All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand

Judi’s Story

My life was humming along pretty well.  At least on the outside, which in honesty is all I really cared about.  I had been working as a nurse for 25 years and was respected.  I had 2 young adult children who were in college and on a "good track.”  I had been married for 20+ years, we owned a home, and had a retirement plan in place.  I was active in my church and even a member of a community group.

Then over the course of a year, my life began to crack and crumble.  I had lived in a state of anxiety most of my life, which I had been able to contain by controlling all the situations and circumstances of my life...controlling the people around me and their feelings by being a "giver" and a "fixer" and a “caretaker.”  I was trying to make them as codependent on me as I was on them.  I had built my life on shifting sand—bearing the fruit of my efforts.  Then my life came crashing down because I hadn't lived my life on the solid foundation of the Lord as it says in Matthew 7.

Then my life came crashing down... I hadn’t lived my life on the solid foundation of the Lord.

While my grief was fresh over my mother’s passing, I became estranged from my siblings over my job as executor of her estate and the years of caregiving that I had done in her final years.  Then addiction was brought to light in my children and my marriage.  Our finances took a hit and our retirement was threatened.  I couldn't face the world with all these failures.  My husband and I separated and I isolated myself physically and emotionally.  I was depressed and ashamed.

It had become clear that the inner me and the outer me didn't come close to lining up.  I felt defective on a very personal level.  I didn't know how to make anything right.  I had come to the end of myself...  I didn't realize it at the time but this was a great place to be.  I no longer had anything to offer.  Through God’s grace, I learned that it is in my weakness that His strength shines greatest, as it says in 2 Corinthians.

By this time I had found Summit Church and a recovery program whose sole purpose was to point people to Jesus.  I found a safe place to be me and learned how to own up to my own sinfulness without being judged, just loved.  I also discovered the gift of community and accountability.  A place where we are all learning how to receive God’s love and healing and become more like Him.  I didn't realize it at first, but I had been carrying around so much hurt and fear and this burden was crushing me.  In God, I found the healing that I had looked to others to provide.

I can honestly say I am a new creation in Christ… and this version is so much better than anything I was able to create out of my own efforts!  Every day I reach the end of myself.  Now I don't run from it, but embrace God’s gentle, loving transformation.

Abundant Life

Evan’s Story

For most of my life I have had a life-dominating fear of being exposed as a fraud.  At this point most people usually like to assure me that, no, I’m a good person and they’re sure that it’s not that bad.  But I would like to assure you that, yes, it is, and I am.  As a young boy I learned it was safer to be what others wanted me to be (or what I thought they wanted me to be), and that was the pathway to life.  My flesh clung to this promise, that pleasure and security would come if the whole world loved me, so I shape-shifted my self into whatever setting I was in.  I was a chameleon, living one reality on the outside, while experiencing a very different one internally.

Since I was so committed to living a dishonest life of people-pleasing, I made choices like the people of Israel, saying, “Since I want to be with you and you make me feel safe, I will worship what you worship.”  I quickly became addicted to entertainment, to affection and attention from women, to pornography and unhealthy and unholy relationships, to alcohol and marijuana.  For me, whatever made me more acceptable to you was my vice.

In 2010 I entered the doors of community at Summit.  My head was filled with self-condemning thoughts like, “You are unlovable, and if anyone really knew you they would hate you.”  It was the inner monologue that played from every morning when I woke up, until I fell asleep that night.  It was here that God, gently yet strongly, called me out of hiding.  I was sitting in a circle with a community of men who were sharing the truth about the lives they had lived, when I felt the prompting of what I now know to be the Holy Spirit to confess my sins.  It was not only to confess my actions, but to confess the entire false life I had been living, to be turned inside out and be exposed in front of these men who owed me nothing and could have torn me to shreds if they wanted.

I felt the prompting of... the Holy Spirit to confess my sins. 

To my surprise, when I shared with them, instead of running for the hills or calling me names, they thanked me for what I said and told me, “We love you more now because we know you more.”  It was in that moment that my heart was opened to what Christ calls the “abundant life” in John 10:10. I realized that I had been living under the dominion of an enemy that was selling me half-measures, and my flesh was buying it all.  It was here that the Gospel became clear to me, that my life was not my own and that my past needed to be atoned for, and that had already happened in Christ.  It was here that for the first time I stopped thinking about all that I had done, and started embracing all that Christ had done for me, and my life has never looked the same.

