Sixteen years ago I spent my nights working on a puzzle into the wee hours of the morning.

While I should have been resting for school the next day (I was only seventeen), my mind was too busy for sleep. I was carrying a baby no one knew about. No one who cared anyway.

I told him.

I told him and he didn’t believe me.

I knew something was off when I got sick leaving Woodson High school that evening.

We were supposed to be in night school. We were both there, him a legal adult trying to earn a diploma and me a recovering, lonely young girl.

I went to the True Love Waits purity conference. I recommitted myself to God. I meant it. How could this happen?

So now, each night I focused on piecing together a puzzle until my eyes were too heavy to keep open… piecing together something felt good.

My life could never be put back together.

Not with a baby on the way. I would never go to college. I would never teach like I dreamed of; like that prophetess lady told me at revival.

“I was carrying a baby no one knew about. No one who cared anyway.”

I would have a baby. Then I would struggle for years with alcohol, drugs, working in the sex industry, and ultimately fight for my life trying to leave the abusive relationship that this pregnancy commenced.

But God knew the big picture even when I was blind.

I am in college now. Only four classes from completing my diploma in theology. Will I go on to get my MDiv? Why not?

That baby I became pregnant with was a boy. Brian was born weighing in at 1 lb 8 oz and they said he wouldn’t live.

He is sixteen now. He is honest and has a strong love for the Lord. I birthed four more after him.

At this moment they lay sleeping peacefully upstairs along with my husband who basically rescued me from that horrible relationship with my ex.

And I sit here piecing together a new puzzle, recalling all Jesus has done in my life.

I hear the still small voice reassuring me that, though my desperation looks different these days, He is all I need. I hear Him tell me that it’s ok if I go alone because I am never truly alone.

I see visions of the ministries yet to be birthed through my dedication to Him. I can see it now.

I’m finally starting see the big picture.

It’s beautiful!

I hope you learn to see yours as well. Keeping our eyes fixed on the faithfulness of Jesus always helps the vision.

Till next time.

Your sister,

Monica

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Sisters, this one is just for you. For us.

First of all I want you to know how incredible you are. I pray for you all each day. I thank God for you and I absolutely LOVE hearing what our Father is doing in your lives!

I want to share some encouragement I received this past weekend when I was in Nashville, Tennessee. (HUGE thanks to NorthStar Women’s Network for making this possible!!)

There were so many incredible communicators (church lingo for ‘speakers’) that I was more than full at the end of the three day Lifeway Women’s Leadership Forum.

The moment that set the stage for me to take it all in was my first breakout session led by Christi Straub.

“We stood in our weakness and became powerful in our unity in Jesus”

Christi challenged us to walk in the life God intends for our leadership, our marriages, and our lives in general… but it wasn’t her powerful speaking that made the deepest impact (though that was awesome!) It was the unity she helped us realize.

“If you are going through a trial right now, would you stand?” she requested.

Most of us have experienced this before. A few people stand in a church service and the rest of us (those who are coasting along in the joy of the Lord, *eyeroll) lay hands on the few and pray over them.

That day the few became the many. Almost the entire room of women stood to their feet, myself included.

We prayed together for one another. Voices cracking, snivels scattered throughout the crowd… we stood in our weakness and became powerful in our unity in Jesus.

Each woman that the enemy had desired to isolate and conquer, many in leadership positions that do not afford them the liberty of sharing their struggles so publicly; each of us were strengthened by the other that morning.

I left that place changed forever.

I’ll admit that a life of ministry is not easy. It’s worth it but it comes at a cost and there are many battles along the way.

In the past I have wondered,”How can I possibly overcome this trial? I feel like this will be the one to take me out. Maybe I should quit?”

As I stood among these powerful, humble women the lie that I was ever alone became clear as day. The question now is, “How could I lose?”

I can’t lose! Ladies, WE CAN’T LOSE!

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun. Yes, Jesus is with us through it all.

