My Mission

Sexual Assault- It's an uncomfortable subject that no one wants to talk about. When you say the words 'Sexual Assault Awareness' out loud, rooms tend to go silent and you can feel the awkward tension in the air. You post something on your social networks and no one will comment but if you post something about an iphone all of a sudden you get 50 comments and double the likes. I am a survivor and had to live many years being uncomfortable in my own skin, terrified to tell anyone. Then God showed me another way, he showed me that I didn't have to be silent anymore. I can stand tall with my head up high and say ,"I am a Survivor of Sexual Assault". Please take a moment and think about the men, women, and children that have been traumatized by sexual violence. They should never feel isolated, judged, or without a voice. Let's stand united against these crimes! Show your support by talking about this issue with your family. Do everything you can to show that you embrace, love and encourage these survivors to speak out, that you not only fight for them, but with them. Together we can change someone's life!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

RePost: My Story; My Love Letter to my 16yr Old Self

  I wanted to reshare this story with everyone! In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2014; please read and share. Sharing this post was the hardest thing for me to do, it's still hard to look at where I was as a 16yr old in such a dark and hopeless place.  Rape is real and it happens way too often. I want to use this story to encourage those of you out there living in the darkness that was so real in my life for so long.  Don't be silent any longer, share your story and do it in a safe place. You are more than welcome to share on my blog; this is a safe place and the followers here are always encouraging. Please contact me if you are interested in sharing your story for your own personal healing. It's scary at first and you may remain anonymous if you would like to. Submit your story to 4hopeandhealing@gmail.com.


Dear 16 yr old Lisa,

I know that you are scared and confused right now. You were just raped, you are feeling physical and emotional pain you don't know how to deal with. It's ok to feel pain it only makes you human. Don't listen to Satan's lies you aren't weak and it's not your fault. You are going to get angry, you are going to be sad, you are going to want to blame yourself. You are going to look in the mirror and hate your reflection staring back at you. You think you are alone, you feel lost, and you are going to find comfort in that bottle of alcohol. Alcohol is going to introduce you to your safe place in your mind where everything is ok because you can't feel anything. Being numb is your safe place but you aren't safe there! The enemy is taunting you with flashbacks, and you are reliving that awful day in your mind. The enemy invades your safe place and is leading you to alcohol. He is filling you up with fear, doubt and hate.
My dear sweet Lisa this is no way to live but don't fear sweet angel redemption is coming! God is looking out for you, He loves you, He forgives you for being angry at Him, and He will bring you Light! You won't be living in darkness forever. I wish I was there to comfort you and lead you in the right direction. I would tell you that God loves you, just call on Him! He will carry your pain for you. This pain is too much for you to carry all by yourself, give it to Him. Please don't take that drink! Don't drink that glass of vodka you are going to be raped again. I know you are hurting and confused. That new dream you had, that nightmare was just God telling you what happened to you last night. He wants you to know because your body is going to hurt everywhere. You are going to be hungover and you are going to have some bruises on your back from the back of the truck they laid you down on. Yes! I said they, there were two of them and they took turns. You are going to doubt and think that your mind is playing tricks on you but that is just Satan, "The Father of Lies" he wants you to think that you are going crazy. He doesn't want you to know the truth but God is going to send a girl to tell you that everything you saw was real. You aren't crazy and please don't hate yourself. I know that your parents are mad at you for coming home drunk and wearing nothing but a bathing suit, but they love you. It's ok to tell them what happened to you. It's ok to just confide in your Mom if you want. It's going to cross your mind for years to come but don't worry my sweet angel redemption is coming. In God's time they will know the truth and you will feel God's courage and strength. The chains that the enemy used to hold you down will be broken. One day you will be free!!
Right now you feel unworthy of love, you feel broken, damaged, and you have become a prisoner of your own mind in that safe place you created. You started a dangerous love affair with beer and vodka. You don't realize it but it's leading you to dance with the devil. You are going to dance with the devil for years to come, but don't cry my love. God is going to cut in and lead you in a new dance. Your new dance with God will be the most beautiful dance in your life. The twirls and dips will be healing, the leaps you make will be bigger than you ever thought possible. You will be lighter than you have ever been and as you two take your bow there will be a joy in soul you have never experienced before.
I know right now you can' t see anything but fear and torment your first attacker comes to visit you often. He shows up at your house, your school functions, and hangs out with your friends. You feel fearful because when you see him you remember that awful day. You remember the coldness in his eyes, the weight of him on top of you, the tight grip he had on your wrists, you can still feel the ever increasing heart beats in your chest as you feel his wet lips on your neck. He triggers those memories when you see him, but when he sees you, my darling he sees your strength and he becomes fearful. He saw how you fought that day and sees how everyday you walk a little taller, and speak more clearer. You are stronger every time he sees you! You are too broken to see that God has given you His courage and strength to look your enemy in the eye and rise above him. When you walk away from your attacker you are both fearful. You my sweet angel fear the devil you see inside him and your attacker fears God because God is shining through you!!
My dear God is protecting you he hasn't left you nor will He forsake you. The enemy keeps harassing you he is taunting you and using people in your church to shun you. He is using them to bring you back to the bottle. You are even more broken than before because the enemy has told you that those people that rejected you at church is a reflection of how your earthly father and heavenly Father feel about you. It's a huge lie that will believe and drink away for years to come. Don't fear my dear Lisa, redemption is coming!
You walk around in a daze because that "safe place" you've created in your mind is filled with chaos, confusion, fear, and doubt. Satan doesn't want you to know how strong you are he is slowly chipping away your confidence. He is leading you down a path of darkness that is filled with men that see your innocence and take advantage of your vulernability. Don't give yourself to those men, don't lie in that bed with them they don't know how special you are. You stand outside of yourself and see a different person in that bed. You are protecting your soul and you are watching your hallow shell in that bed. Don't let this define you, Satan has labeled you as a weak, empty, and soulless victim. You don't know this yet but you are a strong, courageous survivor. The enemy doesn't want you to know this truth and his sole agenda is to keep you from your day of redemption through God. It's coming soon keep pushing through the pain.
You are losing battles with the enemy but fear not for with God the war is won! God always wins just reach out your hand to Him He will pull you up and walk with you. God is protecting you, you are older now and are moving to the other side of the country. He is also going to bring you friends and people whom you will feel safe with. You don't see it though you are blinded by the enemies lies. You are too broken to see that God is with you and redemption will be here soon! You have now started to tango with the enemy. He has you close to him and his lead is strong. The bottle is now your sanctuary and you are about to fall down into a well of danger. You are about to face evil again, you my sweet angel are going to be raped again! This attacker is evil in it's truest form. He is going to taunt you, hold in his laire against your will, he will violate your body and insult you he will even laugh in your face. Fear not my love you will rise above this, redemption is just around the corner!
You are stronger than you think and you will reach out to your safe people. They will encourage you to keep fighting, God will use them to tell you to not let this rape define you! You will go back to what you know, the bottle and you will drink yourself numb. God is crying for you, He wants you back, and He is about to free you from the enemy! In the midst of your love affair with the bottle and your tango with the enemy God cuts in! God is about to lead you into the arms of your husband. A handsome angel is going to rescue you from your dangerous affairs with bad men and the bottle. You will be timid and shy at first, the enemy will tell you that you aren't worthy, but you follow God's lead through this man. You will tell this man of your brokenness and he will love you through it. You see a light for the first time in a long time. He leads you to break your chains of silence and telling your family about your past. Lisa my sweet angel redemption has begun!
You have started on your path to redemption and the lies in your mind are being quieted by God's truths and promises for you. God gave you a beautiful wedding to the love of your life. He didn't want you two to go through healing and redemption by yourselves. You are going to see glimpses of God's love for you through your husband's eyes. You and your husband are now walking on God's path of redemption for you. God is leading you to a class called How We Love so that you can recognize where your brokenness comes from and has given you tools to overcome it. Then God will lead you to a class called Rooted at Mariners Church and you will share your brokenness with a group of women. These women embrace you and they don't shun nor do they judge you. You will have a moment during your prayer time where you will hear God's voice for the first time. He will tell you to surrender your pain to him that you have been carrying a burden for too long and too large to carry it on your own. You will surrender your pain to Him and your chains of your past will fall to the floor. You will feel safe and freedom for the first time in your life!! You will praise God and thank Him for never leaving your or forsaking you. You will get baptized with your husband holding hands. You and your earthly father will share a special moment and this moment kick starts forgiveness in your hearts for each other. Redemption my sweet girl is continuing!
You will go through Rooted again because you are seeking and searching for your purpose. You will continue to heal and share your story with the men and women in your group. This is when you embrace yourself as a strong and courageous survivor. God tells you to go out and tell your story to many you are, "Breaking Your Silence 4 Healing". My sweet angel God is going to use your story to tell others of His love and faithfulness for His children. God has given you redemption, He has put a new mirror in front of you. You will have a hard time accepting this at first, but once you look again you finally love who God made you. MY LOVE REDEMPTION IS HERE, IT'S NOW AND YOUR SOUL IS HEALING!! God stripped away your pain, brokenness, and your distorted view of yourself and NOW these three remain: FATIH, HOPE, AND LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE. (1Cor 13:13) My dear sweet 16 yr old Lisa God is healing you, making you feel safe, freeing you from your chains, God is the redeemer of your past. He loves you and will never and has never left your side. Praise be to God my Savior, my Redeemer!!!

