New Life: A story of God’s amazing life-saving love at a time when unbearable depression had me begging Him to take my life.

My heart breaks for the lives that give up hope. I used to be hopeless like them. It wasn’t too long ago that I wanted to give up. I was giving up. I tried so hard for so long to drink myself to death, but all that the drinking did was put me into a deeper pit of depression, isolation, and darkness where I was tormented by thoughts of suicide. I could barely breathe. I remember hoping for things like dying in my sleep, but I kept waking up. Each day, I felt worse than the day before. Since the alcohol wasn’t killing me quickly enough, then I would hope to die in a car crash. I always thought it would have to be a single car crash because I didn’t want anyone else to be hurt. I just wanted the pain to stop. I really didn’t want to take others with me. I thought of other ways to die, but for some reason I would always be concerned about my mother or other people. At least I thought about others when I wasn’t too drunk and depressed to care. I remember there were times when I was concerned about what it might do to someone who cared about me if I died by my own hands. It would have been a surprise, at least I think so because since I’ve been sharing my story, some people have said to me that they had no idea that I was suffering from severe depression. Is it weird that I cared so much for others when I was in such a dark place? I don’t know. I’ve always been different I guess, but being different is what kept me alive long enough so the Lord could come in and save my life for eternity. For that, I am GRATEFUL.

My idea of the Lord taking my life meant that I wanted Him to end it. End the pain. End the suffering. It was a wasted and worthless life that didn’t deserve to live. I believed that lie for most of my adult life. I am so grateful for God’s life-saving love and that His idea of taking my life was completely different from what I had begged Him for. He still took my life, but He took it so that He could make me a new creation in Christ. That was in February 2010. His love is truly life-saving. It took me a long time to really get that I am a new creation. I’ve heard it and have read it over and over through God’s Word, through my pastor, and through other godly people in my life. But for some reason, it’s something that I really needed to more than just hear to believe. I needed to believe by feeling it in my heart. I wanted to feel it and believe it so badly, but I had a difficult time doing it. Something was missing. Although I had an idea of what it might be, I wasn’t completely sure. That is, until recently when God led me to something beyond incredible and fulfilled a longtime desire of my heart.

Pastors Sheila Coleman and Jim Penner

Thank You Jesus…

November 24, 2013, was the day. It was one of the greatest days of my three plus years of walking with the Lord. I will never forget it. I am so excited to share that I was one of three women who were baptized in the Pacific Ocean in Corona del Mar, California!

Pastors Sheila Coleman and Jim Penner

…by Your blood, I have been cleansed!

People, it was COLD! Cold, but beyond amazing. For the last few years, I had been praying to be baptized by full immersion. I figured that when the time was right, the Lord would make a way for it to happen. However, I figured that it would probably be in a swimming pool. A heated one, if it was wintertime! I did not plan to be baptized on that day (silly me thinking I’m in charge of things again). I didn’t take a change of clothes, I showed up at the beach with my camera because I wanted to capture some photos of a dear sister in Christ getting baptized. But the Holy Spirit prompted me and reminded me how long this desire had been on my heart. He said it was time and to follow Him, so I did. I did not want to miss out on the blessing He had there waiting for me. I saw how God answered my prayer and how He put things into place to make it happen at the most perfect time in my journey and with my own pastors which was such a wonderful blessing. I am so very grateful. This baptism is what I had been missing and I really had no idea how incredible it was going to be. It has triggered something in me that I cannot seem to find the words for. But those around me have seen me glowing. Even as I write this, I can feel the glow and it has already been eight days. I can feel the tears welling up again—such tears of joy every time I think or share about it.

Pastors Sheila Coleman and Jim Penner

A day I will never forget…

I AM A NEW CREATION. The old Debbie is dead and gone. The new Debbie is ALIVE IN CHRIST! The Lord has given me another new beginning–a new life, a very joyful and extremely blessed one. The old depressed, drunk, and isolated me has been gone for a few years now, but it seems like it just happened. My sins are forgiven—I finally got that too. The captive has been set free. There is Hope in Jesus and I pray for those who may be where I once was. I pray that you will find Hope in Him too. He’s waiting to hear from you and will meet you right where you are. Jesus is always just a prayer away.

Lord Jesus, Thank You. I pray that You will take many more lives like mine…AMEN.

Here is a video of the November 24th baptisms through Hope Center of Christ, which is my wonderful church home. If you can spare a few minutes to watch it and listen to it, I think you will be blessed to see what God has done for a few souls who have given their lives to Him. I am thankful to God that I am one of them!

