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A Garden in the Ashes empowers, encourages, and equips readers to heal from past trauma and live their best lives.
“Can a garden grow amid ashes?
It happens, but it’s rare. Yet this rareness is what makes it so beautiful—even defiant.”
God can transform any life into a thriving garden… even a life seeded with fear and shame. In A Garden in the Ashes, Certified Trauma and Resilience Life Coach, Lauren L. Nelson, shares her personal story of hope and healing from childhood ritual abuse. Her life was marked by the ominous weeds of fear, shame, and distrust until God powerfully and mercifully intervened.
This compelling and inspiring story demonstrates how to process painful experiences, while teaching how to break loose from crippling beliefs and patterns to live a life of freedom. Lauren shares the stories of other overcomers, such as Corrie Ten Boom, and emphasizes the essential role of hope, an empowering reminder of God’s plan and involvement in the journey.
A Garden in the Ashes will help you find the tenacity to survive and thrive despite trauma.
Whether through individual study, guided counseling, or small group discussion, A Garden in the Ashes ushers you into your thriving garden, with:
Empowering prayers of repentance and declaration
Spiritual truths to demolish spiritual strongholds
Scriptures and practical tools for personal application
You can make a HUGE difference by simply:
PURCHASING books on Amazon for:
Those you know who need hope and healing
Purchasing books to DONATE to organizations that serve those impacted by trauma:
• Prison ministries
• Organizations that fight human trafficking
• Addiction ministries (drugs, alcohol, sex)
• Homeless shelters
DONATE directly to my campaign
By donating directly to my campaign:
I can purchase books at PRINT COST from Amazon to:
• Ship books directly to partnering organizations
• Give books those who cannot afford to purchase
My name is Lauren Nelson, and I am a wife, a mother of two, and a lover of people. I have authored two other books (a children's book called, SHEROES of the Bible as well as curriculum to go with it, and a 30-day book of daily encouragements for moms called, Hey Mama, You're Killin' It!). I have over 20 years of ministry experience with children, teens, and just received my certification as a Trauma and Resilience Life Coach from Arizona Trauma Institute.
Included in my “resume of life” is the title: “Survivor”
Survivor of what? You may ask…
I am a survivor of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Sadly, SRA is something that exists on the periphery of our society but is often ignored. It is completely understandable why no one wants to talk about it. SRA is the very definition of messy. Most of my readers will not have experienced, or perhaps even heard of, this specific kind of abuse, and that is okay. This book is still for you, and my message is for anyone who wants freedom, especially from the bondage of trauma.
Though I experienced great evil as a child, I also encountered the greatness of God.
Due to the trauma, I experienced as a child, I’ve made it my life’s mission to help others. My hope is that as I share my story of breakthrough from fear, shame, control, sorrow, and bitterness, that you and others will find hope in knowing that if God did that for me, He can do it for you!
By clicking the link, you have the opportunity to purchase books not only for yourself, but for those you love and even those you may have never met.
By purchasing you are:
1. Investing in your own healing journey out of trauma and into your God-given purpose
2. Giving your FAMILY and FRIENDS the gift of healing after trauma
3. Giving NON-PROFITS and those they serve an opportunity for hope and healing
Other Ways You Can Help
Maybe giving financially is just not feasible right now, that's okay! You can still help. Here are a few simple things you can do that will help make a world of difference (whether you help fund the campaign or not!):
Get the word out about my campaign! Share this link with family and friends as:
A public post on Facebook
A private Facebook message
An Instagram post
A private message through Instagram
A personal text message
Whatever you do to help get the word out... thank you! I could not do this campaign without you!
(EXCERPT FROM A GARDEN IN THE ASHES)
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
You will need: a journal, a pen, and hopeful persistence!
Nehemiah, from the Bible, teaches us what it looks like to rebuild. He understood the importance of building strong, impregnatable walls and gates the enemy could not penetrate. He and his people, the Israelites, were taken captive and their city, Jerusalem, and its temple were completely destroyed by their captors. Seventy years later, Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and saw the desolated ruins with his own eyes.
There was still a remnant of people left in Jerusalem and the Lord used Nehemiah to encourage and equip the people to begin to rebuild. It looked hopeless at first. There was not only much physical destruction, but the hearts of the people were shattered and bound by fear and hopelessness.
The Israelites had experienced a tremendous amount of trauma. Many of them had seen loved ones murdered and others carried off as slaves to another country. Their land had been burned and their city walls torn down to the ground. Their once-thriving city was now desolate, covered by a dark cloud of despair.