Those things are true and necessary, but know this to be true as well:

Every women in leadership is battling alongside you. Every trial you face, thousands of other women have stared down in faithful prayer… and many have overcome.

The simplest truth is that we have already won. Your spiritual enemy knows this. That’s why you get hit so hard.

Now go throw on some worship music and praise the God who is faithful! Praise the God who has brought you this far! Praise the God, our Father, who has trampled the enemy and is bringing you into victory for His glory!

Praise Him!

Your sister,

Monica

(Oh… I also met *and got a hug from* my sister Jackie Hill Perry so basically everything I do is super anointed now, just saying 😂🙌)

(Ps- be sure to check out these other awesome Jesus followers: Dr. Lorg, Lori McDaniel, Lauren Chandler, Denise Pass, Selma Wilson, Jennifer Rothschild, and so many more I will have to post another blog with recommendations later)

Now that the Devil’s Day Debate has simmered down, I thought I might stir the pot a little with some truth.

(How else can I excuse munching on handfuls of my kids’ candy? I need the sugars for brainpower to blog, of course!)

Yep. We “celebrated.” Let me tell you why:

1) Celebrating Halloween won’t send you to hell any more than celebrating Christmas will get you to heaven.

I figured I would go straight for the throat on this one. All the religious fanatics out there who think that someone isn’t saved just because they don’t do things exactly like you can pretty much stuff it.

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life and I’m not giving it any more space on this blog. Sorry not sorry.

2) The devil doesn’t get a day. They’re all God’s days.

If you really believe that Jesus is sovereign in this world, then this language wouldn’t even be in your vocabulary.

I understand that there are people who celebrate Halloween as part of an unholy religion. Unfortunately for you, those people consider this day to be very holy.

It’s gonna be quite difficult for you to witness to people if you keep demonizing them once a year (they’re not all devil worshippers) while you attack your Christian brothers and sisters. I’m pretty sure unbelievers are not gonna come to you when they have problems and let you pray for them.

Stop saying this nonsense and stop damaging your witness.

3) It’s a “meat to idols” issue.

I don’t broadcast our family’s participation. It’s not the world’s business. I don’t hide it either because that’s just stupid. But since I’m open on social media and minister to so many people it’s bound to come up.

I used to be too concerned about what everyone thought; not because I wanted to please but because I take my position as a teacher and leader very seriously. The reality is I would be doing you all a disservice NOT to discuss the issue.

If you are somewhat religious you already know what I’m talking about with meat to idols. Go read it again. If you’re new to walking with Jesus, it’s a great passage to digest while navigating this new life you’ve found.

It’s gonna be quite difficult for you to witness to people if you keep demonizing them

The point is that we all have different levels of faith and God has called us two different things at different times in our lives.

Sometimes this means participating or abstaining in activities that make us look more or less set apart from the world. Trust Him to lead you through these times and for goodness sake…

For God’s sake,

Stop being so hateful toward your fellow man! Your pride is showing when you do this and it is far more hideous than any Halloween mask.

Excuse me while I polish off this candy bar and thank the Lord for it.

Your sister,

Monica

(Note: because I acknowledge that there is an unholy aspect to this holiday, my family abstains from all things that socialize realistic occult activity and I educate my children on the history of Halloween. This is not only in October, but a way of life for us. Spiritual warfare is real and certain behaviors are gateways for attack.)

I’m kind of heated that I even have to write about this, but I’ll do it anyway because I love you all.

Feel free to get mad and then get over it because I’m about to speak ACTUAL truth and it won’t feel good to some of you.

There is no “your truth.”

“Your truth” is only real insofar as you speak what is real to you… but that does not make it truth. Those are two different things. There is only one truth. When everyone can just have “their own truth,” that is called relativism.

Relativism is a worldly concept and opposed to the gospel.

If the body of Christ continues referring to our human perceptions as truth, we will be misleading the world and setting a horrible example.

