Bloom Where You Are


by Kathy Regan Lee

I met Kathy through a mutual friend, Rita, who shared Kathy’s testimony with me. I knew right away Kathy had a powerful testimony that would encourage other women who have been broken. And I guess that includes all of us who are breathing. No one gets out of this life without some heartbreak. But the wonderful thing is that God has supplied us with all we need to get through that heartbreak and come out blooming! And that is what Kathy has done. She has taken her challenges and heartbreak and has turned them into a message of hope! (Deborah Malone)

Please watch Kathy’s full testimony on her You Tube Channel

Several years after making the decision to follow Jesus, I moved close by a public housing community, and I started to spend time with the young kids in the neighborhood. Before long, I was taking a carload of kids to the beach, the park, church, or we just had fun playing games together. Little did I know it at the time, but meeting those kids would change my life in ways I would never have imagined.

One of the boys had an older brother who went to prison. When his brother was released, he shared with me how Charles, another inmate, led him to the Lord and discipled his brother. I thought it would be a nice gesture to send Charles a Christmas card, letting him know he wasn’t forgotten. He wrote me back and we started corresponding.

After writing to each other for six months, I decided to visit Charles. I hoped to be an encouragement to him, and yet after the first visit I walked away not only inspired but also challenged spiritually. As I continued to visit weekly, I found myself drawn to Charles’ hunger for Jesus, his servant attitude, and determination to make something positive come from his crime. I enjoyed his personality, intelligence, and the kindness that he showed.

I never expected to fall in love with Charles, and yet over time our friendship grew into a deep love for one another. Charles was serving a 120 year sentence in a maximum-security prison for second-degree murder, which he committed when he was 17 years old. He was under the parole system, which meant that three Parole Commissioners decided when, or if, he would be released. There was a possibility that he would never get out of prison, and if he did, it could take a long time. After being together seven years and prayerfully considering all the uncertainties, risks, and unknowns, I married Charles in the prison chapel. I had to entrust my future over to the Lord, holding on to hope that Jesus would lead and guide us.

The years turned into decades, and there were times feelings of hopelessness and discouragement crept in as we dealt with numerous denials, setbacks, and loss. Yet, every hardship we encountered only strengthened our love for one another and made us more determined to press into the Lord.

And then, after 35 years of incarceration, 22 years of marriage, and being together for 29 years, Charles was granted parole and sent to a halfway house. Our prayers were finally answered and our dream of one day being together on the outside came true!

When Charles was first released, everything was new – he was like a kid in a toy store. He embraced each new experience. However, a few months after his release, Charles began to struggle emotionally. His past came back to haunt him – childhood wounds, past failures, the crime. Even though while still in prison he had prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his return to society, there were areas he had compartmentalized and now he came face to face with them.

Charles tried to deal with his emotions on his own, but little-by-little he started to unravel. He went from being in a physical prison to an emotional prison. He began questioning if what he believed and taught about the Gospel and Christ’s grace and mercy applied to him.

Scripture tells us that satan is out to steal, kill and destroy. He is a deceiver that not only tells us lies but brings up our history and uses it against us. Charles became deceived. He forgot his identity in Christ – who God says he is. Charles didn’t see himself as a new creation, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven. He was stuck in his past and didn’t know how to move forward. He believed the lie that God could not love him because of his crime. He felt so much shame and was convinced that he was a burden to me and I would be better off without him. He asked for a divorce.

When I heard the word divorce, my whole body began to tremble. I was shaken to the core. The pain was gut wrenching, and my heart felt like it was breaking in half. I went from ecstasy to agony, from happiness to heartbreak. I faced unbearable hurt and sadness, as well as feelings of helplessness and despair. What should have been the best time of my life turned into the most devastating one. Our marriage as a “free” couple was over before it was ever given a chance. My dreams were shattered, my world was turned upside down and my heart was crushed. I was grieving the loss of all the hopes and dreams we talked about and planned for years, like exploring new places and doing ministry together. God was rewriting my story and I didn’t like how it was unfolding.

As I cried out to God to help me to pick up the pieces of my life and somehow move forward, I spent time learning to lament, or express my grief to the Lord, by reading Psalms.

In Psalms we are shown that it is okay and healthy to express all our emotions to God, we shouldn’t deny, suppress, or ignore them. But we also don’t want our feelings to take over, which on occasion they did for me. When this happened, I had to be honest and ask: Am I going to allow my feelings or situation to define how I view God, OR will I believe what the Bible says about who God is? Through lamenting, I chose to believe what the Bible says about God’s character, even when it didn’t line up with what I was feeling or experiencing.

I thought by getting a divorce I tarnished God’s reputation and that there was no “good” that could possibly come from my marriage ending. Well, the truth is that God decides how He will use our story not only for our benefit, but for others good and His Glory. God is faithful to His Word.

One blessing was that I wrote a book about my life and things I discovered. It’s called, “Still Believing – Holding on to Hope in Heartbreak.” Writing this book took me on a path of healing where I gained new insights and was drawn closer to the One who provides unwavering hope and grace for us on our journey. Another blessing is having the opportunity to share my story with different church groups and ministries, as well as hearing from people who have read my story and how it encouraged them.

Kathy loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her at her website:


Kathy is an author and public speaker who has shared her story at women’s groups, prisons, and at other gatherings. She wants others to experience the hope, healing and freedom that Christ offers. 

She likes to hike, exercise, watch sunsets, explore the outdoors, and spend time with loved ones.

After receiving her degree in social work, Kathy worked in social service for more than twenty years. Since 2005, she has been on staff at Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg. Kathy lives in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.

Kathy can be reached at

6 thoughts on “HOLDING ON TO HOPE”

  1. I met Kathy through a mutual friend, Rita, and I’m so glad that I did. Her testimony is powerful and encouraging, and I can see how it could be so helpful to other women who have been through heartbreak. No one gets out of this life without some pain, but the wonderful thing is that God has always been there for us, and He can help us to get through it. Kathy’s story is a testimony to that. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your story with us.


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