Love You Always,
30 yr old Redeemed Lisa

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hitting Bottom


     It seems that our human nature is to let ourselves hit bottom before we long for something better.  Something clicks in our minds that flips a switch and we decide that a change is necessary.  We all of a sudden become determined to make our bad situation better.  I know for me that I have done this through out my life.  In unhealthy relationships I would have to hit an emotional bottom and then I would end it.  Every unhealthy relationship would bring me to my bottom in different lengths of time; some took as little as a few weeks, and some took years.  My bottom would start with me finally looking at myself in the hypothetical mirror, and that would in turn cause me to channel in my feelings.    I would look at the way I was living my life, they way I saw myself and I would turn away from that mirror hating myself and my life.  Here I was bathing in self loathing and hating everything about myself so I would try to make myself feel better. I would pick one positive thing in my life and I would put 150% effort in to that "positive" thing in my life.  It would be one of three things; my job, my health; or my friends.  In my attempt to stop hating myself I would end up turning these positive things into negatives with my unhealthy behaviors.  If my focus was on my job; I would work 12 hour days.  My long days at the office allowed me to forget about my crappy life and I would be so exhausted when I got home from work that I would just go straight to bed.  This crazy unhealthy schedule would help me forget about the things I hated about either myself, relationships, or just life in general.  I would continue on this path until I hit bottom; I would be too tired to keep my schedule.  If my new focus was on my health I would go on a diet and exercise everyday.  I would be on the strictest diet I could find and workout as often as possible so I could lose a lot of weight. My problem was that I would lose too much weight and get unhealthily skinny.  I wouldn't stop until the people closest to me would have a mini intervention and tell me that I was too skinny... almost anorexic skinny.  Lastly, if my new found determination was aimed toward my friendships I would go out almost every night of the week. Partying is what I knew how to do with friends; I partied so I didn't have to feel. Surface conversations and drunken pity parties was my specialty. I would continue down this path until I got physically sick and couldn't go out anymore or my friends would slowly stop going out with me.  I would either take a break too but drink at home or other people's houses or I would find new friends to party with.  I kept going and going until I hit another bottom and I had to take a break.  After my much needed break I would start the cycle all over again in my unhealthy pattern of behaviors.  It was almost like hitting a bottom was another addiction in itself, I needed to hit bottom so I could flip that switch in my brain and feel that zeal and determination to live again.       I have given up some of those unhealthy behaviors but I still hit bottoms.  My bottoms are are a little different now since I have rekindled my relationship with God.  He reminds me that He is with me, holding my hand and leading me on the right path.  Some times my human nature kicks in and the bad behaviors creep in slowly and I get side tracked and lead myself on another path.  I picture it like this;  You remember when we were really young we would walk down the street holding our parent's hand.  They lead us on a street that is safe to protect us from hurting ourselves.  Here we are walking down the street, following our lead and then we get to a fork in the road.  Once side of this pathway is paved and smooth, our parent's instinctually lead us down this path.  All of a sudden we stubbornly dig our heels in  the ground and we are not moving because we want to walk on the other side of the pathway.  This path is full of rock terrain and deep gaping holes that we could fall into.  This path obviously leads us to getting hurt or falling into a deep hole so deep that we would need help getting out of.  So, what do we do?  We have already made up our minds, so we let go of our parent's hand and run full speed down the rocky and dangerous path.  As we run down this path we hit the rocks and fall and scrap our knees.  We keep running until we fall into one of those deep gaping holes and then we cry out for help when we realize we are stuck there because we can't get out of it alone.  I know for me that wrong path of self-will is going to lead me to hitting bottom every time.  It's because I let go of my heavenly Father's hand and I try to do life on my own terms.  God has taught me recently to keep a hold of his hand everyday in everything that I do.  He promised that His way will be smooth if I just follow His lead.  When I wake up in the morning all I need to do is ask for His help to the things I can't do for myself.  I ask for guidance and focus in my job, I ask him to help me eat better today and drink more water.  I ask Him to give me the zeal, motivation, and strength to go for a walk after work.  I ask him to help me do all of things I know are good for me and will bring joy into my day no matter how big or how small.  At the end of the day I thank Him for guiding me and blessing me "today"!  Tomorrow when i wake up I will grab His hand and do it all over again.  I will stop worrying about tomorrow because God is present and I want to be where He is.  Being present with God is the key for me not to hit a bottom whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual.  I want to encourage everyone who reads this to be present with our Heavenly Father and let Him lead you on His smooth, safe path in life.  You will immediately feel a little better each day, and God will help you reach your daily goals.  You will begin to notice your days will be filled with more joy, and you will begin to love yourself a little more each day! 

