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Drink Water in the Fire

I have always had a difficult time remembering to drink water, even when it's hot. I'm one of those people who will drink a hot coffee when it's 80 degrees outside. Water is extremely important though. It makes up 60% of the adult human body. Did you know our lungs are composed of 83% water? And yet when it is hot, even though I know I should drink it, I don't. For some reason my flesh just wants to add to the heat instead. In the Bible, water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit dropped the word, "Drink water in the fire," in my spirit, I knew it was more than Him reminding me to drink water in the natural. The Lord has been drawing me deeper into the secret place with Him, for such a time as this. The time where the flames would feel hot. I needed His presence daily to breathe through it all. The Living Water I needed to breathe.

Didn't I just walk through fire? I mean, it felt pretty hot. There were already so many changes I had made, spiritual warfare I had fought, relationships I had to let go of, and many walking by faith- not by sight moments...It was all so worth it, because in this process Jesus started to show me who I really was in Him. The "who" He had always created me to be--and everything I needed to become the true Christa, a valued daughter of the King, was already inside of me. He was living inside of me and cleaning house, Jesus-style.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2 NIV

I haven't shared my full testimony publicly yet, but I am going to share a large piece of it here now to glorify God. He is our Deliverer and when we let Him come in and deep clean, complete transformation happens. Shortly after I accepted the Lord when I was 5 years old, I was tormented with nightmares, most of them sexual in nature. I was so young and grew up in a Christian family. I wasn't exposed to inappropriate T.V. or situations that I knew of, but I would regularly have dreams of being tied up and raped. I started masturbating every night, even though I was unfamiliar with that word. All I knew is that I was extremely ashamed and knew it was wrong. I would ask the Lord to forgive me every time, over and over again. Each time I would ask Him to come back into my heart, because I felt like He left every time I did something wrong. This became a secret sin. I never told anyone about it, but it overcame me and it became a compulsive behavior.

I have avoided sharing the next part of my testimony. I rarely discuss the details of my childhood because I know that everyone is imperfect. I realize that just like me, they have their own struggles and they are on their own journey with the Lord. My family believes in God and we went to church regularly. On the outside we looked great. My dad had a good job, my mom, now in heaven, was a stay-at-home mom, who was known as a prayer warrior. We went to the private Christian school. We played Christian music in our house and on the radio daily. We were a "normal Christian family." The reason I am sharing the next part now is because the Holy Spirit said it is time to share the stories of my heart with you all, even as painful as it may be for me and the other people who play a part in my story. It is part of my healing, but also an opportunity for others to heal as well.

Growing up, my dad struggled with depression, prescription drug-use, and alcoholism. For several years, he was verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abusive. During this time period my body image was destroyed. I became very insecure about my weight and I would often hide in my room to eat as a pre-teen. Many times, I was told if I lost weight more boys would like me. Other times I would receive drunken tips on how to flirt to get a boyfriend. If I had an opinion, it was wrong. When I messed up, I was criticized. There were times where I was given the silent treatment for standing up for what was right and Biblical. It wasn't all bad though. I did well in school. My grades were great. I was the oldest of four children and helped with my 3 siblings, cooked dinners, and did housework while my mom battled multiple auto-immune diseases. For these achievements I was praised. I was never physically bruised on the outside, but I was completely broken on the inside. With all of the insecurity hidden inside, paired with the praise I received for my good works, I developed a religious sense of pride paired with extreme insecurity. This brokenness created a wide open door to the enemy.

Being consistently criticized and then being praised for my wonderful achievements made things confusing for me. Why was I so hurt by this person one way, yet I felt so loved in another? My pain started to show on the outside. I had gained a lot of weight in a short period of time. I weighed 180 pounds by 7th grade. My hair got cut short due to a lice infestation in our home and I had somewhat of an pyramid type cut that looked like an Afro. People made jokes at my expense, which didn't help my self esteem. In 8th grade, I started to take some initiative and I went on a diet and started exercising. In 9th grade, I joined the water polo and swim teams and between my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I lost 50 lbs. And guess what? My dad was right, guys started to notice me.

With a broken, shattered self-esteem, not knowing what it really meant to be truly loved by God, and a body that boys liked- I entered the world of dating. I lost my virginity at 16 years old, 2 months into a new relationship after being pressured by my 1st real boyfriend. I hated myself. I had broken a promise I made with God and took off my promise ring. I wrote in my journal, pleading for forgiveness. I thought maybe I could make it up to God by bringing my boyfriend to the Lord. Then he would understand why it was important not to have sex before marriage. This life event caused turmoil between my parents and I. My parents were concerned, rightfully angry and disappointed. Many choice words were said. I had one parent pleading with me, showing me the Biblical importance of purity and the other parent calling me a slut. This added to the shame and guilt I was already carrying. The desire of winning my boyfriend to the Lord was short-lived, as I drifted more and more into the world I was warned about on multiple occasions. I became rebellious. I started sneaking out almost every night to drive to my 19 year old boyfriend's house and I would drive back by early morning. More secret sin. More shame, more guilt.

