Belenen (belenen) wrote,

My Life So Far (written Jan 2004, at age 20)

My dad, M, is a Marine, so I have lived and grown up in several places. Until I was eight, I lived in a tiny woodsy town in the south, the type where everyone knows everyone. I have always had a deep love for nature, and I think that is part of the reason that I love places -- literal geographic locations -- like people. While there, we lived in a doublewide trailer nestled on 15 acres of glorious woods. We had no pennies to spare, but that was easy for me to accept. I liked using my imagination rather than someone else's, anyway. I never watched TV. I knew not to ask for things when we went to stores, and I never felt cheated or unloved. Now I look back and I love that I had that background, because I am naturally frugal. I loved my church, loved my school. I belonged, I was loved, I was secure.

I accepted Jesus at age four. This was before my dad went to Saudi in Desert Storm (he has many unhealed spiritual wounds from that, I believe) and he was sitting on his bed studying his Bible. I came in to the room and saw the list of references of verses he had memorized, and I quizzed him on a few, and was impressed when he spoke them right out. Then I sat and thought a little while, and asked him what you had to do to be saved. (He was very excited, I can see now, but he hid it, so as not to influence me. He wanted it to be real) He asked me if I believed in Jesus dying on the cross, and I said yes. He had me quote John 3:16, and asked if I believed that. I said yes, and he led me in the sinner's prayer. I was saved! I was so thrilled! I ran to my mom and told her, "Momma, I just got saved!" I was so disappointed in her reaction, 'cause she had had a bad day and was just like "yeah, whatever." I asked her why she wasn't excited and she explained that it was hard to be excited when you're washing dishes. I remember listening carefully, because I felt like a Christian was a person who cared about other people's problems, but I wasn't convinced that her excuse was actually worthy.

My mom is a teacher by profession and by heart -- when I was three she had me tell her stories as she wrote them down, and she read to me often. When she put me to bed, she'd often make up stories and tell them to me. Through her influence, I grew to love storytelling and reading. (and when I began kindergarten, I was ready -- I could count to 100 and knew my ABCs. I was so proud.) On my first day of school, my dad was as nervous as I was. I sat in his lap and cried before I was taken to school, and I think he was on the verge of tears himself. (I was worried, but at the same time I reveled in the attention.) I have scattered memories of that school, mostly of me going off by myself and imagining. I had friends, but they weren't important to me. An exception was Sara, whom I rarely saw, and she was the daughter of a missionary, leaving for Mexico less than a year after we became friends. I liked pink buttercups, the merry-go-round, kickball, and being faster than the older boys, but above all I loved being by myself. Thinking back, I would go off and talk to God about my thoughts and legends that I made up about the origin of things. The "big girls" (high-schoolers) called me Pocahontas because of my long hair and because I defended Stevie, my crush, in any way necessary. I remember kicking someone who said something bad about him (jokingly, to set me off) and letting him cut in front of me to use the water fountain, to the teasing of those who saw. The day my dad left for Saudi Arabia, he dropped me off at school, surprising me by crying. I didn't really understand what was going on, and I had never seen him cry. Later he told me that he was afraid that might be the last time he ever saw me. He was gone for six months, and I wondered the whole time if he would come back or not. When he did come back, he was different -- much more distant. I hated war because it did that to him.

My third-grade year, a girl named Brandy with flaming curly hair showed up at our school, and I was immediately fascinated. I adopted her, probably partly because she was too flamboyant for most of the kids' tastes, and I've always liked people who stick out, regardless of whether it's on purpose or not. I remember she was "going out" with my current crush, and he hurt her feelings, and I promptly hated him. In the middle of the year, my dad was transferred to Atlanta, and she was the only one who seemed really sad about me leaving. I remember when I was picked up early from school that day, the teachers let her walk me out to the car, and she cried. I didn't cry then, but I was impressed that she was sad. It convinced me that she cared, and that single act planted her firmly in my mind. Though I knew her only three or four months, I've thought about and prayed for her often since. I would be so unbelievably thrilled to see her again.

