from the wife, HER Voice, Hope Redefined, recovery, the everyday, Uncategorized

Letter to Pornography


You are no longer welcome in my home. You are no longer invited either by force or by enabling into my marriage bed. I will partner no more with your lies.

I am partnering with Kingdom ways, purposes, plans and truth.

You have been exposed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Your effect on my mind, body, and spirit stops now.  I will do whatever it takes to eradicate your existence in my home, marriage and family. I’m taking back my kids’ physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Therefore, I will partner with Kingdom realities and expose the truth of what is happening in this home and who we serve.

No longer will I allow you to degrade me, demean my husband and dehumanize countless women, including myself.

I am drawing a line in the sand. No longer will you sow the lie of “all the perks of home, marriage, (sex) and family life,” then invade our ear/eye gates and bedroom pretending things are changing and this is what repentance looks like.

 I choose to believe that God is able to rebuild trust in my marriage based on mutuality, reciprocity, and FREEDOM!

You are no longer welcome in this process. Consider yourself served! 

– Warrior Bride

The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
 We encourage you to use self care when reading other’s testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process. 

from the wife, HER Voice, Hope Redefined, how to help with porn addiction, pornography addiction, recovery, rediscovering yourself, self care, the everyday, Uncategorized

Rediscovering Yourself

I could not tell you the day or even year that I completely lost myself. I didn’t know that I had lost myself. It was gradual.

It started when I began dating my husband, and bit by bit in the name of love, I gave pieces of myself away. First, it was my affections, then my discernment – including my views and opinions. Then my dreams, goals and values slipped away – and eventually, my soul. It’s been a journey of 40 years. I met my husband in college and I quit for him. It was in the late 70’s. We married in the 80’s and the sexual betrayal has come in different forms and different seasons. There was actually a phase of 8 years where our home was free of it. We all flourished during those years, only to have the use of the internet to revive my husband’s drug of choice. The gas-lighting and discrediting started all over again in more force than ever. There would be times when I felt good and ok – when I was with my family of origin or my children, when I was alone and eventually developed a more intimate relationship with the Lord, with friends or in books or music I enjoyed. But as time went on and traumas were not attended to, those things became even more obscure.

It was not until just a few years ago when someone asked me what I wanted and what my desires were that I realized I felt selfish even answering that question. I didn’t have any desires anymore. Life for me had lost its colors, its tones, its music, its words. Living in a blur of gas-lighting left me confused, weary and hopeless.

I needed to realize first of all that I had lost myself. So in essence it is a prerequisite to rediscovery. Then I needed the power of the Holy Spirit to demand- yes, demand – that I be looked at as a holy daughter of the King of the Universe.

Rediscovering myself was a type of resurrection.  It’s like dormant spring bulbs that hold life but are buried unseen under dirt and snow, seemingly dead. Yet, even before I have shed my winter coat in the early spring, they bravely shoot their green stalks through the dirt promising a display of beauty in the days to come. 

At one time or another, I need to rediscover myself. So much in life brings on loss, burials and the need for resurrections and rediscoveries. However, since betrayal trauma destroys the sense of reality, it brings on a toxic brand of disorientation. It makes you second guess yourself and your faith. It consumes energy to recover and to prevent the pain from happening again…only to have it happen again. Meanwhile, everyone else is moving on leaving you in isolation, shame and in need of resurrection.

promising a display of beauty in the days to come

There are many components that have played a part in my journey of rediscovery. I can’t possibly be comprehensive here but would like to share a few things that have been fundamental:

  1. Knowing God. Over and over in different phases of rediscovery I have gone back to focusing on the attributes of God. He is my creator and knows me best of all. He created me in His image, to reflect Him. This gives me a starting place and a foundation when everything else in my world is imploding. There are plenty of good books on this topic, but I like to jot God’s characteristics down as I discover them as I read the Bible in my devotions.
  2. Finding my identity in the Word of God.  I write down the statements about God’s view of me and His truths as I study His Word. Sometimes I meditate on one phrase for a day or even a month. One year, I meditated each day on being rooted and grounded in love . . .the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ.
  3. Journaling. This gives me a place to process and validate my emotions. Sometimes I need to just write and throw it away.
  4. Exercising (and being ok with not being athletic or competitive). My gentle yoga instructor always opens the class by reminding us, “There is no judgement here.” That has been one of the most freeing statements for me.
  5. Going outside. Every day, even if just for a few minutes. It reminds me of my Creator and opens my eyes and mind.
  6. Saying “no” to things I don’t like or have the time for without having to explain or apologize. 
  7. Saying “goodbye” to seasons of my life. Sometimes we must get rid of things that don’t fit anymore to make room for new things. There are things that I have abandoned like old projects or hobbies. There are friends that I just don’t see anymore because our lives don’t intersect. And that is ok.
  8. Revisiting things I used to enjoy but haven’t done for a while. My first step was to make a list of all the things I wanted to do without thinking about the challenges of putting these things in my life. 
  9. Spiritual Retreat. This saved my sanity in a very dark time. I went to a retreat center that allowed for silence and solitude.
  10. Coaching. I have had counseling and that was a good place to start but it only took me so far. Coaching has enabled me to look forward.

