More Than Ever…

More than ever, my heart is broken. More than ever, I feel like a little girl lost in the midst of a huge crowd of uncertain souls looking everywhere but God for comfort and peace. God blesses with these things in ways that nobody in this entire world ever can. That’s why so many hearts are never satisfied and are always looking to fill an incredible void that can never be filled by anything or anyone of the world, yet they keep searching and never find. And although I pray with all that I have left in me, many still do not put their faith in the One who holds the whole world in His hands and can give us more than we can ever imagine to ask for. And so my heart breaks more.

More than ever, I am a loner wanting to be alone and just keep my sorrows to myself. The problem with doing this, is that it feels like my heart is going to wear out before my body does. I can choose to give up on living this life—even though this is not how I thought life would be after walking the last ten years sober with God. The truth is, after these ten years, I feel like I have never really learned to live sober. It seemed like I was just getting started when the whole world shut down about five months ago. My mind grows tired and confused more than ever. I have battled with the shame of becoming so weary after all I have seen God do in my life and the life of others. Even so, I am still here pressing on because I have the victory in Jesus Christ. And in EVERYTHING, I am strong in the One who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)!

The weariness and wanting to give up is where I was for a while, but it is not where I decided to stay. I have a choice. I can choose death, or I can keep choosing life, which is what I will continue to do as long as God allows. Even when I cannot see the way. Praying for those who feel like giving up. Don’t do it. Seek God. His Word says, if you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). This, I know is true. There is so much more I can say, but if you just seek Him with your whole heart, He will start something in you that you never thought possible.

Thanks for listening to my heart. I actually wrote the above words down a couple of months ago and never shared them. I am still here and I am grateful, and it seemed like a good time to share. I am in a much better place today compared to a few of months ago. Even in the midst of this darkness caused by the pandemic and civil unrest and election chaos in America, life is still worth living. Because GOD—not just any god—The Lord GOD Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, is here. He’s never left, and He never will. He is still on the throne.

I am glad that I know that I need my God. I need His love. I need His power. I need His sweet peace and rest. I need Him today and forever. He supplies ALL my needs. Yes, I still believe, and I want to live this life He is making for me…more than ever. ♥

Back in Isolation: Where is My Hope?

Isolation—I never ever thought I would be back here after being rescued from it. It is hard to believe that it was a little over ten years ago when my life changed forever by the hand of God. He allowed me to sink to the bottom of the pit. While I was down there, a miracle happened. Not only did He replace my heart of stone, He sobered me up and pulled me out of the deadly pit of depression and started something in me that I did not see coming. If you would have asked me about a miracle back then, I would have said, “What miracle? I am still a worthless mess.” I had no idea what was happening to me other than a repeat medical issue that temporarily halted my drinking. I seriously thought I would be back to doing things my way in no time. So glad I was wrong. Over time, God showed me that if I follow Him with my whole heart, no matter how tough it gets, that I will finally find real purpose for the rest of my days on this earth. Who doesn’t want purpose or to leave this world having done something meaningful—making life count for eternity? I do. I want it. Thankfully, I reached a point where I was willing to give God a chance. I had nothing else to lose and little did I know, so much to gain. To think that I almost shortened on my own that little bit of time I have left…life is so short. Wow, I really am a living miracle. I forget that truth sometimes.

At the beginning of this new and weird life (weird but mega blessed), it was a major fight for my life to stay out of isolation. When you are depressed and trying to drink yourself into a coma, isolation can and does mean death for a lot people, so I fought against it best I could. Once I surrendered, God gave me the desire to fight and He gave me the needed strength to make it possible. I know with all of me, that it was and still is impossible for me to fight in my own strength because I have none, and that is the truth. Through the years, I would be lying if I did not admit that the thought of giving up did come to mind…many times. It still comes now and then, but it is a fleeting thought now.

