Valerie

Here’s my ultra talented brother and I doin’ our thang at a dingy bar in Worcester, Massachusetts for an audience of about seven people. It was magical.

I miss you, Amy

If I Ain’t Got You, Jesus

Sometimes, I just get the urge to do karaoke. I’ve always thought karaoke a wondrous outlet for businessmen and women with secret unexplored dreams of “making it”. Perform a good song at a crowded bar; and you feel like you’re at Madison Square Garden.

In this video, I changed the lyric of a very well-known tune to make it worshipful. Afterwards, a woman with dangling cross earrings appeared, applauding me profusely and squeezing me tightly. Then she disappeared…I still think she was an angel.

Karaoke Kween

People Used to Get Killed for This

People used to get killed for this; you know.
Publicly.
If we lived back then, we’d be dead.
Our names, shamed.
Throwing stones, breaking bones, preventing clones of rebellion.

Maybe there’s a reason why
people had to die.

Maybe one life sacrificed would suffice –
So the watching village wife wouldn’t make her mistake twice.

Maybe…the law was right.
Maybe the conviction for restriction created such friction,
leaving no other option but severe jurisdiction.

After all, if you can picture it,
there once was a world without the Holy Spirit.

Fast forward to the now, swiftly passing
through the evolutionary progression
of man
learning to forget to regret.

Freedom.

But blurring the lines,
doesn’t make them disappear.

What if this sexual revolution won’t turn losers into winners,
but saints into sinners?
What if the wages of sin were paid immediately,
and we could visibly see
the reality
of each physical and spiritual casualty?

What if someone still had to die?

Well…

He did.

A Letter to My Sisters in Christ

Did you know that throughout the entire Bible, the word “church” never refers to a building? The Greek word used for “church” is “ekklesia”, which literally means “a calling out” – or, physical people whom God has called. If you call yourself a Christian, this includes you.

Who are Christians? Well, the world doesn’t quite understand us. We are men and women joyfully willing to surrender every last thought, deed, and breath to our Creator, in love. We are men and women confident in the truth of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection; and His promise of eternal life. We peacefully walk in spiritual freedom, embracing our identity as sons and daughters of the Most High King, all while moving in the supernatural power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Whether gathered in a small living room or a large outdoor space, or even separated across the globe – we are the Church.

So, if we find a particular problem about the Church, only we can enact change within the Church.

I know the Church pretty well, I’ve been a member of the body almost my whole life – we’re not perfect. Yet, though we will continue to individually and collectively transform until the day we see our Maker face to face, one area needs particularly increased attention now.

Well. Here goes nothing!

This is a desperate plea to my fellow sisters in Christ. A plea for transparency in the most sensitive secret place – our sexuality.

You see, the world talks about women’s sexuality; a lot. In movies, in television, in magazines, on Facebook. The female desire for sex – both heterosexual and homosexual – has forcefully saturated every fiber of our culture. As I type, I am even subject to ingest a pride-themed rainbow banner streaming over the top of my WordPress page.

Yet, somehow, this topic has skirted the Church. Many assume that only men struggle with pornography, masturbation, and homosexuality; and that all Christian women simply struggle with is loneliness while waiting for God to reveal to them their husbands.

While the latter is a legitimate struggle for some, for many of us, the scars run much, much deeper. Many of us have never quite felt pure. Sexual wounds from our childhood have led to confusion and premature promiscuous desires. Pornography, whether first seen by accident, by curiosity, or by force, has festered into a shameful secret addiction – scarring personal relationships, distorting expectations of sexual fulfillment and performance, and skewing body image. It has naturally led to the unnatural act of masturbation, and, combined with circumstances and experiences, has planted seeds of homosexual desires. And while we struggle, we struggle in silence, because of our shame, our fear of judgement, and the lack of any conversation or source of help.

God told me to start the conversation.

I am a Christian woman who has struggled with a variety of immoral sexual desires, behaviors, and addictions, and I know that I am not alone. Shelley Warren, in her life-changing book Pure Heart (every Christian woman should read it!), says “Thirty-four percent of female readers of the Today’s Christian Woman online newsletter admitted to accessing internet porn in a recent poll, and one out of every six women, including Christians, are struggling with an addiction to pornography.”