Though I still struggle today, my life is characterized by becoming more and more like Jesus.  It’s imperfect, but I’ve learned that my Savior expects that.  He doesn’t demand perfection, but He invites intimacy.  And through intimacy, He transforms my life into a life of holiness that is not a burden, but a grand adventure.  Today I embrace the freedom that Christ has given me, forsaking the yoke of slavery, living exposed under His gaze and in the presence of my brothers and sisters in Christ—all for the sake of His glory and renown.  And it is all worth it.

Releasing Fear / Finding Peace

Rachel’s Story

My whole life I have struggled with anxiety.  Unknown environments always meant fear; control was safety.  I was definitely a rule-follower, wanting to do everything right.  My mentality was that the more perfect I could become and the more things I could control, the more I could be set up for success.  This easily morphed into a sense of self-righteousness and judgment of others.

When I first came to Recovery, I had been living in Florida for about a year.  I am blessed to work with a great community of people, and I had started building relationships and getting to know people there.  However, I was still feeling the pressure of trying to present myself as perfect, as someone others would want to befriend.  I was trying to fit in, rather than just being myself.  I continued the habit of overthinking everything I said and fearing judgment.  I felt I couldn’t truly be at ease around those I called my friends.

I was still feeling the pressure of trying to present myself as perfect...

My first night at Recovery, I quickly knew this was a place I wanted to be.  During worship, we began singing about God’s promises, peace, and the freedom He offers.  I thought to myself, that’s exactly what I want and have been striving for this whole time!  I started tearing up.  It’s unusual for me to cry, or really show much emotion at all.  So when I cry in situations like this, I know it’s the Holy Spirit at work.  I took this salty sign to mean I was in the right place.

I thought about getting a Genesis stone that night but held back, still worried about doing things “the right way.”  I was, I admit, a bit weirded out by all the procedure.  But I felt so welcomed into the Recovery community and was excited that the people here aren’t afraid to get below the surface and talk about the deep stuff.  I could be myself, mistakes and all.

I’ve learned how to express my feelings to others, to admit my insecurities and ask for help.  I became more willing to admit my own sinfulness or wrong thinking, acknowledging that it’s not something that can be ignored away or resolved in isolation.  Being in this Recovery community has given me the courage to admit my faults and my needs, knowing that it doesn’t reflect on my inherent value in Christ.  When I’m hurt, I can now bring it to the light and resolve it rather than isolating or blaming myself.  Risking pain yields the greatest joy, experienced through, ultimately, grace.  It’s what love is built on - knowing we can be who we are and that we are valued and embraced in spite of all our sharp edges.

I once was lost...

Krystal’s Story

Hi, I’m Krystal. I struggle with codependency, control, anxiety, toxic shame, and I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic. I say grateful recovering alcoholic because without my addiction, I never would have turned back to Christ. Though my life was an undeniable mess in my addiction, God used it to show me that I need Him.  

I grew up in a broken household. After a toxic, 6-year marriage, my parents divorced and my mom, sisters and I moved from North Carolina to Maine, where my mom grew up. My father re-married and we only got to see him for ten weeks out of the year: eight weeks over summer break and two weeks over Christmas break. Growing up, I saw my mom dating different men; trying to fill her loneliness and finding her worth in these relationships. To further medicate her loneliness, she would drink excessively. When I was 7 or 8, she decided she had a problem and started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She brought us along to these meetings and we grew up knowing what AA was and the meaning of it.

When I was 13, my mom was in a relationship that I did not agree with. Her boyfriend was spending the night and acting as though he lived with us. We were taught that this kind of relationship outside of marriage was sinful and as the oldest daughter, I felt it was my responsibility to watch over and protect her. I tried my best to run off her boyfriend, but he stuck around. After constant fights with my mom and threatening to end my life, feeling like I didn’t matter, I decided it was time to move to my father’s house in North Carolina.

Things were going well when I moved in with my father. I was an honor roll student that loved playing sports and spending time with my friends. When I was sixteen, I got into a serious relationship with a boy, which had to be hidden because I wasn't allowed to date outside of my race. I grew up believing it was against God to mix races in relationships and I had such a fear of Him that I thought if I sinned or made one bad decision, I was going to hell. When my father found out I was dating this boy, he disowned me and kicked me out of our home right on the spot. I started walking down the road with a suitcase and my clothes in a couple of bags.