HCOC photos of this beautiful day:

Good Friday and Easter Sunday–Doesn’t mean anything to an empty heart.

Sad but true. At least that was my story. It was really difficult to take part in something that I never heard much about or understood when I was young. When I became a young adult, my heart was dead and empty inside and I spent decades living with that heart. I chose a life of destruction that was killing me slowly. I am grateful to say this is no longer true, the Lord has changed everything about me. But there are so many others who still don’t know about Jesus and what He did because they have never heard. My heart breaks because I know it breaks the Lord’s heart too. We modern day disciples of Christ have much work to do!

As I was preparing my lesson to share with my sisters for this coming Tuesday night’s Bible study, I felt very overwhelmed by the Lord on this Good Friday and the thought that Sunday is coming! I feel the Lord wanting me to share that as a young girl, I didn’t know much about Jesus and never once heard (until much later as an adult) that I needed to ask Him to come into my heart. I had heard a little about sin, but I never knew how bad it really was and how it separates us from God. Separation from Him was all I knew. However, at that time because I hadn’t learned much about the Lord, I didn’t even know I was separated from Him. Never heard that it was important to have a relationship with Him. Never heard how one even goes about doing that. As you can see, I didn’t know much of anything. All I knew was how to try to survive a difficult life and I wasn’t very good at it because I was barely surviving it.

I am embarrassed to admit that for many years I didn’t know the true meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I was in my late twenties when I finally realized what Jesus had done for me. But because I didn’t know Him yet, I still didn’t get it. I felt nothing. My heart was broken and empty from the life I had chosen to live. My eyes, ears, and heart were completely closed.

It took another 14-15 years for me to be walking in the darkness until like Saul, I was knocked down by Jesus. I find the comparison interesting…Saul was knocked off his feet on the road to Damascus. I was knocked off my feet (landed in a hospital) on the road to a slow and painful death (I was drinking myself to death). Saul was blinded for a few days by the Lord’s incredible Light. I was given the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the heart to want to become a disciple of Christ to serve Him and to suffer for Him until that great day when I get to see Him face to face. It’s interesting to think about now, how my conversion is a powerful one like Saul’s. Of course Saul’s story is an extremely powerful one and I’m not claiming that mine is anything like his, but in today’s world, I think what I have shared about what God has done in my life in previous posts is pretty powerful. I’m so in awe of the story of how Saul was completely transformed by the Lord and became one of the greatest Apostles. If anyone reading this is not familiar with Saul’s story, you can find it in the book of Acts Chapter 9 in the New Testament. If you’re new to the Bible, I want to encourage you to start with the gospel of John to learn more about Jesus first. After that, the entire book of Acts is pretty awesome too. Okay, enough of that for now.

As I was doing some online research, I stumbled upon a note from a pastor’s sermon. I am sorry that I don’t remember his name, but I think what he wrote is worth sharing and perfect timing (it seems he possibly used it from an author by the name of Paul Hovey):

“The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. On Friday night it appeared as if evil were the master of life. The holiest and most lovable One who had ever lived was dead and in His tomb, crucified by the order of a tyrant without either scruples or regrets. He who had raised the highest hopes among men had died by the most shameful means. A cross, three nails, a jeering mob of debauched souls, and a quick thrust of a spear had ended it all.

Those hours when His voice was stilled and His hands were quiet were the blackest through which the human race has ever lived. If Caesar could put an end to Jesus, then no man could ever dare aspire or hope again. Hope, in such a world, could be nothing better than a mockery.

Then came Easter morning and the glorious word: ‘He is risen!’ And evil’s triumph was at an end. Since that hour when Mary in the garden first discovered the staggering fact of victory, no man whose heart was pure and whose labors were honest has ever had a reason to fear or despair if he believed in the Resurrection.”   

In John 11:25-27 we read that Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” We read that Martha responded with “Yes, Lord. I believe…”

I am so grateful that I have answered the Lord with “Yes, Lord, I believe!” It took many years for it to happen, but I will never regret the decision. The Lord Jesus paid my ransom on that Good Friday. He laid down His life for me so that I can live forever with Him…I believe Jesus is the Resurrection AND the Life and I am eternally grateful! ♥

One more quote to share that just came to mind from Beth Moore: “God’s specialty is raising dead things to life and making impossible things possible.” I love these words, they are so true for my own life and many others around me.

