No Spoons

My sister Jessie had a flushed, splotchy pink face and dried tears on her eyes in the Sacrament meeting of our Mormon church as I watched her scribble her best likenesses of Simba and Pocahontas in the hymnals found in front of our pew. The church was packed and cold as custom while we sat in our usual bench located right next to one of the doors to make a break for it once Mom grabbed her purse and scriptures consisting of old testament/new testament/book of Mormon and whispered “Come on, s’go!” But until then we waited. My hair is probably never going to move again even after I get this strangling, ridiculous beaded ponytail out of it. Most times I get scissors to finally cut it off because it’s so wound up and double knotted it hurts. It’s feels worse taking it out than it does choking my hair in place, leaving me with a permanent splotchy-red face lift for church. Mom doesn’t like it when I cut my hair, I don’t care, at least maybe she wouldn’t get so angry at it and use it against me before church. I know I have the scratches on my forehead this morning, I have to close my eyes when she brushes it back so I don’t get the bristles of our community Goody brush in my eyes. Jessie doesn’t know better. She’s three years younger than me, she just puts her hands over her face and cries and bawls. She’s the loudest and most dramatic, but she doesn’t try cut her hair off like me. I tried to cut bangs to have less hair for her frustrated death-grip and Mom got so mad! Besides she still adds the bangs to my annoyingly high blonde ponytail. She hides the scissors but I know she keeps them on top of the large buffet Dad made her above her sewing kit. She doesn’t think I can get way up there but I pull the highchair from the kitchen over to stand on then stack books and then climb the shelves to the tip top, then I put back the highchair so she doesn’t figure me out. She doesn’t care about anybody’s hair unless it’s Sunday.

We stand up for our favorite part, hymns. I look over at Amy, my older sister and break into a painful smile that hurts with my tightened cheeks. We play our hymnals are librettos and have a competition of who can sing the strongest bass-baritone and highest soprano. The cool thing about Mom is she doesn’t care unless she’s in A Mood. She doesn’t know what it means to be embarrassed or ashamed, thank Heavens. One less thing. After we are done with our ghastly scales of operatic impressions we wait for the other good part: Sacrament. Prayers are said and a group of young men known as priesthood holders head to the front for the passing of communion. Our stomachs are growling as the young man assigned to our area eyes us warily in his approach. We each grab handfuls of the bread, not regarding the strategically cut half-inch pieces prepared for the entire congregation along with the little paper shot glasses of water. Mom does nothing this time to hinder or stop us, which is a good thing because we only have a jar of mayonnaise and some stale ground granola at home. Besides we don’t have any spoons. Amy says Mom sold the food stamps for money but I don’t know why we don’t have more food if she got real money for it. Mom skipped the Sacrament bread and water again. She said it’s because she’s been smoking her cigarettes this week, which is a very bad thing. At least she’s not a liar, which would probably be worse than being a smoker.

We then move to the worst part- folks bearing their testimony. Boring to the max! They always begin with “Hello, my name is Whatever, and I know this church is true…” Then they go on and on and on forever until there’s nothing more to say then they keep going. This is the part that we usually get up and leave early, not on account of Mom getting bored, but her getting angry with us. Jessie starts lifting up her poofy dress because the insides are itching her skinny legs, Amy starts smacking her gum and failing at her many attempts to blow bubbles. “Be REVERENT,” Mom hisses. She goes through her purse with exaggerated loudness, shoving the contents this way and that, the people in the surrounding pews are staring. They stare most of the time anyway because the way Amy dresses. You are SUPPOSED to wear a dress, you HAVE to wear a dress if you’re a girl, and she doesn’t. All of the Mormon girls flick their eyes over her in disgust, even the old ladies who smell like our attic. Mostly Amy wears black pants and a black shirt like she’s a boy going to an unknown person’s funeral. Mom doesn’t like it but Amy just disappears like my older half-siblings before church if Mom tries to force her in a dress. She finally gives us her nasty gum that doesn’t make bubbles as a last ditch attempt at calming us down, the gum Amy’s been chewing. Then after she’s had enough she gathers us up loud enough to make Mr. or Mrs. Whatever pause from their long-winded spiel to stare before she says “Get up! S’go!!”