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you." Psalm 25:4-5


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Journey to Discovering My True Self

I was recently approached about writing a story for a book of stories about perseverance. I am honored and submitting a story for this book. This will be the first time my writing is being published and has inspired me to being writing my own book as well. I want to share my story that will be published with you all. I have missed connecting with you all on my blog, but don't worry I am back and feeling inspired to write.

My Story:

     Do you ever find yourself hurting so much that you don't know what to do with yourself?  I have felt this way one too many times through out my life.  This pain gave me a longing and a craving for change.  It started for me when I was twelve years old; my very first boyfriend hit me and left bruises on me.  He was angry all of the time and I was his punching bag.  I began to starve myself to change the way I looked, and in turn gave me a false confidence.  This drastic weight loss and attitude adjustment gave me a euphoric sense of newness that I forgot about the pain.  I covered up the bruises and mustered up the courage to walk away from this angry, but very broken boy. 
     I continued my search for change to fill my empty void in my heart.  At the age of 16 I was raped twice within 5 months.  The first time it was on a Valentine's  Day lunch date.  After this I began to drink alcohol to numb and escape my emotional and physical pain.  The second time I was raped by my boyfriend and one of his friends.  I passed out at a party and they took turns having sex with me.  I was pretty broken and devastated, so I  decided to change the way I looked.  I changed my hair color, I cut my hair short, and I even changed the way I dressed.  I changed my group of friends so I didn't get too close to anyone.  I needed to change because I thought I could hide my pain, hide who I had become.  Being a victim of rape changed me and I didn't want anyone to see that broken side of me, so I molded myself into this new version of myself.  This was the only way I could feel normal or my version of what normal looked like.  I also wanted to feel safe, so I started dating mean guys who loved to party, do drugs and fight.  I thought that these guys would keep me safe, but all I did was put myself  in the company of the most unsafe people.  I endured verbal and physical abuse and so I would just drink more alcohol to get numb and to escape this black hole of insanity and chaos. 
     Even though I was broken, abused and lost I had this small glimmer of hope that my life would get better.  I knew that one day I would find someone to love me more than I loved myself.  I didn't know it then but that small voice of hope I was desperately holding onto was God.  That hope gave me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other and a promise of a brighter and better tomorrow.  At the age of 19 I thought that I found my answer, my family and I moved 3000 miles across the country to California.  This big move and much needed  change of scenery super charged me.  My opportunity for a new life and better tomorrow was finally here.  I got to flee from my past, escape the constant memory of the hurt and pain I had endured.  I put away that version of myself that I couldn't seem to drink away.  I got to be a new "me", I was the new girl that nobody knew.  I played the part of a fun-loving girl from the south who was fearless and loved life. 
     Unfortunately the move was not a cure for my broken heart and empty soul.  I did what I knew best; I drowned my pain with lots of alcohol and blinded everyone with my False Evidence that Appeared Real. They didn't know that I was a fake and that my struggle to find happiness was consuming me.  I changed who I was for every guy that I dated so the I would appear to be their "perfect" ideal girlfriend.  I thought that if I was "perfect" that I wouldn't get hurt or abused ever again.  I changed so much that I forgot who I was.  I ignored those tiny whispers of hope in my heart and drowned it out with more alcohol. 
     With a lot of partying comes clouded judgment and bad choices.  When I was 25 I was raped again on a first date.  This time I stared evil in the eyes and I will never forget the chill that ran down my spine.  This rape changed me in a different way, it left me desperate and hurt.  My lifestyle of chaos and carelessness had left me vulnerable and unsafe. This rape broke me but it led me to turn to that tiny glimmer of hope that I had been ignoring.  I held on to that hope with all of my heart and soul, this hope was a lifeline to a different kind of change. 
     I began searching for my true self, my true identity that was buried deep beneath all of the pain, isolation and chaos.  God stepped into my life and reintroduced himself to me in my late twenties.  In the midst of my hazy wandering, God brought me an angel.  This angel was in the form of a handsome man with piercing green eyes and a voice that could melt your heart with just a simple, "Hello".  God used him to show me a new way of living life, a life filled with true love.  I am not just referring to meeting the love of my life but the true unconditional love of my heavenly Father.  Steve and God began leading me hand and hand on a healing journey to find my true self.
     First I had to tell my family what had happened to me when I was a teenager.  They never knew I kept all of the abuse a secret from them.  To my surprise they didn't judge me but embraced and loved me.  After I finally told them I felt a little lighter, my secret lost it's power over me.  My next step was to trust in God that He had me in the palm of his hand.  God promised to catch me when I would fall, He would pick me back up and help me along this journey.  I was blessed that God gave me a loving man to stand by my side to encourage me, and to love me when I couldn't love myself.  The next step to discovering my true self was to "Let Go".  I had to let go of control, let go of this image of who I thought I was.  I had to break down the wall I kept myself surrounded by and let God in.  I had to strip off lies clothing and see the raw, naked truth.  There it was on the floor; my hat of shame, my boots of regret, my pants of self loathing, and that shirt that carried the big, bright, bold letters "HOPELESS VICTIM".   With letting go of all of that came true surrender, I stared back at the truth and begin to let it in.  God's truth of who I am is a strong, confident, courageous woman who is worthy of love, and I AM A SURVIVOR.   When I finally surrendered all of pain, brokenness and despair the healing began.  During my healing journey my relationship with Steve grew stronger, we got married and had a beautiful wedding. 
     My healing journey hasn't ended, and there are obstacles still to overcome but everyday God reveals more of my true identity to me.  If you were to ask me today, "Who are you?"  I would tell you that I am a survivor, a confident woman who knows God, I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend.  I am a person who craves growth instead of craving change.  I am a daughter of a heavenly Father who offered me a new life, a life filled with unconditional love, healing, and hope for a beautiful future.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shout Out!


