Are you robbing someone of their blessing?

I knew of a grown daughter who used to get so upset at her mother every time she would try to give her money. Parents are so wonderful like that. They always want to help no matter how grown their children are. I used to see the joy in that mother’s eyes as she was trying to give, be taken away from her by the rejection and “scolding” she received instead by her daughter–like the light was snuffed out.

I know the daughter wasn’t trying to purposely take away her mother’s joy. She loved her dearly. I believe it was too much pride that she allowed to get in the way. It’s hard to say why the daughter would become so upset. I know she didn’t mean harm. Her mother was not super wealthy, so I believe the daughter was truly concerned for her mother having enough money to live on. She was getting up there in age and she was all alone.

The sad thing is that this daughter was so upset she wasn’t able to see what she was really doing to her mother. I believe she was robbing her mother of her blessing. The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 20:35 that Jesus said Himself: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” That is so true and I am so gratefully blessed.

It’s interesting. We pray for things like financial help and God touches the hearts of people to give. We need to open our eyes to that—the person giving may be someone we would never expect. It could be someone that doesn’t have much to give, but they give from their heart. It amazes me. We expect God to answer prayers in certain ways so when His answers come in ways we aren’t expecting, we are so focused on our own way that we are blind to see what He is doing. When we do this, more than one person loses out on receiving God’s blessing. Yeah, that means we’re missing out too!

The story of this daughter is not about me, but I was like her. My mother loves to help when she can. Now, I wouldn’t get as upset as the daughter in the story I just told, but I would turn her down all the time. That was before God got through to me and opened my spiritual eyes to see a whole new world.

The Lord has put it on my mother’s heart to give financially. I have been growing so much in the Lord on this journey and have become joyfully busy being involved in ministry. Like so many today, I have been suffering a little financially and I have prayed for a breakthrough. I am barely making ends meet like many of you. The Lord is providing the extra I need through my mother right now. It’s not easy to accept money from her, but her money has been going into my gas tank which has been extremely helpful. It allows me to get to work, church, Bible Study, Celebrate Recovery, and ministry outreaches and I am SO grateful for that! There is light at the end of the dark financial tunnel for me, but this past year I could not have done all that I have for the Lord without those extra funds. My mother lights up when she gives. I will not take that joy from giving away from her, especially now that I am aware of what I was doing. Although my intentions were good (I thought), I will no longer rob her of her blessings.

I had written in her birthday card a few months ago, that when she helps me the way she has been, that she is not only blessing me, she is blessing so many others because I am able to get out there and serve the Lord and share His love with them. That was probably the best gift I could have given her this year. I saw her heart overflow from hearing that.  I don’t think she thought about it that way.

So let’s think about this and keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to what the Lord is doing in our lives. Let’s not be ones who get in the way of blessings of others! I don’t know about you, but I want to continue to be blessed to be a blessing, and I can’t do that if I am trying to be in control and getting in God’s way. I pray this message blesses many out there. May God continue to richly bless you all. ♥

Dealing with the Holiday Blues—God uses my tears to bring healing…

Just the other night, I was with some of my Christian sisters and we were discussing the holidays…I can hardly believe that they are already approaching! Anyway, I was caught off guard when I was asked to recall a happy memory from past holidays. I was quickly overcome with extreme sadness because I wasn’t able to recall anything, at least not at that moment. I was looking for anything that could bring a smile to my heart that I could share with everyone, but I just couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to think, but I felt so sad that I couldn’t remember anything. I completely broke down in tears and was barely able to speak. I sure wasn’t expecting that to happen. I spent so many godless years alienating myself from people and drinking my life away. All I could remember were the years of darkness and despair that I put myself through.

I am so grateful to God that this Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration is my third time of being completely sober. What an incredible ongoing miracle He has given me. I remember the first time in 2010 very well (I guess I would since it is not that long ago). I had only been sober for about nine months. Although the Lord had delivered me from depression and drinking, my heart was so heavy with sadness. I couldn’t figure out why. I had so much hope. I had so much to be thankful to the Lord for. He had given me a brand new life and had shown me I had a reason to live, yet I was still sad. Extremely sad. The only thing I could think of was that perhaps it was just left over from all those years of being depressed. I was so used to it. It was all I knew for so long, I think it just became automatic every year. I thought that eventually it would change in time, and instead of automatic sadness, that I would start to get used to the sobriety and spending time with people and it would turn into automatic joy. However, a year later in 2011, I went through it all over again. The Holiday Blues crept in once again, but at least it didn’t seem to be as bad as the year before. There was hope.

