Simple Acts of Moving Forward

Excerpted from “Simple Acts of Moving Forward” by Vinita Hampton Wright

Most of us work hard and we mean well. But we get stuck. And we get hung up, not on the big things or the months and years, but on the small things that make up our single days and hours.

You may have larger dreams for your life, but your most common struggles have to do with what you’re doing today, during this small collection of moments.

You’ve probably been forward-thinking enough to make plans, and you’re doing your best to make them happen. But even the best efforts don’t always satisfy you and, too often, you beat yourself up for that. Sometimes you feel that you will never get ahead or even get beyond the spot you’re in right now.

The only way to get unstuck is to take a step. It can be a big or little step, and you usually have a choice of directions. But it’s an action with purpose behind it, and no one else can do it for you.

Moment by moment you and I are making decisions and taking actions that help us move through time. Sometimes we move ahead in survival mode, ‘making it,’ but just barely, and not in a way that feels positive or successful. Occasionally, we slip backward or make choices that undo some of our progress. And sometimes we move in a way that is meaningful and gives us a feeling of forward motion.

Consider some of these simple acts of moving forward to make the most of each moment and each day. Sometimes the most important step is the first one:

  • Take a walk
  • Tell someone your troubles
  • Take breathing lessons
  • Make a list
  • Jump ahead ten years
  • Think again
  • Write your story
  • Look to God
  • Say a prayer
  • Say no/yes
  • Build on hope

Starting Over as a Child

Deborah Tyrell

“Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, ‘I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in’ ” (Matthew 18:3 The Message).

What is your internal response to Jesus’ statement of starting over like children? Your response probably depends upon your evaluation of the qualities of being child-like. Children are many different things, but they share three characteristics. God created all children to be needy, vulnerable, and dependent.

Now what is your response? If you are like me, you were taught how to be self-sufficient, invincible, and independent. Therefore, our child-like qualities have been rejected rather than accepted.

Our challenge is to learn how to value what God values. If we continue to embrace what ‘popular culture’ esteems instead of following the dictates of the Spirit of God, we incur the consequences.

Ask God to show you how coming into His presence as a child would impact the quality of your relationship with Him. Are you willing to learn how to celebrate with Him the nature of the child in you?

I encourage you to not let pride that spits at the throne of God say ‘ I will not.’

God, forgive us where we have deified self-suffiency, invincibility, and independence. What we have called strengths, you call pride. Give us the grace we need to come humbly before you where Your Spirit can claim us for Your kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Celebrate Your Victories!

Jonathan Daugherty

There is one thing I wish we as Christians were much better at doing, and that is celebrating. We tend to struggle on the whole at really cheering one another on in the faith and throwing parties in honor of those demonstrating the character of Christ. In this article I want to challenge you to cultivate an attitude of celebration in your ongoing pursuit of purity.

God designed us for joy! He didn’t design our minds, bodies, or spirits for anxiety, depression, or gloom. Yet, how often do you find yourself stressed to the max and feeling as if you can’t breathe under the weight of your life? The pace of life, the onslaught of temptation, and uncontrollable circumstances beat you down. But is that reality from God’s perspective or just the excuse often used?

The truth is that it is simply easier to point out faults than to celebrate victories. One reason for this may be that we are spending more time giving into temptation than we are living in purity. But does that mean we must wallow in our sin and shame while our moments of faith and resolve go completely unrecognized? I think not.

One thing I have found to be true in pursuing purity is that the “domino effect” works in both directions, whether following our lusts or following Christ. The more we give into temptation the easier it becomes to fail more quickly the next time we are faced with a similar situation. Conversely, the more we discipline ourselves to obey Christ, taking every thought captive, and connecting with our band of brothers, the stronger we become in resisting attacks. Because of this principle I believe it is all the more important that we develop an ongoing attitude of celebration, not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of other brothers striving for purity.

I have numerous people contacting me every week, wanting to know how to break free from sexually destructive habits. I try to respond to every person based on the core values of ministry (hope, integrity, humility, honesty, compassion, perseverance, accountability, faith, and love). The values that amaze people most about how I interact with them are hope and love. Many times people will attempt to argue that their situation is unique and they really can’t be free. But I never back down from the hope of freedom available to everyone through Christ. What many of these individuals have missed much of their life is someone sharing the truth with them and cheering them on when the journey is hard. They have never been celebrated for doing what is right, only chastised and shamed for their sin and addiction.

