How to Break Free From Your Family Issues For Good

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Are you dealing with family issues? Or perhaps you have a family estrangement. Would you like to break free for good?

You are not alone. This seems to be happening more often than people want to admit. Fights happen and family members walk away, sometimes forever.

If this has happened to you, you know how embarrassing it is to tell your Christian friends you are not talking to your family, even if it seems to be for a good reason.

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Red paper heart with family member cut out figures on it. The heart is broken in two. How to Break Free From Your Family Issues For GoodAs believers, we are supposed to be different since we follow Jesus.

But many times we are not.

We suffer from pride, anger, and unforgiveness just like everyone else.

What if I told you there is a better way to resolve family problems so they don’t turn into an estrangement? Would you do it?

Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart. It gives real hope and help to hurting families.

Here is an excerpt from my book. It includes the Introduction and part of Chapter 1. My mother was kind enough to write the afterword and talk about our family issues. 

RELATED: Life-Changing Family Advice for Those Hurting

Table of Contents

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart


You may wonder why I would write a book about such a messy subject. No one in her right mind would want to bring up family problems and talk about them publicly. It could cause another family split.

I agree.

It is risky, but my family has been very supportive along the way. They have sent me information to include in my book and have proofed it several times to help guide me in the right spirit.

In fact, the afterword is written by my mother.

I wanted others to hear her perspective. It is important that both sides of this topic are addressed. I am grateful my mom has taken the time to give her thoughts on our estrangement.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

I decided to write this book because I found very little written on the subject of family estrangement or family issues, specifically from a Christian perspective.

When I left my family, I found no books in the bookstore close to my situation and very little online that talked about Christian families being estranged. Yet, here I was, a Christian, reeling from the pain, and no one could answer my questions.

The books I did find about estrangement were from psychologists who retold stories about their patients, angry women who were never going back, and others with stories but no biblical viewpoint. None of their stories were like mine.

I was looking for a person who had been estranged from family and who had worked through their family problems with complete forgiveness.

I needed to hear a Christian talk about this subject.

I am not only a Christian, but I also come from a family in ministry. I am a preacher’s kid.

I feel God could use my story to pull the curtain back and reveal the truth. The truth is we are all sons of Adam and subject to the Fall.

There are no perfect families, mine included.

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How to Break Free From Your Family Issues For Good

I do not want to portray my family in a bad light. My intention is for you to see God glorified in a messy situation. He alone is the Author and Hero of this story. He is to be praised for all the healing that has happened between my family and me.

He is the only one who can soften hardened hearts and bring life back into dead relationships. He can do the same for you that He has done for us. God is no respecter of persons.

This book lists actionable steps to help you move toward healing and restoration, whether you are the parent or the child. These steps will help you work toward forgiveness and change the way you feel about your family members even if there is never complete restoration.

The steps are not easy, but they work. No matter where you are in the process, whether you have family issues or are experiencing a complete family break, you can move to a better place than where you are right now.

I would like to add that although you may be going through a difficult family situation and are physically and emotionally sick, you should recognize that good medical advice should be sought. This book is not intended and should not be construed as a substitute for medical care.

I pray my words will give you hope for your own situation and help you know you are not alone. There are a lot of other people just like you who have family problems. They just don’t talk about it.

I want my story to help you see there is a way out of your pain. God can use your brokenness for His glory if you will let Him.

RELATED: Estranged: 3 Things You Lose When Your Family Stops Talking

Chapter 1 Sick of It All

I woke up from anesthesia and heard the words, “You have Crohn’s disease.” The nurse went on: “You are probably going to lose your colon and will have a bag for an intestine for the rest of your life.

The doctor is going to have to take out the lower portion of your colon. It is diseased and looks like hamburger meat.”

That was not exactly what I was hoping for when I woke up, but I wasn’t surprised. Actually, I was grateful the doctor didn’t find cancer.

I was sure that was what was wrong with me. But removing my colon didn’t sound much better. I didn’t want to have a bag attached to my side for the rest of my life. The combination of the smell, the noises, and the utter shame was more than I could handle.

I would never want to go in public again. And what about my marriage? That was even more frightening. I knew my husband would love me, but I would be embarrassed to be intimate with that kind of alteration to my body.

I had been so sick for the last three months and was positive I would not live another year. I had lost 30 pounds in that short time. Nothing would stay in my stomach. Everything I ate came right back out. I couldn’t even drink water without ill effects.

I was slowly wasting away.

As I was lying in bed that day in the hospital, I knew what was wrong with me. The denial left, and my eyes were opened. I could no longer run from the real problem.

I was angry.

I wasn’t just a little angry; I was filled with bitterness and hatred.

It was a deep, dark feeling I could no longer control. The bitterness had been simmering in my heart for years. I could no longer keep up the facade.