Today marks one year since I quit smoking. I am twenty-eight. I started smoking cigarettes when I entered high school but was truly addicted to Nicotine at the much younger age of six when I first was introduced to Nicorette gum from my Mother at church. Though I personally am no longer Mormon if I ever truly was, I have nothing bad to say about their church. I believe all the badmouthing of other denominations than one’s own is counter productive and harmful to the real church, the body of Jesus Christ. As for my mother, dear reader, Beloved, please hold her up in prayer, that if she doesn’t know the Lord now that she may turn to Him and find peace and comfort in Him. I pray God will heal you of any pain you are suffering now, I pray He will provide you with strength and courage to overcome any addictions or afflictions you may have and that He will guide you as you mature into the person that He designed you to be. God bless!

 

Doubts in the Blueprint

Is the action of being truthful dishonorable to those in whom one is discussing if their actions are less than honorable? Before I can proceed in writing my story I feel I must abate this question that’s tugging at me and creating such doubt…

I am besides myself, I’m nervous yet absolutely ecstatic about getting my story out there and pointing people to the answer: Jesus! I am preparing myself on this journey by getting in the word every day at least a chapter a day, which doesn’t sound like much but it is something I can commit to. I’m still new to all of this, every time I’d read my bible I’d just flip around different areas and break it into fragments, discovering that (other than Jesus) my favorite person is Paul. He was so bold, so courageous, so humble, such a different man than who he used to be before Christ came into his life. He describes himself as “less than the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8) and “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Love this guy. He was such a bad man before, known then as ‘Saul’ who “made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragged men and women off to prison,” (Acts 8:3). A few months back I felt God lead me to read the book of Acts, and continued reading to see the transformation Paul made and learn from his teachings and discipleship. On a side note, how different the American church is from what scripture tells us in Acts 2:40-47! A building we choose to devote our time (usually an hour, once a week) based on the type of music that’s played, where the best childcare is, what preacher gives us the best message, with a dogged incessant demand for more money to spend on debts, lighting, building maintenance, hiring the best bands… and we hop around trying different one’s to fit our every need and expectation. Don’t even get me started on churches in the South! But I digress, more on that soon.

ANYWAYS, since I’ve been consistent in reading the word I landed today on Ephesians 6. Before I even opened my bible this morning I had the same doubt which has kept me from blogging (I will begin writing my book when I can afford a computer, estimated sometime this November) which is the whole “honor your father and your mother” commandment. The first description that pops up on Dictionary.com for “honor” is honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. In my heart to honor is to respect someone, to show credit and hold them in a high regard. If I am honest and fair I am also truthful. If the person is not respectable, not good, and not fair how can I honor them? It now becomes an internal issue, there is nothing good I can say about my mother so I do not discuss her, and I do not discuss with her. I haven’t spoken to her in seven years (except a try-out or two on Facebook). I have been faced with the issues of forgiving and honoring her since I became a Christian. How can I forgive someone who isn’t sorry? How can I honor someone who is entirely dishonorable? I’ve been a follower of Christ since December of 2014. It wasn’t until March of 2016 this year that I made a list for God of all those I hadn’t forgiven, the reason I held the grudge, how they made me feel for what they did or didn’t do, then the reason I was choosing to forgive them. I wasn’t forgiving to accept or condone their behavior, I was forgiving to free myself from the pain and suffering attached to bitter unforgiveness. It was truly incredible what happened in my heart after I read each name aloud to God and told Him things like “I am not condoning their behavior, but I am choosing to forgive (person’s name) because I want to be free of the anger, bitterness and resentment I have in my heart. I trust You to deal with this person justly and fairly, something I cannot do. For you have said ‘Vengeance is Mine’ (Romans 12:19) and I leave that with You, God.” At the end of the list I had my name, the hardest one I had to forgive. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but I have been free ever since of the anger and acrid hatred I had toward those on my list. Many and most I will never see or speak to again, but now they don’t have any power over me, for I am free.