Jesus Christ was the incarnation of joy. Many times, because of the very serious nature of his mission (salvation of all mankind) we tend to picture him sullen and, well, miserable. Last time I checked, I didn’t see throngs of people dashing to see a sullen, miserable person. People were drawn to Jesus because He exuded life, true life. As his followers we are to do the same. And one way we do this is by celebrating the successes we, and others, have on our journey to purity.

Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate your victories:

When you meet a purity goal

– Give yourself a gift of some sort to remind you of meeting that goal.

– Share a meal with your band of brothers in honor of accomplishing your goal.

– Celebrate with a favorite hobby or activity (i.e. golf, hunting, professional sporting event, etc.)

When you resist temptation

– Call a buddy to share the success with them.

– Say, “Thank you Jesus for this victory!”

– Write down what happened to remind you later of the victory.

Here’s the real key to celebrating victories: don’t celebrate alone! God wants us connected, to Him and to others around us. We can certainly have personal moments of celebration just between us and the Lord, but the ongoing impact of celebration is most often realized in the context of others. Surround yourself with people of celebration who understand how to balance getting excited about doing the right thing and holding you accountable when you stray.

So, how’s your “celebrateability?” I challenge you to watch for the moments and situations worthy of celebration. Then, don’t be afraid to cut loose and enjoy the freedom God has given!

For help in the battle for purity see Every Man\’s Battle.

Apologies

Deborah Tyrell

‘So if you remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God.’ (Matthew 5: 23-24)

My marriage has provided me with many opportunities to apologize. In fact, I’ve had so much practice that now when I realize that I have acted ‘less than loving’ towards my husband, I usually am aware of my behavior at least as soon as he is. There are still those times when he has to point out my offensive behavior.

However, now instead of defending myself, I apologize that he had to show it to me before I saw it. I ‘own’ it and apologize that he had to deal with it.

I have not always had so much grace in this area. There were times in the past that I used an apology to manipulate. If I recognized that my behavior was about to reap an unpleasant consequence, I would rush to apologize. My message was, ‘Please don’t get angry. I have apologized so now you should not hold me accountable.’ My apology was an attempt to control his mood.

At other times, I would demand an apology from my husband. I came to realize that an apology extracted in this way is worth little. His apology to get me off ‘his back’ did not indicate sorrow for his behavior. I learned it only meant he was afraid of my disapproval and criticism if he refused my demand. A false apology has no redemptive meaning or value.

An apology is very personal. By it, your loved one knows that you are distressed by your harmful behavior. It demonstrates genuine sorrow and accepts responsibility for your actions.

One of the steps to maintaining a healthy lifestyle that is promoted in many recovery groups is to ‘continue to take daily inventories and when wrong, promptly admit it.’ Consider making this a daily practice. If you do, you will create an opportunity for closeness as well as a commitment to avoiding further harm. But no matter how the one you have apologized to responds, God honors a contrite heart and He will accept your sacrifice.

God, give me the courage to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Remind me that it is through the door of humility that I have a chance to reconcile with those whom I have offended. And through Jesus Christ, I have a guarantee to reconcile with you! For ‘the Holy One says this: I live in that high and holy place where those with contrite, humble spirits dwell; and I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts—I will lead them and comfort them, helping them to mourn and to confess their sins’ (Isaiah 57:15). Amen.

The Loophole of Denial

Fred Feliciano

I love a good story. Good stories catch us off guard. A good story has the power to show us what we believe about the world and how we think things ought to be. They stretch our minds, challenge our beliefs, and move us towards change. That is why I love Jesus’ stories. His stories move me, jolt me and propel me towards facing and embracing the reality of who he is and who I am. In short, his stories catch me by exposing me. That is why I also struggle with his stories. They expose me and my thoughts. His stories bring me back to facing my self whether I want to or not. So, I find ways around his stories in order to avoid stepping into his light. I just focus my attention on something else, anything. I use denial as a loophole. A loophole is a term used to describe a way around a particular obstacle with little to no negative effect to oneself. We find ways out of situations where we anticipate feeling shame.

