Healing From Years of Fear and Trauma

  by Cheryl, Minnesota


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." -Proverbs 3:5-8

I had been through a traumatic divorce and been deeply wounded from years of fear and abuse. I felt in my heart I had failed God and was left with a deep sense of shame and guilt that I could not admit to anyone. My learned response was to turn inward. Even though I pretended everything was fine on the outside my unspoken thoughts reflected a very troubled heart. I always seemed to be on the verge of panic and depression. I was not experiencing the abundant life that God tells me is available in John 10:10 (I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.) The life God had desired for me was being choked out by fear and unforgiveness.

I am so thankful that the Lord brought this beautiful Bible study into my life. When I went through “Healed and Set Free” for the first time, the scriptures I had read many times before suddenly came to life. I was able to forgive those that abused, rejected and hurt me. God redeemed the ashes of my life for beauty! I did not know at the time that I would face more heartbreaking losses in the future, but I was prepared because of the work God had done in my life. I am so thankful that God’s healing touch is for the past, present and future.

It has been some fourteen years since the Lord opened the door for me to lead the first “Healed and Set Free” Bible study in our community. Even today there are women desiring to attend the study because of the testimonies of those that have found freedom in Christ.

We can be free from the pains and shackles of the past! There is no greater gift than forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. How beautiful it is when our Savior teaches us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Praise the Lord for freedom!

Healed and Set Free
Copyright @ Cheryl Windels Photography
"I am a picture taker, photographer, memory saver?...whatever, however. I take pictures because they mean something to me...

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...something more than a colorful snapshot. Each photo is a moment in time that God created, beautiful and purposeful. I love to capture the moments, or the details that others pass by without notice."

Copyright @ Cheryl Windels Photography
This mushroom is called a Fly Amanita. Its poison acts like the venom of a rattlesnake. No antidote is known for the poison of the death cup.

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Every fall my husband, Mark leads me down forest trails to enjoy the bright colored foliage. This year many species of mushrooms were abundant but this particular one caught my eye. So vibrant and beautiful! I could hardly believe it when Mark told me that it was poisonous.

No antidote is known for the poison of the death cup. The only hope for anyone who has eaten it is to clean out his stomach promptly with a stomach pump.

A quote to remember is “you can eat all mushrooms, some only once”; hence some call it the “Destroying Angel”.

I am reminded that those who love Jesus must walk with great caution. Our enemy, the "angel of darkness", can disguise himself as an "angel of light" in order to get us to consume his deadly poison. The great news is God has given us the Bible as our supreme guide to this life. We don't have to worry about being deceived. We can walk with confidence and without fear as we place our trust in His unwavering love through His Son Jesus Christ the Savior of the world! He is the REAL thing... no imitation!



Copyright @ Cheryl Windels Photography
No one can fully realize that it’s possible to rise above the trials of life, until we feel God’s supporting power beneath us.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me ~ Philippians 4:13

Calvary Magazine reprint from interview with Cheryl:
Cheryl had experienced serious trials in her 20s and 30s that had left her searching for more. A friend invited her to an evangelical church’s women’s tea. At the time, “I had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn,” Cheryl noted. “So I went. I was saved there.” Cheryl soon began attending Calvary Chapel Idaho Falls, where she was discipled for five years by the pastor’s wife, Tammy Brown. Today Cheryl disciples ladies one-on-one.

In 2009, Cheryl was invited to speak at a local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting. She shared how her life had been impacted by a Bible study called Healed and Set Free, by Tammy Brown and afterward a woman named Melissa Heglund indicated her desire to attend. Through Melissa’s participation over the next few months, she came to Christ.

“In the Healed and Set Free course,” Cheryl explained, “women hear the riches of the Gospel week after week. The theme is Christ and His forgiveness. So it teaches believers to forgive just as God has forgiven us through Christ, and it leads unbelievers to the cross.

Women encouraging Women - Melissa's Story

Before I became a Christian, I had some Christian friends, but I thought, "They have to be faking it!" I thought their happiness had to be a cover up; their joy had to be phony! But I thought that because I had been faking it most of my adult life; I was the phony. I had a great job, a husband and family, a nice home... At work, I was a fun, flirty girl. With friends, I was the life of the party. With family, I was the wise older sister, always ready with advice. The outside package seemed fine, but inside I was hurting. My thoughts were dark; I had so many painful memories of sexual abuse, loneliness, depression, bad choices, bitterness, resentment… I had feelings of disgust and hatred for people in my past and for myself. There was a battle going on in my heart, and not a word ever surfaced about my inner struggles.

Right after we found out we were having our first baby, I laid in bed all day through the summer, with the shades down and the TV blaring. I could only muster enough strength to go to work for those few hours in the morning. I'd go home exhausted from trying to seem happy, trying to feel happy, trying to be normal. I wasn't engaged in my life at all. I tried to will myself to come out from under the dark cloud that seemed to hang over me. My family bore the brunt of my frustrations: The only emotion that made sense to me was anger. I was quick to anger and slow to show mercy. I expected my husband to understand. I can't count the number of times I thought, "No one understands! No one helps me around here. My husband doesn't get it! My kids are like leeches that suck the energy right out of me. I never get time to myself..." I played little games to get what I wanted; I'd have an angry look and barely speak to my husband, trying to get him to see that I "needed help around here!" I got annoyed with my kids constantly. I blamed them for the anger that raged inside me. I told my friends about my woes at home, spouting off about how unfairly I was treated and complaining about my kids. Inside, there was a constant fountain of anger. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't know how to change it. I hated what I had become, and I didn't know how to dig myself out of it.

