Desperate for God: My Testimony

Christian Life & Theology, Podcast Episodes

Phylicia’s personal testimony has been shared in pieces via blog posts and social media, but never in one place. This week Phylicia shares her story of pornography addiction, theological wrestling, chronic illness and loss, and how the circumstances of the last decade have strengthened her faith to do what Every Woman a Theologian does today.


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Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, and I am here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before, and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here and I hope you’ll join be on this journey, because every woman is a theologian. 

Hello friends, and welcome back to Verity podcast. After last week’s episode on reconstructing after legalism, I thought that this week it would be a good idea to go through my own personal testimony, how I came to know Christ, what he freed me from, and what led me to do what I do today. I have written about this in multiple places. If you’ve read any of my books or blog posts, you’ve probably learned a few pieces, but I’ve never put it together in one cohesive place.

Now, I hesitated to do a full testimony episode because I feel like it’s just a lot of talking about myself and maybe it wouldn’t be as helpful or productive as one of our regular theology episodes would be. But I also personally love to hear the testimonies of what Christ has done in someone’s life. And so hopefully this is something that encourages you and shows you the impact that right theology and true intimacy with God can have on one human life. So I’m going to summarize my own story from when I came to Christ to today, as quickly as I can. And then I’m going to answer some questions that I received on Instagram when I asked you all what would you like to hear about my own personal walk with Jesus and the testimony of how he set me free and why I work so hard for other people to be set free by him today. 

So I was raised in a christian home. My parents were very intentional. They were both believers who became believers in their early 20s, right before they got married. And my parents got married very young. They got married at 21 and had me by 22. So they were young parents, young believers, but they were very intentional to do their best to disciple their kids in the truth, I’m the oldest of six children. All of us were home educated. All of us who have gone to college, graduated college with honors. So we had a great experience in home education. My mom did a great job educating us and giving us a foundation. 

Now, of course, there were things that they struggled with and things that were hard in our childhood that I can’t share publicly. But I think my parents did such a good job of really offering us something better and giving us the opportunity to stand on their shoulders and really renew our family line in many ways. So given that foundation, you might think, well, I have this christian home, my parents are doing the best they can, that I would come to Christ early on, five, six, seven, like some people do. But I actually didn’t. I was very resistant to Christianity until I was 15 years old. When I was 15 is when I came to Christ. And I came to Christ mainly because I felt like I could not do what was right. I felt like I was always doing things wrong and wasn’t able to be a moral person. That was my whole issue. And we’ll get to why that was aggravated in a second. 

But I came to Christ because I felt helpless. I was like, I want to be good. That was the thought in my head. But I can’t be good. And so what’s the point? How do I do this? We’re going to church. I’m learning about God, but when I try to do what’s right, I can’t do it. A very relatable struggle, I think, for a lot of people. And around 13/14 is when I really started asking these existential questions. I remember starting to wonder, why was I born? How do I know the world was made with a purpose? Who is God? How do I know he exists? All of these things I began asking around 13 or 14. And at 15 is when I privately, between just me and the Lord, came to surrender my life to him and give him my allegiance and say, I want God to be on the throne of my life. I can’t do this on my own. That was the point that it shifted. I had said a prayer when I was six years old, but it didn’t mean anything. I think I did it because I saw other people doing it and they did an altar call and maybe I did sense the Holy Spirit calling to me. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I actually allowed Christ to be on the throne of my life. That shift of allegiance, and that’s when things changed for me. 

Now, the thing that really brought me to this point was, yes, not being able to be, quote unquote, good in my own eyes, but it was also caused by the fact that I had an ongoing pornography addiction. So again, my home was a really great place to grow up. I had good parents, we had a tv, we had a computer, but it didn’t have access to the kinds of things that I was accessing. What I had stumbled upon was erotic literature. So erotic romance novels. I found one of these at a garage sale. Didn’t know what it was. And of course, being really curious, I started reading it and wanted to hide it. I didn’t want anybody to know I’d read it. And I continued to seek out these books anywhere I could find them because they weren’t in my own home. I had to find them at garage sales and things like that. And so that’s where I sought them out. 

So at the age of 15, I was already addicted to this. And I was really struggling with my identity and trying to understand my sexuality in light of what I was reading, because it was twisting and shaping my view of sex. It was shaping my understanding of who I was. It was shaping my understanding of sin. And I couldn’t seem to get past it. I just constantly wanted to go back to it. And that’s how addictions work, right? That’s especially sexual addictions. When you keep them in secret, they become aggravated. 

And I was in a group that was dedicated to purity. So this is the height of the purity movement at this point. And I learned a lot about modesty and what purity is and what not to do with boys and dating and things like that. But nobody ever addressed pornography. Nobody addressed the fact that that could be a girl’s issue, which is why I’m so passionate about talking about that and have been for so many years. So when I was 15 came to Christ partially because of this desperation. I just thought, I have this facade of doing the right thing, but inside I know I’m not, and I want to be free. Came to Christ. But surprise was not instantly relieved of my desires or my addiction.