Rediscovery is a journey. It has seasons of starts and stops.  The Lord inevitably brings something into my life to refresh me on my journey. This is where my journey intersects with Hope Redefined. I heard Lyschel on the Braveful Summit and was inspired to call and pursue coaching with Amy Nagy.  As I have been working on skills to work through the ruts, I have found freedom in my day and clarity in my thoughts so that I can recognize myself and embrace the joy of rediscovery. 

Here are some additional resources in this season that helped me on my way:

Knowing God  by J.I. Packer

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller

J Curve by Paul E. Miller

Anything by Sharon Garlough Brown

Many Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

Podcast: The Next Right Thing by Emilie P. Freeman

Every journey of rediscovery is unique. May you live in the freedom to explore your own path.

The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
 We encourage you to use self care when reading other’s testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process. 

family, featured, from the wife

Dear Dolly

In early March 2020, Dolly Parton shared her desire to be on the cover of Playboy magazine again with “60 Minutes Australia.” This time for her 75th birthday.

I read the brief article and immediately my heart sank. Once again, I see celebrities loosing sight of the impact and choices of continuing to embrace this sexualized culture. My desire was to send the letter below directly to Dolly or someone within her circle of people. However, I have been unsuccessful in getting the email to go through. So I am moving to another platform in hopes of getting this to her and praying for her consideration.

Dear Dolly,

My name is Lyschel and I am a mom to three beautiful daughters, a wife, friend and ministry leader in East Tennessee. I’m writing you because of the recent news about your 75th birthday and your desire to be on the cover of Playboy again.

Can I be honest with you? Woman to woman? Strong woman to strong woman?  This news grieved me so much. As you know, you are OUR celebrity in East Tennessee . OUR person who changes the world for good and uses her platform for spreading love and kindness. You were the first celebrity my girls knew of and recognized. You were known as the nice lady that mailed us books each month through Imagination Library. My daughters were convinced you lived at Dollywood and were disappointed when we did not see you on our visits.  You are a role model for them in the biggest and smallest of ways.

We watched the entire telethon that you hosted after the fires destroyed The Smokey Mountains in 2016, giving us an opportunity to explain to our girls how you use your position as a celebrity to bring life back into a devastated community. We watched your story through the movie Coat of Many Colors so many times. It’s safe to say you are an important lady in our home.

(Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

In addition to being a mom, I love on women who have faced sexual betrayal in their own stories by their husbands through infidelity, pornography and addiction. I cannot listen to your song “Jolene” without crying. The pain in that song is real and deep. You get it. You understand the betrayal and uncertainty of it. You also know what it feels like to ask the sexualized culture around you to back off for the sake of your marriage. 

Through watching various documentaries about you, I learned that “Jolene” was a real moment for you in your own marriage. I also watched as you began to step out and speak up for women in your various roles such as the one you played in 9 to 5 in 1980, refusing to allow the exploitation of women in the workforce and taking a stand against chauvinism.

Your climb to stardom had to come with so much cost, and your reach for more impact has, no doubt, been honorable.

When I asked a group of female friends what words describe Dolly Parton, I heard: “sassy,” “unstoppable,” “a fighter,” “generous,” “kind,” “joyful,” “truthful,” “an encourager” and “a Joan of Arc of her time.”

So my plea today is please do not become betrayal material for our culture. Please do not become sexual content for men, women and children. Please do not add to the sexualization of our culture and the brokenness of this world when it comes to honoring people for who they are, not for what they look like. 

An article published by the American College of Pediatricians in 2016 discussed the impact of pornography on children and families as this: “Children suffer many negative effects due to modern society’s exposure to and acceptance of pornography. These negative effects include mental disturbance and unrest for the young school age child, including acting out and violent behavior. Because of its harmfulness to children, pornography must never be used as a tool to teach children human sexuality. For older adolescents and young adults, pornography teaches a false narrative regarding human sexuality and how men and women form healthy sexual relationships. This makes it more difficult for young men and women to form authentic, stable relationships. For parents, pornography is divisive resulting in a decreased quality of marriage and increasing the likelihood of divorce and separation which has been well documented to be harmful to children. “

So while it might seem like a punch in the face for the age police to model for the cover of a pornographic magazine at age 75, the implications far outweigh the statement made to the world and your 75 year old self.

I have sat with hundreds of women who are shattered by the impact of pornography and infidelity in their marriage. I have heard of children addicted to material as early as 11 years old because their parents were using the material themselves and they discovered it on their devices or in their home. I have experienced the emotional disconnect and divisiveness of divorce because of sexual addiction. I have prayed with adult daughters of men who were unable to fully love them as God designed because their hearts and minds were not able to emotionally connect with other women without lusting after them, so they avoided relationship with their daughters all together. These women’s lives are left with gaping holes because of emotional abandonment.

So I am speaking up and asking you, please don’t be a part of this epidemic that is destroying our children and families. Your voice and platform is so much more powerful and meaningful than the one you might hold for a minute on the cover of Playboy.

I know that your other platforms speak directly against the things that porn accomplishes. You are a representation of love and hope for so many women and children. Please don’t waver from this incredible platform of female empowerment and return us back to 1978.

Love your E TN fan,

Lyschel Burket 

boundaries, featured, grief, HER Voice, Hope Redefined, how to help with porn addiction, pornography addiction, recovery, the everyday, Uncategorized

The Gift of Grief

“I just want to get it all out so it’ll be gone,” I said bitterly. 

