Shannon McGraw is a woman in love with God and excited about her faith. But it wasn’t always that way. She was only 3 years old when the abuse began by a family member. While still a teen, her boyfriend was tragically killed in an auto accident, and she began to question a God who would claim a young man with so much life yet to be lived. At the fragile age of seventeen, she was raped and she began to distrust a God who would allow such a thing. Again, as a freshman in college, she was raped a second time, and she began to earnestly put as much distance between herself and God as she possibly could.
It has been said that the best thing about hitting bottom is that, when we do, we have no place else to go but up. Such was the case with mcGraw. Growing up with such evil it is no wonder she struggled with low self-esteem. At the age of 27, having run from God as far as she could go, she found herself at the bottom of a life that was no longer tolerable. Having no place to go but up, she looked to Heaven. And there was God, surrounding her with His peace.
It was the beginning of a love story that has grown more beautiful with each passing day.
Shortly after her love affair with God began in earnest, Shannon felt a distinct calling to begin teaching the teens at her local church. Not only did this give her an opportunity to share her own struggles as a teen and tell others how God changed her personal tragedy into triumph, but it also allowed her to look beyond the traditions to more deeply explore the intricacies of her faith.
I'm Todd Turner, Creative Digital Guide. I come along side Christian Non-Profits and churches and help them tell and fund their God-Sized missions using their digital channels. Listen in to learn how we tell our stories with integrity and ask people to join our kingdom stories.
As a former Executive Vice President for an International organization, I have traveled the world learning and teaching digital strategies in various countries and languages. I have gathered the essentials of Digital Strategies and spend my day helping organizations cut out the fads and trends and learn the simple blocking and tackling of their online fundraising strategies.
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hi I'm Todd Turner and welcome to his story podcast where we will look into the calling events and personalities of those God is using around the globe as his hands and feet to do his good work hello and welcome to his story podcast today's guest is Shannon McGraw the founder and executive director of hopeful heart ministries welcome Shannon thank you for coming today well thanks Todd glad to be here before we get started on the back story of your ministry I like to start with the little back story of Shannon who you are so tell us a little bit about where you were raised and the experiences of your family just give us a little bit of history and the who you are a Texas girl right I'm gonna take this girl I was brought up in Sherman Texas for the most part one of four and you know brought up Catholic and I mean do you want me to go into just the whole aspect or just about parents and life growing up and sort of how it formed you obviously being Catholic and being raised Catholic you have a different experience than maybe I do as a Protestant but did that shape you and shape who you are was that more parents or a family or that's right I mean honestly my whole my whole experience with God begins with a very somewhat traumatic event we'll we lived in El Paso and it was because of this event that my dad demoted himself in his company he worked for Johnson & Johnson and that's what brought us back to his hometown at Sherman and to kind of get us back into those family values but when I was 8 this is one of the very first stories I tell in my book I was walking home from a friend's house and I was nearly abducted by a young man who we later found out was about 15 and I was to be an initiation killing into a cult we lived on the border of Juarez in El Paso and you know looking back now as my parents and I had discussed it later on in life you know it very well could have been my dad worked for a big company it could have been targeted but there are to this day still very many cults out there that you have to have these you know initiation killings in order to get in and what happened with me was he had grabbed me dragged me across the rock he had told me that the devil wanted to come get me he knew my name and my mom he was not supposed to be available she was supposed to be at a meeting she happened to be late for that meeting and she came around the corner and saw this little girl being dragged across this yard and another man stopped at the same time and they got out and they were able to chase the guy down and got him and you know the police somehow interrogated and then enough to you know give the story and so it was that point in my life that's very pinnacle for me and my faith because my parents didn't tell me the truth I was just very curious little girl that eavesdropped and listened and I knew I just knew that God had literally saved me and at the age of 8 I had this this sense of and knowing or an understanding a responsibility that that I had something that I had to do in life and so being shaped by that experience and being moved to Sherman you know I can't necessarily my Catholic faith at the time we were what we call a cradle Catholic and so you go to Mass every Sunday and you go to you know holy holy days of obligation