Then this COVID-19 pandemic comes along and sucker punches us all, and where do I land? In forced isolation. Man, that can mess with one’s mind, and it certainly has mine. I have been fighting against it for ten years, and now I am right back in it? I was so confused when our state’s governor started shutting everything down in mid-March. I was angry. It felt like God had removed His hand completely from my life. Life once again, did not make sense and I thought I had lost my purpose. My latest mission has been on a University campus and now my mission field has shut down at least through the end of 2020 and it is too early to know if it will be longer. Going virtual is just not the same as being in person.  The mission field God led me to late in life had been removed like the carpet being pulled from underneath my feet. Why? I do not think I will ever know on this side of heaven. All those years I chose isolation and now that I have been fighting against it, I’m forced into it. I have given up trying to understand. It took a while. But I must say people, after a little more than 2 months, it is getting comfortable. Well, sort of. I think that being a loner my entire life makes it doable. Doable, but perhaps a bit dangerous too. Even so, God has still given me the desire and the strength to fight, and for that I am thankful because I continue to be victorious.

The Bible says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  I am standing on this promise from God. God is using this uncertain time for my good. For OUR good whether you believe or not. For me personally, I am drawing near to Him more than ever and something beautiful is happening during this time that feels like I am surrounded by death. Lives are being lost, jobs, finances, mental health, the list goes on. I never thought I would see this in my tiny lifetime but here we are. We have no control. For me, there is only one thing to do: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Most of my life, I have gone through life without God, but since He became real to me, I am not going through another second without Him and His Mighty Power to save!

I was blessed by another devotional the other day. It talked about the disciples freaking out on the boat when a violent storm took place and their Lord Jesus was sleeping through it and they cried out, “Don’t you care?!” Jesus cared. He still does and He teaches that we too can have that same kind of peace and sweet sleep, but it doesn’t just happen. Like Jesus, I am getting to know my Holy Father on an intimate level that gives me peace in this greatest storm of my life. Do you know why Jesus, the man of God, was able to sleep on the boat during the storm while His disciples were filled with fear? Jesus showed us through His life on earth that He intimately knew the Father. He intimately new the One who created the seas and the wind. Jesus knew without a doubt that He was in good hands and He wants each of us to know that we are too. I must say that I have been having that same sweet sleep too. Not just through the pandemic, but through all the tough moments in my life and there have been more than enough. Even though it has been feeling like hope is slipping away at times, I know that it isn’t true.

My heart goes out to those struggling and going through great losses during this violent storm that the whole world is in. It seems never ending. But if we keep our hope and trust in God—the One who has access to every thing we can ever possibly need to get through the storms of life, we too can rest and sleep through it all. There is no need for us to stay up through the night allowing ourselves to worry when we have the one and only Almighty God who never slumbers watching over every single one of us. His Word says, He sets His angels around us! I believe.

I am praying for you, that you will put all hope in Jesus and see the good that God is doing through the pain. When we give up our self-centered lives for God-centered ones, things happen for us, not to us. There are benefits that are ours through every trial, if we hold on and do not give up. Let’s keep ourselves from growing weary. If I can do it, so can you. God is big enough to help us all.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Scriptures that I hold in my heart: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Amen. God bless. May you have sweet sleep starting tonight and every night.

Fighting the Good Fight

Amazing that this old blog is still alive… barely alive. It has been nearly a year and a half since I have attempted to write. Not sure exactly why it came to a halt, but for a while, I know that I simply did not have it in me. I am posting something I wrote 16 long months ago—way before COVID-19 presented its ugly self and changed everything for everyone around the world. I am not sure why I never shared it. It was the last thing I wrote until now. At times I wonder why I allow myself to be so vulnerable. I believed that it never seemed to be doing much good, and I know that I do not have what it takes to get this blog really out there, so I figured I would take a break. I just did not expect it to be so long. I wanted to quit altogether, but at the same time, I thought why give up now when I have put so much of my heart out there with the hope that someone else would be encouraged. There’s a lot of great things of God through life’s challenges to share. So here I am again giving it another try. We will see how this goes. My only hope for this blog has always been to touch a heart or two through life’s challenges.

