Her Burn Letter

This letter was written by a real young women who lives at the Jane Aubrey House. #reasonsforHopeFirst


Dearest You,

Well hello again. I wasn’t expecting to ever see or speak to you again, but fortunately for me and unlike many others you’ve met, I have the chance to say a few final words. Plus I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately – the good, bad, the happy and sad. I sometimes find myself fantasizing about you and reminiscing on all the times we used to spend together.

Remember the first time we met? Mikey introduced us and he spoke so highly of you. He told me that I would like you – but he also warned me not to get too close. Not that it had made much difference; I became infatuated with you almost instantly. The way you were able to make me forget about all of my problems and how you filled my soul with warmth and confidence. I tried to control the infatuation I had with you and take Mikey’s advise on not getting too close by only seeing you a couple times a week – but just like everyone else who has met you – I fell a victim under your spell.

How about the first time we got intimate, do you remember that? Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love you anymore than I did, you gave me a rush I’ve never experienced before; the kind that took over my entire mind, body, and soul. I’ll never be able to forget that feeling or get the picture out of my head. It’s like you won’t let me forget it. You haunt me in my dreams. For the prick of my skin, the blood in the syringe, my head falling back in slow motion as I exhale that calming almost still breath. Only I don’t make it out alive, so these dreams are more like nightmares, you see?

And what’s it been now, almost three years since we met? Sheesh time sure flew by huh? I never realized how much I was changing as each day went by, but looking back now, everything is so different. Nothing ever seemed as bad when we were together. I thought that as long as I had you, nothing could really go that wrong…but it did.

You tore me down and took the best of me, you took what was left of me – my confidence, my self-worth, my happiness, my friends, family, and my home – leaving me sad, broken, and alone. Anything I valued was consumed by you; our relationship was just one big catch-22. Everything in which you first gave to me you had eventually took back from me and more. There’s one thing that’s been bothering me, that’s been weighing down on me for sure – you took Mikey from me too – you know the one who I mentioned before; I’m still mourning his death and it’s another big reason why I’m letting go.

Saying goodbye to you isn’t all that easy, but at the same time it’s what I had to do; and now I’m taking the chance to start my life over new. That’s right, I’m breaking those chains you had holding me hostage to you. So if you are wondering how I’m doing, don’t ask me; just let me be – because in the first time in a long time, I finally feel free.

Addiction and the Capstone Celebration

Friday night I went to a Capstone Celebration for people in recovery. This is kind of like a graduation from treatment, but they don’t call it that because addiction never really lets you graduate…you just reach milestones of learning tools to live beyond it. I saw a couple dozen beautiful people who struggle hard with addiction but have taken steps to turn their lives around. They had received inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment and reached a sobriety milestone. Two of those people were young women from the Jane Aubrey House.

One of those girls, Amanda, is pregnant.

It made me think how far addiction’s reach is. And more importantly, how far recovery’s reach is. Amanda found hope at the Jane Aubrey House, that hope extends to her parents, her siblings, her friends and beyond…to her unborn child, and her future children.

This stirs me deep inside. To know that what I gave to, what this church is doing, is reaching so far. God is changing the direction of lives for eternity. Thank God for the Jane Aubrey House. Thank God for hope. Thank God for the way He brings us in, and uses us for His glory.

Why I believe in HopeFirst – Ashley’s Story

I started attending services in 2013 after my fiancé lost his life to suicide and addiction at the age of 28. He left my son, Chase, who was 3 at the time, and me to pick up the pieces. He didn’t mean to hurt us – he was very sick with his addiction. Being the fiancé, I was left to emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially fend for my young child and myself. I went back to work (sole proprietor) the day after his service and had no choice but to get out of bed every day and pretend to be okay. One foot in front of the other and a day at a time I made my way through the ups and downs of grief. My voice was barely a whisper for weeks and a forced smile hid the brokenness deep within my heart and soul. Shortly thereafter, I began to attend Grace. At first it was every once in a while, and in time my Sundays at Grace became more and more consistent. I just came in, and took a seat ☺. Grace was one of the only places I felt at peace during a time of such turmoil. I would check Chase into the Grace Kids and find myself a place to hide in the back. Grace was one of the only places I felt I could be honest with myself about my pain. I cried myself through many services. I strongly connected with the worship music and with Pastor Dan’s message. Many times I have felt that he was speaking directly to me.