and we prayed together as a family at meals but it wasn't necessarily lived in the home however I had this very personal relationship with God and I went to a Baptist Church the first Baptist youth group as well so I did both the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church because I received a different aspect of knowing God and in coming to learn who God was and you know learning more about the Bible not that we didn't learn about the Bible in the Catholic Church just at the time it's much different now but the time you just it was just a part of the mass and it wasn't as explained or focused on as much and so I will say that just really to summarize that aspect of my faith growing up my dad would called me a babbling that I was both Baptist and Catholic being I was just I would write journals and I would write journals to God and I would pray to God and I had this very very very real and true and has remained to this day relationship with God and knowing him and my life is as somebody that I could talk to and turn to and you know and I to me that not just that's God Jesus and the Holy Spirit there's different aspects that I feel within me at times you know and so it's just it was great it was great but not to not to ramble but I will say that you know growing up and I think many people might relate to this because it does go into why I have hopeful hearts ministry I am a survivor of abuse survivor of incest by my mom's father and date rape in high school and date rape began in college and amongst all of that there was a lot of family discord my father at the time was an alcoholic my sister was going through many different situations and so there was just a lot of chaos in the home and I just remember praying and praying like saved my family the way that you saved me you know saved my family and um you know I was a teenager it was just very disheartening to not know why that these things would continuing to happen not recognizing that it wasn't that God wasn't present and it wasn't even that God wasn't trying to save but we all have to be open to what he's wanting to do in our life and you know my sister had to be open to him my father had to be open you know whoever had to be open to whatever he was can be doing in their life I know that now but as a kid I didn't and I felt very much that maybe God was kind of slipping away and that I had done something wrong so in high school when all of that happened I had a boyfriend that he was a basketball player for Tom bean high school and he ended up dying in the car accident and that really shook me up it shook me up he had a great faith and knowing that this man this young man who did nothing wrong and who was you know he was a great young man that the Lord would just take him it was very difficult to deal with and then I still have the discord that's going on at home and I began to just pull away from God I was very angry I was very upset and I tried to find that love that told that that you know that kind of happened once I pulled away once I turned away and I tried to find that man and that's when and not it's not my fault but that's when everything else began to happen the rates and just kind of this this moment of my life that I call being in the devil's grasp I you know I just began to live this life not talking to God not journaling to God feeling as if I had just completely had you know upset God or something that he you know had turned away from me so that's you know that's kind of the ultimate jest of what my growing up was like and along with the journey its what my faith was like at that time okay so something I've noticed is a lot of what you're saying it feels like your childhood and young adult are defined by events that happened in your life do you feel it was there anyone that journeyed with you meaning did you have a priest a pastor a friend or where you really did you feel empty and traveling alone which is why you are looking for someone mean obviously event events to find you but in any people pouring you along the way oh absolutely I mean I have one of my best friends to this day she was my friend since sixth grade Elena she gave me she went to the Baptist Church and she was a very good friend throughout much of this whole process she was the one that gave me my first Bible when I was in eighth grade for my birthday and I'll never forget that but she's always been somebody that has poured into me my grandmother you know on the Catholic side she was a very very faithful Catholic woman who I knew just prayed and I could go to her and I could talk about the things that were troubling but you know I say all of that it wasn't that I didn't have those people to turn to but I was also a very stubborn you know teenager I you know I I think that I didn't really even want to hear some things you know at that time sure be honest okay so you talked a little bit about your book I think you have a in front of you if you don't mind holding it up but this exposed book yeah tell me a little bit about we all have different experiences you obviously have some very unique tragic experiences but what made you finally put them to paper like what what what calling did you have to say I am writing this down and telling my story because her story is married I've read that book it's colorful it's great you do a great job putting you in the moment and so that took that took a lot of time to write tell me about the backstory of that sure I mean so after I got married young I got married right