was unpredictable and erratic as most domestic violence offenders are. As an adult, these whispered conversations with my mother haunt me. My mother asking my opinion and yet never heeding it has a detrimental affect on my current responses in similar situations. The moment someone discounts my voice, all the bodily feelings of being hopeless and powerless rush inside me, quicker than quicksand, dragging me under. The slightest disrespect of my point of view, and I am back in that room, trembling and afraid, and feeling unheard. But I am learning not displace my feelings towards my mother onto others. And I am learning to trust that no matter what, God always hears my voice, even when its whispering.

 

My story – the short version August 22, 2012

Filed under: Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:20 am
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I was raised in an atmosphere of domestic violence from the ages of 0-14. Shouting, threatening, and breaking things was the norm in my world. My mother finally chose divorce when I was 14. During this tumultuous time, when I was at my most vulnerable, I began to be sexually molested by a youth group leader at my church. This continued for two years. Then, I disclosed the sexual abuse to my mother. She called me a liar. I recanted my claim as a result of this and didn’t talk about the abuse with her again until many years later.

At 16, I turned away from God and turned toward alcohol and drugs to numb my pain. Thankfully, through the death of a friend, He pulled me back to Him about a year later. I recommitted my life to Jesus and He has faithfully walked with me, and I with Him, ever since.

Now I am married to an amazingly supportive Christian man who has taught me what real love is. I work at a counseling agency for children who have experienced trauma. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Family Life Education. I am in graduate school at the University of Toledo.  I am ridiculously busy, but God is calling me to do this, so here I am.

I hope to blog once or twice a week, sharing stories from my life and experiences in no particular order. I will include poetry I have written, song lyrics that speak to me, and Bible verses that have brought me hope and healing. I’ll share about my struggles with anxiety and depression and the counseling I have sought to deal with those diagnoses. I’ll discuss my issues with food and weight and how I am reclaiming my health at this time. I intend to write about my interactions with the court system and how it is hopelessly flawed. Finally, I’ll probably occasionally offer some advice on how to keep children safe, how to fight against a system that lets perpetrators roam free, how to find mental health therapy that works, and how to advocate for yourself and your children.

Much love to my fellow survivors as I begin this journey.

 

Fulfilling my purpose August 19, 2012

Filed under: Mission,Purpose — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 7:03 pm
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I have started this blog so I can attempt to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. My personal mission statement is: To move and encourage the broken toward healing in Christ through the power of my testimony. Here goes…

 

 
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