And this brought me to a point where I had to start wrestling with, what does it mean to actually be a Christian, to actually repent, to be free of sin? Can you be free of sin? And that was a three, four, five year journey of struggling with that. Into my early twenties. I came to understand that I was only as safe from sin as I was close to Christ. My intimacy with Christ, my understanding of my identity in him, was the primary factor in whether or not I could conquer this addiction. And I would go through phases where it was better, it was worse. I would use these checklists where I would try to be pure. I would try to track how long I went without reading this stuff and consuming this stuff or acting on it sexually. And then I also started dating.

And so by the time I was dating, I had eight years basically or not eight years, five years, six years I don’t even know of exposure to twisted sexuality and all these repressed desires because I was keeping this a secret. I want to note here, I did not tell my parents. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t close with my parents or that my parents were, like, super oppressive or like they would have kicked me out if they knew about it. I think I wasn’t in a culture because of the purity culture of the time. I wasn’t in a culture that made it safe to be transparent about sex. It wasn’t even my parents, because, again, I had a close relationship with them. I was just afraid to say anything about it to anybody because nobody was saying that girls could have this problem. It was always guys. It was always like, guys have pornography addictions, guys consume this stuff, always protect the guys. Make sure you dress the way that protects the guys because they’re going to look at this stuff. And here I am, the one with the issue. It makes it seem like there must be something wrong with me, that I’m struggling with this.

Now this narrative has changed in the 20 years since I was beginning to be exposed to pornography. But at that time, really, it was a conversation only for boys and men. So I felt like I couldn’t say anything about it. And because I wasn’t transparent, I was living a double life. So by the time I was 19 or 20 years old and getting ready to go away to college, I was really trying to figure out, what does it mean to repent? And this is why I talked about this in the repentance episode. If you go back and listen to what is biblical repentance, or grab the biblical repentance booklet in our shop, it talks about this and it says, this is what repentance is. So all of this to say, I had to process this with the Lord. And eventually I did tell my parents. I did talk with them about it and explain to them the situation and how I was growing in my freedom from it. But it took a long time to get there, almost ten years, for me to tell my parents about it or to tell really anybody. Because it wasn’t until I was in college that I started seeking someone out to hold me accountable. 

It felt like a fresh start. I was at a christian university, but I felt like I at least had access to people who wouldn’t look at me like I had four heads if I told them, hey, I’m struggling with this erotica addiction, and I need somebody to hold me accountable. And I believe I said this in my episode, either on sexual sin or on repentance, that I actually had to talk to four different women before one was willing to hold me accountable because several of the older women just straight up told me, I don’t have any experience with this. I don’t really know what to do. And several of the younger women were like, yeah, I’ve struggled too, but it’s okay, whatever. And I finally had to ask a friend who was willing to ask me about it and help me with it and say, like, hey, I’m going to check in on you and see how things are going. And even though it was hard to keep asking and asking for help, it forced me each time to bring it into the light. And each time I brought it into the light, I was more free. It had less of a hold on me. And that’s the crazy thing about sin. Sexual sin especially. The more you bring it into the light, the more you tell the story, the more you ask for help, the less shame has a hold on you. 

And so I found someone to help me, and I was really trying to grow in my prayer life as well. And that was what began to give me freedom from what I was experiencing. So in my early twenties, I had to stop college at 19 because I couldn’t afford to continue going without taking out a ton of loans. And I didn’t want to go into debt for school, so I took a break. I went out to New Mexico and worked at a camp there. I was a wrangler leading trail rides in the mountains of New Mexico. It was amazing. I’m so glad I did that. 

Then I moved back home, which, if you know anything about moving back home after you’ve been away at college or been away for a while, it can be really difficult. And it was an adjustment. I had to pay off a loan I had taken out in college. And so I was working two jobs. I was working at a newspaper, and I was working at a restaurant, and I would work at the newspaper from about 9 to 4, go home and change, and then go work at the restaurant. And I was living at home. And this is around when I was 21 years old, telling my parents about my struggle. And I really wanted to move back to Virginia, which is where I’d gone to college. And so I ended up getting a job at my alma mater in admissions, in college counseling. And I went back and stayed there for the next four and a half years. 

That’s when I met Josh. I met him when I was about 22. I met him. We did not date. We were dating other people, and eventually ended up dating him. So in that period of time when I met Josh, eventually start dating, get engaged, and then get married, my struggle with sexual sin began to manifest in my relationships. So I was finding freedom. But now all of this twisted sexuality that I had embraced was finding a way to express itself, because now I was actually in longer term relationships and going out with different guys. And it was kind of revealing itself through this deep fear of intimacy and being seen, because I knew what I had struggled with, and I knew this double life that I had lived.

