Hello. I'm sorry! Somehow it did not cross my mind that I had not posted here
in so very long until I looked at this blog yesterday and noticed the date. Please forgive me!
We are off on our second cruise soon and I have been packing for it and slowly finishing up the unpacking and some planting as I am working on situating the terraces. I do not yet have my computer fully set up or my studio. It's been a long haul this time but I believe we are much happier and comfortable for it. It has been quite freeing! I hope to find a few photos to share! I will try to keep up with things a bit better as time goes on.
And on with my testimony:
Dear Heavenly Papa,
We come here tonight to meet with You, all in one accord. Father, open all of our hearts to understand the love that you have for us. Love on us all Lord to the point that we will never, ever want to turn back! Let Your words through me reflect that love to bring healing and wash away their pain. Only You can heal, Lord. Let me be Your vessel. Bring us all to a closer, life sustaining knowledge of You! If there is anyone here who has not yet come to the knowledge of your saving grace, speak to their hearts, Lord! In Jesus’ most powerful and precious name, Amen
I am Juliana, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. At this time, I have victory over drugs, cigarettes, depression, co-dependency, and on down through the layers. I entered into this past 27+ years having had victory over drugs with even more chains to follow.
God has let me “Be still, and know that He is God!” several times over. Some may see most of my previous years as negative yet I’ve come to see the ones after I finally let Him have me as gifts that brought about tremendous changes, helping many of those chains to just fall off.
Although set free for 27+ years now I did not find Celebrate Recovery until 2013 which did much more than just accelerate my growth. I found a group of believers searching themselves and seeking to know God more right along with me. I began listening to each and every member along with boxes of family photos that has helped to spark many long, lost memories and I am truly grateful for all of them.
2015 was my first year depression-free (Hallelujah!) since I was a young child. So you all probably know that when I again share that I’ve had a history of a 16-month prison stint, 4 car totals, 5 suicide attempts, years of many abuses along with seeing much more than any one person should ever have to see within dysfunctional friends, family, and loved ones around me, I’m supposing that you can pretty much fill in most of the blanks yourselves!
No father was listed on my original birth certificate. I was adopted at 18 days old into a family with 2 brothers who were 11 and 15 years older than me. We lived in Ohio. I was raised in the church. My parents were involved in the healing ministry back in the early 60’s. I now have come to believe that Satan attacked my whole family in the later 60’s with my oldest brother having a nervous breakdown in 1969 and my dad starting to drink in 1970 when I was 10 and that is where my story begins.
Did no one want to be my dad? I recently came to realize that in my childish psyche I thought I would gain my dad’s acceptance by drinking also, so I started drinking when I was 10. It wasn’t long after that the “party” started; marijuana by 11, cigarettes by 14, LSD by 15 and many other drugs, numerous kinds of abuse, and the rest, etc… Yet in the midst of all of this I was still made to go to church every Sunday and ended up being saved at 13. Yet no one ever showed me where to go from there and by the age of 28, in 1988 I was arrested for selling LSD. After being saved for 15 years, not knowing where to go, I finally fell! My “partner in crime’s” mother read the Bible to me over the phone one morning when I was so distraught that I could not continue and it was just a few days before I was watching church on a Sunday morning and I felt His presence in my entire apartment. I let Him have me that day. In less than 6 months I was sentenced to 16 months in prison. By this time, it no longer felt like a harsh treatment but an escape from 18 long years of feeling as if I lived most of my days in hell. I finally yearned to know more about Jesus and I knew that I had plenty of time to do it.
I started with reading the New Testament as I adjusted to prison life and wondering what I still had ahead of me. As I sat on my tiny bed one of those first days, I heard in a loud “audible” voice “You are a blessing to Me, My child.” I had no doubt that it was God. I cried! I cried for a couple of days. I was a blessing to Him? I felt like Scum and yet I was a blessing to Him?
The first major thing that I learned after entering prison was that God was my Father; my TRUE Father. And He made a truly heart-felt covenant of His peace with me:
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This became my favorite verse to this day because I had not known peace until I found Him.
And, He showed me that my dad was just a man and only Jesus is perfect. Through those 16 months of near weekly visitations, God healed my relationship with my Dad. We went from being near enemies for 18 long years to being like “AA buddies”. I don’t remember more than 1 tiny argument between then and 2001 when my “Daddy” went home to be with the Lord.
I went on to learning so many things that I would be thankful for many times over. Through these many experiences and my own fear of being alone, the Holy Spirit became my closest companion and still is to this day. After my surrender to Him, He started peeling off the layers. Before I ever went to AA, OA, or even Celebrate Recovery I was being led through the steps. I shared with my partner in crime by letter. We confessed so many things to one another, praying for each other and sharing in all that God taught us. (Curiously today he is a Celebrate Recovery leader in New Mexico)
James 5:16a “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each
other so that you may be healed.”
I was married in 1990 just 9 months after my release from prison and we celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2015. I spent almost the whole of the 90’s working in a hospital, we got custody of my step-son in 1999 when he was 13, and I was looking to go back to school to become a Paramedic when I became ill.
I spent 2001-2003 in bed with a rare illness that started with a stroke at just 40 years old. I had 7 type-written pages of symptoms and side effects from the illness and numerous medications. I relearned how to brush my teeth and I had an IQ similarly to that of Forrest Gump. Yet I learned to know Him. He didn’t let me die, He let me live. He kept me alive through what was known to be a terminal disease at that time and still is. I changed once again. It so seems as though I have been washed and renewed several times over. I let Him use me! I became His clay to mold. Still fully infatuated by my God who called me His blessing.
