Category: Faith

His name is Steven and God loves him too.

How many times do we walk past those who appear lost, broken, and dirty because we are too much in a hurry to go about our daily business? I’ll be honest, I am guilty of it more than not. In the last couple of years alone, I have probably stopped (reluctantly) to speak with someone who society usually tends to ignore only three or four times. That is a sad truth. For me, most of the time it is because I am simply afraid to. Afraid of the unknown of what the person might say or do or being afraid of not knowing what to say. Fear has caused me to shy away from saying anything at all. I am tired of being afraid. More and more on this miracle journey to heaven, I am recognizing where my fear is coming from and that is from the devil. He uses it to keep us from helping others. He uses fear to keep us from spending time seeking God with our whole hearts. He does not want us to move forward in our lives, he wants to keep us captive to fear and sin. And of course he uses fear to keep us from praying because he knows how powerful prayer to the Lord God Almighty is for those who believe. Just like the Scripture says, “When a believing person prays, great things happen.” (James 5:16 TLB) Great things of God that is. That is why I believe we must fight fear like a plague, I do not want to keep letting the enemy win that battle and finally I am at the point to where he is losing more and more.

Today as usual, I was in a hurry as I was leaving the grocery store. As I was exiting quickly with my basket, I happened to look to my left and there was a young man sitting there. I could tell he has been living a rough life for who knows how long. He looked at me and I am not sure if he was trying to say something to me or not, but all that came out of me was “hi” as I kept walking toward the parking lot. That was it. Just “hi.” Well, I am grateful for my connection with the Lord these days because He was not going to let me off that easy. I knew I could not leave without going back after I loaded everything into my car. I won’t lie, I was reluctant as usual. I said to the Lord, “what can I do? I am afraid to speak to him. He’s not going to listen me. He’s probably going to give me a hard time if I talk about You, God.” Can you believe how I was trying to talk myself out of it? I can believe it, because it is usually what happens. Or I find myself relieved the person has walked away out of view and then I feel I am off the hook and say “well I was going to but they’re gone now…oh well, next time.” Next time turned out to be today since that actually just happened to me about a month earlier.

So I mustered up the courage. I grabbed a bottle of water and instead of taking the easy way out (I could have placed my cart next to where I was parked), I walked my cart all the way back to the store building where the young man was sitting. All the way there I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say, but in all my training with the Lord, I suddenly had His boldness and strength in me. I felt confident that He would help me say whatever it was that this young man needed to hear. I did have a thought that maybe I am just supposed to give him a bottle of water, but thankfully God had more in store. The young man watched me coming toward him and I was still wondering what I was doing. I put the cart away and I looked at him and said “What is your name?” As I was handing him a bottle of water he softly spoke and told me and said “God bless you” to me. I immediately became overwhelmed with the Presence of God over both of us. I know this was a divine appointment because the tears started coming from my eyes even before I was able to speak. I got choked up because the love of God was not only pouring out of my heart, it was pouring out of this young man’s heart too. That was the first time that had ever happened to me in the few times that I have mustered up the courage to speak to a soul going through hard times. I got down on my knees so I could be eye level with him. I put my hand on his shoulder without a thought. He opened up to me and told me about what landed him on the streets. I could tell that he had been “roughed up” a bit because he had cuts on his face that had not quite healed yet. He said that he had been jumped a couple of times. He said “today is the day I am going back home to be a man for my family.” He mentioned that others had prayed for him and that he finally had surrendered to God. He said he had been stubborn for too long and he had given his heart to God. He said he needed to go help his mother who was having a hard time. He had already lost his wife due to his choices, but I was so amazed about how he took responsibility and did not blame God or anyone else for his consequences.  I shared my testimony of how God rescued me too and he smiled. Mostly, I think I was there to listen and reassure him of God’s love for him.

I will never forget today — how God moved. This was such a good lesson in seeking God for guidance and letting Him lead. He gives us what we need right when we need it. There is no fear when God is in control!

I thought I was supposed to be a blessing for this stranger who looked lost, broken, and living on the streets for too long, but God turned it around and blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. I cannot believe the emotions that came out of me as I was speaking to this man, but it was God’s incredible love pouring through wanting this man to know that he is a child of God and is loved no matter what he has done. The cool thing is, he already knew. Someone else had already broken through and told him. It seems that I was just supposed to be the one today who watered the seed a little more and I trust God will send someone tomorrow and every single day and will keep drawing this man in and will restore him.