And I began to notice that in my dating relationships, I really struggled to get past the first three months. So, like, the first initial dating phase, when you’re getting to know each other, you can kind of be transparent, but not vulnerable, right? You can tell your story, you can be fun, but you don’t actually have to be deep. But then you get to a point after about three months where you kind of have to have some depth or it ends. And so I would date for about three months, and then I would break up with these guys. And at the time, I just was like, it’s just not working. They’re not serving me. They’re terrible people, et cetera, find issues with them. And I’m sure there were some issues looking back, I can see. But what I see more honestly is that I had this struggle with being truly vulnerable because of how I perceived myself and how I thought God perceived me. My inability to accept God’s love and grace was manifesting itself in my dating relationship. 

So then I bring this to my relationship with Josh. Josh was the first guy who I dated who I was friends with first, and that made a really big difference because I actually did trust him. And he also saw me through a really vulnerable experience. We were in just a really sort of relationally traumatic situation before I dated him, so he actually saw a more real expression of who I was. And through that experience, we bonded and then began to date.

Then eventually, we got married. So we dated, I think, a year and a half or engaged three months and then were married. So through that experience, I came into marriage you know like everyone immature. Got married pretty young, 24 years old. He was 26. And through that experience, we just really didn’t know. Even though we went through premarital counseling, we didn’t know the amount of emotional and spiritual healing that we needed in order to communicate effectively. You don’t know what you don’t know.

And our first year of marriage was unique because Josh got a job out of college, he had to apply for a ton of jobs because he was an engineer and ended up getting a job where he traveled a lot. And I, at this point, was working in recruitment, so I was traveling a lot as well. Our first year of marriage, we were separated a total of six months, so not consecutively, but broken up. A week here, a week there, a week there, and we’re not together, so we didn’t really process through a lot of the things that a couple would normally process through if they’re living together for a full year and actually having to navigate some of this stuff. And so on our one year anniversary, we found out we were pregnant with Adeline. And when I was 36 weeks pregnant with her. So you have your baby at 40 weeks. We found out that we needed to move to Pennsylvania for a different job, hoping that Josh would be home more.

And at 37 weeks, we moved to Pennsylvania from Virginia. And before that week was up, I had Adeline early. She was two and a half weeks early. And so we were kind of thrown into parenthood with a new job. I also discovered the week she was born that I have a pregnancy induced autoimmune disease. And my body was just completely covered in hives, like blisters on my palms, of my hands, to the bottoms of my feet, every part of my body. We had no air conditioning in our new duplex where I’d had the baby, because no hospital would take me so late in pregnancy, I switched to a home birth last minute. So it was just chaos. We’ve not lived together a full year, basically have a baby now in a new state. We don’t know anybody except one couple that lives 30 minutes away. New job. I have an autoimmune disease. It was just a lot. It was a lot. And that year was both incredibly formative and incredibly hard because we went through some of our most devastating marital experiences. And the hurt and betrayal that happened that year followed us for years after.

I know now that I was struggling with extreme postpartum anxiety in the form of postpartum rage. Didn’t know that, though, because I was asked, are you sad? Do you feel suicidal? I was asked those kinds of questions, not, do you feel angry? Irrationally. So I didn’t know what was wrong. My stabilizing force during that time was our church. We lived in a little town in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, called Ephrata, and our church was 1 minute down the road. It was the first church we visited, and they were so welcoming and so kind to us that we stayed and we’re still friends with those families to this day. We go back and visit them every time we can make it to Pennsylvania. 

And at Dove, which was our church, I found women who supported me and prayed with me and walked with me for that year that we lived there. And it gave me the healing and the support that I needed in a really hard time, that I didn’t even know how hard it was at the time that I was going through. Know we were keeping our head down, and we were going through it. Josh’s schedule was so completely unstable that we couldn’t even go on a date. Like, we would hire a babysitter, and then he would end up working 3 hours later and we’d have to cancel on the babysitter. I think we went on one date that whole year. It was just hard. It was hard in a lot of ways, but at the same time, there was so much beauty in it. And one of the most formative experiences for me in that season was that my bible study leader and my pastor’s wife had heard me talk a little bit about my childhood experiences with some extended family and how it had shaped me and my view of mothering my daughter. And they offered to come and pray with me and came to my house and prayed with me, which now I know looking back is a form of healing or deliverance ministry.

Now there are people who do deliverance ministry very badly. They try to cast demons out of you and all this stuff, but that’s not how our church did deliverance ministry. They literally just prayed over me in the discernment of the Holy Spirit on an issue that they knew I was already struggling with. My view of myself, carried over from my view of my sexuality, carried over from a pornography addiction, carried over from childhood experiences that I’d had, and through their intentional prayer and their willingness to offer that to me, to come and join me in my home and to be compassionate to me, someone who they really hadn’t known until I’d started coming to the church a few months before. Their willingness to do that actually set me on a trajectory for better relationships, for better motherhood, for an understanding of who I was in Christ, for a better marriage. 

And at the time, I didn’t realize the impact that it had. But now that I look back, we were only there exactly a year. One year. We left to move back to Michigan, where my family is from, in September of the next year. And when we moved, I remember thinking, why did we live here for a like, why would we make all these friends and have this wonderful church and Josh was looking at a really great job in Pennsylvania, and he had to decide between two jobs and ended up going to why? Why did we live here for only one small period of time? And I can now look back on that and go, oh, I know. It was so that the Lord could use that church and those people to bring healing to an area of life that needed it, so that I could go on to do what I do today.