out of college and ended up having two young kids and in that whole process of this marriage and children and not ever truly receiving the therapy that I needed not that I didn't go to therapy I did go to therapy after the specially after the second rape in college but I didn't but only went for a short amount of time I didn't want to deal with it and a lot of the survivors do that they get enough of what they need to survive and then you push it away and you think I'm fine I don't want to deal with it you know I don't want to have to be defined by this moment in my life this event in my life so you just kind of try to ignore but the problem with that is is that that hostility that anger that frustration all of that remained inside and that went into my marriage that went into that relationship with my then husband Neal that even then affected my young children so the pinnacle moment for me and this is what ultimately led me into sharing my story and you know becoming I guess the woman that I believe that God truly purposely wanted me to be which put it all down on paper was just this moment in my late 20s of where my youngest I mean my oldest at the time was two and a half years old and I also had a one month old and a very normal event happened you know my little boy Ryan wanted to go to the bathroom on his own and it didn't end up very well and I got very angry at that taking all of these actions by a very innocent child and taking them personally and in that moment it woke me up and it was it truly was in my opinion God the Holy Spirit Jesus whatever just literally waking me up and saying this is not who you are and I didn't want to be that person I didn't want to feel that negativity and that pain and that frustration and in seeing that I literally was about to hurt my child it killed me I mean it it literally killed something inside of me and I just started to pray Jesus you know and I that as a youth minister I would always tell the kids if there's one prairie that could ever be said it's just to say Jesus and that's exactly what I did and I just said his name Jesus Jesus Jesus help me Jesus and I got all that you know my kids cleaned up they were taken care of and then I went into my bedroom and laid face flat on the bedroom floor and cried out to God I don't want to live this life but if you have something for me for my life then do something with it and it was in that moment that I felt him I knew him I could smell him I tasted him like I I just knew him and I knew that I never wanted to do anything that could keep me away from knowing that for eternity when I got up off that floor it wasn't that I became Who I am today that was 18 years ago it doesn't happen like that it was that on a day-by-day basis I began to live my life differently knowing I wanted if I were ever to pass that I wanted to know that for eternity and at the time I wasn't really involved so much in the Catholic Church anymore well he was apply even going to church that much I was seeking I was going to a Bible study with another Protestant Church it was the best more Bible study and and it was really reaching out to me and I just didn't know what I wanted to do and I was praying go oh Lord where do you want me to be where do you want me to be and I was open for anything and I felt very called to go back into the Catholic Church and I was like look I go back and I need I want to be able to to make a difference you know to make changes if you will and so I was called the knees ministry very very like literally and it was in youth ministry and speaking to the teens and sharing my story and more people began to hear my story and then they asked me to come speak to you there in these groups and before I knew it I was speaking on a national speaking team and more and more people wanted to know my story and a lot of it I hadn't even told to these groups you know how do you say I was merely abducted to be a cult sacrifice or I went to this event and this event I mean it just seems like a whole lot and there's a lot of spiritual aspect to that too that I was afraid to share out of fear of maybe thought of being crazy or you know and I remember telling my whole story to my boss who was our priest and he just looked at me and he said Shannon you're not crazy you have a gift of discernment and I mean he just made me feel very validated and very good and I just knew I needed to get it out and that's when I began to write it and just wrote the whole story and it's still selling and that was 11 almost 12 years ago so you did know it was gonna be a book it wasn't just therapeutic riding you were you had the end of mine of I'm going to publish this and you wrote it with that mindset absolutely because I'm a writer I mean that was that is what I always thought I would do I never thought I would speak in front of kids I never thought I would be their youth minister I wanted to write books I wanted to write fiction so that I could try to tell my story and hide behind fiction but I went and got my master's in creative writing it was it's a part of my heart it's how I express myself but obviously God had different plans I think it's so great to specially when it comes you know autobiography you know those same thoughts disentangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips right so when you write it you see things a lot clearer because you have to tighten that story up up instead of just sort of vomit on the paper and just you have to put it in an order it really makes you to see