Surviving Sadness — Let us not feel bad for feeling bad

When I suddenly find myself in another battle against sadness, I want to hide when those hard days of melancholy hit. When I think about how many times I have claimed victory over depression only to get knocked down and begin suffering once again, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I actually feel bad, for feeling bad.

Some people who do not understand what this is like think we who deal with bouts of depression need to just snap out of it. Believe me, if I could, I would. My mind starts to wonder why God does not fix me when I have cried out asking Him to. I start to wonder too many things. Eventually, I pick myself up the best I can and try to pretend all is well although I feel like my heart is being crushed. I go to work, I go to school, and I go to church like normal. Even though deep down I do believe all is well, I still seem to always choose to suffer alone at first because I am too embarrassed to let those around me know that it is happening again.

Please do not do what I do. Do not choose to suffer alone, it can be dangerous. When my mind starts to go to old thought patterns, I start to become a bit concerned. That is when I know that I need to reach out to a trusted source. For me, that is my pastor. She never judges and always points me to God for direction and guidance and she encourages me and prays for me. I am grateful for her. Recently, she helped me to see through the dark clouds that I really am victorious in this fight! I needed to hear that. I can see clearly now that I am still a strong woman of God. I have not given in to the depression. I am not empty or hopeless like I was before I came to know Christ. I am still alive. I still believe and hope in Jesus. I continue to walk the walk. I continue to show up in church and Bible Study. I continue to sing my heart out to the Lord even through the pain. I continue to intercede for others. In addition to all of that, I am still sober! I am celebrating 7 years of this incredible miracle of God in just about a week. Wow. If that alone is not a sign of Victory, I don’t know what is. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So, it is okay to cry. It is not okay to give up. Do not feel bad for feeling bad, we are human. Let’s stop being hard on ourselves. You are not alone. My suffering returns more than I care to admit and I know that I am not alone. There is no shame. Let’s pray for and encourage one another in the Lord. Thanks to Jesus, we fight from victory, not for it! Remember that God is bigger than all of this and it has been my experience that as I wait on the Lord’s hand to move through the suffering, I grow even stronger and even more important, I grow closer to Him. So, I want to encourage you to seek and “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (~Psalm 27:14) He will not let you down.

Heavenly Father, I pray that You fill us with Your peace that goes beyond our understanding. May we feel it fall like rain in the middle of our hurting. Let us feel Your arms surrounding us. Let us know that it is okay. May we choose to rest in Your peace that only comes in the waiting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Never give up. Choose Jesus, choose life – even when it hurts. ♥

Sober Courage

Sober Courage – I don’t know what made me look that up. I guess it’s my way of dealing with challenges on my journey with the Lord, and emotions that I’d rather not deal with. I am tired. Even though I’ve been sober a while, I still fight those temptations to “numb out” – it’s more just a quick thought actually, I never come close to actually doing it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wish I could just not feel anything for a day or two and definitely not share my struggle with anyone like I am doing right now.

I was reading other people’s articles about it taking courage to get and stay sober. I never thought of myself as being courageously sober, but maybe I am. I could have completely given up and drank myself to the end. But instead, no matter how painful and frustrating life can be at times, I choose to no longer numb out and I choose to let my desperation for God to continue to save me. Maybe that’s the courageous part — having faith that no matter what, God is who He says He is and that His mighty hand is on me. He truly is in control of my life and I am forever grateful. If I were still in control, I’d be dead by now.

So I see that I continue to really be one of His walking talking miracles. I am sober, I am alive, and I have an amazing relationship with my Lord. And wow has He blessed my life with strong men and women of God who help me to stay on the path that leads to life. It’s His courage in me that keeps me walking the walk that He has planned for me and the strength to tell the world all about Him. What was I thinking? I can’t numb out, there are too many that still need to hear about Him and His power to change. I can’t do that drunk or dead. Besides, I don’t want to miss out on His best for me.

Thanks God, for showing me that I am not better than anyone who does not know You like I do, but I am certainly better off. I can’t do anything without You and I don’t ever want to try.

(Those who have been walking this miracle journey alongside me, thanks for being such great listeners every time I need to pour out my heart like this. You are the best encouragers and you are my human angels. I couldn’t do this alone. Love you.  )

Does Jesus know you?

That is a question I wish someone would have been bold enough to ask me years ago, so I am going to be bold and ask it now because I hope that someone will ponder it to the point of full surrender and let the transformation begin. It was almost seven years ago, when I discovered for the first time in my life that the Lord Jesus Christ is not religion. He is real and His Spirit now lives in me. Hallelujah, I am redeemed!

