Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Priceless Overcomer

Ogden Point, Victoria, BC 

Our scars are unique to us; they lead you to people they are meant to find.
Leaning onto the railing of Ogden Point, my senses are inundated with vivid hues, brackish surf and the frondescence of autumn.  The perfect balance of nature whispers its brilliance, as the sun sets over the ocean. In the distance, a lone figure approaches me. Over the next hour, I am immersed in conversation with another seeker of life. At one point we stand in silence, as the landscape is turned into a palette of featured rich colours, which require our attention. 
Later, driving away, I am mulling over the word anchor and the playfulness of it that can have opposite meanings. Either it can convey being weighed down or how someone can become emotionally attached in your life.
To let yourself be affixed to another, is to place your heart in a risky situation. When letting someone into your personal space, you open yourself up to being rejected. In offering love, the saying goes… the more you give, the more you risk losing.
What about the anchors, once fastening us to someone that become abruptly ripped away? Do we learn to accept, adapt and merge into the new form of who we are, or do we let ourselves fade away, along with our tears?
There are people, who behind their beautiful silhouettes, are stitched together souls.
Christian artist Mandisa found herself being tired of trying to remain strong, after the loss of her friend, Lakisha Mitchell, who died of breast cancer. The Overcomer singer made the choice to slip away into the shadows. Mandisa ignored God, as she struggled to understand how Lakisha could have been taken, one year after giving birth to her second child. She quit attending church and her Bible remained unopened. It was the crippling depression that removed Mandisa from the music industry. Along with it, came back the 120 pounds she worked hard to lose. Spiralling down, was a despair that left her feeling hopeless.
When I selected Mandisa’s latest CD, Out of the Dark, I could not imagine the honesty of her words that bore straight into me. On the back cover of the inside pamphlet are the following comments from the singer:
“Shame and insecurity weighed me down, and suicidal thoughts tried to overtake me in that dark pit. Thankfully, it only takes a flicker of light to dispel the darkness…Today, I don’t have all the answers…but I am learning to trust in who God is, more than my need to understand everything. He can work through all things, including the things the enemy intends for harm, He uses for good.”

Now, as I play Mandisa’s song list, it is something I can relate too. This disclosure of hers, prompted me to research Christian artists, who because of tragedy became stronger in their faith.
In writing my post, I would also discover, how my life would be intertwined with strangers; each who have their own voice of truth.
At the beginning of November, I attended the concert For King & Country. It was an event full of energy, a multitude of instruments played, and a set list fueled by worship. 
Previously, I gifted the extra ticket to a stranger, who I found was celebrating her birthday on the night of November 2nd. I would later hear from Danielle at the concert. She was with her friend, who had bought a ticket. I received the following message:
“Thank you so much! It would not have been possible without your generous gift!
It has been so amazing!”

I smiled and looking up, whispered my gratitude again, thanking God the person I once dated, had let me go. For there has only been an abundance of blessings come from it.

Inside the concert, I sang along with those attending, a sold-out show. One of the songs that resonates with me is Priceless, as it is connected to a movie of the same name. Joel Smallbone (part of the band duo) is in the film about sexual trafficking. The story-line gives a voice to take a stand against exploitation of those most vulnerable.
There is a Priceless necklace that I bought which says: “SHE’S WORTH FIGHTING FOR.”

Where my Priceless necklace rests before wearing it
It prompted me to think of the damage that can be done, to control someone, when words are used as weapons.  This is a quote on the wall of where I was staying.