When I was eight, we moved to north GA, which at first excited me. But I had to leave my kitty behind, and I occasionally cried myself to sleep missing her for 2 years, especially when the people we left her with told me she had run away. My parents sent me to an upscale Christian school, where the kids didn't like me 'cause I hadn't been there since kindergarten, and I was poor. (kids are more obvious about their class discrimination) I didn't have cool pencils, brought my lunch, and never had Gushers, and my hair was often messy) Deana Cook, an adopted child, was the only one who showed me any acceptance at all, and she was usually surrounded by a crowd. I remember once she had chicken pox, and I was the only one who had already had it, so I got to spend time with her by myself. She loved a boy named Kevin, who had a pacemaker. (I don't know why, but he was taken away to the hospital before the end of the school year, and Deana was sad.) I also remember Demetrious, the only black boy at the school, who teased me mercilessly. He aggrieved me so much, and I was convinced he hated me-- until Valentines day came around, and he gave me a huge heart shaped box of candy conversation hearts. Then I realized he actually liked me, but he left the school not long after that, so I didn't have time to change my opinion. I hated the school, and while I was there formed a shell around myself that lasted a very long time. I went from everyone loving me to no one loving me. I was determined that since I could control the level of my hurt, I was going to keep it on minimum. I became excellent at blocking off loneliness, retreating into my rich imagination, and when I was home, exploring the woods. I became obsessed with reading -- I never went anywhere without a book and any spare second was spent reading. I usually read three or four books at a time. I also told stories to whoever would listen, and if no one was around I told them to myself. Sometimes at night, I'd sneak into my brother's room and sing my own songs to him and make up stories for him, like my mom used to do when I was his age (four).

During the summer, I became friends with Sylvia, a girl who lived down the road from me. I loved her with all my heart. She and I were inseparable until her cousin moved in down the road... I didn't like sharing her time and affection with someone else so I told her she had to choose between us. She chose me, but when I discovered that she snuck down to Ashley's one day, I decided that threats wasn't the way to go, and I became friends with Ashley. Looking back, I was extremely manipulative with my friends. I wanted to be friends with all the girls in my neighborhood, but I wanted them to only like me, or at least like me best. I couldn't stand it if two of them got together without me, so I started a club, which I was the president of and Sylvia was the vice president. We had an awesome clubhouse--a place in my backyard where a tree had uprooted and fallen across the creek, leaving this great space that we could climb down into and hang out. We moved debris out, re-planted moss in spots to make cooshy seats, and made secret places to store things. Sylvia became more interested in me and the club than the others, and I was cool with it when the other girls weren't faithful. When they were, I would lead them exploring up the creek, naming certain places and telling them legends (which I made up as I went along) about certain areas and the Indians that had lived there before. I must have been one awesome storyteller, 'cause they believed me. There was one place that we'd wear our bathing suits and slide down the slippery rocks into the pool, which was over waist-deep to us and fun to splash in. Sylvia was the most important person in my life, and when her big brother picked on her I beat him up. Once he made the mistake of hitting her in my presence. Before he knew what was happening I attacked him furiously: teeth, nails, legs, fists. He made sure not to do that again. I have a very protective attitude toward people I love, and that still manifests itself in my life now. Not in physical violence, but I kick satan's arse in intercession when he messes with my people, especially the gentle people whom I love.

My parents didn't parent me much after I turned eight. I was withdrawn, but I wasn't any trouble, so they let me stay that way. When my sister and brother were little, both my parents worked, and we kids were homeschooled, so I took care of them at least as often as Mark and Patty. When we went to public school, my parents took special care of Seth because he was socially inept and had a learning disability, so he needed the help and support. I was a straight-A student, so they didn't worry about me. Every one of his basketball games they went to-- My dad didn't go see my chorus concerts or musicals. I wanted to get involved in color guard but couldn't because they didn't have time to shuttle me, and couldn't go to youth group because they didn't want to take me or pick me up. If I tried to talk to my dad, to connect emotionally, he just told me something to do. He was only willing to spend time with me if we were doing something he liked, like playing chess. I remember going into my room and literally collapsing with grief. I wanted him to love me, to show support. Until I was 20, if he complimented me it was immediately followed by a criticism. My mother was a loving mother, but she was dependent on me for what my dad didn't give her -- namely emotional support.

