Hello Friend! My name is Nicole and I am a 45 year old wife and mother. I am married to my best friend, who just happens to also be my pastor, and we are blessed with 3 beautiful children – Caleb (16), Eden (14), and Elijah (10). We also have 2 fur-babies, Sadie and Shadow, and we live in an old gray farmhouse by Boyce Park. I am currently a substitute teacher and lead the Children’s Ministry at our church. I feel blessed to live with such joy, peace, and freedom. However, it wasn’t always this way for me. My story is a story of redemption, forgiveness, grace, hope, and healing.

Let’s back track a bit. I was raised in a church and attended mass every single Sunday with my family. I had a belief in God, but did not have a personal relationship with Him. I knew about Him in my head, but not in my heart. The youngest of 4 children, I grew up with two wonderful parents. I had friends and was involved in cheerleading, track, and tennis. However, I began to struggle as most teenagers do. I was lacking in confidence and self-worth. More interested in fitting in and pleasing my peers than my family or God, I began making poor decisions. Once in college, my lifestyle choices led to my own demise. I discovered that I was pregnant at the age of 19 right before my sophomore year of college. When this news was confirmed, I was in utter shock and simply did not know what to do. You see, I always appeared to be the “good little girl” to my family. However, I was living a double life. I loved my parents very much and never wanted to hurt them or let them down. I simply did not know if I could ever tell them this news. They were always supportive and were paying for my college education. How could I do this to them? So many questions were spinning in my mind. The shame and turmoil I felt was unbearable. I was full of despair and confusion. I always wanted a large family of my own someday. I valued life and the baby growing inside of me. Torn and afraid, the baby’s father and I finally made a decision, one I was not confident in or pleased with – we decided to abort.

That was my absolute worst day ever. I shudder when I think back to the events that occurred. It was then that I sunk into a deep depression. I was overcome with hatred for myself and did not have a desire to live. I felt that I did not deserve happiness and I knew I was doomed for hell. I felt as if I were at the bottom of the deep dark pit of despair and that there was no hope. At one point, I had thoughts of and tried to end my life. The exact events that began to unfold after that are a bit unclear to me, but it was then that I was introduced to Jesus. I eventually confessed Him as Lord and Savior of my life and asked Jesus to forgive all of my deep dark sins. I could not believe that I never heard of this beautiful story of salvation before! I could not believe that Jesus not only forgave me of all that I had done but, wiped my sins away altogether!

I was a new creation and He began to transform me from the inside out. He reached down His mighty hand and pulled me out of the slimy pit of despair and put my feet on solid ground. Praise Jesus! Around the same time, I was led to the Women’s Care Center near campus. The supportive staff walked this difficult road with me and offered me support and counseling. Although Jesus offered me salvation and forgiveness, I had to learn to forgive myself and begin to heal on many different levels. Upon graduation and moving back home, I became greatly involved in my church and the Women’s Care Center in Wexford. You see even though a Christian, I was still healing, learning, and growing from my experiences. God was using my past pain and hurt to help others which was magnificent. But I was in real need of more healing at the same time.

I went through the post abortion Bible study “Forgiven and Set Free” which was amazing! I met many beautiful women of all ages struggling with the same issues as me. It felt good to not be alone on this journey. It was comforting to listen to and support each other as we turned to God’s Word for encouragement and deeper healing. That is when I was offered a teaching job and got married. My husband and I moved to Erie for a few years and we started our family. God is so good that He not only forgave and restored me, but He blessed me with a Godly husband and children. I am forever grateful for the gift and second chance to be a mother. And now I serve alongside my husband as he pastors Rolling Hills Church.

What an absolute blessing and honor to serve Jesus this way. If that alone isn’t enough, last year I had the amazing blessing of releasing my very first book that the Lord led me to write: “Peace by Piece: Surrendering All that is Beautifully Broken.” And just recently God guided me in developing a 5 day Bible reading plan for the book on the YouVersion Bible app. Our God is so good and mighty, full of grace and love! I am in awe that He restored this once very sad, lost and broken girl and transformed her into a strong and courageous child of God who finds her identity in Him alone! No, the journey is not easy, but He brings me peace and joy knowing that I have Him with me amid the storms of life.

There is nothing you can do that our God cannot forgive! Won’t you allow Him into your heart to bring hope, healing, and restoration? Allow your story to bring Him Glory! Amen!