Back to my mother… I have forgiven her but will likely never speak to her again. There are so many reasons, so many things that all added up to leave us sadly not on speaking terms. If I tell this to you, dear friend, am I committing sin? Am I dishonoring her by telling you stories of my past? My only intention is to reach others out there who have seen what I’ve seen, are going through what I’ve been through, are considering making mistakes that are bigger than life, mistakes that forbear one from  eternal life which can only be found in Jesus Christ. I’ve been praying and speculating on this for so long, but feel if I truly am purposed to lead others to Christ by sharing my story I cannot avoid it. I request that you, dear reader, pray for me, that I will abide in the Lord and be fearless and bold in sharing my past, for edification and not for deleterious influence. Let me know your thoughts! For God has given me a heart for the lost, I have such turmoil over women and girls out there who don’t have the Lord. If I am honest and my intentions are to make use of my sufferings to bring the lost to the Kingdom of God, surely the truth of my upbringing is not sin. And if I am to obey Him first I need to remember “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me” Matthew 10:37.

The Point of Suffering

I’m learning that every trial I have endured is so that I may help others in turn who are suffering the same ways that I have. This may seem like common sense to the average Christian, but before I gave my life to Jesus I believed in such things as luck, fate, and destiny. I thought there was some sort of invisible spiritual sign on my forehead telling others to hurt me, mistreat me, use me. When I reached adulthood I learned how to play the game, how to hurt others, the sweet succulence of revenge.

It has taken the worse-half of my adulthood to realize life isn’t a game to win or lose, there is no such thing as luck, only God can bless us according to His divine will. The trials and tribulations we go through are governed by His sovereignty, He allows bad things to happen to us so that we may turn to Him for guidance and strength. When we grow closer to Him, I believe we still suffer and don’t always get our way so that we may learn to seek Him first, whether for good or for bad. How unsatisfying is a relationship with someone who only comes to you when they need something? I believe the more we build our relationship with the Lord the more we learn to seek Him first, before all things so that He can show us His love and faithfulness even as we suffer through the trials of this world.

As I learn and develop a loving and intimate bond with the Lord, I’m able to appreciate Him so much for the depths of His forgiveness. I have high hope now that beyond this new and exciting relationship I have with Him I will be able to encourage others through their trials and doubts by sharing my experiences. We were never meant to go at it alone, we will never succeed unless we depend on Him and learn to encourage each other. How awesome the Lord is! To know that all the pain and suffering I’ve endured was all for a divine purpose and not just because of bad luck is so astounding, so inspiring, so emboldening!

I pray the Lord will guide you in your walk, that He will teach you His ways and rain His blessings down on you and your family. I pray He will heal you of your pain and suffering, that He will work through you to glorify Himself and that you will be a wonderful instrument made pure and new by Him. May God place you within His perfect will and strengthen you to encourage and uplift everyone around you as a bright candle in the midst of darkness. May your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (Colossians 4:6). Amen!

“Blessed be our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” -2 Corinthians 3-6

 

Repeat Lessons for the Stubborn Hearted

Doubt and regret will eat you alive if you let it. My past sickens me at times, I get on the memory train and can’t seem to get off. I have strung-out periods of thought, hours can go by and I’m trapped in a memory, tantalized and tortured by the details. My past choices grip me, holding me captive in a covert tryst, modern entertainment, my own personal show. My perceptive reality now convicts me of my unscrupulous past, and now I am gripped with fear of any contingency…

It’s not like I am infallible now, being a new creature in the Lord. The past two weeks have been lovely, my husband was on leave and it was our first anniversary yesterday 7/31/16. He surprised me with a trip up to Atlanta, GA for the weekend. It’s been months since I’ve had a drink, though not because I believe it is wrong but because my husband is sagaciously inclined concerning our low budget as of late and also my very serious issue with abuse. There is something deeply wrong with me, most people can have a few drinks socially, some champagne and wine for an anniversary. Most of the time I am okay, and by “most” I mean about 80% of the time. Every time I drink it’s like playing drunken roulette, it can go from fun, positive exuberance to disappearing down the middle of the streets of Atlanta during our anniversary dinner. It is a very good thing my husband is a Ranger in the Army and quite capable of tracking me down and rescuing me when I’ve lost all control.