From the outside, it looked like I was okay. Not physically okay, but at least emotionally okay. I had done an excellent job of hiding my family issues.

No one knew what was going on in my heart.

The truth was I was tired of living one way and feeling another. Our family had problems, and no one was talking about them. The problems had been there for so long that it was normal. But our normal was not healthy.

Over the years, I had tried to push back against the unrealistic expectations I felt had been put on me, but I was met with a lot of resistance. I felt like no matter what I did, it was not good enough.

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How to Break Free From Your Family Issues For Good text with purple tulips.

Right there in the hospital bed, I decided to cut off my relationship with my parents.

I didn’t know how I would do it at the time. That didn’t matter to me. I just knew I had to leave my family to get well.

At the time, I didn’t realize I had a natural tendency to run and hide when I couldn’t resolve my problems. As a child, I Ioved making secret hideouts outside or secret forts in my closet. It was my way of coping with my family.

By the time I became an adult, running and hiding were second nature to me. It just felt like the normal thing to do when there was no way out.

In the hospital, I came to the conclusion I was mentally and physically exhausted from trying to jump through all the hoops. I was done.

After I made this decision, I decided I didn’t care what people thought. This was huge for me because I always cared about what everyone thought.

I am a people-pleaser to the core.

I was so sick that I didn’t care what it took for me to get well. I didn’t care if my church banned me or my friends left me. I didn’t care if I had to run to Mexico. I was going to leave and get free of the family problems.

I wanted to be free from the entangled relationship we had and the pain it was causing me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I needed to find out who I was as a person and a Christian outside of my family of origin.

I wanted to find me outside of them.

RELATED: 33 Amazing Ways to Bring Your Family Together at the Holidays

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How to Break Free From Your Family Issues For Good

My Family Issues

My family was well known in the Dallas area when I was growing up. The Ventura name was synonymous with live entertainment and Italian food.

My parents owned the Italian Village restaurant, Club Village (the first supper club in Dallas), and Gringos (the first disco/nightclub in Texas). This made my parents wealthy in their early twenties.

It was a lot for them to handle at such a young age. They didn’t realize it would cause family problems.

They would be the first to say that fame was hard on the whole family. Some family members were jealous, and other family members were angry. I’m sure many were wondering how a 23-year-old kid hit it so big.

Things like this usually didn’t happen.

There was no way to prepare for that kind of money and responsibility. My parents were pulled in so many directions trying to manage a business that exploded overnight.

For many years, the Italian Village was one of the best places in Dallas to have a good time and eat an amazing Italian meal. There was very little competition in the area. They dominated the nightclub industry in Dallas.

Even stars from Hollywood and Las Vegas would eat at their restaurant when they were in town.

At one point, it was the only places to watch the Dallas Cowboy game on television (during a blackout), as sports bars in Texas were non-existent. My dad’s concept was the forerunner to the sport’s bars you see today. If the Dallas Cowboys weren’t playing, the players would often come in and hang out in the bar area or eat at the restaurant.

The Italian Village was the place to be in the 1960s and 1970s.

After about ten years of living in the fast lane, my dad found he was empty. He had accomplished everything he could in his field. There were no challenges left. He started asking God if there was more.

He prayed and asked God to show him if He was real. My father was a Catholic Italian, but not a good Catholic. He only attended mass on holidays, but those little times in church pushed him to ask the question.

I think he was hoping it would be answered.

God answered my father’s prayer rather quickly. Two weeks later my father encountered God in a real way. And it changed his life forever.

My dad was making a commercial for the restaurant at a TV station in Dallas. He thought it would be funny to suggest they pray before the taping. The television station had recently turned to Christian programming. Pat Robertson, the host of the 700 Club, owned the television station at the time.

To my father’s surprise, everyone put down what they were doing and grabbed hands. Within a matter of seconds, he was holding hands with some man and praying.

The whole station became quiet as prayers were lifted for the taping of the commercial. After my father’s initial surprise, he said he felt a warm, electric feeling run up his hands and arms and all through his body.

He couldn’t forget it. Eventually, it led to questions, and later he was led to a relationship with Jesus Christ by the station manager. My dad became a born-again Christian.

Little did he know how many problems this would cause with his family and business.

But my dad couldn’t go back to his old life.

He was changed.

You can purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store if you want to find hope and healing for your family. 

RELATED: 5 Burning Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

Got Family Issuesf? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book with a single tree on the book

Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

A farm scene with a farmhouse upside down sitting on a grass field with a lake in the background.

Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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Julie Plagens


  1. Gilian on March 24, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Very encouraging. This can help a lot of families. So brave of you and bold to open about your family. God bless!!!