On my drive home I cried happy tears thanking and praising God for allowing me this experience. A Natalie Grant song “Clean” played on my radio and I started to cry even more. If you haven’t heard it, please look it up and listen, I believe you will be blessed by it like I was.

Please pray for this man, his name is Steven. I never expected to be blessed the way I was with what happened today. Thank You God and thank you Steven (wherever you may be). There are so many Stevens out there, please pray that they will hear, see, and believe that God has not forgotten about them either. There are so many like me out there, the difference is that I still have a roof over my head. That does not make me better than anyone else.

We see shattered, broken, and dirty but God sees whole, and beautiful. There’s nothing too dirty that He can’t make worthy. He washes us in His mercy and makes us ALL clean. Thank You, Jesus. ♥

Enduring the pain of life on this side of heaven…

So here we are in January 2016. It is another new year and I find myself struggling a little once again. Although my health challenges are not over like I had hoped, I am grateful that I am not going through anything worse than I did last year. Last year was tests and minor surgery for the prevention of cervical cancer. This year I am going through testing as a precaution to rule out bladder cancer. I would be lying if I said that I was not a little bit discouraged to have to face more tests that I consider torture. I am quite tired of being prodded in such a private and sensitive area of my body. But even so, I am grateful that I have insurance and doctors who care and are doing what they think necessary for my own benefit. I am trusting God that once again, there will be no cancer. But whatever the outcome, I am amazingly ready because God has made me so strong through every single challenge He walks and carries me through. It is all for His glory, not mine.

It is incredible to stop dreading the hard things in life because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is for me and He is SO with me. He has shown me day in and day out. I thank Him for how He continues to watch over me and provide everything that I need to keep on keeping on in this journey to heaven with Him. And of course I have to share that through all the challenges, I have had zero relapses back into alcohol abuse and I continue to hold strong to my 100% sobriety of 5 years and 326 days. Yep, still counting because it is an ongoing miracle that only God can do in my life and I have to keep sharing with the world. My heart is too grateful not keep sharing because I really should be dead today. Jesus truly brought me from death to life and I am GRATEFUL.

My other struggle that I am facing as I write this is that I have a 13 year old kitty who has been an amazing blessing in my life. I think those with pets who never had kids (like me) truly understand. I just found out three days ago that she has cancer and I also got to confirm my suspicion that she has lost her vision. She is an amazing creature. God certainly has created beautiful creatures and allows us so much joy through them. I lost my 16 year old pup quite a while ago and somehow a kitten one day stole my heart. Now I have a few of them. But this one who is dying, Zoe, I have a close bond with compared to the others. They are loving and amazing too, but there is something extra special about Zoe. I held her when she was six weeks old. She came from a feral litter and she took to me right away. If she were to make it to June this year, she would be 14. My sweet Zoe is at the vet at this very moment getting a biopsy that I hope will help me to determine when her time to drift into permanent sleep may come. I cannot have her put down without knowing if it is really time or not. I am surprised that I am not crying as I write this. I guess I got enough tears out for now trying to prepare my heart which is never easy to do for any animal lover. I am really going to miss her when the time comes to let go, but until then, I am going to appreciate and enjoy every moment I have left with her and love on her like crazy.

I think what is helping me through this better than I thought it would is learning not to hold on too tightly to my blessings from God. That includes blessings like my Zoe. I remember when I lost my little dog, how hard it was and how much I drank that sadness away. Just like I used to drink every other painful moment of loss in my life away. I am so beyond grateful that those days are over. Feeling the pain and learning to deal with it has brought me so close to God and now that I have discovered that He is real, I would much rather feel the pain and turn to Him instead of the bottle that almost killed me. This is the better blessing. God really does use ALL the hard things in this life for good.