During the band’s performances, Luke Smallbone walked out on the stage and spoke of a former health crisis, Ulcerative Colitis, which saw him almost lose his life. Him and his wife, Courtney, also experienced the trauma of their 2- month- old son, Leo, nearly dying from Sudden Death Syndrome. Adding to their trials, was Luke’s wife Courtney who had survived Lemierre’s Syndrome when she was 18. Years later, when she was 7 months pregnant with their second child, Courtney became addicted to anti-nausea medication. Her anxiety was coupled with PTSD and she was overwhelmed with guilt and fear, given who her husband is, in the Christian music industry.
Listening to Luke speak, you could see the emotions he was overcome with. He shared how he left a show in Texas, to come back home to be with his wife, who had called frantic and asked him to come home right away. After checking his wife into a mental health facility as an outpatient for therapy, the Smallbone family united. When they were at their most vulnerable, they turned to their faith and trusted in God to see them through every set of painful circumstances. Courtney shared how her shame became unravelled. For King and Country’s album called “Burn the Ships.” It is about these life altering experiences and how in life we cannot go back, so we need to burn the ships, which link us to our past.
Before I left for this memorable night, I found myself at Island Regional Park, to watch the sunrise at 7 am. 
Island View Regional Park
Sitting on my driftwood bench crafted by nature, I noticed a woman and her son scouring the beach. I wondered if they had lost something. Turned out, they were looking for painted rocks, with various designs that has become a popular trend. The concept is to paint rocks and hide them for others to find. As families go rock-hounding, it is bringing people together and outside where the real beauty is. The mom soon introduced herself as Tina and her son, Benjamin. He had found a lovely, colourful stone. In my coffee mug, I also had a pebble I had been hanging onto for 10 years. I discovered it at Boundary Bay, as I walked the shoreline with someone. I asked Benjamin if he would like it and his eyes lit up when he read the date on it.
Life is like that…when something is meant to be released, it will find a way.
Soon after, as the crimson glow of the sunrise was beginning to form, I noticed a lady with a professional camera, capturing the moment. There was a stillness to her, with a peace that drew me in. When I introduced myself, our conversation flowed easily. I discovered Cindy’s business is called Sea Salt Photography. We talked about our passions and then she divulged about her surviving cancer. I was moved by what Cindy spoke of with me. As the waves rushed upon the pebbled beach, I could tell there was more to her story, beyond the lens.
When I went back home to my researching, I read of other musicians’ journey with grief. Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Beth lost their 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue. She was tragically killed, when her brother driving the family’s SUV, accidentally ran over her. As they gathered in love and hope, instead of blame and anger, a place was created in Maria’s memory:
“Maria’s Big House of Hope was named in honor of Maria Sue Chapman, the daughter of Show Hope founders, Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman. Six years after Maria’s death, her legacy continues to transform the lives of orphans with special needs. The sights and sounds of laughing children that echo throughout the hallways of Maria’s Big House of Hope, are very much a glimpse of God’s redemption…of his bringing beauty from ashes.”
Another story of resilience is Jason Weaver, lead singer for the band, Big Daddy Weave. Jason who has diabetes, became ill with an infection, which severely weakened his body's immune system. This prevented his body’s ability to stave off the infection and resulted in the amputation of both of his feet. In August of 2016, Jason appeared with his band on stage, at Christian Music Broadcasters Momentum Conference. Big Daddy Weave received the "Rich Mullins Impact Award."
We Are Messengers have retold their brush with death, many times. The tour bus they were travelling on, crashed into a vehicle parked on a dark road, with no lights on. Sadly, the person was killed instantly. Band members were still inside their tour bus when it caught on fire. Suddenly, the bus door flew open on its own, as the flames erupted. They all should have perished yet continue to give accounts of their survival.
Time and time again, in my continued research, I read of how Christian singers and their band members endured loss, addictions, abuse and painful encounters. Each one of them, have turned their life lessons, into testimony.
I thought of my own experiences, whereas a result of choices made, I have become stronger. Yet, I do not forget the times where instead of walking in the light, I have demanded in the dark…where I have held myself captive in places, I had no right to go.

Being a Christian, does not entitle me to a pass. If anything, I am sought after that much more by the darkness and everyday, I must keep the light in my lantern ablaze.
 I am reminded of Luke Smallbone asking the audience, on the night of the concert:
“Are there ships you need to burn in your life? What from your past has kept you silent and held you back from freedom?”  
by TL Alton

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Living For the World to See…Only Jesus

Throughout the twenty years I have been writing, some people have encouraged me to pen my life story. I am humbled to point out, I have been doing so for the past ten years of posts, on my various blogs.

In sharing, I do not write for a captive audience; rather it’s a release of words buried in the compartments of my mind. Often, after I have uploaded a blog entry, I can almost hear the gasps of those who say: “Did she really just reveal that to the whole world?”

I found this quote... as a response to the above, which sums up my life, my accountability and my sharing of the scars I bare.

“Christians are obligated to speak the truth at all times. As a witness to our integrity, we affirm that we will tell the truth at all times, in keeping with what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.”
This shirt was on display in the ferry gift shop on my way to see Casting Crowns.