Fourth grade was my first experience with public school, and I HATED it. Ashley M. liked me (once she gave me a silver-and-turquoise ring, which unfortunately my brother took and lost when he got mad at me) but otherwise I didn't like anyone and no one liked me, 'cause I refused to talk to them or hang out with them. Again, Ashley was popular, so I didn't get much time with her. She considered me her best friend, as she wrote twice in my yearbook, making sure I knew. That was the first I had heard of it though, and I didn't understand how she could consider me her best friend when we hadn't even met outside of school. (In my mind, you weren't a real friends unless you had been to each other's houses) I also had a crush on a boy named Joshua, and I once kicked a much older boy who was taunting him, and the older boy left him alone after that (I can be scary when angry). So to skim a year of building my shell, that was that.

Fifth grade I entered homeschool, which was fine with me. I worked when I wanted, with the exception that I had to finish before I went outside (I never played inside). We moved to Washington D.C. in the middle of the year. For the first time, I had no nature to retreat to. The landscape was houses, asphalt, and dirt. I was miserable because there were no TREES! And no creek!! Hell, there wasn't even GRASS on the ground outside! (There was a bayberry tree outside of my window, which I am convinced that God had planned to be there for me -- it was my only sanctuary) So instead of playing outside, I stayed inside and read and ate. Consequently, I became more introverted and plump. I also hit puberty, which wasn't fun at all, since my periods were unpredictable, and left me in pain with cramps. But I had a best friend, Cienna, who wasn't as pliable as Sylvia, and so when we disagreed I didn't always get my way (but then I sulked until I did). Somehow I have always had an odd charisma, and I attract people. I was also friends with a lot of little girls, who liked having a leader, and liked having an older girl who would play with them. My favorite person was Cienna, whom I nicknamed Sierra, because she seemed more like a Sierra to me. When my cat had kittens I named one after her. We played horses and Barbies, my first real experience with toys, and for about two years we were very close. Then another girl named 'Christin' moved in, and it turned out she had known Cienna from before. She didn't like me, and convinced Cienna that I was "Not Cool" for still playing with toys (at nine years old), and so Cienna stopped playing with me. When she started making excuses not to play with me and then went to Christin's house, I realized what was going on, so I stopped pursuing her and became friends with her sister Chelsea. I missed her terribly though, and I think she missed me. I growled about losing her, and my parents logically assumed that my angry attitude was what drove her away. Classic example of mistaking the symptom for the cause. Then I was hurt and angry that they blamed it on me, on top of being hurt about losing her. Chelsea and I became closer, because she had always been my friend on Cienna's off days, and she really cared about me. When my birthday came around I decided to throw a party, which I spent forty dollars of my baby-sitting money on (quite a sum for a twelve-year-old), and at first I was just inviting Chelsea and Dani (another rejected little sister) but then Cienna wanted to come, and I couldn't say no, and then her friend Adrian showed up at my door crying because she wasn't invited, so I had to let her join, and lastly Christin showed up. I was all set to give her a dishonest excuse like my parents had set a person limit, but Cienna wanted her to stay, so she stayed. Oddly enough, we had SO much fun roasting marshmallows and building a fort in the backyard and eating cheap pizza and then getting up early and going to McDonalds and shopping at Value Village with the money I gave them and eating the candy I had bought for each person. (I really planned this out!) But the next day things were back to normal. Cienna played with Adrian and Christin and Christin hated me. I think it reminded Cienna of the fun I could be though, because about a week later she came over to play, and gave me a picture she had made for me. Things were very awkward though, we didn't really know each other anymore and she didn't play anything I did, so she didn't come back after that. But it made me more peaceful, because I realized that the only reason she didn't play with me was because of her friends, and not because of me.

