A home of extraordinary blessings, The Dream Center Foundation based in Los Angeles, CA provides forgiveness and restoration for thousands broken by addiction and difficult times. Late last year I was approached to become a chef consultant for their food ministry and help launch their HEALTHY MENU PROJECT. Through this initiative I would be responsible for creating healthier meals for the over 5,000 people they serve each week as well training the kitchen staff on the WHY behind the recipes. I thought “This is IT!” I had asked for the opportunity to use my culinary talents to uplift and serve those who are often forgotten and caste aside and that day had finally arrived.
Let me explain. Before my Mother (Marilyn Louise Fluellen) passed away in 2009; she suffered from the disease of addiction for what seemed like an eternity. I was devastated! As a child she was my hero, but when the demon of drugs entered her life, the person I once adored disappeared. Over a span of 15 years our relationship deteriorated, but I quietly imagined the day when she would get clean and be the Mother I once knew. I prayed to God for years, but finally gave up. I can’t tell you the exact day or time, but my emotions could no longer take the hurt and pain of disappointment when change never happen. I closed my heart, adjusted my expectations and continued on living.
Although she was clean several years before her death and our relationship improved, I’m ashamed to say that I still carried resentment from the past. Despite the circumstances I still loved my Mother and I've been searching since her death for a way to redeem my feelings of unforgiveness. Who would ever believe I’d receive that at the Dream Center? Working side by side with the kitchen staff (all former something’s), sharing my story and hearing their testimonies of the loved ones they hurt in their past, helped me finally understand the heavy burden of regret that often comes with addiction. From those conversations the revelation of what my Mother was experiencing came to light. The shame she probably carried of how she crushed her only son was heavy.
Through this project I realized that real good people can make real bad decisions. But most importantly that we will all need the presence of grace and mercy throughout this lifetime, and true forgiveness is a revelation of God’s unconditional love.