The below writing ends with “I will keep you posted…” Hopefully this time, I will. I am pretty sure I will because amazing things have happened since. Especially during the toughest and most heartbreaking challenges. I have grown so much since this 2019 writing which I happened to find saved on my laptop today that I had completely forgotten about. I am so grateful, especially during this crazy time of uncertainty we are all in right now. I pray someone will find encouragement to keep standing and keep pressing on no matter what through the following words from my heart to yours…God Bless.

January 2019:

I think God revealed to me that I had stopped fighting. I had given in and stopped fighting for my heart. This came to me after too many nights of crying to Him not understanding how I had become so low that I began to wish for relief through death again. I felt so bad for feeling bad again.

One of my recent daily devotions was called Fighting for Mental and Emotional Health – one of the mornings was reminding me how I am not alone in the battle – many followers of Jesus battle depression and of course it gave me the examples of leaders and prophets in the Bible that battled and how God used them regardless. It also said that my faith is not broken and God is still for me and desires to walk with me to victory. Another day gave me Proverbs 4:23 (HCSB), “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Mental and emotional health flows from the heart – I must stand and keep fighting for my heart! It’s so beautiful, what a daily devotion, God’s Word, and seeking Him wholeheartedly each morning can do. Praise the Lord, I am back in the fight.

So much has been flowing into my heart since this recent awakening. I learned or re-learned that I do not need to try and hide (which I think is ridiculous that I even try) my emotions from God. King David did not hide his emotions, he was honest with God and I am following his example the best I can.

I am grateful he gave us Psalm 42:5 (HCSB) “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him my Savior and my God.” I must remember this Psalm when I go through these seasons. Sometimes I feel like I can barely stand at the altar and sing in church, but when I do, WOW the presence of God fills my heart. He takes everything from me and I feel His love pour through. I am grateful that I am up there singing each Sunday. It is so true that when I worship God, I become aware of His magnificence and suddenly my circumstances pale when compared to His greatness.

Now that I am back in the practice of fighting for my heart every day, another devotion inspired me to try something I have not done before. I was to pray for God to reveal one word to me that He wants me to keep front and center of my life for the entire year of 2019. I had two words that came to mind and I was not sure at first if either of them was from God, but after daily prayer for about a week, He gave me JOY (the other word was Fight). I am to live this word out every single day this year and that has been what I have done since the 1st. It is amazing. For the last few months of 2018, I was asking God to teach me how to enjoy this gift of life. I felt like such a loser that I have not been enjoying life. I thought that have been living out God’s Word as much as possible, but I allowed circumstances of life to get in my way of enjoying anything. I was feeling ashamed about it, but I am not feeling that way anymore. Everything that I have experienced have been some of the greatest lessons of my life!

I have been reading and meditating on Joy every day. I printed things out from Bible Study Tools and another great resource, the other day. Suddenly, Philippians 4:4-9 spoke to me so loud and clear. I printed different translations from Bible Gateway for those verses and I am reading them aloud every day. It is changing my heart! This is the year of much Joy of the Lord, and I believe it is going to change my life in an incredible way by the end of the year. I am going to keep fighting, I cannot give up!

One of the many things I printed on joy said, “Joy is a permanent possession while happiness is fleeting.” I really like that…permanent possession. It is deep, abiding, and permanent. 😊 It’s awesome reading Scripture on Joy plus finding what other sources say about joy every day is already changing my heart. I pray that I will not allow distractions to stop me from this practice. I am hooked after only four days. I think it’s going to change my life more than ever. I will keep you posted!

I hope you too, will seek the Lord’s Joy that never depends on life’s circumstances. He promises that NO ONE can ever take it away from you. Take hold of your permanent possession today!

I still want to believe that this life is worth living…

So, I made it through another Christmas. That sounds a bit sad to me. I am sorry if you think so too. Honestly, I have been battling the sadness AGAIN. Since I became a true Christian almost nine years ago, I always thought that Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time with people we love, with hearts filled with gratitude for the Perfect Gift that each of us has been given – the night the Savior was born — born to die so that we may have a chance at life…something like that. But when you’re like me, it is just trying your best to make it through family/friend time without being too much of a Debbie-Downer. I love my family. I love my church family and friends. But I must say, it continues to be extra challenging being sober. It is my 9th holiday season being 100% sober, and this year I found myself once again wishing I could be drunk through it. Well, at least through some of it. I guess there are times when I still think I can hide the real, messed-up-Deb, behind a mask of booze, but I am thankful that I know better. I am still a miracle in the making.

