they would speak a thousand things

Hope

Why Mercy Multiplied?

Why Mercy Multiplied? It’s where the freedom’s at.Mercy Multiplied

This week I have been reflecting on my time at Mercy Multiplied (formerly Mercy Ministries until 2015). A friend of mine asked me if I recommend Mercy as a resource for someone struggling with cutting, addiction, depression, eating disorders or abuse, and why choose Mercy as the place to work through your issues. So to every woman who feels stuck in her addiction, trapped by her situation, or controlled by her behaviors, I want you to know that you can be happy, healthy, and best of all released from your bondage, and Mercy is one of the best tools to help you accomplish freedom.

Mercy Multiplied  is a free, nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling behaviors and situations, including eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. The amazing staff work with the goal that everyone can experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.

The age restrictions are 18-28 years old, for women only of course. The only exception is if she’s pregnant, and then they accept age 13-17 for that situation also. They have 4 locations all over the country, and the closest is the house I went to, in Lincoln CA. The program is amazing and supportive, they focus on helping you find and work through the root of your problems and resolve them and they also equip you to handle the outside world in a healthier way than you have in the past.

hardest part of journey is believing you're worth the trip

Mercy offers hope and freedom but the transformation from pain and addiction to restoration is not without challenges – I know from struggling for years with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts that asking for help, taking the hard road of health and healing, and working through all your issues is not an easy or fast process. But I can promise you that it is worth the journey.

I would absolutely recommend Mercy to anyone struggling with the above life-controlling issues or anyone who knows someone that is struggling. Check out their website at http://mercymultiplied.com/. One thing you should know if you know someone who is struggling is that Mercy is completely voluntary. Only the woman struggling with life-controlling behaviors or situations can apply to go to Mercy. This is not an organization that will accept a woman who is being forced into facing her issues and being healed. She has to truly want to go, want to put in the work and want to be FREE from whatever it is that’s crushing her happiness and success in life. On the same side of the coin, if she goes to Mercy and feels the program is not helping her find the freedom she wants, she has the power to leave at any time – Mercy is not about forcing anyone to find freedom if she doesn’t want it. But for those who sincerely want to find freedom from bondage, God is waiting to freely give it to you! Freedom is entirely possible for those who seek it, no matter what.free on the cliff

In my opinion, Mercy Multiplied is the best possible place you could go if you want to find help and healing from any destructive behavior or choices in your life. On a practical level, their program is very well thought-out, very organized and well-balanced. They provide everything you could need to be successful in life – from fitness to inspirational books on freedom to healthy diet to cooking and cleaning skills etc. – before sending you back out into the world. AND it’s free! Mercy is 100% run on donations from churches, organizations and individuals who believe in helping young women find freedom and hope! I am constantly amazed at the generosity of the donors and that because of their love for young women, Mercy exists to give hope and healing to anyone who asks without making a profit off our problems. I didn’t realize until after I graduated Mercy that the staff truly cared about my well-being and were there because they wanted to help and support me rather than coming to work just to get paid. Working with young women who are wrestling with tough issues are not always very easy to deal with, but even though it may be tough, the staff come to work because they want to help you. And that is a rare and beautiful thing in this jaded, secular world. 

The website has a wealth of information about the founder Nancy Alcorn (I’ve met her, she’s amazing!) the program, FAQs, and it is also where you can find the application. When I applied to Mercy I still wasn’t sure I really wanted to go. I applied, got accepted, got placed in a house, and got dropped off at the Lincoln house by my mom. Even on the day I arrived at Mercy I still wasn’t sure I wanted to be there. I was terrified. But I was desperate enough to stop cutting that I decided to try it with the hope that this program would help set me free, and by the immeasurable Grace of God, I am transformed, loved, forgiven and free today.

If you have any further questions about Mercy or my experience there, I’m happy to answer them! Comment below or contact me through email at leannewatkins14@gmail.com

{Stay Anchored in Christ. Hebrews 6:19}

life's roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors

 

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“Look at the individual, not the harm…”

This is a great article for those friends, parents, and mentors who know someone struggling with self harm and want to help but don’t know what to do or say. Check it out here:

“Look at the in….