A few episodes ago, I told you about a new podcast I’ve been enjoying. It’s called Compelled and uses gripping, immersive storytelling to bring christian testimonies to life. One of their stories that is especially relevant is episode 37 with Laura Perry. Laura grew up in the church and was active in various ministries, but she secretly felt that the church was stifling. She only had a worksbased approach to Christianity and no real relationship with Christ. By high school, she was living promiscuously and doing everything she could to reject God. She was incredibly unhappy and hated the body that God had given her and began to fantasize about being a man. Eventually, she had numerous hormone injections and extensive surgeries removing every female organ on her body and transgendered herself into a man for ten years. But after every surgery, she discovered to her horror that she was just as miserable as before. Could anything or anyone fill the void in her heart? And if Jesus actually was real, would he even want someone like her? Listen to Laura Perry tell her complete story on compelled, episode 37 titled Transgender to Transformed. Every story on Compelled is true, vivid, and told by the person who lived it and saw God working through it. Search for compelled on your favorite podcast app or visit Again, that’s

At this point, even though we were going through a lot of different struggles, I had quit my job and it was the first time I wasn’t working in ten years. So I had been working in some capacity since I was 15 years old. Now I was 25 and I was home. I wasn’t in school because I’d been in school for a very, very long time. I completed my religion degree while I was working for my alma mater, and I was working. 

So not in school, not working, just home with a baby. That was totally new to me. But I had been blogging since I was 16 years old, just sharing my testimony, sharing things. I was learning about God, and I tried to be as transparent as I could online during that period of time about what I was struggling with and what God was freeing me from. And in my early twenties, I began to write openly about sexuality and addiction and what that looked like for women specifically. And that’s actually how my platform grew at first because I talked openly about female sexuality and scripture and how redemption is available. And so home with Adeline, who was a baby at the time. I was writing freelance, both for my own blog, but also writing for a blog called Project Inspired. And I wrote 16 articles a month, breaking down theological topics using my religion degree for teenage girls.

And that’s who I wrote to in those early years. So eight years ago, and I wrote for them for five years. In the course of those five years, I wrote around 500 articles on top of the 300, 400 that I had written on my own website. So it was a lot of work, but it was very rewarding. It taught me so much about how to actually exegete scripture, how to bring out what scripture is actually saying, and to succinctly explain it in less than 700 words. So it trained me in writing, it trained me in teaching, even though I was still in process, still growing. It’s not like you ever arrive. 

So we moved to Michigan when Adeline is one, and buy a house in my hometown, little house that was so dear, so sweet about like walking distance to the community college. And we begin joining a church where my parents attend. We ended up in college ministry, leading the college ministry there for three and a half years. And during that time, we got pregnant with Eva, who was two years younger than Adeline. And at this point you know, it seems like things are falling into place. We had put down money on our little house. Josh had taken a job there. I was pregnant with Eva and we signed our mortgage for this house. And the next day Josh found out that the company that we had moved to Michigan for was doing a bunch of layoffs.

And one of those layoffs was him. And so here we are with a new house that we’ve just signed the mortgage on. I’m seven months pregnant, and now he has no job. And after our experience with Adeline, where we moved for a job, when I’m 37 weeks pregnant, now I’m pregnant again, and I’m just like, can I have a break? Can we catch a break here? Can I not have a pregnancy where things are normal? And I’m still struggling with this autoimmune disease that comes on during pregnancy and follows me during my cycle. And Josh loses his job. And so for two and a half months, we were job hunting and he ended up, praise the lord, finding a job. But it was scary. It was really scary.

We had a false labor with Eva that year. It seemed like I went three weeks overdue. We ended up having her due date wrong, and it was just that was scary. And then after having Eva, we’re thanking the Lord that Josh has this job, because we were down to the last $500 in our bank account.

We end up discovering that my autoimmune disease is worse than expected. And it only gets worse. It starts to come and flare. It looks like eczema. Blistering rashes moving around my body from my arms to my chest to my neck to my face. Just a weeping, ugly rash. So painful. Just absolutely excruciating pain. One point, it moved to my eyes, I couldn’t see. It was just devastating. Both to my vanity because it looked awful, but also to my heart.

I felt like I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I couldn’t get an answer to what was wrong. And now I had two young babies, 2018, and it’s like, I’m writing, taking care of these babies. We’re in college ministry, and we’re just like, there’s got to be a reason why I have this autoimmune disease. Like, why can’t we find an answer for it? Go into 2019. Still struggling with that. And in June of 2019, I was playing in a soccer game in our local rec league, and I broke my leg at the knee. Again, you could not have anticipated this circumstance, but it was broken in two places. And over the 4 July, I had to go in for surgery, get a plate and eight screws put into my leg, and then I could not walk. For three months. I was in a wheelchair or sitting on the couch or on crutches for three months, my sister basically quit her job to come watch my children. Josh, of course, had to work, and our church community came and took care of us. They brought us meals, they mowed our yard, they folded our laundry. They painted my toes. They watched my children. They took care of us. And our college students came and cared for us. We were just surrounded by care in that period of time. 