Hello Everyone!

I have not forgotten about all of you. God has put me in a holding period, and I hope to be back writing regularly again very soon.

Today, I wanted to share a link for my dear friend Jamie Hindman. She boldly went on TV to share her passion for her Ministry, Divine. She shared initimate details about her story and has been boldy following God in His plans for her story to be heard. Please view, and share! Spread the hope, and let the broken know that Jesus loves them!

http://abcnews.go.com/US/strippers-jesus-dancer-makes-mission-save/story?id=21024000

Jaime,

You continue to inspire me everyday! You give me hope that my story will be heard one day too! I just need to trust in God and follow him with all my heart and soul. I feel honored to watch you grow and see how God paved a path for you. You followed and obeyed Him, and He is walking with you hand in hand smiling down his beautiful daughter. You have shared your story and God washed away the shame from your past, you are living your redemption in christ out loud.

May God continue to shower you with His blessings, and keep you protected!

Your Sister in Christ
Lisa

If you are interested in getting involved or donating to Jaime's cause please go to the link below:
http://www.divineoc.com/!

Happy Holidays

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Meli's Story, "This Little Light of Mine"

I am so honored to be able to share my friend, Meli's story. Meli and I are in each other's lives for a reason and it's because we get to grow together and encourage one another to keep going. God planted a seed for our friendship, and it has grown over this last year and a half.
"Meli, I am so happy to be a part of your life and to call you my friend and sister through Christ. We have been not only watching each other grow but holding each others hands through our ever challenging healing process. I look forward to seeing where we both are a year from now and how we will grow us as individuals and as friends. Thank you for being a light in my life and allowing me to be a part of your healing process. Thank you for sharing your story especially in this month to give hope and show survivors that there is a light at the end of that dark maze we sometimes call life. I love you my dear friend! "


“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ (John 8:12)

I do not believe that this Bible verse just so “happened” to fall into my hands in the back of a strip club dressing room on an Easter weekend when I was getting ready for work.  This is a story of how God restored, renewed, and transformed a broken, hardened heart. My story is a story of a 2nd chance and it begins with a silver bracelet……

Every year around Easter, a group of churchy ladies would drop in at the club with gifts for the girls. I always made sure that I got a gift but never paid attention to what the churchy ladies had to say. I already knew what they were there to do. I chose not to have any interaction with them, because in them, I could see the light of Jesus and it was too bright, so I stayed away.  As the Bible says in John 3:20,All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”

I remember vividly on a particular Easter weekend, a lady who was about my mom’s age walked up to me and handed me 3 baskets. She smiled and said to me, “Happy Easter and God loves you very much, please keep one basket for yourself and give the other two to your girlfriends.” I made very little eye contact with her, thanked her and took all three baskets with me.  When I got home, in one of the baskets I found an average looking silver bracelet.  There was nothing special about it and just when I was about to throw it in the trash, I realized there were some words engraved on it. Out of curiosity, I took a closer look and it said, “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ (John 8:12).  This verse was engraved on the bracelet, but if you didn’t pay close attention, you almost couldn’t see it. Isn’t that how God speaks to us sometimes? He is all around us, but we have to pay close attention to His voice in order to hear Him.