Or find the full website here.

 


A Story of Forgivenss~Andrea’s Story

A Story of Forgivenss~Andrea’s Story.


Living with Scars: Finding Freedom from Self-injury by Lauren Bersaglio, Founder of Liberio Network

Living with Scars: Finding Freedom from Self-injury by Lauren Bersaglio, Founder of Liberio Network.


Sharing Your Story From Your Heart With All The Nitty Gritty.

Such a truthful post about the realities of sharing your story. Thank you, Valerie.


One Direction

One direction - dare to dream When I originally was thinking about the idea of why God made us with the need to focus on one thing at a time to be effective and productive back in July 2012, the boy band called One Direction was not really popular, at least not among my college-aged friends. But I put it on hold to post because I knew I had more to say about this topic, and could probably write forever about lots of things in the Bible. However, I figure now is the perfect time for this, because this issue is so relevant and this band is totally dominating the teenage-girl music charts right now!

One direction - bus and steps

So, join me as we concentrate on our One True Direction: getting closer to the heart of Jesus.

one way jesus 2

Just like we can only physically look in one direction at a time as a result of how our eyes are set in our heads, so spiritually, we can only look one way at a time. In this sense, we have one-track, or tunnel-vision. Some say moms have eyes in the back of their heads, but the reality is that they really only have one pair of eyes and are just very observant concerning the safety and conduct of their young children.

What would it be like if you could see multiple things – look in multiple directions – at the same time? I think it would be not only confusing, but very unfocused. Your life would lack clarity as your intellect and attention was constantly split in two (or more) places.

Are you overwhelmed by this picture? I sure am.

Are you overwhelmed by this picture? I sure am.

I think God made us with limited physical vision to not overwhelm our senses (of which he gave us an overabundance in FIVE of them!) but balance our awareness of the world around us. Sight is clearly important to Jesus in the New Testament, like when he heals two blind men in Matthew 20 and the blind man in John 9. Jesus even says in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”

Jesus turns his sights (pun intended) to our spiritual eyes as well. In Matthew 6:22-23 he says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Clearly, eyes are incredibly important to our spiritual health! God purposefully gave us spiritual tunnel-vision so that would could focus and put all our efforts, determination, faith and trust in Him as we seek that one thing. One goal at a time is not a narrow view of life. I think it is a very wide view: it allows one to complete the task at hand adequately by focusing all energies on that one thing without distractions. Thus, just like physically, if you are looking down, necessarily by definition, you cannot see what is above you. Now the question comes: if we have only one point of view, where do we look?

Jesus answered, i am the way

My answer is to God, the One who sees all and knows all! Where better to find the right direction to look than by asking the One who knows everything?! We are called as Christians to make prayerful and wise decisions concerning the direction we pursue in our lives. And sometimes, even if we think it’s the right one, God might tell us to go a different way. I personally take comfort in the fact that if I’m not going in the right direction, He will gently guide me to the right one.

Yet one place where we often get stuck as Christians is when we think we know better than God does about where we should be heading. Since He gave us the ability to choose which way we want to go, we always have the freedom to run in the opposite direction than where He intends for us. But one of my favorite things about God is that He is relentless. He will never, never, ever stop pursuing you, and he certainly will never give up on you. So when we stumble upon the wrong way on accident or run away from God out of rebellion, the good news is that He won’t ever leave you and is going to tenderly guide you back in the right direction, no matter what. And the good news is that if you get lost, there is only one right direction to turn your focus towards: Jesus. He’s the guide post to focus your life around, and He’s got the map and directions to life, since He created it all!

[but as you begin your journey towards our Savior Jesus Christ, enjoy more photos of the One Direction boys. At the very least, they can harmonize and don’t have acne.]

One direction faces

One direction sailor outfits

SAILOR outfits?! I can’t help but love this.

Jesus has got that “One Thing” for you: Salvation!


