From Damaged Goods to Broken and Beautiful – Learning to see myself through God’s eyes…

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 the greatness of God in my life. It’s not a popular blog, but it is a blessed one. When I started writing, I was very new in my Christian walk and only a couple of years sober and in this particular post I wrote about how I had wondered how God could love someone like me. I was remembering a past dark, drunk, and extremely depressed moment in my life before I had cried out to God, so I wrote about it and here is a little piece of it:

 …I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I was headed to the refrigerator for another cold one. I don’t know why, but I stopped and took a long look at the reflection of what was a lost soul. I can still picture those lifeless eyes staring back at me. I hated who I had become. I didn’t blame anybody, I knew I did it to myself and I thought I’d never be able to climb out of that big black hole that I had dug for myself. I was seriously wondering how God could ever love someone who had spent just about her entire life with her back to Him—no love, no trust, no surrender. I also wondered why He didn’t let me die like I wanted to. I was certainly ready to go. I wasn’t doing anybody any good being alive.”

Wow, I just got all teary eyed again with gratitude looking back at all God has done since I surrendered at the bottom a little more than seven years ago now. The miracle sobriety continues. Thank You, Jesus. I know there are still some suffering like I used to. I used to think I was worthless, dumb, ugly, and deserving of nothing good in this life. I was nothing but damaged goods, especially after that horrible stretch of being a victim of mental abuse before I finally escaped it (another miracle of God). Damaged goods – that was my main identity when I thought of who I was. I was Depressed, Drunk, and Damaged. Hmmmm, “D” for devil…pretty amazing to see, isn’t it? There’s also Discouragement, Discontentment, Defeat, Doubt, Deception — just to point out a few more words to be aware of (thanks to my mentor for helping me to recognize those words!). They are never loving words from our Heavenly Father. Anyway, I was believing all the lies of the devil and was caught up in his snare for so many years – he came close to destroying me, but he lost.  I am so grateful that those days are long gone. The moment I started opening my heart to the Lord and letting Him work in me and through me, He changed everything about me. He saved my life! He gave me a new heart and gave me new sight, and helped me to change my thoughts. And with the help of someone dear to me, well, it’s more than one walking this incredible journey with me, and they have all helped me to see myself as God sees me. And I believe He sees me (and so many others) as His beautiful bride. In time, I started to see that I am not damaged goods. I am broken and beautiful. I am chosen. I am set-apart. There’s so much more and I am grateful that His truths now overpower the lies. My identity is in Christ alone and nothing or no one can ever change that.

How amazing is that truth for all who believe, my friends! I hope that anyone who is struggling the way I did will not listen to anyone but God and what He has to say. It is all in His Word, I hope you will seek Him with all your heart if you haven’t yet. His love is amazing.

Your Heavenly Father saw you and approved of you even while you were in your mother’s womb. Read Psalm 139 with an open heart seeking God’s Presence while you read it. I pray that you will feel His Sweet Presence and will start to receive the self-esteem of Christ. He did it for me, I know He will do it for wholehearted seekers like you too.

May God bless you. Please know that you are loved. ♥

When Christians Hurt with Words…

Are we helping or hurting with what we say? Are we truly walking in God’s righteousness as He has called us to? I see and hear the word idiot and other harsh words about people and things out of our control quite a bit, so today on I want to focus on words. I think most of us have heard how powerful our words can be. The words we speak can bless and bring life into the hearts of others, including ourselves, or we can speak hard or hard words and word curses that hurt others. Did you realize that these types of words can also create strongholds in our own lives? Did you realize that they can block God’s blessings? So, I have to ask. Which words are you choosing to speak?

I will never claim to be a perfect Christian, but I have learned how to NOT be a blessing blocker — as much as humanly possible. I have learned some difficult and painful lessons in my journey, and as someone who used to be a blessing blocker more than not, I must put this out there. I know of several Christians (many that I care deeply for) that are in need – some are in desperate need of breakthroughs. For example, some need restoration, physical healing, financial, or emotional healing. I have seen some things that have triggered concern and I am being led to put this out there for others to seriously consider – please be aware that the words we speak (think and write–God knows all) may keep us in bondage if we are not choosing our words wisely.

Our mouths can really run away from us and I think it can happen easily if we are not spending enough quality time seeking God with our whole hearts. Some of us try to squeeze God into our lives but it never works because we never have enough time when we do not keep Him as priority time. We might make a better effort to be with Him only once in a while, but then the busyness of life usually gets in the way. We might praise Him in the good times and try our best to praise Him during the hardships, but sometimes we are just too weak to do it because we are operating under our own strength which cannot compare to His. We then humble ourselves and pray in the name of Jesus, and then we wait, and wait, and wait some more for the breakthroughs to come. When it seems that nothing is happening, we start to wonder how long we must wait for an answer – we may ask, “Does the Lord really hear me?” Sometimes the wait seems forever and we have no idea that we might be the ones causing the delay.