I’m not going to touch on specifics because it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we stop just repeating crap that sounds good and start believing things that are Biblical and holy.

The body of Christ doesn’t exist to make everyone feel good and condone peoples’ (and their own) “version of truth.”

So here’s the real truth:

Every one of you reading this is a sinner.

You probably already know each of those sins in detail and have been doing them for a long time. Even us Christians. That is truth.

Part two: there’s a way out.

Jesus died so that you can be forgiven and find freedom from those patterns of sin.

Now here’s the hard truth:

You don’t get to walk around claiming the second part without knowing the first. If “your truth” discounts the fact that you are a sinner, it’s not truth at all. It is a lie from the enemy that’s been coated in pumpkin spice flavored, pop-culture lukewarmness and it is meant to destroy the witness of the church.

I pray to God we start taking this title of Christian more seriously or drop the act if we aren’t willing to go all in.

Sorry y’all but you can’t have both worlds. It’s Kingdom or bust.

With loving admonishment.

Your sister,

Monica

“This, then, is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people have loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:19-21

Over the last couple of weeks it has come to my attention that there are certain things, certain patterns, in my life that I do not possess the power to break.

Of course I am aware that without the Lord I am unable to do many things. But what I’m talking about here is habitual, patterns of sin and my frustration in not being able to overcome them.

These patterns of sin have a way of wearing us down. We battle them in our own power for so long, trying to move the mountain of self will run riot, and then give up. We decide to just “live with it”.

When I came to Christ I walked away from many things that I knew were not glorifying to Him and who I wanted to be in Him.

Other things, these habits, were not so easy to leave behind.

In fact I discussed one of these things in my last blog post. It happens to be something that many of us struggle with. Especially the moms out there.

As usual God was right on time with an answer.

No sooner had I published the blog post, than I received a solution. Sitting in my Theology and Practice of Ministry class, I listened carefully to the wise words of my teacher (a woman with twenty plus years of ministry under her belt, the type of woman we need more of in the church).

Her words, though convicting, fell like a soft embrace around my open wounds of doubt. “I know the Lord is capable, but I am incapable. Why can I not change my behavior?” I bemoaned.

“They are patterns. You must pray “God, cause me ________.”

As wonderful as this sounded and comforting as it was (because any option was better than nothing and I had exhausted them all), my hope was seasoned with reservation.

Thank the Lord only a mustard-seed-sized faith is enough!

Since that day (exactly six days ago) I have begun every morning with that prayer.

“Father, cause me. Cause me to be more kind with my words and tone toward my children. Cause me to walk in Your Will and not my own.”

Make me do it!

Order my steps in Your Word!

There was a time I hurled similar words at my earthy parents, but they were meant to be challenging rather than submissive.

I now bring that same zeal, that same stubbornness, to the Lord in my request.

I have always been rough around the edges. Unrefined, raw, and wild. I thought for a long time that God wanted me to calm down. To be pleasant, sweet and light like some of my Christian sisters. Not so. As I wrote recently in a private worship moment:

“I was wild and running from You

Never wanting to be tamed

Come to find all You desire

Is that I’m wild for Your name”

It was quite a relief to realize that I was not in sin because of who I am; I am not fundamentally flawed in some way. God has made me exactly as I am supposed to be and redeems me from sin I impose upon His perfect creation.

I was simply misusing my zeal!

He made me to be passionate, wild, and even aggressive at times. This is a reflection of Him and His kingdom!

Does this look tame to you? Because it’s the image God chose to use to describe Himself and His people are in His image…

The problem is that I kept taking the ‘easy’ way out (in hindsight it was SO not easier!) But, it was less work upfrontto throw my will and weight around than to go toe-to-toe with an Almighty God and beg Him to “make me do it” His way.

Now, I ask. And He answers!

Each day becomes easier as I press into His will and choose surrender. His yoke is truly light in contrast to the weight I was lugging around!