We moved back to north GA, and my mom tutored elya, Rebecca, and Ben along with my brother and I for some tests we had to take as homeschoolers. This thrilled me because I had a crush on Ben. I had a crush on three other boys too, but he interested me intellectually. We were both bookaholics (I never went anywhere without a book, and I read more than I slept) and he was intense even then. That year I had my short experience with popularity. I decided I wanted to be popular in our homeschool group, so I worked at it and succeeded-- and realized just how much work it was for so little reward. It's a complicated game that keeps you from living. I made a choice then that I was never going to be pliable again. I was going to be as utterly myself as I had the courage to be. Also that year, my mom started work cleaning houses, and I was responsible for my own schoolwork and my brother and sister. I was their surrogate mom -- without the respect of an authority figure. My parents told us we were equals, and then left me 'in charge,' without allowing me even the power to put them in the corner. From age 2 to age 4, my little sister often called me mom, which infuriated me because she was not my child, yet she was my responsibility. During this time, I had a recurring nightmare. I dreamt of being in a car that was driving down the highway among heavy traffic, with my brother and sister in the backseat. Suddenly I'd realize that there was no one driving, and I'd have to climb into the driver seat and drive, though I didn't know how. I'd try to stop, but the brakes wouldn't work, so I had to just keep driving. God sent Debbie Ladd to me one day with a prophesy that I was carrying too much responsibility for my family, but that He was going to lift that from me. My mother was standing nearby, and was furious when she overheard, but that message relieved me greatly. I had thought that I was supposed to be able to handle it, and it relieved me that God said my siblings were NOT my responsibility, contrary to my parent's insistence. That was eighth grade.

Ninth, I met a girl named Rachel, who fascinated me. She was everything I had ever wanted to be -- she danced ballet, played violin, and drew wonderfully, all things I had wanted to do. She went to an awesome church, and occasionally I went to her youth group, where I had brushes with God that left me all the more thirsty for him. I had Rachel on a pedestal, and I wanted to be her best friend so much that I often cried myself to sleep over it. I remember my parents getting irritated with hearing me cry every night and once my mom came upstairs and told me that if I wanted her to be my friend I needed to work for it instead of crying about it, and told me to be quiet. But I know she also prayed for me to find good friends.

That summer, my mom sent me to Camp on the Rock, and I remember I was angry because I had wanted to go to the Liberty camp and she had tricked me into thinking that that was the camp she was sending me to. But it was God, because Rebecca S and I became best friends. At Camp on the Rock we had deep talks, speaking about soul issues. I was 15, she 13. Our depth at that age amazes me, and our friendship opened an amazing level of our spirits. For years I loved God, but I didn't know that it was possible to have a friendship with him until I got close to Rebecca. She had such a friendship with him that he had a nickname for her! On November 13th of that year, a Friday, at midnight, on a full moon, with a black cat in the room, I realized that I wanted to be friends with God like I was with her, like she was with God. (I say the Friday the 13th stuff because everything that has been traditionally 'unlucky' has had awesome godly significance in my life) God reached me through her. A lot of growth happened in my years in north GA, mainly through Liberty and my relationship with Rebecca.

