Dear Christian, before you speak openly on controversial issues… (Some observations and thoughts from a young Christian perspective on the Same-Sex Marriage Controversy)

FAITH, LOVE, HOPE

So my extremely vulnerable and “young” Christian heart has been struggling with this issue for a few days so I prayed and prayed and finally mustered up enough courage to write this post. I am troubled by my observations of how some Christians publicly voiced their stance by only quoting Scripture (throwing Bibles seemed more like it) at people that they do not agree with. Where’s the love? I just want to say, PLEASE STOP. I thought we are supposed to draw hearts near to God, not turn them away.

I am not one to join in on public forums regarding controversial issues. I have not participated in the explosion on my Facebook newsfeed over the last few days caused by the latest Supreme Court decision, but I am troubled by what I have been seeing. Perhaps I should not have said the above comment about throwing Bibles, but I did not know a better way to describe how Scripture quoting has been coming across to me.

I want to make it clear that this is not meant to point fingers at anyone in particular or make anyone feel bad, but it is my hope that it will make some people think about how their words may cause more harm than good. Christians get accused all the time of being judgmental and I was sad to see it happening on public forums this past weekend. Whether or not it was intentional, that is how it came across to me. I see people zealous for God and following His commandments and wanting to take a stance publicly on issues like this one, but God does not need for us to defend Him. We should be careful with how we share His Gospel. “Showing” people is way more powerful than “telling” people. When we speak, I think we need to put forth a big effort to do it in a way that is not going to make the people we think we’re helping shut down and turn away. As a growing Christian I want to be extremely careful with that so it is why I choose not to participate publicly in controversial issues. I know I have had my own moments during my walk, but I have grown so much and I continue to learn from my mistakes and work daily asking God to help me to be better. I want to please God. I want to draw people near to Him, not push them further away.

I will not encourage people to do what the Bible tells me is sinning against God, but if I am going to speak about an issue like this, I would much rather speak on a private level — face-to-face — IF  a door of opportunity opened up for me to do so. And if I am going to use Scripture, I am going to use it in a way that will explain not just the part I am quoting, but the surrounding Scripture as well. I want to speak in a loving manner. I will share why I believe what I believe — I will be vulnerable and share my own personal testimony…the good and the bad. It does no one any good to just quote Scripture and not explain it and it does no one any good if the Spirit of God is not leading. From what I’ve seen publicly, there have been many words void of God’s love. And the words I have read have not been Spirit-led comments — only opinions that unfortunately have been tearing people down. Scripture is powerful for prayer and fighting the war that is going on in the spiritual realm. It brings comfort, healing, and protection to us, it helps us learn to live godly and holy lives the way God intended. It speaks and breathes life into our hearts — it is God’s living Word. But lately, the use of His Word in some instances has not been loving and it breaks my heart. Yes, we should know our Scripture. There is nothing wrong with quoting it, but we need to make sure we are doing it properly. And I must add that we should not just know our Scripture, we must also make sure we are living it.

I have not been a Christian for very long and I soak up everything like a sponge. It is troubling to observe Christians throwing Scripture verses at people, especially when I can sense the emptiness of God’s love within it, even if that wasn’t the intention. Since I was seeing much of it happening this past weekend, I took a step back and put myself on the “receiving” end of it. I took myself back to where I used to be not too long ago which was a life full of sin and completely separated from God. I was unrepentant, hopeless, depressed, suicidal, and drunk. I highly doubt I would have surrendered my life to God had someone been there quoting Scripture that meant nothing to me and condemning me to hell without showing me how wonderful and loving our God really is. There’s no way that would have drawn me to give up my life completely for Him.

Maybe I am being too childlike, but this kid in me thinks it would be much better if we focused more on living His Word, rather than quoting it. That is what I am going to do the best I possibly can and I will keep leaving the rest up to God. If He wants me to open my mouth to someone with Scripture, He will make it happen and it will be filled with His Light and Love and it will be at the perfect time — His time. I cannot do that on my own.

When God reached my heart in 2010, He took away my desires that were not pleasing to Him and gave me desires that would bring Him glory. My life has never been the same. It has never been more blessed as a result and I have never been more grateful to be sober and alive and learning to live a sacrificial life. It is not an easy life, but it is a beyond blessed one. It is my hope and prayer that God will use more of us to draw people’s hearts to Him, but it is hard for Him to do if we keep getting in His way. I trust and believe that He will do for those who surrender to Him what He has done for me and I am going to keep hoping and praying and doing all He equips me to do to help draw hearts to Him for as long as He allows me to.