So here we are again. It’s already another year later. It’s November 2012, and I was expecting everything to be okay this time. I was wrong. I have much joy in my life these days, but once again the Holiday Blues have arrived. I was hoping for automatic joy this year. All it took was that one question from the other night to make me realize that I still need to work through these emotions that I kept bottled up for so long.

This past Friday, it was my fifth week attending Celebrate Recovery. I have shared many difficult things about my life on my Facebook page and on this blog, but sharing on this same level in an intimate group setting once a week at CR is a whole new world for me. It has been challenging, emotional, and a tremendous blessing all at the same time. I can see that God is using my vulnerability to help others realize that it is okay to open up and to be vulnerable themselves.

I started going to CR because I thought I needed to for myself to stay sober. God has turned it around and has shown me that I am there because I need to help others in their recovery. This is the new desire of my heart. God gave me an incredible miracle of sobriety and I need to share that with others in their recovery walk. I have been growing strong in the Lord for over two years and I have found that I am ahead of many of the people there.

I am certainly blessed to be a blessing. My bonus blessing is that I get healing through my own tears when I share my heart with hurting people. Knowing that God will use my tears to help someone else in their own healing process and recovery, well, that’s just a super bonus blessing.

I see now that the Lord led me to CR to mostly help others, but I believe that He is also going to use it to help me beat the Holiday Blues once and for all. I cried this past Friday night as I was sharing my sad heart that comes each year at this time. I believe those tears have started my own healing process already. I already started to feel better as I was driving home that night. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody much about it before. I mostly kept it to myself, but it was time to let it out. God showed me the way and made it happen and I am so grateful.

I have been thinking about that question from the other night and I have something I can share with a smile.  My memory from the past is that I was a happy little girl when my parents were together—we were a family once upon a time. I will hold on to those memories from so many years ago. We may not have known God back then, but there was love in our home. Today, I know my heavenly Father’s amazing love and I have learned that He is really all I will ever need in this life.

Anyone out there who gets the blues this time of year like so many of us, know you are not alone. You don’t have to go through it alone. Perhaps your sadness isn’t seasonal like mine. Even so, reach out to the Lord. Come to Him as you are. I want to encourage you to find a Christian support group and you will get through it with the Lord’s help. We all have a story to share. Let the Lord use your story to help others. You will be amazed at how much your life will change for the better. You start healing even more when you are helping others to heal.  I can testify to that. Isolation is so dangerous. I regret going there, it almost killed me. The Lord has helped me through it all. Something else that I have discovered on this amazing journey is that nothing from my past has gone to waste.  God is using every bit of it for His good purpose now. He will do the same for anybody. I am so glad I choose to walk in His light every single day. I will never be in the dark again. Thank You, Jesus. ♥

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I wanted to share this recording of last Sunday’s church service at my church, Hope Center of Christ. I love the message “Turn Your Hurts Into Healings” I thought how perfect it is for what the Lord put on my heart to write about. I guess the timing of it all was no accident. I pray you will be blessed by it:

Does anybody see or hear the lost and broken walking among us?

There was a young girl walking around completely lost and so empty inside.  Things got worse for her when the family fell apart, but her troubles really started before then.  Nobody knew how troubled she was.  When she was alone, which was often, all she could do was cry.  She was afraid most of the time.  She really started to hate her life.  She hated the way she looked.  She was short and struggled with weight.  She considered herself quite ugly and worthless (later on, when her dad left and never tried to contact her, she thought it was proof of her worthlessness).  She was always so shy and self conscious. She had a hard time in school, she wasn’t one of the brightest kids and the shyness made it difficult to make friends.  She had some, but in time it became more difficult because she had a hard time trusting.  She had been scarred by some cruel kids growing up.  There were times that some boys thought it was funny to grab her inappropriately.  They liked to mess with the “fat” girl.  She wasn’t a real person to them.  She learned to ignore it and would just keep walking…with her head down.  The walk home from school was quite far. So many times she’d be walking home alone with tears streaming down her face from those hurtful moments.  She didn’t want to tell anybody that she was hurting inside so she did all she could to keep her feelings to herself.  She was embarrassed.  She didn’t think anybody would understand anyway.  She had an early start of growing tired and hopeless.  Thoughts of suicide to end the pain soon followed.  When she reached the 10th grade, things got better.  It was from losing weight.  It gave her some confidence and a boost in self-esteem.  She did make some good friends and the thoughts of suicide were gone for a while.  However, the happiness didn’t last long.  As soon as her parents split apart, it was downhill from there.  In time she became completely lost and felt that nobody really saw or heard her.  She really didn’t want to be seen or heard by then.