things clearer I would imagine that was probably very therapeutic for you for sure it was a very cathartic process and in the process of writing that book it was almost being able to it was so healing cuz it was being able to kind of look back at that girl it wasn't me anymore and to take care of her and to cry for her and you know in certain aspects certain chapters that I wrote I mean my heart would just it wasn't that I was feeling that pain again I was feeling that pain for her because I knew what she felt and I honestly it felt like it wasn't even me anymore because I was I'm healed you know I'm and it was a very good process to go through I think you've sort of answered than my next question but I was gonna ask what came first the creating of the ministry or the book but it sound like the book happened but tell me if you will give me from the book to the idea I'm gonna start a non-profit to help others heal because what is telling your story of how you healed and the other is getting other people to help in the ministry came after the book although it all came around the same time I had written the book I had not yet published it I wasn't even sure if it would get published but I did have a small publisher pick it up and around the time that that happened that my book got published I was speaking at a thing called World Youth Day in Sydney Australia and when I came back I was jet-lagged and I couldn't go to sleep and I kept hearing this verse in my head awake o sleeper arise from the dead and Christ will give you light and it was almost this OCD moment it just kept going on and on and on awake o sleeper arise from the dead and Christ will give you light to so much that I had to wake up and I literally had to write it down and then I saw in the clock 333 this is where everybody might think I'm crazy but I'm not 333 which is you know I called God's hour of the holy hour and I saw this this number her on the clock and then I saw them turn into Em's upside down the threes turned upside down into ends and I saw the Blessed Mary Virgin Maria Goretti who's the saint in the Catholic Church who died at the age of fourteen from having been attempted rape by her neighbor her 21 year old neighbor who because she avoided his advances he stabbed her 14 times and on her deathbed the reason why the Catholic Church created her as a saint is that she prayed for his conversion of his heart to God and so he had gone to prison and he was still a very like he was still a very angry bad guy and she appeared in him in prison and said I want you to you know God loves you and I want you to believe in the Lord and like these 14 flowers fell from her her stab wounds or whatever so and when he got when 30 years later look he got out of prison was when she got beatified in the Catholic Church that means when you become a saint and her mom picked him up from prison and then adopted him as her own son and to them to her her beatification anyway so that's Maria Goretti and then Mary Magdalene which I think everybody knows to Mary Magdalene is so these are very strong women that came to me in the middle of the night I couldn't go to sleep so the three threes turned into three M's these three amazing women in the Bible and or not Bible but it went to over the Bible and then these three words came to me victory veneration which is self-respect and dignity and value so the pm's were on top of the B's and they created hearts and the three parts came together and they created the hasta trinity and that is the logo for hopeful arts yeah I kind of tried to sketch it all out and I didn't know what this was coming from I didn't know what was happening with this I just was like I knew I had to write it all down and so I finally fell asleep that next morning I called over these two young adults that had gone with me to Sydney I was like y'all have to hear about this whole thing I told them the whole situation I grabbed my Bible I literally opened it up to the verseEphesians 5:
6 14 is that her so a co-sleeper arise from the dead and Christ will give you light and I have it right here I'm gonna read a little bit more because this is exactly what hopeful hearts is about but I didn't know that hopeful hearts is gonna be created this is how I got the title for exposed it says let no one deceive you with empty arguments for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient so do not be associated with them for you were once darkness but now you are the light in the Lord live as children of light for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord and take no part in the fruitless works of darkness rather expose them where it is shameful even to mention the things done by them and secret but everything exposed by the light becomes visible for everything that becomes visible is light therefore it says the way co-sleeper arise from the dead in Christ will give you lots well and that is the verse that came and I was like this explains everything I feel in regards to being a survivor of abuse and needing to talk about it needing to get it out in the book needing to say this is this is I don't need this darkness this shame that's not mine this guilt that's not mine to own within me it's like poison inside it needs to come out into the light so the Lord can take it and work a good in your life and so that's where exposed the title came from but that verse had always meant so much to me five years later five years later never knew what I was gonna do with the logo didn't I mean I