How Did They Heal

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There is hope in our decision making

We are Gramazin would like to express our deepest thanks for Casey sharing her story with the world.

In short, she grew up in a good home in a safe community. That didn’t prevent her from getting involved in the wrong crowd. A seemingly innocent taste of drugs led to addiction, homelessness, jail, and loss of her two precious children.

What strikes us from watching the video of her story is the absolute significance of decisions in the outcome of our lives. Casey made a decision to hang out with the wrong crowd. Casey made a decision to use drugs at the age of 14. Casey made a decision to abandon her parents. Casey made the decision to cope with fears and insecurities by turning to drugs. Casey would enjoy a period of recovery and then make a decision to return to her addiction.

However, Casey, when confronted by a friend who lovingly threatened to take her child away from her, decided enough is enough – it was time to get her life back in order. Casey, thank you for showing so many people that not only do our decisions in life create our problems but they also can lead to our healing and recovery.

It has been said we are “prone to wander”, prone to walk away from the safety and security of God. Such wandering is a decision. It is a choice. No one makes us walk away from God. People might entice us, cheer us on, or encourage us to walk a path of destruction. However, inevitably, it comes down to our own decision to put our shoes on that path and begin walking down it.

Of course, there are innocent victims, people who are carried down a path against their will, kicking and screaming to be let go so they can run back to safety. I would not want to be in the shoes of their abusers as a God of justice watches.

However, on most occasions, we, including myself, make bad choices in life. A forensic examination of our dysfunction almost certainly shines the light on an “ahah, there it is!” moment, a moment when we made a bad choice.

There is a gutter that we all eventually lie in, with sewage running under our bodies. We are disheveled and filthy, a metaphorical aroma that would be offensive even to skunks. It is at that moment we are finally confronted with the reality that our decisions have everything to do with the pain we are in. It is also at that moment a loving God shows us that our decisions can get us out of the gutter, clean us up, get us some new clothes, a place to live, a job, and a new hope in life.

There are many people today who haven’t quite made it to the gutter. They still don’t see how their bad decisions have brought upon the pain and suffering in their life. However, one day their eyes will be opened and they will see the only thing standing in the way of healing is one decision – a decision to turn their life around and never look back again.

May we all, like Casey’s father, be ready to show compassion upon the broken person who finally decides to get their life in order.

Please click here to watch Casey’s video

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The Human Experience With Adversity

We would like to thank Mike Carr for sharing his story with Gramazin.  It is a real pleasure to know a man who is transparent – he is not ashamed to share his story, on Gramazin or in front of an audience.  We passionately believe that our stories of recovery don’t belong to ourselves.  They belong to God.  They belong to those who need to hear our story of hope.  In truth, we have a responsibility to share our stories of recovery with others so that others may be comforted with the hope we have received.  Thank you Mike for setting this example.

We see a pattern in Mike’s story that can apply to so many of us.

The Human Experience With Adversity

  1. It begins with insecurity and a lack of value.  We do not feel secure.  We do not feel valued or relevant.  Our lives feel out of control or chaotic.  We lack a sense of meaning and purpose.  We feel overlooked and forgotten.  Instead of turning to God for value and security, because we doubt His existence or  His ability to save us or reject His requirements, we turn to other things and hope they will deliver us.
  2. The things we trust in fail us.  The people and things we trust in, as a substitute for God, will inevitably fail us.  They are not God.  People will let us down.  Money disappears.  The thrill of the new job, new car, or new home fades. Our insecurity returns.
  3. We escape from the pain.  Sincepeople and things can’t deliver us from our insecurity, we try to escape the pain by pursuing addictive behaviors.  We are often led into these behaviors by others who want to escape from their pain and don’t want to escape by themselves.
  4. Our attempts at escape are explosively destructive.  Instead of giving us an escape from our pain, our “escapes” make our lives far more miserable.  Our addictions demand more and more from us every day.  We sacrifice our time, jobs, relationships, and money to keep the addictions satisfied.  Before long, we are out of work, without friends, estranged from family, and penniless, our bodies unrecognizable from the impact of the damage done to them.  However, the addictions still demand payment and, without resources, we turn to crime to satisfy their demands.
  5. We become desperate for rescue.  We now feel thousands of times more insecure.  We feel even less valued.  Our lives feel even more meaningless and useless.  We have lost all as slaves to our addictions.  We see no way out – anywhere.  We finally call out to God for help, the very God we wanted nothing to do with at the beginning.
  6. God brings us to our knees.  Most likely after we cry out to God for help things will get worse.  God wants to make sure we know He alone is the one who rescues and delivers us.  He wants no doubt in our minds and therefore further misery (suffering without peace) may be in store for us until we finally surrender our lives to him.
  7. We confess and commit to change.  We confess our own failures, our weaknesses, our mistakes, and our disobedience to God.  Our hearts our committed to change – we will be different.  We will now make things right and work to restore all that we destroyed.  However, we cannot do it alone.
  8. God shows His compassion.  God brings people into our lives who are generous, compassionate, and merciful, helping us when we are at the very bottom.  We see His love for us as we our touched by those who have felt our pain themselves, who have experienced their own comfort from God when they experienced intense adversity and suffering, and now they want to comfort us.
  9. Adversity continues for us.  Before we turned our lives to God, adversity drove us to our knees in humility.  Now, after we turn our lives to God, adversity strengthens us and builds our character.  We made a commitment to make serious changes in our lives and it is only through difficult times that we can drive out the old ways of thinking from our hearts and minds.  We can expect difficult times to continue but now we can be thankful for them and know that we are growing as people.
  10. We live to love the people God loves – people who cry out to Him for help.  We now have meaning.  We now have value.  We feel secure in our relationship with God and not in our circumstances.  We are stronger.  We have persevered.  We have more faith.  We have more courage.  We are now more able to love others compassionately and generously.