The loophole of denial assists us in avoiding the light of God in two ways. First, denial provides us a way of alleviating the stress of our shame by refusing to face it. Shame can be defined as an intense fear of being exposed based on a corrosive belief that one is fatally flawed, unlovable and deserving of rejection from others who are deemed worthy and perceived as merciless all at once. As long as we do not have to face what we do that’s wrong, we don’t have to confess or own up to others in honesty and we find relief from the burden of our shame momentarily. Good shame allows us to focus attention on the welfare of God and others above our own.

Confessions made in the light of good shame lead us to restore relationships with loving dignity and help to develop true self perceptions in light of God’s true view of us which does something better than provide relief from the shame we feel. It provides us a deep sense of rest in our minds and hearts. The cost of not facing our shame is too high a price to pay.

Secondly, the loophole of denial provides us a way of avoiding painful truth by creating an alternative to the truth. Alternatives to the truth are simply lies. Lies help us to maintain the illusion that we can avoid rejection and increase the chances of acceptance by presenting ourselves as someone we are not. The problem with creating alternatives is that acceptance is never fully experienced and we are never fully known because the truth of who we really are remains hidden underneath the lies;  we remain distanced from others. Those who are closest to us never experience us as we are. They experience a false self. The alternative at first seems like it will increase acceptance and decrease rejection but in the end it isolates us further by taking us farther away from the truth of who we are, others are, and who God is. We wind up never trusting or being intimate with anyone.

Christ provides us a way out of our shame-based loopholes of denial by reversing the path our loopholes have taken us. Traveling in reverse back into the loophole of denial transforms it into a doorway. A doorway that leads to a redemptive path of trust for prodigal sons. Prodigals who, in repentance, come home, face the truth of their guilt in relation to their legitimate failures and face their longings for acceptance never received. But most of all are able to trust, face, and receive the Father’s healing embrace. His embrace declaring to us, ‘Not only are you forgiven but you are my son. You were dead but are now alive!’

I want to encourage you to read in Luke 15 about the transforming power of the Father’s deep love for his ragamuffin sons. Let that story catch you, expose you and shake you loose from your denial and fear.

For help facing your denial and experiencing God’s transforming power, see Every Man\’s Battle.

Shame vs. True Conviction: Knowing the Difference at the Heart of the Battle

Jim Grimes

Shame and true conviction are very difficult concepts to grasp for shame can easily masquerade itself as true conviction. In addition, both produce very strong emotional reactions that result in changed behavior. So what are the definitions of shame and conviction? Shame is a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment, while true conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion. Knowing the difference is at the heart of the battle in dealing successfully with sexual addiction. Let’s take a look at where the resulting behaviors that come out of shame and true conviction lead.

On a recent visit to the discovery science center with my family, we spent some time at the sand and water exhibit learning about the effects of erosion. In reflection, this exhibit is a visual picture of destruction that shame can cause, and the devastating effects of shame on the spiritual health of men.

To begin with, the interactive exhibit allows you to construct a dam using sand, thereby backing up the water behind. Once the water accumulates, it literally tears away the walls of the dam, creating a small canyon for the water to escape through. Observing this phenomenon I was struck with how it reflects the effects of shame when dealing with addiction, and was reminded of Matthew 7:26 where the foolish man built his house on the sand.

Shame is sand when it comes to building relationships with ourselves and others. When the storms of life such as stress, problems at work, or conflict with your spouse arise, the coping abilities you possess can crumble because addiction provides you with a false sense of mastery. This is sinking sand because it produces shame. These strong negative emotions can lead to isolation, hiding, denial, division of the self, depression, decreased self-esteem, and feelings of anger towards oneself and others.

In Philippians 3:18-19 Paul speaks of people who are ‘enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.’

Shame focuses on the here and now, just like in the sand and water analogy of the exhibit. Once a breech was created, we had to focus our attention towards that one area, and we found that considerable effort was required in order for us to seal the breech and restore the dam.

Having seen that shame erodes away the very fabric of relationships with self and others, what are the results of true conviction? First off, a person receives numerous blessings from living out a life based on true conviction. Where shame led to the destruction of relationships, true conviction leads to strengthened relationships and community, openness, acceptance, union of the self, joy/happiness, healing, and increased self-esteem.

Living through true conviction is like building your house upon the rock. The storms of life will come and rage against you, but you will stand because you have built wisely. Proverbs 28:13 states, ‘he who conceals his transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.’ 1 John 1:9 says that ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Within a humble man, true conviction leads to confession. In confession, you find compassion, and in compassion, healing and restoration.

