So my heart brought me back to one of my first writings from 2012, the year this blog came alive and my heart poured into it wanting only to share … Continue reading From Damaged Goods to Broken and Beautiful – Learning to see myself through God’s eyes…
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. ♥
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. ♥
Long before I got sober, I used to make choices that I knew in my heart were not good choices. I would convince myself of this: “God will protect me, He won’t let any harm come to me.” I told myself I was trusting Him. Does this sort of thing sound familiar to anyone? I was pretty lost back then, so it is amazing for me to look back and remember that I “sort of” sought God while I was walking in darkness. I knew nothing about trusting God back then. I was not even sure if He was real (SO grateful that I now know without a doubt that He IS!).
Someone I have known for over 20 years who has become a like a sister – well, she is a sister in Christ who reminded me of how I used to be. She struggles with smoking cigarettes. Her mother died from it as well as alcoholism. Although she knows what a harmful vice it really is, her addiction is too great right now and she just is not ready to quit. I pray for her. I pray that God will remove the craving and desire for it just as He removed the craving and desire of alcohol from me. I pray the same for all my friends who keep lighting up those nasty cigarettes. I am sorry, but they are NASTY. I used to smoke, so I know. I ruined good work clothes and the inside of my vehicle in my younger days with stupid cigarettes – cigarettes that have killed many people. And we will not even get into the smell…there is just nothing good that comes from those things.
I was also thinking and praying about people in recovery meetings who recover from alcohol abuse, but then trade or cannot let go of other harmful vices such as cigarettes. I have wanted to write something about this for a very long time, but it has not been easy to do. I was not sure how to do it without sounding judgmental, but I am going to be bold and write this anyway. I want my friends to be healthy. I want them to be closer to God. I want them to reach for Him before reaching for anything or anyone else. So I am not here to judge. I am just here to get someone to really think things through before lighting the next cigarette or reaching for the next harmful vice whatever it may be.
My “sister” has the attitude that her smoking is OK. In so many words she mentioned that if God did not want her to smoke, that He would not have allowed cigarettes to exist. So since they belong to Him, it is all right. That was hard for me to hear. That was me several years ago!! I am grateful that God has opened my eyes and heart to know better.
So if you are anything like I was, trying to convince yourself that you are trusting God when you really are not, remember the story about how Satan tempted Jesus after He had spent forty days and nights in the wilderness. Satan is a liar, and it is pretty interesting that he decided to quote Scripture when he wanted Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God by throwing Himself down a cliff. However, he only quoted part of it to try to trick Jesus. Isn’t that funny? Like the devil could really trick Jesus. It is really a good lesson for us to remember — Satan knows Scripture, so make sure you know it too or you will be deceived!!
Anyway, after Satan tempted Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God, he had said to Him, “For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:6)
How did Jesus respond to him? Of course, He used Scripture! He said, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7)
So I need to ask again: Are you trusting God? Or are you testing Him??!!
If you are struggling like I used to, I hope you will think about this. You can choose to be free from harmful vices. I pray you will. Only God can give you the power to quit. Put your vice down and let God do something amazing in your life. You will not regret it.
Don’t let Satan have his way any longer with you. Only God’s way is LIFE!
I am so glad that I have learned that joy is not a feeling based on circumstances. Yesterday, I had to make the difficult choice to end the life of my kitty Sam. It was not expected that he would get that sick so quickly. I have been caring for a blind kitty with cancer over the last few weeks and I was trying to prepare my heart to let her go, but Sam took me by complete surprise. I am grateful I was strong enough to be there loving him until he drifted off completely. Right before the first injection, Sam had kissed my forehead one last time. He stretched out his paw onto my arm. I could swear he knew it was time to go and wanted me to be okay with it. At least that thought helps me a little. It was a sweet and peaceful rest for him, considering the circumstances. Man, I cried like a baby letting go of him. It would have been cruel to keep him alive since there was nothing that could be done for him. But even so, it didn’t make that decision any easier. The pain of having to make that choice is cruel to my heart, but that’s life. I am trying to focus more on the blessing of having such a long time with that wonderful creature. I have good memories and I am grateful for that. I cried way past midnight. I would be okay for a bit, then the tears would come again and they came hard. As the night went on, the pain in my heart got worse. It has been a long time since I had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. It was like it was a first time again — soooo hard to deal with.
Today was the first day of Spring semester for me. Bad timing!! It was very hard to put my broken heart aside this morning and show up to be a student for 6.5 hours. My eyes were red and puffy and I was tired from crying so much last night after losing Sam. This morning, my heart was just not feeling the student thing. This is only my second year after quitting 20 years ago, but I wanted so much to blow it off. I wanted so much to numb myself again, but reality kicked in and I know how much I stand to lose if I go back to my old ways. So, I pushed through the pain again. As hard as it was, I got out of bed and I showed up. And you know what? So did God. He always does and that is why I continue to push through tough times even though quitting sounds really good sometimes. God gave me what I needed to be a student today. He put the desire back in my heart. I like my professors and the students. Even being the oldest in the classes did not bother me. I may entertain thoughts of quitting at times, but I am so glad that I know better. Even though I walked with a sad heart today, I was encouraged at how I was able to push through and focus on my mission of being in school to earn a degree. That is surely God’s strength in me. I am way too weak on my own.
When the long day ended and I sat in my car for a moment, I completely lost it again. It was weird how it seemed to come so quickly after being strong all day. I cried…a lot. I got an errand done, and when I got home, I cried some more. I really thought after last night’s tears that I had run dry, but nope. Even as I write this, my eyes are welling up. I hate when my heart hurts and I cannot do what I used to do to lessen the pain. Of course I can if I really want to, but deep inside, I really don’t. I don’t want to undo the great things of God in my life. I am alive and sober and I don’t want to go back to the darkness of being dead and drunk. I just can’t go back.
I am grateful for how God’s Word helps me through the night. The Holy Comforter is with me. Listening to “Joy Will Come” from our worship songs at church makes me cry more, but I find comfort since it’s about God’s promise that joy always comes in the morning. His joy always comes even if it’s the kind of joy that we can’t feel. I hold on to that promise along with many others because God’s Word never fails. So I keep giving my all to Him no matter what because I believe His promise that He is with me and will never leave me. Today was amazing proof of how He helps us through and gives us a supernatural strength to move forward even with such a heavy heart that without Him, would have had me going the wrong way.
I’ve got 21 days to the 6 year mark of sobriety. I will not throw that away. Satan cannot have me ever again. I am holding on even if I have to cry through it. It’s the only choice worth making now and I will keep making this choice to keep pressing on and keep feeling my feelings no matter how much it hurts being sober. I will have to do this all over again when Zoe shows signs that it’s time to let go. Before letting Sam go, I didn’t think I could handle it at all, but now I know I can even through a river of tears. Thankfully I can remember clearly that numbing always made things worse for me. The temporary relief was always followed by much worse pain than what I have been experiencing since yesterday, if you can imagine that. I think some of you can.
So tonight, when I’m all alone and it’s quiet and the sweet creature from the last 17 years does not come by again, I will remember and believe that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning — just as it always comes in the mourning. The Joy of the Lord is the only joy worth holding on to. The Lord has promised to always be there for us no matter what we’re going through and I believe Him. I pray more of you will believe too. I would not be here today if that were not true. Thank You, Lord. ♥
I just needed to pour out my heart again, thanks for listening. This is me and my boy Sammy moments before he fell asleep with his head resting on my hand. 😦 It was a bitter sweet moment, but my heart is still grateful for the blessings.