by this point I'm speaking all over the world even more I'm you know don't know what's happening I sign on with a PR agent and we were gonna release thousands of the expose all over and when she went to look into it she found out that my small publisher the head of the publishing company being convicted of first degree child rape Wow so in that week I got I had a friend who is a lawyer and he got me out of the contract the publishing contract and but I still needed to have the book and so I needed to be able to somehow get it published but now self-published and I was already starting to help with people the more I spoke to youth the adults that came with them their chaperones the priests the ministers you know I've spoke to more than just Catholic audiences they were coming to me and saying you are telling my story but I've never talked about it with anyone never I've had a 74 year old woman at one point come to me and tell me about the abuse done to her for ten years by her stepfather and her telling me at the age of 74 was the first time she ever said it all okay I'm gonna jump and I have a lot of questions but I think now's the time to ask this question mm-hmm you sort of answer this but I think you can go even deeper there's statistics say there are plenty people that are gonna listen to this interview and they have been abused but they just stuck it down deep and moved on they don't want to think about it what it what are some of the downsides I mean you mentioned sort of anger and not having be able to process that but you know and I know it can't that data lends its usual further living with can affect your whole life but what are some of the downsides of not calling someone and having some discussions about things that may have happened two weeks ago two decades ago absolutely I mean so let's go back then to the Bible verse what it talks about when you keep what's done to you that darkness inside of you it literally affects you physically I mean I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was in my early 20s and yes it's not to say that it's all because I went through all those abuses but there is there is a lot to say about how the mind and and what you've gone through spiritually is a very powerful thing and you will find many people that it can it's almost like having a poison inside of you when you don't truly work through what you've been through and it can affect you physically it can affect you emotionally many people are in a constant state of you know some type of depression or they take it out on others on their spouses or their children and they don't even know why especially if the kids are maybe the age that they were when they were abused and it triggers them and you know triggers it's are very tricky because you don't be it could be a smell like via touch it could be a feeling and then it causes you to react and you could be like I don't know why I'm feeling this way I don't know why I'm feeling so mad you know I don't know why I want to go literally physically throw up I don't know why I'm sick um it can it affects people in so many different ways and I have been told the more that we have we were almost nine years in for hopeful hearts the more that we have worked with people and that they've been able to talk with one of our peer support people and just truly work through it and then going to therapy or whatever that they're doing um they it's like it's a lot often what is said is it's like this weight is lifted off their chest like literally a physical feeling of I feel lighter I feel better but people find it difficult to talk about it because it's scary it's very scary to go back and to dredge up than evil and that's the best word I can use for it the evil that's been done to it done to us you know on many different levels and it's not just physical or sexual abuse emotional abuse is the worst abuse to suffer because it messes with your work and it takes away who God created you to be it battles your truth and I work with you know women and men that are like I said in their 60s and 70s that continue to battle I just don't know if I'm good enough to even go through this it's heartbreaking I had a young woman in Canada that I've been working with I'm gonna gather that she's probably in her 30s I haven't asked her how old she is I Misha is too young children and and she just it's heartbreaking is at this moment she knows that she needs to talk about it she's going through some very physical ailments that keep her from working and and she's finding it very difficult because she feels like it's her fault of whatever happened and I think that's the hardest that's this is the hardest bump to get over but it's just a bump because I know we can get over it in a minute that she makes that choice and says I'm gonna fight the good fight and I'm gonna become the person that I know God created me to be that she'll get over that hump and she'll start getting that out and and spewing out that the darkness and coming into that light and I know she'll work with her therapist and be where she needs to be well this is this is interesting because I can see your passion and you know obviously over all the years of your experience and your research you've gathered a lot of facts you know what you're attacking I guess the question is especially when you start a non-profit you try to define your bull's eye here's what we're gonna do and it seems what I can tell is that you instead of saying I'm just gonna focus at sexual abuse which