Moving forward: How to heal from your sin by serving others

The message at church today hit me hard. It was an awe-inspiring message, but the first time a sermon left me feeling heartbroken. The topic was “sexual immorality”, so I imagine it left a lot of people squirming in their seats, feeling the heat on the back of their neck. But it wasn’t shame or guilt that left me wiping away tears from my leg as they dropped from my downcast eyes. It wasn’t present sin hiding in my heart that urged me to stand up and go forward to the prayer team or to leave the auditorium and compose myself. What I felt was this crippling, overwhelming wish to go back in time. To turn back the years and accept Christ… really accept Christ into my heart much sooner than I had. To go back to myself as a teenager and focus my desires to acceptance from above and away from acceptance of my peers; to give myself the strength to say the word I remember longing to say but was unable to: no.



One thing that resonated with me was the fact that as teenagers, our brains form neurological pathways based on our experiences and observations. These pathways shape our future thoughts; the way we feel about certain subjects and the way we feel about ourselves. They shape the way we desire pleasure and our ways of seeking it out. I kept thinking that poor experiences I had as a 17 year old were to blame for my lack of giving my marriage and present relationships the energy they deserve. Although I have never explicitly believed that we receive punishment from God for our actions, I have often found myself thinking that certain unhappiness I have felt as an adult was my payback for choices I made as a teenager and young adult. I kept forgiving myself for poor choices and asking God for forgiveness, knowing that it was given before I asked. But I never felt redeemed. I am still haunted.
Today, in a satellite church held in the gym of an elementary school, I received the closest thing to a true revelation I have ever felt. It wasn’t until discussing it with a friend after the service that I could put it into words:

“I have felt before that I was getting punishment but I know I was reaping my choices and that it was nothing God was putting me through… it was something He was getting me through.”

Actions have consequences. When we choose to stray from God, we feel the effects of our sin. But it’s not God’s anger coming down on us that we are experiencing; it’s the loneliness we are feeling from pushing our Father away.
Memories from a relationship I was in 10 years ago are still aching in my soul. For a long time, I thought I was healed. I had chalked my choices up to adolescence, asked for forgiveness, and had forgiven the people I blamed for the situations that lead me astray. I thought those were the magic steps to putting the past behind me. Baptism was a step that I didn’t account for. The love I have felt since becoming a Christian has been the greatest warmth I have ever embraced. But it has also caused me to face truths that I didn’t understand or didn’t want to accept before. In the past few months, I have found myself pushing people away, knowing it wasn’t their fault, but not understanding why I was doing it. The decade-old heartbreak started raging in my mind. My husband playfully…innocently… tickling me suddenly looked like the boy that wanted to pressure me and change me against my will. Like I said, it was behind me. I couldn’t understand why it was bothering me now. And I feared it was going to cause irreparable damage to my relationships. I prayed that God would help me to forgive and help me to forget.
Today in church I prayed again for forgiveness and I prayed for healing. I didn’t feel a release of the pressure in my chest as I had hoped. But I did feel a call to do something I haven’t done before. I may be writing this prematurely as I do not yet have success stories to share about what I feel God is calling me to do; but I also felt God calling me to simply share my story. I love children. Working with children has become a passion of mine in the past few years and a setting in which I feel totally confident and fearless. Something that does strike immediate fear in me, however, is teenagers. I already worry at least once a day about how I will handle my own children (now 21 months and almost 4 years old) as teenagers. I have always claimed that I just don’t get teens. I look like one of them, but I don’t understand them. I didn’t understand them; until today. Today in that seat I was a teenager again, feeling the pressure from the world and longing to rise above it. I can’t go back and help myself make the choices that Christ wanted me to. But I can hopefully walk with others through their valleys. I can relate to what young people are going through because I have far from forgotten my own experiences. I can still feel the sting and I will pray that I can at least help to lessen that pain for others. I am SO good at talking, but I know God will help me to be great at listening; great at silent support; great at playing flip the bottle or fidget spinning or whatever it be that will allow me to reach young hearts.
To echo what my church often says, I am here to love God and love people. My healing that I so long for will only come by doing just that.