If you feel that you might be at this point, I want to encourage you to not give up. Do not lose hope. Do not lose heart! But know that it is a must that you still yourself before the Lord more than once in a while. You might even do what I like to think of as a self-check. If you cannot see what might be wrong in your life, ask God. You can ask something like, “Lord, am I getting the way of Your blessings? If so, please show me and give me strength to change. I want to bring You glory.” If you go to Him wholeheartedly, He will listen and He will answer. But you need to be still and listen. This is also a perfect opportunity to grow in your trust relationship with the Lord. For me, I am so grateful that I have learned to make it a constant practice to do a self-check because I certainly do not want to ever block the blessings of God. Been there, done that. When I am on the right path, I grow stronger in my wait for the Lord. When I am not on the right path, He shows me and lovingly corrects me. It is a win-win for me.

Remember, the invisible enemy is behind the temptation to run off at the mouth so as it is written in James 4:7 (New Century Version): “So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.” Amen! The enemy and his minions always run in terror in the name of Jesus.

How can you learn to always be mindful and speak in a way that brings glory to God? IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE WORD OF GOD. Do it day and night. If I sound like a broken record to some of you who know me, I am glad. I speak the truth from love and I speak it from experience of a 7 year journey (and counting) of many trials and triumphs. I am so thankful that I have learned many things the hard way because God has used it all for good and has made me confident and bold in what I share. And just like my wonderful and loving spiritual leaders, I now get to lead by example and I am extremely grateful for the gift to share my heart.

The more time you spend soaking in God’s Word instead of participating with the harshness (to put it politely) of the rest of the world which is Satan’s snare, the more you will desire to change your words and your ways. You will not be able to help but be drawn in and grow in knowing and loving God and wanting to glorify Him more and more in everything you do. You will be living out Scripture (God’s Living Word!), like it is written in James, for example. James taught us about becoming “doers” of God’s Word, not just listeners. I encourage you to read the entire epistle of James. It was a part of this inspired writing.

God wants to bless us abundantly, but it is hard for Him to do when we do things that His Word clearly tells us not to do. If you have a problem controlling your tongue, you are not alone. As a side note, I love how Joyce Meyer shares about her struggle with her tongue. I am sure she must have a book on it. Controlling our tongues may seem impossible at times, but with God, ALL things are possible and we can do ALL things with Christ who strengthens us, Amen? Do not let it hold you back from God’s best in your life.

I am praying for those who struggle with this. I am praying for your breakthroughs. The saying is true — change your words, change your life. Remember, in Christ Jesus we are Kingdom builders but we are not going to be able t draw people in for God with words that tear people down.

God will do His part, but you need to do your part in breaking the strongholds and enslaving yokes today. Stay out of His way. Choose to speak words of life. Just do it. You will be much better off (just like when you forgive). I will pray that the floodgates of heaven pour upon you like never before – I believe breakthroughs are in store! Thank You, Lord!

To God be the glory, forever. ♥

“God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.” James 1:20 (The Message)

19 Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; 20 for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].” James 1:19-20 (Amplified Bible)

Because I want the world to know why I have HOPE in a dark world.

Taking a chance with my heart…

I hope someone will click the above link and hear with their whole heart. I hope for more rejoicing in heaven, no matter what the cost is for me. Please pray that more will hear the Spirit call them to come to Jesus as they are — to come and see, come receive, come and live forever. May more have everlasting life with Christ my King…My Savior, my Hope, my reason for living. 

 

Hope for the Lonely

Feeling a lonely ache inside of your heart? It is not just you. I used to have that ache for too long. I started to feel it when I was 16 years old and carried it all the way to 44 (I am 51 now). That is a long time and it is no surprise how unbearable it became. I sought all the wrong things and people to soothe the ache. Even though I was filled with pain and was afraid to love, there were a couple of men in my life that I allowed myself to love (not at the same time! 🙂 ), but they did not love me back. Oh, they tried to make me think they loved me, but it was just so that I would do whatever they wanted me to do. I really did not think much of myself at that time and I drank my way through everything most of the time so I could get through it. I suffered severe mental abuse from the last one and I came to the lowest point in my life that almost had me ending the pain in a drastic way knowing there would be no turning back. It is not easy to talk about my dark past, but I do so that I can share of God’s greatness in my life. I thank God that while I was at that lowest point in life, hope came bursting in when I least expected it. Hope helped me find true love that I had never known for the first time in my life. I am getting teary eyed as I write this because that was about seven years ago and I am still deeply in love — more than ever. I want to share that my true love’s name is Jesus. Yes, Christ Jesus. Now I know some of you will probably roll your eyes and will stop reading right now, but I hope someone who is tired of the ache and emptiness will bear with me and keep reading. It does not matter if you are a man or woman, this message for you if you could just open your heart and listen. You might be wonderfully surprised and receive a life-changing / life-saving burst of hope just like me. That is my prayer!