I am sharing this, not to bring anybody down, but just to give people something to think about before speaking. Remember, if we can speak, have power and understanding, and have mountain moving faith but have not love, we are nothing.

Thanks for listening to my heart – a once empty heart now filled with Faith, Hope and Love, and a heart that just wants EVERYONE to know the incredible and everlasting Love of God the Father. I pray that by living out God’s Word, that more will see and have the desire planted in their heart to tap into His power to change as a result. I pray that more will know His love through my life and the lives of others transformed by God. That’s what happened to me. People showed me His love. That drew me in. Then God and his anointed teachers taught me the rest as far as how I should live and it was all through LOVE. And now, I just want to give it all away…

Lord God, in the Name of Jesus, I ask that you would please do for many more, what you have done and continue to do for me. Amen. ❤

***This post is not meant to spark up any kind of debate from either side of the issue – harsh comments that tear people down will not be allowed. I will only approve comments that lift people up.  What can I say…God’s blog, God’s rules 🙂 ***

A FATHER’S DAY POST: Some Heartfelt Words For Dads – The Good and the Bad

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The last time I opened my heart about Father’s Day was in 2014. I thought that would be the end of it because I believed that I was completely healed. I guess I thought that when I first wrote about it in 2012 too. Ah, healing is a process. So Father’s Day 2015 is only a few days away, and I discovered a few weeks ago that this time of year is still a trigger for me — a negative one. I am glad I can share that things are turning around and I am getting better. For the first time recently, I shared things that I had not shared before with my Bible Study sisters. They are amazing women of God who bless my life and they make it so safe for me to pour my heart out and to cry when I need to. Why I held stuff in for so long, I do not know. I just know that vulnerability still does not come easy for me. I am so grateful that I finally opened up because since I poured out my troubled heart to them few weeks ago, I have found more freedom and more healing. God is so good. I pour out my heart to Him all the time, but for some reason, it took sharing with my sisters that brought me more healing from things that have been weighing my heart down for the past 5 years or so — since my dad was found dead in his home. I know this additional healing has come because my sisters lifted me up in prayer. I can see now that God made it all happen and I am so grateful!

For those who do not know anything about me, since I was sixteen years old, I dreaded Father’s Day because my dad pretty much abandoned me. He did much more than divorce my mom. He completely crushed my spirit. Maybe it would not have been so bad had I known my Heavenly Father, but that was just not how life was for me back then. I have shared in the past that I felt robbed. I hated not having a father as I was growing into a young woman. I missed my dad. I cried myself to sleep many nights from a crushed heart and every time I would see the good Dads loving their children, that just made it worse for me. I was happy for them, it was a blessing to see, but when I was alone at night it was nothing but tears and emptiness. I love my mom dearly. She worked so hard keeping a roof over our heads until I could get a job and help, I did not want to burden her with what I was going through. That was the beginning of a pathway to rock bottom that finally happened when I was 44. I get a lot of hits on my “Praise God for Rock Bottom” post and I hope it has touched some hearts. Rock Bottom is where I met God for the first time in my life. It is where I discovered that He is real. He has done amazing things and has completely turned my life around. I no longer desire to drink my life away and I no longer desire to die. I cannot say enough about God in my life!

Anyway, enough about me…what I mostly wanted to say is “Thank You!” to all the Dads out there who are there loving your families. I want to especially thank the men of God out there. I have many brothers in my journey that make my heart smile as I watch them be the amazing godly fathers that they are. What a blessing it is to see that they do exist! Just because I did not have a dad like that, does not mean that they are not out there and I am grateful that God has opened my eyes and heart to witness it. To those of you whose fathers are in heaven, I pray for peace and comfort and wonderful memories that warm your heart. May our Heavenly Father be enough. May you be filled with His amazing love that fills any void that you might feel in your heart.

I pray for the fathers who are denied access to their children. There are a lot of tragic circumstances where I know that dads who want to be there for their kids are not being allowed to. I pray for the fathers who do not know how to be there for their kids and decide to leave and not make contact like mine did. Now that I am much older and wiser, I do not hate my dad. He just did not know how to be a dad when I needed him most. I am grateful that God gave me strength to forgive. I am beyond grateful that forgiveness and restoration took place before my dad died. I pray for the children who are caught in the middle of ugliness between their mom and dad and I pray for the children who are left behind like I was. Lord, let there be more healing, restoration, and forgiveness, I ask that You do for them what You have done for me.

So, Happy Father’s Day to the Dads out there. But above all, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to the God of my life — my Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone ever can. I love You too Daddy. Please tell my earthly dad who I know is with You in heaven now, that I said hello and that I will see him when You bring me home. ❤

“Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH, and rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless…” ~Psalm 68:4,5 (NKJV)

He is my Father and I love Him with all of me!

