Category : Women

God Never Changes But I Have By Brenna Kate Simmonds

God Never Changes But I Have By Brenna Kate Simmonds

Brenna Simmonds

This is an excerpt from a much larger story – of how I came to be who I am today. Since Psalm 139 says that God created my inmost being, and He knit me together in my mother’s womb, His unrelenting pursuit of me began before I even saw daylight. Here is my story. I pray that it encourages you, and rings true in your heart.

I was born prematurely in May of 1975 and spent two months isolated in an incubator, out of the warmth of my mother’s womb but also out of her warm embrace. In those days, preemies were not touched or held. How this is initial isolation affected me, I do not know exactly. What I do know is the tone of the rest of my life. I have distinct memories of songs and stories that scared me as a child. I’d zero in on themes of abandonment, and I carried those feelings of fear with me into adulthood. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with a lack of self worth. I’ve had a hard time believing that I could accomplish anything or be someone other people could like.

During my youth, my family faithfully attended liberal churches, serving on various committees and singing in choirs. I’d always believed in God, but in those early years it had little effect on my daily life. I did cry out to God in times of trouble, wondering why He didn’t rescue me from the difficult life I was living. By high school, I lacked many necessary life skills. I was not one of the “popular” kids. I never wore the right clothes, I never said the right things, and I didn’t have the right friends. I had no understanding of how to properly deal with my emotions, which were growing increasingly disoriented. So I became self-destructive. I “self-injured” by cutting myself with sharp objects and banged my head and fists against walls and floors. I had started having eating problems at age 14, and by the end of high school I had a full blown eating disorder.

I began experimenting sexually with girls at a young age. This continued until, as a high school freshman, I found myself physically attracted to my best friend. Before our relationship became physical, it was already emotionally unhealthy. When we began to act out our attraction physically, I became totally dependent on her for my self-worth.

About a week into our relationship, I secretly looked up “homosexuality” in a health book. The book said that if you had attractions for someone of the same gender, then you were gay. I remember thinking, “There it is, in black and white. I am a homosexual.” The summer after my high school graduation, I was in a coffee shop having a conversation about a novel I was reading. A character in the novel would quote Bible verses as a justification for abusing his wife. A man passing by our table heard the word “Bible” and asked if I was interested in going to church with him. I had attended many different types of churches throughout my life, so I accepted his invitation. I began meeting regularly with this man’s girlfriend, who was quick to tell me that homosexuality was a sin that would condemn me to hell. She would pray with me every day. And every night I would cry myself to sleep, praying, “God, change me! Why did you make me gay if that means I have to go to hell?” In my heart I wondered, “Is it true that God wants me to be forever separated from Him?” The church I was attending did not share the hope for change that the gospel offers. Their stance was change first … then God will accept you. I eventually got away from this woman and this church. I had asked God to change me, and He didn’t. And so I embraced my lesbian identity. After three and a half years together, my first girlfriend and I broke up. I then met an older married woman, dropped out of college and moved across the country to live with her and her husband. Her husband said it didn’t bother him to discover his wife was bisexual. He also claimed it didn’t bother him to have me move in because by doing so, I was satisfying some need in his wife that he couldn’t meet. She and I had a mock wedding ceremony and from then on, she introduced me as her “wife.” I lived with this couple for close to two and a half years. During this time, I became even more involved with the gay community. I spoke out for gay rights, frequented gay bars, and embraced my identity as a lesbian. I even became engaged to a gay man. We decided we would marry to be companions as soon as I finished college, but I would continue to be in a relationship with my “wife.” It made perfect sense to me at the time because I knew my “wife” would never leave her husband, but I certainly didn’t want to be alone. My “wife” and I eventually decided it would best for me to continue my schooling, so I moved to Boston to attend a prestigious music school, the same school from which my “wife” had graduated.

Though I was in an environment where my sexuality was affirmed, my life was far from happy. My relationship with my “wife” continued to crumble until she ended our relationship about 10 months after I moved. My eating disorder spiraled out of control. I descended into fear and loneliness.

Oddly enough, it was during that time that I started learning more about Jesus. Christians seemed to pop into my life to share with and pray for me. They never took it upon themselves to point out my sinfulness or say that I should not be a lesbian. They just pointed me to Jesus. Like everyone else, I was a sinner in need of Jesus in my life. My sexual choices were only one of many indications of this need. It’s pretty amazing to look back and see how God was cultivating a heart for Himself in me, and I was completely unaware of it at the time.

I wrote to a friend during this time: I may finally have the strength to turn to God for help. I’ve been turning away from God because I want to stay sick so I don’t have to deal with the real issues. Well, it’s strange because there have been some very influential Christians in my life. I think their prayers have really touched me somehow. Though I haven’t been able to pray for myself, the fact that I consider it to be an option is a big step from where I’ve been.

Things continued to get worse until I eventually came to the end of my rope. I knew that I needed help with my eating disorder, or I was going to die, but I felt I had tried everything and nothing worked. I called a friend who was a recovering alcoholic and bulimic to get advice, and she asked if I had ever tried praying for help to overcome my eating disorder. I thought, “That’s the one thing I haven’t tried!”—so I started praying.

Around this time, a friend gave me a music CD by a passionate Christian artist. One night while listening, the words of a song gripped my heart. I felt all alone, and my heart was so hard. The voice sang of a friend who was always there, with every tear cried, a friend who would give everything for him. That friend was Jesus ? the son of God, who died on the cross to take away my sin, my pain, and to give me worth. He died so that I wouldn’t have to carry the burden of my shame anymore. The words of the song cut me to the heart; I knew it was the truth. I couldn’t believe that such a love was possible, that someone could love me so much as to make that great of a sacrifice. All my life, I never felt loved, no matter what I did. As a singer, even when I was praised for a performance, I still felt empty. Even when I was loved by a friend or lover, I was still empty. No one could have possibly loved me enough. I had a bottomless well – a never-ending ache inside of me that I tried to fill with love, people, things, goals, thinness – but nothing dulled the pain for long. I remember falling forward, sobbing uncontrollably because the pain in my heart was so great. It wasn’t a typical kind of pain; I was being filled with love, and it hurt. It tore me apart to release all of my “self-control”, everything that I gripped so tightly, that I held on to for dear life, to Jesus. In the midst of that song, I cried out to God saying, “I want what he has!” God, in His great mercy, met me on that day in January of 1999.