 My aunt picked me up off the street and I stayed with my grandmother until the end of my junior year of high school. Because of my dating relationship, my dad sent me back to Maine on the first day of summer break. He wouldn't claim me as his child or even speak to me to express his hurt or disapproval. This is where I learned the ‘silent treatment’ which I often used to avoid discussing things because of the fear of conversation and confrontation. I went three years without speaking to my father. I learned how to shut people out to keep them from hurting me.

When I moved back to Maine, my relationship, which had been filled with constant cheating and lying, finally ended. It made me feel so sad. I always thought there was something wrong with me; that I wasn't good enough. In my toxic shame and loneliness, I turned to alcohol to numb the pain. I didn’t want to feel anything. I would go to college parties with some girls and drink and still be the honor roll student that played sports and hung out with friends. I seemed normal, happy, joyful, daring, and lovable. On the inside though, I was filling the void with alcohol and bad relationships; longing for acceptance and love.

When I couldn’t find love and acceptance with men, I entered into a homosexual relationship. I knew in my heart this wasn't okay and I was afraid God would not love me. I reasoned that if I turned away from Him first, then He could not hurt me by not loving me.

In my freshman year of college, I continued to party excessively. I didn't go to any of my classes and failed out of the semester. One evening I drank excessively and a guy, who I’d considered a friend, took advantage of me. My friends all thought it was funny and videoed it. I wanted to isolate and disappear. What would people think of me? People would say I asked for it. I had to keep everything a secret because if my partner found out she would be mad at me for putting myself in that situation and she would leave me too. I felt as though I would never be valued.

I was able to ignore what happened and not deal with it until the day I found out I was pregnant. I was an 18-year-old pregnant girl who had been in a homosexual relationship for a year. How do you explain that to people and not feel shame? How do you feel loved? I had to tell my family and partner. I didn’t believe in abortion, so it couldn't stay a secret. I was so mad at God for allowing that man to take advantage of me and for giving me a constant reminder of it. This pushed me further from Christ and towards the world. I told my family, partner, and friends and remained in an incredibly chaotic and toxic relationship for 6 years. Everyone knew I was struggling with everyday life and I would drink excessively so much that I often blacked out and embarrassed myself.

In 2016 I ended my relationship, began living on my own and tried dating guys. I continued to drink and didn't allow anyone to get close to my feelings. Early one morning while my daughter was with me for the Summer, I was charged with driving while intoxicated and was taken to jail. I left jail later that morning having no license and had to figure out how to get my daughter and how I could get to work. I didn't know how anything was going to work and I knew I had a problem that I couldn't fix alone. Remembering the visits to AA with my mother, I attended a meeting with my sister and began my journey of seeking help from others and God for my problems. I attended AA for a month before moving to Estero in 2017.

I got a job in commercial real estate and started attending Summit Church. I discovered that a co-worker of mine also attended Summit. We spoke my first week of employment about my story and how I was trying to find a meeting. She recommended I get connected with Recovery at Summit. She emailed Evan immediately and told me when and where to meet him. I was scared because I did not know anyone. I nervously went to a meeting that Thursday night and met the most welcoming people. I went to the newcomers meeting, where I met Megan and started meeting up with her weekly. I have now been attending Recovery for over a year and a half.

Recovery has helped me discover myself in Christ. I can recognize all the moments in my life where God was there. I can see that He broke me that early July morning to get my attention and set me in the direction of His plan. He placed me in my job to get me connected with that co-worker who was connected to Summit well enough to point me in the right direction. He placed the Recovery family in my life so I could see that I was not alone.

In Recovery, I could finally accept all the hurts, habits, and hang-ups. In this place, I was finally accepted for me and all my “baggage”. I was able to learn what led to my excess drinking, what triggers it, and what I can do to prevent me from going back to it again. I have addressed deep hurts from my past, discovered my daily struggles, and received the tools I need to deal with them in a healthy way. I have learned that I cannot do life without God. I need Him in all things to be able to do this life. I have found my worth in Him; giving my life to Him by declaring Him my Savior in my heart and before others through baptism. I have been able to truly accept the love of Christ. I know He is with me always; before me, beside me, and behind me. Christ has changed my life entirely, and my daughter’s as well. She is now able to witness what strength in Christ looks like which will not fall to the winds of the world, but will stand strong with Him. Only through Him I will prosper.

Jesus is so much better than any other life I could have ever imagined for myself.

