Category: Sobriety

The Thoughts of God—Encouragement for Troubled Souls

Most people familiar with Scripture are familiar with the Jeremiah 29:11 translation that says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I recently read it in the New King James Version and it really stood out me like never before. It says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I don’t know about you, but I really love that translation. It is now my favorite. God’s thoughts toward me…that warms my heart.

In this present evil world, we must choose to believe and remember that God is in control, He is alive, and that He moves powerfully in the lives of those whose hearts are wholly devoted to Him. If we are not living wholly devoted to the Holy One who works ALL things for good, we will never be able to become all that He has intended for us to be. We may have temporary success and happiness, but it is meaningless and leaves us empty. I have learned that nothing good, truly good, comes from anything that is done apart from God. Yes, He wants us to enjoy this life, but not apart from Him. Not if it means that He is no longer number one priority in our life.

I am 52 years old and weeks away from receiving my AA in psychology. For the first time in my life, I am graduating with honors. I have been accepted at the university I applied for and I am set to transfer for the Fall 2018 semester to continue in my undergraduate work. The only thing that I can clearly see as to why I am doing this is because it is God-led. I would not be putting myself through this otherwise! There is no doubt that God is guiding because of the amazing opportunities that I have had to share about Him with specific people on campus in the secular world. Not to mention how everything is working out, every single class I have needed has become available for me while others students have not been able to get into the same classees. It took a while to realize that my returning to school is not for me at all. I thought it was at first, but God has made it clear that I am on a mission. I am blending in with students that are much younger than me, but it works because I do not look like I could be their mother…thank You, LORD for that! Not only am I learning some amazing things in psychology, I am learning to watch for those doors that only He can open, to speak the words that only He can give me, to the hearts that only He can prepare to have an encounter with. This desire He has placed on my heart makes all the hard stuff and tears worth it.

This journey has brought moments of confusion, pain, and tears. It has brought heartache and a few weak moments where I wanted to get drunk to forget about things for a bit. But just like Scripture says, “No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And GOD IS FAITHFUL. He will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear…” Amen? Amen! I love His Word on my heart so I can see those escape routes and endure whatever the tempest throws my way.

Even so, I have many moments when I cry out to God, “Why in the world am I am doing this, Lord? I am old and tired”, but then I remember that I do not have to understand His perfect plan. It helps to remember so I can stay encouraged when I do not get an answer. I am learning more and more to trust Him. It is true that His grace is sufficient. People say it all the time, but I am learning to really live it. I am learning that His power is made perfect in my weakness. Besides, God has never given me a reason not to trust Him. I am learning that while I do my part, He is always doing His. I get to do my passion of ministry while I walk as a student and even though the degree in the world’s eyes does not seem like much, God will use it for His good purpose. I live in God’s economy and God’s Kingdom and He can move godly and ungodly hearts to make whatever He wants happen. It is an amazing way to live.

I will be honest, the dark valleys I walk through at times cause me to desire that the work that His Word says He will complete in me, will be completed very soon. Sometimes I do not want to stay here. But God always brings me back to my right mind and strengthens me to carry on. I have learned that it does not matter that I do not know exactly what God has in store for my life. Every once in a while, He blesses me with tiny glimpses. The ministry moments on campus have been incredible and I think He allows me to see Him touch a heart or two so I can stay encouraged. I realize just how blessed I am because most of the time, we do not get to see what He does with the seeds we sow for His Kingdom.

At the end of a fast-track class this semester, I had an opportunity to share that God became real in my life and I recently celebrated eight years of sobriety. Someone who had decided to stop believing in God and become an atheist in his late teens heard my story. At the end of his presentation, which was hours after mine, he said, “Deborah, your story really inspired me. Maybe what happened for you, will happen for me.” If that wasn’t God moving in his heart…WOW. I will never forget that day. THAT is why I am taking classes on campus.

When I am battling the thoughts to give up, I remember God’s Word. I remember He has a plan for my life. I remember He has thoughts toward me to give me a future and a hope—a future filled with hope! His thoughts are nothing like my thoughts. I remember that Jesus came to find the lost…ME! He gave me a chance to be saved. He brought me from death to life and I choose to live it for Him now no matter how challenging it is.

