Written by Guest Blogger  Kim M. Dupree

In beaming smiles and palpable joy, Maria recounts the pathway to reclaim her narrative, “He is the reason I live.”

She reflected on a harrowing exit from 13 years of bondage from an abusive alcoholic spouse and her rancor engendered by her brokenness and emotional destitution, “I stood up, grabbed my keys, wearing nothing but pajamas and no shoes, walked past him and made it to my car. As I shut the door and raced away looking in my rear-view mirror, I was free. It was at that very moment that I realized God gave me strength.”

Christ conveys the sole Entrance that opens to true life: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 (KJV)

Maria voices her trajectory to the Door, the steep price she paid before entering.

“Growing up, in Jersey City, New Jersey, provided me with emotional and mental strength. I come from a family of go-getters. My mother stands at 4’10” but engages in life as if she were 6 feet tall,” she said.

In 2000, she began her 13-year marriage to her best friend, a single father of two children abandoned by their mother, and unwittingly took a “learning” detour from robust self-esteem to a downward spiral of powerlessness.

It all turned frighteningly quickly.

The love of her life had become a shell, broken and “drowning in the disease of a can.”

Days spent masquerading as a collected family unit, turned into hellish nights of fighting and shouting matches. “Months after we married, a few beers after work turned into 12 to sometimes even 16 beers,” she recalled.

Maria traded love for loss.

She was robbed of dignity and self-sufficiency. Her payoff was a missionto protect our family and hide his disease from anyone and everyone I could.” But the lines of empowering and enabling became blurred.

“By the time I realized it, the kids had grown up and moved on. I was alone with an alcoholic, drained of our finances and stripped of any strength I had to try and get him healthy to beat this disease,” she said.

In a moment of startling clarity, she “shut the door” on March 2013, when she “raced away” from the unrelenting maelstrom of her life.

One year later, sudden tragedy struck like a missile.

By her sister’s intuition and insistence, Maria had a routine gynecological visit that revealed a large mass in her uterus, “sitting as high as your aorta and could kill you,” her doctor revealed.

Over 24 hours, she’d gone from saving her life to planning her death, making her sister power of attorney, and completing a living will. Her reproductive organs were soon removed, though no malignancy was found.

Maria recollects, “I was stripped once again of my life. I can remember thinking, Why God? Why Me?”

During recovery, her sister spoke highly of Discovery Church.

“One day after leaving work I started crying in my car and couldn’t stop. I decided to attend, and I remember sitting as worship started and listening to Don Cousins speak about this wonderful God. I felt a release of shame and sadness,” she said.

She continued to attend services.

In 2015, another benign tumor was removed from her lower abdomen. After waking from surgery, she began ruminating on Pastor Cousins’ message,Stay the courseand Pastor Parrott’s admonition, “Light and Darkness cannot occupy the same space.”

On October 3, 2015, she deliberately entered in and received Christ’s Cost on the cross and was baptized. “It was clear to me that God was pursuing me as much as I was pursuing Him,” she said.

Maria traded her control to be His Clay.

She is fully surrendered to the Potter’s stretching and molding and is now a vibrant member of the Discovery Church worship team, relishing life in the Light.

Forgiveness and intercession have supplanted her rancor. Her health is ever strengthening by Christ’s stripes.

She is decidedly unwavering in trusting God’s purpose for the pain.

“Standing here today, I can tell you God’s healing power is certain. My joy comes from knowing I belong to God’s Kingdom. My spiritual healing comes from filling my life with the Word of God, His love for me, and I include Him in my life each day. I pray for my former family every day knowing and believing God saves because after all, He did save me,” she professes.

For Kim M.Dupree, love is everything. This is her maxim and motivation, serving as a beacon for her deliberate choices. She was born in Florida, reared and reconciled to God in Delaware, shaped with fortitude and purpose in Texas, and rekindled in her heart for humanity in China.

Now residing in Orlando, she principally identifies as a Daughter of God and a Creative Person who is conscious of honoring God, overcoming all things through Christ, and living authentically. Kim profoundly relishes the beauty and power of diverse forms of expression. Reading, people watching, and becoming a knitting novice are among her favored pleasures.

She found Discovery Church on the Internet in 2016 and has been immensely privileged to call it home. At this present juncture of her journey, she is progressively evolving into a Builder of Women empowered by the strength of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word —“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

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