As I continue to grow in my faith-walk, Scripture not only brings me my daily comfort and guidance as I seek wholeheartedly, it also makes my heart ache. My heart has been aching for a very long time now and I have been given courage to share this no matter the cost because someone needs to have their heart strings tugged at. I believe the Lord will use it in a powerful way for those whose hearts have not hardened past the point of no return and who need to hear Him and finally surrender ALL like I did. So please listen to Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7:21-23 (as written in my one year New Living Translation Bible): “21 Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. 22 On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized…’”

Now I am not a pastor with eloquent speech, but I have become a true disciple of Christ and I believe that God uses our willing hearts in different ways to reach different types of people in different types of situations. I am a simple servant who has only been walking this walk for a short time but I will share that I think this passage is warning us that going through the motions and pretending to sound and look godly when people are watching is not going to get us anywhere with God. Religious actions without real faith in Christ does not develop a personal and loving relationship with the One who created us. This, I know!! My heart hurts to think that there will be people at the end of this present evil world who will find themselves on judgment day crying out to the Lord, only to hear Him telling them to go away because He doesn’t know them. That makes my heart tremble and so incredibly grateful that I have chosen to no longer be one of those people! I pray the same is true for you.

I do not think that this passage can be any clearer when Jesus states that the decisive issue is whether we obey the Father in heaven. If you are walking in obedience to God, you are in a relationship with Him. We cannot continue to live in our old ways of life and be obedient at the same time. We cannot pick and choose what we will obey. It is all or nothing. We must turn away from our old way of living and allow Jesus to come in and transform us from the inside out. That is why He died on that beautiful terrible Cross!!! And I also think that being obedient to God means we are known by Him. What a relief for a sinner like me.

All those years I was brought up to memorize and recite what I consider now to be mindless and incredibly empty prayers. The church back then never taught me that I needed to ask Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I just did what I was told to do like a good little girl and memorized words and performed religious rituals (not sure what else to call them) that left me feeling empty and fearful for most of my life. I was taught to fear God by the church, but it was in a way that made me so afraid that when I came to a point in my life where I was nearing rock bottom, I ran even further away from God instead of to Him. In fact, I doubted that He was real and made some terrible choices that almost destroyed my life.

Today, I thank God for my rock bottom because that is where He met me and made me alive in Him. I had a choice – I could die in my sin, or I could surrender and give Him a chance. I do not regret taking that chance on Jesus!

I am also grateful for my new church and my pastors who keep me hungry for the Lord. My heart’s desire is to know Him more and more and please Him! I never had that when I was young. My heart is broken when I watch others today going through what I did back then. It doesn’t matter what their background is, whether they never knew God, or whether they’ve walked away from Him for whatever has happened in their life –all I see is dread and emptiness and I think God allows me to see it and feel it so I can pray and preach and be bold whenever He gives me something to share like this latest writing.

Some people are waiting to surrender to Jesus because they think they have time, but they are wrong. Okay, so maybe Jesus won’t come back today, but that drunk driver might strike out of nowhere or that stray bullet might hit and then what? There is no time like today.

My heart rate seems to be increasing. I never initiate altar calls in person or online, but suddenly I think this is a good time. No one is too dirty to come to be made clean by the blood of Jesus. No matter who you are or what you have done, if you want to start a new life in Christ, here’s a prayer that I found through a pastor’s book written just for you. Pray it with all your heart and then tell someone! Prayerfully seek a Bible based church and reach out. DO NOT try to do this walk alone. Please trust me on that. In time, you will understand why:

“Father, it is written in Your Word that if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that You have raised Him from the dead, I shall be saved. Therefore, Father, I confess that Jesus is my Lord. I make Him Lord of my life right now. I believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead. I renounce my past life with the evil one and close the door to any of his devices. I thank You for forgiving me of all my sin. Jesus is my Lord, and I am a new creation. Old things have passed away; now all things become new in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

If you prayed this from the heart, God heard you! I wish I could be there to give you a hug and warm welcome to the family of God. I pray the Lord will bring some strong men and women in Christ into your life to walk along side of you. Like I said, we cannot do this alone. No matter what you think or what you have believed in the past, God loves you! He sent His one and only Son to die in our place. He paid our ransom with His blood. I pray you will believe and receive and then tell the world what He has done!