Recovery meets every Thursday evening at 7pm at our University and Gateway congregations. All our welcome and childcare is provided.

Grace & Mercy

It all started for me on October 9, 2002. I started this road to recovery from the disease of drug addiction and entered into a 12 Step Recovery Program. This program gave me a sense of purpose and the desire to become a better person. One of the major principles of this program is Step 3: Making a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. This embarked me on a journey to understand and learn more about that God; who I choose to call Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.  I know I am only saved by His grace and mercy.

So I continued along this journey getting closer to God and understanding His will for me in my life. Life got good and I began to recover from my Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups. I branched out into Celebrate Recovery and that's when my life in Christ took true form. At 8 years clean I finally gave my life to Christ and got baptized. I joined a church and started committing myself to Jesus. This was the greatest decision I could have ever made and it changed my life. I started to learn more about Christ and as I read the Bible, it spoke volumes to me. Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of Sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us".

At some point, after about 10 years of clean living, I lost all focus. I stopped praying and going to meetings. I was not living a Christian life. I entered into a relationship with a married woman.

This proved out to be the lowest point of my life. I fell in love with somebody that was not available and I hurt myself and many others. I wished I were dead.

At this lowest period in my life, I showed up at the doors Summit Church and my life has been totally reformed. I started praying again and attending church services each week. It seemed like every message was made just for me. I asked God for forgiveness and repented. I still feel guilty, but my past doesn't control my future.

Today I serve as an Usher and feel a part of a wonderful church community and my life is committed to Christ and His will for me.  "My Spiritual condition is the basis for a successful recovery that offers us unlimited growth". Jesus is the answer to all my Spiritual dilemmas. 




Bread.  Yum.  Just imagine the smell of it rising.  It’s the ultimate comfort food that pairs so well with anything from fruit to meats and even peanut butter.  It can calm an upset stomach.  It can turn boring chicken soup into a delicious hearty chicken and dumplings.  Bread can even turn an entire thanksgiving dinner into the most delicious late night snack sandwich.  If you can’t tell, I love bread and I do not eat gluten free. 

When I read about manna in Exodus, I can only imagine what it tasted like.  Exodus 16:31 describes the taste to be like “wafers made with honey.”  God rained it down from heaven; of course it’s going to be light and sweet!  But reading the entire passage in Exodus can become rather mundane and repetitive as God instructs His people on how they are to eat while in the wilderness.  What can God possibly teach me in this passage?

As I recently read Exodus 16, I was struck by one simple thing.  God was not just telling them how to live daily in preparing their meals; He was telling them that they had to live one day at a time.  If they gathered too much manna (in other words: trying to control the outcome of tomorrow’s provision or be greedy in wanting more), the manna would have gone bad by the next day.  And when I say “bad,” I mean bad as in it reeked and was filled with maggots.  Gross, I know.  So the people gathered only enough for themselves for the day, and the next day they went out and did it again.  Only enough for one day.  So when God instructed them to gather twice as much on the sixth day, they had to trust that it would be good by morning.  And come Sabbath morning, as they rose to start a new day, their manna was as fresh as it was the day before.  They didn’t have to gather and cook; they could enjoy the rest that God was giving them.

God provided for His people daily.  One day at a time.  For 40 years!  How incredible is that?  But there is so much more to this.  God didn’t do this because He was tired of listening to their complaining about food.  He didn’t do this just to fulfill their basic needs.  He gave them manna to teach them to trust in Him.  He also wanted His people to know Him more, to know His character, to know that He was their Provider. 

I am so thankful that God has taught me this same lesson in life.  It took me many years within my own wilderness to finally stop trying and to finally start living.  I had been a slave to my own way of thinking.  If I tried harder, if I gave more, if I only could _(fill in the blank)__; then life would be full, good, happy, peaceful.  But I was still living in the wilderness.  My best efforts got me there.  Once I decided to surrender and give control over to my Savior Jesus, I also decided that I would trust Him with the details, even the simplest detail in what will I eat today.  God is my provider.  I trust in Him.  I live one day at a time with His wisdom, His guidance, His peace, His joy, His breathe in my lungs.  What will come tomorrow?  That I do not know, but I trust that it will be in His hands.  Jesus is my manna; He is my portion. And He is sweeter than any bread I have ever known.

