What you are about to read, is nothing short of REDEMPTION.  It is my sister’s story.  Some of her story is mine, but being 7 1/2 years apart, has left her story uniquely hers.  (God has met both her and I exactly where we needed Him to; though, our stories are different, they are the same.  They are both signed by the same Author – Jesus Christ!)  Shaina and I pray hope and healing for all who read these words.  May I just say, she is my miracle!  God has used her, and still is (!), to show me more of Him, more of His Love, and more of how He truly sees us!  I pray for you now, may your heart and mind be opened to the things of God – His broke open for the things of you!

Well, here I am typing up what seems like so long wrapped up in only 22 years…and it is just the beginning. God is Healer and there IS freedom in surrender. I know this because this is the first time I have reflected with praise instead of questions of why interweaved in a web of emotions that I cannot separate. A lot of my life I have just existed…but now, now I live fully, just like He promises. I hope God shows the power of Life in Him through me. Through this life He has begun to create a story. Before I continue, I want you to know I have prayed for you while reading this…that you will not see a transformed girl but a King’s love for His daughter…all this story is about Him and oh, how He loves….

Momma calls me a miracle baby…apparently when I was born I died before coming out because I wrapped the cord around my neck which called for an emergency c-section. I do not remember much from my childhood. But here is what I do remember: I never really had a permanent place to call home. I did not know how long we were going to be at this apartment or this house. I also had no idea how long this guy, this new “Dad” was going to last until he left for whatever reason. I spent every other weekend with my real dad. Elementary school was rough for me. Let me give you a peak… I broke my second grade teachers arm by pushing out a chair to slow her down. I had to do anything not to end up back at the principal’s office! I just knew she would call my mom again and I could not imagine my mom glaring at me with those eyes…once again. I was suspended from elementary school countless times. I remember being locked in a room in my elementary school until my mom came because I would not stop throwing things and hitting people.  I am not sure why they did not expel me, but I am thankful. I remember having to sleep on the floor a couple nights while living in an apartment because one of my mom’s boyfriend’s girlfriends threatened to come shoot us. I remember throwing things at my sister. Gosh, I was so angry and I do not know why. I do not know why I did any of those things….

Middle school I started on my boy craze. 6th grade I kissed my first high school boy and more…I lost my virginity when I was in the 8th grade.

High school…oh boy…well, freshman year I transferred to a new school.  I went through about 10 boyfriends just in that first year. My sophomore year I found a best friend. I fell in love with her family. Her parents were still together and she also had a little brother. They were so happy. I had never seen anything like it!  Up to that point in my life I was positive that was just in movies…a family still together and so happy. I was so in love with the picture they displayed….they gave each other so many hugs and kisses and said “I love you” through words and actions all day long like it was so natural. I learned that touch did not have to be awkward, that it did not have to betray. The words I love you” really did mean “I love you” instead of “I want something”. But this picture was soon distorted. One thing led to another and my friend and I came to be in a girlfriend-girlfriend relationship. I realized months later that this was definitely wrong. However, she was not my last girlfriend. It felt good to get that attention, so I continued down a destructive path full of lies, deceit, and lust.

Freshman year of college I was in an emotionally and physically abuse relationship. I worked at a pizza place in my home town, and so did a certain boy. Well, after months of asking me to go to church with him, I finally caved, while still being in the same homosexual relationship. Only one Sunday and already I felt so overwhelmed with feelings I had never experienced and could not put into words yet. They were so strong, so sure, so peaceful that they compelled me to break off the relationship that I had been in for seven months – that night! Goodness, God is big…! The boy soon became the boyfriend and then a fiancé. We were together for about 2 months when I met a good friend who became my accountability partner, and my relationship with Christ grew. However, something just was not right…I felt like there was more. I literally felt like I heard God say, “Shaina I have SO much more for you.” So, I broke up with my fiancé after eight months of being together. The month following I did not question what I did but I did question my relationship with God. I was so lonely, empty…I didn’t realize how much I had relied on that boy!  It was so hard…I thought it was “too hard”.  In result, I pushed my accountability partner away due to hurt and pride…really I was trying to hide how much I was struggling and did not want to confess that I felt so lost.