“It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing. You’ll get better at grieving,” she said. My friend Alice was a fellow traveler in my 12-Step program, but she had more experience with grief than I did

“I don’t want to get better at it. I want it to be done,” I asserted, not so much to Alice as to the incessant writhing in my stomach. I’m pretty sure I raised my eyebrows as I spoke. If I’d been talking to my children, they’d have known it was the last straw, and they’d better quit wreaking havoc before mom totally lost it. 

I grew up in a dysfunctional home – one parent with mental illness and both struggling with addictions. I was too busy keeping my head above water to feel my feelings, and when I did express any sort of emotion, it was quickly shut down. I learned to be self-sufficient, easy-going, and to diffuse every bomb with a joke, so as not to allow those pesky feelings to surface. Add to that being a seven on the Enneagram, and you can see how everything in me is built to avoid negative emotions. I can see the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. It’s a gift most of the time, but the danger is that I can easily stuff my negative feelings rather than deal with them. By the time I had my first child at 26, there was a hurricane brewing. 

Perhaps it was being a new mom and having a baby to protect. Maybe it was that I was just so damn tired. Whatever the reasons, there came a moment when I knew I had to do something different. I set some “boundaries” with my parents right after my first child was born–both a new word and a new behavior for me. My parents didn’t take too well to that, and the conflict that arose sent me on a journey of self-discovery and healing. While those words may stir up images of leather journals, steaming cups of coffee and self-help books, for me it felt more like being awake for open-heart surgery. 

On the recommendation of my therapist, I attended a 12-Step program called Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, the program gives people a process by which to participate in their own healing. I liked the idea of having a plan. I knew it would be painful, but at least there was an end. If I made it to Step 12, I could close the book and move on, right?

In ACA I began unpacking all those stuffed feelings. All the work of identifying, surrendering, and taking inventory of my (and my family’s) dysfunction meant going back to old wounds, naming losses, crying, talking about my feelings (ugh!), and saying no to my usual coping mechanisms. In a nutshell, it meant grieving–not just the things I’d lost, but also the things that I never had. As a black-belt people pleaser, I did all the exercises the program recommended. I made lists. I spent time reflecting on each item as a loss, asking God to heal that wound. I groaned as I set a timer for my grief work so I would be forced to sit through it and not just skip over the painful feelings the exercise stirred up. 

I attended meetings weekly. Every meeting would include reading some of the ACA literature. The Promises were my favorite: a drink of optimism in the dry desert of reality I was crossing. The last one says, “Gradually, with our Higher Power’s help, we learn to expect the best and get it.” Yes! That’s the guarantee I was working for. Forget the silver lining, I want the whole bright blue sky! I worked the program to finish the program. I so looked forward to closing the book and getting on with living my best life. That’s why getting to “the end” was such a disappointment. 

Step 10 says that we, “Continued to take personal inventory, and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” I should have seen immediately how I’d been duped, but I proceeded to read my chapter and do my homework like a good little rule follower. The assignment for Step 10 was to make a list of questions related to our struggles. Did I play the victim today? Did I say “yes” out of guilt? Did I avoid grief rather than experience it? Then I was to place these questions by my bedside and read them every night as a way of maintenance. And there it was. Maintenance?! For how long?! I searched for a time frame in the text that followed, but there was none. The implication was terrifying. I’d just traversed an entire desert, and I wanted to swim in the rivers of living water on the other side. Instead I found myself, like the Israelites having just fled Egypt, next to nowhere on the side of a mountain, wondering what the Egyptians were having for dinner that night. I’d have to continue the work of grieving and healing to pursue wholeness. 

“I feel really angry. I wanted this to fix everything. I wanted to have surgery and remove the parasite, but instead, I feel like I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic grief issue and just given a bunch of tools for dealing with it,” I shared at my next meeting. I hoped to incite some righteous anger, or least some smug indignation from my fellow travelers. “Thanks for sharing,” they all said in unison. And the meeting continued. 

Despite the injustice I felt, I completed the program. And I returned the following week for another meeting. And one after. And then another… for about seven more years. While I couldn’t articulate it at the time, something unexpected happened during the course of all that grieving: I got better at it.

The sky wasn’t bright blue when I finished Step 12, but it was bluer than before. It continues to brighten. There are days when I need to go back to Step 1, recognize that I’m powerless and surrender to God. There are days where I need to act on Step 9 and make amends for a mistake. And there’s plenty of grieving to do as life goes on with all its challenges. I still don’t like grieving, but I let myself do it. I think I understand now what Alice meant when she said that I’d get better at grieving. It’s work. And like the Twelve Steps, it’s not a one-and-done, but rather an ongoing work. 

God, as I’ve come to understand Him, is not a one-and-done kind of God. He’s infinite, and His redemptive work is infinite. In my humanity I can’t imagine a bluer blue than blue, but when the sky clears a little more, and things get a shade brighter, I’m once again amazed at the healing that’s possible. What’s more, I’ve become thankful for processes that allow me to participate in my own healing.

Grief has been a big one.

When God rescued the Israelites from Egypt, He led them through the desert. It’s no wonder they were angry and disappointed to arrive at Mt. Sinai. They were probably wanting to close the book and be done, but that wasn’t God’s plan. He gave them a process. Just like the sacrificial system is the process by which God reconciled us to Himself, grief is the process He gifted us so that we could reconcile our broken reality with that for which we were created. And like the sacrificial system, grief is a messy work.