John 6:33; 35 “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” … Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

- Amanda


When I look back to the four nights we spent as a church during Revive Us, two of the things that stood out to me the most were not allowing an ‘emotional high’ to occur, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to instill a deeper desire to walk in intimacy with God and to keep in check whether or not I am choosing between two gods. This led me to ask myself, “Am I seeking The Lord or choosing to live in idolatry?”

The morning after Revive Us, I opened up my bible to Colossians 3 where I was wrecked, realizing that in order to be made new in Christ I first needed to put away the old.  I could see the negative life I often choose to lead and understood that if I was going to move into a life that glorifies God then there was un-repented of sin that needed to be dealt with; including judgment, selfishness, and unrighteous anger. Romans 6 tells us, “Consider yourselves to be dead, indeed, unto sin.”

It just isn’t going to work if I don’t work at it daily. Reminders from Recovery began to fill my head and my heart. I was reminded that my God pulled me out of darkness and into His light.  And that, though we all get stuck sometimes, it’s just not ok to stay there.  Living in fellowship with the women I have met on Thursday nights keeps me from hiding under a rock and living in isolation.  

It is written in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” The small groups give me comfort in knowing I am not alone.  

This is a crazy, broken, fallen world we live in and I can’t live each day without surrendering to my Savior.  There is freedom in letting go of our old ways and past experiences.  It enables us follow the teachings of Colossians 3 to “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.”

- Diana


Lately, I have been seeing so much hopelessness in the lives of friends, co-workers, and family members. Some of them know it is on them; you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their conversations. For quite a few though, they don't see it. Actually, most would look at their lives and listen to their conversations and say for all appearances sake they seem pretty hopeful. However, I've noticed one major difference between them and the people I know who are truly hopeful; the source of their hope.

            On the one side, those that are truly hopeful find their hope in the unchanging, foundational source of Jesus Christ. On the other side, those that appear to have hope, find it within themselves. There's only one problem with finding it within ourselves. We are broken. Life has dealt nearly all of us some hefty blows. Some from the very people we thought would love us and protect us, while some came from our own stupid choices, and others simply came from just living life. Either way, we are all affected by this life and seek for ways to relieve ourselves of the pain, the hopelessness.

            I know that longing for relief all too well. I've had my share of pain, some caused by others, but a lot more caused by myself. See, in my pride I thought I could figure it out, laugh it off, numb it away. In essence, I thought I could perform my own surgery; because in all reality that is what all of us are in need of, heart surgery. Our whole lives flow from our hearts, both physically and spiritually. The problem is that our hearts have been pierced repeatedly throughout our entire lives by the arrows of rejection, neglect, abuse, and the like. There is one arrow though that is self inflicted, pride. 

            Pride is the one poison that whispers sweet nothings into your ear promising life and freedom from the pain and hopelessness, only to deliver internal death and separation. Separation from what you ask? From the one true source of Life and Hope, God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. I lived in that prideful state of hopelessness for way too long, 15 years before my date of salvation and then again nearly 10 more years after my salvation.

            That's right, as a Christian, a Christ follower who loved God (to the best of my broken humanity's ability), who read God's word regularly, went to church, strived to be the best Christian he could be and who knew he was called by God. Oh, I professed with my mouth the “hope” that I knew I was suppose to have, that I cognitively knew I had, but deep in my heart had never experienced it fully. I had a taste of that hope at my conversion and that sustained me for a couple of years while God implanted some foundational Truths in me, but then He needed to start the process of sanctification to rid my heart of anything and everything that was not of Him. Funny thing, I'm pretty sure I prayed a prayer like that numerous times in my early years. I for one am grateful that God answers prayers and extremely grateful for His perfect timing.

            So what I have found, is that pride and True Hope cannot exist together, especially in the life and the heart of a Christ follower. As long as pride is sitting on the throne of our heart, there is no place for Jesus, our Hope and our Salvation. That means we will have to humble ourselves and trust that God is who He says He is, can do what He says He can do, and will be all He says He will be. That's a scary thought for most of us. After all, the last time we trusted someone that much it did not end well for us. Well I'm here to say that taking that step of faith, humbling myself, and trusting God was the best decision I have ever made. To be honest though, all I really needed to do was humble myself and receive His gift of grace. That's really the only decision any of us need to make. He is faithful to meet you where you are and walk with you through the fire. Stop stabbing yourself in the heart with your pride and receive His healing touch of eternal Hope. It will be the most freeing thing you've done. 