Do you have sin that is still crippling you? Do you have bad memories that are keeping you from experiencing your life as you should be? I encourage you to join me on my new journey to healing myself and helping others.

  1. Acknowledge your sin. 

    Before you can move forward in overcoming whatever it is that is hurting your heart, you have to accept your responsibility in causing it. I don’t know your situation. If you are reading this because something was done to you, and you are struggling with moving on from it, I am in no way suggesting that it is your fault. And I realize I am being vague so let me be clear: if you were abused physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually; it is NOT your fault. Do NOT blame yourself for the sins and immorality of others. I could write an entire post, or several, on this subject. You CAN and WILL find healing in Christ. And you deserve to feel the love that Christ can wrap around you. Please seek that love and seek counseling.

In my situation, I have a clear person/people who transgressed against me, but I made choices that I deeply regret and that have been the seed of my ongoing pain. I have recognized my poor choices, and I have done the following two things over the span of 10 years:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1 John 1 : 8-10

2. Ask forgiveness. 

In the past 10 years that I have been walking with a heavy heart, only 2 and a half of those have I been walking with my savior. He was always there, waiting for me to go to His arms. I felt that I could do it without Him. That’s not to say that I did not pray or ask for healing. But I did not truly understand the power of forgiveness until I was baptized. I had believed in Christ my entire life but I did not fully feel his presence until I took that step. If you have not yet taken that step, please here me when I say that you NEED your Heavenly Father walking with you in order to heal. I finally began intentionally praying for forgiveness and for help with forgiving myself.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2: 2

3. Forgive yourself and forgive others, if necessary.

As I cannot travel to my high school years and change the choices I made, you cannot change the past. You made a mistake. You made a poor choice. You dealt with the consequences. Maybe you are still dealing with those consequences and maybe even.. you will always deal with the consequences. You have to realize that the person you were is not the person you are. You cannot carry the burden of your choices and you can let Christ lift it from you by going to Him in prayer and asking for help to forgive yourself. It’s not something that’s going to happen instantly and it may be something you experience ongoing struggles with . But you have to make the choice to forgive yourself.

In my case, I had to make the choice to forgive someone else. Does this person know I forgive them? Probably not. Does this person even know they needed my forgiveness? I doubt it. I no longer know this person. So it was sometimes easy to believe that I could forever hold a grudge and it wouldn’t harm anyone. Wrong. I have recently seen the people that matter to me now falling victim to my feelings toward that person in my past; even though I have spoken my forgiveness several times. Forgiving this person in my past is an ongoing choice. Anytime I feel that sting from that past experience, I have to remind myself that it is the past and I will not hold a grudge from it. Holding hate in my heart keeps me from loving others and takes my attention away from my friends, my family, and my Lord.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates their brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

1 John : 9-10

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11: 24-25


This is where I am now; or rather, where I hope to have the opportunity to be. I felt called to volunteer with youth at my church and to let my experiences mold me into a mentor. Now this is my grand plan, but that’s not to say it will happen overnight. I daydreamed about engaging in a deeply moving conversation with a teenage girl that involved lots of tears and hugging and ultimately leading her from the temptations of society. Cue the curtains. I know that may never happen. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know in what capacity I will help whether it be to actually be able to mentor in the way I imagine or if the extent will be helping a kid with English homework or proving that 27 year-olds like ultimate frisbee just as much as 17 year-olds. I can guarantee that there is great learning and personal growth in store for me. What I want to inspire you to do today is to take the first step. Somewhere in my grief from the service, God placed the thought of volunteering with youth in my mind and with no hesitation, I logged on to my church’s website and sent in a volunteer inquiry. I made the first step and I know God will lead me the rest of the way.

If you happen to be from a small town full of baptist churches like I am originally, you may know a simple truth I came to understand at a pretty young age: former addicts (this includes sex and alcohol addiction) can make pretty great preachers. I am humbled by the thought that preachers I personally know have their own demons that they have struggled with and may continue to struggle with. The poor choices of their past are not only something they overcame, it’s something they used to propel them into God’s most important work, helping and guiding others. Whatever you did. Whatever causes your pain. God didn’t make it happen to you; But He got you through it so that you can help someone else do the same.