Before I continue, I want to give credit where credit is due. I just started reading a book by Pastor Mark Hall, the lead singer of Casting Crowns, called “The Well”. Even though I am only half way through the first chapter, there were words that Mark wrote that prompted me to share my heart with you and I will be paraphrasing a little of he wrote. Mark shared about the Samaritan woman that Jesus had a divine appointment with at the well in the gospel of John. I love that story about Living Water – Jesus! Anyway, although I’m not exactly like the Samaritan woman, my past godless life is similar and I think a lot of us can relate because many of us have tried to fill the void in our lives with anyone and anything but Jesus. The truth is, and I know this because of my personal experiences, that only Jesus can fill the void in our lives. Only Jesus can truly satisfy our hearts. Only Jesus can take away the aches and remove all the pain from every poor choice that we have ever made. Only Jesus can give us rest and help us to escape repeated sleepless nights and tears of shame for all the wrong things we have ever done, and only Jesus can help us through all the consequences that come. Yes, only Jesus.

My heart feels for the lonely. I guess because I used to be extremely lonely after having pieces of my heart ripped out by others for so many years. I just could not allow myself to ever trust again. Not ever. I have come a long way on my healing journey and I no longer feel that way. And thanks to Jesus, all the pain and shame and distrust have been washed away. Thank You, Jesus!!

I know there are people who seek to get married someday. That is a wonderful thing. For me, I believe the Lord has removed that desire from my heart. I feel the call to serve Him only, at least for now. I want to encourage others to pray for God’s will. If He does not remove the desire for a future spouse, start praying about that spouse! Ask God for the right godly man or woman to be sent your way. Ask Him to transform you into the best husband or wife for your future spouse! I believe He will answer and you will be mega blessed with a lasting godly marriage – God must be in the center if you want a lasting marriage. I think something beyond you have ever dreamed of will happen if you do this and not give up. Scripture tells us over and over to trust God and wait. His timing may not be convenient for us, but it is always perfect. I have learned this the hard way. Every time I try to be in control, I end up getting in God’s way. I have learned to stop being a blessing blocker!

And if you end up having the desire removed like it has happened for me, keep seeking the Lord with all your heart. Meditate on His Word every single day. Delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart…they are really the desires of His heart and there is nothing better than that! You will be blessed. I guarantee it. Even better, God guarantees it! The loneliness ends with Jesus.

I wanted to put this out there because I see and hear the lonely hearts every day. Even married people get lonely at times. But I can say without a doubt that no one…nothing…NO THING in this world can ever compare with the love of Christ filling your heart and filling the void. It did not happen for me overnight, nothing on this incredible journey of love has, but I have become more than content. I think the photo that I just took shows it. It is Friday night, it has been a rough week and I am alone. But I am not really alone – not the way I used to think and feel. Because I have Christ, I have EVERYTHING and I am grateful. My heart is full and my lifesong sings…

Thank you for listening and I pray with all my heart that you too will find the True Love of Jesus who has all you need and more. He is just a whisper away. He is hope for the lonely, He is hope for all. ♥♥♥

Surviving Sadness — Let us not feel bad for feeling bad

When I suddenly find myself in another battle against sadness, I want to hide when those hard days of melancholy hit. When I think about how many times I have claimed victory over depression only to get knocked down and begin suffering once again, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I actually feel bad, for feeling bad.

Some people who do not understand what this is like think we who deal with bouts of depression need to just snap out of it. Believe me, if I could, I would. My mind starts to wonder why God does not fix me when I have cried out asking Him to. I start to wonder too many things. Eventually, I pick myself up the best I can and try to pretend all is well although I feel like my heart is being crushed. I go to work, I go to school, and I go to church like normal. Even though deep down I do believe all is well, I still seem to always choose to suffer alone at first because I am too embarrassed to let those around me know that it is happening again.

Please do not do what I do. Do not choose to suffer alone, it can be dangerous. When my mind starts to go to old thought patterns, I start to become a bit concerned. That is when I know that I need to reach out to a trusted source. For me, that is my pastor. She never judges and always points me to God for direction and guidance and she encourages me and prays for me. I am grateful for her. Recently, she helped me to see through the dark clouds that I really am victorious in this fight! I needed to hear that. I can see clearly now that I am still a strong woman of God. I have not given in to the depression. I am not empty or hopeless like I was before I came to know Christ. I am still alive. I still believe and hope in Jesus. I continue to walk the walk. I continue to show up in church and Bible Study. I continue to sing my heart out to the Lord even through the pain. I continue to intercede for others. In addition to all of that, I am still sober! I am celebrating 7 years of this incredible miracle of God in just about a week. Wow. If that alone is not a sign of Victory, I don’t know what is. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So, it is okay to cry. It is not okay to give up. Do not feel bad for feeling bad, we are human. Let’s stop being hard on ourselves. You are not alone. My suffering returns more than I care to admit and I know that I am not alone. There is no shame. Let’s pray for and encourage one another in the Lord. Thanks to Jesus, we fight from victory, not for it! Remember that God is bigger than all of this and it has been my experience that as I wait on the Lord’s hand to move through the suffering, I grow even stronger and even more important, I grow closer to Him. So, I want to encourage you to seek and “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (~Psalm 27:14) He will not let you down.

Heavenly Father, I pray that You fill us with Your peace that goes beyond our understanding. May we feel it fall like rain in the middle of our hurting. Let us feel Your arms surrounding us. Let us know that it is okay. May we choose to rest in Your peace that only comes in the waiting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Never give up. Choose Jesus, choose life – even when it hurts. ♥