Oh Lord Jesus, I pray that many more will hear and come to understand what You did for them AND believe…

Learning to let go of the past and looking forward to a fuller and more meaningful life…

 …all because of my hope in Christ. Last night it was my turn to teach Bible study (becoming part of the teaching rotation for our Women’s Bible study in the first place probably could be its own blog post. It really blows me away how God equips the called!). We went over Philippians 3:12-21. I just love the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. At the end of my lesson, I read some words that I knew the Lord wanted me to share. What I didn’t plan on was breaking down as much as I did when I read them aloud. I had read the words a couple of times while I was preparing the lesson and I would choke up a little. That’s all I was expecting to happen last night. As usual, God had different plans. And as usual, His plans are always best. I wasn’t the only one feeling pain and God caused something very special to happen through our pastor. God caused some wonderful healing to take place and I didn’t realize how much healing I still needed! I am so grateful!

So about those words I wanted to share…I believe there’s someone out there who needs to hear them too. These are words I found by Max Lucado and I pray you will be blessed as much as I was by them:

 “When I think about someone wiping away my tears, I think about Dad. His hands were callused and tough, his fingers short and stubby. And when my father wiped away a tear, he seemed to wipe it away forever. There was something in his touch that took away more than the drop of hurt from my cheek. It also took away my fear. John says that someday God will wipe away your tears. The same hands that stretched the heavens will touch your cheeks. The same hands that formed the mountains will caress your face. The same hands that curled in agony as the Roman spike cut through will someday cup your face and brush away your tears. Forever. When you think of a world where there will be no reason to cry, ever, doesn’t it make you want to go home?”

As I was reading the beginning of Max’s message, I lost control of my emotions. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t remember a time where my dad wiped away any tears. I don’t know whether he did or not. I can’t remember a whole lot about my childhood for some reason. I do remember some good times, so it wasn’t all bad, I just can’t remember things like what Max wrote about. I mostly was remembering the heartbreak caused by my dad. When I got to the part about what God will do some day, I cried even more. That is just so incredible to think about and I find myself longing for that for wonderful day.

I’m sure I’ve shared some of this before, but I am really sorry that I  missed out on so much not having a relationship with my dad after he left. For too many years I didn’t care if I ever saw him again. I didn’t want to see him. Now he’s no longer here. He passed away in 2010. I know we all need to learn from our own mistakes, but I still wish people could learn from mine. I can at least pray and hope my sharing helps someone. I just want people learn to let the bitterness go before it’s too late. You must forgive if you are to move on in life. I see more and more people holding on to grudges like they’re punishing the other person who hurt them. I wish they could see that they are only hurting themselves. I pray for them. We can’t forgive on our own, it’s only possible with God. God is helping me to forgive and I’m grateful for the short time I had with Dad. But it turned out that up until last night, I was still in pain over the feeling of abandonment and the lost time. I really do believe the Lord healed me last night through our special prayer time and I am so grateful. It was incredible what I felt in my heart as I was prayed over.

Part of our lesson last night was about letting go of the past. I want to move on to a life of faith and obedience and the only way to do that is to let go of old memories. As Paul wrote in his letter (Phil 3:13),“…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” That is exactly what God is helping me to do. I want to follow Paul’s example and be all God wants me to be. In order to do that I can’t waste anymore time on yesterday…it’s gone. I’m finally learning to let it all go!

I’m so glad the Lord led me to teach last night’s lesson from that small portion of Paul’s letter. He needed for me to open my eyes and heart so He could come in and fully heal me. No wonder why I felt so strongly in my heart that I was so meant to do it. God was truly amazing through this teaching.  The entire evening last night was absolutely incredible and I will never forget it.

I love the Lord with all my heart and I can’t wait until the day comes when there will be no more tears or pain. But in the meantime, I am grateful that I am His and I will serve Him here on earth, no matter what the cost, until I finally make it home. I, like Paul, am forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I will keep pressing on toward the goal…

My incredible journey with the Lord just became even more incredible as of last night. God is SO good and His love truly endures forever. May God bless you all. ♥

God healed me, but then He used it to do something even greater than that…

I am still so in awe of what took place in the hospital on November 15th. I’m sure there are some who aren’t as confident as I am about my healing and that’s okay. It’s not up to me to convince others. All I know and believe is by His stripes I am healed! I am claiming my healing and I will keep sharing about the great things the Lord has done!

************************************************************************************ If you haven’t read my previous post, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to do so: I think this new post might make more sense if you do. More than that though, it’s just a great story about how wonderful God is and I think it’s worth reading! ************************************************************************************

The greatest thing that came from this experience (in addition to my actual healing of course) was seeing my mom’s faith in God, her belief in His healing power, increase significantly. What an incredible blessing for me that the Lord used my circumstance to do this!

