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.

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. ♥

When Christians Condemn: Lost Souls Stay Lost

Oh how I get excited to see people zealous for God like me, but it breaks my heart to know that some of these extremely zealous people think that they need to go boldly in public to a secular environment with their Bible in one hand, a large sign in the other hand to draw attention, and proceed to stand there and yell at strangers. If that is truly God’s call for them, who am I to say it is wrong? But honestly, I have a hard time seeing that God intended for us in today’s world to stand there and yell at passersby telling them that they are being condemned to hell. Isn’t God the God of love? Almost everyone familiar with God’s Word is familiar with the “Love” chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. I highly doubt that someone who really needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ will be able to hear God’s lifesaving message through very loud noise (like a clanging cymbal) from words such as “You are going to hell!!!!” I am sure that some being yelled at might even feel threatened that they will get beaten down with the Bible.

Apparently, this is what is happening at the community college campus that I attend on a part-time basis. I have not observed this kind of behavior myself, but I recently read a disturbing review written by a female student who stated that she would have given the college a five star review if only authorities did a better job at protecting students. She mentioned some important issues that need addressing by campus security, but the one that really got my attention and saddened my heart is when she stated that she did not feel safe from those that she termed “Prophets of Doom” who are allowed on campus waving their Bibles in one hand, holding signs in the other, and yelling out condemnation to her and others walking by.

My heart hurts at the thought of that because how in the world can that possibly help draw people to Christ? I want people to have reverential fear of the Lord, but I do not want them to fear Him in a way that they will not run to Him. That is what happened to me when I was little and I ran away from God almost my entire life. Most of you know my life almost ended in drunkenness and depression, but God came to my rescue and I am grateful that no one ever yelled at me because I would have kept running away until I died with never accepting Christ into my heart.

I believe that there is a better way to preach the good news without yelling at people. Nothing sounds good through yelling. I live my life today looking for opportunities to win hearts for Christ. I look for guidance from God for what to speak, whom to speak with, and when to speak it. Sometimes a heart may not be ready and I have a good chance of scaring people away if I run ahead of God. I do not want to do that. I want God to use me to draw hearts into His light of grace. I want to share my own story of the great lifesaving things God has done in me. He literally brought me from death to life and that is the message that I want to share. It is part of the greatest true love story ever told in the Bible and I am always ready to share it – when He makes a way for me to do so.

Judgement day is not here yet and didn’t Jesus say Himself that He did not come to condemn the world, but came to save it? Then why are some of us condemning people causing them to run away while there is still time for them to turn to Jesus?! I may sound naive and I guess I am as a fairly new Christian of less than seven years, but I am praying for those zealous people to open the eyes of their hearts and try a new way. Besides, how can we love anybody like Jesus if we are too busy condemning them? I do not believe we can. I have heard others get so caught up in saving souls that they forget that it is Jesus, and only Jesus, who does the saving. Let’s all seek God for guidance first because too many lost souls are at risk of being lost forever.

I certainly do not want to be known as a prophet of doom, but a messenger of God’s great love. Thanks for listening. There’s so much more I can say, but instead, I just want to pray. Pray with me?

Ah, truly, love never fails…thank You, Jesus. ♥

Getting through a patch of darkness when it feels like God has left me.

.It is time to be super transparent again and share this very personal part of my journey to heaven because I think someone who is experiencing something similar needs to hear it and take heart. I think that this time my vulnerability might not be just for a fellow servant of God, but perhaps it will also help me to get past any unresolved feelings of failure and shame that I seem to experience whenever I go through spiritual darkness as I have been for several weeks. I had a dark spell last year as well and I thought that it was pretty bad, but I almost think that this year has been a little darker for some reason. I have been going through it more than I care to admit, but I am willing to be open about it if it means helping another get through theirs.