We can approach it with groaning and complaining, making golden calves out of our brilliant coping strategies, or we can surrender to it and let it heal us one day at a time. 

Written and contributed by Chera Meredith

The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
 We encourage you to use self care when reading other’s testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process. 

boundaries, featured, Hope Redefined, how to help with porn addiction, pornography addiction, recovery, the everyday

Boundaries After Betrayal

If you’ve been on the journey of recovery from sexual betrayal for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the term “boundaries.” That’s because betrayal trauma experts know that boundary work is one of the most important skills you can learn to not only survive the betrayal, but to regain sure footing and confidently live beyond it. Today on the blog, I want to give an introduction to boundary work. We’ll look at what it is and why we need it, as well as what God says about it. There is no way I, nor anyone else, could cover all there is to know about boundaries in a single article or even in a book! But, I hope this will be helpful for now, and at the end, I’ll give you some resources so you can continue your work.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “boundary” as “a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.” The simplest way for me to understand the concept of a boundary early on was to think about a fence around my property. “What does the fence do?” my therapist asked. “Well,” I responded, “it keeps out people and animals we don’t want on our property, and it keeps us safe within our property.” Bingo! From there, I could easily agree that I needed some boundaries in my life…physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual boundaries. I wanted to keep IN things like peace, safety, and joy, and I wanted to keep OUT things like deceit, manipulation, and anything harmful. Sometimes in my practice, a betrayed spouse would misunderstand boundary work, thinking that she could manipulate or force behavior change by setting boundaries. But creating and maintaining boundaries is not about forcing behavior change in another person. Instead, boundaries help create safety in each of us and in our relationships. They say “This is where I start and stop,” “This is what I will/won’t accept,” “This is what I will do if you choose to ___ “, and so much more.

There are several versions of this quote floating around out there, but it’s worth sharing, even though I’m not sure where it originated: “How people treat you is a reflection of them. What you accept is a reflection of you.” Read that again. This is Boundaries 101. 

As I said before, if you’ve been in recovery, you’ve heard of boundaries. It’s kind of a pop-term that has definitely gained interest since Henry Cloud and John Townsend released their book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes; How to Say No, in 1992. But, as culturally popular as it may be, it’s more important to understand that setting and enforcing boundaries is a Biblical principle. As it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and boundaries are no different. Cloud and Townsend didn’t actually come up with this concept; the Holy Trinity did before the heavens and Earth were formed. You only have to look at creation to see the existence and use of boundaries: oceans stop, lands begin; days are numbered; Adam and Eve have free reign in the Garden except for the forbidden fruit, and God enforced consequences when they didn’t honor His boundary. We can also look at Jesus’ life to see how he dealt with boundaries, remembering that He was without sin and completely loving. Jesus said “No” to inappropriate behavior such as demands (Luke 5:15-16), entitlement (Matthew 12:46-50), cynicism (Luke 23:8-9), pride (Matthew 13:58), abuse (Luke 4:28-30), baiting questions (Matthew 21:23-27, 22:15-22), and manipulation (Matthew 16:23). Jesus knew that he had needs that could only be met through time with the Father (Matthew 6:6; Mark 14:32-42). Jesus was honest and direct (Matthew 5:37). Jesus set priorities (Mark 12:29-31; Mark 1:38). Jesus sought to please God, not people (John 5:44). Jesus met His own personal needs (Matthew 26:18, 20; Mark 1:16, 3:23, 4:38; Luke 7:36; John 10:40, 12:2). And finally, we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 to “control our own body (or possess our own vessel) in holiness and honor.” I’m going to end this section with a quote from one of my favorite modern-day theologians, Rachel Jankovic. It really summarizes what should inform all of our boundary work:

God’s Word is the perfect law of liberty because it both commands us and protects us. It is a Living Word. To know your boundaries, know your God and His Word.”

In addition to understanding what boundaries are, why you need them, and what God says about them, I also want you to know that there are many challenges to doing this work. The part of your brain that has been damaged by betrayal trauma needs boundaries in order to create safety, in order to heal. But, it’s the damaged part of your brain that makes it so difficult to do that. This is why getting support for this work is absolutely essential. It is priceless to have an experienced, trusted person tell you that you’re not crazy, that your needs and wants are valid, and to help you navigate through setting boundaries that will help you heal.

It is for this reason that I am inviting you to plug into Hope Online, a community of Hope Redefined. A webinar and group course on boundaries is coming soon, along with lots of other great resources to help you on your journey. As I said at the beginning of this blog article, there is no way to cover everything here. However, we will get super practical and give you chances to ask questions and get lots of guidance and practice in doing your own boundary work in the webinar and group course.

I hope you’ll join us!

from the wife, HER Voice, holidays, Hope Redefined, recovery, the everyday, Uncategorized

Endless Hope, Relentless Joy

Endless HOPE, relentless JOY started with a baby boy.

– for king and country

By the grace of God, I’ve always been able to separate the actions of people from the character of God. I wasn’t angry at God when my mom would hit, scream, throw and punish. I wasn’t angry at God when my dad let it happen. I wasn’t angry at God when three people who were friends and family did things to my body that no first grader should experience. I wasn’t angry at God when a man I thought I would marry would become angry at the word “no” and took what he wanted anyway. I wasn’t angry at God for anything that came with that- filing a restraining order, taking a pregnancy test and getting tested for STDs. I wasn’t angry at God when the man I did marry consumed pornography and then had to detail more egregious missteps than anything I had encountered up to that point in my life.