Though I was not in a relationship at that time, I was immediately convicted that being in a lesbian relationship was not compatible with being a follower of Christ. I asked a Christian woman to show me Scriptures on the topic. What I read in the Bible only strengthened my resolve.

This was easy at first; I was so in love with God that I didn’t want anything else. However, about nine months after becoming a Christian, I met a girl who had been raised in a Christian home but whose family had walked away from God. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could do that, and I desperately wanted to help her. My intentions were pure; however, my resolve for purity quickly faded, and we entered into a physical relationship.

During the 3 months we were together, I knew I shouldn?t be doing what we were doing. In fact, every time we?d try to do something physical, my entire body would literally shake. I can now recognize that this was the Holy Spirit inside of me warring against my “flesh” – my sinful nature and desire to sin. I also started having severe stomach problems during this time – another sign of the anxious fight going on within me. But I didn’t feel that I could end it. It was my “last chance”, my last fling before I would begin what could very well be a celibate life. Even the girl I was with knew I shouldn’t be living this way. After 3 months, she said to me, “Listen – you can’t be a Christian and be gay. The Bible says you must either be hot or cold – one or the other, but not both.” She was quoting Scripture to me! And with that, she ended our relationship.
I threw up my arms saying, “Fine, God! I don’t want to live like this. Please take this away from me.” In many ways, He did. My attraction to women greatly lessened, but the circumstances of my life that led me in the direction of lesbianism had not changed. I was wise enough to know that although I had surrendered my desire to live as a lesbian to God, that didn’t mean the road ahead would be paved with gold.

There were a few things I found to be invaluable as I struggled to sort out the various issues in my life. I didn’t know that groups like Alive in Christ existed when I was struggling. I opened up to my Christian friends about my struggle and asked for accountability. I went through three years of counseling to deal with the roots of my same-sex attraction, as well as my eating disorder, depression and self-injury. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” I truly needed my entire thought life to be transformed. It wasn’t that I had moments of feeling worthless and unlovable; In the core of my being, I was sure it was true. My counselor helped me to recognize these faulty thought patterns and showed me how to make them line up with what God’s Word has to say about me (2 Corinthians 10:5). And most importantly, I wrestled with God. A lot. In all honesty, I suppose, it was more like I wrestled and He waited patiently for me to realize that He is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. When all that we’ve relied on for so long is ripped out from under us, it’s a natural reaction to question God — to question His goodness, His faithfulness, His reliability and trustworthiness — because we’ve been relying on our own faulty coping mechanisms and limited understanding for so long. Whether healthy or unhealthy, reliable or unreliable, the chaos becomes predictable, almost like an unhealthy friendship that you wish you could get rid of … but are glad it’s always there. There were times when I was so angry and bitter at God because He could have made my life — past and present — easier if He wanted to, but He didn’t. He wasn’t working according to my timing, and that wasn’t easy for me. I’m reminded of something from John 6. Jesus had just given the disciples a particularly difficult command. Rather than trusting in God’s goodness, His overall trustworthiness, as well as taking into account their limited understanding, quite a few of the disciples decided it was too tough a command and stopped following Christ. When Jesus turned to the Twelve to ask if they would leave too, Peter responded, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” That’s how I feel. In the midst of all the questions and doubts, I already knew that I had tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good, and that I had no other choice but to take refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8), to take my questions and hurts, rest in the shadow of His wing, and trust that He’s always been faithful. And that this time will be no exception. Homosexual behavior is one sin that seems especially hard to grapple with because on the surface, it appears that it’s not hurting anyone. I often hear about how unfair it is for God to forbid the expression of “genuine love” between two people. The reality of it is that there are a lot of things that don’t seem fair in God’s economy, at least to us. To me, it wasn’t fair to be labeled gay just because I had same-sex attractions. It wasn’t fair that the only choice I felt I was given was to embrace homosexuality. I don’t know where I would be today if I had believed those who told me that my only choice was to be gay.

A few months after surrendering my sexuality to God, I met a man named Roy through the campus ministry we both attended. One night on the phone, I let it slip that I used to be a lesbian. I was so mad at myself for not being more careful, sure that I had pushed Roy away. In reality, Roy didn’t seem fazed by it. That summer, I wrote this entry in my journal: “God, I look up at the dark night sky, and think I can actually see You to talk to You. I believe You’re there, and I feel You so close. I look up, and I want to share it with someone. I want to sit on my back porch and cry with my husband about how beautiful You are. I think I know who that person is. Maybe I’m way off-base, but I feel like I met him already.”

Roy & I continued to be friends for 5 months, at which time we began dating. It wasn’t always an easy relationship. Beside the fact that I had been a lesbian, I had never dated anyone I wasn’t also having sex with. I didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship, much less a non-physical one. Through those difficult times, I held on to what I believed I had heard from God: that I was meant to marry Roy.

When we first became friends, I was instantly drawn to his strong faith, his spontaneity, his free spirit and love for life. I thought he was cute enough, but I had never had a strong attraction to a man before. As we grew to know each other, I became more and more aware of my physical attraction to him. I can see that my lack of physical attraction to men in general was due to a fear of men that I had. I was repeatedly sexually abused as an adult by a man, and I believe I was protecting myself from future abuse by suppressing any physical attraction I might have. As I learned more about Roy, as I grew to trust him, and as I recognized that he wouldn’t hurt me, my natural physical attraction was allowed to surface without fear.
On December 14th, 2002, Roy & I became man and wife. And what a glorious ride it’s been since then!

Marriage is not a cure for homosexuality, or even a guarantee of happiness, but simply another part of God’s healing process in my life. That said, I never imagined that I’d have this much joy and feel so loved and fulfilled. I thank God that I came to a point where in my heart of hearts, I felt I had no choice but to embrace Christ and all that He required of me. But what I got in return for my obedience and hard work is an amazing godly man who loves me, unconditionally, like no woman ever did. What I have today is a solid relationship with a trustworthy God who constantly reminds me of His love and faithfulness, a God who I can now worship for who He is, rather than just for what He’s done in my life. He’s shown Himself to be true in my life. And in those times when I feel He hasn’t, I remind myself that it has more to do with my limited viewpoint and short-sightedness than it has to do with the reality of who God is. God never changes, but I do, and my love for Him and understanding of all that He is grows each day. And for that, I’m grateful.

Brenna is the Director of Alive In Christ.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other.

I Found My Identity In Jesus

Elsie Odom

Elsie Odom

I was born the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy. I became the product of an extremely dysfunctional, co-dependent family of alcoholic parents who physically and emotionally abused me. Also, I was sexually molested many times over the period of my childhood by different relatives.