On the outside, I was able to maintain a good appearance. Things seemed okay from a distance. The phrase, "I was just being a teenager," was repeated often. I still went to church. I said I loved the Lord, though I wasn't really loving Him with my actions. I was a straight "A" student, still praised for my academic achievements. I worked at my favorite local coffee shop and I paid for my phone and all my car expenses. With my next boyfriend, I started smoking weed and cigarettes and decided to move out the day I graduated high school. By this time I was getting ready to go to college. I had applied to one school, Point Loma Nazarene University and I was accepted. I had this hope, knowing it was a Christian college. I thought that it would be a place where I could get my act together and start truly following the Lord, like I desired deep down. In my application, I signed a covenant stating I would not be promiscuous, smoke, do drugs, or drink alcohol. Within the first month, I had broken every single rule. In September 2004, one month after I started college, I was given a drink at a party, blacked out, and was gang raped by 5 team members from a local college Rugby team. After this event, I felt so lost and broken inside. I found pictures and video on a camera of the whole event left on the table and I let a girlfriend of one of the other teammates take me out for a Starbucks in the morning. What I didn't realize at the time was that she probably wanted to see if I was going to report anything. I didn't. I blamed myself. I had put myself in the situation. I had chose to drink that night. It was my fault. I already was carrying so much guilt and shame, I just piled more on.

I had lost all respect for myself. I didn't know who I was. But on the outside- I was known as a kind person who loved Jesus, a go-with-the-flow type of girl who had a lot of fun maybe a little too much. A successful college student who was independent, putting herself through school, with loans of course and who worked a full-time job. When I wasn't busy with something, I felt a deep loneliness. I continued looking for someone to truly love me in all the wrong places. I still knew deep down God had a plan for my life. I remember writing in journals after all the stupid things I did, asking why couldn't I stop doing the things I was doing. Though I kept coming back to Him, I kept a distance between us. I didn't think God could truly love me while I was continually and actively participating in sin. My situation became worse. I made a friend who loved to smoke weed and do coke. So obviously that is what I started doing. I was looking for acceptance anywhere from anyone. I started partying at San Diego State on a nightly basis. I was introduced to ecstasy, shrooms, and then doing multiple drugs together. My friend's boyfriend brought meth into the mix soon after. By my sophomore year of college I started snorting crystal meth.

"I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn." Romans 7:15

Even though I was doing all this incredibly horrible stuff, God still protected me. God's mercy and grace for me is more than I can fathom. My mom was indeed a prayer warrior. About 6 months into doing meth, my mom found a lighter in her dresser (which wouldn't normally be there). She knew she was supposed to pray for me. That same day I called her. My car had broken down, I had lost my job, and I had prayed the entire night, while high, that God would save me. I confessed my drug use to her and I started the process of getting clean. I cried for months. It was uncontrollable and I felt uncomfortable in my skin. I suffered from clinical depression since I had messed up the chemical balance in my brain with all the uppers I was doing. I went to a counselor at PLNU who did help me in some ways, but it hurt me when he ultimately wanted to know if I had told anyone at the school. He wanted to make sure I wasn't giving the university a bad name. As long as everything looks good on the outside, it is okay right?

As I moved further away from the party scene and changed my friends, I started praying more. God miraculously allowed me to achieve one of my life dreams in the midst of all of this, which was living in Paris for a year. It was good to be separated from the friends I had hung out with in San Diego, though I still struggled with drinking and smoking weed from time to time. When I came back to the States, my old best friend quickly found me. I started smoking weed and doing coke on a regular basis. I met my now husband at a party soon after. I honestly thought he was a one-night stand. We continued hanging out. We partied together. I became his ride-or-die chick, his partner-in-crime. At the time we, both broken people, thought we were living our best life. A year or so later I became pregnant with our daughter. I was finishing my last course to graduate at PLNU. A girl I knew from high school invited me to come to Bible study after I sobbed to her in the elevator. Our families had many disagreements about us getting married. Ultimately, he did ask me to marry him, but only after I had begged him to. We were married in secret, I was told not to tell anyone that we were married, and that we were only engage. Our first child was born two months later and we both started to calm down a bit. I still smoked weed off and on, but in a more discreet way. I took our kids to church. My husband didn't believe in God the way I did, but outwardly seemed to support me in my faith. It looked good on the outside, but incredibly messy if you looked closely.