No, it wasn’t God. In fact, it was His character and mercy that saved me from so many consequences. I still love my parents and have a relationship with them. I wasn’t susceptible to a proposition from a stranger who said “there’s nothing wrong if it’s just talking”. When I was reeling from the shock of rape and became physically involved with another man having little care for my own safety, there was no pregnancy or STD. By so many smart people’s calculations I should be a statistic. 

Don’t get me wrong. I self medicated with alcohol at a young age and had to learn that not everyone has an ulterior motive when doing something as innocent as paying me a compliment. But I can look back and see God’s mercy and grace over my life like a blanket keeping out so many more things. And that’s how I know.

photo courtesy of

JESUS has and will continue to keep me safe. Yes, there have been many unjust things done to me in my life. And you know what? Jesus was right there with me through it all. And He took it a billion steps further. He took the punishment I actually have earned through my sin and broken human-ness. I will NEVER be abandoned by God. I will NEVER experience the agony Jesus felt when the Father poured out his wrath and turned away.

In Him there truly is Endless Hope and Relentless Joy.

And it started so long ago. When my Jesus said “I will be that Hope. I will be that Joy.” He came as a baby boy to heal and restore and defend. 

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for walking in fire with me. Thank you for being Hope. Thank you for being Joy.

The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
 We encourage you to use self care when reading other’s testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process. 

holidays, Hope Redefined, recovery, the everyday

Emmanuel, God With Us

Even though in my mind, I’ve placed Him in a stinky manger, far off and in another time, He calls himself Emmanuel. God with us. These very words can also be heard often throughout the season in a Christmas song that plays throughout your shopping day, church and possibly your own playlist while you are at home.

What does it really mean, though? What does it mean to see Emmanuel in a story riddled by betrayal during a season that is supposed to be joyful, bright and filled with happiness? I sat quietly in my office for a moment as I thought about this question for myself and for so many others around me.

He is with us when we can’t bring ourselves to send the Christmas card with the “family” photo because it feels like a lie, or maybe it shows our new reality of divorce or separation.

He is with us when we try to decorate the Christmas tree with our kids and find it near impossible as we pull out ornaments that overwhelm us with memories of a past that appeared to be one thing, but was actually something else.

He is with us when we are traveling to extended family and know there won’t be a soul there who gets us. Instead, there will be those who stand back in judgement and lay expectations on us to show up for the sake of the season.

He is with us when we are in a store and experience a trigger that is so massive it backs us up in a corner and holds us there until we can catch our breath again.

He is with us as we lay in bed and look at our husband’s face in the dark, wondering what is going on “over there.”

He is with us when we need that frightened little girl inside of us to be held.

He is with us as we navigate so many of the unknowns. He sees the brave face and the secret tears.

He is with us when we call our adult children and ask about their holiday plans. Praying they include us, and also wrestling with the possibility of being in the same space with our ex spouse.

He is with us as we search the internet for THE thing that will make the bleeding of our soul stop.

He is with us when we are pouring over scripture looking for answers and a glimpse of hope.

He is with us when we pause for a moment and do something that is caring for ourselves and refreshing for our soul.

He is with us when we stand in church and sing from a depth in our soul that can only hold a fraction of His power.

Can I be honest? I lose sight and think Jesus is twirling through the holiday season like a Nutcracker character, far removed from the grief and hurt that can wrap itself around us this time of year. The truth of the matter is, He sits in the middle of the hard and downright impossible with each of us.

So once again I will stand in awe this Christmas season of all that He has done for us. I will remember that He isn’t back in the manger, far off, fragile, small and dependent on His parents. He is still the Savior who died and rose again. The One who sent the Holy Spirit to live within us and be Emmanuel, God with us. And, He is smiling when we see His presence and ask for more of Him. 

Lord, your word is stuffed with promises that we need to be reminded of over and over. Help us to see your presence as we attempt to stay present. Help us to sense your affections toward us as we try to navigate a season that can feel so conflicting. Help us to find our strength in Your joy over us. Father, we know that you ask for our weakness so that we can be made strong again. Help us to surrender the things we are holding on to and receive your strength for this day and this season. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

from the wife, HER Voice, Hope Redefined, pornography addiction, recovery, the everyday, Uncategorized

Do You Believe I Can Redeem All Of This?

If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Mark 9:22-23 (emphasis added)

The taste of grape juice lingered on my lips. I had just left a Bible study where communion was given at the end as we listened and sought the Lord to speak to the innermost depths in our hearts. While resting in the presence of the Lord, each one of us asked the Lord for the bread and juice to symbolically soak into the crevices, the brokenness, and heal parts of our hearts only able to be healed by the One, the Healer.

That whole day I had been crying out to the Lord in a variety of ways. Asking for encouragement, asking Him to heal the broken areas of my heart, grieving losses.
A friend shared a testimony of how the Lord had healed her heart and asked her to let go of hurts, to cross a line and decide to let go, no longer holding onto the hurts of her past. And in a challenge, an exhortation from our Lord, asked if we all would be able to do the same.

God often uses a process to heal. Could I believe in a miracle healing? Could I believe, if I just chose to step across the line, that all would be healed? My heart wanted to believe. I so wanted to believe. As I waited for my turn to go up to take communion, in faith I whispered under my breath, “Lord, help my unbelief, Lord… I believe. “

On the way home, the Lord asked me a question, one I needed to be asked.