Even though I had been raised in church, I had never studied the Bible. But those Christian friends God had placed in my life were making me curious. I surprised myself by signing up for a Bible study—the first substantial Bible study I'd ever taken—called Healed and Set Free. I was scared to admit just how badly I needed it. From the time I signed up until the study began, everything was coming to the surface. I remember asking the leader of our study, "When will I be healed and set free?" I laugh about that now, but it was an honest question from a desperate woman waiting for something to save her. And guess what? HE did; He saved me. I told Jesus, "Here's the worst stuff that happened to me: It's bad, it's sick, it's wrong. Here is the worst stuff that I did to others; this stuff is bad too, sick and wrong. See what You can do with it, because I've got no ideas left. I quit!" Well, it turns out that the freedom is real. The joy is real. The love is real. I saw the truth of Jesus for the first time, and I ran to Him. He gently and lovingly helped me see what was in my heart. He took all that pain, anger, sorrow, disgust, hatred, and threw it into the deepest part of the sea. He forgave me, and I forgave everyone in my life because He taught me how. All those years I had been searching for the one trick to take away the pain, but absolutely nothing worked until I gave it to HIM. It's good to remember what God has done. He's still working on me, and I still use the steps from Healed and Set Free. But God is ALWAYS faithful. God is ALWAYS trustworthy. He never changes His ways. He is the same saving God that opened my eyes when I took Healed and Set Free for the first time.



Ripples - Leave a Lasting Impact on Women


Tammy and Cheryl at the MN retreat Tammy Brown spoke at in 2003
There is a ripple effect when we allow God's amazing love to pour through us to others. This happens when one event causes a series of other events in each other's lives.

When women encourage women to walk in the ways of the Lord it changes our lives. It brings about the abundant life in Christ Jesus. It brings about God's plan. It brings about beautiful and rich relationships in Christ Jesus.


"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." - 1 John 4:7


My family, from left to right: Patrick my son-in-law, Kristen my daughter, Michael my grandson, myself and my husband Mark


"Lean not on your own understanding..." ~ Proverbs 3:5
Without the Lord as your guide through the fog of life, and His Word as your compass, you will wander aimlessly.

Copyright @ Cheryl Windels Photography

More Healed and Set Free Featured Stories:


Healed and Set Free from Divorce and Abortion - By Nicole C.
Healed and Set Free from A False Identity - By Nichole
Healed and Set Free from Anger, Bitterness and Unforgiveness - By Erika
Healed and Set Free From the Worry of Death and Sickness - By Debbie
Healed and Set Free From the Pain of a Devastating Divorce - by Gina
Healed and Set Free From the Pain of Rejection and Abuse - by Tiffany, Idaho
Roxanne Boyle on Healed & Set Free
Surviving Rape - by Kay
Healed and Set Free from Loss of Loved Ones - by Meryl
My Marriage Was Over! How God Restored Our "Love Account" - by Teresa
Whole From Years of Self Destruction - by Tami D.
Life After Adultery - by Vicki, Idaho
Healing From Fear & Trauma - by Cheryl
Abortion Wounds, by Andrea
My Abortion, My Secret Heart Ache, by Julie
Something Had To Change or I Wouldn't Be Here Today - by a 28 Year Old
My Neighbor Sexually Abused Me - Getting Past My Past - By Beth, New York
Healed & Set Free From My Father's Sexual Abuse
Freedom in Christ - by Sherry
God Brought Me out of the Fog - by Susan
God Can Heal - by Alisha
My Life Was Forever Changed - By Loren
From a Walking Disaster to a Woman Who is Thriving - by Chrissy
A Story of Healing After Rape - by Tammy
How to Heal After Sexual Abuse - by Sindy
Learning How to Forgive People in My Past - by Melissa
Freedom From Being Isolated in Silence - by Shelly
Releasing All the Pain, Anger, Guilt and Shame I'd Kept Inside - by Brooke
Letting God Heal My Heart After My Parents Divorce - by Dyan
When The Woman You Love Was Sexually Abused and How We Became Healed and Set Free Together - by Pastor Rick Brown

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Healed and Set Free Cover
Healed and Set Free is a 9-week journey in which you will learn four biblical tools that will guide you in overcoming past hurts and equip you to respond in wisdom, find peace when offended and gain a deep understanding of how to truly forgive others.
Healed and Set Free Back
The newly revised edition now includes the leader's guide in the book, a brand new chapter on marriage, as well as new devotionals, more verses and more stories of God's grace healing people through the Healed and Set Free Study.
Healed and Set Free is a 9-week journey in which you will learn four biblical tools that will guide you in overcoming past hurts and equip you to respond in wisdom, find peace when offended and gain a deep understanding of how to truly forgive others.

What's New: The new edition includes the leader's guide, a brand new chapter on marriage, as well as new devotionals, more verses and more stories of God's grace healing people through the Healed and Set Free Study.

Healed and Set Free is a 9-week journey in which you will learn four biblical tools that will guide you in overcoming past hurts and equip you to respond in wisdom, find peace when offended and gain a deep understanding of how to truly forgive others. Leader's guide included.
Ordering information: Click here to order online. Details: Paperback, 352 pages, 7" x 10"

What They Say

"Healed and Set Free has been a wonderful class. I recommend it to anyone who is wanting to make a change in their life and truly be healed and set free from past hurts." - Tracey

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