Thank you Mike for your story helping us identify these 10 key elements of the cycle of life.

Click here to read Mike Carr’s story.

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Reflections on Marcus Bishop

Marcus, plain and simply, loves Jesus. If you read his testimony below, you might get that picture in your head. In the description of his testimony, he partially forgot to mention much about himself. He instead focused on the only thing he lives for – and that’s spreading the story of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

But I don’t want you to miss out on some of the other details about Marcus. So I will share some of my own.

Arriving at Millersville University for college in September 2009, Marcus quickly became one of my best friends and closest mentors. He was a senior and I was a freshman, and I absolutely loved his willingness to discuss matters most people in this world are too frightened to speak of; conversations revolving around the miracle of our lives, and why we are conscious creatures. Through his transparency, we became closer, but it was his love for others that made him one of my dearest friends.

You see, Marcus loved everyone around him. He gave attention to every individual he came across. And he was genuine. Very genuine, and through his genuineness, he became a favorite on the campus of Millersville. And that I think is what makes his testimony powerful. He not only loves Jesus, but he loves others. Meaning, he not only “talks the talk, but walks the walk” as well.

He loved through humility. For four years at Millersville, he never had a car. And yet, he walked a couple of miles per day around campus, to meet up with people and encourage them – or to just find a place of solitude with God.

Here is Marcus’ testimony.

I grew up in South Philadelphia, raised by parents who professed faith in Jesus Christ.

From a very early age, I was taught about Jesus. My parents would pray with me and my siblings, and in time, we learned that we could pray to God without our parents, and that we can have our own personal relationship with God. Since the time I was in elementary school, I was reciting Bible verses from memory and praying to God all the time.

There were two reasons for that, and neither of them included me feeling like I had to do these things to keep a right standing with God or out of self-righteousness.

The first reason was: I loved Jesus. Imagine, as a kid being told that someone who he never heard of loved him more than he could ever know, and died one of the most excruciating deaths on the planet in order to save him from the most terrifying things in our world, sin and death. As a kid, when I heard of these things, my response was, “Who is this Jesus, that He would do this for me?” and, “What is ‘sin’, that it would be so terrible that Jesus would come down and die in my place because of it?”

Upon hearing the Gospel, the message that a Holy God sent His only Son down to an earth that is full of people who committed the crime of rejecting God for lesser things, suffered and died the death that I deserved for my crime in my place, and resurrected from the dead in order to rise us up from death in sin to new life in Him through the Holy Spirit; Upon hearing these things, the Holy Spirit changed my heart!!!

And here’s the evidence of that: The sin that I used to love and find appealing, I now hated and turned away from. The God that I used to ignore, I now sought after and desired above all things. The second reason why I began following God through the reading of the Word and prayer is because I need His help. I could not have come to Jesus if it was for Him helping me, and I cannot help to follow Him continually if His Spirit is not with me, constantly guiding me. It has been about 20 years since I came to faith in Christ; I still live in a sinful body of flesh, and like the apostle Paul, “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(Romans 7:22-25)

If I could sum up my life as a whole, before I see my Lord again, it can be summed up in these two verses:

And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that He might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him,”Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. (Mark 5:18-20)

“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15)

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