Thanks for listening. Whatever you are dealing with in life that has you wanting to give up, I pray that you will allow the Lord Jesus—the Spirit of the Living God to come into your heart and change it and fill it with love, hope, and peace. Will you let Him? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am grateful that I did. I discovered that the hope of Jesus is worth living for and He is the One that keeps my heart beating and singing. He gives me the peace that I will never be able to understand. Peace in the midst of my troubled (broken) mind that keeps trying to convince me that my journey is meaningless. Peace in the midst of all the other lies that find their way in that want me to give up on the Hope of Jesus and die. I know that if I lose my hope, I will lose my life. So many lives that gave up hope are gone.

I can give up, or I can choose to keep hoping in Jesus anyway—to keep living in the habit of hope. I am choosing Hope. I am choosing life. I am receiving His Peace and I pray you will too.

I will end with more words that I am grateful for. They are words that Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven—His promise to each of us, “I am with you always…” incredibly comforting words for us to hold onto every single day.

Choose Jesus. Choose Hope. Choose Life. †

Jesus

Give Up Your Life But Don’t Give Up On It!

Earlier this week I was with my amazing sisters in Christ and at the end of our evening of being in God’s Word, we broke into one of the most powerful prayer sessions we have ever had. We prayed for many lost hearts for friends and other loved ones that we want to see in heaven someday. We prayed for their salvation. We prayed for prodigals to return to the Lord. We prayed for healing. We prayed for protection against the invisible enemy who tirelessly roams around seeking to steal, kill and destroy every one of us.

Remembering the powerful presence of God the other night prompted me to write this post. My heart is so heavy for the lost. Especially those who have lost or who are losing the desire to live — those who have lost all hope. I am praying against the enemy – he will not win this fight!

Like so many have, I almost gave up on life. Sometimes I wonder what might have been for those who could not hold on.  What if they held on long enough for God to intervene like He did in my life? I try not to spend too much time thinking about what could have been for people I do not know. It can mess with my mind and heart too much and I have enough trouble with that on my own. I have been through a lot of painful healing and growing through the past six years of this sober life I live, but I do not regret one moment of it. I am free from the pit of hell. I am sober. I am ALIVE.

Someone out there needs hope. Someone needs the hand of God to move in a mighty way. I can feel your pain in my heart at this very moment. It is gift – it is not one that I asked for and it is not easy to deal with, but I am grateful for it because I can stand in the gap and pray for many who are like I used to be. I don’t know who you are or what you are going through, but God sure does. He knows your name. He sent His one and only Son to die for you on that terrible beautiful cross. He wants you to give up your life to Him. He wants to give you His best. All He wants is your heart. He wants you ALL IN. He’s an all or nothing God.

If that someone is you, it is the devil’s lies that have brought you this low. He is a good liar. He is a powerful liar. But God is LOVE, TRUTH, and much more POWERFUL than any enemy we face. God’s Word promises that we will enjoy a long life – that all will go well with us IF we obey all His laws and commands. He wants to be our one and only God. We must love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength and we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly (Deuteronomy 6:2, 4-6). I am so grateful for what He has done for me. It took me a while to get to where I am today, it is definitely not an overnight transformation. But my first 44 years of life did not go well on my own. Thankfully the pain of staying the same finally became greater than the pain of changing. I almost died in my unwillingness to surrender all control to Him, but I finally surrendered. I believe I’d be dead today if I hadn’t. And loving and trusting and giving my life up for God gave me life like never before. I am glad to be alive and living on purpose today. Sometimes I go through a lot of training that is difficult and brings tears. Sometimes I feel like it is in vain. Sometimes it feels like I am not making any kind of difference in this world. More lies of the devil! That is why I never give up. That, and because I choose life today and every day because of God’s amazing grace and love. I thought this tonight…what if He spared my life so I can pray for YOU? Wow. If I am alive for just one person, that is a life worth living. My pain is not in vain!