After the procedure, when I was in the recovery room, she wasn’t able to see like I do through spiritual eyes. She was puzzled, like I’m sure some others were, when the surgeon found absolutely nothing wrong with my heart. He didn’t find the abnormal extra nerves that just a couple of weeks prior he was convinced were there. I honestly don’t believe he would have scheduled this procedure otherwise. The symptoms I had been having on and off for the last couple of years convinced him I still had a problem. I was convinced as well because I suffered those identical symptoms for 17 years of my young adult life before they did the first procedure. I was very familiar with what was happening inside of my heart. When my mom was wondering why the surgeon didn’t find anything, the first thing that I said to her was: “Mom, there was nothing there because the Lord healed me! What happened is exactly what I had prayed for! His power is real, please believe!” I told my mom how this time around I had so many people praying for me and that I had specifically asked the Lord to heal me and have the surgeon confirm that there was nothing there. Immediately, I saw the puzzled look in her face fade away. She looked at me, her eyes opened up a little wider and she started to cry and she started to praise the Lord with me in that room! The Lord keeps blessing me with such special moments like this one. We hugged and cried tears of joy together. I will never ever forget that entire day, especially that moment with my dear mom.

The Lord’s healing is another miracle to me and I am so grateful. But I am even more grateful that He took that healing a step further and increased my mom’s faith with it. If the Lord allowed me to go through all of this just to reach one person’s heart, which happened to be my mom, then all of it was beyond worth it!! I will never regret praying for the Lord to use my life…just look at what He’s doing! Wow!!

I was told to never to give up praying for those we love and I will never give up. Until now, I don’t think my mom was able to truly comprehend how powerful the Lord has been in my life. She was thrilled to see my life change so drastically and I know she loves the Lord. But because she hadn’t learned yet to give Him every area of her life, I know it was hard for her to understand what has been happening these last couple of years. I was transformed before her very eyes. Watching someone go through transformation is one thing, but I think unless someone experiences the power of God in their own life, it is difficult to understand how real He is. I believe November 15th is the day that the Lord opened my mom’s spiritual eyes. She is sharing about His miracles now! I pray that she will soon start to experience His power in her own life. I know He has a wonderful plan. It’s His will, His way, His time…and I am EXCITED!

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. His power is available to all who believe…I BELIEVE! I pray many more will believe in Him too.

Thank You, Jesus!! ♥

A true story of healing: I prayed with faith that God would heal me and here’s what happened…

This story is long, but I believe every bit of it is worth sharing because it’s a wonderful testimony of how awesome God is. I pray people will read it and be encouraged by it. What God did for me, He can do for anybody—if only more people would believe it and pray with such faith. I want the world to know how great He is. Ever since I opened my heart to Him and gave Him my life, incredible miracles like in this story have taken place. I hope it blesses someone.

This past Thursday, I was scheduled for an out-patient surgery. A while back (I’ve shared about it in an ealier post), I was diagnosed with a heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). Lately, I have been having a reoccurring problem so I was scheduled to have an SVT Ablation to correct the problem (second time in seven years). In layman’s terms, the cardiologist punctures a hole in the groin to enter veins that lead into the heart with a catheter. He is looking to cauterize abnormal extra nerves that cause the heart to beat rapidly. That’s a short version and the easiest and best way I know to describe it.

I am so amazed at how God moved this time, He started the moment I arrived at the hospital. A medical assistant greeted me and took me inside to a nurse “Cathy” who started to prep me for the surgery room. I honestly was dreading going through this procedure once again because it was such a horrible experience the first time around. What I didn’t think about at first was that I didn’t have God in my life back then. I didn’t know Him. I didn’t pray to Him, I didn’t thank Him for getting me through it. I was so lost, depressed, alone, an alcoholic, suicidal, and filled with fear. I am so grateful to God for changing all of that—I am so not who I used to be!

Cathy was so kind. I saw something special about her, but I wasn’t sure what it was until I started speaking with her. It turned out that she had Jesus shining brightly through her, it didn’t take me long to figure that out. She took such good care of me. She kept bringing me warm blankets because she knew I was so cold. She knew I’d rather be somewhere else. Every single time I have had to be in the hospital and have needed an IV, it never failed that I would become a human pin cushion. I have veins that roll and it is always so painful. I would end up with many painful bruises from failed attempts. It never mattered when I told them that they would have a hard time. But, this time was different. Cathy thanked me for the “heads up” and placed a warm blanket on my arm. And, like it was nothing, she immediately found a good vein and the only pain I felt was the initial pinch. That was amazing! That never happened before, and I was so thankful!

