My husband was asked to lead worship for CR - Celebrate Recovery. Not knowing anything about CR, I was blessed to meet so many wonderful people and learn about this amazing ministry. CR is a fellowship and the celebration of God’s healing power in our lives through the eight recovery principles found in the Beatitudes and in Christ-centered 12 Steps. As one progresses through the principles and the steps, they discover our personal, loving, and forgiving Higher Power - Jesus Christ.
Several times I heard them say CR is for people with hurts, habits and hang ups. Who doesn’t have hurts, habits or hang ups? I was looking for someone to share a story with me about CR. I was immediately given Carmen’s name and she was thrilled to share her story with me. My job is to share stories with PVUMC of how God is working in this place! When you read this story you will see He is all over this place working on so many different things all at once. He is the Great Multitasker!
Carmen grew up in a dysfunctional home and was exposed to a lot. She was never exposed to church and was unsure about her faith. At age 18 she told her mom that she was leaving the next day - she was in survival mode. Her mom asked her to wait two days and she would go with her. Two days later they left and never returned.
Eventually, Carmen found herself in an abusive marriage thinking she could “fix” things. She was carrying on the cycle but to her, abuse was normal. After her husband’s first assault arrest she tried to bail him out. He lost multiple jobs while she supported him. When she found out she was pregnant with their first child she knew this would fix everything! It did change her. She decided to go to church and was baptized with her daughter.
Things were so bad at home that Carmen would encourage her husband to drink so he would pass out. A DWI left her husband with the ultimatum to either go to rehab or go to jail. The 28 days that he was in rehab were the best! After 28 days, instead of going to a halfway house, he went back home and back to his old habits.
While visiting PVUMC, Carmen saw a sign about “Celebrate Recovery.” Because she could take her daughter, she decided to go “so she could fix her husband.” Carmen lived two different lives. No one at church or work knew about her living situation. Although Carmen was there to fix her husband, after five months she realized she herself had a hurt, habit and a hangup. At this point she surrendered.
Carmen’s mother started going to church with her and also joined. One week after joining, Carmen’s mother died. She went to tell her husband, who was supposedly not drinking, and he was drinking. She was devastated because other than her children, she was alone. While he was not there for her, the church was! This is when she realized she had a church family!
After her son was born, Carmen stayed home for six months while looking for a job. She knew she had to get out of this marriage - she was realizing how messed up her life was. She started sharing with others who she could trust and they encouraged her to get help. She went to the domestic violence shelter and was told if she went back they would get social services involved because the kids were being exposed to abuse. She felt so isolated. She was a prisoner in her own home. Now she says thank God that they made her make that decision or she might still be there!
Through CR and the church they found somewhere for her to stay temporarily and helped her pack her house. After a week she got a restraining order on her husband and received sole custody of her children. After a head-on collision, her husband was arrested with his second DWI resulting in him to go to jail. Even through all of this she could never picture life without him.
A former boss got Carmen in touch with an attorney who never charged her a penny for his services! While this was out of Carmen’s comfort zone, she even joined a circle at church! After her husband was served papers, she broke down and told her United Methodist Women Circle she needed prayer. They took care of her and her kids. She was so nervous to go to court and see her husband that her CR friend went with her. Her ex-husband started dating and got married as soon as their divorce was final. Carmen started going to counseling. This counseling would also help with her eating disorder. She was now half the size she used to be.
In September of 2018, Carmen’s house was flooded with six feet of water from Hurricane Florence! Because she worked in the insurance industry, she stayed in town and sent her kids to a friend out of town. The first night she slept in her car because she did not know what to do. She had nowhere to go. Nowhere was open. Except church! Volunteers were feeding the linemen every day. She came to church every day and served. She was told by our pastor not to worry that we would take care of her. And he was right. Immediately a church member offered her an apartment on their property that she and her kids could use as long as necessary.
She had 16 people show up to clean out her house. Some took home her grandmother’s depression glass to clean; some took home her china to clean. Some of the people did not even know her. All of her belongings were in her front yard. After the insurance company paid, she had a CR friend help her find a house that had not gone on the market yet. She closed on that house on a Friday and that Sunday, March 17, her circle had a housewarming shower for her! She showed me pictures of her beautiful new home fully decorated! Her daughter’s room was better than anything she could imagine!
Carmen will tell you she always wanted out of her house because it was dark and had so many bad memories! She wanted to be in a bright and happy home. Without the flood she probably would not have gotten out of that house. And remember, she is half her size so she needed all new clothes and now she could get them!
Through a major renovation in Carmen’s life, she got rid of all the old and dark stuff and has replaced it with new and bright things. What she thought was going to be the worst thing that could happen to her, has become the best thing that could have happened to her. Why should we be surprised? Romans 8: 28, tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Carmen reminded me that six months prior to the closing of her new house, she was sleeping in her car. Before we left Carmen said, “I gained a family when I went to PVUMC. I went there to fix someone else and God fixed me. I feel like life cannot get any better!” Praise be to God for what He is doing through PVUMC!
If you would like Celebrate Recovery information, please contact the church office.