Friend, I pray for God to touch your heart and change your life like He has mine. Give up your life, but don’t give up on it! God loves you! May He bring amazing men and women of God into your life who will help you to keep seeking Him wholeheartedly and may you also become someone who is willing to pray for another heart who has lost all hope. Imagine how many lives God may save because we said yes to Him – Yes to His precious gift of life. I think I can hear heaven rejoicing again. God bless you friend.

Thank You Lord, for bringing me and so many others from death to life…  ♥♥♥

 

 

A Christmas miracle, no matter what…

God blessed me with an incredible miracle this year. I’ll be sharing more about it, but in the meantime, click here for a little preview: The Holy Spirit of Christmas 2015

I know God can touch more hearts like He’s touched mine so I am praying for your Christmas miracle no matter what you’re going through. May your heart be filled with the Holy Spirit of Christmas and may your Christmas miracle come too!

 

Breaking Free From the Man Who Said He Loved Me (Because Love Should Never Cause Emotional Trauma)

L-O-V-E. I do not know why I cannot shake the thought about love lately. It is not the kind of love that many of you are blessed to have. I am talking about the so-called love that causes emotional trauma. Real love does not hurt like that — it should never hurt like that. It is hard for some to understand why it is not as easy as it seems to just walk away and let go. I know because I spent most of my adult life thinking that way. That is, until it happened to me…

I am writing this because I had suffered in silence for too long and I know there are some out there right now going through this very thing. I know you feel trapped, alone, and perhaps too embarrassed to reach out to someone close to you. You do not want anyone to know. Why? Only you can answer that. For me, it was shame. I was too ashamed to let anyone know the situation that I had gotten myself into. It was all my fault and I was stupid to let it happen. That is the lie that I truly believed. I hated that I had become so weak and needy. I used to be so strong. I just wanted someone to love me, so I pretended that he did when things were good. And when things were bad, I drank myself through it. I regret that I suffered in silence instead of reaching out. It almost killed me. I was only able to break free because I discovered that God is real and He helped me. He sobered me up first, then gave me the courage and the strength to walk away. So now, what I used to keep a secret, I openly share because I want others to know that suffering alone does not have to be. You do not have to be trapped. You too, can be free.

I have shared in older posts that I was in a mentally abusive relationship. It caused severe emotional trauma. I never knew that love could hurt the way it did. It is not supposed to be like that. For the longest time I was so alone and ashamed and I did not believe that mental abuse was really abuse so I kept my mouth shut and allowed it to continue. But I was so wrong. It is abuse. I saw someone put it this way in a recent blog: “Abuse doesn’t always manifest as a black eye or a bloody wound. The effects of psychological abuse are just as damaging.” I could not have said it better myself. It is the truth. All that time I was silent, I had wished I was getting hit thinking that it would help me to cry out for help. That makes me sad today because I think there are others thinking that as I write this. I was able to break free before the first hit came. I believe it was just a matter of time before it did. I say this because of an evil explosion of anger that came that really put fear in me like I had never known before. It wasn’t something I caused, but because I was there, I suffered for it. Then I heard the words “I warned you about my anger.” Hitters usually say that, don’t they? Thankfully, I will never know.

Because I was too weak to break away (after all he did tell me he loved me), I endured his abuse for too long. I was in too deep. I did not know how to let go. I believed that nobody else would ever love me. I convinced myself that I was damaged goods and that no one else would ever want me, so I stuck around and kept taking it. And as for reaching out to someone on the outside, I would rather have died from alcohol poisoning or from mixing alcohol with pills than admitting to anyone the horrific things that I was allowing to happen to me.

Now that I have God in my life and I am 100% sober, I know that it was never love. This guy was a master manipulator and being that I was such a lost soul with zero self-esteem, he caught on to that right away and used it. Boy, did he use it. I get teary eyed when I go back there in my mind and remember how it was.