I want so much to tell this young girl about Jesus.  I want her to really understand what He did for her on the cross.  I want her to know how much she is loved by God and how He sees her as the apple of His eye.  In His eyes, she is beautiful.  She needs to know that there’s nothing she can do to make Him love her more…or less.  She should know that God has great plans in store for her life.   I want her to know that even though she’ll go through many trials as an adult, she will not be going through them alone because Jesus will never leave her side.   He will lift her up.  I want to tell her that every challenge is an opportunity to grow closer to Him.  He will use everything for His good purpose and she will be richly blessed.   I want to tell her to never give up hope.  In Jesus, we have a hope that never disappoints.  She needs to know that there’s much more to life than what she is seeing and that life is so worth living.

I was that young girl and I sure wish I would have had somebody in my life at that time saying those words or something like them to me.  Even though it didn’t happen that way before I got old enough and chose to reach for the bottle instead of for Jesus, I am so very grateful that I know His love today.  He has completely turned my life around and is using every single painful experience for His glory now.  What a journey this has been.  What’s been happening to me for the last two plus years keeps me in such awe of Him.  He keeps moving in my life in such big ways.  All I can think of doing are things that bring Him glory.  I am called to serve Him in ministry.  It’s my heart’s desire.  I am doing things I never ever could have dreamed of.  The courage He has given me to just show up and be there and open my heart to strangers…wow.  That’s actually how this blog started.  Who pours out their heart like this?  Well, apparently I do but I couldn’t do it without Him leading me to do it, that’s for sure.  I am thankful for the courage and boldness that He gives me.

Again I find it difficult to write about such painful memories from when I was young, but the Lord has placed it on my heart to do it.  I want nothing more for the broken hearted than to feel God’s presence like I do—to feel His overwhelming love, and peace and to be completely healed and rescued from the enemy’s chains.  I want them to have the desire in their own heart to seek Him always and above all.  I want them to receive their breakthroughs and miracles.  This is what I am doing with this second chance at life.  I will do it until I take my last breath on this earth.  My heart is so willing.  I want to live it for Him and I will do all I can for others, praying that I can help them find hope in Jesus too.  I pray that I can be someone who sees and hears a lost soul and boldly shares Jesus with them.  I pray that more of us will pay attention to our surroundings and reach out to the lost and be bold for Jesus.  Maybe,  just maybe we can help a person avoid such pain like I and so many like me have gone through because we didn’t have the Lord in our lives.  How awesome would that be?!

The peace, joy, and love that I carry inside—I’ve never known anything like it before.  It’s indescribable what I feel inside and I know it can only come from the Lord.  I so want other people to feel Him like this!!!  I seek the Lord with my whole heart every day and I always find Him.  This life is hard and I cannot live it without Him.  Not anymore.  I tried that and it didn’t work out very well.  Jesus is truly my all.

So although I can’t see anyone right now, I just want to say from one broken heart to another, I pray you will be inspired to seek Jesus with your whole heart. When you find Him, and I know you will, I pray that you never stop seeking.  I pray that you learn to make Him the center of your life every single day.  Make Him Lord of your life, over ALL of your life.  You will never, ever be the same.

God bless. ♥

I was a lost soul—a mentally abused woman who didn’t deserve better.

That’s what the enemy had me convinced of—he’s a good liar. I was a lost soul and I believed his lies. I had become someone I swore for years that I would never become. I became weak, needy, and dependant. I thought I needed a man in my life bad enough, that I was willing to look past being treated so poorly. Now, he never raised a hand to me, but he sure knew how to mess with my mind. He had such control over me. I pretended it was okay to be treated that way, but deep inside I knew it wasn’t. I just wasn’t strong enough to break away.

I was getting older and the thought of being old and alone started to bother me, so I allowed myself to be in this unhealthy relationship. I had zero self-esteem. I put up with things I never should have, but the depression was getting worse and I didn’t think enough of myself to try to stop it. I thought I was too far gone for change. I didn’t care about myself at all, so I did the only thing I knew—I kept drinking more and more so that I could get through it. It’s how I learned to get through every area of my life.

