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Crystal

Life was a challenge for me from the start, and the enemy was definitely out to thwart the plan God had for my life. I was born to a mentally unstable, teenage mother who left my brother and me when I was very young. She would constantly move around and live with different men throughout the years. I was raised by my great-grandmother. I would visit my birth mother on holidays and endured violence and sexual abuse during that time. At the age of 12, I was no longer allowed to see her. Right around that same time my great-grandmother passed away two weeks before my 13th birthday.

I did not know how to cope with the pain, deception and rejection that life had brought me at such a young age, and I did not have much value or self-worth. At 14, I began to control my body, weight and food. I loved how I felt when I lost weight. I also loved the fact that I could change my body and not look like the mature woman I was growing into. The next 8 years began a cycle of ups and downs with food, weight and eating disorder behavior. My battle with anorexia and bulimia escalated to a dangerous point. The hopelessness I felt to stop my eating disorder led to struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and prescription drug abuse. I hated who I was, and every year the chains of bondage grew stronger. Hospitalizations and various psychologists and counselors did not seem to help. My life was a mess, and I was confronted with the reality that if I did not overcome the issues I was struggling with, I may not live much longer. After a short hospitalization due to a ruptured esophagus a friend told me about Mercy, and I decided to apply. At 22, I dropped out of my senior year of college and left for Mercy.

During my time at Mercy, God did an amazing work in my life. I learned to apply God’s Word to my life in a real and tangible way. I was able to deal with and heal from the tough life issues that were at the root of my behaviors and break totally free. At Mercy, the Lord revealed to me that my true identity and value is in Him. I began to understand His amazing love and forgiveness and began to see myself through new eyes. I was also able to forgive those who had misused or hurt me in my life. Christ set me free from the bitterness and resentment that I held on to for so long. God used Mercy in such an awesome way, and I am living life to the fullest now with a renewed mind, purpose, vision, hope and freedom!

After graduating from Mercy, I went on to finish college with a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. The Lord spoke to my heart, “What was once your obsession will now be your passion, and I will use what I have done in your life to help set others free.” God opened the doors in February of 2009 for me to return to Mercy to work as the Nutrition and Fitness Director. I worked there for three years until my first daughter was born. I loved sharing all that the Lord had taught me and helping other girls find the hope and freedom that I have found in Christ. I still love helping others live healthier and happier lives.

The past 10 years have has been so fulfilling and such a blessing that words cannot even describe! I am truly blown away! God gave me an adoptive mother, father and family—something I never had growing up and that has always been a desire of my heart. I also married a wonderful, godly man, and we have two young daughters together. I always dreamed of having a daughter of my own since I grew up without a mother in my life. Now I have been blessed with two daughters to nurture, instruct and raise in the ways of the Lord, I consider this a high calling. Doctors told me it was very likely that I would not be able to have children due to all that my body had been through, but God had other plans. My beautiful little girls are the light of my life and living proof of God’s restoration! I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in the future. I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness and love every day of my life. He truly blesses our obedience to Him. All glory and praise be to God! I am still in awe of all He has done over the past decade and that this is my life! He has restored the years that the locusts have eaten and blessed me and my family beyond measure.

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