After the newness of the relationship had worn out, I found myself slowly becoming more afraid of him. I was afraid to speak. I was afraid that I would say something that he would turn against me. I remember an instance when we were talking about something he was going through and all of a sudden I was accused of saying something about him that he took offense to. He then proceeded to tell me that he needed to take a step back and examine my character. There was another time where I was with friends, men and women, for a gathering that I had asked him to go to. He did not go, but of course he called me and because he heard a man’s voice in the background I was suddenly accused of cheating on him. I’ll never forget that hole he ripped into my heart later that night. I tried contacting him after the party and he hung up on me and shut his phone off. Later, he decided to send me a text and said “I hope you’re happy with your new boyfriend.” My tender and already broken heart sank even more when I read that. He had shut off his phone again so I couldn’t respond or call. That was torture. There were so many times when I had called where he would answer, but wouldn’t say a word and would hang up on me. He would later explain he was working or something — we were in a long distance relationship at that time. It was craziness that I kept going back for more for. Other times if I did or said something that he didn’t like, I would find myself getting intense silent treatment. I remember one time I just sobbed because I didn’t even know what I had said or done to deserve it. He would just shut down on me with no explanation. Then there was the intimacy. I practice abstinence now, but back then I did not know God so I did not care or think much of it. What a big mistake that was. I was literally sleeping with the enemy. He was addicted and there was just something about him that managed to tear down my self-esteem even more. I had no idea that it could get me deeper into the dark pit of depression the way it did. Things got worse from there. There’s so much more I could share, but I think this is enough. Why did I stay? I have no idea. The only explanation that I can come up with today is that I was truly a lost soul.

I am grateful that is no longer the case. God saved me. He not only saved my life and gave me a new hope, He gave me the self-esteem of Christ. He became my first love and this will never happen in my life again because I have a whole new set of eyes and I will see the wolves that come in sheep’s clothing. I am eternally grateful for that.

I do not know if what I have shared has been any help to anyone. I am sure praying that it does help because putting myself out there like this is HARD. I am praying that someone will be encouraged — someone whose circumstance is similar to what I was saved from. Do not give up hope and do not stay suffering in silence. You too can break free, but you need God’s help to do it. There is no shame in reaching out. Reach out to God first, then reach out to others. If you do not have anyone close to you that you can trust, know that there are others out there who truly understand what you are going through. We can only understand if we have been through it ourselves. There are support groups out there and they will walk with you as you walk with God to overcome. What God has done for me and others, I know He will do for you. Cry out to Him, He is listening. You WILL overcome.

I am praying for you, with all my heart. God bless.

So I am 49, tired, and a freshman at community college. Am I crazy???

Why yes, I believe I am. Well, I mean that I am crazy for the God of my life. ♥ In January 2015, I took a leap of faith and started taking courses that I had quit on in the early 1990s when life became too hard and the depression and the alcohol abuse took over. God rescued me from the depression and drinking and now I have this incredible passion to walk with others suffering from things that I did for years. I am not sure exactly where God may be leading me, but I felt led to major in Psychology. I always regretted quitting school when I did, but I never felt smart enough to continue on. And not having money made it easy to forget about it. Now at this age, with a full-time job that drains me, the educational journey for me is HARD. I had to overcome the lies that I was too old to get started again. I had to overcome the lies that I wasn’t smart enough. I am truly an overcomer! I am grateful to God for that. I am grateful for my pastor and so many people who cheer me on. I heard this year that a 99 year old woman received the AA that she had longed for all her life. That really did encourage me. I am glad I am starting this at 49. There is much hope that I will continue on and get my Bachelor’s degree and I hope and pray that it will be way before I turn 99. 🙂 I am learning not to worry so much about the time. Like everything else on this journey, it’s one day at a time with God leading the way. I can’t lose when He’s leading.

The more I put my trust in God and depend on Him to get me through, the more incredible and blessed this journey gets. I was never a good student back then, but I am a good student now. I am getting grades I was never able to get before. I am in awe of what God is doing. He gets all the credit because I know there is no way I can do any of this without Him.