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Do you believe I can redeem all of this?

This is an interesting question because I’ve seen the Lord redeem so much in my life.
He redeemed the worst decision of my life–to have an abortion. Now I have opportunities to travel and minister to other women who have had abortions. He has even redeemed details of the abortion and He has redeemed that day. He has blessed me with three beautiful, amazing children. He has blessed me beyond anything I could ask, hope or imagine. He has vindicated me and canceled my debt. Instead of shame (which is what I deserved), He has given me double honor. Yes Lord, I believe.

If the Lord can redeem something as horrid as abortion, He surely could redeem this situation. Hope restored. Redeemed hope. Yes Lord, I believe.

For those reading this today, I don’t know where you are in your journey. I don’t know if you are full of faith for your healing or desperately searching for a glimmer of hope to hold onto. Belief can be birthed in the despair of desperation. I have seen Jesus redeem. For you and for me today, I am speaking to our faith, encouraging belief.

Therefore, I ask you the same question He asked me, “Do you believe I can redeem all of this?” It is why Jesus gave His life. It is why He came. He came to redeem. It is the whole point of the gospel message. Lord, I believe.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus and that He gave His life to redeem all, not just some things, but all things. There is no “If you can”, Lord. I know you can. Lord, I believe. Thank you for redeeming all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
 We encourage you to use self care when reading others testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process. 

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More Than A Piece Of Paper

This past month, I had the honor of receiving my certification from an organization that is committed to training and equipping helping professionals understand betrayal trauma and the impact of sexual addiction. The organization is called APSATS (Association of Partners of Sex Addiction Trauma Specialist). This certification makes me a Certified Partner Coach. Crazy job title to be excited over, right?  

I feel such a pressing on my heart to share why this is such a big deal, not only for me but for the women around me.

The day I received the certificate, I posted on social media my gratitude and excitement about getting to this point. What I didn’t mention was that when I sat back down in the back of the room and tried to contain my excitement, I heard this still small voice say, “Open the folder, Lyschel, and sit with this for a moment.” I have a tendency to run through life and quickly move from one thing to the next – physically, mentally and emotionally. The Lord knows this about me.  

I immediately opened the green folder containing my certificate and I just sat with it for a moment. Within a few seconds, the tears began to fall as I felt the Spirit remind me of all that happened prior to this moment. All of the mountains that were conquered, overcome or walked around to get to this moment.

The first thing that came to mind was my husband. The grief of his addiction is still there. It’s still something I ache over and the reality of what it has stolen from him, me and us. I hate that this is part of his story, and as a result, a part of mine. But man, we have weathered some storms – more like a tsunami quickly followed by a tornado. Some of these storms have been faced together and others I went through all on my own, with God by my side. Every single one of those storms contributed to the moment I was having in the back of this meeting room, looking at this simple piece of paper.

Second, I thought of my children. They have sacrificed for their mom to be able to walk in this calling. There were missed dinners and basketball games, along with a few field trips here and there. While I can wrestle with guilt over missing moments, I also think about the home life they are receiving because of the healing and investment I have made in myself to grow. It’s like they are getting to start from a level up.

Next, my thoughts and gratitude quickly moved to the women who have sat with me over the last seven years. Beautiful faces on the computer in our online groups and hugs received in our face to face groups. I can’t count the number of times women have thanked me for giving God my Yes. This was one more of those Yes moments.

I also thought of the incredible opposition that came from so many places as I have stepped into this space. Opposition from the enemy, but also opposition from other people.

I love the quote Brené Brown uses in her work, Daring Greatly from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

This is the kind of wisdom we have to hold on to when we live in a place that requires incredible vulnerability, uncertainty and courage.

I guess you could consider this my acceptance speech. And I do accept this certification with pride, honor and intentionality.

Looking back over my life, I can see how much I’ve learned and grown. I have a love and hunger to care for hurting people that does not make sense most days. I know with confidence that these things were given to me as a gift from God. I wholeheartedly receive this gift and will wake up tomorrow and whisper (probably into my coffee cup), “What’s on the agenda for today, Lord?”

I hope you find this kind of fight within yourself, whatever the area is. I hope you wake up tomorrow, give Him your Yes, and then buckle up for a crazy ride.

Thank you APSATS Board, Laura Hall, Barbara Steffens, Jen Cole, Jeanne, Carol, Dan, Janice and so many others who gave their yeses, too, so we could be way-makers.

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The Night that Changed Everything

My heart was full of joy as I rested on the swing in the quiet, serene setting of our porch overlooking the trees below. My husband sat next to me. I texted, laughing with a friend about her burnt dinner through “LOLs” and smiley emojis. One moment there was bliss, but I had no idea my world was about to come crashing down.

It was the day before our 20th wedding anniversary. Earlier that year, we had taken a trip to celebrate and it was wonderful. The next minute would change everything about how I saw my husband, our 20 years together, our marriage and my life.

He turned to me and said, “I need to talk to you about something important.” The seriousness in his voice alarmed me. It was then he explained to me that for over 20 years, he had been addicted to pornography and mentally undressing women with his eyes. He had a sexual addiction and I had been oblivious. For over 20 years, I had no idea. None. I thought we had an amazing marriage, one that others may even have been envious of, even though that was never our goal. It seemed he adored me and that adoration fed a deep need inside of me to feel loved and cherished.