John 8:12 is a very familiar verse that I used to read to the kids at my church when I served at the children’s ministry back in high school.  I was baptized in the summer right before high school started with my mom after just moving to the United States for a year.   I was born in LA, grew up in Taiwan and moved back to the States at age 12 with my sister, Jen. Both of my parents did their best to provide for my family, we weren’t rich but lived a very comfortable life as kids.  I have two older sisters and we used to be very close before I moved to the States.  After my oldest sister was born, my mom had a vision. She flew to L.A. and made sure both my 2nd sister and I were born in the States so that we could have American citizenships. I knew at a very young age that I was special and different from other kids because of my American passport.  My mom had an “American Dream” for my sister and I. She wanted us to have the opportunities and options in life that many would kill for.   Before moving to the States, I thought my childhood was perfect in Taiwan.  We always did things together as a family and enjoyed each other. It took my parents a lot of convincing for me to say yes about the move. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends in Taiwan. When I moved to the States with my sister Jen, my parents couldn’t come with us because of their Visas. My sister and I stayed with a friend of my dad’s in Scottsdale, Arizona.  All of the sudden, in a foreign country, my sister and I were forced to grow up fast.  We stopped having fun and were busy looking for acceptance at school. I knew I was different, yet I wanted to fit in.  We had to learn a new way to live and a new language to speak. Everyone was new and foreign to us.  Since my parents were so far away, we learned to suck it up when times got tough at school. When we missed our family, we turned to and comforted each other. We knew at such a young age what not to do to disappoint our parents & to give up on the hope they had for us. I became very independent and learned how to figure things out on my own. I learned to say the right things my parents wanted to hear so I didn’t worry them.  I was forced to grow up fast and eventually grew further away from my family.  Finally, my mother sensed the urgency to come to the States and live with us. She left my dad, her business and our older sister behind in Taiwan and moved in with Jen and I.  When my mom moved in with us, she had to quickly find a Taiwanese community in Scottsdale. Regardless of her Buddhist faith, my mom started going to church with an intention of meeting other Taiwanese housewives.  In a few months, God’s overflowing love touched my mom’s heart. She found her true purpose for life.  My mom and I were baptized on the same day in the summer after my middle school graduation.

A year after my baptism, the summer before my sophomore year, I was raped by a guy I met and his two friends. He was 21 years old and I met him through a friend’s brother at a football game.  I was attracted to him because he was older and I thought he was more mature than the boys at my school. I had never had a boyfriend before him and was never exposed to sex before the rape.  My parents never talked about sex with me and I had very little knowledge about it. At that time, I never even kissed a boy before.  I simply had a crush on this guy because he was older and nice to me.  Sex was never on my mind at that age.  The night of the rape, I felt exposed, dirty, ashamed and confused.  Four months after the rape, I continued meeting with him on a weekly basis to satisfy his sexual needs.  I kept my mouth shut about the rape, because I didn’t think my High School friends would understand or believe me. I kept this dark secret to myself because I didn’t want to lose him in my life.  I needed a father figure in my life since my dad was thousands of miles away in Taiwan.  He convinced me that he made a mistake about the rape and promised me that it would never happen again.  I believed and forgave him. The truth is, I put the rape incident behind me because forgiving was easier than to face the pain of accepting the truth.  Sophomore year in High School was a year of devastation for me, dealing with the rape all alone. I isolated myself from everyone in my High School. I thought as long as no one knew about the rape, it never happened.  Isolation drew me further away from God and brought me closer to this guy and sex was the only thing that kept us together. My low self-esteem allowed me to do whatever pleased him, as long as he was happy, I was happy, or I thought I was.  One day he confronted me and told me that he had other girlfriends, and for some reason, I was okay with it. Eventually, I got sick of how he treated me and found myself crying in a co-worker’s arms on my 17th birthday.  My co-worker and I started dating, and I completely cut my connection with my toxic relationship. By completely cutting him out of my life and with my new boyfriend’s support, I was able to temporally forget about the rape.

I worked hard to finish high school early so that I could graduate with my boyfriend who was one year ahead of me. After high school graduation, we both moved on to college, and life seemed normal. My sister Jen had moved to California at this point, and I continued to go to church with my mom and served at the children’s ministry. My mom often had her life group meetings at our place with housewives, and I enjoyed coming home from school to them. God slowly came back to my heart as I started to love myself more. Being around with kids at church was very healing for me. The innocence of little kids was an escape for me from the real world and the scar from the rape. I felt like I found my childhood in little kids’ smiles and I felt at home at church.  Through the love of Jesus, my mom and I grew even closer as we shared our faith together.  However, I still didn’t have the heart and courage to tell my mom about the rape, I thought again, as long as I don’t tell anyone about it, the scar will eventually heal and go away. Time heals, right?  Or does it?

At the end of October in 2002, after we celebrated my mom’s 55th birthday with church friends at a park, my mom went home feeling sick.  A few weeks later, my mom found a lump on her neck and immediately booked the next flight to Taiwan for a physical checkup.   The doctor diagnosed my mom with final stage of gastric cancer and told us that she had less than 6 months to live.  That Christmas, I flew to Taiwan and spent a month with my mom.  I thought it would be my last Christmas with her.  For the next two and half years, my mom was on chemo therapy fighting for her life. In the midst of all her trials with cancer, my mom’s love for Jesus grew tremendously and many friends were saved because of my mom’s courageous faith.  My mother was the oldest of five, and growing up, she was always the one taking care of her family.  My mom was a very strong, independent, smart, caring, and loving woman --- she was my hero! My earliest memory of my mother was going to motivational events with her where she would speak to and encourage hundreds of entrepreneurs with their businesses. She worked very closely with women and mentored them in different walks of life.  My mother also had a huge heart for the poor because she grew up with nothing.  I remember visiting families with my mother as a kid, and everyone welcomed her, appreciated her and looked up to her.  I was so proud being my mother’s little girl.  Wherever my mom went, I had to tag along.  Whatever she did, I was like her shadow, imitating her every movement. Perhaps this is why my dad always tells me that I am my mom’s “mini-me”.

During chemo treatments, my mom’s faith grew stronger, but my hope for life was crushed.  I was always mommy’s little girl, and couldn’t accept the fact that my mom was dying. I was angry with God for putting my mom through this torture with cancer.  My lack of faith for God had turned me into a bitter person.  I forgot everything I learned at church and refused to listen to God.  So, I stopped going to church and avoided all the phone calls from church people. I didn’t want anything to do with church or God.  Once again, I isolated myself from God and everyone else. 