Those of us who are wholehearted servants of the Lord who have become threats to the kingdom of darkness know (should know) that we are going to be harassed and sometimes tormented by the invisible enemy. It is a given. It comes with the territory of saying yes to the call and putting our faith into action for God with no compromise. Therefore, we must remain steadfast in our faith and remember that we are not the only ones going through whatever we are going through for the Lord’s sake. Amen? To back this thought up, I am reminded of Scripture that says:

Blog - 1 Peter 5_9

I think it is always encouraging to know that we are never alone with the difficulties that come with this amazing journey on the pathway to Heaven!

When my battle gets fierce like it has been, I try to convince myself to count it all joy because these dark patches are really “training with Jesus” in this incredible journey of spiritual growth. Many times I am successful at counting it all joy. Then like more recent times, things happen that cause me to feel ashamed because I somehow managed to allow the overwhelming negative voices take over in my head. I want to give up and disappear and I have a hard time sharing these thoughts with people who have been walking closely with me on this journey. Especially the strong leaders that God has blessed my life with. I tell myself that it is doubtful that they would understand my torment and I do not want them to think less of me. My heart knows they would not judge me nor give up on me, but my mind tells me otherwise.

These horrible thoughts have been accusing me and telling me the reason I am going through the darkness is because God has left me. The old familiar “Loser”, “You are not worthy”, “You are a screw-up”, “Just go ahead and give up already”, and “Where is your God?” They torment my mind, knock me down, and then I feel like the depression that God had already given me victory over tries to sneak its way back into my life to take me out for good. Does this kind of battle sound familiar to anyone out there? PLEASE. Tell me it is not just me!

So why am I taking the risk of sharing all of this? I do not really fully know!! But I think I am sharing because first, I hope that someone out there gets me! If not, then I cannot help but wonder if this is going to be my last vulnerable piece of writing. That probably is not going to happen since God always wins. Even so, it is so difficult not knowing if sharing this personal stuff is really of any use to anyone out there. My second reason for sharing is that I want to share what I feel the Lord has been revealing to me as I have persevered and have taken each step seeking my God all the way through the dark patch back into His light of grace. Thankfully the Light is shining bright once again. I was listening to the enemy’s lies that God had left me, but I know now for a fact that He never left because I have been faithful. I know this as truth because God’s Word is truth. And if you have been His faithful servant, He has not left you either. THE DEVIL IS A LIAR. I am going to say that as many times as I need to until my last day on this earth.

I want to share Scripture straight from God’s heart to yours that I hope will help you like it has helped me to keep pressing on. There is so much more than this to share, but these are the ones that God reminded my heart of recently and I am passing them along. You may already know these truths, I have known them for a while, yet the evil lies still got through. So I believe we all need to be reminded of God’s truths on an ongoing basis in this dark world we are passing through. Of course this long writing is not for everyone, but I pray it reaches someone who is struggling the way I have been.

Here are some things to ponder:

Do you think God has left you even though you have remained faithful to Him? Then you must know and believe the truth that He has been there all this time, because His Word tells us that He NEVER forsakes His faithful ones: “For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones.” (Psalm 37:28)

As a faithful servant of God you are one of His anointed. Take heart and be strong in Him for He is your refuge: “The LORD is the strength of His people, He is the saving refuge of His anointed.” (Psalm 28:8)

We all sin and we should all know that sin separates us from God. So if you feel He is not near, it is a good time to check yourself — search your heart and repent of any sin. You know what they are. If they are not obvious, ask God to help you. He will reveal sins that you may not even realize. Remember that God is quick to forgive. You cannot buy or work for His forgiveness so do not try. Just confess to Him, pour out your heart as a sacrifice to Him (I am SO grateful for this truth): “My sacrifice, O God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) If you repeat the same sins over and over, you need to ask for God to help you turn away. Ask Him to remove the ungodly desires and replace them with His desires. He will! He did for me!

Want to ensure your success on this journey? “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:6) All we have to do is put Him first!!