In writing to evoke thought and emotion, I wait on Jesus’s promise to renew my strength in times of weakness. My prayers are to be authentic, in what I divulge.
If someone reading my life journey, finds hope that points to the Lord, the light of grace is from the one who created me.
A perfect reminder
In speaking what is true, there is no reason for me to take credit for piercing the darkness, I have walked through. I am merely an imperfect human who is seeking; letting God ignite the shadows and setting my world afire, with a heart for Jesus.

The secrets I carried, have been spilled forth onto the pages of the internet. Yet, I am not different from those who walk the corridors of their life story, encased in shame. The women whose daily companion is green-tinted concealer, used to cover the patterns of crimson bruises – her body is a battleground. The pre-teen who walks with arms folded stiffly across her chest, hating a body that betrays unwanted advances. The young boy, whose long-sleeved shirts ablaze in heavy metal logo’s all a distraction; to hide the thick ribbons of scars from where blade has met skin. The older woman whose past merges into the present; a broken olive branch, she awakens in her body that no one desires.

“Canyon’s of shame run deep. Gorges of never-ending guilt….
Try as you might to outrun yesterday’s tragedies – their tentacles are longer than your hope.
Sometimes your shame is private…sometimes it’s public. Branded by a divorce you didn’t want. Contaminated by a disease you never expected. Marked by a handicap you didn’t create. Whether it’s actually in their eyes or just in your imagination, you have to deal with it –
You are marked: a divorcee, an invalid, an orphan, an AIDS patient.
Whether private or public, shame is always painful. Unless you get help – the dawn will never come. Take him with you to your canyon of shame. Invite Christ to journey with you. Let him stand beside you as you retell the events of the darkest nights of your Soul. And then listen carefully, He’s speaking: “I don’t judge you guilty.” And watch carefully, as he’s writing a message…not in sand, but on the cross. Not with his hand, but with his blood. His message has two words: “Not guilty.”

‘Blessed are the dirt-poor, nothing-to-give, trapped in a corner, destitute, diseased, Jesus said, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ ~Matthew 5:6 (Max Lucado version)

God says that the more hopeless your circumstance, the more likely your salvation. The greater your cares, the more genuine your prayers. The darker the room, the greater need for light. Healing begins when we do something. Healing begins when we reach out. Healing starts when we take a step.” ~ Max Lucado

Last weekend, standing in front of the picture before me at the B & B I stayed at, the image engulfed me by what I saw. The storm clouds hovering over a beached boat summons me to where it all began. 

This summer, I met someone. In my desire to be loved after many years of remaining single, I chose to embark on a short journey, where I cast my beliefs into murky waters.
As I sat in this man’s boat, he disclosed that despite years of separation, he was still married. While my heart sank, I made the choice to carry on a relationship. Two Christians, who loved Jesus, were two sinners; entangled in a union we had no right to.

Does Anybody Hear Her? Casting Crowns

On the day afloat upon the open waters, as each of us shared our deepest secrets, there was the presence of those unseen. One represented light and the other darkness. When we made the decision to carry on, I put a wall up around the one who saves and gave an open invitation to the one who preys.

There was no need to pressure me into agreeing that this was a great idea. Over the years, my battle with weight and finding solace in food, had me convinced no one would ever love me for who I had become. Therefore, I showered this man with gifts, to show how lucky I was.

On the wall of where I stayed at My Inn, were various poignant quotes 

My larger purchases included two concert tickets and dinner packages to Casting Crowns in Abbotsford, British Columbia. 
I also bought him a ticket to the upcoming For King & Country concert event, on November 2nd.
The painful reality became clearer; beyond the gifts, dinners and treating him...
I now was feeding another beast – insecurity. 
When nothing else but Jesus should have been satisfying my life, I funneled my earnings into a vast black hole of emptiness. 

Lately, been down so low
My faith seems to come and go
Some days, Father, I don't know
How did my love grow cold? ~ Prize Worth Fighting For, Jimmy Kimmett

The day I boarded the bus onto the ferry, to cross the ocean back to the mainland, various tendrils to the past remained. I carried with me something connected to my only child and the woods where Sitka stands. Due to my solo journey involving numerous means of transportation, the offering I had to give, needed to be carried through to the end of my trip.

a gift with a purpose

Travelling around with me and this item, was symbolic of me bearing the secret attached to it, for nearly 29 years.  