Beauty from Ashes

A few months ago, I sat around a campfire staring at the flames while toasting marshmallows with 14 friends at our last Growth Group (Bible study) meeting of the school year. I have always loved fire. I grew up camping with my family and am used to having a camp fire nearby to cook over and keep warm, but mostly to toast marshmallows to a perfect golden brown for s’mores (a small but passionate hobby of mine). However, I have not been able to go camping with my family or anyone for a long time. Thus, sitting around a small fire in Steph’s backyard with these few friends with whom I had started to get close was an immensely pleasurable experience for me. We talked and laughed, played a few worship songs and enjoyed each others’ company one last time as a group before finals brought the school year to a close, before seniors graduated and moved on to the next phase of their lives. All the while, I studied the flames as they gradually waned from the strong, bright yellow-white flames into smoldering, red-hot coals, and finally died out, leaving cold grey ash in the bottom of the pit.campfire 2

Just as gradually as the flames diminished, I began to think over my past struggles and the different phases of pain and growth I have gone through in the recent past. As we talked, I thought over the entire process of the fire, from dry wood lit by a small spark, fanned into a blazing flame that gradually got smaller, yet somehow hotter until its fuel was finally depleted and it died out. As I turned this metaphor of the flames as a representation of trials in our lives over in my mind, I thought of how my struggles with self-harm started innocently enough – an accident provided the tiny spark which would ignite a long, raging battle inside and outside of me.

flicker of light

Yet once the spark was established, the winds of adversity and the enemy’s lies fanned into flame that which without further provocation might have easily fizzled out into nothingness.

Things steadily got hotter – my battle with lies from the enemy, self-hatred and cutting incrementally got worse until one day I woke up to discover how far deep I had already gone – without realizing it along the way. Like the flames, things increasingly got hotter and hotter; when the outer flames of self-injury seemed to die down, that was when the fire was in its hottest state: burning-hot coals.  During that time, encountering torturous thoughts of temptation, extreme insomnia, and experimentation with other forms of self-injury occurred daily. I cycled through hateful thoughts towards myself, my life and everything about me, hurting myself while abhorring it, and then loathing myself for allowing myself to do it once again, finally coming full circle to harm yet again.

embers

From my life and upon hearing other peoples’ testimonies of living through hardship in their lives, I have come to the conclusion that the cliché “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” is actually often true. It certainly was in my case. The coals are the hottest stage of the fire, and everyone knows that after they cool down, they are reduced to a dull gray ash. Some may argue that the smoldering coals would be the “darkest hour” part of the fire; the time when hardship is at its height, temptation at its strongest, and pain at its most intolerable. Yet in my experience, although hardship, temptation and pain are inevitable truths in the coals stage, it is not the stage containing the “darkest hour.” Perhaps surprisingly to some, the darkest hour is in fact the ashes stage which immediately follows the coals.

ash

After the heat has tempered and smoke signals the demise of the fire, what remains in the fire pit are the cooling ashes. This is the point at which ambition, courage, and most importantly hope begin to die out. Whilst the literal fire dies and turns to ash, defeat replaces dreams, pain overcomes faith, despair conquers hope. In short, this is the dying stage. For me, it was a literal death. After enduring the hell-on-earth experience of the coals, I lost all desire to live and decided death was the next and only option for me. This was my ashes stage. But the amazing fact that I am here writing this means that my life didn’t stay in the ashes stage. Obviously, I didn’t die, though I tried so hard, at best I only came very close.

But guess what: there’s good news.

you are more than the mistakes you've made 2According to the Bible, what rises from the ashes is not dead at all, it is Beauty. As in my case, it takes a lot of time and hard work to rise from the ashes changed, made new, and beautiful. But it can be done, when you give your whole heart and control over to Jesus accept His forgiveness and allow him to break your chains, bind up your wounds and bring His brilliant light into your dark life. freedom

Jesus takes your ashes upon himself and in return gives you His crown, His joy, His strength and His beauty. His love overwhelms everything else if you only let it.

The Year of the LORD’s Favor

1      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,
    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.

~Isaiah 61:1-3

because of jesus i am free

The whole journey of transformation has many stages, but the Ashes turned to Beauty step is, in my opinion, the most vital. You can choose to stay in the ashes stage, miserable, broken and bound. Or you can choose freedom. Only Jesus can break you free from your past and make you totally and completely new. All you have to do is choose him. I did; and He has changed my heart and given me life again. Will you choose him too?

forget the past!