I felt happy at times, depressed at others. Mostly I felt overwhelmed and stressed. After we were married, our relationship changed. I was soon expected to do everything to keep up the house while working, and he worked. We were both broken people who found a sort of toxic co-dependent love that helped us feel ok. We learned some good things from each other too. He was committed to me and he loved me the best he knew how. I was a full-time working mom now. I had 2 beautiful daughters. I had a roof over my head, I had food to eat. Deep inside I felt empty, I was still so broken. I was insecure about everything. For some reason I could never keep up with the laundry, the house wasn't ever clean enough, I would forget to do important things, if I made something not all the way perfect for dinner it wasn't eaten. If I didn't answer my phone, I was given the silent treatment for 2 or 3 days, sometimes a week. It was all my fault. More guilt and more shame. I never felt good enough. It wasn't all bad though. I was praised publicly and privately. I was a great wife, a great mom and I just needed to try harder and I would eventually get it. I was never bruised physically on the outside, but completely black and blue on the inside.

Because I had found a man who worked hard for me and our family and expressed his love for me verbally when I needed him to, I put him in a place where God was supposed to be. I made my husband my idol. I bent over backwards to make him happy. If he wasn't happy, I wasn't happy. I felt inadequate when I couldn't change his mood or when he was disappointed in me. I couldn't achieve the high standards that he had envisioned for our home-- and since I could never achieve them I thought something was seriously wrong with me. But whenever I did something right or met his standard, things were great. I was praised for my performance. More life passed by. I went to church occasionally with my kids, though I was spiritually apathetic. I looked forward to the weekend more for an opportunity to go and drink at the club with my husband or with my girlfriends. To me this was normal life. Everybody had struggles like this, right?

After more life, a miscarriage, and then the birth of my son General- the Lord brought me to my knees. I thought my son that I prayed for was going to die. I couldn't do it anymore my way. It took me a long time, but when I finally said, "Help me Lord! I surrender my life to You," He came. I started to hear His voice again. The more I listened to Him and acted in obedience, my own façade of who I thought I was started to deteriorate. I started to encounter the real Jesus. The Savior who died for me and who loved me the entire time. The Jesus that left the 99, to find me. One week after I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I had a powerful encounter with God. He told me that my husband was not my god, my mom was not my god, that He was my God. He delivered me from smoking marijuana and masturbation in an instant and I trembled in the presence of the Lord for 7 hours straight.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

In that moment I finally understood what a healthy fear of the Lord was. He took away all of my shame and guilt I had carried around for years. He held my hand and started to teach me about inner healing and deliverance. He taught me that I had value, and I was precious to Him. When I started to put God first, my marriage started to change. The shift of what kingdom ruled me was felt. I had stopped serving the kingdom of man and starting serving the Kingdom of God. The devil didn't like it. The Holy Spirit taught me how to war, and through the Word of God, I learned that Jesus already won the battle for me. Over the last two years as Jesus has been deep cleaning my soul and healing my heart, He showed me the patterns I needed to see so I could be completely free. In my marriage, as a wife, I was very insecure. If I had an opinion, it was wrong. When I messed up, I was criticized. There were times where I was given the silent treatment. It wasn't all bad though. I was praised for my achievements. When I said yes, things were great. If I said no, there were problems. The friends I hung out with drew me away from the Lord and never closer to Him. I grew up having no boundaries. I thought saying yes to people was the loving "Christian" thing to do, even when tolerating their sin.

The Holy Spirit taught me to say the word, "No." He helped me grow deep roots in Him so I could withstand the emotional reactions of the people around me who didn't like the word, "No." He taught me what manipulation was, what controlling looked like. He gave me discernment to know what deception felt like. He taught me what loving someone, especially when they are not kind to you, looks and feels like. He showed me what creating a boundary is, and how if someone is not in your immediate circle, you can still pray for them and love them. He showed me a different kind a of love that pushed someone towards Jesus. He showed me how to not be someone else's Holy Spirit. He taught me how to come to Him and weep. He taught me to laugh again and turned my mourning into dancing. He taught me how to keep His secrets between us. He taught me that it is okay to let the mess show, because then He could clean it up. So when He said, "I'll be with you in the fire," I was thinking I already went through the fire...

God has a sense of humor.

I'm in the fire now. And the only way I know how to get through it, is to drink water. To drink Living Water. I have to drink it every day, multiple times a day. A lot of it. At least 8 cups a day, if not a gallon or more.... of Pure, Holy, Living, Water. I have to come into the presence of the Living God, who is so tangibly real, to live in peace and joy through the fire. I will not be set ablaze. I will shine His light and I will leave sparks of His light everywhere I go. I am at a pivotal point in my marriage. I have decided to give everything I have to the Lord, even if that means watching my husband walk away from the plans God has for him. God has promised me He is going to turn everything around. I am holding onto that promise. God is the only one who can remove a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, and fill him with a new spirit. Here is my mess. Published and public. It doesn't look good on the outside. I am so grateful to be free and know that Jesus doesn't care if it looks messy.

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