On the evening before the concert, I stayed in and watched the true inspirational story of Brandon Burlsworth, called “Greater.”
It was just the beginning of filling up my empty well.
I prayed over what to do with the extra tickets I had, and it all came in verse:

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

on my wall ~ Matthew 25:35 
In offering the Casting Crowns Ticket and Dinner Package for free, I broke the bondage attached to my guilt, of purchasing it in the first place. A young man named Roderick sent me a kind-hearted email. He shared how much his mother Susan liked the bands Christian music and how he wished she could see them perform live. Then Roderick shared his favourite Casting Crowns song: “Slow Fade.” He added:  It is his conscience’s song to keep him strong in times of weakness. It reminded him that every compromise is a big deal and not something to take lightly.

Since it was an older song by Casting Crowns, I decided to look it up and as the video played, I felt a stream of tears. It is about a married man whose eyes are upon another woman, in lust. This brought me to fold my hands in prayer, for those I needed to release myself from. They were strangers to me. Even though the relationship I had been in was dissolved, the connection to two woman I had never met, needed to be broken by mercy. My heart opened to the wife and the daughter of the man; I had been seeing. I asked for forgiveness of venturing into a relationship with a man I had no right to do so. While in this affair with a married man, I stopped honouring Jesus in what I took part in.

“My heart needs a surgeon; my Soul needs a friend.” ~ Cody Carnes

On the night of the concert, I met Roderick and Susan at the venue. I was happy to hear that her son had bought a ticket and would be sitting in the seats, amongst the crowd.
As Susan and I had dinner together, she spoke fondly of her eleven children. I was surprised, but the next thing she told me, came more of a shock. Within their Christian family, was a daughter…named Shaylah. I sat in awe and wonder of how it was a God connection our daughters shared the same namesake (only difference was Susan’s daughter had an h on the end). She told me about the non-profit missionary work the whole family is involved with ~ Hope For Today
Susan, Roderick and family ~ Hope for Today

Susan gave me some information and passed onto me a CD, which had a personal message from both mother and son. In writing my blog post, I have listened to the music and a song called: The Candle, resonated within me.

“Keep the candles burning I pray for me, I will walk by candlelight for I am not the one and only, here tonight.”

During our dinner, I knew there was purpose to my presence. I was carrying the extra ticket For King & Country. Behind me, I heard a young lady talk of her upcoming birthday, on November 2nd. This was the same day of the Christian concert. Introducing myself, the two ladies were Danielle and Amy. I gifted Danielle an early birthday present, as I placed the ticket in her hand. Later, through my book website, she would send me a heartfelt message of gratitude for the gifting.
Before I left on this adventure of faith to the mainland, I wrote in deep purple lip-liner on my bathroom mirror: Prayers for the musicians.

Now, as we all shared in fellowship and food, I sought guidance as to who I should assemble. I first asked Susan, Amy and Danielle, then moved onto a table of such warmth and light. Four beautiful ladies who are part of the African community, kindly let me share about my cultural journey, through my writing. I know three of the lady’s names were Evelyn, Anne and Grace, yet the fourth girl I cannot say. When asked to join the prayer circle for those who would perform, each woman gathered in words of blessings, upon every band member.
When two or more gather...

Settling into my seat I was amazed that as I let go of everything, God showed up to close doors, while opening others full of promise.
Over the years I have attended many events, yet I was not prepared for the deep connection with Jesus that transpired over the evening.
This was an impacting show in the power of the Lord’s love. It never felt as if I were in a stadium with throngs of people, rather I had a front seat to a night of worship, with our Creator.

When Cody Carnes wife, Kari Jobe joined him onstage, they raised the roof with the lyrics of “Forever.” I felt the music and was jumping up and down, as they delivered a powerful performance. The air was filled with hands outstretched to the heavens full of stars. During the ballads, concert goers- including myself- shone their phone lights. To see the beaming rays, was an indication of the radiance present, in a building full of worship.