In the lonely midnight hours when the pain of life hurts the most…

A Reason To Live

It is in those hours that I find myself thinking and crying about the lives that gave up hope. I think about how many have taken matters into their own hands and ended their own pain. I cry about my own pain and how to this day, even with all the amazing miracles of God in my life, I have times where I am in a fierce battle with thoughts so dark I want to do something so that I will never have to battle again. My mind tells me the only way out of that is death and I know it has to be Satan trying to convince me of that. I cry out to God as usual, and sometimes it seems like He’s not there. My mind will tell me He’s given up on me (more of Satan’s lies), but my heart knows that is not true. However, knowing that does not take the darkness or pain away – not completely, and not right away.

So how is it that I keep holding on and pressing through the pain while so many others, especially those who have also been saved by Jesus don’t? I will never know the answer to that and that always troubles my soul. But with God’s help, I pull out of the darkness every single time. I’m discovering triggers that cause the battle to start over and it seems that it gets a little darker each time. I am grateful that I have not given in to them, I know that only God can give me the strength for that and He brings me back into the light each time. I am trying to avoid the triggers, but I am a slow learner. I am especially slow when it comes to learning from my own mistakes. I also battle all the time with feeling so out of place in this world and it seems to happen more and more as I move forward on this journey. I find comfort and rest in the Lord, but I seem to do a good job of getting myself into trouble over and over again. I grow tired and just wish I could leave this world. I haven’t shared these thoughts with anyone, so making this public honestly makes me a bit nervous. My pastor has an idea that I am battling, it is not easy to let her know but I am grateful for her. She doesn’t judge me. She always helps me to see things from God’s perspective. She is a blessing. But, the battle keeps coming back. So I keep fighting the good fight praying that someday, while I am still on this earth, I will finally be able to overcome. I believe that I will. After all, I am “more than a conqueror” Amen?

As difficult as it is to share this, I strongly feel led to and it is my hope that someone else who is battling with these types of thoughts (which I know are of the devil trying to kill us off), will see this and be touched by God like they have never been touched by Him before. I’m praying more will join me in holding on with God’s strength!!

In all the wondering of why I am still here that I have done, I recently realized that it is my reverence for the Lord that keeps me holding on and pushing through the pain. Jesus could have saved Himself from dying that horrible death on the cross, but He didn’t. He loved us all too much to let us die in our sin so He suffered beyond anything we can ever imagine. If He didn’t end His own suffering, who am I to end mine? I will keep holding on and will keep pushing through the pain for His sake. He died for me so that I could live. What was I thinking wanting to destroy this wonderful gift of life He paid for with his own blood??!! I am so grateful that He woke me up AGAIN!

Thank You Jesus, for saving me over and over and over again. Lord God, I pray that more will develop this reverential fear for You and choose the gift of eternal life with YOU. Thank You for loving us that much! You are our light and our salvation! You are our strength! I lift my hurting friends up to You Lord, help them to keep holding on. Remind them that there will be a day when You will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that will be gone forever. Lord, remind them that this is NOT our Home.

Dear friends, our suffering in this world is nothing compared to what Jesus went through. May you find the joy and hope that only He can give. May you keep Him deep in your heart, and may He help you in finding A Reason to Live…a reason to keep holding on, just like He has done for me. Know that YOU ARE LOVED!!

These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (TLB)

Baptism day 11.24.13

A worthless soul changed into one worth dying for — Why I dare to believe…

Just a little more than five years ago, I believed I was worthless and would be better off dead (I wrote about some of that in my last post). I battled suicidal thoughts. Although they were tormenting, they were just thoughts. Other than isolating and drinking my life away, I hadn’t reached the point of doing something drastic just yet. I felt it was getting close, but thankfully it didn’t get that far. A sincere cry out to God changed everything and He sobered me up and showed me love I have never known.

Today, I believe that I am worth something. I have an ongoing miracle sobriety of five years now and I am no longer suicidal. Many more miracles that have taken place in my life have caused me to dare to believe in God, in myself, and that I really am worth dying for. And for those reading this who are battling like I used to, I dare to believe that YOU are worth dying for too. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you might have done that you think is so bad that there’s no way out, I still dare to believe.