I had asked Cathy about the recovery time from the procedure. I told her that all I cared about is that I don’t miss church on Sunday because I sing with the praise team and choir. She responded with: “Oh, you won’t miss church. In fact I highly suggest that you don’t miss it!” I loved hearing that! That just opened doors for both of us to open our hearts and share. It was like we were close friends already. She asked what church I attended, I told her all about my wonderful new church (Hope Center of Christ) and how we came about. She was familiar with our pastor and had heard about our church and as we were speaking, she said she was getting the “Holy goose bumps.” She was so happy to hear all that the Lord is doing. That was such a special moment for me. The more we spoke about how great God is, our eyes kept tearing up. I have been in the hospital more than I have ever wanted to be and I have never experienced that with anyone before. Cathy told me that every person in that room was a believer—many born again Christians. They all blessed me so much that morning. There was so much love in that room. I felt like I was with my own church family. I immediately felt that God’s hand was in that. I believe that being surrounded by loving Christians for the first time in that kind of setting was no coincidence. God made that happen. It felt as though He sent His angels there to take special care of me. He gave me His amazing peace. Cathy’s job with me was finished and as I was being rolled off into the surgery room, she stopped them and gave me a big sisterly hug. That was the last I saw of her…I will never forget her.

Being in that extremely cold surgery room was unnerving. Five to six people were all preparing me for the ablation. They were sticking all kinds of cold pads all over me with cables sticking out that were going to be hooked up to monitors. It was all happening so fast. I was having flashbacks from the first time seven years ago. They kept me awake for the procedure at that time which I believe is sadistic! This time, the cardiologist told me I would be put to sleep and wouldn’t feel a thing. Thank You, God! There I was lying on this table, shaking from being so cold, and then they put an oxygen mask on me. It felt like the soft gel type and someone was pressing too hard on it, I felt like I was suffocating. I had to move their hand from my face. I was starting to feel a little fearful. I remember that the anesthesiologist told me he was starting and that I might feel a slight sting in my IV, but I never felt it. I remember trying to breathe and trying not to be scared. I remember the last words that I was able to speak into that mask and they were “Jesus, I need You…” That’s the last thing I remember. Suddenly I was asleep. Minutes later, well more like an hour and a half later, I was waking up. I overheard someone talking about my procedure. They said that the ablation wasn’t done. “What????” I was thinking to myself.  I was wondering if I had heard correctly since I was still kind of out of it. They said it ended up being an Electrophysiology Study. The reason why it became a study and not an ablation is because there were no abnormal nerves to cauterize!  I was still waking up, but I found myself crying tears of joy when I realized that God had answered prayers for healing! I am so grateful for the prayer warriors who had been praying for me and I specifically asked the Lord to heal my heart and to have the cardiologist confirm the healing. I prayed and believed that when the procedure was done that he would find nothing there and that’s exactly what happened! God is so good!

I am in awe of how God moved that day. Everything…every little detail ran so smoothly. It couldn’t have gone any better. I couldn’t have been more blessed. The Lord’s presence was so strong. Even my recovery this time around has been wonderful. No complications. Soon, I’ll be back to normal. And you can be sure that I will be singing His praises in church this Sunday! I believe that everything that happened in the hospital was only possible with God. I didn’t have Him seven years ago, but I have Him now and I will never let Him go. I am grateful to know that He will never let me go either.

In this past year alone, I have learned to pray powerfully and I have learned to pray with the faith that God can do anything. I pray in the name of Jesus and I believe that when I pray for healing that it will be done. I have been healed physically more than once this year. God is the God of miracles! I believe that with all my being. I am so grateful that I didn’t give up on God. I hope more people will be encouraged to pray with this kind of faith. Imagine all that God can do with that!

No matter what, I will always pray with the faith and belief that God will heal. Even if the healing doesn’t come, I won’t give up. I turn every challenge into an opportunity to grow closer to Him. My faith is so strong. I pray for His will to be done. I will always believe in His miracles. He has been so powerful in my life in this short time I’ve been walking with Him and I want more people to experience His power like I have. I pray He uses my life to help people learn to grow closer to Him. I know that once He reaches them, they will never want to go back to the way they were and that is so exciting to think about.

Thanks for taking the time to read this story. I hope you will think it’s worth sharing with someone who may need some hope and encouragement to never give up on God and to pray with faith and the belief that He can do anything…because He can. My life is proof of that!

To God be the glory. Amen. ♥