This week, I challenge you to spend some time engaging in an object lesson: create a dam in your backyard using dirt and a garden hose, and observe the devastation that transpires when a small break is formed in the dam you built. As you do this, train your mind to listen to and respond to true conviction rather than to shame. Shame works to destroy your inner life and your sense of self, just like water quickly erodes away a dam once it’s broken. Instead, stop the break and erosion. Rebuild your life and character by responding to the true conviction of the Holy Spirit through confession, openly taking responsibility for your actions, and choosing to build your house upon the Rock.

For more help on this subject, see Every Man\’s Battle.

When Quiet Times Become Chaotic: Encouragement for Busy Lives

Martin Fierro

Has there ever been a time when a gentle quietness brought a peace to your heart and mind? If you answered the question without going to that memory by moving to this next sentence you have missed the experience at the start. Let’s try it again, entertain me once again. Has there been a moment’ a time’ when a gentle quietness brought a sense of peace to your heart’. and mind’.? Sit here as you reflect to one.

Did you get to re-experience it again by this simple exercise? Rather, did you give yourself permission to experience that peace in the moment?

As an example, it was hoped that you went to a place in your mind which allowed you to experience true peace at the beach, the mountains, a river, a soft breeze on your face, laughing with your wife/children etc’. If you got there and wanted to remain there, then return and come back to this article later. It is that very resting spot that one can experience the peace of God that passes all understanding. It is also the place that the voice of the Holy Spirit comforts and challenges our soul.

It is far too often that we rush and move to the next thought, thing, activity, task, sentence or paragraph, and assignment without pondering the moment or moments. By such active behavior we miss so many opportunities to experience the rest and quiet God desires us to bask in. The possible results in the active behavior is not only missing and experiencing physiological rest but also miss times for spiritual discernment and wisdom. A benefit of resting in a quiet calm for any individual struggling with/maintaining sexual integrity is that it provides a healthy focus point to that of potential/destructive mental images and messages that lead to acting out.

Yes, peace can happen in resting in the creation of this world around us even with the modern man-made distractions.

It is not necessarily a process of creating rest, for in that alone is stressful. Just think about the last time you planned a long vacation to ‘rest.’ Was it truly a restful time? How many times have we come back from a vacation and said we need to rest from the vacation activity. It is maddening! Some rather just keep on the track of doing projects and responsibilities because seeking a quiet reflective experience appears irreverent or impossible. If you attend church regularly it is encouraged to sit and rest in God’s peace through prayer. During those times of prayer if your mind is wondering about the days/weeks events to come, once again the opportunity to have calm in the chaos is missed. Life then controls us. We just let life around us happen like it is a roller coaster ride (one hill after another). In letting life happen we surrender to it, then it takes our life focus and in that we become vague or superficial with ourselves and those around us.

In the process of recovery and staying sober from sexually acting out, our lives can become chaotic with activity as a means of distraction. Thus, a time of calm reflection and contemplation can diminish because we have to have something to tend to (hyper-stimulation in a different form?). Think of the all the time/energy used to maintain the secret of your sexual addiction and now re-using that time for true peace and calm to battle any of the triggers of your addiction. The quietness in the calm of the addiction recovery should not be mistaken as: 1. I’m healed! or, 2. Something must be wrong! Though such times of quiet in the past was the usher for your sexually acting out, perhaps these times can be used to re-focus on God and the relationship He desires with you!

Here are some ideas to consider with regards to regaining or finding some calm in the chaos. Look beyond the sidewalk to the blades of grass. The tree and the way the breeze moves its leaves. Watch a cloud as it moves so gingerly yet steadfast. Observe how the sun creates a consistent change of details through shadows at this time of the year and through out the day/month/year. Reflect on the flow of water as it hits the ground and runs to a common level seeking a resting space (much like we do). This is not being said to run around prance in a tutu as you reconnect with the world around you. Rather, do not miss this rich and free opportunity to walk out your office door, step out the car door or you own home front door to experience the calm in the chaos of the man-made world of activity. Become a child discovering nature again in its detail which is the handprint of God. If you have a young child or grandchild, watch and learn how they experience life, nature, and the world around them.

Maybe to experience some calm in the chaos is a time for each of us to go back to live as a child so we can have peace as an adult. For when we do not have peace as an adult perhaps we behave like an immature child.