If you are reading this book, you have most likely experienced a trauma of your own. If your life could be seen with spiritual eyes, it might look like the desolated city of Jerusalem. The thought of rebuilding might feel overwhelming, even impossible.
When hopelessness sets in, it is difficult to see clearly. Our minds and hearts get stuck in the trauma we experienced, and it becomes difficult to have hope for our future.
God encouraged Nehemiah and gave him hope through Heaven’s perspective. His faith and hope grew as he realized God could make Jerusalem a thriving city again, though it would take some hard work on their part.
God wants to give us that same hope and faith that He can rebuild our lives and make our hearts not only want to survive but thrive.
Nehemiah rallied the people and began the strenuous job of rebuilding, starting with rebuilding the walls and the gates. If their walls were strong and impenetrable, their city would be safe. They had to start with the walls: “They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars” (Nehemiah 3:3).
This was not an easy task. The labor was hard, but the worst part was their enemy taunted, mocked and threatened to kill them when they began to rebuild. But Nehemiah would not back down from what God asked him to do.
Nehemiah said to the people, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14).
Then Nehemiah instructed half the people to stand guard with swords, spears, and bows, while the other half continued to build the wall. Those who labored, “. . . did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other” (Nehemiah 4:17 NIV). In other words, they held a tool for building in one hand, and a weapon of defense in the other. With divine tenacity and perseverance (through much taunting and persecution), they rebuilt the walls and gates in just 52 days!
Now, this does not mean that your healing should happen in 52 days, but it does mean there is hope. God will take His time. He is gentle and gracious. There is no rush. He wants your spiritual walls and gates to be strong and impenetrable to the enemy’s attacks. He wants to be the foundation of your life and for you to be rooted and grounded in His love.
There is much wisdom to be learned from Nehemiah when it comes to rebuilding our own lives after trauma. In this book, at the end of the chapters on strongholds, you will be given “tools” and “weapons.” These tools and weapons are necessary for your rebuilding.
There are also reflection/discussion questions for you to journal your thoughts and revelations and/or discuss them with others. Don’t rush through this process. Take time to really think about and reflect on each question. At the end of each chapter, I will lead you through a prayer of repentance and declaration. For restorative healing, we need both.
Okay . . . are you ready? Let’s ask the Lord for this hopeful persistence needed to begin the rebuilding process.
Please pray with me:
Jesus, I invite You to come and reveal every area in my heart and life that needs healing. Expose and restore every broken place where the enemy has brought devastation. Lord, I ask for Your hope and perseverance. Give me Heaven’s perspective for my life. Help me to say “Yes” to the steps You ask me to take for breakthrough. Even when the enemy mocks, I will choose to rebuild. I will choose to stand with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. I declare that Jesus will get the glory and my life will be marked by victory! Amen.
Broken by Darkness, Mended with Gold
“Light enters a broken vessel more easily than an intact one.”
In Japan, there is a curious form of art called kintsugi, the art of mending broken pottery with liquid gold. Once completed, luminous seams of gold fill the conspicuous cracks of the ceramic, giving a unique appearance to each “repaired” piece. This exceptional method celebrates each artifact’s uniqueness by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. In fact, kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it and giving it a second life.
Kintsugi is the very definition of contradiction. Broken pottery, by itself, would quickly be thrown in the garbage. It is worthless and unappealing, especially to an art enthusiast. Gold is just the opposite. It is valuable and alluring–even worth fighting for. How curious it is to blend the worthless and the priceless into one piece of pottery. Instead of discarding the broken pottery or simply repairing it, this 400-year-old technique highlights the "scars” with gold.
In kintsugi, the pottery becomes valuable BECAUSE it was broken.
Did you know that in your brokenness, God can create something exquisite and resilient? Like the pottery used in kintsugi, we have all experienced brokenness in one way or another. We all have scars. Many of us have tried to hide our scars, hoping no one will see them; some have denied our scars by pretending everything is fine. None of us want the cracks, but the cracks are what make the masterpiece. Your beauty lies in your brokenness.
My own life is marked by broken pieces and deep scars. If it had been up to me, I would have thrown out every busted piece of my pot until none of it remained. I tried for years to ignore or hide my brokenness, but those pesky cracks were inescapable. I’m so thankful God had other plans. He picked up each hopeless, shattered part and lovingly mended me, piece by piece, with His love and grace.
The ability to self-reflect is a gift. Reflection helps us see how everything in life, both the messy and the marvelous, somehow become a powerful testimony of the faithfulness of God. As I reflect on the messiness of my life, I no longer see just the mess; I see the hands of God crafting something beautiful.