Since my mom moved back to Taiwan for chemo treatments, I lived by myself.  I became very needy toward my boyfriend, who was all I had. I didn’t speak to many people at work or school, not even my family. I hid my hurt from my parents as well.  I solely relied on my boyfriend for all my emotional support.  After a few months my boyfriend broke up with me because he couldn’t take it anymore.  He was a simple, happy kid and didn’t know how to deal with my complicated emotions.   He wanted to experience the “college life” without drama, and surely my life was full of drama. He left me with a phrase, “well, yes I wanted to marry you, but things change.”   I was devastated!  I even threatened him that I was going to kill myself if he didn’t’ take me back. I begged for his love.  He called the cops on me TWICE.  With my family’s reputation in my mind, I didn’t want to bring disgrace upon my family so I stopped “harassing” him. I started hanging out with friends and all we did was party.  Alcohol was the answer to my sorrow and medication for my sleepless nights.  I was careless with guys, and used my sexuality for their attention.  Once again, my low self-esteem took over me and did whatever I had to please men for their love. My grades at school started to fall and I stopped caring.  In order to carry some of my parents’ burdens, I lied to them that my tuition was paid with scholarships and I didn’t need their help with money. In my parent’s minds, I had everything under control and was making good grades at school.  Little did they know that my life was falling apart and I was lost. Sophomore year in college, I occupied myself with 19 credits and 3 part time jobs.  All I knew was work, school and partying.  Even with 3 jobs, and very few expenses as a college student, I was still unable to save any money and was behind on rent.  I spent a lot of money on partying and buying friend’s alcohol with my fake I.D. 

After I was given final notice from my landlord, I knew I had to stop partying and do something about money otherwise I was going to get kicked out.  A co-worker at the bank suggested I work at a strip club.  He told me that his sister made a lot of money and was buying houses as her business. I thought he was crazy to think that I would even consider taking my clothes off for money. My parents raised me to be an honest person. “I would never take my clothes off for money”, I said. 

At first, I thought I was getting a job at a 5-star hotel so I quit 2 of my part time jobs, and then I found out that the job fell through.  With a negative bank account, and an eviction notice at my door, you think I would go to my parents for help. But I had too much pride to go to my parents for help, so I listened to my co-workers suggestion and went to the strip club for a cocktail server position. Like many other girls, I was turned down for a server’s position but instead, the manager offered me a job as a dancer.  Out of my desperation, I found the courage to do it. I convinced myself that I was only going to do it for 2 weeks to pay off my bills.  Two weeks turned into a SEVEN YEARS of a lifestyle, stripping~~~

My mom passed away just 4 months before my college graduation in 2005.  My life was forever changed.  I didn’t even shed a tear at my mother’s funeral, because I was still in denial, praying that it was just a nightmare. My mom’s death was too hard to swallow.  After my mom’s death, I kept myself busy with school and graduated college.  I thought finishing college would be a beginning of my new life, but it was too hard to say good bye to the money, so I continued to strip~~~

It didn’t matter if I had big dreams after college, I was stuck being a stripper.  I was addicted to the freedom, money, and power.  I didn’t have a boss to tell me when to show up at work, I made as much money as I wanted, went on vacations as much as I wanted, and I felt like I had power over men. I knew the stripping world was dark and dangerous but I refused to be in the light and be seen with my brokenness. Women who have been stripping for a while warned me about it when I first started. But, I didn’t listen, so I chose the darkness. Greed and pride took me further and further away from my dreams and goals for life.  I worshipped money. I sold my body and soul to gain the feeling of being in control.  I thought I could buy anything and anyone I wanted.  I bought a house at age 22, went on trips, and convinced my ex-boyfriend to get back with me and made him believe that stripping was an honest living. With the grace of God, I was never involved with drugs like most of the girls were.  I have seen many girls go into the business and literally give everything they have for drugs.  I have had friendships with girls and lost them because of drugs.  The world of strippers is very small, because almost everyone in it follows everyone else’s footsteps. I thought I was different because my boyfriend had kept me grounded in many ways by constantly reminding me of my “real-world” goals. Outside of the club I was this giving and loving person that my mother raised me to be. Inside of the club, I am “SHY” who hustled and bustled for everyone’s wallets. “SHY” was my stage name at work that really didn’t have any meaning to me except that it was what everyone knew me as.  No one knew my real name at the club.  With a marketer’s mind, I treated stripping as a business. I always had plans about how to manipulate men to give me what I wanted.  I started becoming someone else at work, and when I was off, I constantly had to learn who I really was again.  I lived a very confusing life with my identities, after a while and I felt numb.   Occasionally, I drank alcohol to numb my shame and anger. The bottom line was I saw myself as a smart business woman who worked as a stripper, working fewer hours and making way more money than an average person would with a “normal” job. I thought I was smart with the money I made because I had a car, and a house, and other material things to show off.   I ignored the fact that even though I thought I had more power than the men at the club, the truth is I sold my soul to evil. I traded something so precious and valuable for something that has no value in God’s eyes.   Every time I showed up, a piece of me stayed at the club. I became jaded, angry, and even more broken. Even though, I felt God’s presence throughout those years, I chose to ignore His knocks at my door.

It wasn’t too long after I purchased my condo; the whole mortgage market went upside down. Like many people, I was stuck with a mortgage and a house under water.    I felt there was no way out of stripping. I didn’t know how to get myself out of this big hole.  Meanwhile, due to the pressure I had with bills, my 10-year relationship with my boyfriend was going downhill. I was living a double life between the club and the real world.   My boyfriend didn’t even recognize me anymore.  I dragged my boyfriend into my secretive world by convincing him for many years that I needed to strip to get ahead. He struggled with all the lies too, but he had no choice because I didn’t want to give up my lifestyle, and because he loved me, he chose to lie for me.  But, eventually, he couldn’t handle all the lies anymore.  His life kept moving forward, but mine stayed at the same spot.  Finally, we ended our 10-year relationship.  Stripping ruined our relationship. Most of all, stripping ruined my life; it took a broken heart and hardened it.