I keep holding on to God’s promises and the assurance of the wonderful life awaiting me in heaven with Him and that is what helps me to endure the pain of life on this side of heaven. I apologize if this post is all over the place. I am just allowing my heart to pour out and this is what is coming of it. I hope in a small way that perhaps this will help someone else to remember that this world is not our home and that our pain and our tears will end when we finally make it home to other side of heaven for those who believe and belong to Jesus. In my heart, I have been hearing the words of Jesus from John 16:33. He has given me His perfect peace. He is teaching me and is making me stronger to keep my heart from being troubled and from being afraid. Jesus overcame the world, and because I am His, I am an overcomer too. All of us who belong to Him are. So we need to keep holding on to God and His promises and keep on keeping on. We need to keep seeking Him with our whole heart no matter what.

And as I wait to hear about my Zoe, I do not regret one tear of the many I have shed and I no longer dread the hard stuff that comes my way. I will be grateful for every single blessing, even when they are taken away knowing and trusting that something even better is around the bend. It is wonderful to be able to say this after such a short time after giving my life to Jesus. I am always taking a risk of being mocked for what I share from the heart, but I do not care. God is real. God is the God of hope, restoration, miracles and breakthroughs. My life is proof of that. Jesus saved me from the law of sin and death. And as long as I am still in the world, the world is going to know.

Hold on to Him, hold on to HOPE – HIS promises of things to come. Thanks for listening to my heart. God bless.

You Are Loved

“Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you…Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road. You are reminded that the road we’re traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven.”  ~Jesus Calling

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13

Dear Christian: Do you love your friendship more than you love your friend?

I was listening to Mark Hall from Casting Crowns mention how we live in a time where we love our friendship more than we love our friend. It is so true and it is a tough place to be as a Christian. We all want to be liked, we do not want to be hated even though Jesus warned us that we would be hated and to remember that the world hated Him first. But that does not make it any easier for us. Many of us are more concerned with offending people than we are concerned with offending God. If a friend is headed down the wrong path (according to what God’s Word says is the wrong path), we tend to look the other way because we do not want to come across as judgmental. We want to mind our own business. I know I do not want to be that way — I need God’s help.

Think about it. How can we claim to love our friend if we are willing to see them continue in ways we know are not pleasing to God? If I am headed down a path that leads to destruction and causes me to be sinning against God which also means that I am separated from Him, I sure hope that someone would be brave enough to pull me aside and give me something to think about and pray that I would listen and turn the other way.

When I was drinking and driving all those early years of being depressed, lost, and careless, I wish I would have had people care enough to tell me that I was headed down a path of great destruction. It was many years later, but I was fortunate to have God’s Divine intervention in my life before I lost it. Even so, I do not think that God will always move in that way. I think many times He guides people like us to help our friends. He gives us the strength, the courage, the words, the timing, etc., when we seek Him to do the right thing. I think we as Christians need to do the right thing and speak up even if it means there’s a chance of losing our friendship – a chance of being hated.

We need to speak God’s truth in love and we should not be surprised if we are hated by it. It’s the right thing to do. I just wanted to put this out there to give something to really think about. I have had this on my mind for a while, but it took a while muster up the courage to post it. I hope it pulls on some heartstrings. Jesus does not want anyone to perish and we should not want that to happen either. Let’s be strong and courageous and be bold to speak God’s truth in love at the risk of losing. Because that is love. Besides, I feel that if I am going to lose, I would rather lose loving the souls of my friends more than loving their friendship.

Mark Hall reminded me that Scripture says that we can love people with truth. As we know, the truth can really hurt sometimes, but I think that’s when it also becomes life-saving. I cannot help but also remember that Jesus cared so much that He died for us sinners. He never felt the pleasure of sin like we have, but He sure knew the pain of it – ALL of it. We do not have to die for our friends, Jesus took care of that. So how can we not do our part? How can we not love our friends enough to save them and turn them toward the life-saving love of Jesus?

I hope you will join me in being strong and courageous in doing the hard stuff. I’ll pray for you, please pray for me too. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Amen?

Thoughts about Suicide: Why I chose to live and push through the pain…

I wanted the pain to end, but I do not mind sharing that deep down, I really did not want to die. Most of us don’t. But there comes a point to where we are beyond exhausted from the fight and we just want to rest. When we think we are close to those final moments, I don’t think we can ever really fathom the “permanent” rest that is about to take place. But when you are lost, numb, and have lost all hope, death seems to be the only form of relief in store.