It has taken much effort over the last five years to learn to fight against the devil — the liar who had me convinced otherwise for over half of my life. I admit that he still finds small openings to sneak in and bombard me with his evil lies on occasion. I continue to get knocked down pretty good at times, but God ALWAYS helps me to pick myself up and dust myself off and learn from it. When the Lord made Himself real to me and kept me from entering the gates of death, He gave me such a passion and desire to completely give up my life and spend the rest of it learning from Him and the great teachers He has placed in my life who lead me by example. I truly have never known so much love before I started this journey with God – both directly from Him and through the people He’s blessed my life with. Amazing love. There is no greater…

Today’s Bible Gateway Verse of the day is 1 John 3:16 — “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

God’s message of love is all over the Bible. He reaches my heart in different ways reminding me over and over that I am worth dying for. I choose to believe no matter how many times I get knocked down. No matter how many tears I cry. No matter how many times I mess up. No matter how many trials come my way. He gets me through every single one. Even after all this time of great things in my life, I still have moments of feeling unlovable and unworthy. But even so, I still dare to believe. God is SO real. He rescued me from the pit of hell. He showed me that His grace is sufficient — He is more than enough for me. My heart hurts when God gets blamed for the bad stuff that happens in people’s lives.They believe that He doesn’t care or He is not All Powerful. They doubt that He really exists or that He can really do what He says He can do. That used to be me in the dark days. I thank God for showing me differently. He wants to rescue EVERYONE…ah, if only they would believe.

I think about how I lived all of those years being separated from God. It was painful. It was pure hell on earth. A soul can’t get any darker than that. My soul was absolutely dead and my body was getting close to it. Yesterday morning, I celebrated a wonderful Easter / Resurrection Sunday with my church family and when I think of what Jesus did — the One who had no sin but God made to be sin for us — He willingly sacrificed His life and died that excruciating death on the cross so that I would have a chance to choose to believe and live forever with Him. I can’t even truly imagine what His separation from the Father was like. Every time I think about it, my heart becomes so heavy that I feel like I am going to suffocate from just the thought of what He went through. He took on the sin of the WORLD. Not just yours…not just mine, but the whole world. Wow. I can’t even come close to wrapping my limited mind around what that must have been like for Him. So why don’t more of us see that as being more than enough for us? He conquered death so we may live, why don’t more of us surrender ALL to Him? Why do we search for more? Why do we think we deserve more? I believe it’s because we are spiritually blind. At least, that was the case for me. I am so thankful that God opened my eyes and heart to see and I want to help others activate God’s hand to give them their sight too. It allows us to see the invisible and that is a must in this broken world. This is why I make the choice to be vulnerable and share my heart (His heart) to the world. Only God can make something like that happen and I am grateful to be a part of it!

My spiritual eyesight allows me to see and believe that His grace IS enough. He doesn’t owe me a thing. I don’t deserve anything. No matter what happens to me while I am here, I have the blessed assurance of salvation – the Hope of Heaven. I am going to live forever, because I dare to believe that Jesus’ finished work on that beautiful terrible cross guarantees it. How can that NOT be more than enough for any of us? I am amazed that I can now say that I am willing to lay my life down for others. Was that possible more than five years ago? No way. But I know now that the end of my story here will be the beginning of an even more incredible one – one that will never end. For that, I am so thankful that I am willing to lay down my life. Thank You, Jesus.

So that is why I will always dare to believe. And as long as I have breath, my mission in life is to tell as many as I possibly can about what Jesus has done for me with the hope that they too may be encouraged to make the choice to believe. It’s a life-changing…no, a lifeSAVING decision. Have you hesitated in allowing yourself to believe? If so, I just want to say:

There’s no guarantee of tomorrow, so stop hesitating and choose to believe today. I DARE YOU…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul…” Hebrews 6:19 (New Century Version)

HOPE IN JESUS

**This photo reminds me of the darkness I was drowning in, but I found the kind of hope that only Jesus can give and He pulled me out of the darkness into the light — from death to life. I pray this will happen for so many more!

“They are better off without me.” If these words mean anything to you, I hope you’ll read this…

I know in my heart that I am not the only one who battles dark thoughts such as this. Some who are close to me may be surprised to find that I was fighting this thought very recently. I was fighting hard. For a bit there, I felt like I was losing. I think until I decided to write about this just now that only my pastor and one or two others in my life that I trust were aware that I was hearing and starting to believe those words again. It brought me back to my old dark days of depression and isolation – the horrible days when I tried so hard to drink my way through tormenting thoughts of suicide. The difference this time though, is that I did not keep it to myself. I did not withdraw from people and isolate, although it does get tempting at times. I did not relapse and try to drink it away again. Instead, I reached out to God and I reached out to my pastor and trusted Christian friends for help and I am grateful for this amazing and lifesaving change that God has made in me over the last five years.