My heart hurts for my sisters who struggle in secret. I know their struggle well.

But, there is a way out.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (NLT)

My life testifies to this verse. After a ten-year long addiction to pornography, when I needed freedom as badly as I needed air, God graciously gave me an accountability partner; and the grace to share with this accountability partner.

Now, healing is not a “one and done” deal. The struggle is on-going, the fight relentless. But I am so thankful for His faithfulness in providing – now, many prayer partners – because transparency has reawakened my secret place. It is no longer one of sin and shame. It is a love chamber dedicated to dwelling in the Presence of my Heavenly father. It is where I bask in His magnificent beauty, His peace and joy, and the fiery love that streams from His face. It is my source of strength, always.

And now, my spirit longs to be in Communion with His. Our relationship is a dance, written specifically for me. And He is purifying me day by day in a brand new way.

Though freedom will not come overnight, darkness and light cannot coexist. Shining His light into the deepest, darkest cavern of our souls and remaining accountable to a fellow sister in Christ will lead to complete healing and restoration.

Here’s what I’m asking of you.

If God has healed you from a destructive sexual lifestyle, don’t be shy. Share your victory with your sisters – the girl sitting next to you in Bible Study may be enslaved and your testimony will encourage her to seek your help! For you, this is a call for boldness. This is a call to unveil the work that God has done in your life. Yes, I know it’s personal. I know it’s scary. I know you’re worried about what other people will think of you. But, ultimately, we don’t live to please man, who is here today and gone tomorrow and has but a breath in his nostrils. We live to please God; and that can only be done by faith.

I have faith in the power of His word. I have faith that once a few brave women spark transparency, we will witness a move of God like never before. Years of bondage broken and years of scars healed, in Jesus’ name. For the Lord our God is a consuming fire – He wants all of us. And once our hearts are aligned to His, we come alive, and experience the true freedom of all His blessings.

Join me on a journey of coming more and more alive in Christ.

And if you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to email me.

In His Love,

Gina Maria Cunsolo

GinaCunsolo27@gmail.com

Conviction

The mind. Sin’s main stage. Like its father, sin is an actor. 

As I close my eyes, the lights go down. The show begins. In darkness, everything looks the same. Selfishness masquerades as service, whispering secrets of false sacrifice. Pride parades as piety and promises prosperity, while lust pretends to be love.

I know better. I should get up from my comfy seat in the audience and stop the show….but, I don’t. No, I play the fool. I’m mesmerized by memories. Thoughts not held captive now hold me captive. And thought gives birth to deed and a seed becomes a weed…

Restlessness. Envy. Bitterness. Worry.

…Questioning…

…Sadness…

…Tears. Regrets that drip from the cavern of the mind.

The flood. An outer representation of inner insecurities. Liquid words.

And He hears them all.

See, though sin may fool me, it can’t fool Him. Because to Him, the night shines as bright as day and darkness and light are the same. 

But still, His heart hurts for me. He beckons me to our secret place; to put down Facebook and to look in His face.

Consecration – a divine pruning session meant to lessen the obsession with myself and to impress the lesson of Christ’s resurrection, not my insurrection.

Conviction – a gentle indication that infatuation paves the way for humiliation; leading to revelation that God is God and I am not.

Surrender – apart from Him, I can do nothing.

Apart from HIM, I CAN DO NOTHING.

For it is not that I sinned, but that His mighty hand might be displayed in me. For only He can turn what man meant for evil into good. And only He can heal the blind, even those with open eyes that choose to walk in darkness.

And at just the right time, only He can turn on the light. 

Confessions of an Ex-Pothead

The first time I smoked weed was at a friend’s house on a warm Friday afternoon sometime between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It was a big deal. A random group of kids showed up to celebrate the occasion. We ate brownies with marshmallows on top then got impatient so we smoked out of a homemade water bottle bong. After a few hits, I kept insisting that I wasn’t high. Then, I exhaled when I should’ve inhaled and blew the weed everywhere. Everyone yelled at me.