is what we have the history with you widen it because I guess some of the problems that you're solving really are for any abuse and that you've said that so what when did you make that decision to say I'm gonna cast them in a little bit lighter I think I can help more people than than just sexual abuse it's it's funny that you that you put it out there like that because I feel like when I started hopeful hearts I felt like my neck is like huge and I had to figure out how do we narrow it down so I mean to go back a little bit when we realized that my publisher you know that he was been convicted of first-degree child rape ultimately my lawyer looked at me and said you know you're doing all of this work with adults and just on your own you're meeting people at Starbucks or you know people are calling you they want to pay you and I would never accept a payment I felt I mean I'm a servant at heart like I'm not gonna take your payment for listening you know in helping you out and he was like start a non-profit you know you could do more for others that way anyway and he said all I need is a name in the local and so I had that logo that's been floating around for five years right so that was the beauty in that and it was amazing how much then that we've grown but in the beginning because you know I had gone through you know loss of loved ones and then just Buse like at first that that net was like helping people that have suffered you know the loss of loved ones and who've suffered abuse and you know just wanting to find the light of God you know come into the light and it was like no that's like we need to have a focus so what's the focus and then ultimately it took about a year really to see where God was taking this because to me this is God's ministry and it will only continue as long as he wants it to and so I'm like okay God where do you want this to go and I recognized I mean the main thing is peer-to-peer support I've been in and out of therapy all of my life and I love my therapist and and they are essential to the healing process EMDR is essential especially for those who have been through sexual abuse but it is so important so important to be validated by someone who has suffered some form of abuse to know what it feels to be triggered you know what it feels like to you know to oh the many different situations what it feels like in your marriage if something is it disord because of the abuse but it feels like when your kids do something and it causes you to react a certain way you know whatever just to be able to talk about it and that is something I knew I could do I knew if I could sit and speak with somebody and help them because I knew it helped me that we could help so many people and and that's kind of our goal is a lot often we have people come in and they've spoken about it for the first time and are then aren't we're encouraging them go to therapy you know continue with this healing journey we're here for you if you need prayer we're here for you if you're frustrated if you're scared text me call me you know whoever the peer support person is we're here for you and that is what we do and the goal is for them not to have to be with us for a very long time you know often they come back and that's who our peer support people are that we end up hiring is that they're those that are truly on their healing and journey and wanting to help others so that's how we got that focus was abuse mental physical sexual emotional abuse even though there is different aspects to having gone through sexual abuse having been raped date raped stranger rape incest it there is different aspects to that but ultimately you know being physically abused it all truly comes down to that emotional level what it does to you on an emotional level the work that it takes away the guilt that it that remains that's not yours the shame that remains that's not yours and that is kind of what we's talk to and validate and then work through and and offer God's light and love in that to help you seal I love it okay so let's get down to the details so somebody who's listening that they share a heart for this ministry or somebody who's really been abused and they've never even considered picking up the phone and tell anybody tell me a little bit about the practical what does hopeful heart ministries dude what's the first step call in email in and how does this work because you just sort of set out your goal is to speak into someone's life and put them in the right direction but do you have sort of an elevator speech for somebody who doesn't know anything about a local heart but they want to know sort of what it is you guys do right so we mainly can be spoke you know you can get dressed through the website through our Facebook page our Facebook page is probably the most popular we have a close support group on there and at this time you can set up you can direct message us on the website you can go to the contact form it's an email that comes directly to me or you can email any one of our other peer support people that are on our team on the website and they will get back with you directly to set a time to talk with you and so if you're physically like here I'm in the Dallas Fort Worth area if you're here physically I can meet with you one-on-one or if you're in Houston I have a few people in Houston that you can meet with one-on-one somebody in Washington you know in Tacoma Washington my goal ultimately I would love to see that we could have peer support people in every state