And the best part? I get to be me! Thereal me who is found in Him! I don’t have to sacrifice my zeal, I just have to re-purpose it. To rightly purpose it in a way that honors His will instead of my own.

Why on earth would I do that?

Because He loves me and He made me!

He alone knows the plans for my life and He has designed me specifically for each task.

You are no different.

I pray that this simple prayer is a blessing to those of you who still struggle like I have. I’m sure I will continue, as is our life in this flesh, but I pray all of us find increasing freedom with each new day.

Be who you truly are in Him. Submit that self to His will daily, beg for His intervention, and watch the miracles form from the inside out.

This, my friends, is how we change the world! One person at a time; starting with the self (which only God can change).

Until next time, may you be encouraged and conscious of the God who is always lovingly conscious of you.

Your sister,

Monica

If you’re at the point in life where you have more athletic clothing than night-on-the-town attire (or the male equivalent: an SUV in lieu of your souped-up, kit enhanced Honda), then you likely remember themovie with a cute, little fairy named “Krista” who saved the last Rainforest.

This adorable, yet fierce, young fairy spends most of the movie moseying about an enchanted-like forest as a tour guide to her shrunken protégée, Zak the tree-killer.

Zak grows the same appreciation for the forest that we do as the movie progresses. The producers did a fabulous job of showing the natural wonders of the Rainforest while adding just the right touch of magic.

They made us fall in love with that forest!

… only to see it burning to the ground at the hands of Zak’s evil, tree-chopping bosses.

The pinnacle of drama came about when Hexxus (the super-demon trapped in a large tree) was released due to poor tree marking. Hexxus set about destroying what was left of the rainforest, including the fairies who were looking after it.

Krista held the only hope for survival.

As a child, I sat holding back tears as I watched little heroine fairy throw herself into Hexxus’s mouth, carrying only a “single, tiny seed” as her weapon. My sadness rapidly gave way to joy as the branches of a new, more glorious tree began to grow from within the very thing that was supposed to end it all.

Whipping sounds still ring in my ears as I recall the roots lashing out and planting into the ground. A massive trunk emerged, encasing Hexxus and closing him in until nothing was left but his eyes and then…

POOF! Nothing.

The last of Him went up in a puff of smoke.

The new tree began to produce limbs. Magnificent buds popped up and opened all accompanied by lush green leaves. It was breathtaking! When I thought all of the flowers had bloomed, one more opened… and in it was Krista!

Forest saved. Bad guy vanquished. Happily-ever-after was possible again!

Fast forward 25 years…

I’m listening to Pandora and a beautiful song comes on. Just instruments. I smile. Out loud I say to myself, “why does this make me so happy?!”

Turns out it was the song that played during the scene tree grew at the end of Ferngully! It’s incredible how our brains retain such associations! (Though sometimes not so much)

Anyhow, I immediately started wondering why the movie touched me in such a deep and memorable way.

The answer is truth.

Anytime a story touches our heart it is because there is a divine and eternal truth within that story, whether we recognize it or not.

Somewhere deep within, I needed to believe that the most horrible part of me was able to be redeemed. I was like that tree which held Hexxus. No one wanted to touch it, not even to chop it down for fear of releasing the darkness. I was untouchable and evil

Until Jesus showed me grace and gave me faith.

I sought the Lord and found Him. I realized the gravity of what He had done for me. I was given a gift of faith to believe, with all of my being, that He had sacrificed Himself. He abandoned Himself, by choice, to the darkness of this world. He was believed by many to have met death once and for all as He hung lifeless on a cross.

The wait of three days was long enough for hope to fade as He lie in a tomb. (It can feel as though you are in that tomb yourself when you are without faith.) A Savior lost to the darkness while trying to redeem me from the very thing nobody else wanted to touch.

My sin. That ugly word we despise.

Even I didn’t want to touch it. I didn’t want to acknowledge it. But the day that I did, was the day I realized how desperately I need a savior and how beautiful He truly is.