But if you’re an independent person, you know how difficult it is to receive, especially for that long, and to watch yourself sitting there while other people do all this for you, that was a turning point. Up to that point, I knew God. I was walking with God. I was healing. I was growing. I was growing in intimacy with God. But something about this particular injury and the fact that I could literally do nothing for the first time in my life, postpartum is hard. But you can walk, right? You can get a cup of coffee. I couldn’t even carry something because I was on crutches, I couldn’t hold my kids, I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair or driven around by other people. And I was, like, totally helpless. And on top of that, my husband is working a full time job and having to do everything. And there’s guilt that comes with the fact that it was a soccer game. It wasn’t even something like, legit where it’s like, oh, I was serving somebody and I got injured. No, I was just doing something that my husband actually warned me I was too stressed to do and I did it anyway.

There was a lot of guilt that came with it. But what I had to realize in that season was it forced me into an intimacy with God that I had never allowed myself to participate in. I had begun learning it in those stages of addiction, right? I had begun learning, oh, I actually need intimacy with God for this. I can’t go on a list of rules because it doesn’t change anything. And then I had to learn it again in finding out I had an autoimmune disease. And then again when my church came and prayed with me. But this time it was like to survive it, to come out on the other side stronger. There was just no choice but absolute dependence.

I don’t know if any of you watched the movie Jesus Revolution. If you haven’t, it’s really good. I definitely recommend watching it. But there’s a point where the main character, Chuck, is asked, when or what will it take for you to be desperate for God? And that’s what 2019 was for me. That was the year that I learned just how desperate for God I am and was. And there were other seasons where I learned that desperation. Struggling with a pornography addiction and struggling to find a job, being scared over not having a hospital to take me when I was pregnant with Adeline, or when I’m pregnant with Eva and Josh loses his job. All of those seasons were seasons of desperation. But once they passed, it was like I kind of defaulted back to independence. And this time it changed everything. 

I don’t know, maybe I’m just a really slow learner. So God has to try a buffet, God has to try a bunch of different methods, but he is kind. And through that experience, both of the church and their love for us, and also through the complete lack of independence, I came out on the other side a different person. And the first Verity conference, I believe it was the first Verity conference was in 2019. In Grand Rapids. I was just barely off crutches when we hosted that event.

So if you went to that very first one, it was 70, 80 women, I think, in Grand Rapids. That was fresh off the presses, like I was walking again. And still fresh in my memory was just how much I needed God. And if you are interested in coming to this year’s Verity conference, we would love to have you, by the way. So 2020 rolls around. We all know what happened then. The COVID pandemic begins. But for us, that year was more of a restful year because in November of 2019, we moved from our little house in downtown to our house in the country, Willows Bend.

And I wish I could get into the whole story of this house, but I’ll just say this, that how we ended up being in this house and buying this house is miraculous. And I do believe that the trust and the intimacy with God and the prayer life I learned through the suffering of that 2019 is what led to the amazing ways we saw God move at the end of 2019. He was already moving. He’s already doing things. The question is whether our eyes are open to see them. And it was because my eyes were open that we saw just this amazing story unfold and how we moved from our little house, our little cottage in downtown to the farm that we’re currently at. And if you want to know more about that, the whole story is on my instagram under House Story highlight .

2020 for us was different because Josh was in a service industry, and so he was still working. He was essential personnel, and I was at home with the kids. And at this point, I was pregnant with Ivan. And in June of 2020, I had worked with some of our part time team members to build Every Woman a Theologian to where that was our new name. We actually had the name for our ministry. Even though I’d been doing this for years and years and years, it actually had a name. And we had launched the shop. We had a library of ebooks at this point. I had written a couple of traditional books.

And in June of 2020, Josh had been really struggling in his work. And I have to be careful what I say on here because there’s other people involved in our story, and I can’t tell the whole story of what happened there. But he woke up in June of 2020, and he said, I have to leave my job. And it was a really unhealthy situation, really unsafe for him emotionally to stay there. But Every Woman a Theologian was not a full time ministry. We didn’t pull a full time income to where he could come home, even though I thought, wow, that’d be neat one day, and we’d talked about it, it’d be really neat if one day we could work together in this ministry, if that was the Lord’s will, maybe that’s our 5 year plan, is what we had said, and instead it became the three month plan because he said, look, I’ll watch the kids, we’ll completely switch roles, and you can write as much as you want, and then I’ll go get a part-time job at Home Depot or whatever needs to make up the difference if we aren’t able to live on this income. And I said, okay, well, if it’s really important for you to be out of this job, and I want to be clear that when I talk about the different job situations that we’ve had over the years, this is not a reflection of my husband and his work ethic, because he is a very hard worker. Each situation was very different.