For eleventh and twelfth grade I went to public school, where I grew to love the 'rebel' and misunderstood people more and more, because they were the honest ones, the ones who were actually living instead of just playing politics. I don't really know how I might have affected those around me, but I spent time praying for many of the rebels that I was friends with, and I believe that it had a strong effect on their lives, conscious or not. I spent time with a Jehovah's Witness, who explained to me what they believed, and I pray that my attitude and caring helped Jesus to bring her closer to truth. I also spent time with a girl who was dabbling in satanism, and I pray for her still. She was hurting so much, and I pray that she felt love and not condemnation from me. Once she took a crow from boys who had broken its wing and were torturing it, and she put it in a crate with a bowl of water, trying to help it. It ended up falling against the side and breaking its neck, and the 'popular girls' said "Good, I'm glad the nasty thing is dead". They would have been as upset as she was if the crow had been a canary, but since it was black and "uncute" they were callous and bitchy. That made me so angry. She was compassionate on the innocent creature, and when it died they made it obvious that she didn't matter to them. That incident was so symbolic of high school in general. I wish I could get in touch with some of the people like Stephanie, especially now that I know better how to love them, but God knows best and I'll find out eventually. I also met and befriended Michael and Allison. Michael I befriended because I admired his willingness to be different, and Allison I was friends with because I just loved her personality. She has a wide range of interests that agree with mine, she's a very talented artist, and I absorb her energy when I'm with her. She's so much fun!

I made the decision to move to PA with my parents because I knew it was what God wanted for me. (though it was the last thing I wanted to do) Oh, the spiritual boot camp I went through in PA. I wrote Rebecca all the time, but when she didn't write back, I finally stopped. We would talk on the phone, but she never called me, I just called her. I felt like she had dropped me, and like she wasn't interested in a relationship with me. At that time, elya wrote me often, which was very encouraging to me. Johnstown PA is a stronghold of the enemy. Pastor Cort Walker, I and my dad all individually concluded that it is a point like the town in the "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" novels by Peretti. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the highest oxycontin addiction in PA, and major heroin addiction. And it is a tiny town! When I pass the border in or out of Johnstown, I can feel it. The enemy has such control there, and rarely did my spirit have rest there. But I also had my first experience with a 'real' bible study, 24 truehearted college students meeting every Friday to hear what God had to say. And we studied my favorite book, James. (I love his blunt slamming of hypocrisy, apathy, and prejudice. I have gleaned more understanding of God and true Christianity from his book than any other book in the bible) Yet I felt the oppression every day, and it was to my spirit like acute bronchitis to my body. I had a sanctuary, the chapel on campus. There was power in that building, because every week we had hyper-powerful worship and praise and teaching, with about 60 truly on-fire Christians. Through this, I sought God, but I could not conquer the distance between us. Finally, I decided to throw everything I could into seeking him, and I went on a weeklong fast from all distractions, even music (before that, I had not had a single 24 hours without music for at least 6 years). I read my bible, and prayed, and wept, and listened again to the Holy Spirit series. At last, the distance was broken, and I felt his presence. I finally put God on the throne, finally established him as my life, not just an important part of it, and I became truly aware of the spirit world. This was the time the prophets call "the dark night of the soul," and it was the hardest time of my life, but I wouldn't trade it for all the money and glory in the world. My relationship with my brother was marred because my dad refused to discipline him. At first that bothered me because I felt less loved, and then it bothered me as I saw it sculpt Seth into a wimp with no ambition. After we moved to PA, my brother got saved, and now has a real relationship with God. This is the answer to my prayers. We have a cool relationship and we really love each other. After my relationship with my brother began to change, there was a time when my dad said something nasty and untrue about me. Seth saw my face, and he spoke up for me. My dad told him to shut up, but it really meant so much to me that my brother would stand up for me. (no one else ever stood up for me against my dad) I would love him for that alone, and my respect for him increased greatly.