Why am I writing this? Well, it is with a heavy heart that I share that someone recently lost all hope and ended his life as a result. I do not think that he intended to leave so many unanswered questions (there were no obvious signs) and I definitely do not think that he intended to leave such unbearable pain for the loved ones he left behind. When the pain is so great, it is difficult to see or even think about anyone else’s pain.

I decided to take a chance to share my own thoughts and experience and perhaps shed some light for those who do not know what it is like to be like me or those who are no longer here. I am just me. I do not have all the answers and I will not pretend to know exactly what was on their hearts during the last hours of their lives, but I believe they did what they thought was right. Not only for themselves, but for those close to them. When I thought I would end my life, it was not only to end my own pain, but I truly believed that I was a burden to those who knew me and that they would be so much better off if I was no longer around. I got tired of trying to pretend that the pain in my heart was nothing. I got so very tired…

In my darkest days of torment, it became impossible to hide my depression. I thought the excessive alcohol consumption was a good mask, but I was wrong. The more intoxicated I would become, the more my depression would come out for others to see. It is interesting that nobody ever questioned it. I don’t blame them. They saw and listened to my tears, but I know it was too uncomfortable for any of them to say much about it. Besides, there was nothing that anyone could say to take my pain away. After some time, I isolated and drank more to kill the pain and myself, but all it did was make me sink deeper into darkness and depression and the desire to end the suffering. It is hard to explain why I kept holding on, I think it was being very close to my mother that helped me to hold on long enough for a rock bottom miracle to take place. It really is a mystery that I have had to let go of. Only God knows why.

As tired and lost as I was, I chose to live and to keep pushing through the pain of life. How? I finally found true HOPE. Where? In JESUS CHRIST ALONE. He met me at the bottom one day early in 2010 in a hospital room after my last night of binge drinking (little did I know then that it was my last night of drinking). That is when He made Himself real to me. I was 44 yrs. old. I never knew God before then. A lot of people are not sure if God is real, but I cannot deny the miracles and breakthroughs that have taken place and continue to take place in my life since I surrendered my broken and shattered heart to Him. He is the only reason why I am still here. This blog is full of true stories of the great things of God in a surrendered life for those who want to learn more about this incredible journey of overcoming. It is not just my story. None of it has been possible without the hand of God. It is never easy to be as vulnerable as I have become, but if I do not share what God can do for those who call out to Him wholeheartedly, then I really do not have a reason to be here still. Thankfully, God has shown me a reason to stay and my life is a testament of how He uses everything for good. My hope is that a heart will see tonight of what can be of their life too, if only they give it all to God.

For those who have lost loved ones to suicide, my heart hurts with yours. I pray that you, and those of you who have overcome suicidal thoughts like I have will also allow God to use what has happened to help save other lives. Many of you are and I am grateful. But many of you have not been able to. Too many times we keep things to ourselves out of shame or pride that keeps us from sharing our pain, but I want to encourage you to not hold back. So many are out there walking around thinking that they are all alone in their pain — that no one else can possibly ever understand. They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that God is real. I pray for more hearts to be vulnerable. I believe lives are depending on it. Some incredible blessings are in store for those who open their hearts for the benefit of others.  I had no idea how incredibly blessed I would become by allowing myself to be vulnerable and I cannot encourage others enough to follow my lead.

For those who feel something is wrong with a loved one but do not know what to say, please do not force yourself to say something just to have something to say. That can make things much worse. I did not want to hear how much I had to live for. It did not help to be told what and what not to feel or told “don’t cry.” That only made me want to shut down and shut everyone out for good. Know that just being there – just being a silent presence of love can speak longer and louder than you could ever imagine. Let God speak through your heart that way. And the number one thing that anyone can ever do for someone else is PRAY and BELIEVE God for it because when a believing person prays, great things happen.  I am alive today to testify to that truth.

My heart goes out to those of you who think that your life is not worth living. It is a lie. The devil is a liar and wants you to believe it. I pray God will open your eyes and hearts to trust Him fully and to see that Jesus willingly died a horrific death on the cross because He believed your life was worth saving. May knowing that He loves you that much keep you pressing on no matter what and remember that you are not alone.

Here is one more thing to ponder: What if choosing His gift of life and pushing through the pain helped another hurting soul to choose life too? Isn’t that something worth living for? I believe it is.

Thank you for listening to my tender heart. May God bless you through His story of this life – one of many — that He saved in so many ways. ♥