Of Recovery, Renewed Faith ... and Rats!

I got involved with recovery many years ago, long before there was even such a thing as Summit Church. During that time, I often noticed that within the spaces where people gathered, among the many who seemed so desperate to experience change in their lives, there were always these few who seemed to glow. They seemed to possess a different kind of attitude. They communicated in noticeable tones of greater confidence and encouraging assurance. I eventually realized that these people had experienced something far greater than mere abstinence from that which brought them there.

In other words, it wasn’t that they had simply refrained from indulging in the behavior that spurred their arrival to recovery, they had actually got a sponsor, worked the steps and acted on the good advice of others; particularly in embracing the spiritual tenets of the program.

Ultimately, it was their faith in God, their relationship with God, which had made the difference. I couldn’t help but notice, there was a distinctive difference in the lives of those who had been transformed by the relationship with God versus those who simply showed-up at meetings. I’ve heard it said that in the absence of a relationship with Christ, the Twelve Steps are nothing more than words on paper. I’ve seen the truth of that, time and time again. That’s why I especially enjoy participating in the Recovery program at Summit Church. It puts the focus on what is the most fundamental aspect of recovery. Don’t get me wrong, attending meetings, learning from the experiences of others and hearing an encouraging message of hope is a very, very good thing to do. I simply have to acknowledge that in my experience, there can be no real recovery without experiencing the renewal of life that only comes from our relationship with God.

Before recovery, my faith fell somewhere between nonexistence and the occasional inclination that I was either despised or cursed by God. I’ve come to have a different perspective.

One of my favorite recovery-themed stories involves a pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam War. He spent a traumatic duration as a prisoner of war with long periods of isolation. He was also tortured and nearly starved to death, but amazingly survived. He returned home at the end of war and in the course of a press conference, reporters asked him how it was possible that he endured through such a horrific ordeal. The veteran informed this audience, “Were it not for God’s love, I would have never survived.” As you can imagine, the reporters balked at this suggestion. Pressing further, they said that given his circumstances and suffering, how could he make any kind of assertion about God’s love? As for what this veteran encountered, wouldn’t that be the very opposite of an expression of love?

The veteran proceeded to explain that during his captivity, he had been confined to a dark and damp room. His captors would give him a golf ball-sized portion of rice which might be the only thing he would have to eat that day. It just so happened, on one day, a rat had made its way into his cell. Now normally, a rat’s presence will prompt repulsion, yet in this man’s isolation, he was grateful for its company. He would feed it a few kernels of rice and eventually grew to appreciate these interactions. But a time came when the rat didn’t show up as usual. Several days passed, and he had begun to worry. He actually missed the rat, to such an extent that he was overjoyed when the rat reappeared some time later.  Unfortunately, the rat seemed very sick and the prisoner despaired over the possibility that his little friend was going to die. He was consumed by grief. But the rat wasn’t sick, it was pregnant. Of all the places where it could have given birth to its litter of little rats, it chose the cell of this prisoner. This was where it felt secure, safe and nurtured. The man shed tears of joy as he witnessed the birth of new life, a remarkable moment in an environment marked by death and tragedy. During that press conference, the veteran explained,  “You want to know how I can acknowledge how much God loves me? He allowed me to become friends with a family of rats.”

I share this story because, on one hand, it speaks of how significant it is to have a support system when we’re confronting great conflict. How necessary it is to form relationships with those who are willing to be there, right beside us, when we’re in a very bad place.

But the story imparts another message on which I prefer to focus. And that is, that even in the worst of situations, God can use the smallest and most unlikely of things to remind us that we are blessed... that we are loved.... that we are not alone.  I carry that knowledge with me everyday… and I continue to participate in the Recovery program at Summit Church because I’m so grateful for the rats God has put in my life and grateful for the opportunity to constantly bear witness to the renewal of life.

I too was once a prisoner… but God’s love set me free.


What is the greatest gift you can get someone? 

I feel this question comes up every year during Christmas. Whether it's someone you love dearly or someone you're obligated to buy a gift for. We all know we have those.  

This season, once again, I tell myself I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible without rushing through it and filling my schedule to the brim. I also started an advent that I absolutely love, but we're already in the second week of December and I'm kinda feeling overwhelmed with all that's on our calendar. Last Sunday was the start of our series at Summit called, Rise. It had lots of reminders that I needed to hear. One that stood out is, Jesus is our horn of salvation and this truth alone should be our celebration during this season.