    • Julie Plagens on March 27, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      Gillian, I do hope that my book or this post helps a lot of families. We need our family right now because that is the only thing that is going to count when hard times hit.

  2. Shara on February 16, 2020 at 5:18 am

    I appreciate your honesty and encouragement on a sensitive topic as I know it’s hard to be transparent as there’s so judgment out there. But it helps so much to hear other people’s stories.

    • Julie Plagens on February 22, 2020 at 10:05 am

      Shara, this has been an incredibly difficult topic to discuss publically, but I had no one to talk to who understood. That is why I wrote a book about it. I am glad it has helped so many people. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Ariana Dagan on May 2, 2019 at 10:49 am

    This hits very close to home. My brother and his wife recently cut off my entire family. We’ve been trying to be supportive and figure out what we did, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. This was exactly what I needed to read right now, the other perspective.

    • Julie Plagens on June 13, 2019 at 6:51 am

      Ariana, I am so sorry this has happened to you. I pray you will find true healing as you navigate these rough waters. I know it is painful, and there is no one right answer other than giving it to God. I invite you to fast and pray for a breakthrough.

  4. Lillian Day on March 24, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Wow, the book looks like its going to be great! I have a lot of hope in your story knowing your mom contributed! I’m looking forward to your book launch!

    • Julie Plagens on April 28, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      Lillian, thanks for your comment. The book is already on Amazon. Hope you will check it out!

  5. Jenn on February 16, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Wow, this really hit home for me and what our family is dealing with. I look forward to reading more.

    • Julie Plagens on March 23, 2019 at 1:11 pm

      Jenn, I hope my story will help you. There is no such thing as a perfect family, just a forgiven family. You can’t change anyone but yourself. By handling things differently, it will make others change their behavior. I’m praying for God to do a work in the life of your family.

  6. Clair on February 16, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    What a great post topic! Most don’t want to talk about the existence of family rifts…I dealt with a family rift in the past. No fun at all 🙁 It is now better, not the same as it was before but much better! Praying that with time it will continue to get better!

    • Julie Plagens on March 23, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      Clair, I am so glad you have worked through the family problems. It is no fun. You are right! I pray God continues to work in your family.

  7. Sonal on February 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Oh what a topic to capture in your writing. family rifts exist everywhere and not often talked about or addressed to. Thanks for a good read.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Sonal, yes, I really hope a lot of people will read this book. Almost everyone has family problems these days. It is just a matter of how you want to handle them. There are positive ways and negative ways. One leads to life and one leads to the death of a relationship.

  8. Courtney on February 7, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Oooo so much valuable info in this post!! I’m sure so many are going to find the help they need to fix the rift in their family

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      Courtney, only God knows how to make dry bones come alive. I am hoping my family problems can be used as a learning experience for others. It is not worth it to let anger, pride, and bitterness get in the middle of a family. God wants to see us put down our swords and talk.

  9. Sophia on February 6, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    I think that there are rifts in all families, but it is nice to read and know that things can be repaired and nothing is ever too bad.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm

      Sophia, yes, I am so glad we were able to repair the damage. We were blessed to have divine intervention. It is amazing what happens when you start praying about your family problems. God is truly good. His mercy endures forever.

  10. Sumit on February 6, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for highlighting a major issues in today’s world!
    Indeed helpful for me.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      Sumit, thanks for leaving a comment. I hope reading about my family problems will help others with their problems. People don’t talk about their problems many times because it is too embarrassing. My family was kind to let me talk about how we resolved ours.

  11. Jodie on February 6, 2019 at 7:12 am

    I can see rifts in my family even though we still talk. This sounds like an encouraging story for those who need hope. Thank you for writing it!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      Jodie, yes many families have a rift all the way to a break. Family problems are not unusual. We have a choice every day. We can work through them or get angry and let it fester.

  12. Preet on February 6, 2019 at 7:05 am

    This sounds like a great book to read. Honestly, we are currently experiencing same situation. So I am really interested in reading this.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      Preet, I am so sorry you are experiencing family problems. You can’t change anyone else but yourself. Work on your heart and God will work on the others. Your part may be nothing more than forgiving. but forgiveness is everything.

  13. Chastity on February 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Coming from the same background as you but I see things slightly different. We love our family as we should and in no way should we not pray for them and love them and help them through the ruff patches. But we also should not be blind or be foolish when it comes to certain situations. Pray on it and keep them in pray is what my family does when the rift just can’t be fix at the moment. And it time GOD always steps in. Congrats on the book, much success and prayers to you!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      Chastity, I am so glad your family problems didn’t turn into a full-blown estrangement. It is hard to cross back over the chasm when you walk away from your family. Hurt feelings fester over time and can move into bitterness and anger. Thank goodness we worked it out. God is good.

