Friday, July 11, 2014

I Have a Future

Heather is a 2013 graduate from Mercy Ministries.
Throughout my seventh grade year I was molested by two of my neighbors. During that time of abuse I became withdrawn in attempt to escape the physical attention from men, in hopes that hiding also meant safety. I slowly started to crave someone to confide in, so when I received a message on MySpace from an older man who also claimed to be looking for a friend, I thought that someone who wasn’t in “real life” would be a safe option for me. After two years of a relationship with him, I was informed by the police and FBI that he was arrested for sexually based crimes against a minor and was also believed to be stalking me.

The sexual abuse and betrayal of trust led to intense feelings of fear and shame. I started self harming and restricting food to inflict punishment on myself that I felt I deserved. I kept my destructive behaviors hidden up until my sophomore year of high school. Within eight months I lost 11 loved ones. In the beginning of that season one of my best friends, Christian, passed away in a hunting accident. My life seemed like a series of unfortunate events and I dove deep into the eating disorder and self harm in order to survive, but in turn they took over and almost took my life. After multiple treatment approaches, I went through 10 rounds of electro-convulsive therapy and lost a complete year of memory because of it.

For nine years I lived by the dictation of my eating disorder, self harm, depression, anxiety attacks, and flashbacks; dropping out of school and going into residential treatment centers for eating disorders on a semi-annual basis. Every attempt I gave at recovery failed because I did not have God in my life. I thought that Mercy was just another rehab with a Jesus twist. I was surprised to find that instead of practicing behavior modification, there was transformation through a relationship with Christ. That was the ultimate game-changer; inviting Jesus into my heart.

God has been faithful to heal all the broken places from my past and help me walk forward into my future. I am able to find joy in what the world may see as mundane and laugh with a full heart. My life wasn’t just restored, but saved. I still continually catch myself in awe of the work that God has done in my life where I just have to stop and cry out to Him in thanksgiving. It is such a blessing to come home after a day at work and sit down to share a meal with my family. In the past I couldn’t keep a job, eat a normal meal, or even have fellowship with my family! It is such a gift to have that reminder every evening of the love and mercy that God has shown me. Every season comes with new struggles but now I am facing them with a different perspective. I have peace with where I’ve been and am excited for the plans He has waiting for me. Praise God, for He has saved me from myself. My only desire is to use my saved life to honor Him in all that I do.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Staff Spotlight: Meet Elizabeth

Here at Mercy Ministries, we believe in hope and transformation. Our staff work on the front lines, sharing the hope and transformation they have found with our residents and using their passion for ministry in creating a truly amazing place. We are able to do the work we do because of the incredible team that serves each and every day. We are excited to introduce our team to you in our Staff Spotlight.

Elizabeth Harper is a donor data specialist at the Nashville Mercy Ministries corporate office. She's focused on any task at hand, has a smile that lights up a room, and is an inspirational health-nut! We asked her a few questions and this is what she had to say:

Tell us about yourself! 
I have now been a Nashville resident for just over a year… I moved here from the extra sunny Phoenix, Arizona where my mom and three sisters still are.  I always tell people I never needed to join a sorority because I’ve been living in one my whole life! I am the oldest (it’s obvious, trust me) and I am about to marry the man of my dreams in two short months in Sweet Home Alabama…. Did I mention we met in Australia?

What brought you to Mercy? 
Around the time I was graduating college, my sweet guy and I really didn’t want to be long distance anymore. We also wanted to be very intentional about our decisions, not only in our relationship but in our careers. I had heard about Mercy when I was living in Australia and had always heard such wonderful stories of the lives being changed through this ministry. When I started my job search, this seemed to just fall in my lap. I was thrilled with the possibility of working at a nonprofit that not only helped people, but gave God all the glory while doing so. It was a long skype interview and a couple of weeks later before I was on the road from Phoenix headed to my first day at the Mercy Corporate office just over a year ago!

What is your favorite part of your job? 
Top notch quality people! Really, Mercy is full of all the kinds of people you want to rub elbows with. I also love any chances I get to head over to the home and see the girls graduate. Those stories never get old and it is so apparent how God is in every detail!

What is your favorite scripture?
Psalm 103:1-5 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

What is God teaching you currently?
Recently, I was given a word of encouragement in regards to being a “stress-free woman” Who doesn’t want that?! I fall on the side of “striving” and that is never how we were created to live.  Not only do I believe that God wants me to live from a place of rest and peace, but I think He wants me flourishing while doing so. Not that life won’t happen, or situations won’t arise, but it has to do with living from a new place in Him, a certainty. So, currently I am relearning how to completely allow Him into every area, every detail, and every place I think I have figured out. Seeing Him continually as my answer for everything completely shifts my perspective. #gamechanger #lifewin

Who is your hero and why? 
Betty Jean, my mom: You hear it a lot, moms being heroes…. But, seriously, mine takes the cake. She loves the Lord, knows His word and prays like no one else I know. She is a fighter, a worshiper, a runner, a friend, a sister and has become my best friend! Over the past 10 years you could look at her life and say just how unfair it has been and she would look back at you and say, “Where are you going to live today? Happy Ville or Grumpy Town?” This sums her up. She has chosen joy and continues to believe the promises of God for her life and our family and she’s so darn cute while doing it! 

What is one dream you have that you look forward to being fulfilled? 
Seeing my Mom, and sisters (Bonny, Lauren and Gloria) lives restored and destinies lived out to the fullest! Ephesians 3:20, baby! 

Favorite childhood memory?
Being at the Hanson concert with my whole family when I was 8. We got the last 6 tickets in the whole building, and when they started playing I couldn’t see a thing and I immediately started crying (my eyeliner Hanson symbol was now smeared down my face). My dad saw what was going on and snuck us down to the floor level and then put me on his shoulders for the whole show. Hanson is still my all-time favorite band!

What do you like to do for fun?
 I love organic juicing, being active, yummy coffee shops and hanging with my favorite guy and our family and friends.

5 Things you can’t live without 
  1. Green juice (FAVORITE: kale, spinach, parsley, green apple and a dash of pineapple)
  2. Some sass, keeps life funny
  3. Chapstick & rose water mist (they are back to back every time)
  4. My iPhone… I have so many people I love far, far away!
  5. Mexican food… always my favorite indulgence!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Wait on the Lord

It's common to be fatigued, exhausted, and even down-trodden. Sometimes we can't even place why we feel this way. But God is always there, always waiting for us to lean on Him and depend on Him for strength and energy.

Print this out to help you remember!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mercy Girls on Location

This week, we had a little getaway with some of the residents. We went to a cool location downtown, met up with a photographer, and spent a few hours posing and laughing in front of the camera!

Most of us struggle with self-esteem issues, even into adulthood. And honestly, most of us are uncomfortable in front of a camera! But it's fun to find that confidence and joy, unwind, and let the camera capture true inner beauty as it radiates out from us.

Remember, you are beautiful. Inside and out. And when you see someone who looks particularly shy, don't be afraid to tell her how beautiful her smile is. It will make her day!

We can't wait to share these photos with you in the coming weeks and months, but for now here are some behind the scenes shots!