Unconditional Love

Love is hard to understand. Unconditional love is sometimes unfathomable; yet each of us are loved fiercely. Endlessly. And unconditionally. ❤

How I Almost Lost Myself and My Keys at the Same Time

My 17-month-old son hid my car keys last night. Nothing new. Nothing out of the ordinary for him or any other kid his age. As insignificant of an occurrence it was last night, it completely shook my world (and my confidence) this morning. You see, I didn’t KNOW he had hidden my keys until I was ready to head out the door, 20 minutes later than I had intended to. They weren’t in any of the usual spots. I searched through yesterday in my mind and knew I hadn’t left the house since I last knew where they were. I remembered that I had a friend over and L had started playing with her keys. I told him, “Now don’t you lose her keys!”

He didn’t.

He lost mine.

It had been a fairly good morning compared to most. I had actually gotten up only 30 minutes after my alarm went off. And I had been able to take a shower. During my shower, I had a great conversation with God and prayed about my family and my attitude. I had prayed for compassion and patience. And then I was given a chance to use what I had prayed for.

I had wanted to get to work early and now thoughts were running through my mind that I may not make it to work at all. And how horrible would it be to have to call into work because you can’t find your car keys? I could feel my frustration rising and I told myself that my children were mere bystanders in this conflict. Don’t take it out on them. Don’t bring them into the chaos. Then with my next thought, I found myself wondering why they could be so innocently playing and laughing and wanting to talk to me about shapes when  this storm was going on. I did not snap, but I replied with short, frustrated answers and immediately kicked myself for it. Then I was kicking myself for not having the foresight to keep L from playing with my keys. I had noticed the possibility of him losing my friend’s keys and mine were RIGHT BESIDE hers. I could hear people asking why I didn’t just grab my spare and look for that set later. Oh that’s a great idea except I LOST MY SPARE KEY YEARS AGO. And I never got it replaced. How stupid of me, right?

Fast-forward through me nearly crying and praying that God would help me to be calm and clear-minded enough to find my keys and get to work. I fought my anxiety and sent my supervisor a text letting her know I may be late and then almost immediately found the keys UNDER THE COUCH. Grabbed the kids, got in the car, and headed to work.

In those first moments after the dust settled from my personal flurry, I continued reprimanding myself for being so absent minded. Then I heard these words from the speakers in my car:

“You’re not the only one who feels like this; feelin’ like you lose more than you win.”

I just smiled and thanked God. Just like that. An overwhelming calm rushed over me. But it went on:

“Like life is just an endless hill you climb. You try and try, but never arrive. I’m telling you something, this racing, this running… oh you’re working way too hard. And this perfection you’re chasing is just energy wasted. ‘Cause he loves you like you are.”

I had just done a video post about God’s unconditional love and here I was putting myself through so much for something so little when I knew I had Him on my side no matter what. Through these lyrics by Hawk Nelson, God was telling me the same thing he has been telling me for quite some time now: Slow down! Be still

I get so caught up in getting my kids to school that I forget to have the morning moments I always dreamed of having with them. I forget to wake them sweetly and start their day off with goodness before heading them out into the cold world (preschool can be pretty brutal.) I know. It’s not always going to be an ideal motherhood. For anyone. But I do know that if I make the conscious decision that I want to be the mother that brings peace to her child whenever possible, I can make enough meaningful moments to count.

bible keys.jpg

Even though this morning I ignored my daughter’s words in my search for my keys and I acted flustered; I am thankful that before all that, I had talked with the Lord. I’m thankful that my day started with a plan and me knowing (even though I clearly forgot for a bit) that He has my back. If it weren’t for that, I know the chaos would have been a million times worse. I turned a mole hill into a mountain in my mind,but God moved my mountain. He gently reminded me that I am His child and that my mistakes will never deter him. That my mistakes will not define me.

I turned a mole hill into a mountain in my mind,but God moved my mountain. 

Guys, I had called myself stupid. Are you kidding me? A child of God… and I was putting myself down like that. Thankfully He was there to bring me up and to remind me that I never want my children calling themselves names or feeling incompetent because they had trouble finding misplaced car keys. I don’t want them feeling incompetent… ever. I want them to know that there is nothing they will face alone. And while I fully intend on telling them that truth, it is my responsibility to show them. When they see Mommy tackling the world through prayer and scripture, they will know they can do the same.