The first situation, we were moving for a new job. The second situation, it was universal layoffs in the company. And the third situation was not good. That’s all I’ll say, it was just not good. And that’s why he chose to leave. But in leaving, it put us in a situation where we really had to trust the Lord. And moving into that situation, we prayed about it, and I said, okay, let’s trust the Lord and we’ll just step out and we’ll see what happens. So I launched theology basics that summer, and that little book provided for us for the next three months until Ivan was born.

And we always held it in open hands, we said, lord, we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t know if full time ministry where you’re leading, but if you are leading this, just provide for us, please. And he did. Josh did not have to go and get another job. God has provided through Every Woman a Theologian in the shop. We’ve been able to hire part time and full time team members. We’re still considered a startup at this point, but we’re learning and growing.


And so in the three years since 2020, I still had my autoimmune disease. It was devastating, still painful. It’s a hormonal issue, so I know most of the people who listen to me are women, but the situation that I have is that it flares with every menstrual cycle. But because of the underlying issues I have with estrogen and progesterone, I’m allergic to my own progesterone is what this autoimmune disease is, but you need progesterone to regulate your cycle. And so without progesterone, you will actually bleed more often. And so I will bleed without proper supplementation. I will bleed twice a month for 9 to 10, 11, 12 days each time. Sometimes I would bleed for six to eight weeks. And anytime I’m bleeding, I am flaring with this skin disease, these blisters and rashes.

 And maybe that’s why Leviticus is my favorite book of the Bible, all the laws about skin diseases and bleeding and things like that. I actually do, though, all jokes aside, resonate very much with the story of the woman with the issue of blood, because for her, there’s this experience of what should be a good thing, your womanhood, that is corrupted. It’s not a beautiful thing. And for her, it made her unclean and separate from society and caused her to spend all her money on doctors. Something that I’m familiar with, trying to find the solution or the answer or whatever you can do to heal your body. And I still have issues that I deal with. But one of the beautiful things that came through 2020 and Josh coming home and being with our family not being gone and having to work all these ungodly hours that he had to work for so many years was that after I had Ivan, it was the first time he was actually home with me postpartum for more than 5 days, and I got to rest postpartum. And after Ivan was born, I just thought, okay, it’s going to come back. Here we are trying to launch a new ministry together, and stress is related to autoimmune and is a big player. And I thought, this is it. This is how it’s going to come back, with a vengeance, because it always does. But after Ivan’s birth, my skin literally was healed. You know, we prayed for this for years. I was prayed over. I was anointed with oil and prayed over, just like James says, tried everything, and nothing seemed to fix it. And yet, through Ivan’s birth, my skin was healed. And I look back on that experience and there’s explanations. It’s possible that having a boy lowered my estrogen levels. It’s possible that I’m having Josh home lowered my stress levels. There’s a lot of things that it could be physically, but ultimately, I just truly credit the lord with healing me. And I do wonder sometimes if, as my friend KJ Ramsey says, I was healed on the inside before I was cured on the outside. And through all of this, through the jobs and these pregnancies that didn’t go as planned, and autoimmune disease and moving and switching churches and all along being online and writing and trying to be transparent, but have boundaries and dealing with stuff that people said about me and misrepresented online, things like that.

All of this together was teaching, and is still teaching me a dependence on God, on Christ, and affirms over and over and over that God is who he says he is and he can do what he says he can do. And that’s what Christianity is, isn’t it? It’s a process of continually growing in our belief of that. We believe that, but we also learn to believe it, learn to trust it. And the allegiance that I gave to Christ when I was 15 is something that I continually have to keep giving to him and choosing to depend on him. 

Since 2020, we’ve still been through a lot of different things, still had a few other health issues that I’m working through. It’s not all popping up daisies or anything. We had a very scary 2022, very harrowing spiritual warfare in that year was incredibly high, coming from absolutely every direction, friendships, health, finances, ministry, everything. And yet, in that year, I just kept returning to all the Ebenezers from the years before, the things you can look to say thus far, the Lord has helped us and in our marriage to just circle back to that. If you’ve listened to our episodes in the marriage series or when I’ve talked about this online, Josh and I went to counseling to process some of this stuff, to process everything we’ve been through together. And our marriage is in a better place than it’s ever been. But there are some really, really bad, hard years, and we’re able to look back on those years and go, yes, there was so much that we did wrong, that I especially did wrong, but we were also under so much stress and going through so much pain that I can’t even get into here that it explains a little of where we were at relationally. And yet, through the pain and the trials and the suffering, God has refined us into people who can better serve one another in covenant.  Well, this episode is already longer than I wanted it to be, but I’m going to go through a few of the questions here and see if any of these can kind of encourage you as we wrap this up. 