Now, with such an extensive history I have prayed numerous times about the best way to share all of this yet the words never came. Of course, I haven’t wanted this to be all about me, but more about His ALL SUFFICIENT GRACE. August of 2015, was the first time that I mentioned about wanting to give my testimony at Celebrate Recovery and through a worship song in the meeting, Good, Good Father it all started coming to me.
This next writing turned out to be a bit different. Through all of His sculpting I turned out to be an artist and published author (please see the things that I brought to share). I do my art and writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so one late night when I had no clue how to get my writing time in, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to wake me up with His words if I was to write. And so, there I sat at my computer at 2am when these words came to mind:
We hear that alcoholism is a disease but what about the rest of it? All the rest that Celebrate Recovery involves are the same, “diseases”, diseases of the heart! Could we ever think that we are fully cured? Not until we are in Heaven with Him! Yet He makes us able to withstand this world and all its mess through which we must rise above to be givers instead of takers, lovers instead of haters, fighters on our knees not with our fists. New creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”):
Poem Title: Good Bye Old Self - 2 Corinthians 5:17
We depart in peace
Knowing God is with us
Feeling His Presence
Every step of the way
Knowing that it is
By His grace
We are free
…..written by me from prison in 1989.
By His grace we are free! By His goodness we have been won to repentance! Not by condemnation as so many have seemed to think.
Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
I was so buried within the lies of Satan, who dragged me through the mud that I thought I was worthless and people, even those claiming to love me, pushed me down even further. Yet through a man named Rick Warren, God shed His mercy upon us, the sinners that He came to save through His Son, Jesus Christ. So that we may not end up locked away, wallowing in our own dung. Jesus is here to become our King. Only by learning to seek Him in the midst of my pain have I learned that His grace is what I cling to. I seek Him to remain alive. His miracles have abound. I have had much healing. And I have become thankful in the midst.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I have seen numerous hardships through infirmities, yet I came through them more like a shiny new penny, the TRUE me within my heart. Rising above them all, only by Him! He has been my hiding place. And as I see so many others who have denied Him that still yearn for happiness, I have found joy in surrendering my heart to Him.
In these 12+ years since I got out of bed I’ve learned to find myself more than ever before. Through my own devices I, once again, was running ahead of God, then stopped in my tracks to learn to “Be still and know”. I spent numerous hours, days, and years alone with Him, learning to know more of who He is. And once again, I was found.
Since 2015 I have come out from the shadows of healing and learning, once again. I have had numerous healings in this past 14 years; Too many to count. Even though I did not come out unscathed and have some notable deficits. My previous pastor gave a sermon one Sunday.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Later that day I wrote to my pastor and told him: “Great sermon today! My life! I woke up hurting and grumbling this morning but I was worshipping and praying on the way to church as I just persevered and believed! I felt like I could fly when I got there!”
April 27, 2016 Update:
Upon scheduling this date tonight, I believed that I needed to give
some kind of update. At that time I saw myself getting closer to being out and experiencing life a bit more. I hadn’t known exactly what to write so I’d been praying. So much has happened since then. God has shown even more unexpected goodness than I’d ever imagined and I knew that others needed to know.
Then my husband and I sat talking just a few days ago as we were looking at some photos of our next cruise ship we have booked in June and I just started crying. I tried to talk but I was too overwhelmed for words. And I knew that I was going to have to share my thoughts at that moment. I had just one cruise on my bucket list for nearly my entire life and here I was looking at our 2nd coming up already in just days. I hadn’t even gotten over the shock and awe from the blessings He had given us since the last cruise. It is all just too long to share about yet I will tell you that my husband ended up winning a trip to the Bahamas over Christmas last year.
Me on Christmas Day - Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas
We flew out just 10 days after coming home from the cruise that we’d booked to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We were swimming with the dolphins on Christmas Day. It was not hard to see that only God could have been in all of this.
After that was the whole orchestration of our move north to Pinellas Park. We’ve moved into a city where I know no one. God is telling me that I’m getting a do over. The past is finally behind me. I’ve thrown out or given away numerous trunk loads. I no longer need so much from my past seemingly sentimental life. Why did I want to keep the things of so many past memories? And no one even knows me in this city. I am able to be who God wants me to be without Satan having so much fuel to remind me of my past. I’m free and open to learning more new things and onward into a new season with Him.
Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
James 4:8a “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. “
Ultimately that is what the 12 steps and 8 principles are about, Drawing closer to Him. By drawing closer to Him, He draws closer to us and we have this all knowing, all-encompassing creator of the universe as our King AND best friend!
Truly the best comment I have received in my very short history of speaking. I just had to share...thankfully she gave me her permission.
"Juliana, rarely do we get to hear from someone who has such intimacy with Jesus. You are such an encouragement to not only those in recovery but to all whose path you cross! Keep sharing when God opens a door, and I have a feeling there will be many doors!" Carol Lewis - CR Leader, Bayside West Bradenton, Florida
(AND HERE I AM IN TEARS AGAIN WHILE TRYING TO GET THIS POSTED. I want to make sure that you know that I would never consider God as a vending machine. My husband and I never specifically asked for any of this or for any blessings for that matter! He just gives to us as a Father who loves His children.)
A few more photos:
May God bless you through my writing. If He has especially touched you in any way, please leave a comment below. Your comments are so very encouraging to me to help me to keep writing. Also, click on the “Uptweet” button on the above right and share! I pray you will keep coming back. I fully believe that my writing is by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so if I am writing, there is someone that needs to read it! Maybe it’s you? Also, please be sure to share any questions you might have with me and if you would like to keep them personal (just between you and me) please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at email@example.com. If I don’t know how to answer you, I will may every attempt to refer you to someone for more information. Thanks and may God bless all your days!