“Leighzy”–that’s what my mom affectionately called me. This was a loving rendition of my middle name, “Leigh,” with which my mom christened me when I was young. I tended to be overconfident and a bit abrasive and my mouth often got me into trouble. But I loved lavishly and unsuspectingly, with no fear or trepidation. Innocent.
I was raised in church, reading Bible stories and learning of God’s goodness and strength. I reveled in the simple, ordinary men and women in the Bible whom God fashioned into warriors. With God, I truly believed all things were possible.
I knew I was created by a good God who loved me unconditionally, without restraint. I knew Him from a young age, as though we’d made memories in times past. I welcomed His songs of love and pride over me, as it says in the Bible, “. . . He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17).
I knew I was His. But there was a fight to be had to cling tightly to the One who had knit me together in my mother’s womb, where I was created in love and grace.
Children learn about the world with eyes wide open in curiosity, gladly taking in every drop of wonder. I too soaked it all in, through eyes of innocence. But when you soak, everything is absorbed–both the lovely and the terrible.
The worst of my abuse happened when I was four years old. I lay in a bed not my own, exhausted from soaking in the wonders of my new surroundings. My family had flown to another state to stay with extended relatives for a week. It was Christmas, and we were glad to get some special time with family.
What a complex word. It stirs thoughts of comfort: warm embraces, words of affection, and gentleness. After all, that’s what God intended when He created family. A place to be accepted. Loved. Protected.
I experienced this adoration and acceptance from my parents–so much love. Affection and kindness were their daily gifts to me. Their warm hugs and gentle kisses made my soul secure. I knew I was safe in their embrace. Even their smell brought me profound comfort.
But the following few nights, as I lay my head on my pillow, neither my parents nor I knew the danger I was in. My view of the world would quickly change. It would no longer be worthy of my trust or confidence. My door creaked open slowly and methodically in the shadow of night. Footsteps fell on groaning floorboards. My blood pumped and my heart pounded.
Fear. This was our first introduction, and this meeting solidified our companionship for many years to come. As my door slowly opened, I saw a man I thought I could trust. He was family. But he was different in the light of day. As the darkness appeared, so did the evil within him.
He crept into my room and took me from the illusive safety of my bed, muzzling my cries with a drug-soaked rag that put me into a deep, involuntary sleep. He carried my wilted body down a hallway, and out the door to a car waiting in the driveway. From there, I was delivered to a destination void of hope.
When I woke up, I was in an unfamiliar place. As my eyes slowly blinked open, I was terrified. I had never witnessed such evil. There were so many people: men, women . . . and innocent children. Many were dressed in strange costumes, and they were interacting sexually with each other. It was a carnival of evil. Here, men and women sought pleasure and power from Satan, the great deceiver. They reveled in his façade of supremacy and control. His mystery was captivating to them, and they desired his power more than anything in the world.
A Terrifying Reality
I am convinced that the only way to truly know and love someone is to understand the mess they have experienced in their life. To understand the mess helps us fully appreciate and celebrate the victories. For you to fathom how bound I was by shame and fear (and many other things), you must first understand the mess I was delivered from. So, here I am, inviting you into my mess.
… TO BE CONTINUED
(Sample Discussion Questions
from Chapter 1)
For Thought and Discussion:
Are there areas of your heart or your life that you would consider broken or damaged? Try to identify two or three areas in need of God’s restorative healing.
There is power in reflection. Take time to write down some details regarding those two or three areas that need God’s healing touch.
As you write, are you able to see the hand of God at work in your life? Can you identify where He intervened, either physically, spiritually, or emotionally? If you can’t see it yet, that’s okay! You are on a journey of healing, and I pray that by the end of this book, you will see how God is turning everything the enemy meant for evil in your life into a powerful story of hope.
If you can identify some ways God has worked amidst your pain, write them down. Writing simple bullet points of God’s mercy or provision can be incredibly powerful in helping you recognize God’s presence in your life.
Pray this Prayer out Loud:
Jesus, thank You that no matter what I have gone through in my life, You have been at work. When I have experienced great pain and trials, You have drawn close and held me tight. Lord, I give You every area of my life in which I experienced grief and pain. I put each painful circumstance into Your hands and ask that You would heal my heart. Lord, I declare (whether I feel it or not) that You can take each broken piece and construct a beautiful vessel, mended with gold. You are good. You are kind. You are just. Help me to trust You in this healing process.