A girl friend of mine started dating a Christian man who led her to accept Jesus as her savior and eventually had the courage get out of the stripping world.  Because of her transformation, I desperately wanted the joy that I saw in her and I knew it was because of God. I wanted out of my lifestyle and I didn’t want to strip anymore! First, I made one of the toughest decisions in life, to let go of my house.  All the money I have ever made with stripping was gone because of my house.  It wasn’t just about losing the house that hurt, I felt like I lost 7 years of my life doing nothing.  The dreams I had for myself as a young girl were lost somewhere down the road chasing after material things and I couldn’t remember what they were anymore.  I was 19 when I started stripping, and 7 years later, with nothing to show on my resume was a huge disappointment for me.  “What have I done to my youth?” I asked.  I felt worn out, tired, discouraged, and hopeless.  My ex-boyfriend came back in my life, proposed to me and supported me financially after I quit stripping.  I took on my fiancé’s offers and was engaged and living with him for 11 months since I didn’t know where else to go. He was the only one I could trust even though I had already fell out of love with him, I felt it was only fair that I stayed with him.  In a very “strange” circumstance, my fiancé found out that I was involved with another man I met while we were separated before the engagement. He was devastated and angry. I was kicked out of his house and moved in with a friend who gave me a place to stay and food to eat without asking for anything in return.  He was a friend sent from above. He was a friend, who showered me with God’s love and words of encouragement in my darkest moments.  After 6 months of staying with him, I still had no luck with my job search.  While the world had its back against me, very few friends walked beside me. However, God uses people like them to show me that He never gives up on me even when it seemed like the sky is falling on me. Our God is a faithful God!

Finally, on April 27th 2011, after praying for months, I decided that I would take a 3-month trip to Taiwan and China, where my sister and dad live. I wanted to reconnect with my father and sister, Frida. I packed very little with me and up on the plane I went. Two days after my arrival in Taiwan, I was offered a job at a computer company in Irvine, California. I stayed in Taiwan for a 6-week training at their headquarters. Meanwhile, I found my roommate and a place to live in Irvine through a Christian website while I was still in Taiwan.  A month later, I signed a one-year lease for our apartment without even knowing how much I was getting paid with my new job or even seeing the apartment. I flew back to Phoenix, packed my stuff and moved to Irvine on the 4th of July 2011.  I met my roommate in person on the day we both moved into the apartment.  I knew God would take care of everything at the moment I accepted the job. I was right, God took care of everything. He provides even beyond what we can ever imagine.   I met the man of my dreams just 3 weeks after I moved to Irvine on a hike. Greg is not just the man of my dreams, he’s the man BEYOND my dreams. We started dating with God as our rock. He prays and reads God’s word with me. Greg and I joined a group at church called ROOTED, where we spent 10 weeks with 14 other believers on God’s word. During those 10 weeks, Greg and I have gotten to know each other on a deeper level as we all shared our stories.  After ROOTED, we decided to stay together as a life group and meet once a week studying God’s words together.  God has taught me so much love through Greg.   God gave me a man who is respectful, God-fearing, and loving whom I know I will spend the rest of my life with.  On November 2nd 2011, with our life group’s support and encouragement, we proudly signed our vows of purity. We pledged to honor God’s promise for us and respect each other with God’s love. This is the very first time in my life, I feel free from my dependency on sex.  I don’t need to use my sexuality to get attention and feel loved anymore.  Greg loves who I am and cherishes every part of me. I feel very blessed to be with Greg and share future dreams with him. Our goal is to serve our Lord as a team for the rest of our lives.  Besides Greg, God also gave me a group of great friends in Irvine where I feel connected with the Body of Christ. Through friends, I finally learned that being vulnerable is a beautiful and Godly thing. I can look past the judgments and feel safe in God’s community.  I can truly say that I am happy with my new life in Irvine and grateful for the 2nd chance that God has given me.   I wanted to leave my past behind as I know that God has forgiven me for my mistakes. Recently, God has called me and put a burden on my heart --- reach the unreachable.  On April 27th 2012, exactly a year after my trip to Taiwan, I found myself sitting at Treasures Outreach training conference in Pasadena with two women whom I met 2 days before the training at church. Treasures is an outreach ministry that started by a girl named Harmony Dust, who has a story like mine. Treasures Outreach has been reaching out to women in the sex industry for over 10 years. Volunteers go into strip clubs with goodie bags for the women, love on them and being there for those women with the love of Jesus.   Treasures also goes out to church leaders who share the same vision and passion for these women, equip leaders and volunteers to reach women in strip clubs nationwide. Showing up at the conference was the first step of me submitting to God’s calling, as God shows me that my story is now His story and is meant to be shared. I declared that I want to be used by God for His glory even if it means that I have to step outside of my comfort zone. “Wherever he goes, I go! Whoever He loves, I love! I WILL FOLLOW HIM!”

 I know it was not a coincidence that at the conference I met a woman, who is from Phoenix, Arizona and had been one of the churchy ladies who goes to the club I used to work at for 10 years reaching out to the girls.  God used me to show her that one of the seeds that she planted a few years ago at the club is now grown and ready to plant more seeds for God. I am ready to be equipped by God to do His work.

The night before I went to the conference, I looked for the silver bracelet in my jewelry box.  The silver bracelet has never been touched since that Easter, yet it looked aged sitting in the box. I cleaned the bracelet, and have been wearing this silver bracelet ever since the training.  It is a reminder for me that God is faithful and no matter how dark our pasts may be, He promises to bring light of life to us.  Every time I look at this silver bracelet, a voice is whispering in my ears, “Go, my child, be my hands and feet so that the world may see light of life in you”

I pray that God would allow me to use the light in me and shine in darkness.

“Don’t blame the darkness for being dark; blame the light for not shinning in the dark.”

Job 33:28,” God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.”
Meli's "Real Teal"

Meli is a Survivor and not afraid to show it!