I was a church camp counselor that summer, my second time at church camp; my first was when I was a little girl – which I do not really remember. While I was at camp I was emotionally involved in an unhealthy relationship. I caved once again, and I dismissed myself from camp. This time, I became an alcoholic, doing and dealing drugs, and working at the wrong places. I thought this was what I was missing…I remember getting so much adrenaline when I thought about going to the next party. But I remember when I was at parties, I would lock myself in a room or the bathroom and cry my eyes out because God was tugging on my heart so hard.  I knew He made me for something SO much more! There was a spiritual war going on within me and I could feel it. I know this past paragraph sounds so messy…that is exactly what it was! I wanted the worldly life, because I was so good at it. I knew how to work to get anything I wanted. On the other hand, I wanted Jesus and the life that I felt He planted in my head and heart – the life that He wanted for me but from my past I felt I just was not good enough.

After almost two years of fighting for control and what I thought was life, I gave my heart to Christ again, but this time for good! I had tried throughout these two years to break free from this lifestyle of dark sin, but I kept doing it with my own strength and I knew it. I kept going back and forth and people had given up hope on me or at least the devil seemed to be yelling in my ear that they had.

Finally I stopped relying on my own strength and relied on the One who saves!! He helped me cut ALL ties…deleted my Facebook, email, quit my job, and got rid of my phone. Literally everything! I cannot put into words the emotions I felt during this season of my life. I have never cried so hard. I learned what it meant to literally cry myself to sleep. But bigger and better things happened that triumphed over those endless nights of tears and desperation. God taught me how to cry out for Him, how to depend on His Word, DAILY BREAD. This was one of two seasons that I lost everything, but gained everything. I can honestly say with the fullest of joy that God NEVER wastes pain!  God promises bigger things than the things that were lost. He is my reward! With all of that said, this was the first season in my life that really allowed me to focus on Jesus’ plan for my life. What a foreign thought for me at the time, but I was so in love with Him that I could care less what His plans were.

That spring, January 2011, I went to Indiana Wesleyan University. I LOVED IT! I met Christian girls who were actually living out their faith and not just claiming the label. They loved me for who I was and did not put any judgment or expectation on me. The professors were the most loving and motivating people I have ever met. I did not walk one day around that campus without seeing somebody praying over someone. I call it my little slither of heaven. I fell in love with this bubble that made me feel so protected.

That summer I came home and I started struggling with drinking again but in secret. I thought I could hang out with my friends and maybe help them see a better life, but I was definitely not strong enough. The only person I told was my boyfriend.  So, I became co-dependent on the boy to “save” me…a second time. He basically kept me just busy enough that I could fight the urges, again leaning on my strength, not His. The boy went to a different Christian University…and I followed. I took my life into my own hands and basically set in stone a future for he and I, and basically what I was saying to God was that I did not want to trust His plan. (The moral of the story: wait on His plan!) So, here I went to another college by following a boy, and I went with a snobby attitude and with expectations created from my last amazing University experience.  Expectations can truly kill…especially when they are not met!  Nothing about this new experience was the same as my last – to me it was way worse!

One night at the beginning of the semester, I just got back to my dorm from work when I found out my boyfriend had been arrested for doing drugs. I HAD NO IDEA! I cannot put into words the emotions I was feeling. I think I was terrified the most because I had no idea who this person was that I invested my future in. I was so broken and scared because I could not believe someone I thought was so close to me could deceive me THAT much. Well, because I was so confused and because I loved him, I tried to make it work. However, it did not work! We got to the very beginning of the spring semester of 2012 and I could not do it anymore. He could not stop lying and I had come to terms that he was living a lifestyle of sin, not just sinning…there is a huge difference (thanks to my sissy and my brother in law, I have a better understanding on this). It took me SO long to break free (when I finally learned to lean on God’s strength) that I did not want to be anywhere around it. It was brutal. I struggled with loneliness and depression which became so bad that I had to stay with my best friend and her husband for a while.