At Christmas of that year, I visited GA, meeting with Rebecca's family again. I went to Florida with them to visit family, and I remember telling Rebecca that I knew that I had God on the throne now, and I wondered impatiently how long it would be until I had romance. Two days later Ben stammeringly asked me if I was interested in pursuing a romantic-type relationship with him. I was flabbergasted, having never seen it coming. Later he told me he didn't think beforehand and didn't know why he asked just then. (I do: God.) So I asked God what to do and he told me that He had set it up, go ahead. So I told Ben I'd start a relationship with him, and the next day I flew back to PA. A flurry of phone calls, emails, letters and 19 days later, we began discussing our goals for the relationship. He said marriage, but I wasn't so sure. I wasn't about to give my heart to someone I wasn't going to marry. As we spoke, God told me more forcefully and clearly than he has ever spoken to me that this is the man I am to marry. Exhilarated, I told Ben, and we promptly vowed ourselves to each other, plunging spiritually into marriage. That was rash, and we agree now that it was not a good idea, but God worked it into his plan. However, it meant that we were spiritually married for nearly two years before having sex. It is very hard to explain, and harder to understand.

At last, I moved back to my beloved Georgia, to live with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob in northeast rural Georgia. I worked on her dairy farm in exchange for room and board, and worked two part-time jobs in town. This was very difficult, because I saw Ben only about once every three weeks, and I couldn't go to any church because I had no transportation. My aunt treated me as less than a servant, and my uncle was gone more than not. When I say this, I'm not being dramatic--she insisted that I say please to the dogs if I wanted them to do something, but refused to say please to me, in effect putting me beneath the dogs. Even though I did everything she told me to, and did it well (she admitted), she would get angry with me for not doing more. I think God had me go through this to teach me to live with difficult people, because my boss at work was also difficult. He would curse out the other employees, and three people had quit my job before I came and stayed. I never complained or questioned him, and I think he respected me, because I was the only one he never called foul names. However, life with Aunt Mary grew harder, because she was jealous of Uncle Bob's attention. She hadn't had to share him for many years, and she didn't like him giving me attention. Once she asked him to get her a glass of tea, and when I asked the same, she chewed me out. In November, I decided that it was time for me to go, and I visited my family in PA for a month, moving back in December.

For a short time I lived with my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Mike, trying to find a nanny position, so that I could board, take care of kids, and go to school. God provided awesomely, and at the last minute. (my God is a last-minute God) I moved in with the Wynnes. Spencer and Paula started by telling me that this was now my house, and I was to treat it as such. Spencer told me that I could paint my room if I so chose, and after the third telling, I took him seriously. In my parents' house, I wasn't allowed to hang things on the wall; here, I painted the room in deep purple outlined with pine green. I had always dreamed of having a purple room!!! I had a sanctuary again! Through the months, Spencer and Paula have put up with my car troubles and all the inconveniences that go with that -- when Wallace died they worked with me to find a car, and never once showed any impatience at all about the inconvenience caused by having only two vehicles for over a MONTH. They honestly treat me like family! I never knew what it felt like to be homesick until my recent visit to Pennsylvania, when I missed my family here so much. They missed me too. And more than anything, every time I mess up they just help me pick up the pieces! Oh, and Gabe and William are very special to me too. Gabe is a very godly seventeen-year-old guy with whom I have deep talks, and William is fourteen, and very much like me at his age, except he doesn't seem to have the heart for God that I had then. He lives more with his mom than with us, and that affects him a lot. She's a lot like my dad; all practicality and no free affection. William is very responsible and antisocial, much like I was. So anyway, this is my spiritual family, and I thank God for them so much. He has done so much in my life through them!

Another awesome thing about my family; they're black! I've never been racist in a malicious way, but as I have lived with the Wynnes, I came to realize that there was subconscious racism in me. I hadn't realized it, but when I looked at a white person, I saw a person, and when I looked at a black person, I saw a black person. Now I pay less and less attention to skin color, and it excites me to see the change. Also, I was always a little uncomfortable around black people, because I didn't want to act in a way that would make them think I was racist, but now that also is fading! And lastly, I had had a fear of black men, because I had been told by well-meaning but stupid adults that they were extra-sexual, and I had to be very careful not to let them think I was interested in them or they'd come on to me. No. That idiotic belief is also going away, and I am very glad to see it go.