that we have in the United States but that's gonna come from now we work mainly with people by phone and I work with people all over the world and we just set up a time and if they want to see his face to face we do a zoom video call or we just talk with them on the phone and it's it's like talking with a friend really we don't charge for our services only because for me I and it's not about we only work with those that you know of lower income it's not the case we have doctors and lawyers and I mean all kinds that come to us I think it's an aspect of getting over that hump of just wanting to talk with you and we consider ourselves more your friend than your therapist because we're not therapists you know we're peer support we are certified but that's our goal is just to have you feel comfortable and then move you forward where you need to go so essentially the only step is is just to reach out to us and get us through the website or the Facebook page well knowing a little bit about nan province is this what I do for a living I would say it feels very labor intensive on your side right and so you guys are if you will volunteering your time and that's sort of the lane on probably don't run themselves without funding so how do you pay for all this because you just said you don't charge anyone and so where does this come do you have a big donor blowing wind in your sails a denomination behind you a church behind you or is this really just people who share your vision and you really need the world to know more about what you're doing to help get more donors that's that's it we need the world to know what we're doing because we are fully 100% donor funded we are faith-based Christian based although I have worked with many that at the time don't believe in God sometimes it might be the catalyst to get them you know to believe but I mean a survivor survivor my heart is just a help right so but that is probably our main issues because now we need we truly need to hire more Peer Support Specialists that involves paying for certification we want our we're growing exponentially online we have so many requests for different types of support groups you know support groups for incest survivors support groups for date rape survivors I'm asked to do a support group for parents of children that have that have been human trafficked you know because of the shame and the guilt that they feel because they didn't recognize that it was happening even as their child was within the home that's a whole other you know topic to go into all of that requires you know we want to make sure we have our certifications to be in all the other states that requires you know legal aspect keeping up with the website you know and then in the offices we do hold and try to have an office where we are each at and so then there's that behind that so a hundred percent truly of what is given goes into the entire program goes into the survivors because it is you know prepping us to be there for them and to do programs for them and nowhere in there that I really hear marketing costs because you don't really need marketing because there's more people that have been abused that need help and you're not having to beg people to call you the phone rings even without you telling anybody is that correct that is that is correct we have no shortage of clients I hate to call them clients but on a daily basis which is a catch-22 it's kind of sad maybe that there are so many people out there that have been through different types of abuse that have not spoken about it or need that encouragement or that someone to hold their hand along their journey if I was to include marketing dollars it would be more to include to be able to ask for don't you know to get donors to donate but we have unfortunately not yet landed you know God has not brought us that one big donor but he has kept us going for now nine years so like I said this is God's ministry if we get to a place where we just can't you know keep it going then that will be my you know out but I don't see that necessarily happening sure and I would say it sounds like you have that colic is one of my questions is you know when you wake up we all need purpose right to get out of bed some people chase the dollar some people you know it's their kids or whatever it is that sort of makes you get out of bed I know you well enough to know you're a people person and you love people but I'm assuming when your feet hit the floor in the morning I mean you're looking for ways to help people because I know you take phone calls all the time and it's even though as executive director we wear 500 hats that's the one you sort of gravitate to I think it's in your personality right I mean that is I do that's exactly what I want to do and if I'm gonna be quite honest I want to be able to bring in enough donation so I can hire an executive director that can focus on business and focus on the donors because I want my heart is with the survivors my heart is to do this job and to be that voice and to hopefully you know be able to go to different turn or lead other retreats or you know to do other programs that I know we could do I mean there's a retreat that I have in my head that I want to offer but I just don't have the time to put it together you know there's just so much that could be done for sure I think you sort of answered one of my next questions but I was just going to say if the Lord called you home and you got to pick your replacement what kind of character what kind