The first question is, you give credit to parents for your salvation, but does that diminish the power from God? No, it doesn’t diminish God’s power, because God uses parents to shape and help our understanding of who he is. That’s one of their chief responsibilities, is to teach their children about God. My parents aren’t responsible for my salvation, but they did give me a firm foundation so that when I was struggling with pornography, I had something to run to. I can’t even imagine if I had not had a christian foundation when I was exposed to pornography, I mean, where would I have gone? What would I have gone to? I probably would have had no way out, you know? So what my parents gave me was something to run to, even though I was exposed to pornography, and that was not what they wanted for me. I had something to go to, and that is not diminishing God’s sovereignty. It’s exalting it. 

What book did I read that helped me understand God’s love? I mentioned it in Every Woman. A Theologian. Yes. So when I was 18 or 19 and struggling to really embrace God’s love for me because of what I was going through and the addiction, the book I read was the gospel primer, or gospel primer by Milton Vincent. Little book. I loved it. It transformed my understanding of repentance, and it helped me understand that I could truly come to God no matter what. 


Coming from a charismatic upbringing, what did you deconstruct? I didn’t really deconstruct my charismatic upbringing. I was in a charismatic church until I was 13, and then I’ve been in charismatic churches since then by choice. And I didn’t grow up in a very oppressive charismatic environment. There were things I did have to reframe, though, specifically hearing the Holy Spirit and his name misused. It was partially because of a church, partially because of other experiences where the sensational gifts of the spirit were overemphasized and the sanctifying gifts of the spirit, him making you holy, was underemphasized, which is why I talk about that all the time. So I had to recalibrate that. And the way that I did that was through struggling with sin. Like, struggling with sin forced me to figure out, how does the Holy Spirit sanctify me? And that helped me understand his gifts accurately. 

How did my view on biblical womanhood and feminism evolve as I became a mother? So I adopted some really, really conservative views of biblical womanhood from the books I read in purity culture. My parents did not teach this, I want to be clear, but I, being a thinker and a reader, went and found a bunch of books about this stuff and read them, and I kind of adopted these viewpoints that seemed like really great, tidy checkboxes. Feminism, I kind of overcorrected from my biblical womanhood views in my early twenties. And I would never have called myself a feminist, but I definitely embraced that attitude. In terms of secular feminism, I became kind of like I described because of my fear of intimacy and vulnerability, because of how my view of men had been shaped by pornography. I became very aggressive in dating relationships and very entitled and not vulnerable, and I carried that into marriage. And so the crazy thing about this is that biblical womanhood, as we see in conservative circles and feminism, are actually just two extreme ends of a spectrum. And I learned through being in scripture, not through studying biblical womanhood passages. Just by being in scripture and walking with God, I’ve learned that vulnerability is safe with good men, godly men, and it’s always safe with God. And that in embracing my womanhood, being a woman, being strong and kind, being discerning and vulnerable, that is true strength. That’s true strength. Cutting people off and putting up all these walls to protect yourself isn’t true strength. It’s actually a weakness, because you’re trying to protect your weakness. That’s the whole problem. And then on the other end of the spectrum, just this sappy, like, doormat kind of a woman. That’s not strength either. It’s an exaggeration of what God describes. It’s not what God describes in scripture. 

What is the biggest doubt I ever had in regard to my faith? In regard to my faith, the thing I struggled with most was, is God good? And did God create and cause evil? I really wrestled with atheism when I was about 18 years old. And then in my twenties, I wrestled with the problem of evil. And I’ve wrestled with that again, especially postpartum with Ivan. I really, really wrestled with the Canaanite conquest. And I kind of do deep dives, hyper fixations, really on different things and questions that I have. The biggest doubt, though, was the problem of evil. And that is what ultimately led me away from Calvinism.

How did I finally overcome my erotica addiction? The biggest thing, the biggest key was intimacy with God. And I know I say that it sounds vague, basically, if you want to distill it down, it means consistent exposure to his word, consistent exposure to godly people in the church, where you are open and vulnerable and asking for help and prayer, your prayer life, and then creating boundaries in alignment with that. I didn’t go to the movie theater for seven years. I didn’t read fiction for seven years because I could not find stuff that I could actually consume safely. I set boundaries that made me look weird, but ultimately, in spending time away from those things, I was able to operate in true freedom.

Did I ever leave the faith and come back? No, I never left the faith. I came to faith at 15. I stayed in the faith. I definitely had points where I felt more apathetic, but that apathy was a trigger for me to go, there’s something wrong. I don’t want to live this way. I want to be close to God. I want to hear his voice, and I want to come back to him. And I was very open and honest and wrestled with really hard questions, but I did not ever leave the faith. He was too good. He was too good. His goodness is what has always kept me here. 

Did I ever struggle with the fact that I was in ministry while struggling with sexual sin, or did you start ministry after I’d overcome? I was never in full time ministry. I was writing and writing about my struggles vaguely, like talking about sin and repentance, processing it. I didn’t have a platform at that time. I actually was leading a women’s group when I was 18, a little like younger girls, teenagers. And I stepped down from that for that reason, because at that point, I was really struggling. So remember, I’ve been saved for three years. At 18. At 18, I stepped down because of my struggle. Then in my early twenties, I was never in ministry when I was struggling with this. I think if you are struggling, and when I say struggling, like, you are actually giving in consistently and you’re in ministry, you do need to take a step back. You need to talk to people, and you need to get that under control. And I don’t mean under control like, oh, I’ll never be tempted again, but I mean, there need to be boundaries in place, and there needs to be space to really correct what’s happening and take a step back until that can happen. 