  14. Kristin B Cook on February 6, 2019 at 5:46 am

    Wow! This is so interesting to read. And I am thankful that your mom was willing to contribute to the book on your family dynamic. That’s great!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:43 pm

      Kristin, yes, I am so thankful my mom contributed to my book. There are two sides to the story. I wanted my mom to have her side put in. She was very kind to talk about our family problems

  15. Chelle Dizon on February 6, 2019 at 12:26 am

    You made me more curious to read more about that book. I believe in prayers and I believe time can heal everything.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:45 pm

      I hope you will get it. It is miraculous the way we came back together. I fasted and prayed God would talk to my father in a dream. And God did! It still gives me goose bumps talking about it. God is good. We all had to suffer for 7 years first. It was not easy dealing with our family problems, but God is making lemonade out of lemons.

  16. Sam on February 5, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    This is a great topic. ALL families have issues, no matter how small. It should be something we can be more open about. I think your book will help so many families.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you, Sam. I am praying God will use this story about my family problems as a way to help others out of theirs. Whatever happens, I know God will get the glory for the way it all ended. He is good.

  17. emily on February 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    This is so sweet. So many people struggle with those rifts and I’m sure the advice is much appreciated!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      Emily, thank you for saying this. Yes, family problems are hard to resolve. But God knows how to turn beauty from ashes and bring joy from mourning. God is certainly good to bring life out of such a hopeless situation.

  18. Courtney Glenny on February 5, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    What a great topic, and not too often talked about. Good advice and great way to navigate the issues.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:51 pm

      Courtney, thanks for your comment. We are hoping our family problems will bring glory to God in some way. Hopefully, our mistakes will give others hope when their family falls apart.

  19. John Mulindi on February 5, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    This is such an inspiring post especially to people experiencing same problem as yours. All the best with your Book Plans.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for this comment. I hope my book will be meaningful.

  20. Catherine on February 5, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    I think silence is the biggest issue. People must learn to speak up and listen. Great post and so true! Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      Yes, it is important to speak up for yourself and do the right thing.

  21. Lisa on February 5, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    This is a really important topic to discuss. It’s not easy falling out with family, the pain’s deeper than we know.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      Lisa, yes, it is a very painful thing. I am glad God can use our pain to help others.

  22. Yeah Lifestyle on February 5, 2019 at 6:58 am

    This will really help a lot of people, thank you for sharing your story. Your writing kept me gripped. Wishing you every success with the release of your book.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks so much. I hope it helps a lot of people. I want to use my pain for good.

  23. Alexandra on February 4, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this story – I really believe this post will help so many people, as it is certainly so relatable.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Alexandra, yes, I hope this will many people. I think it is relatable to so many people. Thanks for the comment.

  24. Shannon Lyon on February 4, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    This is such a great topic to be discussing! Thanks so much for the post!

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Shannon, I hope this helps lots of people. Thanks for your comment.

  25. Laura @ Relationship Helpers on February 4, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Julie! I’m so glad that people like you choose not to hold onto family secrets and keep pain hidden. It’s so freeing to share our stories! It’s also so encouraging to those still hiding in their pain. I hope that those still stuck in that kind of bondage read your story.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks, Laura. I am hoping that by speaking up, I will help those who are too scared to say anything. That was me many years ago.

  26. LARA JARVIS on February 4, 2019 at 7:37 am

    It’s so true what you say, so many people have family issues but most won’t say anything, so don’t feel alone!! x

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Lara, yes, I know there a lot of people who suffer silently. I hope to be their voice. Thanks for your comment.

  27. Stacie on February 4, 2019 at 7:11 am

    This is such a great post, and I really think it’s going to help a lot of people. So many families have rifts. People are people, even if they’re family, and sometimes people clash.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:17 pm

      Stacie, yes, we do sometimes clash, but I hope to help people learn how to do things differently. Being estranged is horrible. I don’t recommend it unless there is no other option.

  28. Edith on February 4, 2019 at 6:57 am

    You have addressed a very important issue in your book. Sometimes forgiving those close to us is so hard. And we tend to behave better with outsiders than those who are part of our lives. But we need peace in our families if we are to maintain a credible Christian witness in our neighbourhoods. God bless you for the work you put into the book. I pray that it blesses many upon its release in Jesus’ name.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Edith, thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. So many people are splitting from their family. It is so sad.

  29. POOVANESH PATHER on February 3, 2019 at 5:55 am

    An excellent read so far. You had me gripped. I’m wondering why turning to God caused a rift in your family and what was so dire that caused you to disown your parents. It’s a page-turner in the making. Congratulations. I wish you lots of luck with this venture.

    • Julie Plagens on February 5, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      Poovanesh, I am glad you read the preview. I hope you get a chance to get the book when it comes out. All your questions will be satisfied when you read it!

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