of thing would you want somebody was sitting in your shoes to help run hopeful heart ministries like what do you want out of them what how do you hire the new you because you just mentioned another executive director but maybe it's not an executive director maybe it's just the some mornings oversees everything and maybe does counseling what God is clearly uniquely prepared you for this job I'm not sure anyone else would fill your shoes perfectly but if you could go pick somebody what what characteristics would you like well I do I mean I altom utley enjoy people and I enjoy the fact that we each have our own gifts and talents and that we can't I can't do what I do unless you do what you do etc right so to me then it would be a person that has the same heart that in all honesty because all of us that do work whether it's volunteer work or get paid to do some of the programs they have all been through some type of abuse so they know they know the journey that it takes to be able not just to survive from going from victim to survivor but to thrive so it would have to be someone that recognizes that journey that has a heart for people in general and has that heart for them to know God know they're know for other people to know the gifts and talents they have to know their Worth and to have that heart for the ministry that's the only way this ministry will continue is for those of us that are that are hands-on involved is to be that light of love of God to others and so you know who is that one person I have doubt that God would would bring that one person to replace it if he wants hopeful hearts to continue which I believe he does my goal honestly is to get where we are run out of people that have been abused and then it can fall off I mean that would be fantastic wouldn't that be nice well do do I want to finish with this but due to the fact that it's just inevitable that somebody right now is listening would you just speak to somebody who may need to call you and just talk to them for a minute because I know somebody out there is gonna watch this that probably hasn't dealt with some of their abuse and I'd like to come up we need to hear you out I just you know for those of you that are listening and it doesn't have to be that you can be a woman you can be a man you could be a teenager you could be in your young adult years you could be 70 years old it doesn't matter who you are how old you are and it doesn't matter where you are in this moment what matters what matters the most is that God specifically called you to listen to this podcast and I believe that because that is how he has worked in my life he is reaching out to you and he is near you holding your hand and saying you are worth more than holding on to the guilt and the shame that you feel from what has been done to you by someone else in your past by what has been said to you by someone else in your past that has led you to believe less than about yourself you are worth so much more you're worth being able to get that courage to contact me to contact hopeful hearts and to say I just need someone to talk to you're not alone and there is so much more for your life than allowing that shame and that guilt and that anger and that frustration to affect the relationships that you have in your lives and it might be the case that you're sitting there thinking well I think I've been okay don't think I've been that bad but yet it's it's nagging at you and so I want you to know that we don't have to make everything a very traumatic experience we don't have to make it drama it doesn't have to be something huge and big but if it's if it's nagging at you if the Lord is putting it on your heart that means he's saying this is something I'm gonna help you cleanse to get out let's bring that into the light and allow the light of God to shine within you so that you can truly be the person that he's called you to be and I just want you to know ultimately you're not alone I love it Shannon thank you so much for spending time thank you for what you do hopeful heart ministries if you don't mind I'd like to close in a prayer for you okay God you are an amazing father Lord full of good gifts grace and mercy Lord we are grateful to know that you and only you are in control of all things thank you for being lord over the good times and Lord in the dark times and the valleys of our life but we thank you for Shannon how you've uniquely made her and have walked beside and before her she's experienced some painful trials and tribulations or do we thank you for the grace that you have shown her or we thank you for making her smart strong capable woman with a tender heart for others I would ask you to continue to bless her and her work and helping those who have been abused around the country Lord we ask that you send her those that you choose and that they may learn of your unmeasurable love by the words and actions of those associated with hopeful heart ministries Lord show yourself Maude Lee as the Great Physician by those the hands and the work of this ministry Lord I pray for provisions for this ministry as they continue to give those hurting you shelter in the storms of life Lord bless them with new and faithful donors who can help fund this important work Lord we love you and we thank you for first loving us and it's new your sons precious name we pray amen amen Shannon thank you again thanks for everything thanks for taking the time and we certainly appreciate it Thank You Todd I appreciate the opportunity [Music]