Thank God for wide-eyed wonder…

Wanted to share one of my favorite photos that keeps me in awe of God. I am an amateur photographer that happened to capture what I think is a beautiful moment of God’s amazing power. This photo was taken in Ensenada, Mexico (April 2011) on my first mission trip to serve some homeless families in need of shelter. We could have ended up working in freezing cold rain, but God cleared the skies for us on the day that we had planned to work. The dark skies opened up as time went on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bluer sky since that day. When I look at this photo, I’m so in awe, I see God all over it. Maybe it’s just my eyes, but I see things so differently than what I used to. God has given me the eyes to see so much more now, and I am grateful!

Tonight I was enjoying a nice walk with my sister and we had just talked about how amazing God is with the detail of things like the colors of a butterfly’s wings for example. Then out of nowhere as we were walking, a small bird appeared on the sidewalk in front of us. I had never seen a bird so blue in my life. I don’t know what kind of bird it was. It had to be a rare kind. It was sort of a deep royal blue which almost looked purple as it flew away…beyond beautiful. It truly was one of the most beautiful of God’s creatures that I had ever seen. The bird flew across the street to a cute little bird house and jumped in the little opening. Then it quickly came out and flew to the area we just came from, it was a happy little bird. At least that’s how I saw it, it sure made me smile and grateful that I had the opportunity to discover it. I felt like such a kid, so in awe of what my eyes just saw. That was another gift from God, the timing and place couldn’t have been more perfect. I know in my heart, that moment was meant for us. It was a small bird so our eyes had to be aware of our surroundings. We could have missed that blessing if we weren’t walking with our eyes and hearts open. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it!

I’m so full of wide-eyed wonder these days. I hope I never lose it. It’s hard to imagine that I would since God continues to keep me in awe of Him. I think of this scripture all the time: “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) I’ve had this childlike faith going for a long while now, it’s an awesome way to live and I hope my excitement is contagious!

I know there are people out there that used to have this childlike wonder, but they have lost it. I pray they get it back! It’s easy to do if they would only make the time and effort to work at it. I think taking time to really watch and enjoy some children playing and laughing for a while would help, or just making an extra effort to really notice things around them. If they would only open their eyes and really look at the detail of God’s creation I think they’d start to get that childlike wonder/faith going and get excited about it. So excited, that they will become contagious and people around them will want it too. That is my hope.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our daily lives and struggles that we become blind to what’s around us. I am not going to take God’s creation for granted. I’m going to appreciate it while I’m still walking this earth. I am going to enjoy and appreciate and be thankful for God’s beauty that surrounds me.

What if…

On my way to church this morning, I was sitting at a stop light and everything that had been going through my mind suddenly stopped. I couldn’t help but turn my focus toward a man in the crosswalk. It was quite obvious that he was homeless. My heart became so heavy as I watched him walk slowly to the other side of the street. He held his head down the entire time. He seemed so defeated and so broken. He was so dirty. I wondered what had happened to him that made him end up living on the streets. I wondered if he had family or anybody who cared enough to be looking for him. I wondered what was going through his mind. I couldn’t judge him, didn’t even think of it. My heart actually hurt for him. I can’t even imagine what his daily life must be like.

I wanted so badly to do something for this man, but I couldn’t. I was in the middle of traffic. The light turned green and I had to move on. I found myself starting to cry as I asked God to bless him. I prayed that God would send somebody to him to help him find hope and perhaps even help him get cleaned up a little. I wondered if he’d ever heard of Jesus. If not, I wondered if his heart could be reached. Things I will never know, but I can at least pray.

I heard Pastor Andy Stanley say “Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.” I keep that in my heart. Maybe I couldn’t help that particular man this morning, but I know there’s at least one person out there that I CAN help. God has given me a servant heart. He’s given me a heart to reach the lost and I pray that never changes.

What if we all did for one…

I may have victory in Christ, but I still deal with leftovers from the dark days. Anybody out there know what I’m talking about?

Before I invited Christ into my life, I was all alone in my world of darkness. Years of battling depression and drinking to the point to where I couldn’t feel anything caused me to want to be alone all the time—just me and the bottle…my god at the time. My thought back then was it was a good way out so I wouldn’t have to pretend to be happy or I wouldn’t have to explain why I so sad all the time.

I enjoyed being alone (so I thought). I alienated myself from everyone more and more as time went on. Yes, it was a lonely life, but I just couldn’t get myself out of the pit. It doesn’t help that I am an introvert, an extremely shy one. I had very low self-esteem. So drinking wasn’t just good for numbing the pain, it was also my liquid courage. It helped me to be comfortable around people. It helped me to be comfortable in my own skin. It made me funny. I turned into a ham for a while before the sadness got unbearable. I thought the only way to survive this world was to do it alone because nobody understood how messed up I was inside. I know now it was the enemy that had me believing that. He’s a good liar. He likes when we listen to him. He kept me in chains feeding me all kinds of lies and he gave me temporary peace through the alcohol. He was happy that I was dying a slow and painful death.