Grace was and still is my safe haven. As a small child I remember attending a church like Grace. I remember a time around the age of four where I went into my bedroom closet and asked Jesus into my heart over and over again. I also attended Christian summer camps as a pre-teen. I believe that this foundation is what got me back to the church in a time where I needed guidance back to Jesus. When friends, acquaintances or whomever question my faith or share with me that they are non-believers, I always ask them one question. “When things in life go badly, as they sometimes do, what do you tell your children when you don’t have the answers? Without faith, how do you explain all of the bad things in this world? How do you get through that without faith.” If I didn’t have the foundation from my childhood, I don’t believe I would have made it through that challenging time in my life. I certainly don’t know how I would have explained it to my son. For this reason, I am very passionate about HopeFirst. I believe in the values Grace is helping to instill in our children. I believe in setting the foundation from a young age so that later in life, when they’re a 26 year old girl living with an alcohol-addicted fiancé, and her intuition is telling her that something is very wrong, that she may turn to prayer for the first time in years. I believe in HopeFirst so that when her heart is so broken and guilt ridden and she has nowhere else to go, she will turn to that foundation of her childhood and find her way back into the church and her faith will slowly begin mending her broken heart.

Addiction took the love of my life at the young age of 28. My foundation in faith in Jesus is what saved mine.


Ashley is first and foremost mother to Chase who’s 8 years old. She runs her own business and has attended Grace for 3 years.

Mosaic of Misfits: From Rooted to HopeFirst

This week marks the end of the Fall Rooted class at Grace and boy did we all walk in a wounded bunch. From family crisis to life-threatening health issues, from addiction to those hurt by the church, we were a mosaic of misfits (or at least my group was)!

Last Sunday, Pastor Dan suggested we ask God to shift our lives to be used by God and posed the question:

“What do we need to make room for?

In the case of our Rooted group, we decided to make room in our schedules for the 10-week class. To sacrifice our time for the potential to go deeper with the Lord, for the possibility of connecting with people and finding a church home. God blessed that over those 10 weeks and we now not only feel like family, but can’t wait to continue learning, growing and serving as a group at Grace.

Pastor Dan also told us that shifting is about “laying down what’s good for what’s great.” To this the lyrics of the Jonny Diaz song called “Breathe” came to mind:

“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best…”

As we transition into becoming a home group, we have begun to ask the question of what we will do as a group, as well as individually, to support Grace’s new audacious and huge HopeFirst initiative.

Some initial brainstorms…

We have looked at where help is still needed for the upcoming Discover Events and HopeFirst Day. As we have all been uniquely impacted by addiction, we have a special soft spot for seeing those six houses for recovering addicts become a reality. As parents, we have a desire to see God move in our city through a new building to welcome children to hear about Jesus.

In the meantime, we have discussed having a dinner together as a group where each couple brings one item to contribute in order to assemble bags we can hand out to the homeless we encounter in our community. Warm socks, snacks, chapstick, toothbrushes and the like.

As an individual, I’ve considered having a garage sale with proceeds going to HopeFirst. I also made the decision to wear a family heirloom ring on my left hand ring finger and sell my wedding ring in order to donate towards HopeFirst.

As the holiday season draws near, the mood around Grace Church is less about making a Christmas list of new stuff we want this year and more a time of contemplation of what we can sacrifice so that others can get what they need…of seeing their spiritual and felt needs met.

I challenge anyone reading this to ask themselves the same question. And for the guy thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend, I’ve got just the gorgeous, princess cut solitaire ring for you to buy…and the money you spend could change a person’s life!

Lexi King is a mom of 3 and a deliriously smitten wife. She is passionate about encouraging and connecting women, writing, music, Jesus and queso…not necessarily in that order.

Take Action

On Sunday September 25, we showed a video of a guy named Jeff. He struggles with addiction, but had lived sober for 15 years. He had a wife and four kids, a house and a good job. After 15 years of sobriety, he slipped. He thought he could use again and fell into a downward spiral of drug use and illegal activity to support that drug use. After several months on that path, he was arrested. That saved his life.

When we showed that video at Grace, there was someone at church who knew Jeff. He had worked with him in the construction business but didn’t know of Jeff’s struggles with addiction. He reached out to Grace to find out how to connect with Jeff and the two connected by phone. Jeff is meeting with this Grace guy soon, and the hope is that he can help Jeff make amends with his former employer, and support him through whatever’s next.

This busy guy took action. He wants to help Jeff walk with God. He didn’t run from this possibly awkward relationship. He ran to it. No matter the consequence of Jeff’s relapse, this guy will support Jeff in his recovery. He’s taking the time to love Jeff like Jesus.

This is sacrificial living. Another #ReasonforHopeFirst.

Watch Jeff’s story here.

Karen is a wife to Dave and mom to Laura Lee, Daniel and daughter-in-law Audrey. She’s the Creative Director at Grace and has been involved at Grace for over 20 years.