At the moment of this reveal, I must admit I handled it extremely well. The shock of it numbed my emotions. I wasn’t sure what any of this meant. However, the next day my emotions caught up with my brain, and I began to comprehend and process what this meant. 

It meant for twenty years, my adoring husband had been unfaithful to me in his thoughts and actions. It meant that my whole world and everything I thought was true was actually not true. It meant that my husband, my best friend, the one who I thought would always protect me and that I was safe with, was not protecting me. He felt more like an enemy than a friend, and he did not safe.

Feeling like my world has just been completely shaken is the best way to describe how it felt to find out my husband had a sexual addiction. I felt like I was falling and I couldn’t get my footing. Like I was drowning, thrashing about in a sea of pain. Because of this feeling, I began grabbing onto things, anything that felt like a lifeline and anything that felt like it might be safe. I grabbed on to people, hoping they could save me and fill that void. That deep longing to be loved and valued. But when a drowning person grabs onto another person, they often drown that person with them. And if not, that person has to swim away in order to save themselves. This, of course, feels like more rejection.

It is difficult to describe this type of pain, and for someone who has never experienced this kind of betrayal, it may not even make sense. But it is a deep pain, nonetheless.

What I realized through my healing process through Hope Redefined and Redeemed Hope was that I had a deep fear of rejection from my past along with many insecurities. My husband was a strong source of security for me. When he became unsafe for me, that security was gone. I realized how much I depended on him for security, when in truth, the only One I should depend on for my security is Jesus. That’s all. Jesus should be it. No person is able to hold us up. No person was ever meant to carry that weight and keep us anchored and secure.

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Jesus is meant to be our anchor keeping us securely grounded in love, value, and acceptance.

A boat has an anchor to keep it securely fastened to the ground. Jesus is meant to be our anchor keeping us securely grounded in love, value, and acceptance. Nothing else is able to keep us anchored.

The Hope Redefined Support Group was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. It was a safe place to share my emotions with others who were in the same situation. I began to see that all I was feeling was completely normal and began to have hope for healing. By the end of the eight weeks, I felt mostly healed. I went to the Redeemed Hope Retreat to see if there was any more healing needed. Through the retreat, God did an even deeper work and truly restored my hope in Him.

I’m a life changed through this ministry and I’m so thankful for it. Thank you, Lyschel, and the Hope Redefined/ Redeemed Hope team for all you do.

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Meet Amy

We are so thrilled to introduce Amy Nagy as our newest coach. She began facilitating support groups for wives in 2017 with Hope Redefined, and in May of 2019 completed her education and training to become a Certified Professional Life Coach. She is currently in the process of obtaining her coaching certifications and completing the APSATS training. More importantly, Amy has walked the road of betrayal and is passionate about walking alongside other women experiencing the same trauma. What better way to introduce her, than to allow her to tell part of her story that led her to coaching in her own words.

My passion for Life Coaching was born out of my own trials and the fire the Lord placed in my heart to use what I had been through for His glory and to benefit others. I have experienced betrayal in my marriage and journeyed towards healing due, in part, to the invaluable support of other women who have navigated this path alongside me. Through this process, I have learned that we cannot be islands, God created us for community and we need each other.

My husband and I have been on the road to recovery since 2016.  It was my own experience of being coached through the aftermath of betrayal that impacted me so greatly, and I knew I was being called into coaching to help others. It is my heart and passion to journey with women as they go from paralyzed, hopeless and stuck – to free, filled with hope and energetically moving forward.

In addition, I am a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, a wife of 21 years, a mother to four beautiful children and a teacher.

We are really thankful to have Amy as a part of our coaching team. Its so fun to watch the Lord shape our stories into beauty from ashes. To connect with Amy or schedule a free intro call with her please check out our coaching page for details. or contact us today.

About Us, Hope Redefined

Casting Hope

When I set out on this adventure of supporting women facing sexual betrayal and brokenness in their marriage, I did so with fear and trembling. Even though I felt the Lord calling me into these deeper waters and knew He was the one to open this door for me, that did not mean I walked through it fearlessly. In fact, I picked up a big bag of fear and carried it with me.

My journal pages and prayer times were covered in words of self doubt, fear, uncertainty and disqualifications. I told the Lord at least 50 times why this was a big mistake. I reminded Him that I was a hot mess and not qualified to sit with these women in their pain. As I would whisper those pleas under my breath over and over, I would always hear in return, “I just need you to give them a safe place. I will do the rest.” The more often I heard these words, the more confident I grew in knowing this was all He was asking of me.

As I began offering these women a safe place and showed up for them week after week in our groups, they began having hope in their own stories. I think me “showing up” helped them still have hope in mankind. Our conversations would turn to having hope in God and His plan, and eventually, it would shift to having hope in recovery work and the realization that God was in the middle of it all. As time went on, my hope was strengthened, too. I had a front row seat to witness miracle after miracle in women’s lives, and have had the honor to celebrate their small steps forward and rejoice in their big victories. I have listened as they shared a story and then said, “I don’t know Lyschel, I think I just experienced a miracle from God,” and I would reply, “Let’s call it that!”

photo courtesy of

Hope isn’t something we have to work up, although sometimes, like my coffee cup, I set it down. I believe hope comes from the Lord and is a pass through, similar to the fruits of the spirit. The fruits of the spirit are passed through to us, available through the Spirit that lives in us.