Thank God those days are over. I thank the Lord for victory and for breaking those chains and setting me free. But, now that I have this wonderful victory, I’m finding that I’m still dealing with what I call “leftovers” from the years of alienation. My life choices caused me to be a loner and it’s difficult to change that, I still sort of enjoy being alone but I think too much can be unhealthy. I can see that it’s going to take a bit of time to overcome.

I have many wonderful men and women of God in my life now. God has blessed me with wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m grateful for every single one. I couldn’t do this walk without them. If I’m going to be around people, it has got to be around people of like faith. I need to be around people who have strong faith. Even stronger faith than me. Building a team of godly people to help keep me on track is one of the first things I learned at the beginning of this journey. But of course we can’t be together all the time so it’s during the times when I’m alone that I struggle a bit. It’s mostly with the mind. When I find myself alone, I’m working hard at trying to capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ, just like Paul told us to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5. It’s so not easy, but I realize I have to keep on it every single day so the enemy doesn’t have a chance to put unhealthy thoughts in my mind. The daily effort can be tiring, but it is a must. I just can’t go back to the way I was. If I do, I’m quite certain the outcome will not be good, perhaps even tragic. I’ve come too far to allow that to happen. When I do start feeling a little lonely, that’s when I call out to Jesus. He makes it all better right away…I’m smiling as I type this, He is my all.

Well, I felt I should share this because if there’s anyone else out there going through something similar, know that you’re not the only one. I may not know your name, but God does, and I am praying for you. And if it’s okay, I’d like to ask that you please pray for me too. With the Lord’s help, we will overcome. Thank you and blessings in Christ.

Never ever thought I’d find myself saying: “Thank You God, for allowing me to suffer!”

This blog was not an easy thing for me to start. I don’t even think many people will see it, but I have this calling to share openly about what God has done (and still does) in my life so that maybe someone else will be helped by it. So I’ll just keep sharing and will leave the rest up to God.

The last post got me thinking a little more about the past. I am so amazed when I see how God was there protecting me even though my heart was closed to Him. They say “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” and it’s so true. If worse things would have happened to me, there’s even a greater chance that I wouldn’t be here today.

I used to have a hard time at the beginning sharing God’s story in my life because although the depression that He delivered me from was severe, nothing super tragic happened in my life that caused it. Talking about it made me so uncomfortable. But then I realized I was wrong to keep it to myself. Not everybody goes through something tragic. There could be someone else suffering from depression from trials in life even if there’s nothing that we can call tragic. Anyway, depression is depression. It doesn’t matter how it happens, once you have it and things get darker and darker, it’s all the same to me.

Back to seeing God’s protection in the past—If God wasn’t there protecting me as a child, I would have been another victim of molestation. When my dad left (I was 16), it’s a good chance I would have gotten into drugs and alcohol (the alcohol didn’t start until I was of age), but God gave me a great mom who kept me busy and out of trouble. As an adult, while I made poor choices to drink and drive, somebody could have been hurt or killed. I could have been arrested. I would have deserved it of course. I could have lost my job working as a civilian in law enforcement (you’d think that would have straightened out my poor behavior but it didn’t–God straightened me out instead!).

It’s a miracle that none of that took place. Many poor choices in my life prior to giving it all to the Lord could have cost me so much more than it did, but God was there protecting me without me asking Him to. He allowed me to go through what I went through because He knew He would use it for good later on…well, it’s later on and I AM GRATEFUL.

I can only speak for my own life and there’s only one thing I believe explains why worse things didn’t happen to me and that is God’s sweet gift of grace! God knew I couldn’t handle more. For those that have gone through or are going through worse, only God knows why. Trust that He won’t give you more than you can handle. I would like to encourage everyone going through hard times thinking God isn’t there, to look hard. Perhaps He is and you’re just not able to see beyond the circumstances. I believe if you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him. Seek Him every single day. And later on, if you’re willing, He will use your trials for good and your life will never be the same!

Is it possible that God is there in godless lives?? I say, YES!!

Every now and then I like to look into the past. Not to dwell in it, but to remember where I was before the Lord reached down and saved my life. I keep facing forward, but I never want to forget the miracles He has done. As I was spending some quiet time in His presence this evening, I was thinking about an old journal. I didn’t keep it up very well, but I came across an old entry that I found pretty amazing. Actually, it is amazingly sad. If I didn’t now better, I’d say that I didn’t write it. But the truth is, I did. It’s pretty dark, but I’d like to share it to give an idea of how lost I was:

December 20, 2008

My thoughts on this day:

Why does God allow me to live a worthless life while others die too soon—others that actually had a true purpose in life? At least it appeared that they were good people.
I have nothing to offer, why am I so different? I am nothing—a wasted life.

As you can see, I ripped out all the prior pages of this journal. Last entry was September 9, 2004. I was kidding myself trying to find my purpose.

I’m no good, I’m terrible at everything. I don’t belong here.

Wow, who was that? So hard to believe I wrote that. Thank You Lord, for bringing me from death to life!! I lived a godless life for decades, but when I look back at the different stages now, I see that God was there the entire time. I just didn’t know it at the time. He allows me to see things so differently now since I surrendered to His will. I am grateful to the Lord for helping me discover His purpose for my life. What an incredible journey indeed.