It has been a tough few years. I am blessed and grateful that I can share that a loved one overcame cancer, but the experience and treatment has changed things drastically and that is about all I can share at this time due to privacy. Basically, it has been hard on my heart. I have learned that since I have made it past 50 years of age (which I believe is another miracle), that I was nowhere close to being prepared for what life might bring at this stage in my life. My heart keeps getting hit hard by uncontrollable circumstances. I keep giving it all to God, but it still hurts.

When I feel this low, I find myself fading away a bit. That is the only way I can think of describing what it feels like. I am here, but hopefully invisible. Sometimes I think it really works because someone can be near me but they look right through me as if I am not really there. It’s weird. Like an out of body experience, I guess. Being invisible is mostly what I want, yet when my plan works, it does not feel so good at times.

So why am I taking another risk by putting my vulnerable self out there like this again? It is simple. People need to know that no matter how bad life seems, no matter how much pain is in their heart and mind that never seems to end, there is a reason to stay and suffer through. And although it may be hard to fathom for some of you, it is worth it. I believe that I am here because too many have given up on hope, and too many are thinking about it at this very moment. It makes me cry.

My heart feels too much, but I think it is a gift from God so I can understand the pain of others. You cannot truly encourage others to keep pressing on if you have never known what it is like to want to end the pain in death under your own terms. My heart was pained by the teenager who gave up on hope somewhere around the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, the pain. And the pain that his family is now enduring for such a devastating loss. One of the parents happens to be a colleague of mine. My heart still hurts. Another colleague had PTSD and suffered for I do not know how long and could not hold on to hope so he took his own life in October 2017. That one still stings as well. They discovered Jesus, so I am blessed to know that He was there to receive them with open arms, for NOTHING shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

I cannot do anything about those who are already gone, but I can pray that someone believing that death by suicide is the answer would somehow feel the love of God through me and/or others that know the pain and choose to stay, trust God, and press on. We need more people of faith to share their stories for encouragement. Many want to keep their stories private. I can understand, but I hope they will pray and receive the courage that God gives because this is a matter of life and death. Please prayerfully consider this mission. If you have not found your purpose, perhaps this might be it or a piece of it.

And for those who do not know what this deep dark emotional despair that sometimes wins is like, I pray for you too. Especially if and when you are ever faced with someone near and dear that you know or suspect might do something so drastic and devastating. Please be patient. If you are not close to God, I pray that this will be a time that you do become close. If you do not believe in Him, I pray that you would seek Him out to see if He is real. That’s what happened to me. I found Him, just like His Word in Scripture said I would. I…we all need God to help through all of this. I have people I care for in my life and they have no idea how much it hurts when I see them living apart from God. When they use His name inappropriately in front of me, I used to think I needed to defend my God. But I realized something recently, the pain in my heart is because some of my friends do not know the love of God as I have discovered and that breaks my heart. I have learned that the best thing I can do is pray that my being open about my faith will help open a door to their heart for God to come in some day. I have to leave that up to God.

God-honoring people in my life have no idea how much they continue to help save my life by being a true example of faith. They draw me near to God, they do not do things that might lure me away from Him.

Telling someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “I can’t take your depression any longer” or “you are being selfish” will only make things worse. I even think quoting Scripture or reminding someone of their blessings is not helpful if it is not a message nudged by God. When you get close to God and discover His heart, you become very familiar with those kinds of nudges. I believe if God nudges you to say something specific to someone else, that He has gone ahead of you to prepare that heart to receive it. I have learned, thanks to my mentor, to never run ahead of God. I do not want to risk pushing someone in the wrong direction because their heart was not ready. Whenever I have said something that was nudged by God, I am always amazed at how it was received. I can see God moving in their hearts.

