Sherrie Rison: Sherrie………what can I say about her except that her smile is contagious! The sweet spirit that she carries so gracefully is one that those around her are blessed by. She is willing to show weakness but admits that her determination can sometimes hold her back from being vulnerable. I’ve only been blessed by her presence in my life for a couple of years. I’ve seen her walk through some pretty tough issues and wonder what God is trying to teach her. I’m also getting to be with her during a time of blessings and joy. All I know for sure is that God always knows what he is doing and through all of Sherrie’s life, He has been weaving a unbelievably beauuuuuuuu-tiful story. I’m grateful that I am a part of it with her.
Jeremiah 1:5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
It is important for me to remember this; as my life has wound through seasons and years, people have come and go, but this verse, this truth remains the same. Thank you for letting me share how God has always been with me.
As an infant my environment did not reflect a loving household. 1985, My first year I moved from Nashville, TN with my mother, father and two biological brothers to Huston, TX with my father, aunt and brothers to Mt. Sterling, KY with house parents and my brothers at Hope Hill Children’s Home and finally Winchester, KY with my first official foster parents, without my brothers. They were a nice family. I have three older brothers and an older sister.
When I was 5, 1990, my father decided to reclaim my brothers and me from foster care. A day came when everyone’s face was sad and hearts heavy, too young for me to understand. I relocated to the next town over, Lexington, KY. My room was in the basement with my brothers down the hall. I cried myself to sleep and spent years trying to figure out what happened, what was still happening.
I staggered through the effects of alcohol and drugs in my new home. As my school years continued I settled in to feeling very lonely and outcast, almost hidden. My interest peaked in Wiccan and pagan practices. (Not necessarily dark, just something greater) I started making some friends in the neighborhood smoking cigarettes, pot and drinking. My oldest brother came out he was gay. His lifestyle had an impact on my introduction to rave parties, acid, ecstasy and mushrooms. All of these things I was reaching out for, trying to reach and understanding of “feel good” or love, left me empty at the end of every day.
My sophomore year 2001, there was a teacher who invested in me like no one before. Spending time after or in-between classes. She invited me to church and led me to a relationship with Jesus. I was so reluctant but I was told John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. The opportunity to be truly loved in a way that would never ever go away. Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I was fully aware of the loneliness in life and the deep need for Love. A simple prayer between me and God, asking for forgiveness, acknowledging I needed/wanted Him/love in my life and I asked Jesus to make His home in my heart, to lead my life. (March 9, 2001) There was a still, small moment that I could feel God call to me. With the smallest amount of faith I prayed for the first time. “God if you’re there…” Something happened in that moment. I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. My heart felt like butterflies. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. The feeling lasted days even weeks and it couldn’t have come a better time. While I transitioned from my fathers to the shelter and the attic I knew I was loved and felt like I was loved. Nothing in this world had ever given me that before, Jesus was/ is different. Life must go on, the bible says, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Just because I am a person of faith doesn’t exempt me from difficulties. Difficulties that give me the opportunity to choose what character I will create in myself.
After returning home from the retreat I carried Jesus’s love with me everywhere. He made me confident, worthy and I had a great hope. I was ready to meet my next level of faith. My father met mine and my brothers’ maximum limit of tolerance for his abuse a month after my retreat. He was charged with neglect and we were placed back in states care with nowhere to go. Trying to place a 15 and 16 year old in the foster care program was a difficult task so we stayed in an emergency shelter for months and eventually were relocated again to an attic belonging to a man who previously sat on the board of the foster program. He was an extreme activist with no shower, stove or washer and dryer. There was no food in the house and if we went to school, we caught the city bus.
God introduced me to a family through the church that were foster parents. Job 29:12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. I was so distracted by wanting out of states care and being tossed around I did not see the love right in front of me. I had a mother and father, 6 new sisters and 3 new brothers. The pain, resentment, anger and entitlement had me in bondage. All I could see was what I thought was the finish line, my 18th birthday. I managed to make up my grades and graduate high school. By graduation I was already moving my things to a friend’s house.
