Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Merry Christmas from His Mansion Ministries
   Most of us think of the Christmas season fondly. It means time with loved ones, special church services and celebrating the birth of our Savior. But for people battling addiction, this festive time of year means juggling their struggles with family expectations. Laura Zube, a former resident, remembers Christmases during the 15 years her eating disorder controlled her life.
   "Over the course of my illness," she explains "I was hospitalized in more than 50 different treatment centers, psychiatric locked units, and medical facilities, including a month-long stay in the ICU. Despite this, I found no relief from my condition. None of these facilities offered permanent freedom from the bondage I was in."
    Christmas only exacerbated the problem due to the food that accompanied her family gatherings. Throughout the day, Laura's entire focus was on food. Jesus and the celebration of His birth were the furthest things from her mind.
   When Laura arrived on The Hill, she was shocked to find there were no nutritionists, no specific meal plan, and no definitive eating disorder protocol. "How," she thought, "are they going to handle a patient with an eating disorder?" But she found that what she needed was not to be "handled" but instead cared for as a beloved child of God.
   Today, with all praise and glory to God, Laura now walks in the freedom she has found in Christ. However, her journey since leaving His Mansion has not been struggle-free. Though, as she looks back, she pictures Him right beside her, never chastising her for falling short.
   Laura left The Hill with unfinished work to do in regard to her relationships with men. She became involved with a man from the program who graduated six months after she did. Despite words of caution from family and friends, they became engaged.
   Before they were married, however, Laura discovered she was pregnant. "The fear and shame I felt was overwhelming," says Laura. "I had disappointed my family and felt I 
had disappointed God, rendering my testimony worthless."
   Thirteen weeks into the pregnancy, events transpired that resulted in her facing a future as a single mother. She also learned she was having twins.
   Annika and Eli were born Aug. 30, 2011. A week later, Eli contracted bacterial meningitis and w
ent into septic shock. He had to be revived, and was given a 20% chance of surviving. 
   "During these events, God was asking me to trust Him like never before, and my faith was tested in ways I never thought I'd be able to endure," Laura remembers. "There were times I felt I was being punished by God for my sin, that I deserved this and He was going to take away my son as payment."
   But He didn't. Instead, He took her shame and nailed it to His cross. He healed her son,
reminding Laura and us that He had already paid the price. Annika and Eli are now 4 years old. Eli has some permanent hearing loss due to the antibiotics he was given, but is otherwise doing great.
    As Laura prepares for Christmas with her young family, she makes a conscious effort to explain to Annika and Eli the root of the season she learned on The Hill six years ago: the birth of Christ and His life-changing gift.
   "I am teaching them that Christmas isn't just a day of gifts but a time of blessing; a season to give to others because of what God has given to us - His Son. That constant presence and overwhelming love and grace is what I want to instill i
n Annika and Eli," says Laura. "Jesus isn't only a baby in a manger making an appearance once a year but a living spirit that dwells in each of God's children every day of the year."
   The never-ending presence of Christ in our lives is truly one of the greatest gifts from God. He's our Savior, our Comforter, and our Guide. The ultimate gift we can give is sharing the peace and hope of Christ. That is the gift Laura found at His Mansion where she received healing and truth in God.
   Laura has been living a new life since she graduated from the program in 2009, and we have many on The Hill today who crave that same freedom. Your special Christmas gift of $100, $50, or $25 will serve as a way to share God's love with lonely and broken men and women, and help them welcome Christ into their own lives.
   May you and those you love be blessed this Christmas!
   Thank you, 
Ed Perrine

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