Here is a beautiful song to go with your beautiful story!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

S.A.A.M. Supporters Part 1




I was determined this April to get more supporters to wear Teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I sent emails out asking everyone to send over picture with the color teal and send over pictures with their bracelets on. I am so happy with the support I have seen from people and I wanted to share some pictures with you.

My Friend from VA is rocking the Teal  in Support of SAAM
Chris and Es wearing their wristbands

Here is what I am handing out around my community
I was so excited when I got the wristbands


Alicia's Wearing her Wristband proudly!
Triko Salon is spreading awareness
My Hubby being cute at work!

 Here's a great Shirt with a Great Message


These are just a few pictures from some friends and family showing their support for this great cause. Stay Tuned for more Support pictures from people near and far! Keep the pictures coming, and send some encouraging words to survivors. Thank you all again for your support it means the world to me that you are being bold and wearing teal with a purpose. Continue to spread the awareness! I am still accepting picture submissions for awareness month please email me at 4hopeandhealing@gmail.com.
                                 
                              LET'S SHOW SURVIVORS SOME LOVE AND KEEP SPREADING THE AWARENESS!



 





Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Blog, My Purpose.... My Vision

"Be on guard, Stand firm in the faith. Be Courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." 1Cor 16:13-14 NLT  



  I have been writing this blog now for almost a year and a half and each time I write it's healing for my heart.  I look back at where I was when I first posted my story for all of the world to read.  I remember the butterflies in my stomach, the fear that was overwhelming my soul, the negative thoughts coursing through my mind.  Then when I clicked that button and published my story for the first time I remember the healing tears running down my cheeks, the peace that washed over me, and the sense of freedom that I longed for so many years was finally happening.  I knew what God had planned for me, he began restoring my soul and showing me the new life he planned for me.  I trusted in Him and so I followed His lead because I knew that He would be there walking beside me every step of the way. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions as soon as my story was out in the open and I emailed it out to all of the people that were part of my past and present.  I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable and scared, then people began to respond.  God used these people to comfort me by sending me words of encouragement and love.  I kept writing because the weight of my past kept getting lighter and lighter, my act of obedience and surrender was healing and before I knew it I became a new "Lisa".  I looked in the mirror and said goodbye to my 16 yr. old self, God healed her and said that the new Lisa was no longer scared but a confident, redeemed daughter of Christ.  My heart was filled with love and encouragement so I began to put myself out there more.  I started to reach out to other survivors and they answered back.  The comfort of relating and connecting with people who have felt my pain and understood my words that I put down on paper.  They know exactly what I have been through and the connections I have made have been the most rewarding experience of my healing process. 
      I write this blog not only for my own healing but to encourage others to take the first step of freedom from their pain.  Survivors, share your stories and don't live in your silent prison, speak out and free your wounded hearts! God has totally challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and use my voice.  He has given me the courage to tell the truth and put His vision into action. God has given me a purpose that is much bigger than me, and I can't do any of this without Him.  He has put a drive and passion in my heart to help other survivors see that they can live a life of freedom from their trauma.  I am a living testimony of the power of God's love, mercy and grace.  My hope and prayer for this blog is to continue to spread hope for survivors, to raise awareness around the world, and challenge everyone who reads this to get involved. 
     I decided to do something more to get people's attention in my community for this cause, I accepted God's challenge with pleasure.   I had wristbands made to pass out, along with cards that my sister made for me with my blog website, and a good friend of mine helped me with a short mission statement to go along with my "S.A.A.M. Awareness Bracelets".  I will never forget that feeling of excitement when my wristbands came in the mail, the joy I experienced when my mission statement was finalized, and when I got my cards my vision was almost complete.  The day I got my cards I went to the store right after work and got my zip lock baggies to put together my handouts.  I was so excited to do something like this for a cause that I am so passionate about.  My husband and I stayed up late putting together 100 of my bracelets ready to pass out the next day.  As I drove to work I had tears of joy in my eyes, butterflies in my stomach, reality hit me and then came the anxiousness and fear coursing through my body.  I write all of the time and send it out on all of my social networks and blast emails but now I am doing this face to face.  I am vulnerable to rejection and judgment I am about to put myself out there in front of my co-workers.  I closed my eyes and asked God to be with me as I handed out my bracelets.   

 

     I handed out the first one and the woman I gave it to looked up at me, smiled and said she would be happy to wear it.  Whew! Bullet dodged...One good reaction down hopefully more to go! I gave out the second one and it sparked a conversation and gave me the opportunity to share my story.  As the day went on I was more and more surprised by the support of my co-workers and willingness to wear the bracelets  At lunch I went to the church where my Mom works and I attend.  I began passing them out to people that I know and then to people that I didn't.  I went to the mailboxes and put them in all of the Pastor's boxes, I want them to know what this month is.  All 100 bracelets and cards that I intended to.  I have 200 more to go and I hope that it gets people's attention in my community.  I will definitely let you know what happens as I step out in faith and get people talking about Sexual Assault. I am excited to do this and follow through on the challenge that God has put in front of me, He is walking beside me and he won't let me fall. 

     I want to challenge all of the brave survivors out there to use their voices.  Share your stories, don't base your self worth on what happened to you, most of all don't let your past define you and imprison you  Be Bold! Be Courageous! Please know that you are beautiful, strong and worthy of pure genuine love! You are all of these things because God loves you, He created you in His image and He promises to walk beside you... FOREVER!  I speak from experience when I tell you that this won't be easy, it's scary putting yourself out there.  That fear and vulnerability will be a trigger at first, but take a moment, close your eyes and ask God to walk with you and guide you.  The next time you put yourself out there it won't be so scary, you will keep moving forward and you will want to keep speaking out because the rewards are humbling and healing.  You will look in the mirror and say goodbye to your old scared self and be a new person with a new confidence! The next time you look in the mirror you will look up with a bright smile and joy will wash over your entire body!