Confessing my destitution primed the way for the gift of faith God had wanted to give me all along.

Like an eight-year-old child watching a happily-ever-after ending, I sat crying with an overwhelming joy that was etched so deep within my heart that nothing could ever remove it… and everything would remind me of it;

Of Him. My Jesus!

He gave everything in exchange for my nothingness just so He could be with me and heal this world through me.

I have been given a gift that my finite hands cannot hold, so I must share it. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, I invite you to explore who He is through scripture.

You are not alone on this journey.

Reach out. Shoot me an email. I will take personal responsibility for helping answer your questions and leading you deeper in faith. Of course, I’ll be praying for you along the way as well.

Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. May your eyes be opened to Truth wherever it can be found, even in the simple things like childhood movies. God will be a light to your path as you seek Him earnestly.

I hope to hear from you. Until then, I love you all dearly.

Your sister,

Monica

Many people, like myself, have come to Christ and yet still carried the burden of trauma.

This can take the form of various addictions, broken relationships, and PTSD that exacerbates it all. The question is, what do we do as Christians with this lingering affliction? We know that we have been healed by the blood of Jesus, but…

We don’t feel like it. We can’t seem to act like it.

One of the most important components of changed behavior is understanding why you behave a certain way in the first place. Why you are constantly making decision, or avoiding making decisions, out of fear. When we understand the way trauma works, we can begin to heal and a strategic way.  In a way that enables us to overcome the mysterious process in our brain that leads to unwanted behavior and sin.

If we want our heart to be “holy ground” where the Holy Spirit can move and grow within us, then we must first address how trauma has impacted the heart; that it has, instead, caused it to beholey ground. We have to come to terms with the fact that a painful experience has left a gaping chasm within the mind and heart. (Which in Hebrew are the same, by the way)

So how does this all work?

When a life-threatening event occurs (or one that feels life-threatening), our brain records the event in stunning detail. Survivors of the attacks on 9/11 have reported the onset of depression triggered simply by waking up to a crisp, fall day… the same weather as the day the towers went down. The event and each association with the event gets programmed into the brain for later recall in order to improve chances of survival.

The problem is that we will likely never encounter that extreme circumstance again and the associations are often a part of normal, everyday life. This leaves us living in fear or constantly disassociating in order to avoid that buried fear.

Recent studies have identified that a person’s perception of his or her ability to control the situation affects whether or not a tragic event becomes “trauma” or is simply recorded as a negative experience.

As believers in a God who has all power… trauma is essentially the unhealthy emotional interpretation of a painful experience that has taken up residence in our psyche.

The determining factor of whether the trauma remains or not, lies in our ability to surrender any perceived control to a God who is Sovereign and able to heal. We are in need of a Savior who can walk into the hell we have experienced, retrieve the broken part of us that we left there, fill that void with love, and walk back out unscathed.

So…

You who are still trying to heal. You, brothers and sisters, who have all but given up hope of a joyful life… take a moment to reflect on what our God has done. Dig into the Word and re-familiarize yourself with the victory that was won over the enemy. It was not just for some distant future rescuing that Jesus died, but so that we might live fully alive, here and now, with Him.

The world has never known a greater force than our Lord. Your trauma doesn’t stand a chance in His presence.

Talk to your pastor. Get some references for a good Christian counselor who can walk with you through the healing process; who can remind you of Christ’s victory along your journey. If you don’t have a pastor or even a church, shoot me an email! I’ll help you find a healthy one.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone. Know that there is always hope. I have seen God work miracle after miracle on my PTSD until it was nothing but a lingering recollection, awaiting my approval to be written into a powerful, testimonial memoir.

I am no different than you. My healing is not the exception to a rule. It is the result of surrender to a God who makes the rules. He said, in Him there are none. Anything can happen. Even full recovery from experiencing hell on earth.

As always, my prayers are with you.

Your sister,

Monica