Even though this was said in a service that is part of our Christmas series here at Summit, this truth is what we celebrate in Recovery every day and every week. Every Thursday night we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ to humble ourselves with one another, have a time of fellowship together, and worship as a family by praising God for all that he has done in our lives and how he continues to sanctify us. The greatest news is that God has completely and eternally saved us.

Because this is the greatest news in my life, why wouldn't this be the greatest gift I could give to others? Especially my family and friends whom I love so much, who don't know Jesus the way I know him. This morning I woke up burdened greatly for those friends and family. I know they don't have the hope and peace I carry every day. If they don't truly know who Jesus is, I'm pretty certain that they aren't celebrating what this season is all about.

During my time with Jesus in the mornings, I take time to thank him for his never-ending faithfulness to me and his perfect love for me. But I'm also reminded how grateful I am, not only for his love for me, but for his perfect example of how to love others.

Loving others, for a lot of us, is one of the hardest things we do daily. Sure, loving those who love us back is easy. But how about loving those who disappoint us or intentionally hurt us? Maybe total strangers or even friends and family who don't believe the same things as we do and are passionate about their own beliefs. These people aren't always the easiest to love. I have many people like that in my life and I know that I'm called to love them the way God loves me. How in the world could I ever be able to do this on my own? I know I can't.

In my own relationship with Jesus, I'm blown away by his constant grace and mercy in how he walks with me. And the way he teaches me and grows me is always done with such compassionate love. Because of my experience with my Savior, I'm able to strive to love the way he does. 1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.” I desire to abide in Him and love like him, but when I fail, and I do miserably, he's right there to forgive when I confess. And He reminds me that his love for me is still the same. This is the beauty of who God is. His steadfast love endures forever.

So, if I know these truths and I can account for how great God’s love is for me, why wouldn't I want to share that love with others? This is also essentially step 12 (Having had a spiritual awakening as the results of these steps, we try to carry this message to others) of the 12-step program we do in Recovery.

You don’t need to be in Recovery to share with others what God has done for you and how he’s changed your life. We as believers should want to tell everyone how God has rescued us from our junk. And we should do this with great joy. So, for those in my life who don't know Jesus the way I know him, this is the greatest gift I can give them.

I've been asking the Lord to give me the wisdom and courage I need to ask the question to these who are dear to me, “What are you really celebrating this holiday season?"  I know exactly what I'm celebrating. He's redeemed my life, given me the freedom I longed to have for so long, and he never stops loving me in spite of all my failures.  I am completely and eternally saved. If Jesus has radically changed your life, share it without fear. Give someone else the greatest gift that's been given to you.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has a light shone.

-Isaiah 9:2

Praise Jesus for the light that was shone on me. I am no longer in darkness!



Recovery is a ministry of repentance, reconciliation, and restoration that seeks to counsel those struggling with sin, bringing them into the fullness of joy that God intends for His children. We provide those who find themselves struggling with the effects of sin a safe place to walk honestly in loving community and receive God's truth in addressing life's difficulties.

 We often get the question, ‘who is Recovery for’, and ‘who should attend’?  Recovery at Summit is for anyone who finds themselves in an ongoing struggle with sin and its effects. We tend to say that Recovery is for anyone struggling with a hurt, habit or hang-up.

 When we say “hurt” we are referring to any individual that is literally hurting. A “hurt” could be classified as any life experience that may have damaged your heart and left you with a distorted view of God, yourself and/or others. It refers to an individual that is broken-hearted and wounded over the loss of a relationship, over feelings of abandonment or betrayal or abuse, or other residual effects of growing up or living in a dysfunctional family.

 When we think about those who are wrestling with a “habit”, we are referring to anyone who may be stuck in an unhealthy pattern that began as an attempt to “self-medicate“ or escape some problem in one’s life. This “habit” ends up turning into a chronic, compulsive and destructive behavior or addiction. Habits are the ongoing, broken, default scripts that individuals run to when the going gets tough. These behaviors can range from pornography, to drugs or alcohol, to an eating disorder, gambling, isolation, workaholism, affairs, etc. 

Lastly, the term “hang ups”, refer to any individual that is struggling with road blocks that keep them from moving further down God’s plan for their life. These roadblocks can be wrong thinking that may have started as a child, or it can be some unhealthy attitude that may have been adopted as a means of coping with life’s problems or trials. Hang-ups can flesh themselves out in anger, worry, depression, codependency, lack of trust in God, pride, materialism, a desperate need to control, or people-pleasing; to name a few.