We receive joy and are able to share joy with others. I believe it’s the same for hope. We receive hope from the Lord, therefore we are able to share it freely with others.

Hope is believing in the things not yet seen. Hope is trusting God to do amazing things in another person’s story because you have watched Him do amazing things in yours.

Casting hope means you get to sit in confident assurance that the Lord will show up.

I know I can’t offer a woman any guarantees in her story. I have no idea what the end destination will be for her marriage, her husband or even her own healing. There are so many variables in each of those places. However, I place my confidence in the promises of God. He promises never to leave or forsake us. He promises to guide us when we seek Him wholeheartedly. He promises to use our weaknesses for His gain. When I spend time with the Lord and grow in this knowledge, I begin to settle into these Truths found in His word. I can show up with these promises in hand, and with a greater sense of hope for another person’s story.

So my official job title is Lead Hope Caster with Hope Redefined because I do just that. I cast hope for others because it’s a pass through gift. I pray you will consider yourself a hope caster, too.

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Who can hold my heart?

I just wanted to feel the comfort of another. I wept when I realized I didn’t have anyone who was safe or available to “hold my heart,” to catch my tears. I cried out and asked for the friend. “Lord, lay that person on my heart. Tell me who can handle this. Show me who can sit in this with me for five minutes and tell me it’s going to be ok.” I felt hopelessness sweep over me as I ran through my list of friends…all of them would be too busy for my mess. Working, taking care of kids, tackling the crazy season of Christmas. “What’s the point,” I thought. “Besides, I don’t want to burden them.”

As I drove to grab a last minute gift for a friend, I felt the weight of these thoughts. Just as the weight settled on my shoulders, the devil began his antics of whispering “you are so alone, you are forgotten by everyone around you, you are too much for the world, besides you signed up for this work, now you want to cry about it?” As I began to feel my soul agree with these lies, I also felt my spirit inviting me into the big T truths. 

My friend Marisha has this teaching where she talks about the importance of us recognizing little T truths and big T truths.  Little T truths are our reality. In this situation, the little T truth was that I was needing support from others because i was facing a really difficult reality. I desired safe connection with another, I wanted a shoulder to cry on for a minute and someone to hold my face and say “it’s going to be okay.” I wanted someone to hug my heart with their presence and words.  Those were all true things in the moment. And then…and then the Father of Lies showed up on the mental scene and did what he is only capable of doing…he lied.  

If I took Marisha’s words to heart, the only way for me to stop those lies was to battle them with big T truths. The truths that come from our Father. The truths that come from the One who made me, knows me and cares for me.

So I showed up to the shop that ALWAYS soothes my heart and I began the mental steps to remember the big T truths. The truths that I have written out 100 times in my journal, put on my mirror for daily reminders. The truths that are on post-it notes in random places. The truths that have seeped into my soul simply because I kept coming back to them instead of the lies. 

I began thinking on Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

This was so true, I felt weary and burdened. His offer was to give me rest. It was also to take His yoke, easy and light, not the heaviness I was currently feeling. And to learn from Him. Not be scolded for weariness or reprimanded because I have taken my eyes off of Him in this moment. But to learn from Him because He is gentle and humble in heart.  If I committed to learn from Him, I’d find exactly what I was looking for— rest for my soul. A place for my heart to be held. A safe space to lay it out there, surrender the heaviness of it and put on His light yoke. 

I envisioned me taking off the yoke that you’d find on oxen when they are plowing and instead, putting on a scarf. I imagined it was really colorful and beautiful.  I could also imagine the difference in their weight, but what about the difference in comfort and my ability to keep going? I wouldn’t make it far with that huge oxen yoke, but I could move through life easier with a scarf over me.

So as I browsed, wept a little and did my best to focus my mind on the big T’s, my eyes fell on a sign hanging in the shop. The sign contained three simple, yet powerful, words that my heart needed to feel and my eyes needed to see in that moment.


Milk Moon House

There it was, the biggest big T truth that I needed to feel that day. I am held. At first I read it as a reminder, then I read it a second and third time and began to claim it in my heart. It was big T truth. I AM HELD. I am. And so are you.

The Lord has an invitation for us. His invitation is to focus our minds, body (eyes) and spirit on His truths.

I remember being told this by others or reading it in a well put together bible study so many time. Promise…I have been there. But when I was able to let it play out in my real life…it stuck. And now it’s one of my greatest weapons.

So you know what happened to the Father of Lies as I stood there agreeing with the truth that I was, indeed, held?  He left me alone. He felt the defeat and he retreated. He knew that was not a battle he would have victory in that day. We won! The Father led me out of darkness and we won that day. 

Friend, I left that shop with new tears in my eyes. I left with a bit of a pep in my step and rested my mind on the truth that He’s got my back and He does know all my needs. 

I wanted a tangible friend in the moment, and He was. He met me in that space and He cupped my face with his Spirit, He directed my eyes to that sign and offered me far more than I could have asked for or imagined. He held me and offered me a lighter yoke for me to continue walking through my day.

My prayer is that you let Him hold you, too.

Merry Christmas.

Thank you to my friend Jo with Milk Moon House for being the vessel that the Lord has asked her to be. Thank you for following His lead and creating with Him. She is the amazing artist of this photo.

Thank you Bradley’s for always being the space that others can go and exhale. You create a space like no other. It’s cozy! (that’s for you Joy H.)