My mother was the dominating parent whom I grew to hate because of her verbal and physical abuse. I made many inward vows that I never wanted to be like her. My dad was the submissive one who was away at work during the week and drunk every weekend. Even though I now believe my parents did not mean to hurt me, I felt rejected and began to shut them out. I made up my mind early in life that I certainly did not want to grow up to be like my mother or my father and I feared men because of the molestation. I felt insecure, had a sense of shame and no value which led to isolation from my peers. Therefore, I did not have any friends. I see now how the things that happened to me affected my sense of who I was, both as a person and in terms of my gender identity and sexuality.

I longed for love and acceptance and began experiencing sexual desires toward my female friends as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Those perverted sexual desires manifested into experiences and by the age of eighteen, I had already been involved in two different homosexual relationships. After I was permitted to date at the age of sixteen, I dated many different guys, trying to find the right one who would change the direction of my affections. I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but did not know how to get free; therefore, I suffered much pain and shame while feeling like a freak.

I even dated my partner’s boyfriend trying to break them up. She found out and ended our relationship which was devastating. In order to survive my broken heart, I dated every guy I could. And in so doing, I met a guy on a blind date and he asked me to marry him. Marriage appeared to be the answer and a way out. I told my fiancé about my previous same-sex relationships and he promised he would be the one who made me forget about them. I believed this to be the answer to my troubled life. We married in 1961, and he became a good provider. When I discovered marriage was not the answer, I decided to visit a psychiatrist hoping he could help me find the answer. Of course, he could not. I then decided if I had a child this would bring fulfillment, so we soon had a beautiful daughter. After 8 years of marriage that was not filling the void in my heart, my husband and I divorced. I met a woman in the city and had same-sex feelings for her. I decided in order to go on with my life I needed to move into town. There, I could get lost in the crowds and pursue the attraction I was having and accept my sexual identity.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other. My emotional pain became so great I decided to find another psychiatrist to find the answer to my desperation. Sure enough, what he told me was what I had heard before, “Whatever you do behind closed doors is your business”. His answer justified the horrible lifestyle I was living and gave me a temporary feeling that it was okay.

I found a job working at a straight bar as a barmaid where I met a woman and immediately started a friendship with her. This led to a love affair which seemed perfect and lasted for fourteen years. Even though I was living a life of lies and deception, I was the happiest I had ever been, or so I thought. We bought a home together and did everything together. We knew no other women or men who had same-sex attractions until my partner met a couple where she worked. We connected with them and began to have home parties and attend gay bars. The acceptance we received felt really good. Despite this, our lives continued downward into alcohol and drugs. We both became alcoholics.

I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and checked myself into two different psychiatric units. I was not serious about being free so this accomplished nothing except a time for temporary detoxification. Then early one morning before daylight as I was sobering up from being drunk the night before, Jesus visited me in a vision. I was still in bed and I saw Him standing in my bedroom doorway beckoning me to come to Him. He was so real standing there dressed in His pure white glistening robe. It was so vivid. I saw the same Jesus I had seen in pictures when I was a child attending Sunday school. I will never forget saying, “Help me, Jesus.”

Two years later after being told by my partner I either had to quit drinking or move out, I decided to get serious and start attending AA meetings once again. Through this time of recovery God was working in my heart. One night as I was returning home from AA in 1985 I looked up into the clear beautiful sky where there were millions of stars, and a peace came over me I had never experienced before. This was my Damascus road experience. I know now that was the night God totally delivered me from alcohol because I have not had a drink or even a desire for a drink since then. This was the beginning of turning back to God. You see I had been reading AA’s 24-hour prayer/mediation book for about a year. I know it was the Word of God that had been planted in my heart that set me free. Because the bible says in John 8:32, “if you continue in my Word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

Once free from alcohol and its numbing effects, I was able to sense the wooing of the Holy Spirit. He led my partner and me to watch Christian television. One night, while watching an evangelist, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I found out later my partner also had gotten saved about the same time.

The Holy Spirit convicted us both of the lifestyle we were living. We began to search for a Christian counselor in the yellow pages of the telephone directory hoping once more to find the right answer to our hellish lifestyle. We found one, made an appointment, and were told once again, “What you do behind closed doors is your business.” The Holy Spirit within us did not agree with this counselor’s beliefs and He led us in search of another Christian counselor.

I developed a hunger for the Word of God and started going to church. I began to see in the Bible that homosexuality was a sin. I justified the lifestyle I was living by convincing myself that if God was a God of love then the love we had for each other had to be acceptable to God. My church attendance started to fall off because I was not being fed the Word of God which I desperately needed.

Then through an acquaintance my partner and I found a Spirit-filled church, Whole Life Ministries in Augusta, GA where the uncompromised Word of God is taught and where we both felt accepted and loved from the very first night that we walked into that church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and washing my mind with God’s Word, I entered the path to healing which was a long and difficult course to full restoration but extraordinarily fulfilling. Through the process of God’s precious grace, I was given the ability to give up cigarettes and be healed of low self-esteem, self hate, co-dependence and many emotional hurts that stemmed from a life of abuse.

I have been serving the Lord faithfully for almost twenty-two years now. God has given me such a desire for Him and His Word that I have served in almost every area of ministry within the church, including being an assistant to the Minister of Counseling and facilitating support groups. I earned a Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2003. God has opened doors for me to become an ordained Minister of the Gospel, a licensed Christian counselor, and a Chaplain.

God placed the desire within my heart over 15 years ago that I was to help other hurting women to become free through one-on-one Christian counseling and support group therapy. I began StraightForward Ministries in February 2008 specializing in ministering to those who have un-wanted same-sex attractions. Since I was not told the Truth when I was seeking Christian counseling, I know God placed it within my heart to be a counselor so that He may use me to impart the truth of the Word of God to those who are searching for it, as the Holy Spirit leads. Since He healed my hurting soul and set me free, by His grace He will do the same for all that truly want to be free and pay the price of obedience to His Word.

Elsie Odom is the director of StraightForward Ministry in Augusta Georgia.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

- Jill Mackin

A Former Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Activist Surrenders To God’s Call

Jill squareJill Mackin’s Story

I give God all the glory when I say “former.” The word tells us “And such WERE some of you, but, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I grew up in a turbulent home In Crofton, Maryland where my mother and alcoholic stepfather fought constantly. My biological father walked out on us when I was 6. My mother battled with ill health and depression and wasn’t really available for me emotionally. By the time I was in 2nd grade I’d been sexually abused by a neighbor across the street. The abuse would continue through my stepfather well until I was the age of 13.