I tell myself my memory walks have a purpose, the re-opening of old wounds will somehow make them less painful. It is easier to just forget but what was the point of it all then? Why do I stumble on the same roadblocks? I do believe there is a reason for all the suffering I have experienced in my life, and will continue to suffer if I don’t put God first. I’ve learned what happens when I drink, it’s the same as any drug I’ve abused, but somehow in my mind I justify it because it is legal and quite biblical to drink some wine. Though once I have some, I don’t have the judgement to leave it at that. It is certainly more disheartening for me to know the truth, and not abide in it. The messes I made in the past were before I knew God, before I tasted sweet salvation and before I learned what love really is. I am entirely dubious of my ability to restrain myself, only God can do that. Whenever I try to call up my so-called “willpower” I fall on my face and wake up in a bed of regret with an earthquake between my temples.

It’s a battle trying to overcome the shame of my past, I have to remind myself that I have already been forgiven and that God will never forsake me. Even though I screw up still, I make mistakes, I completely blow it, God is faithful and forgiving. No one can measure the depths of His love and understanding. And He really knew what he was doing when he gave me such an understanding and patient husband.

“Though He give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, He will be with you to teach you- with your own eyes you will see your Teacher.” -Isaiah 30:20

My dream is to share my story by writing a book, I truly feel this is God’s purpose for me and would be very pleased if you would hold me up in prayer, advice on these blogs or through donation. For more information about my story and how you can support please check out my site at Gofundme.com/ElizabethGudel 

 

 

 

Really, God?

Putting my life’s scandals on the line with the dirty laundry and my husband’s battered Army gear is NOT my idea of a good time or a release of bottled-up emotions. I learned a long time ago to get the thoughts out on paper then burn them in the fireplace to get them out of me and out of the hands of anyone who could use my thoughts against me. Alas, here I am diving into unknown waters after my Lord tells me to jump. I started reading The Power Of A Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian a couple weeks ago to learn how to pray for my husband concerning all areas of his life such as his work, health, purpose, finances, his relationship with his future children *hopefully* coming and his relationship with God. Yesterday as I was reading her entry on his relationships where I came across Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift.” 

Well… As I said in my last post I am fairly new, a baby Christian with a heck of a past, still trying to figure things out. Since February this year I’ve felt a deep need to share my story, to help others who have been through what I’ve been through find Jesus, the only One who can save and heal. The problem with that is talking about my family, respecting their privacy, keeping their secrets, and most of all my father. He’s such a different man than he was then, I couldn’t possibly go forward about the past once I’ve finally made it to “good terms” with him. Yesterday as I read that passage I realized God has no grandchildren, that my dad is also my brother and I needed to reconcile with him before offering any gift to the kingdom. I needed to call my father, apologize to him for being such a rebellious child and ALSO dig up old dirt about his abuse toward me. I called my mentor, my husband and a close friend to saturate the prospective conversation I was to have in prayer. I was so nervous, this is the sort of thing one should do in person but I’m out here in Fort Benning, GA and my dad’s back home in Folsom, CA, and I really really felt like I had to call him. We never talked about the past but I forgave him long ago and started building a wonderful relationship with him a year and a half ago when I was saved. I was completely blindsided by his reaction; he said if his heart could smile he’s grinning inside out, he said he could never be more proud or happy to have me for his daughter and that he was deeply, deeply regretful for how he used to be. My mother did absolutely everything she could to destroy him, and I think somehow when I was young I reminded him of her. We didn’t get that deep, but that’s my thinking on why he was so resentful and angry with me above my sisters and brothers. He told me to read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver as it reminded him of himself and my sisters, and gave me his entire blessing with this journey I have with writing ahead of me.

Anyways, I feel there’s nothing holding me back from beginning this writing and sharing journey except my own doubts. I pray God won’t let me make a fool of myself, that He won’t let me be ashamed- I’ve had more than my share of shame in this lifetime. And who the heck am I to write? I’m neither witty nor punctual, proud or haughty. I am not a savvy person, I don’t even know what that means! I don’t know anything about writing except for the essays and papers I had to complete in college, I’ve never studied it, I just read! Obviously I’m assuming a more relaxed format here as the purpose of this blogging experience is for open discussion, not grammatical punctuality and correction, but I digress. I pray I’m not just drowning myself in hot tar, chicken feathers and all for everyone else’s amusement and judgement. I pray that if God wants me to blog and tweet and start writing my book that He will fill me with an unquenchable desire to do so and provide me with the strength and courage to do it. I pray that He will give me the words to use and a teachable heart as I go forth on this mission trip. I also pray he will give my husband patience with me as I learn and grow, and lastly that He will provide us with the means to spend this time putting together this work He has put out for me. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