I also think about the friends that we read about in the story of Job. I want to be that kind of friend. I need those kinds of friends. I need to clarfiy, if you haven’t read the story in a while or at all, take a look at Job 2:11-13. I am talking about prior to them opening their mouths and ruining everything. Initially, they sat with Job without a word and cried with him. How amazing would that be if we learned to do the same for those around us who need comfort instead of trying to fix them or their circumstances with our so-called words of wisdom? The Bible encourages us to weep with those who weep in Romans 12:15. We should also rejoice when they rejoice…this life isn’t always about pain. I thank God for that!

Here is something I can rejoice over. Through all my pain and suffering I have discovered purpose. There IS purpose in pain!! I am living it. It is nothing new than what is written in the Bible — to love God my Creator with all my heart, soul, and mind (troubled mind and all) and to love others. When you have this love of God pouring in and out of you, you can’t help but share about Him and His goodness in your life. We should not be surprised by our pain and troubles in this present evil world. I do not live this life perfectly, but I try my best and continue believing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13) and I take God for His word! God’s Word never fails.

This is the first time I have been on here writing in such a long time. I work full-time, go to college part-time and the emotional struggle has been deep, but I am grateful for the courage and strength to share this tonight. I am thankful for those of you who encourage this tiny unknown blog. I may be a miniscule ministry, but I am mighty in the name of Jesus. Amen? I love how God will use any willing heart.

If this has touched you in anyway, I hope you will share it. It is my heart pouring out no matter what the cost.

If you are suffering, like so many of us, I pray that you will know God’s life-saving love so you will keep courageously choosing life and be an encouragement to someone else. Imagine if each of us touched one heart. It only takes one heart to reach millions. I love knowing that and it is so cool to think about.

And my humble request for anyone who is reading this, will you pray with me? Please pray that there would be such an outpouring of the Spirit of God that those hearts lost in the dark will know His love beyond a shadow of a doubt and will be changed forever. Pray for strength. Pray for perseverance through the pain. I pray more lives will be saved. Not just for the other side of eternity, but for this precious short time that we have been gifted on this earth.

I DO still believe that this life is truly worth living. Thank You, Jesus, for the everyday chance to choose Your precious gift of life. Friends, let’s keep holding on to hope of Jesus Christ who came to seek the lost and save us no matter what. May you come to know His deep abiding joy that is not based on circumstances of life. May you come to know just how much you are loved and may that love give you courage and the desire to keep on keeping on for the glory of the Lord. †

Thank you for stopping by and praying with me. God bless you richly.

I Cannot Do Anything from the Grave

The god of this world is relentless. I do not need to tell any of you that, the news media does a good job of it. Every day, we hear about tragedy upon tragedy of the lives that have been lost to violence. We hear and see lives without hope. We do not need news media for that, if we are paying attention, we are surrounded every day by it. Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I think we feel some things are so hopeless and we believe we are too helpless, so we go about our days the best we can. The battlefield of my mind gets brutal at times, and if I am not careful, I know that I can end up losing big. There is no doubt that the evil one never gives up on trying to get me to turn away from God. How is it that I have not lost this battle? Well, because I have learned how I can be equipped to fight, not by my own might, but by the Lord God Almighty. My mighty weapon is His Word and not a day goes by that I am not studying and living out God’s Word. It is never done perfectly and that is OK. Getting to this point in my life has taken the last eight years of learning and growing through painful lessons and it will continue through the rest of my time on this earth. However long that might be, only God knows. I am grateful for this surrender that has taken place in my life that keeps me alive–truly alive.

The Bible warns us through Peter in the New Testament – 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Friends, we do not stand a chance in this present evil world if we are not wholeheartedly seeking out God (“sober” from distractions of the chaos near and far)—the Creator of ALL, through His Living Word. God’s truths cancel out the enemies lies—lies that we are nothing and can do nothing worthwhile in this life, so we might as well just live for ourselves in the now and forget about God. His perfect LOVE cancels out the enemy’s fear that keeps us stuck and many of us in the pit of despair. If you are in God’s Word, not just hearing and reading, but DOING, He will protect you from those lies that want to draw you away from Him and draw you to all the temporal things in this dark world that leave you empty and hopeless. It is like being led to a cliff that you cannot see, and the pending doom does not appear until it is too late.