And finally, ALL will go well for us if we obey God and commit ourselves wholeheartedly: “If you obey all His laws and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely…be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you…Hear O people! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourself wholeheartedly…” (Deuteronomy 6:2, 4-6)

I want to encourage you to continue to seek God and His face — seek His Word daily if you are not already. May you become as hungry for Him as I have become.

And two more for the road that I pray will never happen to you. God DOES leave people, but it does not have to be:

“But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 8:19) Remember other gods can be anything (harmful vices, etc.) or anyone (husband, wife, children, etc.) who you put first before God. I am human too, so I know this is a great challenge. But God gives us the power and desire to do right by Him. We must want it and seek His power and desire with our whole heart. I do, I hope you do too.

“The LORD is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”  (2 Chronicles 15:2) To me, this is easy…STAY WITH THE LORD, ALWAYS!!! But even if this did happen, just return to the Lord. His Word also says that He will return to us if we return to Him. You need to search His Word to see for yourself, but here is just a few you can start with in this truth: Malachi 3:7; Zechariah 1:3; Joel 2:12; then of course there’s the wonderful parable that Jesus spoke of that you can read again starting in Luke 15:11 — an amazing picture of our Heavenly Father waiting with arms wide up for His children to return to Him. How awesome is that! I serve a wonderful God of love. The God of second chances…I wouldn’t be alive today if this were not true.

So let’s keep holding on to His promises dear faithful ones. Let’s keep on keeping on our pathway to Heaven where we will see God face to face when that great day comes. Until then, follow His ways, follow His laws, and you cannot help but lived a blessed life. Remember, this is not our home, and we are never alone. Thank You Lord Jesus!

Thanks again for all who choose to listen to my vulnerable heart for God. May God bless you richly. ♥

Love’s Healing Hands Will Pull You Through

God is LOVE, and His love heals the deepest wounds. His love healed mine. Every heartbreak and every scar reminds me of this truth – the truth of how the love of Jesus Christ has carried me this far. Over six years ago, I could not have shared about God’s love — I was so lost in the dark. I was hopeless. I was severely depressed, I was drunk, and I was as good as dead. I had a hard time even wanting to know if God was real, so I tried to drink myself to death because my spirit was dead and I wanted my body to die too. I thought, you can’t hurt any longer when you’re dead, right? My plan was a bad plan and I am grateful that God intervened. As you can see, I am still here. I am sober, filled with His Hope, and I am alive – my heart beats again like never before. I am no longer barely surviving this life, I am thriving in it! It is a challenging life, but it is a beyond blessed life. I am only here because the Power of God, the same Power that raised Jesus from the dead, also raised me from the dead and I am forever grateful that I am still here sharing my tender and grateful heart with the world. Even if it is just one hurting heart that sees this and is inspired to cry out to God to rescue them as He has rescued me. Heaven rejoices over one!!!

My sinful and shameful past kept me from reaching out for too many wasted years. I was so lost that I actually believed the lies that God would never forgive me for my horrible choices in life. Well, those lies almost killed me. I cannot say this enough on this blog: THE DEVIL IS A LIAR – stop listening to the lies!! Jesus’ death on the cross was not in vain. Too many people think that they need to clean themselves up before crying out to the Lord for help. I used to think that, but I am glad I got desperate enough to stop waiting. If I had waited, chances are it never would have happened and I would have died in my sin. So if you’re anything like I was, I hope you will just surrender it all to the Lord right now. He’s waiting. You don’t have to do anything but surrender. God will give you desires to do what’s next. There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more than He already does, so just do it. Give Him your broken spirit as a sacrifice – Scripture tells us that He does not despise a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17) That is awesome news. That is TRUTH. So don’t delay, there’s no promise of tomorrow.

I pray that you will step into the Lord’s Light of Grace today – Love’s healing hands will pull you through. You will start a new life of love, healing, and freedom that you have never known before. Thank You, Jesus. ♥♥♥