I have already personally donated to this cause. Would you join me? Please check out my site for more on my story and prayer requests at Gofundme.com/ElizabethGudel

First blog post: Finding Grace

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I dream to write a book sometime very soon, I have quite the story to tell and I’m here for feedback and comments as I go forth with my writing journey. I feel I can give bits and pieces here, put it out there and see what happens. Please leave me any feedback you may have! I’ve never felt compelled to tell my story to anyone and never imagined I would write a book. I was a Psychology student, about one semester from attaining my Bachelor’s degree in Sacramento, CA when I realized I didn’t want to spend my life administering to crazy people and label them based on a set of symptoms to make a living. The idea of writing my story is not to make a profit, either, but for what I feel God has called me to do. To be honest, the idea of talking about my past terrifies me and I feel the only way I can get it out is to write, however laconic that may be for a while. I became a follower of Christ in December of 2014 and have since transformed entirely. Before you go thinking this is going to be some esoteric Jesus party, hang on to your hat.

My childhood was very sad, I was abused and neglected, searching for love the only way a little girl can- by finding value in what the world told me I had. I was pretty, so pretty my mother never had trouble finding some random person to watch us girls. My mother put me into the hands of a modeling agency where I achieved a certificate of completion after two years at Barbizon when I was twelve (a total scam, come to find out) where I learned to pose, put on makeup, act and walk runway. As I reached my adult years I started modeling for multiple companies, the most widely known being Playboy. I’m still rather young physically (28) but I’ve seen and done so much it feels like an eternity. During that time and among the gregarious company I kept, I was rewarded with more money than I knew what to do with, people vying for my time and attention, the jealousy of other women pretending to be my friend in the highly competitive industry… The world rewarded me for my lascivious lifestyle and I believed I’d finally made it on top. I perniciously kept myself fueled with toxic relationships and chemicals, searching always searching for control of my heart. If I kept my heart closed with my soul buried deep inside it then nothing could hurt me, I’d tell myself over and over like a mantra. In my never ending disillusionment I became a stripper, a dancer at multiple different “high-end” clubs, Sacramento, San Francisco, Reno, then to Las Vegas. Then I got real sophisticated and became a webcam performer. Adelante! I eventually ended up robbed on the streets of Las Vegas with no family, no friends, and nothing but the clothes on my back and my empty heart. I was at the end of my rope at age 26 in June of 2014. It felt like I was born to be used, created to suffer, made for precarious purposes.

I was able to get in contact with a friend in Santa Clara by email and stayed with him, detoxing and screaming at the voices in my head. A few months later I moved in with a girlfriend from the past, the only true friend (as it turns out) I had in the industry we both clawed our way out of. She pointed me to Jesus, and since I have accepted Him as my Lord and called upon His name, my life has been turned inside out. I’ve grown such a heart, I’ve learned to love people and truly care about others as I never knew how to before. He has filled my life with meaning and purpose, He blessed me with a loving husband who helps me grow and challenges me to progress in life, He restored my health to me, helped me reconcile with each member of my broken family, taught me to forgive others and pray for those who hurt me in the past. I just can’t believe I was so spiritually blind and ignorant before, I never gave Him a chance, but he chose to give one to a wounded and soiled dove like me. I am so excited to share the gospel and bring women in the industry closer to Jesus! I know my purpose now is to share my story by writing so that others who can relate will turn to Him. I know now that my suffering was all a part of God’s path for me, that I would arrive at His intended purposes for my life’s long and painful journey not a minute late to bring other women still trapped in the corrupt industry of sexual hustling. I pray that you won’t have to suffer as I’ve suffered to realize the God of the universe is very real and ready to open His arms to you, bless you and give you everlasting life. May the Lord place you within His perfect will and hide you in the shadow of His cross, bless you with a life of joy, peace and everlasting love.

I have already personally donated to this cause. Would you join me? Please check out my site for more on my story and prayer requests at Gofundme.com/ElizabethGudel