My heart hurts to share that two people in my area fell off such a cliff this week: Recently, a woman refused help to leave her mentally dangerous boyfriend during his short stay in jail. The boyfriend was off his medication and relatives thought he was about to snap and hurt somebody. The woman rejected the offer insisting that although she knew he was struggling mentally, she believed that he loved her and would never hurt her. This week, only a few weeks later, she is dead—murdered by her boyfriend during a heated argument. The other tragedy was a man with no hope decided to end his life by jumping in front of a moving train. You can imagine the gruesome scene moments later.

Two unfinished lives that mattered, are finished on this earth. I did not know these people, but I know they mattered because their Creator is also mine and nobody cares more than Him.

I struggle with deaths like this. When I become vulnerable, no matter what the cause, the enemy wreaks havoc in my heart and mind to the point where I feel mentally sick and tearfully wonder “Why I am still alive, God?!” When I grow weary, I start to go where I should not go—the old familiar place of darkness and feel like I will never be able to help anyone else in this journey. But then, “lies, lies, lies” is spoken to my heart. God reminds me of everything that He has done in my life, not only in the last eight years of when He made Himself real to me, but He shows me how He was there before I even knew Him. God was there before, during, and when I finally chose to leave the abusive relationship I was in for over five years. I see now, that it was a deathtrap. I chose to give God a chance and surrender my entire life (not just the easy parts of it—ALL of it) to Him. I chose (and continue to choose) to reach for Him, rather than consuming deadly amounts of alcohol in failed attempts to fill the emptiness and numb the pain that only became worse with each drink. I chose to live, not just any life, but one that leads to eternal life and hopefully encourages and draws others to Him so they will do the same. He was there then, and He is here now. My amazing God…

Currently in my daily devotions, I am in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and I want to share the encouraging Word that God has brought to my heart through it. It came from Jeremiah 10:12—“But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.”   Through this I learned, “Once people admit their need, they should turn away from their emptiness and focus on God’s fullness. True wisdom is to be found in God alone (James 1:17). Ultimately, there is nothing and no one who can successfully substitute for God.” AMEN. This, I know to be true because I am now living it.

I found that after my struggles this week with those tragic losses that did not have to happen, I realized something amazing that came to me through my time in seeking God, and He put these words on my heart: “You made a choice to admit your need for Me and chose to turn away from your emptiness! They chose not to! You are alive, and I plan to use your life to help others to choose life too. Trust Me!” I cannot spend time wondering why they made their choices, but I can spend time thanking God that I am still choosing His gift of life and perhaps others will see and want to live too. No matter how painful this life can be, it is only temporary and does not compare to what He has in store for us. So, every day I can say, “Yes, Lord! I trust You, with my whole heart!”

I cannot encourage people enough to surrender all to God and daily live in His presence and seek out His will for their lives. Every answer to every question, every comfort for every pain, every need for every want, absolutely EVERYTHING, can be found in His Word, The Holy Bible that teaches us how to live in this fallen world. The Spirit of God is here with us now. He is waiting to help more and more to discover a whole new life, an abundant one. I can keep sharing my heart so vulnerably, it is a chance that I am willing to take. I cannot save people, I cannot not heal the pain, I cannot fill the emptiness, but GOD CAN. Say YES! to Him today.

I have learned, and I keep learning and believe, especially in those times when I am thinking the dark thoughts that want me to give in…I cannot praise God, I cannot share His greatness in my life, I cannot share His life-saving HOPE with others, I cannot do anything from the grave. THAT is why I choose life and I pray that it touches at least one heart. It only takes one…amen?

May God bless you all richly as He has blessed me.

Thank You, Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am grateful to be alive. †♥