Mockingbird Mama

Since my daughter M was born, I have sung lullabies to her almost nightly. I don’t sing them well or on key, but she has never seemed to mind. I have always sung the same three songs: Hush Little Baby, Lavender Blue, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. M tends to prefer “Hush Little Baby,” so I sometimes get stuck on an infinite loop of it while trying to get her to finally sleep. While my tired voice is on autopilot, I find myself pondering over the lyrics:

“Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.” Well, that could be cool.

“Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.” Right on. Who wouldn’t want a diamond?

“Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.” Okay… decorative mirrors can make great gifts.

“Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.” Not sure that would make me stop crying. Whatever.

“Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.” No… thanks.

“Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.” That’s better.

“Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.” Are we on a farm??

So… a few of the lyrics reflect the age of the song and/or the original author’s lack of creativity when it came to finding rhyming words. The overall message of the song is still endearing. At least I’m not singing about a baby falling out of a tree, right?

Many times my wandering thoughts stop with that mockingbird and what it stands for. No, I’m not about to go down a Harper Lee rabbit hole; we’ll save that for another day.

What does come to my mind is Zooey Deschanel’s role in Failure to Launch. Throughout the movie, her character battles a literal mockingbird outside her window that keeps mimicking annoying sounds like dog barks and car horns at the most inopportune times. And this brings me to my realization:


We all know we have to be careful what we say around kids because they will repeat it. And they won’t just repeat it right after they hear it. Mommy drops her phone on her toe and says a 4-letter word the two year old hasn’t heard before. The two year old walks away and quietly adds it to her long-term vocabulary bank without saying a thing; making Mommy think she’s safe. Until Friday night dinner with the in-laws. We’ve all been there.

There are things I didn’t realize I said or did until my daughter repeated them back to me. In the 3.5 years she has been alive, I have come to terms that I maybe yell at our dogs too much and get a little too annoyed at drive-thru windows. I have also learned by watching her interact with her dolls that I can be very loving. Our breastfeeding relationship has made a possitive impact and I make sweet comments when she’s hurting or scared. I know this because she nurses her dolls and she comforts them with sweet smiles and tender touches.

My 1 year old son, L, has shown me that he is ALWAYS watching. He knows how to put the k-cup in the Keurig as he’s been on my hip many mornings that came way too soon. He knows which buttons to press on the dishwasher and he is quick to point a disapproving finger at his sister when she gets too sassy. His little hands cover his face when he’s frustrated and he will always pat your back when you seem frustrated.

Knowing that my little mockingbirds are watching have helped me be a better mom. I know that the fact that sometimes I lose my cool and I cry and I mutter “I can’t do this” under by breath is normal and all a part of being a parent. I know that it’s okay to not be the best role model %100 of the time. I also know that when we are visiting my in-laws and their parrot decides on the rare occasion to sound off a smoke detector noise that he once heard, I always wish that he had never heard it.

Luckily, my little mockingbirds see and mimic more good than bad. On my best days, I shape my mind to model the type of person I want them to be: kind, giving, patient and forgiving. That means I have become the best version of myself that I have ever been and I am so thankful to them for inspiring that in me.

I find myself smiling and talking to strangers more than I ever would flying solo. I find myself trying harder to not roll my eyes when my husband innocently gets on my nerves (notice I used the word try; God’s always molding me as His work in progress.) They act how I act and I want them to be more than just decent human beings. I want them to be the hands and feet of Jesus, right? That means I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And I always knew that. But having the future adult behaviors of these tiny human see-and-says on the line gives me accountability.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that who we are is a combination of nature AND nurture. Somehow M has decided to be a cat-loving person who likes to eat mushrooms and her father and I did not contribute to that. However, whatever percentage of nurturing plays into their personalities, whether it be 1% or 99%; that’s ALL on us.

I’m not a perfect parent and I never will be. I’m just a mockingbird mama trying her best to fill those little wings with goodness for the day they fly from the nest.

God bless! 🙂