Jesus was not in my heart at that time. I’m sure this never would have happened if He had been. But I just kept getting deeper and deeper into the enemy’s pit. The worst incident that happened took place about a year into the relationship. We were at a family party (his family). It was an extremely hot summer day, somewhere over 100 degrees. Normally I would have had tons of alcohol to drink, but I knew I couldn’t because of the heat. I had learned the hard way in the past that heat and alcohol just didn’t go well with me. It would make me very ill, so I never drank in extreme heat again. I drank water all day at this party. Since I was driving, he drank as much as he wanted. I don’t know how much he consumed, but everything was okay until there started to be some tension among some of the people. It’s always a bad idea to have alcohol around people who don’t get along. Toward the end of the party a fight broke out. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I honestly thought someone was going to get seriously injured or die that night. The police were called out and they calmed everybody down and asked us all questions. Nobody went to jail that night. I convinced the officers that I was okay to drive, so they had me take him home.

It was dark, it was getting late and I was driving in an unfamiliar area trying to get an angry intoxicated man home. He started saying cruel things to me. He said we were through and not to call him ever again. It didn’t even really register at first because I think I was still in shock and numb from what I had just witnessed. After he was done telling me we were over, he started saying some pretty hateful words. He was so angry toward the people he was fighting with. I won’t repeat his words, but I can tell you that they were evil and criminal. It was pretty scary thinking what if he had acted on what he was saying he wanted to do, but he didn’t. He was just beyond angry.

Now you’d think after all that, I would have had enough of the mental abuse. But no, that wasn’t the case. He called me the next day and did some sweet talking. What did I do?  Yep, I caved. I truly became the woman I said I would never become and I put up with it for another couple of years. This is very hard to admit.

But once again, I see now how God was there for me. He had started working behind the scenes in this relationship. It slowly became a long distance relationship because he got a job quite far from me. Long distance relationships rarely work for a long period of time.  I continued to endure mental abuse for a while—I think it was even worse long distance. But little by little, we really started to drift apart. I have no doubt in my heart that God made everything happen the way it did so I could finally break free. My miracles of sobriety and deliverance from depression all happened while we were apart. God was really reaching me while I was on my own again. He wouldn’t have been able to reach me otherwise…I can see that now.

The Lord gave me the strength and courage to break it off. It took a while to get him to hear that we were truly over. The Lord had completely changed my heart and I no longer had feelings for him. The Lord had opened my eyes so wide that I saw everything that he had done. I forgave him with God’s help.  I thought at first maybe we could be friends still, but the Lord made it clear to me that it was not to be. I needed a clear break with no looking back. I don’t hate him. I find myself feeling kind of sorry for him. I even pray for him.

The sad thing is that he seems to only remember the good times we had together. We did have some nice times, but not many. I think he knows how good I was to him. But for me, all I can really recall are all the times he made me cry. Every time he said something to bring me down was just another hole being ripped into my heart. I remember having a knot in my stomach for just about the entire relationship. I had that horrible feeling of turmoil for as long as I can remember. But as soon as it was over, the knot and turmoil went away. It would have never worked and I am thankful to God for helping me to see the light.

Now that I have given the Lord complete control over every area of my life, I will never worry about that happening again. I am free. I am strong once again. I have hope. I am grateful. I no longer think badly of myself. I believe I deserve to be treated well. Perhaps some day a strong man of God will cross my path—if it’s God’s will. It’s whatever He wants for my life. I will just continue to serve the Lord and see where He leads me.

I wish I would have heard the words “Jesus loves you” or “There’s hope in Jesus” or anything that would have motivated me to reach out to God more during those dark days. I don’t know what might have happened, but I’d like to think it would have helped me sooner. That’s why I’m sharing this, maybe someone in a similar circumstance will see it and realize that they do not deserve to be treated badly. I pray it will encourage someone to take action sooner than later to do what’s necessary to get out of an unhealthy and/or abusive relationship.

It brings me such comfort knowing that I belong to God and that He is all I really need—He is all any of us really need. He will never bring us harm and nobody can ever love us like He does. ♥

A life changed by God, thanks to a minister and pastor who truly cared…

I keep going back in time because there’s so much to remember and to be grateful for.  I was thinking back when I was searching for a church home in 2006.  I had no clue what I was searching for, but I knew that I couldn’t keep on with the way I was living. I knew I needed help and I was hoping that church would be the place to find it.  So I went out there looking.  I was so lost and broken, shy and depressed, but I somehow just got out there and did it.  It took a while.  There was one place I finally thought could be the church for me.   I met the senior pastor at the end of that first service I attended and everything seemed fine.  I felt welcomed.  He was very kind.  But then something happened later on that changed my mind about that church. It’s unfortunate, and I can only hope it doesn’t happen a lot but something tells me that it does in some churches.

