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I grew up with a conditional view of God's love. This came about through a very legalistic church I attended with my mom and left me feeling very insecure about my relationship with God and my future beyond death. I constantly doubted whether I was a true child of God because I couldn't seem to be "good enough" to please Him. At times it was paralyzing.
This warped view of God, coupled with harsh and unapproachable authority figures in my life, left me feeling unloved and worthless as a child. As a result my life remained controlled by fear and anxiety until I went to college.
In college I got involved in a campus ministry where I began to grow spiritually in a nurturing environment. It was there I made my first conscious step of turning my life over to God out of desire, not fear and duty. After that, He began speaking into my life in ways that I could perceive--not audibly but through His Word, thoughts, other people, and circumstances.
One night while driving in my car, I experienced an unexpected "message" introduced into my thoughts that went something like this: "You are "legally" my daughter. Just as a parent cannot be extracted physically from their child's DNA, so my spiritual DNA cannot be extracted from you. I can never go back on this covenant." Instantly, my uncontrollable fears of some forgotten sin separating me from Him forever melted away once and for all, proving to me that it was truly God speaking to me. This was the first step in a long journey of learning to trust God with the details and controls of my life.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." John 10:10
Though fear controlled my life up until college, it was then that anger took over, especially anger toward myself. I hated who I was, and I desperately wanted to change. But it seemed the harder I tried, the worse I got. I begged God to change me, but there was only silence. Battling the same habit pattern sins over and over again, I never experienced any lasting victory, despite my earnest pleadings with God to take them away.
As a young wife and mother, there were several years of depression and hopelessness with no reprieve, and seemingly no progress of becoming a whole person. Through continued cycle of despair, my life was on a path to self-destruction. Rarely did God seem real or involved in my dry and barren wilderness. And therein was the disconnect. The realization that I was a Christian who was supposed to have answers and to live in hope and victory only made matters worse. I described my Christian experience to a few close friends as "a salesman who doesn't believe in her own products." What did I have to share with anyone? It wasn't working for me, why would they want it? I felt jealous of those people who came to belief in Christ and described the feeling of being set free for the first time.
"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
God spoke these words to me (also Jeremiah 29:11-14) and revived a tiny spark of hope that He indeed had something better for me, far above my defeated life. I knew He wanted to set me free and to give me hope, but how? I came to a huge crisis of belief. But instead of choosing to believe His promises, I sunk to the lowest point of my life, giving up hope that God could improve my life or my failing marriage. I waved my white flag of defeat, giving in to utter defeat. What I never expected was that God wouldn't leave me alone. At my lowest place ever, LOVE followed me into the darkness and didn't give up on me.
"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." Psalm 18:16-19
It was a hard road back, but God has given me a new life. Paradoxically, through the "ground zero" of hopelessness and failure, I was finally changed when Mercy met me at the bottom. I have experienced the grace, forgiveness, and redeeming power of a loving and Sovereign God like never before. He has finally broken through the clouds and confusion by teaching me to trust Him and believe Him, and how to live by the truth that sets me free.
"Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32
I've been set free--free from sin and death, and free from lies that set out to destroy my life. The road has not been easy, but I wouldn't change a bit of it because I have learned that God is not as concerned with my happiness as He is with my wholeness. It is through the process of *becoming* and overcoming that I am learning true joy.
"But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10
If there is one super encouraging truth I have learned through my human frailty and doubt it is this: With God, there is no "Plan B." In other words, our lives are already written on the pages of "His-Story." Nothing I have done or will do takes God by surprise because He already knew me before I was born. He knows the exact price I have to pay to become conformed to the image of His Son. I am who I am today because of my failures and imperfections, not in spite of them. There is nothing that has brought me more comfort and peace than learning and believing this truth.
The other completely radical truth that has changed me from the inside out is studying and learning the truth of the Gospel message, all but forgotten from mistranslation in today's popular, modern Bible translations:
"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." Romans 5:18
As you will see in my latest book and writings, I firmly know today that there is no such thing as hell or eternal torment, but the truth is that God created "all of this" to teach us who He is and who we are--beloved, awakening children of God--not ultimately to punish us. If you have struggled with doubts about the character of God, the "limits of His love," or the afterlife, I hope you will read the greatest message I have ever been given, through my book, "Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire." It is my Magnum Opus; nothing I have to offer you could be more full of the love, grace, and liberation of my new heart and life.
I am a woman who believes in my products now. I know what I have and what I have been saved from. I have experienced the incredible power of grace. God took a completely failing, powerless, weak, angry, fearful loser and made me, by His redeeming power and love, into a confident, joyful, free, purposeful, peaceful woman who is excited about His plans for my future. He has given sight to the "blind," and brought light to my darkness. He has put the power of truth in my mouth, my head, and my heart so that I can stand in faith and defeat every lie that I encounter. My exhortation to anyone struggling in fear, failure, or discouragement is to learn the truth. Your life will be free to the degree that you know, understand, believe, and stand on the truth, which is the living Word of God, found only in dynamic relationship.
From my heart to yours,