I first began experiencing same sex attractions when I was in the 3rd grade. The Lord led me to himself when I was 14 years old and for a few months I was on fire for God through his word and church. It wasn’t long though before peer pressure crushed that fervent spirit and I began using drugs and alcohol to fill the deep void I seem to carry around on the inside.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

I went to my first gay bar in Washington, DC at 17 and I thought all my problems were solved. Other women and men just like me! Now I could feel normal! But this wasn’t normal at all. It only fueled my alcoholism and drug addiction further. The people I seem to meet and hook up with were like me alright, they drank as much as I did and used drugs as hard as I did. I never felt love; all I ever experienced was liquor/drug fueled lust.

Of course, I didn’t have that realization at that time, only years later would I come to recognize the truth. My cycle was go look for the love in the bars, drink, dance, find another woman who was just as emotionally needy as I was, go home with her, wake up hung over and in shame over the night before, repeat the following weekend. This pattern would continue for 10 years.

When I was 27 I was introduced to a 12 step program that would bring me my first taste of recovery from alcoholism. At that same time I took a job with the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now called the Human Rights Campaign). They are the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization, located in Washington DC. I worked in their development department and was educated on all gay/lesbian issues. Given the opportunity a few times to take part in lobbying activities on Capitol Hill on behalf of the gay and lesbian political agenda, I jumped in full force. I attended and was politically active in both the March for Women’s Lives (pro-choice) in 1992 and the National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1993.

It was also during this period that I began visiting various denominations “looking for God.” I went to a Unitarian Universalist church, the Metropolitan Community Church and even a gay and lesbian Jewish synagogue! Needless to say, He wasn’t at any of those locations. Frankly, I believed God was okay with my lifestyle and I rationalized it by telling myself “God would rather have me loving people than killing them.” Deception, utter deception.

After my time at the Human Rights Campaign, I went on to work at the National Association of People with AIDS first as their development associate and then as their development director. I was still immersed in the politics and culture of the gay and lesbian community.

In August, 1997 I moved to London, UK with my partner. In 1998, my partner went to Ecuador with a Spanish language immersion course and I was left in the UK alone. God got me right where he wanted me.

Out of nowhere the thought came to me “What does God think of my homosexuality?” I began reading liberal (John Boswell and Troy Perry among others) views on Christianity and homosexuality as well as the conservative views. I also went out and purchased a bible and read all the passages pertaining to homosexuality. The explanations of those passages by the liberal views simply were not lining up with what the Bible seemed to say rather straightforward, to me. Romans 1 was not about male temple prostitution! It was about ALL people who practice homosexuality!

God had opened my eyes to the truth of scripture. When my partner returned from Ecuador, I took off the gold ring she’d given to me and put it down, telling her “I cannot live this way anymore.”

I’m not going to say I walked with God faithfully afterwards. That isn’t true. I went through a great deal of pain and depression and I relapsed into alcohol abuse off and on for the next few years. But I have been celibate since that time, in 1998.

My identity is no longer found in the gay and lesbian community but rather in Christ. I no longer live with a void inside my spirit. God has filled that void with himself and I am grateful for his work in me. He has done it all; it’s nothing I’ve done. I don’t really identify as ex-gay either. I don’t hear people in church identifying as ex-gossips or ex-adulterers. I’m just Jill, a woman who desires to serve her great God and walk in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

My Girl & His Girl

Meleah AllardMeleah’s Story

I’m a Pastor’s daughter, and I walked down the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church asking Jesus to be my Savior when I was 9 years old. As a child I loved attending church, singing in the choir and being part of my youth group. I even went on a mission trip at 14. However, my family had a lot of problems and there were many times when chaos ruled and no one wanted to go to church. So I’d hop on my bicycle and go alone. My parents are good people. Throughout my childhood, I learned valuable things from them. Daddy’s generosity is legendary. He often picked up hitchhikers and they’d leave his car with the gospel in their heart and my daddy’s coat on their back. He’s a prayer warrior. I saw him on his knees countless times throughout childhood. I know his faithful prayers for 10 years are what brought me back to God.

My mother taught me perseverance; to hang in and not give up. I watched her do it for years. Mother said Daddy was either the best husband and father in the world or the worst nightmare, sort of a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde. He was, during those years, a rageaholic, totally controlled by his anger. When he would lose his temper, he’d become verbally and physically abusive to my mother, sisters and me. One name I remember being called often was “the devil’s prostitute.” WORDS HAVE POWER! Mother was often discouraged and depressed. There wasn’t much physical affection, either between my parents or toward us girls. I remember hearing the words “I love you” only a few times in my life. One of those few times is a vivid memory. I was 15, and lying in a hospital bed after I’d attempted suicide with two bottles of pills. Thankfully God had other plans for me. Compounding these serious family problems was the abuse I suffered at school. I was bullied and called names. It was not a safe place. I became interested in boys at a young age. Mother called me a “boy chaser.” In reality I was a love chaser and was desperately seeking love and affection. Boys took advantage of that weakness. I became pregnant at 15, after having sex for the first time, and was abandoned by the father of my baby. My family rallied and helped me to raise my daughter so I could graduate from high school BUT something happened internally for me. I made a serious turn at that point. I’d begged God for years to change my messed up family. I knew He could. I knew He was all powerful, but nothing changed. Things just seemed to grow worse. I took that to mean that He didn’t care. When we feel like we are being rejected, we retreat.

There was also my church family. They weren’t blatantly ugly over my pregnancy, but I remember the looks of disdain and whispers as I walked by. The message came through loud and clear. I had been demoted from the preacher’s kid on the front row to the prodigal on the back pew. I was mad, and I blamed God for the shortcomings of his people. I remember saying, “OK God, if this is what you have to offer, I don’t need you.” I turned my back on God and my faith, and became a prodigal child. At eighteen my daughter and I moved to Florida where I had friends. They invited me to a gay bar for the first time. I was apprehensive, but I was more curious…so I went. The experience was “surreal” and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. One of the things that drew me in was how totally accepted I felt. I didn’t feel judged for my past and people were interested in me. So I went back again and again. In a short time, they began to feel like my family. It also wasn’t long before I was pursued by a woman. I’d never had that kind of attention before. I don’t know how else to explain it other than, it was intoxicating. To be wanted and desired when I’d always felt unloved and unwanted was overwhelming. I’d always loved and admired women. When all the other girls had posters of boys in their rooms I had posters of Marcia Brady and Farrah. When a woman put her arms around me for the first time it felt like something I’d always needed but never had. It wasn’t about sex. I was again desperately seeking love, affection and acceptance and buying into a lie about how to attain it.