For more help see Every Man\’s Battle.

Trigger Mechanisms

Bob Damrau

INTRODUCTION
Trigger mechanisms are painful emotions that are not adequately identified and which lead to compulsive thinking and addictive behaviors (or tension reducers).
All people look for ways to reduce the stresses of life. Some chill out in a whirl pool while others cozy up with the latest novel. Some drop in at Starbucks and others drop dead from exercise. These tension reducers are, for the most part, legitimate. It must be said, however, that any good thing when taken to an extreme can become unhealthy.
We, as people with a bent toward sexual compulsivity, should pay attention to the trigger mechanisms that serve as stimulants to our addictive cycles. We need to find alternative ways of responding to our feelings.

THE ESCAPE ROUTE
Emotions are tricky for compulsive people because most of us have not developed our feeling skills.

When we can’t tolerate feeling depressed, we tend to seek relief (fantasy thinking)

When we can’t tolerate feeling isolated, we tend to seek stimulation (unhealthy relationships)

‘ When we can’t tolerate feeling like a failure, we tend to seek control (entitlement thinking)

‘ When we can’t tolerate feeling anxious, we tend to seek tranquility (masturbation)
‘ When we can’t tolerate feeling criticized, we tend to seek self-mastery (perfectionism)

STAYING WITH THE FEELING
When a sex addict experiences a negative emotion he generally fixes it by taking a drink of lust in order to medicate the feeling. Most addicts have not had any experience from their family of origin in the area of how to have and share feelings.

Dealing with feelings is a skill that you can develop and acquire levels of mastery over, once you have practiced it. It’s kind of like growing up and not learning how to maintain a car. It doesn’t mean that you are less intelligent or worthwhile because you can’t fix a car. You’re simply untrained. If you were to take a class on car maintenance, you would probably be a good mechanic. The difference is that the skills you are exposed to and have learned will dictate how you handle your emotions.

Now, expressing feelings in recovery is very important for several reasons.

In your acting-out days, if you had a feeling, you probably would not know what it was. But if you acted out in some way, the feeling would go away. In this process, you may not have learned to identify feelings and hence can not meet your own real needs.

In your early recovery, between usually the third to sixth week of abstinence from your acting out behaviors, you may begin to start recognizing feelings. This can seem almost like a thawing out of emotions. It is best to have already begun to identify your feelings so that they don’t confuse or overwhelm you and activate the cycle (unidentified feeling -> act out -> feeling disappears). In recovery, you get to feel without acting-out.

As relapse prevention, if you can identify your feelings, you may better know how to handle or manage these feelings in order to prevent relapses.

If a slip or relapse occurs, you may be able to track down what emotion(s) preceded this and move forward in your recovery process (identified feeling -> corresponding need -> needs met).

TALK ABOUT IT
It is important that you begin to communicate your feelings to a safe person. A safe person is one in your recovery group or a person to whom you are accountable. The person’s role is simply to listen, not really give feedback.

When sharing your feelings, it is important to maintain eye contact with the person you are sharing them with. This eye contact with a person may feel uncomfortable at first, but will eventually be comfortable to you. This is part of the benefit of this exercise.

TRY IT

1. Identify a feeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . lonely

2. Generate the need present in that feeling . . . . connect with a safe person

3. Act to legitimately meet that need . . . . . . . . . . call a group member

Need some help? See Every Man\’s Battle.

The Gift of Anger

Christine E. Buckingham

We are all familiar with the phrases, ‘stuffing our feelings’ and ‘stuffing our face.’ There is a connection! Many of us never have experienced the gift of anger because we stuff our anger by stuffing our face. One minute you are feeling upset and the next thing you know, you are in front of the open refrigerator!

REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) was developed by Albert Ellis, a prominent psychotherapist and theorist of the 20th century. REBT is a method that teaches how to manage anger. He said that it is not what happens to us that makes us angry, it is the irrational beliefs we hold about what happens that make us angry. He taught that we need to examine our thoughts — or how we talk to ourselves — for any irrational beliefs we may hold. These irrational beliefs can be thoughts like, ‘I must always be happy, others must always love me, I must always get what I want, life must be fair, I must never hurt.’