By the time Casting Crowns appeared, my heart was on fire and I was hungry for the spoken word. The lead singer Mark Hall, infused the audience with Jesus, telling detailed stories of his life as a Youth Pastor. When he broke the personal barriers with his own struggles of Dyslexia and ADHD, the woman next me confided she was video taping Mark’s testimony. She wanted to share with her Autistic son, who was struggling and had given up on himself.
I realized everyone around me, was dealing with some kind of battle.

I would later meet several people during intermission, who are over comers. A woman, whose fierce meth addiction bound her to the enemy, was now clean and sober 14 years. Told she would never be able to have children; she is now mother to two, thriving boys. 

At one point during the concert, it was shared the profits from the evening, would go to benefit Taylor Made Retreat in Portland Oregon.

A place of refuge for those seeking treatment is Taylor Made Retreat.

In Abbotsford, British Columbia, there is Joshua House - Christian based men’s recovery homes. In reading Richard and Angie Korkowski’s testimonies, I was reminded about accountability and how we as Christians are to speak the truth. They both are members of the Executive at Joshua House. where the Lord makes it possible to be supportive of others, who are struggling.

Their Mission Statement is:
To help men overcome addiction through Jesus Christ, giving hope and restoring relationships.

I had the chance to have a conversation on the telephone with Richard Korkowski.
In the time we had, he was able to provide further details about the programs offered and shared that Joshua House received a donation from the concert. Richard spoke about the men of Joshua House, who are part of the set-up, tear down crew for all the Christian concerts in the area and have the opportunity to receive the Lord, at these events. It was amazing to hear how the men have been a part of Praise Fest, Casting Crowns and other crew set-ups, including the upcoming For King & Country concert. Being a part of these Christian experiences, allows these men, to have a chance to hear about God and receive in worship.
The costs of operation for Joshua House is over $450,000. The core of the expenses comes from various means of funding and also relies on donations.
The recovery program is a valuable lifeline; a place where sin meets saving. This year has seen 89 baptisms take place.

I am grateful for the chance to have learned more about the 95 men and dedication of staff, who everyday serve in a way, which is centered on Jesus. 
Link to Joshua House

Joshua 1:9 
Personally, I know what it is like to watch loved ones battle against their addictions. I also have learned about all facets in forgiveness and releasing myself from the burdens of guilt, connected to another person's scars. 
Likewise, I have needed to remember the value of listening, so as to be guided. 
When the Lord directs your attention to him, it is important to take notice. 
Even if it means standing out in a crowd, when you feel completely alone. 

During the interval at the concert, Mark asked for Youth Pastors and others involved in Ministry, to go to a specific area for encouragement and prayer. As a large group gathered, I stood in front of Mark.
Before he prayed, Mark asked those who were involved with youth, to put up their hand. I stayed silent. Then he asked those who were involved in Ministry to hold up their hand. Again, I stood quietly. While I am a Christian writer and mental health advocate, I was not there to receive praise. Rather, I simply needed prayer.

Afterwards, I had the chance to speak with Nathan. He was part of Mark’s Youth group and is now his PR. I gave him one of my cards that I usually hand out for my book. Yet, it was not meant to be about my novel, instead I wanted to pass along my blog link to this post.
Once back on stage, Mark openly shared some of his own health battles, including kidney cancer in 2015 and last year being sidelined, when he needed surgery on his vocal cords. Turning his attention to the Book of James, Mark shared how he is a follower of Jesus and pointed to Him. 
Soon after, another gift he was blessed with, was shown to those in the audience. Standing behind an easel set up on stage and drawing upside down, Mark began to sketch with both hands as the band sang, “Who Am I.” 
Sitting in awe, I gazed upon the crowd, who were also astounded at the formation of Jesus on the paper. At the end, Mark stood in front of the image he had drawn and added finishing touches. 

The significance of Casting Crowns most recent album “Only Jesus,” now has a greater meaning to me of the lyrics and my own path as a writer. My legacy won't be the words I I look heavenward, I give all the glory to ' the God who saves and takes away'. 

There was a moment during the concert, when Megan Garrett stood on the stage. As she sang from a familiar place in such a profound way, the words were as if Jesus was sitting right beside me… in the empty seat.

The Change in Me (Condensed lyrics) ~ Casting Crowns

Your spirit is a whispering
When all the lies are deafening
You speak to the very heart of me
And fear cannot remain
Your spirit is the light ahead
Calling me into the depths
And daring me to take a step
And let you lead the way
Your spirit is a holy flame
Burning all the old away
Here I am, lord, have your way
'Til all that's left is you
Your spirit is my constant friend
You're with me to the very end
I'll never be alone again
You're the change in me.