About a year later at 20 years old, I moved home to NC, and found in Asheville a large gay community. I became entrenched in it quickly and before long they felt like family. I dated women for a while, but it wasn’t long before I met and began a relationship with THE woman – the one with whom I thought I’d spend the rest of my life. She and I lived and raised my daughter together for 8 years. I felt, for the first time, what I thought was real love. It sure was powerful. It had such a grip on me but during the last few years of that relationship my discontent grew because her love was not deep enough to fill that empty well within me. I remember lying on my couch late one night. It was the first time I’d talked to God in years, I said out loud, “I know this is wrong, but I love her and I can’t leave. Please God,” I begged, “Change my feelings so I can leave.”  I can hear His response as plain today as that night. He said, “No Meleah, You Leave and I’ll then I’ll change your feelings.” That was NOT the answer I wanted to hear. It was another two years before I had the courage to leave. God used a number of situations to orchestrate my return to Him, but the main thing was my child. I began to be concerned for her spiritual welfare. No matter how I was living I knew that I was a believer and that if I died I was going to Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure about her. I hadn’t darkened the door of church in 10 years. My parents had taken her when they could but that wasn’t often. “Coincidently” a coworker invited me to her church. All I remember her saying was it was a great place for kids. Never underestimate the power of inviting someone to church because that Sunday in that church began a life change that continues today. So it was Easter Sunday, and I knew that was a Sunday I could sneak in undetected. That church was different, and I knew it immediately. It was the warmest, friendliest place I’d ever been. They didn’t have fake smiles but instead they exuded the joy of the Lord. Within a few minutes of arriving, people were hugging us. We were strangers and they treated us like long lost relatives returning home. The music was vibrant and moving. They sang praise and worship songs. I’d never heard those before. These folks were worshipping uninhibited and unashamed. It was something else. During the service that deep and empty well within me began to be filled to the point where it just overflowed out of my eyes and tears streamed down my face. I knew what I had to do. At the end of the service, I ran down the aisle and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. It wasn’t “surreal” as it had been in the gay bar, it was SO REAL. My decision wasn’t hard, but walking it out would not be easy. I knew I could not stay with my girlfriend though. In that moment, the love I experienced from HIM overshadowed all other love, even my love for her. So He had been true to His promise. After that church service, my girlfriend and I spent the next three days crying together. She tried to talk me out of leaving. I tried to explain to her what had happened to me, but she couldn’t hear me through her own pain. She left. It was very hard. She’d been my best friend for 8 years. That was over 20 years ago and A LOT has happened since then. Healing has been a process. God has blessed me with a husband and with him I have experienced true covenant love. Marriage is not a sign of my healing because quite frankly I went into it way too quickly and still very broken. I was a mess, he was a mess and we did NOT make a message! We made a bigger mess for a long time. But we stuck together through the super-glue of Jesus, and He has worked it all out and brought a healing to me that I never could have found through any other avenue. Because God has such an amazing sense of humor he gave a man-hating former lesbian three sons! Through all 4 of my men I have learned about the beauty and glory of manhood, so today I am a man-lover. God has also blessed me with two granddaughters, from my lovely, married, Christian daughter. The one who I raised for the first 10 years of her life in a lesbian relationship is a wonderful mother and is crazy about Jesus…a picture of his marvelous mercy.

Almost a decade ago, God said it was time to come out of the Christian closet. I’d been there for 13 years, hiding, wearing a mask, terrified that if they knew about my past in homosexuality it would NOT go well for me. If you remember I’d experienced some negative consequences in that arena after getting pregnant at 15. But the Lord said it was time to be free. Freedom is exactly what I found. Once I was truly known, I could experience the feeling of being truly loved. So much of my deeper healing has happened over the past 10 years. My husband and kids have been there every step of the way, supporting and cheering me on. My willingness to be transparent allowed God to birth a ministry which has redeemed my life in a very practical way. All those early years weren’t wasted. God is using it all. It has brought tremendous healing! Romans 8:28 is as real to me as my name. Being a part of Exodus for the past 8 years has allowed me to be exposed to teaching that has given me a revelation of God’s grace and has changed me in ways and brought freedom that I could have never imagined. I assure you this journey is SO worth it. My identity has been all over the place in my lifetime. I was a lesbian prodigal. When I came “home,” a Christian Counselor called me a Prodigy but I never felt like one. I tried to believe I was His Princess, but I’ve never been able to fully receive that either. I always felt like more of a Warrior Princess. My identity has been in being a wife, mother, professional career woman and many other things that were only meant to be roles. Today, I know I’m simply Meleah…His Girl and that is truly all I need to know! He loves me more than I love my girl and that is amazing to me!! I know three things for sure. 1) He loves me and nothing I could ever do will make Him love me less. 2) He will never leave me or forsake me. Again, none of my shortcomings or failures affects His nearness to me. Jesus already took care of that problem. 3) Lastly, He has a most excellent plan for my life. It is so much grander than anything I could ever dream up for myself. I’m living it. Oh…I know one more thing…all these things are true for you too.

  • Beauty For Ashes  By Stacy Pope

Beauty For Ashes By Stacy Pope

StacyStacy’s Story

Countless times I have written this, my testimony, only to fall again. I have swept my hurt under the rug in order to function while refusing to seek true healing. However, as my desire deepens to know God, I allow true healing to flow giving God room to heal my life. I have not arrived, but I am breaking the cycle.

At an early age, I knew something was different about me-I was attracted to girls. I dressed like and played with the boys trying to become one of them. I hid my body so that my appearance, my clothes, and hair – everything about me reflected this. Looking boyish wasn’t enough; I wanted to be a boy as I felt God made a mistake when He made me a girl. Often, family members asked me if I was gay. Oh me? NEVER! One day my biological father even told that he would make me have a sex change if I didn’t “straighten up!”

To be gay or lesbian in the small town where I grew up would be the unthinkable, which made me bury this confusion further. I was adopted and strongly felt that I did not fit in with my family. In my mind I was the outcast or black sheep. I had red hair and freckles and was often teased for my looks. My trust in males quickly became distorted after being sexually molested by a male family member. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I grew tired of the name calling and tried to be more like a girl, at least on the outside. As I grew older, even throughout college, my friends and family continued to question me.