Centuries before Albert Ellis, God taught David the formula. Psalms 4:4-5 (NKJV) says,

“Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart in your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”

“Be Angry.”
Own your angry feelings. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to allow yourself to feel the feelings and learn to identify it as anger. Learn where you feel anger — what does your anger feel like? Do you feel it in your stomach? Do you feel hot and flushed? Do you feel panic?

“Do not sin.”
Anger is a wonderful, energizing emotion. No other emotion can mobilize the self to action like anger! But God always gives us choice and He cautions us about our choice. We must learn that there are constructive ways to utilize the energy being angry provides. Trying to push the feelings down or deny them uses up this wonderful energy.

Consider that there is a better way to process the feeling and to empower yourself to act. God has given us control over our actions. He has given us power over what we believe. Our beliefs are learned, they don’t just happen. And therefore, we have some power over them.

“Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.”
This is where the belief system is considered. Look within — either quietly or within the context of a safe relationship, or maybe through writing in a journal — at what you are telling yourself about the things that happen to you and provoke you to anger. Look at your ‘self-talk’ to understand what you believe. What are you believing about what happened? Process this with someone who can bring some objectivity to your beliefs.

“Offer the sacrifice of righteousness.”
God is God of reality. He wants us to live in truth and in reality.

Righteousness — a right response — might require work on the irrational belief, or maybe it requires forgiveness, or maybe confrontation, or maybe even all three. He wants us to respond in righteousness and He recognizes that it is a sacrifice ‘ it is bringing us in line with His character.

“And put your trust in the Lord”
We must let God be responsible for the outcome. We cannot control how others will respond to us. The good news is that God has promised that He, Himself, will be with us and comfort us.

In no way does taking responsibility for our emotions excuse the harm or offenses done to us by others. But this is a low-calorie, fat-free way to own and process our feelings!

Need help expressing your emotions? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

No Victims Here (A must read!)

Jennifer Cecil

As a counselor for LIFL, I have had the privilege of submitting approximately 20 articles over the last 2 years. My articles usually are directly related to the issues pertaining to compulsive overeating and weight-loss.

This month, I would like to switch gears. We all know the old axiom, ‘we eat over what’s eating us.’ How well we know that it is the trials and tribulations of this life that lead to our misuse of food as medication for what ails us. Sometimes, the origins of these patterns are related to childhood trauma. Often it is the pain and stress of our adult lives that ‘push us over the edge.’ We can become so stuck in our pain that we become as helpless victims with no way out, but to medicate our pain away and hide out behind the layers of accumulated fat.

I would like, to tell you about a very courageous young woman, who endured a very traumatic ordeal and is emerging VICTORIOUS instead of remaining a VICTIM.

Her story is compelling; her strength, inspiring. She will be sharing her experience, strength and hope. You will see how God, the wonderful counselor, will turn all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and will restore all that the enemy has stolen (Joel 2:25).

Let me introduce you to my niece, Hilary Griffith. She is 19 years old and loves the Lord. Hilary’s life was near perfect. She was attending college at ASU, shared an apartment with friends, had a great job, went to church and enjoyed time with her family, friends, and boyfriend.

Her life was shattered on November 9, 2004 when she was raped at knife-point in her apartment by a man that had broken in while she was in the shower. The next 45 minutes of her life, Hilary was not sure if she would live or die. She was not sure if she would ever see her family again. She was not sure if her assailant would follow through on his promise to cut her throat. Hilary will talk about the supernatural comfort of God, the way that He sustained her, the things that He told her during the assault.

As unbelievable as it sounds, Hilary competed in and won the Miss Scottsdale Beauty Pageant FOUR days after the assault. How she gathered her strength to participate in the swimsuit portion and perform her talent with her bruised and battered body is beyond our comprehension. She will tell you how she was able through the grace and strength of God to ‘press on’ in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Hilary has chosen to NOT be a victim. She could have canceled her plans to compete in the pageant. She could have dropped out of school and quit her job. She could have stayed holed up in her room, staring at the walls. She did none of these things. She chose to move on with her life and let God redeem her sufferings. Although she has gone through the emotional and psychological issues that you would imagine, God has been gracious to her. Hilary has not turned her back on God. She has not asked God why He allowed this horrible thing to happen to her. She has asked Him, instead, to show her His plans for her life because He allowed her to live and not die.

I have said enough. Please show up to read her articles. You will be blessed as Hilary shares with you the comfort with which God has comforted her (II Corinthians 1: 3-7).