I had been in a scary car accident.  A man without a license decided to make a left turn just as I was approaching the intersection. The light was green for me and he was supposed to yield.  As you can guess, we collided and my vehicle was totaled.  I’m very fortunate that nothing bad happened to me.  I was quite shaken, but I walked away with just a bad seat belt and air bag burn. I definitely had angels watching over me then and didn’t even realize it.  I had a small truck that was just right for me. It had been my first brand new vehicle and it was completely paid off.  I took really good care of it. Even though it was almost eight years old, my insurance company gave me $11,000 for it.  I thought that was pretty good for an older vehicle.

Even though my life didn’t really change until four years later, it’s still amazing how I can look back and see now that God had been working in me already at that time.  I had learned about tithing and I had it on my heart to give 10% of that insurance money to that church I thought was for me.  I was feeling quite grateful.  I really didn’t know what was happening to me but I was just following my heart.  I had written a check and then decided to write a letter to the pastor explaining the check, but mostly pouring my heart out to him.  I think it was a cry for help.  I wasn’t looking for any kind of “thank you” for the money—that was truly from my heart and it was for God, not that pastor.  I was just hoping for some kind of response to my letter.  I really needed help and that was the only way I knew how to ask for it.  It was the safest way for me at the time.  That was in December 2006.  To this day, I have never heard one word from that pastor.  Nor did I hear from anyone else from that church.  Perhaps the pastor never saw the letter, but I know that someone did.  After all, the check had been cashed.  That made a bigger hole in my heart at that time, and I stopped going to that church.  I was lost and now it was worse being ignored by a place I thought I was supposed to feel safe and loved in.  I stopped looking for a little while but then I guess God must have been tugging at my heart strings so I continued my search.  I really hope that church has improved on responding to people.  What if I was about to end my life then?  It’s not like my letter was suicidal, but it was clearly a cry for help. That saddens my heart that the letter was ignored.  Makes me wonder how many people may have slipped through the cracks because they felt that nobody really cared, not even a church.  I can only hope they didn’t give up because I know not all churches are like that.

Well, thankfully I didn’t give up and kept searching. I eventually found my church home and I am grateful.  Back in 2009 when I had been uncomfortably giving a new church a trial run for a little while, there was a guest preacher who happened to be speaking one Sunday.  The message he delivered was the one that God meant for me to hear.  It pierced my heart.  Suddenly my heart and mind started opening to God and that’s when my journey slowly started to take place and months later the miracles started happening.  But initially, after that first message that broke through, I was so in awe of what I was feeling.  I felt like I should write that minister to let him know.  I couldn’t believe how prompt he was with a response.  He was only a guest at the church!  I was impressed.  I was so touched since I had been ignored the other time.  It motivated me to stay in church.  I was finally starting to seek God.  Soon I started feeling really comfortable and I had contacted one of the leaders there.  She promptly responded to me too!  I thought wow, I am not being ignored this time and there truly are people who do care.  She is now my senior pastor and I am grateful for her.  I am so blessed to have a female pastor because I can talk to her about anything.  She’s never too busy when I reach out to her.

So thankful for that guest minister and his wife who have their own ministry and my pastor.  They are the ones who have helped me the most on this incredible journey.  If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I’d have this incredible connection with the Lord. I never would have been transformed by God.  I’d still be lost.  I don’t think I would have kept searching if I had been ignored again. Thankfully, I’ll never know.  I had communicated with them electronically so much at first.  I still do.  And they respond promptly every single time.  But they also make time for me in person and I am grateful for those times we spend together.  I want to be just like them in ministry.  The way they reach people for the Lord and the love they have for God and His people is amazing.  I’m thankful I now have a heart for God like they do and I believe it has happened because of their example.  I am beyond blessed by them and eternally grateful for what they have done and continue to do to help me grow in the Lord.

And because of them, I now have several brothers and sisters in Christ who all bless me and help keep me going no matter how difficult the journey gets.  I don’t know why I’m sharing all of this.  I guess I mainly have it on my heart to say that I hope everyone finds a church home that they will feel safe and loved in and will help them grow like I did.  I hope everyone finds a pastor they can trust and open their heart to.  Whoever you are, I pray that you search until you find the right place for you.  It’s out there.  I pray that you won’t give up, sometimes it takes a while.  I am so glad I didn’t quit.  There are lots of pastors out there who truly care and want to help and I am thankful to every one of them for what they do to bring people like me to the Lord. I’m thankful that they show us and teach us what following Christ is all about.  Let’s not ever forget to thank our pastors and ministers, etc., for what they do for God and for us and show them some love right back.

God bless our pastors and ministers who do all they can to take care of the Lord’s sheep! ♥