This morning with my church family, I had the wonderful opportunity to share another testimony of God’s greatness in my life and it triggered my heart to share it here too. I have spent the last five months trying my best to be strong and courageous, trusting and leaning on God as I walked what felt like the longest and darkest valley of my journey into the unknown with Him. It did not come easy for me at all. I had some very good days, but many bad ones and shed many tears through it. It took five months for doctors to be able to tell me whether or not I have cancer. I have had amazing people of faith, much stronger than me, claiming in Jesus’ name that I am healed and that there would be no cancer. I received and I claimed it. However, because I am a weak human being, the long wait for the medical report to confirm it became quite challenging for me. The enemy knows my weaknesses very well and when I am not careful and allow him and his lies to distract me, he attacks and I get knocked down hard. I had to wait for consultations that kept getting cancelled. I had a painful procedure in December that did not go well and the attempt for a biopsy failed. So, more waiting — more of the unknown and more distractions. I started losing my focus on Jesus and started listening to the deceiver and believing his lies that I am a bad person and I deserve what’s happening to me. I started believing his lies that everyone would be better off if I were not around anymore. I was not doing anything good for anyone, I was too busy feeling sick and defeated.  I felt shame for what I was going through because I believed that it was caused by my past choices when I was living a godless life all those years before God had reached down and revealed His power to me. The enemy seemed to be winning this battle of my mind. But thankfully, I can share today, that he has lost once again. He’ll always lose with God holding me by His right hand. He will always lose, as long as I never give up.

I am so grateful that no matter how many times I get knocked down, God gives me incredible strength to keep getting back up and to keep pressing on. I am so grateful that I never give up on Him. Not that I don’t think about it once in a while, especially when I become exhausted, but I really do know better by now. Going back to the way I used to live is not an option. Not if I want to live…REALLY live.

People who are isolating and battling tormenting thoughts on their own are in danger. Isolation is the devil’s trap so he can be free to go in for the kill, but first he likes to take his time and torture for as long as he possibly can. I know. I was there. And I believe this because he almost killed me there. Isolation brings darkness, loneliness, hopelessness…basically, it brings death. A slow and painful one. I pray that if you are in this situation that you will do something about it. Stop trying to fight it alone. Let go of pride. If you haven’t called out to God yet, just do it. He’s listening! Reach out to a pastor. Reach out to others, but make sure those you reach out to are godly people. Surrounding myself by a team of godly people was not easy at the beginning, but I have a safe place to be each week where I can open up and cry and ask for help if I need to. They don’t judge and they do not make me feel ashamed. They just love me with the love that God pours through their hearts. Love I have never known before. They aren’t just a team of godly people, they are my family. Everything I have shared here is what I have done myself and is why I am still here to write about it. I was not sure what all to write about today, but I felt my heartstrings being pulled to write something. Too many are suffering alone right now. Too many have already given up on hope and too many are about to. It does not have to be. Hope in Jesus saves lives. He saved mine, in so many ways.

I have seen many miracles in the lives of others and in my own. I have prayed for miracles. I keep praying for them. But lately, I started thinking that maybe I should do more than just pray for a miracle. Maybe I should start praying that I would BE a miracle for someone else. How awesome would that be? This gives my life amazing purpose. Each of us has a special purpose for being here so let’s not give up on finding out what that purpose is. I believe it will save your life. And how amazing will it be when you find that you can be a part of God’s plan in helping other lives to be saved? What if your life and testimony helps someone else to choose Jesus — the only Way to eternal life? Is that not worth living for? I certainly think it is. Imagine if each of us touched just one heart. I get overwhelmed at the thought of what God can do with that. That’s what keeps me going in this dark and fallen world. And when I get tripped up and fall hard, which happens more than I care to admit, God helps me to get up and to keep on keeping on for Him. I am so grateful.

My heart goes out to those suffering things I suffered for too many years. If you are one, I am praying for you, that God would intervene and do for you what He has done for me and so many others. I pray you will open your heart to Him like never before. I know He will meet you right where you are. And you need to stop believing the lies and believe this…no one will ever be better off without you! It is the truth. It is not my truth, it is God’s truth!

God’s love is amazing. I am so grateful for all He is to me. I am ALIVE!! I hope you or someone you know will be encouraged by my openness today. It’s never easy, but it is always more than worth it. Oh, and I almost forgot…that unsuccessful procedure to remove only a part of the abnormal cells was a blessing that led to a minor surgery that removed ALL of the abnormal cells for biopsy. I got word the other day…NO CANCER. I am healed! Praise the Lord! Ah, God is SO not finished with me yet. And friend, I don’t believe He is finished with you either. I hope you will join me on this amazing pathway to heaven. And if you do, FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT. It is going to be the ride of your life… just sayin’.

Thanks for listening to my heart…God bless.

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