At the end of the day the motives for people entering into Recovery at Summit vary greatly. There could be a myriad of reasons why someone would enter the doors of Recovery, but regardless of the reason or motivation, our need is all the same. We are a broken people living in a broken world in need of God’s redeeming love and grace. 

The ministry of Recovery is centered on the gospel and offers biblical counsel alone. We use the 12 Steps as a tool to help people identify where they are in this journey, to help them communicate their feelings openly and see God clearly. We make sure to anchor the 12 Steps in the Word of God and never seek to elevate them above God’s Truth. We see the 12 Steps as an effective discipleship tool that brings our desperate need for God and His grace close.

In the end, we know the hope that the world offers falls short of God’s plan for redemption and for recovering what has been marred because of sin. Our aim is to offer the hope, healing and restoration that can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our prayer for the unbeliever attending Recovery is that they will come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and through Him discover the rest and healing they need for their souls. For the one who is already a believer in Christ and attending Recovery, we pray that God would use this program to enrich their relationship with Him, to help them grow in their understanding of the rhythm and order that God has ordained them to function in and continue to grow in their love for Him and others. 

We are grateful for the Gospel and grateful for a ministry at Summit that stretches beyond our walls, bringing hope and healing to those in need, in a safe, accountable and loving environment.  We’re believing God to do immeasurably more in and through the ministry of Recovery and in the lives of those He has called us to minister to.

- Orlando Cabrera




I was born in a Christian home. I lived with my family, including my mom, cousins, and grandparents. My dad, however, abandoned my mom and I, and sparked my fear of abandonment, that has followed me through the years. My grandpa was a missionary and constantly encouraged me by explaining that God was my Father, and by reading Psalm 23 with me every night. I had the knowledge that God was my Father, but deep down, I struggled with believing that God actually loved me and cared about me.

One day God brought me into Summit Church, and that’s where He showed me that He has been my Father my entire life. Over time, God started to show me more about Himself and who I was made to be as his servant. Thats when God softened my heart and made me realize that I needed to forgive my father. When I turned 18, I arranged a meeting with him. It was a conversation that I had fantasized about a hundred times in my childhood, but when the conversation actually happened, it was different. I no longer felt the need to hurt him or tell him how terrible he is. Though there was and still is a lot of hurt toward him, I found that I could truly forgive him for leaving me; not because of my own strength, but because of God’s strength in me. Even then any form of relationship with him still felt impossible. A few months later I was brought into Recovery at Summit and was able to go much deeper into the hurts and fears in my life, including the feelings surrounding my father. As I learned new things, and grew more and more, I was finally able to have a speaking relationship with my dad. I still struggle with a lot of the same fears, but thanks to God, and thanks to the people and teaching he has provided me through Summit, I can take the next steps forward knowing that God is greater than my fears.

- J.


Summit Church on it’s own, is simply just another building; what makes this place the living Church are the people: the Holy Spirit-filled sinners who have been redeemed by the unconditional grace of Jesus Christ!

There is a refreshing transparency within Summit’s Recovery Ministry that I've never experienced anywhere else. Jesus said, “when two or three gather in my name, there I am among them”. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to come together in the middle of the week at Recovery and experience the presence of God. Not just through worship and a message, but also through genuine heart-felt conversation with others where I can safely come without feeling the need to act like I have it all together.

We each have our individual struggles, but the one thing that we have in common is the deep longing inside us all that can only be quenched by the love of the One who created us.

Summit is a place that consistently cultivates the opportunity to safely let down my guard and shift my focus away from unnecessarily carrying the heavy burden of all my hurts and imperfections and instead, fully embrace the gift of a perfect Savior and his extravagant love for me; right where I am.

Through the gospel-centered resources Recovery offers like STEPS, sponsorship, and small groups, God has begun to chisel away in my heart all the preconceived stereotypes of who I thought He was and the toxic misconceptions of how I needed to act in order to be "good enough" to receive His love. Once I realized there was absolutely nothing that could separate me from the love of Christ, a giant wave of peaceful liberation swept over me, giving me a new sense of freedom and confidence that I didn't know existed. I have a Father who will never leave me nor forsake me! I can stop trying to be perfect because Christ was perfect for me!

- Recovering Daughter of the King