My name is Jennifer.
As far back as I can remember I have always struggled with feelings of shame, guilt, ugliness, and low self-esteem. I remember at a very young age feeling awkward for being curvier than other girls. I remember comparing myself to others, especially by middle school.
I did not value who I was aside from the physical outward shell which I was often told was lacking. Some of the earliest memories I have are being told that I had a “pretty face” but that I could be much more attractive if I worked to lose weight.
I faced sexual abuse at a young age which reinforced the mindset that the only value I had, was what was stripped from me physically.
This lead to thoughts and a lifestyle of self-destructive behavior by the time I was entering my teenage years. By 15, I was immersed in drug addiction. I allowed my past and other people’s opinions to define who I was on the inside. I was so filled with self- loathing and shame that my every waking moment was focused on numbing my internal battle.
I was utterly lost and alone. I didn’t feel that I had value or worth. And so I lived like it. I acted like it. A week after I turned 18, I dropped out of high school just a few months from graduation. I left home with my high school boyfriend and set about living my life as destructively as possible.
By the end of that year, I was 19, married but heading for divorce, living in government housing, trying to mother a newborn while my husband was in jail for possession of our drugs. Life was spinning out of control. Drugs and partying were the main things that drew us together and now as I struggled to create a new life for my child, we were discovering we had nothing left in common. I was feeling completely lost with no hope of life changing.
BUT THEN… someone saw the state we were in. Of all people, he was a door to door life insurance salesman. How ironic, that as my life was in total desperation, God sent a man selling life insurance, to share God’s love and salvation to us. Shannon had just been released from jail and we were trying to decide our future plans. This man saw and recognized our pain, our struggle, and he saw a flicker of hope for change, for something more…
He began telling us about this God who was able to step into our life and rescue us. How God had done it for him, so he knew God could do it for us. It was the most unlikely of meetings as we were sitting on the floor in our government housing apartment, this salesman led us in a simple prayer of salvation and introduced me to Jesus! And that began the most beautiful love story my heart could have ever of dreamed.
Jesus made himself and His love so irresistible to me that I wanted to know Him. I wanted to know more about this pure, unstainable love He had. I became just as consumed with finding out who I was in Christ as I was with drugs and my addictions. In time the love of Christ overwhelmed my addictions!
He spoke to my heart. He was saying things to me that I had longed to hear, but dared not believe at first. Pure. Spotless. Bride. Perfect. Worthy. Holy. Loved. Adored.
It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen over a few weeks, but rather over the next year as my husband, Shannon, and I both completely immersed ourselves into knowing Him and trusting Him. I found the Prince Charming my heart had been seeking all along, His name is Jesus.
I found that He did indeed rescue me from my distress. I was shielded by His Grace, filled with His irresistible love, claimed by His Heart, and surrounded by His Purity… I became the bride of Christ, truly spotless and pure in His sight.
And in a way that is so true to His nature, God rescued my soul mate as well. Side by side, we accepted Christ into our hearts. Side by side, we began the journey to sobriety. Side by side we were baptized in water. Side by side we felt the calling into ministry. Side by side, God has planted a deep vision in our hearts to lead others out of the lifestyle we were led out of.
We have a passion for ministering to the lost, the broken, desperate, the addicted, the unlovely.
God has given us a life vision to build a ministry that would specifically help children and teens who have been victims of abuse discover their value and worth just as we both did.
It has now been 15 years since Jesus introduced us to His irresistible love. He completely changed the direction of our lives. We have been able to build a solid healthy marriage on the foundation of Christ. We are both graduates of Central Bible College. We have three beautiful children and are currently nearing the end of the adoption of our foster daughter. We currently serve as Pastors of New Hope Family Church, which is a small rural community filled with people who need to know the hope and love of Christ.
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.