What kinds of boundaries do you and your husband set with the opposite sex? So we definitely are aware of everything that is being communicated. We can access one another’s phones, one another’s messages, social media. Josh has chosen not to have social media as a boundary. We talk openly, and we continue to see a counselor about once every quarter is our goal with our counselor. But we do not limit things like texting somebody of the opposite sex, like a friend of ours who’s a wife or a husband. I communicate with a lot of colleagues who are men, but Josh can always check my email, he can check my phone. Sometimes. If I’m regularly communicating with somebody, I will have Josh in on that chat. But we aren’t super, super strict about that. We’re careful, we’re open, we have counseling, but we are not super, super strict in terms of like Josh has to be in a text thread every time or on an email thread every single time. 

Do you ever deal with mean girls and gossip? Yes. Online, though I have not dealt with mean girls in real life. In terms of my friendships, I have really wonderful friends, really wonderful women. I’ve definitely had friendships that fell apart for a variety of reasons. But in terms of gossip, it’s mainly online. It’s what people say online that is unfounded or they don’t bother to contact me, which they can do, or read my doctrinal statement or get the accurate information. They just communicate false information. So it happens mainly online. And it’s something that I have been learning just to hand that over to God and trust him to be my defense. 

What is something I want different for my kids because of my own journey? The biggest thing I want different for them is open communication about their sexuality and about pornography, modesty, things like that. We try to offer that we’re very open with our kids about sexuality and bodies. We don’t think any of that’s off limits to talk about. We’ll see how it works out when our kids are older, but we really try to be very transparent with them about that so that they feel very comfortable to talk to us about it. 

Is my relationship with my parents or previous pastors strained over leaving legalism? No, because my parents were not legalistic. They certainly had things they did differently than I do, things they view differently than me. But my parents are not legalistic people. They actually were the best defense against legalism. They challenged me when I was in legalism and adopting different ideas. And my pastoral background, my denominational background is I’ve been in over ten denominations, and I’ve also been part of home churches. And in my teens we were in a really young church plant. So I did not experience a legalistic pastor telling me what I could or could not do. I had adopted legalism and had been adjacent to it, so I watched how it affected my peers and how they were affected by legalistic pastors. But I personally never submitted to that. Anything that I was legalistic about, I had adopted and put upon myself by the voices that I consumed. And so it wasn’t my parents or my pastor that was putting that on me. 

How did God become my God and not my parents’ God? The biggest thing was going through suffering. Going through suffering. And I sometimes hesitate to call it suffering because I didn’t lose a parent or a sibling. I never lost a child. I didn’t go through things that I would at first blush say, that’s true suffering. But walking through chronic illness, job loss, extreme stress, the unknowns of financial ruin, things like that really pressed me to have to depend on God. And I think one of two things happens when you go through those trials. You either go, God’s not here and it’s all his fault, or you say, God is here, and he’s the reason I can make it through. And that’s what I learned to do through the things that I’ve walked through. Again, I don’t think my life is an example of true suffering, but I have been through grief, and I have been through pain, and I have been through seasons of doubt and just absolute devastation in the relationships in my life where I felt so lonely, and Josh, too. And because of that, I had to depend on God. I had to depend on Christ. It was Christ or nothing. Christ or where do you turn? And it was through that that I learned that God is real and good and that he can be trusted. And by wrestling with theological questions in scripture and not being afraid to face them and say, you know what? This is hard. I don’t know if I believe this. I don’t want to believe this. I need to find out the answer. And asking why, until I do, led me to come out on the other side and say, you know what? Yes, Jesus is real. He’s worthy of being followed. I will give my allegiance to this king. And at this point in my faith, I know him too well, too deeply and too intimately to ever see an alternative as compelling.

And so I hope that through hearing this whole story, which is just bits and pieces, that some of it might encourage you that it’s possible to walk through grief and pain. It’s possible to question, to have marriage struggles, to have chronic illness, to financially feel like there’s no coming back, to be learning as you go, and to still experience the complete goodness and beauty of following Christ. I wake up every day excited for the day, able to truly rejoice in the day God has made, because I know that he is good. He is worthy of being followed. That intimate relationship with him, prayer and being in his word, truly shows me that he is everything that he’s promised that he is. And so everything that Every Woman a Theologian is, everything that we offer, everything we teach theologically, is built on that foundation. 

God is worthy of being followed. He is real. He is true. He is good. And I had to go through some experiences I would never want to relive in order to believe that. But they taught me that I have to be desperate for God. And when I’m desperate for God, I will experience the fullness of who he is. And once you’ve experienced that fullness, you really don’t have a taste for anything else.

Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity and about Every Woman a Theologian as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you, and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s word and the heart of Jesus Christ.


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