I went to college and my roommate was a pothead so I smoked a few more times after that. We’d do all the typical stoner stuff: eat Annie’s Mac & Cheese substituted with half & half, take 30 minute showers in what my roommate called “American life water”, listen to the latest Ellie Golding dubstep remix, talk about nothing, try and fail to do some homework, sleep.

But the first time I really got high was my Freshman year 4/20. I smoked a joint with a friend and we walked around Manhattan. We rode the really tall escalator in Forever 21 and tried on funky sunglasses. We rode down the really tall escalator wearing our funky sunglasses. Then we walked out to the street and into a coffee shop with bright yellow walls, blaring French music, and a chalkboard menu with items and prices written in pink words too small to read – we kept our sunglasses on. A wiry mustached male barista with an undetectable foreign accent and a scary smile asked us what we wanted. We left without buying anything. We call those, “deleted scenes”.

In the next few years, I smoked more and more frequently. But looking back now, I would say that those years were, more or less, comprised of a host of deleted scenes.

Remember that one time we laughed really hard…what were we laughing at again? Remember that one realization about life that blew us away…what was it again? Remember that song we came up with but got too high to write it down?

Yeah, I forgot it too. It was a good song, though.

For me, weed was a catalyst for creativity. It amplified and multiplied my thoughts and forced me to look inward, questioning every part of my existence. It revealed many hidden emotions, thoughts, and desires and loosened my inhibitions, enabling me to connect with others that shared my passions. It even led to many groundbreaking personal conclusions.

Like, the moment I knew I needed to stop smoking weed.

It was in my car. There was me, high, in the passenger seat, and my younger, wiser brother, concerned, in the driver’s seat. He turned to me and said, “Gina, I’m so happy that you’re moving along in your relationship with God, but you’ve really got to stop smoking weed.”

He was right.

You see; I’m a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ was who he said he was – fully God and fully man. I believe he died on the cross for my sins, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit into the world. I believe the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer and enables us sinful humans to be in communion with a sinless, perfect God.

I grieved the Holy Spirit for most of my life, allowing sin to share space with His dwelling place. I took advantage of God’s grace and continued to disobey Him because I didn’t quite grasp just how wide, how deep, how vast, and how accessible God’s love is. I didn’t understand how God’s love could take the place of weed, or any other sin. I didn’t truly believe that His Presence could fill every void.

Translation: I didn’t believe that God’s love was enough.

Ironically, the first time I fully experienced God’s Presence as an adult, I was high. So, for a while, I had come to believe that smoking weed gave me a greater and quicker access to the mind and heart of God…

…Good thing God gives us wisdom when we ask for it.

As I delved more into the Word, God revealed to me just how wrong I was. The Holy Spirit dwells within me – the key to experiencing His life living more richly through mine isn’t by adding sin, but by repenting from it!

You see; God is really all we need. We don’t need a little bit of wine with worship. We don’t need a little bit of Buddha with Jesus. We need God. And once you humble yourself to admit just how lowly you really are, how much you need Him, you begin to hear His voice – and His Presence becomes too real to ignore. You slowly start to fall more and more in love with your Creator. Your ways begin to change, not because you as Christian now have rules to follow, but because you’ve fallen so in love with Him, you can’t bare the thought of purposely hurting the Father’s heart.

I never ask myself, “If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?” because ultimately, we can’t go back. Time lost is lost time.

But, I will say this – every sober day walking with God brings inspiration, peace, joy, and love that no substance could supply; not even weed. God’s love is an eternal reality that awakens our hearts to our divine purpose. It breathes through us onto others and allows us to live the way we know we should; the way our Father commands us to. It is endless, and it continues to transform me from the inside out.

So, for all my friends celebrating 4/20, have fun – I recommend eating a few spoonfuls of cookie butter. But I also recommend praying. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. He loves you, He wants a relationship with you; He even died for you to prove it. And He’s always with you, whether you’re high or not.