Being brought up with strong Christian beliefs, I would run to God then create this disguise for others to see. I was sure that what I needed was to become more and more feminine! I found that wearing makeup and dressing and acting more feminine only created an even greater internal conflict. It was sometimes unbearable. Still in my mask, I began dating and dreaming of marriage and children. Meeting my man of God, whom I had been praying for, became my motivation for getting over this internal conflict in my life. Much to my disappointment, meeting, falling in love, and marrying this man never made the conflict go away.

Having a “normal” life, working, and being mom to two precious boys once again proved to be a disguise. Almost 7 years into our marriage, after years of pushing something down that needed to be dealt with, the inner conflict erupted. In tears, I shared this unbearable secret from my past with my husband. I just could not hide or fight it any longer. I gave him many options of ending the marriage, but he declined them all.

Later, as my feelings grew stronger for women, he began to get concerned about the toll this was taking on our marriage. Countless times, I repeated the same cycle. The fact that our marriage survived is a miracle in itself. My husband knew that God had brought us together and that He would bring us through this even though I was not convinced yet.

Behind his back, I still tried to deal with this on my own, looking for answers on the Internet. What started out as an attempt to get information gave me worldly insight on all that I had fought for so long, and the temptation was incredible. Late at night, after my family was in bed, I began exploring. Chat rooms, email, and online meetings gave way to numerous affairs. My husband knew something was wrong, but our problems had grown so that neither of us cared at this point. I threw myself into work and into this new lifestyle. I went to gay bars and parties; a whole new world had been opened to me. I finally felt free, like I belonged and was accepted for who I thought I really was. I had found the real me.

I lived for the night! I was a mom by day and someone completely different at night. It was as if the night actually hid my new lifestyle and began taking control over me, even throughout the day.

I met several women, in search of this person I had longed for all my life. I found her – one in particular that I fell in love with, and I made what was once an internal conflict now external, and chose her over my family. We were together for almost 3 years before my night life started catching up with me.

Drinking slowly became my escape from this pressure that consumed my everyday motions. Even in my dreams while I tried to sleep at night I began to feel that there was no escape. Becoming two different people was killing me on the inside. Here I had found and fallen in love with this woman I had always secretly dreamed about, and more and more we wanted to be together, but how? My life was out of control. Where could I go, who could I talk too? No one seemed to understand. But just like before, God had not given up on me. He brought a friend into my life that I began to trust. She loved me unconditionally, yet would disagree in love to all that I told her. For once in my life I was developing a healthy, close friendship with another woman. I could tell her everything and yet she always called me the next day to pray for me. I still was not shaken.

Watching what were once strong Christian values disappear before my eyes, I slowly became a ticking bomb. My closest friends, my family, and my lover knew something was wrong as I pushed them farther and farther away. During this time my partner was also ready for more commitment and wanted me to choose. There were times I would rather have killed myself than to deal with pressure and the choice I now faced. There seemed to be no relief. At times I would be so happy and on top of the world, yet other times I would find myself just weeping before God and everyone around me, an unraveling basket case. I could barely get out of bed each day and put one foot in front of the other. How could I have grown up feeling like this from childhood? I knew I was hurting my family, but what was so wrong with this new me? I began to question my Christianity and whether or not I was actually born this way. None of it made any sense to me. I was on a mission-a mission that almost destroyed my life, marriage, my family, and me. I concluded that either I was going to kill this in me, or it was going to kill me.

In desperate need of help, once again, I fell back on my face before God. No more secrets! Something had to give. I started looking over the Internet again for help. Amazingly, I found there were so many others like me. I began ordering books, CDs, anything on same-sex attraction. Facing this fear and learning that I was not the only one in world like this became encouraging! With my unconditional friend cheering me on with prayer and support, God was restoring my confidence in Him and in myself.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A friend sticks closer that a brother.” I now had two such friends. All these transpiring events began to bless me and open my eyes that something else was at work here in me. My friend and I drove 5 hours to the Upstate for a meeting at Hope for Wholeness that began to turn my life around. She sat there as I wept before these strangers and poured my heart out to ask them for help. McKrae encouraged me and showed me even more painful steps that I needed to take to get my life and my family back.

Now with new friends, a witness beside me, my best friend, to help hold me accountable, God began to move in my life! All the uncertainty and fear I had carried since childhood began to disappear. This deep dark secret was coming out yet my friends and family loved me through my pain. Next was the decision to return home to my family and my husband and walk out this healing journey. It has been a steep climb and I begin every day knowing that God created me, and I am His and He is mine. Change? YES, it is possible. I am going to leave it all to Him that created me.

I did not choose to have same-sex attractions, but I did choose to act on my feelings and longings opening a huge door to sin that flooded my life and family. To say they are completely gone is irrelevant, but I can honestly say I am not controlled by those feelings any longer. I am determined to drive out this giant that has lived IN MY LAND for so long.

Today, I look back and am just amazed at where I have come. Now, I see myself through the eyes of the One who created me and concentrate on my relationship with Him as He speaks to me through His word. I have learned a lot about the roots of same-sex attraction and have come to terms as to why I had such strong tendencies. With this knowledge the days get easier and easier. I am glad I asked for help. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” Although, sometimes I have not been in a place where I have been willing to receive the answer-it is available for me. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the TRUTH will set you Free.” I long to keep my heart pointed in the right direction and to find the true me that God made me to be.

God has blessed me with so much unconditional love through this journey. He is truly faithful! Day by day He is restoring the years “that the locust have eaten.” I love my husband more than ever, daily learning to turn it ALL over to God. I am not where I want to be but I am not where I used to be. Day by day God is bringing beauty from the ashes.

A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains-should I stumble again, still I’m caught in your grace. From the Inside Out (Hillsong)

Changed Forever…A new life in Christ By Miranda Pettit

Miranda’s Story

My childhood probably wasn’t very unusual, and it certainly wasn’t terrible.  My dad worked to support my mom and four children, of which I am the only girl.  He was also an alcoholic, drinking with his co-worker “buddies” while on the road working, sometimes for two- to three-week intervals.  He would come home and continue his drinking, sometimes railing at my mother about her deficiencies, accusing her of things that he was actually doing, and this behavior, thankfully, rarely ended in physical abuse but always with verbal abuse.  Both of my parents loved me, but neither was equipped to really know how to love and affirm their only little girl. I found that my affirmation and acceptance were more readily available by being athletic and making good grades.  I learned to excel at both, preferring being a typical “tomboy” to being a little girl.  My dad worked hard to meet our physical needs, but he was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs.  My mother lived in such fear of displeasing my dad that she was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs as well.  But she did try to meet our spiritual needs by taking us to church.