I let loose of the focus I had and put aside the truths I had found. Somehow forgetting, taking for granted the freedom, peace, and love I had found in my relationship and conversations with Jesus. I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I was pregnant the summer after graduation. My actions lead to guilt and shame. It was hard to strike a conversation with God. Even though I was scared and felt very alone again Jesus made, what I knew as, His first great promise to me; “You and this baby will be okay.” Almost an audible voice, the room seemed to clear of everything but this warm radiant light and I was again filled with strength and hope. My last ultra sound confirmed it. The doctors said March 22 and my heart knew March 9, 2004, exactly four years after I asked Jesus to lead my life. Sure enough I was held over in labor until March 9. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. This undeserving grace and gift was enough to humble my heart again. I felt the deep need for God in my life as my sons father went to prison I was left with the responsibility/ privilege. I stayed involved at the church, started college and worked full time in addition to being mom. I was blessed with peace and my son. I watched God touch others through how he was changing me, even witnessed my closest friends who came to know Jesus too and was able to pray with them to receive His love for the first time.
It was a few years later, that I was tempted by my old habits, hearing lies that I really wasn’t any different and that I could go back to those good ol party days instead of pretending I was this tied up person with a bow on top. I let go again and this time for 5 years. Dating many men, living in domestic violence, DVO’s, jail time, married, and divorced with three abortions, there was so much confusion I did not even want to begin to processing through it. Not until I was sitting at the Salvation Army with my two boys, driven to my knees with a deep need for Love. 1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I started to realized just how bad things had gotten. I managed to save for our own apartment as I finished my AA degree. I was lonely, sledging through the days just trying to keep food in our bellies. I think I started to understand and learn this lesson. God dignifies us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do. He wants us all as His own children but will not force or hold back any consequences. Even in the not so great choices He will still make good come of it, giving me strength and renewed hope. My faith in Jesus’s promise to never leave was becoming concrete.
After graduation, naturally I felt the need to start something new. I was feeling accomplished and determined to keep moving forward. I slowed my decision making and thought about how to start rebuilding. God needed to be the center and foundation for this restoration to be successful. I started small conversations and prayers. I was filled with a new hope, for my family to be put back together, healing to come to my biological family and reconciliation with my other past families. My second sons’ father and I agreed on forgiveness and started making plans to move out of the state, away from the labels we were living under. A new fresh start. This was going to be another very long journey. I was confident God was the engineer and paving the way. We had a large yard sale and headed out west. God carried the vehicle to the other side of the nation without a hiccup, to Huntington Beach, Ca.
First things first, my home and little family needed to be on the same playing field. God provided a home just a half a mile from the beach, a great connect to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and Celebrate Recovery, for all hurts, habits and hang ups and I enrolled at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian Liberal Arts College. Jesus began to soften both our hearts. As I prayed, God worked miracles and my boyfriend was baptized with my oldest son on June 29 of 2014. 2 Corinthians 5:17 this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Again a new season with new hearts and renewed spirits. Together we were filled with another new hope and wanted to go back home to face the past so we could share this love with our friends and family. I was in awe of the way God had moved in our lives bringing to light the desires of my heart. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
There has been a pruning process, healing broken places in our hearts, weeding out the things not needed for our future and restoring joy to our lives. It has been a difficult road since we have been back almost 2 years. In fact it reminds me a bit of the exorcist. It is not a pretty process but God promises; He gives beauty for ashes, Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.
I pray for the day when a great purpose will be revealed and I will be equipped for success, to glorify what God has done in me. So for now, I will be still, quiet, taking no action but to do what is in front of me and read the word, and pray. Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Lord, I am in awe of You and what You can and will do for us. Thank you for giving me my friend. Continue to guide her, making your love for her evident. Amen