Blessings Behind Bars

If you’d told me ten years ago I’d be traveling across the country speaking in women’s prisons, I’d probably have given you a puzzled look. At that point in my life, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to say to women behind bars.

But God has a funny way of sneaking up on us, changing us, and using us in ways we might never imagine. For me, one of those ways is as a speaker for Daughters of Destiny prison ministry, presenting seminars and evangelistic messages in prisons across the nation.

Daughters of Destiny is the country’s fast growing and largest full circle women’s prison ministry. Their mission is to equip, train, and empower volunteers to reach incarcerated women for Christ and to disciple them while in prison and after release. More than one million women are currently serving time in prisons across the United States. Ninety percent of those women have been abused and are broken and hurting. Daughters of Destiny uses special evangelistic events and seminars, as well as life groups (discipleship Bible studies), Women 4 Women correspondence relationships, and a discipleship network that mentors women upon release.

Over the past several months, it’s been my privilege to travel to a number of prisons across the nation and present seminars on my book The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk. Every facility where I speak receives a gift of 100 copies of my book for the prison population to study. Women across the nation are coming to Jesus Christ, and lives are being transformed as women learn to do battle with lies that have held them in bondage for years. In the Topeka Correctional Facility alone, 24 women trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.

Please pray for my ministry with Daughters of Destiny. It costs me approximately $1,500 to donate copies of my books to each prison, as well as fund my travels costs. But I am committed to this life-changing ministry to women. I was the victim of one of Michigan’s most notorious serial rapists, but for years the only injustice I cared about was the injustice that came into my life with the act of violence targeted at me. But God changed my life and gave me a passion for the hurting and broken.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to share God’s message of love and hope to my sisters in prisons. If you’d like to partner in my ministry with Daughters of Destiny, donations can be made to the account of Shelly Beach at Daughters of Destiny, 3028 N. El Paso, Colorado Springs, CO 80907.

Seminar in Topeka

Live on Midday Connection with Anita and Melinda

Anita Lustrea, Shelly, Melinda Schmidt

Anita Lustrea, Shelly, Melinda Schmidt

Last Wednesday, September 23rd, I was the guest of Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt on Midday Connection, broadcast from Chicago’s WMBI and the Moody network as we sat before a live audience in Holland, Michigan and taped a show celebrating the twentieth anniversary of network affiliate WGNB 89.3 FM. After a delicious lunch, we chatted through an overview of The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God and fielded questions from the studio audience.

For me, the experience was different from my typical radio interview, where I’m tucked away in my home office, away from eyes that can see I’m in sweatpants, a tee shirt, and that my hair resembles the mashed forms and varied heights of crop circles, but without the symmetry.

I’d prayed for a music stand so I could attempt to discreetly hide the notes that always surround me at home, for those moments when my Swiss-cheese memory gives out at inopportune moments. (On days when my brain lesion is kicking up, I can forget my husband Dan’s name, and I hate to sound stupid when I’m talking about my own book.)Anita Lustrea, Shelly, and Melinda Schmidt But, alas, no third music stand appeared, and God gave me the challenge of “working without a net” and connecting with the audience eye-to-eye.

It was glorious — because beneath my nagging doubts, I knew I could sit back and relax, knowing God always shows up and provides exactly what I need when I need it most, even directing the flow of each interview.

I felt like a kid who’d been given the keys to a candy story as I sat with a live studio audience and talked candidly face-to-face about our struggles with inner dialogues and my story of God’s transformation of my relationships, once I understood the true purpose and power of self-talk. I

t was also an amazing gift to be able to share my story of sexual abuse and my journey to forgiving the serial rapist who molested me as a young woman. The audience response indicated how deeply the wounds of life can cut and how pain shapes our self-talk.

Many thanks to Anita Lustrea, Melinda Schmidt and the Midday Connection team at WMBI for providing this opportunity. Congratulations and thanks to Jack Haveman and the WGNB family in west Michigan in their celebration of twenty years on the air.

Hitler in Me

My husband Dan

My husband Dan

I headed out for church this morning without Dan, leaving him home in bed with the fever and headache I was nursing last weekend. He was in a sorry state when I left, bugs coursing through his veins and sucking the life from him like microscopic vampires.

I worked in the nursery during the first service, clutching a discontented, nursing newborn to my chest–a child who was totally unimpressed with the efforts of a milkless matron attempting to do an impression of his mother. By the time I went upstairs for the second service , I was exhausted. I dropped into my seat in the fifth row waiting to be blessed as my pastor, Louie, preached the Word.

I cruised through the praise songs, but the worship drama left me a bit unsettled: a collection of disillusioned believers gathered around a blood-stained cross for a second look, remembering what had brought them there the very first time. Their inability to live anything but a self-centered, sinful life. And God’s gift of total forgiveness and restoration to himself through Jesus Christ.

Then Louie’s Words:  “There’s a slice of Hitler in all of us. Something willing to destroy others to achieve our goals.”

My upcoming release with Moody Publishers, The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk explores that slice of sin in each of us–our ability to simultaneously believe I am doing good but be acting for self-serving goals. Even when we’re performing acts of service, we often do them to impress, to gain brownie points, to serve hidden motives.

I headed home today unexpectedly blessed, reminded of God’s unfathomable gift of his Son on the cross. And while sin still courses through my veins, by the gace of God, I’m redeemed. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can live a life motivated by love, choosing to love and serve, instead of take.

On the drive home, I decided what kind of soup I could offer Dan when I got home. I made up my mind that it wouldn’t matter if he moaned a bit more than I like or had dropped a pile of dirty Kleenexes on the floor. I plotted my own Valkyrie to wipe out the spirit of Hitler in my soul and love my husband in spite of what my personal agenda might be.

It was a good afternoon–worshipping as I bent to tuck a blanket around my husband’s shoulders.