Early on as a child, I felt a difference in my walk with the Lord. Most times I would sit with my mom so I could listen to what was being said instead of being distracted by passing notes and the whispering of my friends. But with this difference, I had yet another noticeable difference that separated me from all girls in general.  Early on in life, I realized that I had attractions for other girls. Of course, like most little girls, I had my boyfriends throughout elementary school, but that was just something I did thinking it was normal to do so. This “phase” I thought I was going through did not pass as I assumed it would.  When a guy was interested in me, I put up a huge wall and assumed that every guy who was interested wanted ONE thing, and I wasn’t going there.  So throughout my teenage years, I neither had a boyfriend nor desired one.  But I was fantasizing about girls/women excessively.  Though most of my fantasies were not sexual in nature, I could dream of being a guy having girlfriends and all the things I assumed every girl would want in a man.  I was so unhappy with being a girl and had such disdain for who I was. I thought to dream about being someone else—a guy, no less—was the only way to make me fit in, to make me “right.”  I never considered myself gay or lesbian because I felt my thoughts were innocent enough—I never did anything to pursue my attractions toward females, so, therefore, I wasn’t gay. In my thought life I was a guy, so that would not make me gay.  Maybe this was a way to justify my thoughts, but it worked. This struggle from my earliest remembrance as a child would follow me for 33 years.

My first same-sex relationship happened my senior year in high school. When I went to college, I was more exposed to lesbianism than I had ever even imagined.  Until that point, I thought I was the ONLY person who struggled with same-sex attractions and feelings.  I was wrong.  I finally didn’t feel so weird or different.  I didn’t fit in with my campus ministry group of “straight” girls, and I didn’t fit in with lesbians on campus either.  I could not find a balance in trying to walk two lines, and I could not find peace.  Much of my inner conflict was likely the result of my own convictions.  I was so confused and torn between emotions and spiritual conviction. Then my world came crashing down when one of my brothers “outed” me to my parents while I was in college.  But I chose my girlfriend and the life I was living over my parents’ wishes.  This choice only added more shame, guilt, and confusion to my life.  I really wanted to make the right choice, but I chose emotions over conviction.  I wanted to have the “right” feelings for both sexes, but I was in an emotional and spiritual battle.  My convictions kept on being suppressed and ignored. And those convictions only persisted and became even stronger as I continued in relationships with women.

The last and longest of all my relationships lasted six years.  By this time I had almost embraced the gay lifestyle because I figured I would never change no matter how hard I prayed.  I struggled spiritually,obviously because of my convictions. I had a storm inside my heart that no one else knew but me, and I felt lonely and all alone.  I thought most of it was discontentment with myself because the relationships lacked what I wanted or needed.  I was searching for that happiness, peace, and joy that I thought I could find in the “right” person.  But my problem was that I was looking at the wrong people.  That happiness, peace, and joy could only be found in one person, Jesus. And that became real to me in August 2004.

After ending my six-year relationship, I realized that I was “looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces” as the old Johnny Lee song goes.  I came to a place of desolation and brokenness in my life.  I was completely empty inside.  It had everything to do with my running from the Lord all these years trying to find in other people and things what He freely offers.  For so many years I was so scared of what I was going to have to give up and do if I followed the Lord that I walked away from Him trying to find my own happiness and joy…and do it MY way.  Well, MY way was wrong, empty, and not what He desired at all. I finally gave my life to Jesus and asked Him to help me. I asked him to help me find wholeness and my purpose. I needed healing and restoration from the same-sex attractions and pursuits that I’d had all these years.  So after 15 years of actively living as a lesbian, the Lord worked a miracle in my life.  He transformed my life, replaced wrong, lustful, habitual thoughts with pure ones; replaced desires for same-sex intimacy with natural, God-ordained ones; and gave me a testimony so I could reach other women who are dealing with those same struggles. I am blessed now more than ever because I know in my heart I am in His Will and am living the life He intended…a life more abundant (John 10:10).  Joel 2:25 says that “the Lord will replace and restore for you the years the locusts have eaten.”  That is so true—all those years I “lost” trying to live MY way and pursue avenues that were not intended by God have been replaced by wonderful, godly relationships with other men and women, including a strong, godly woman who is my best friend and partner in ministry, Kim Broadhead.  I have a supportive, loving church family, and I have also had areas of my relationships restored with my own family.  The Lord brought me to Hope for Wholeness in 2005 to partner with them in ministering as the Women’s Leader to women and girls who want help and support in overcoming their struggles. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have made the choices I made but God has turned it around and given me hope. He dusted off the old me and gave me a new life in Him that is better than I could have imagined! What a blessing.

 

I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but I did not know how to change them; therefore, I suffered much pain, guilt and shame while feeling like a freak…not female and not male.

A Monument of God’s Grace By Elsie Odom

elsie-odomElsie Odom’s Story

I was born the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy.  When I was born, Satan tried his best to kill me.  I was born at home and my Grandmother said she had to beat me all night to keep me alive.  You gotta remember beatings back then were not considered child abuse.  God had a plan for my life and from the beginning Satan tried to thwart that plan.

My mother came out of an abusive family and she was the domineering parent whom I grew to dislike because of her verbal and physical abuse. I made many inward vows that I never wanted to be like her. My dad was the submissive one who was away at work during the week and drunk every weekend. I became the product of an extremely dysfunctional, co-dependent family of alcoholic parents who physically and emotionally abused me. Also, I was sexually molested many times over the period of my childhood by different relatives.  Even though, I now know my parents did not intentionally set out to hurt me, I felt rejected and began to shut them out. I made up my mind early in life that I certainly did not want to grow up to be like my mother or my father and I feared men because of the molestation.  I felt insecure, had a sense of shame and no value which led to isolation from my peers. Therefore, I had very few friends. I see now how the things that happened to me affected my sense of who I was, both as a person and in terms of my gender identity and sexuality.

As a child, I remember being a tomboy.  My boy cousins and I would hide from the school bus and and when it was gone we would go to the woods, swing on Tarzan vines, and drop in the pond of water.  Other times we would climb trees and get opossums out of tree hollows, place them in burlap bags and take them home and hang the bag on the clothes line.