The following day, I sat on a bus with the understanding that I no longer could live for my own agenda. In six years, there had been interactions with others. Even though I remained single, my spirituality did not line up with the beliefs, I vowed I would give my life for. While I thought the shame I carried was private, the truth is Jesus has stood by every sordid mistake, I have ever made. Though there is no one to blame for my choices, Matthew 5:28 reminds me, I am not alone in poor decisions.

My whirlwind three-day trip concluded, with a gifting that saw an old chapter come to an end, while new beginnings are to unfold. As I offered someone from my past-a present of transformation- I joined in the reason to celebrate, their own happiness and future.

Beautiful is the release, as God shows us what happens, when we surrender.

While this is not my story to boast, it is my story to glorify the one I believe in…

by T.L. Alton

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Do as I Say…Not as I do

Did I disappoint you or let you down?
Should I be feeling guilty or let the judge’s frown?
Love is blind that I knew
When my heart was blinded by you…
I've kissed your lips and held your head
Shared your dreams and shared your bed
I know you well, I know your smell…
Goodbye my lover…Goodbye my friend
~ James Blunt

There comes a time when the safety net of the earthly realm must be removed, in order to let God’s mercy take over.

As I write this, the truth is I should be dead. For the traumas I have endured, only by a miracle I have survived. Over the ten years of blogging, I have openly shared of the life experiences that saw me nearly earn my angel wings. From being a Survivor of a vicious attack six years ago, to the traumatic childhood I endured, there is no doubt that God has a purpose for me.

A heart for Jesus 💛
Over the years, falling in love has also added to the scars on my heart. Yet placing my faith in the Lord, has seen Him be the ultimate stain remover, in my life.

A few weeks ago, I heard a story on Praise 106.5 FM radio about a woman who called to share a profound reminder that we should not judge one another. She went onto say a letter was placed into her mailbox at the end of the family’s driveway. As she walked back to her house reading the words, it made her stop and begin to weep. The caustic message was from an unknown neighbour, harshly criticizing the family for the way their house was in disarray. The unkind confrontation, was a torrent of judgment against a family, the neighbour felt were a bunch of lazy, no good people, who did not care of their outward appearance. 
It also was an unsigned letter.

The woman on the radio expressed with honesty their home had become an eyesore, with paint peeling, weeds sprouting everywhere and things needing repairs; she also shared that behind the mess, was a story. Months earlier, her husband had been let go of his job due to downsizing, then he was diagnosed with diabetes. Soon after, their child had been diagnosed with cancer. All the money the family had, was being poured into medical bills. She decided instead of lashing out, to turn to social media and posted the letter that was inked in toxicity. The woman continued to share on the radio, how she and her family were unprepared as to what happened next. Word of what took place began to spread in her neighbourhood and one day there was a knock on their door. Upon opening it, there stood her community, with buckets of paint, hand tools and landscaping equipment. 
Instead of condemnation from those who surrounded her, people came together in an outpouring of love; a perfect example of the compassion we should have for one another.

Sitting in my vehicle, listening to the story, I let go of the tears…for I AM that unfinished home, in need of some TLC. Fragments of me are the broken bricks and crumbling mortar. Each sun-dried block around me represents the support I have received in the past. 💞Standing on a foundation that appears to be decaying, is a solid ground of knowing who I am. It is not the disarray that some may see and perception of me that has value… rather it is what is living on the inside of me, in Jesus. The doorway to my soul is like a sturdy oak entrance; a symbol of strength and knowledge, it represents the day I received and answered the knock that would change my way of life forever.

While my life has seen me make plans, the Lord shifts my order to remind me of His best intentions that form my existence. 

In the past six years, my dating life has been nonexistent, due to me dealing with the sexual assault I Survived.  Having sought Counselling with Charles and Claudia Dorrington, I was able to face the demons of my past. Slowly, I felt myself able to breathe out the pain, which was heavy laden upon my stained soul.While mistakes have been made with placing trust in others, I have taken risks.