I hope this part of the story that God is writing into my life will encourage and inspire someone who has been hesitating to get started with something great because they think they are too old or not smart enough. Do not believe the lies. I am going to throw out that old familiar Bible verse that people throw out all the time because if you believe it with your heart, and you are aligned with God’s will for your life, it is SO true. Matthew 19:26 says that with God, ALL things are possible. I hope you believe it, I sure do. He is making the impossible very possible in my own life. I am always so in awe of how the Lord moves in the lives of those who believe and put their faith into action.

When God first made Himself real to me, He planted a strong desire in my heart to serve Him in ministry for the rest of my life. I thought being single with no kids made me a perfect candidate to become a missionary and travel to other places and minister to the lost. My first experience was in 2011 when I went with my church to help build loft homes for the homeless in Mexico. I was hooked. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t speak Spanish. God’s love did all the talking. It was amazing. When the chance came to do it again, I was there! I remember being nervous the first time not knowing what to expect and very nervous at the thought of staying where there was no electricity or running water, but it turned out to be the start of something amazing in my new life. I was such a baby Christian then and I’ve grown so much since. I am grateful that my passion to reach the lost continues to grow stronger than ever.  I thought for sure that the experience of getting my feet wet on a small scale like that would lead me to a much bigger call in missions, but the call never came. At least, not the call I was expecting.

For a while, I have longed to work in a Christian environment but it hasn’t been the right time. A few years ago when my walk with the Lord was so new, I thought it was time get out of my secular job and look for something in ministry. But after some wise counsel and much prayer, God opened my eyes and showed me that I was right where He wants me. I had no idea back then that a mission field could be right where you are. God provides many “ministry moments” for me at work and for that I am grateful. I believe He has a plan to move me to somewhere else in the future. I don’t think He would have nudged me back to school if He didn’t. So I can be glad that I am still where I need to be and He is providing what I need through it. I couldn’t go back to school without a steady job that pays the rent.

Since I do not work in an environment like a church or other type of non-profit where I would be surrounded by hearts for God like mine, I really had it on my heart to at least pursue my educational goals in that type of environment in a Christian college. I LOVE to be in fellowship with other Christians. I love being in places where God is in the center of EVERYTHING. Places where we can openly praise, pray, and share God stories. I am just drawn to that kind of environment every chance I get. But I realized something huge today. I think God is showing me something that took me a while to get but I’m glad I’m finally getting it (I’m sure He is too!). The Lord showed me that the longing I have had to be in a Christian College is not where He wants me right now. I had a question enter my heart just a bit ago and I know it was from the Lord. He said, “Debbie, how do you think you are going to reach the lost if you are in the comfortable surroundings of people who are not lost? I need you in the midst of people who are hurting and have not reached out for Me yet.” Wow. I can see now that the community college is my mission field “for such a time as this” and it no longer matters to me for how long. Perhaps I will get to attend a Christian school later on. We’ll see. In the meantime, I can reach a ton of people for God between now and the age of 99! 😀

God is going to bring many ministry moments my way on this educational journey, I can just sense it. And as far as my longing to be surrounded by fellow Christians, He reminded me how He has blessed me with my chosen family at Hope Center as well as other brothers and sisters He continues to strategically place on my journey to heaven. I couldn’t be more blessed and more surrounded by loving Christians with amazing hearts for Him. What was I thinking? I believe I was seeing things from my own perspective and not even thinking about His. I had a desire, it was a good and godly one, but it doesn’t seem that it was coming from Him like I thought. As usual, His desire for me is even better than I could ever imagine.

I love dreaming dreams that only my God can make come true. What a life this is. A redeemed life now filled with so much love, hope, miracles, breakthroughs, and God-sized dreams that cannot fail because He is guiding and providing. I will stumble now and then, but He never lets me go or allows me to get too far off course.

Thanks for listening to my overflowing heart. I pray that if you are hesitating to do something  for God that you still see as impossible, that you will stop listening to the lies and let God take over so He can take you to places you never dreamed of. You won’t be sorry. Time is going to go by anyway, right? So just go for it. I am so glad I am going for it and I know you will be too. God bless!

Glory to You, LORD. Thank You for choosing me and giving me the courage and strength to keep saying yes so You can keep making impossible dreams come true! ♥♥♥