Thank You, Holy Father! ♥♥♥

Living when life does not feel good…

What would you do if you had a loved one say to you “You are better off without me”? Would you take them seriously? Or if you asked someone that you noticed is down if they are doing alright, are you prepared for an answer like “I am not OK. My life is worthless and I do not want to stay here anymore”? What would you say or do?

What if similar thoughts like the ones I wrote are ones you battle with every now and then or are even battling with at this very moment? Will you keep choosing life even when it does not feel good? Man, I hope so. These are all hard questions. Especially for people who have no idea what it is like to be chained in a prison of darkness that seems so bleak and extremely painful that death sounds like the only means of escape. I know this because that used to be me just over six years ago. Either nobody knew of my torment, they were afraid to ask, or they just wanted me to “get over it” and did not think much about the destructive path I was on. I do not blame anyone for anything. No one but Jesus could have helped me anyway. I believed the lie that no one would even notice that I was gone if I had committed suicide. I think the only thing that people did notice about me was that I drank way too much. And as I became closer to my personal rock bottom of alcohol abuse, I cried way too much.

As you can see by reading this, I am a survivor. And thanks to my Lord Jesus Christ, I am more than a conqueror—a conqueror who is willing to be vulnerable and admit that she still has occasional bouts to overcome. In fact, I am going through one at this very moment. But I praise God that it is nowhere as severe as in the past. I no longer reach for alcohol or any other type of vice to soothe my troubled soul, I reach for Jesus. I am looking at this occurrence as another wonderful opportunity to share my hope in Jesus – Hope truly worth living for.

Suicide is on the rise and because it was National Suicide Prevention Week, it is no surprise to me that I have been battling with some old unhealthy thought patterns. They were mainly triggered by online articles of people who have lost loved ones to suicide, or people currently struggling. I did not realize at first why I was struggling, but I am glad I can see now what was causing me to want to hide again. It is not easy to share when sadness hits my heart in such a way that it makes my mind go to places I wish it wouldn’t. I sure do not want people to see me struggle. Not after all the good Lord has done in my life. But I think those of us whose struggle is all too real, need to be open and share about it and hopefully encourage others to keep holding on like we are. We need to be teachers of faith and hope in Jesus — yes, even when life does not feel good. I think the subject of suicide is difficult to talk about mostly because it makes some people too uncomfortable. People who do not understand the darkness that comes with anxiety, fear, and depression would rather not deal with it. It is not that they do not care, they just do not know what to do. Most people don’t. Even someone like me who battled for decades does not always know what to do, other than surrender it all to Jesus and trust Him to rescue again and again. But you know what? He ALWAYS does, every single time.

I have listened to some people who think that depression is something that we can just get over – they think that it is something that we can control and snap out of. Others lose patience and just want to fix us and end up making things worse even though they really do have good intentions. Then there are others who want to ignore it and hope it goes away. It is not going to go away. I think the best thing that anyone can do for someone they notice struggling is to PRAY. Ask God when to say something and when to just pray something. Encourage the person to talk about it and to not keep it bottled inside. That is when it can become lethal. Encourage them to seek help and not be ashamed — no one should ever be made to feel ashamed for their darkness. Maybe there are even opportunities to follow the example of  Job’s friends who did not say a word but just sat and wept with him when he was going through his extreme grief (see Job 2:11-13).

For anyone who feels that their life is worthless, I hope and pray this truth straight from God’s Word will help you to see past that lie. According to His Word in Psalm 139:13-16, God saw you when you were in your mother’s womb. He knew your mother and father and the circumstances of how you would be raised. He gave you the ability to survive and walks with you through good times and bad. He gave you survival techniques and guardian angels to keep and protect you (Psalm 91:11). He chose you before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4). I find tremendous comfort in knowing that.

I believe that God cries when we cry. I believe He laughs when we laugh and grieves each time we grieve. He watches and waits and looks forward to the day when each one of us would receive Jesus as our Savior. He longs for fellowship with us and desires that we would get to know Him intimately. I am grateful for that desire in my heart. The more I desire Him, the more I want to keep living for Him no matter what. If you haven’t asked Him into your heart yet, please do not delay any longer. And for those of you who have, remember that whenever He feels distant, do not believe the lie that He has left you. His Word says that He will never leave or forsake us. Remember that God is not a feeling, He is truth and He is there. Just call out to Him.

