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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;

Before you were born I sanctified you;

I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

I picked up the phone frantically. I dialed the number from memory. I knew it like my own name… 813-837-0683….. As the tone indicating connection repeated it’s chime...I began to wonder if she would believe me. The 30 year old holding the phone suddenly felt like a child again...but deep down I knew. I knew I was safe with her. “ Hello?”

Safe: protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost. Safe is not a word I was familiar with as a child. It was a dream but it was never a reality. I would be 30 years old before I ever felt SAFE.


Let’s go back to the beginning.

I was born Misty Darlene Harrell on April 4, 1974 to Wade and Darlene Harrell in Warner Robins, Georgia.

I can’t remember a time in my childhood that I was able to be child- like. By the time I was 3 my parents were divorced and my father was remarried.

I was no longer a virgin, was afraid to sleep, I learned to be a chameleon and blend in in every room I was in. I worked hard to not draw attention to myself.

At 3 I learned how to keep myself “safe”.

There are moments that flood my mind even today as I type at 46 years old. Growing up in Florida, I am a beach lover and I can remember that always being the case. One memory in particular, our family packed up for a day at the beach. I couldn’t wait for my little feet to hit the hot sand and run towards the water, my safe place! Inner tube in hand, I closed my eyes as the rushing waves crashed all the way up to my belly. As the water receded, I felt my exposed skin rise in goosebumps in spite of the noon day sun. I made a quick run for it as I shot the inner tube onto the water. It was a race to plop down just in time for the next wave to pick me up and carry me out to sea.

I began to relax as the deeper waters offered calmer seas and the bodies on the shoreline began to get smaller and smaller! This was the moment I was waiting for. I squinted my left eye, zeroing in on my step-brothers boxy frame. I held up my hand and positioned my index finger over his head and my thumb under his feet. Then…...I SQUEEZED both fingers together!! I squealed with satisfaction as I attended my private “squishing” party.

Noone else could know and they couldn‘t know WHY. But for the moment, I could squish, scream and cry my little heart out and no one was the wiser. I could “hurt” my step brother.

It would ever be as much as he hurt me.

Chameleons use their ability to change their skin pigmentation as a form of camouflage and communication. They can be “hidden” in plain sight.

Much of my childhood was lived plain sight. I was molested right under the nose of those who were supposed to protect me. I was abused and mistreated by my father's wife who promised to raise me as her own. I was forgotten by my father who slipped into his own world of pills, alcoholism and many regrets.

The funny thing is, none of this seemed odd to me. I had accepted that this was my life and “I should be grateful for a roof over my head” as my step mother put it.

“ After all, your real mother didn’t want you. Remember? She tried to kill you when you were born.”

My step mother adopted me officially when I turned 5 years old. That never stopped me from dreaming of my “real” mom. I had seen pictures of her at my Aunt Glenda’s house. She was pretty with long black hair and big beautiful eyes. She didn’t look like someone who just tried to kill the baby she was holding. I would close my eyes and see her face in the rocking chair just like the picture and I would climb into her lap. Imagining her voice I would talk to her and pretend that she was coming to get me. One day this fantasy would become a reality but by then, for many things it would be too late.


Present Day:

I do not expect my story to be an easy read because it wasn’t easy to live. My heart behind writing this book is to let world know that Jesus Christ is still on the throne. Without Him I would have never lived past 30. I would not be the overcomer I am today.

You see, your bitterness will never carry you through what brokenness has brought you TO.

Bitter is bad.

Broken is GOOD.

Hebrews 12:15 NKJV looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

Psalm 34:18 ESV The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Just like the little girl on the inner tube “squishing” her abuser between her fingers, God has given me HIS perspective and when I see this life through His lens, my enemies get SMALLER. Those who neglected me and abused me no longer have to “pay”.

Instead, I have learned to trust the One who paid for it all. I don’t just trust Him with my pain but also with those who inflicted it.

Having a relationship with the Lord is exciting and I love the feeling of CLEAN that salvation gives me. Clean from the inside out.

This brings me back to a time I didn’t feel clean. Even though I was growing closer to the Lord, I was still aching over not being able to offer my husband marital purity. Not only had I been molested and raped as a child but I also gave myself away in a string of relationships between 15 and 30.

Simultaneously, I was struggling with not knowing “who” Misty was. I began to notice that every room I was in, I would “blend” in. I would aim to please and become like everyone else. I had no voice. Only the voices of others I had picked up along the way. I began to ache even more,

This aching led me to seek God in a way I never had before. I began to ask Him: “ Who am I?”

The cycle of aching and seeking went on for weeks. I was devouring the Word of God and any message our Pastor preached I wrote down what seemed like every word. Then, throughout the week I would study those notes. I was like a sponge soaking it all in. The hunger and the ache just grew stronger. I began to wonder if I would ever know who I really was.

What did become evident is that I was several people. A little bit of lots of people I had emulated to “blend in” along the way.

It is a coping mechanism. I understood that. But, that still didn’t give me what I was looking for. Like an onion the Lord began to expose layers to me. He began to tenderly show me who I was NOT.

I was not a failure.

I was not a waste.

I was not an object.

I was not unloveable.

I was not ugly.

I was not going to DIE.

Since my first encounter with the Lord He has always spoken to me precisely and intimately. I will have a thought I know is not my own and it will burn in my spirit. It will arrest me.

That familiar feeling came one morning while I was reading my Bible. The word BEFORE began to burn in my spirit. It was not on the page I was reading and it was not written in the journal I was taking notes in. It wasn't audible but I could hear it.

I began to look up the word ‘before” in my reference guides and dictionary. I was going to read every Bible verse that contained that word which proved to be an impossible task!

Until, Jeremiah 1:5 JUMPED off the index in the back of my Bible. All that was revealed were the words: “ Before I formed you in the womb…” That was enough for me!! I opened my Bible to the listed page:

Jeremiah 1:5

“BEFORE I formed you in the womb I knew you;

BEFORE you were born I sanctified you;

I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Something inside me LEPT when my eyes caught the words: I KNEW YOU!

The Lord spoke so sweetly to me in that moment. “ I knew you...BEFORE.

  • Before you were born

  • Before you were molested

  • Before you were raped

  • Before you were forgotten

  • BEFORE all of it… I knew YOU!!

I jumped up from my seat and yelled:

“YES!!!! WHO IS SHE??”

He would spend the next few years peeling back more layers and I would let Him. I became like a child with excitement and anticipation. I learned to love being HIS.

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord who created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; thou art MINE!

I like the way The Message translates it:

But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

This truth has kept me for the last 17 years : I am HIS!

Tonight as I am typing the close of the first chapter I am praying for you. I pray that my story of God’s power to save someone like ME is a testimony to all who read it that NOTHING is impossible for our God!


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