During this second time when I lost everything,again, I began to gain everything plus more. God had made everything so clear and He is so gracious (thank goodness) to me about how I took things into my own hands. The remainder of that Spring semester was AMAZING!! One of the best seasons in my life yet!! God has developed a thankful spirit in me, for everything! My relationship with Christ grew 5 steps deeper and 10 steps wider. I was, more and more, learning how God sees me and why I am here. I was overflowing with His love and felt more prepared for the deserts and valley’s ahead! I found the importance and beauty, oh my goodness the beauty, of friendships, of a support system! The main thing that God gave me that semester is an aching heart for His people!! That is why I am here and if that means opening up the door for someone, dropping off a secret note, working in an orphanage in Asia, or just simply crying with a friend, THAT is what I am here for…to serve His people.

In March of that semester, with a heart developing for ministering to His people, God prepared a way for me to do just that. God had saved two spots on a ministry team at my University. One spot was for me and one spot was for Ashley, a friend who God has placed in my life for so many reasons! This summer on ministry team, I got a glimpse at full-time ministry. Man, I LOVE it! This summer was exhausting, but the rewards far outweigh how tired I was. I also learned so much through my team. I learned what true family meant. We had to lean into each other as we leaned into God and it was such a beautiful picture for others to see.

Also, during April I began to unexpectedly and suddenly start liking a boy named Logan. During the time I was getting to know him, I was also learning and healing so much!  We have now been together, officially, going on three months. I have felt more peace than I ever have in my life! I never would have pictured God bringing someone into my life so soon. After the type of year I had, I was loving life with just Jesus. I finally relied on Him only. I felt like I could be single forever, and then God shows me Logan…literally, in my dreams. We met each other in our dreams…that is where is all began. It is all very romantic now that we actually like each other – ha.! We had the same exact dream, minus some details. The dream went like this for both of us…we were married, about to have some alone time, we had four children, and we lived in a glass house with a large green tree. WEIRD! Considering I struggling with nightmares up until the end of this summer (praise Jesus!!), it was strange for me to have any sort of good dream. So I texted him, which I never did and the only reason I had his number was if I needed to ask him something about work. I texted him and told him about my dream. Needless to say, he was freaked out and did not text me back about it until almost midnight that same night. He texted: “So I have something weird to tell you and it is about why I was freaked out earlier”…I had the same dream!”  This entire story is still so weird to us, but so awesome because Logan and I fully realize that our feelings have been developed by God alone. I always wanted a relationship that was so pure in every way and brought glory to God. Logan is the most amazing man of God that I have ever met. He leads me with tender, patient, unconditional love – with no expectations. It brings me to tears the healing that has been done in both of us and it is just the beginning. When I think of him, of us I am wowed at how I know without thinking twice that God smiles down on us daily. God has blessed us so much. I have never prayed for someone or something so deep.

I am currently on my last day of my very first three day, complete fast from food. Man, I definitely underestimated how hard fasting is but so worth it. During this fast I prayed for a few things…I prayed that Logan and I would continue to be protected, that we would develop a 1 Corinthians love, and I prayed for direction and peace for our relationship. I also prayed for this semester and that through all the craziness and business that I would remain grounded in each situation, so I can live fully right where I am each day. Lastly, I prayed for the un-forgiveness and bitterness in my heart towards other.

I am so blessed. I am still falling more and more in love with my Savior, Best Friend, Father, and Lover of My soul. I am daily captivated by His Beauty, how He sees me, how He wants to redeem me fully, how He wants to completely sanctify me, how He wants to bless me MORE!! I pray I continue to develop an all-out-there-don’t-even-think-twice-faith. “More of YOU, less of me.”, is what I want to leave you with. Draw near to Him and He WILL draw near to you. May you all find hope and healing…hopein the healing!