My overwhelming desire for the past five years has been to learn to have 2-way conversations with God. Well, on June 14th, I was writing in my journal, which I committed back to recently, and I was utterly, terribly, hopelessly discouraged. I wanted so much to connect with God, and it just wasn't happening! Then I remembered that elya addresses all of her journal entries as letters to Jesus, and I decided to try that. I started writing-- and he wrote back!!! Well, I wrote it down as he spoke it to me. We were talking! Not out loud, but in an even better way because now I'd be able to remember every word! YAY! I was so excited, but scared that it was just my ultra-powerful imagination, or that it would only happen this once. But he reassured me on both of those! I still am waiting for my faith to be stronger on it being his voice and not mine, but I am slowly growing in that faith. What is SOOOOOOOOOO awesome about all this is that in at least three of the prophecies that God gave me, He had told me to journal! I was so happy upon realizing that he had been just as anxious to start communicating 'for real.' And now I am learning his voice, and I can hear him sometimes just normally! (it's much harder, but this has helped so much) See, always before my mind was just too busy and refused to listen to him, but when I write I use the chattering part of my mind to write down what we say, so I can actually concentrate on hearing him! I asked him why he chose this way, and he said partly because I was sad about not being able to remember things he said (through other people's prophesies) and also because it uses my gift of writing, but chiefly because I love to be different, and he created me that way! Isn't that so wonderful???

Then my newfound gift was proven false in one statement. My whole faith was shaken, because I knew that was God in the same way I knew that I have brown hair, yet it was wrong! How could it be? God later explained that my trust was like a bone that had been broken and healed wrong, and needed to be re-broken in order to heal correctly. My trust had been broken by parents and friends, and then healed by the love of Rebecca and Ben, when it needed to be healed by Him alone. God and I are slowly rebuilding my faith... and I've discovered that part of faith is believing in the seemingly impossible.

On December 13th of 2003, I got married to Ben, and that was a catalyst for my growth in ways I'd never have dreamed possible -- partly due to issues that arose from so much intimacy, and partly because of the gift of counseling that the wonderful Susan Craig bestowed on us. Through counseling, we've had immense changes in our lives. I discovered that my spirit was captive, discovered that I had unhealed woundings of many kinds and unforgiveness that was hindering me, and was freed. The result is that I am much more free, able to make love with wild abandon, able to believe in my beauty, able to accept my gifts, able to be the woman I've thought of as 'the real Kristen' for so many years. It blows my mind. I'm so much closer to being who I really am. Ben also had powerful changes, but that's really his story.

When my gifts were unlocked, I began to search for a way to use them, and discovered a modeling/photography site of considerable repute with great resources, so I decided to set up a portfolio. Within a few hours I had 17 emails, and continued to be flooded with emails -- photographers practically clamouring to shoot me. This had the odd result of helping me see my body as a whole. Rather than seeing only the two things I consider to be my faults, I see my whole self-- and am pleased! This is a novel experience for me, and a wonderful one. I like looking in the mirror now. I love my body the way it is. The thing I have struggled with since age 11 -- my belly -- I now love. I wouldn't trade it for any other. I have really accepted myself.

My hunger is for my trust in God to become perfect, for my faith to multiply, and for me to be more in love with Him than any other human ever has. I just yearn to be best friends with Him. Eventually I will minister through music -- singing and songwriting. I also want to serve him though counseling, eventually through Ben and I counseling married couples.

My worst experiences are my best experiences; Pain is the left upswing of the pendulum, and growth is the right upswing. You can only grow as much as you are willing to allow yourself to be hurt, I believe. God pulled me from a protective shell to a vulnerable life, but that was the only way that I could communicate with and serve him truly.

My passion is to minister to the misunderstood people. The world shoves so many people into a box, trapping them with stereotypes, often 'religious' ones. That hurts me, and I want God to use me to bring truth, to SHOUT that he is not a snobby God! To show people that he loves them the way they are, and that he hates sin because it destroys them! I want to kill the lies. I want people to see his love, his desire to be their friend and comforter and protector.
Tags: life story

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