In Christ, God chose us as His own and has made us strong. God has placed His mark on us. He has placed His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee for all He has promised (2 Corinthians 1:22-21). Truth!! When life gets painful, I remember Jesus on the terrible beautiful Cross and I thank Him that I will never ever have to experience the kind of pain He did on my behalf. He is my reason for living and I desire to help others along this journey to choose His gift of life too.

HOPE is here, so hold on knowing that one sweet day “He will wipe every tear from your eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Until then, we can make our life count and help others along the way. We can be blessed to be a blessing. Please, choose life like I am. More lives are depending on it and even though you might not see it right now, it truly is the best choice you will ever make. God loves you so.

Thank You Jesus, for choosing me. Here is my heart. I choose You. I CHOOSE LIFE. ♥

It does not matter what the world says…

I thank God for rescuing me from this present evil world. If I were still believing and listening to what the world has to say, I would still be a worthless, depressed, suicidal drunk. I am eternally grateful that over six years ago, godly people came into my life who have taught me how to seek God with all my heart so I can find out for myself that He is as real as the air I breathe. He really is. He was so real that I put down the bottle and picked up a Bible. The Spirit of God has touched me powerfully. I discovered that Jesus is real and now He is truly alive within me. He is my Savior and Lord. He is my way. He is my truth. He is my life. He is my only means of going to the Father (John 14:6). Jesus died so that I may live and I am grateful I that I choose to live today! I am sad that not everybody believes this enough to choose life in Him like I have. The god of this world has so many captive through confusion and blindness and I am not going to give up praying for those hearts.

Anyhow, I shared last year that I was wondering if I was a bit crazy for becoming a part-time freshman in community college at the age of 49. At 50 I am still pressing on and I am only half way there. Or maybe I should say that I am already halfway to transferring to a university so I can someday earn my undergraduate degree…that certainly sounds more encouraging to me. I try not to allow myself to get too overwhelmed that I am getting older, growing more tired, and have such a long way to go, and even though I do struggle at times, I push through and it is so worth it.

The world may think I am nuts for doing this, it probably seems pointless to some. I just read an article today that mentioned the 20 worst bachelor degrees to get in today’s world of business. Dare I share that my major is psychology and that according to this article, it is the second worst degree to go for? Nice. I knew I should not have read that article, but what is done is done. I can let it bring me down and cause me to give up, or I can keep pressing on. I am choosing to keep pressing on.

Now, prior to my faith-walk with the Lord, I would have let that article discourage me enough to consider quitting on my delayed education once again. But that is not going to happen this time around because my faith has becomes super strong and I have learned not to care what others say or think (total freedom!!). I have come too far and have overcome too much to quit now — that would be crazier than anything else that I can do. I did not muster up the courage to return to college for my own sake or to prove anything for my own life. God has become the center of my life and He is the only reason that I am going for it because I believe His Word that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). I truly believe.

So even though I admit that it bothered me for a minute, I choose not to care what the article says because it is of the world and about the world’s economy. I happen to be walking and living in God’s economy, not the world’s. My God always supplies to the full my every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). He truly does. I am not in this for the money. I am in this because my heart’s desire is to shine God’s light in the darkest places. Secular college is where He wants me right now so that is where I will be until it is time to move on to wherever He may lead next. I believe the goal is for the degree to open some doors where I can work with others struggling with what I used to struggle with and perhaps have opportunities to minister to those hurting souls. I wish I had someone ministering to me in the darkness that almost took my life, but then again, I would not be where I am today if I did not go through everything that I have gone through. I am blessed!!

I do believe that I certainly would be crazy to try any of this on my own. I am forever grateful that I have learned to commit my works to God and entrust them wholly to Him. It is He who is effectually at work in me and causes my thoughts to become agreeable with His will so that my plans shall be established and succeed (Proverbs 16:3; Philippians 2:13). How incredibly awesome is that?! I am “doing” His Word! I take Him for His Word, and His Word never returns to Him void but always accomplishes what it is sent to do (Isaiah 55:11).

I so love God’s Word. I pray that His Word and promises that never fail, will encourage someone else’s heart like He has greatly encouraged mine.

Do not let the world discourage you in your journey. It does not matter what the world says about you or about what you can or cannot do. It only matters what God says. Nothing is impossible with God and nothing is too hard for Him to do. My life is proof of that. Never ever give up because where He guides He provides. Do not quit and miss out on His best for you!

Be encouraged. God loves you.

Father, be it unto me (be it unto all of Your beloved) according to Your Word (Luke 1:38). In Jesus’ name, amen. ♥