My parents took me to church maybe once or twice a year at Easter and Christmas. When I was approximately eleven or twelve years of age, I began to attend church with our neighbor’s two daughters. At the age of fifteen, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, joined a church and was baptized.

I longed for love and acceptance and began experiencing sexual desires toward a couple of my female friends as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Those perverted sexual desires manifested into experiences and by the age of eighteen, I had already been involved in two different homosexual relationships. After I was permitted to date at the age of sixteen, I dated many different guys, trying to find the right one who would change the direction of my affections.  I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but I did not know how to change them; therefore, I suffered much pain, guilt and shame while feeling like a freak…not female and not male.

I met a guy on a blind date and he asked me to marry him. Marriage appeared to be the answer and a way out. I told my fiancé about my previous same-sex relationships and he promised he would be the one who made me forget about them. I believed this to be the answer and would fix my troubled life. We married in 1961, and he became a good provider. When I discovered marriage was not the answer, I decided to visit a psychiatrist hoping he could help me find the answer. Of course, he could not. I then decided if I had a child this would bring fulfillment, so we soon had a beautiful daughter. After 8 years of marriage that was not filling the void in my heart, my husband and I divorced. My husband took my daughter from me and would not bring her back, leaving another void in my heart. I was afraid to fight for her in court because I was terrified of my ex-husband’s threats. He threatened to expose my homosexuality by having the psychiatrist to testify in court against me and also said that if I attempted to get my daughter back he would kill me.

I met a woman in the city and had same-sex feelings for her. I decided in order to go on with my life I needed to move.  There, I could get lost in the crowds and pursue the attraction I was having and accept my same-sex identity.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other. My emotional pain became so great I decided to look for another psychiatrist to find the answer to my desperation. Sure enough, what he told me was what I had heard before, “Whatever you do behind closed doors is your business”.  His answer justified the horrible lifestyle I was living and gave me a temporary feeling that it was okay.

I found a job working at a straight bar as a barmaid where I met a woman and immediately started a friendship with her. This led to a love affair which seemed perfect and lasted for fourteen years. Even though, I was living a life of lies and deception, I was the happiest I had ever been, or so I thought.  We bought a home together and did everything together. We knew no other women or men who had same-sex attractions until my partner met a couple where she worked. We connected with them and began to have home parties and attend gay bars. The acceptance we received felt really good. Despite this, our lives continued on a downward spiral into alcohol and drugs. We both became alcoholics.

I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and checked myself into two different psychiatric units. I was not serious about being free so this accomplished nothing except a time for temporary detoxification. Then early one morning before daylight as I was sobering up from the night before, Jesus visited me in a vision. I was still in bed and I saw Him standing in my bedroom doorway beckoning me to come to Him. He was so real standing there dressed in His pure white glistening robe. The vision was so vivid. I saw the same Jesus I had seen in pictures when I was a child attending Sunday school. I will never forget saying, “Help me, Jesus.”

Two years later after being told by my partner I either had to quit drinking or move out, I decided to get serious and start attending AA meetings once again. Through this time of recovery God was working in my heart. One night as I was returning home from AA in 1985, I looked up into the clear beautiful sky where there were millions of stars, and a peace came over me I had never experienced before. This was my “Damascus road experience”. I know now that was the night God totally delivered me from alcohol because I have not had a drink or even a desire for a drink since then. This was the beginning of turning back to God. You see I had been reading AA’s 24-hour prayer/mediation book for about a year. I know it was the Word of God that had been planted in my heart that set me free. Because the bible says in John 8:32, “if you continue in my Word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

Once free from alcohol and its numbing effects, I was able to sense the wooing of the Holy Spirit. He led my partner and I to watch Christian television. One night, while watching a TV evangelist, I rededicated my life to Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  This was the “Day a Lesbian Died” and I became a “Monument of God’s Amazing Grace”.  (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things become new.”  I found out later my partner also had gotten saved about the same time.

The Holy Spirit convicted us both of the lifestyle we were living. We began to search for a Christian counselor in the yellow pages of the telephone directory hoping once more to find an answer to our hellish lifestyle. We found one, made an appointment, and were told once again, “What you do behind closed doors is your business.” The Holy Spirit within us did not agree with this counselor’s beliefs and He led us in search of another Christian counselor who also did not have the answer.

I developed a hunger for the Word of God and started going to church which I also found in the yellow pages. I began to see in the Bible that homosexuality was a sin.  I justified the lifestyle I was living by revising God’s word to convince myself that if God was a God of love then the love we had for each other had to be acceptable to God. My church attendance started to fall off because I was not being fed the Word of God the way I needed it and I desperately needed God’s Word.

Then through an acquaintance I found a wonderful church, Whole Life Ministries, where the uncompromised  Word of God is taught and where we both felt accepted and loved from the very first night that I walked into that church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the washing of my mind with God’s Word, I entered the path to healing which was a process to full restoration but extraordinarily fulfilling.   Through the process of God’s precious grace, I was given the ability to give up cigarettes, be healed of low self-esteem, self-hate, co-dependency and many emotional hurts that stemmed from a life
of abuse.

My parents began attending church, became “born again” and delivered.  And after I was “born again” I was able to forgive them and we began a loving relationship that lasted until they both went home to be with the Lord, my dad in June 1997, and my mom in November 1998.  God also reunited me with my daughter and we have had a loving relationship for many years now.

I have been serving the Lord faithfully for almost twenty-five years now. God has given me such a desire for Him and His Word that I have served in almost every area of ministry within the church, to include, being an assistant within the Church’s Counseling Ministry and a Facilitator of the Small Group Ministry.  I earned my Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2003, the year I turned 62 years old.  God has opened doors for me to become an ordained Minister of the Gospel, a Board Certified Christian counselor, a Chaplain, author, international TV and radio speaker and guest.

God placed the desire within my heart about 17 years ago that I was to help other hurting women and men to become free through one-on-one Christian counseling and support/recovery groups.  I founded StraightForward Ministries in February 2008 specializing in ministering to those who have un-wanted same-sex attractions. Since I was not told the Truth when I was seeking Christian counseling, I know God placed it within my heart to be a counselor so that He may use me to impart the Truth of the Word of God to those who are searching for it, as the Holy Spirit leads. Since He healed my hurting, wounded soul and set me free by His grace, He will do the same for all that truly want to be free and pay the price of obedience to His Word.

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