As a writer, I have also been drawn to subject matter that is taboo, in order to bring awareness and lend my voice. In overcoming affliction, I have been drawn to those in spite of adversity, who have also survived. I attended a three-day Conference on Sexual trafficking that saw every deviant topic discussed. The articles I have written on investigative reporting and posted blogs, cover issues that are forged in ancient times. For similar stories, can be found among the pages, of the Bible. 

Due to me no longer being a victim, with all that I have overcome, my purpose is clearer.

My life has been an open book…a place where others have connected with their own heartache to mine. I do not pretend to be a perfect Christian. If anything, I have spent years writing about my flaws, so others can relate. In sharing, this gives me the opportunity to testify, how my faith brought me to a place of forgiveness and peace. 

As a Christian, I have been held accountable to my beliefs. Recently, a relationship that was steeped in faith, came to an abrupt halt. The person I had strong feelings for, was convicted to stop seeing me, based on the personal nature of our relationship. My initial reaction was to be defensive and want to fight against them letting me go. We had shared incredible times with beautiful memories that lit up the dark. We were on the fast track to nowhere…propelling us were pure raw emotions. 
We shared in a beautiful bed and breakfast weekend, while I attended the Ocean Falls Reunion. 

Hi-Point Guest Ranch we spent time together
Another event we attended was the Saanich Fall Fair, where we indulged in every sweet treat and acted like teenagers on the Ferris wheel. 

Our boating in Eileen, saw me do a special pebble release, for a dear friend’s loss of a loved one. Walking among the lavish gardens of the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific and later treating us to a lovely meal, I reveled in all that we were doing, as a couple. It was not hard to fall in love, being surrounded by wilderness and staying in God's Lakehouse. It felt good to share in the gifts I gave the man I was with, as they complimented our moments together. We toasted wine in glasses I bought and placed upon a wooden bench he had made. A sign I purchased, complimented his Ten Commandments. 

While many rang true, some were misguided
The reality was neither of the them were being honoured properly, between two Christians. There was also the promise of a writer's desk I had hoped for, that would never come to fruition. 

During our relationship, I disclosed about my beloved daughter Shayla, who passed away at the age of 21. Her memory was embraced by this person and honoured in a gift, which is now in my ownership. The man I dated, spent two days creating a lasting tribute, that had a deep connection with my child.

In the last week of our union, I was asked by this man to have a dear friend of mine vouch for me. God knows every word that leaves our lips and I was happy this person would speak on my behalf. Yet knowing what I do now, there was nothing they could say to save a desolate relationship.

On Friday, September 13th during a Harvest Moon, I became a single person. Standing outside at 12 am, I heard the hooting of an owl and the beauty of a quiet night was pierced by its existence. The calling of nature, beckoned me to continue to rise.

I was reminded in Christ, to remain steadfast in my faith. 
Only He is my judge and jury…no other has that right.

This month, I had been gifted the following picture by Rick Groenheyde called “Arise Bride.” 

Arise Bride by Rick Groenheyde
At the foundation of this phenomenal imagery is the face of Jesus. I related to this vision in a profound way. Later, I would be blessed with the opportunity to speak with him on the phone about my book, “Under the Sitka Tree.”

His vast knowledge about the publishing industry is impressive, while his own personal journey of the power of God in Rick’s life, shines the glory.

The past weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and an overload of too much shared in such a short amount of time. In flipping through my Jesus Calling journal, I read a passage and quote, which I highlighted. 
Often, the writing is there on the wall of surrender and it is overlooked. 

When we are given freewill, occasionally wrong decisions are done in haste that can have long-term consequences, for years to come. Sometimes, we are a here and now society, rather than an upcoming thinker. I have learned first-hand, how one fateful moment, can change your life Forever.

In being freed, I chose to spend my day doing a fall cleaning of the soul...things were packed up and donated, allowing me to release myself from the man, I was coupled with. 

As the tears have been wiped away, what felt like punishment for my past, is a promise for my future.

Never in my lifetime, have I had a man... give me back to God.

In doing so, my heart that I wear on my sleeve, is a testimony of how I refuse to be bitter over all that has transpired. The doorway to my heart remains open to those I bravely let in. Despite the risks, I choose JOY.

Often, when we find ourselves falling apart, it is the invisible thread of love in Gods hands that stitches us back together ✟ ❣

Video Link: For King & Country ~ Fight on, Fighter 

by T.L. Alton