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:

Sobriety Relapse: Just one sip and it’s all over for me…and the enemy knows it.

I heard something recently that really scared me…the story starts out great about someone overcoming alcoholism. I don’t know if sobriety came through a miracle like mine or through a recovery program, but this person had remained sober for somewhere over ten years. Wow, that sure is a long time. Although I don’t know the circumstances, what scared me is when I heard that this person has since relapsed. If someone who seemed to have victory and have their life straightened out could fall back so hard and end up losing everything they had worked so hard and so long for, who am I to think that I would be exempt from relapse…especially since I haven’t even reached my three year milestone yet?

I’ve shared before how my sobriety is a true miracle of God’s power in my life—I didn’t need a recovery program. Because of that miracle, I started to dangerously think that I wouldn’t have to deal with this ever again. But once I heard of that relapse story, I recognized that I can’t fool myself into thinking I’m safe.  Well, not safe under my own power anyway.

Hearing that story was not a coincidence. I believe the Lord put me in the right place at the perfect time so I could hear it. His timing never ceases to amaze me. Lately, I’ve been battling thoughts of wishing I could have just one drink to relax after a hard day of work. For me, that is just completely impossible. No way could I ever have just one drink. I also know that all it will take is just one sip to destroy all the good that God has done in my life over the last couple of years. The enemy definitely knows this and he has been working hard at trying to make me stumble.

Life has been extra challenging lately. Work is exhausting, and when I spend time alone, my mind drifts and I battle thoughts of unhealthy things such as drinking. I know in my heart I really don’t want to go back there because that will kill me. But the battle with the mind is ongoing. It is tiring. The war being waged by the enemy is fierce, but I have come so far in such a short time that I will not give up. After all, God has given me so much to live for now, I want to continue to fight the good fight and thankfully, I have the Lord keeping me strong and protected. I wouldn’t be able to fight this fight without the Lord holding me up. I am so grateful that my connection with Him is so deep. When I shared with my pastor how this story scared me, she encouraged me by reminding me of my connection with the Lord, and that people with this kind of connection do not relapse. At least it would be a very rare thing to happen. I needed to be reminded of that. I will be alright as long as I keep connected to the Lord. Any of us with this kind of battle will be alright as long as we stay connected to Him and that is super encouraging!

The more I walk this walk, the more vulnerable I become. I know the only way I can help someone in their journey is to be vulnerable and share about what the Lord is doing in mine, so here I am. This journey is tough, but the Lord is giving me the strength and courage I need to do His will. I am grateful.  I have been led by the Lord to start attending a Christian recovery program (Celebrate Recovery) for the first time.  It was one of the most difficult steps of my life.  I think mostly I allowed the enemy to put fear in my heart.  Thankfully through prayer with my pastor and some dear friends, and with the Lord’s help I once again have conquered that fear.  It seemed really strange to me to be starting a recovery program after being sober for a while already.  However, I am following my heart and I am actually attending my second night tonight.  It will be my first meeting with a small group of women who all battle with chemical dependency.

Last week I actually spoke in front of a large group of people where I was one of several who took a turn speaking. I introduced myself and stated why I was there.  Friends, it was only a few words, but it was tough!!  I almost chickened out and was just going to stay seated.  But I followed the Lord’s prompt to just do it and I am so glad I listened to Him.  It was unexpected, but I had received a Celebrate Recovery chip with a special Bible verse on it.  It’s a little plastic thing, but it’s pretty special to me especially because of that Bible verse. It’s a blessing that I would have missed out on had I allowed my nerves to get in the way.

Here’s a photo of it:

“My Grace is enough for you.”

I realize now that the Lord will be using this part of my life to help others who are going through the same thing. Not everybody gets healed and gets sober through complete miracles like I have, so how can I encourage people to go through a recovery program if I haven’t walked that part of the journey myself? Knowing this helped me to make that first difficult step last week. This is a win-win for me because it is also going to give me an additional support group of people who ALL know the shoes I’m walking in. I’m learning that I really need that in my life, especially now.

I’ll be sharing things as I go along on this new journey the Lord has me on.  It is wonderful discovering my purpose in life—God’s will for my life.  I am on my way to something beyond what I could ever imagine on my own. I pray that people who are struggling will be encouraged to do something and get the help they need. We can’t do this on our own, but ALL things are possible with God!

This last photo is of me holding my special blessing. What you see is pure joy from God’s miracles in my life AND from discovering a big part of His plan for me. It is so good to be alive, to be sober, and to be used by God! Blessings to you all! ♥

Joy that can only come from God ♥

God never answered my prayers before, so why would He start now?

It breaks my heart today that so many people feel this way and give up hope.  But I understand what it’s like to be there because that used to be me.  I remember all the years I doubted that God would ever think about answering my cries to Him.  After all, why should He?  I never did anything for Him.  Not one thing.  I never knew Him.  I never had the desire to.   I didn’t care to love Him…I just didn’t know how.  Like many, I only cried out when I was in need.  I honestly don’t know why I kept trying for so long, especially because He never answered.  Well, that is of course, until that last rock bottom cry for help that I’ve written about before.

That last cry out to Him was different from all the many other times.  It’s amazing that He answered for the first time.  I don’t think it was because I was finally at the end of my rope.  Nor was it because of my desperation—I was always desperate every time I cried out.   And it definitely wasn’t because I deserved it–no way did I deserve it.  I believe God finally answered because for the first time in my entire life, my cry came with a sincere heart.  I was done trying to be in control of my own life. I know now that I was never in control, the enemy was and he had taken me to such a dark place.  I felt I had one foot in the grave and the rest of me would end up there soon if I didn’t do something about it.  I wasted over 20 years, but thank God I was finally ready to change before it was too late.   I was finally ready to live–to really live.  And I was willing to allow God to do whatever He had to in my life to get me there.

So many times I have heard people say, “Jesus didn’t say following Him would be easy, but He said it would be worth it.”  That is so true.  I can say that it has truly been worth it.  I really had no idea what I was in for at the beginning.  This has been the hardest work of my life.  But, it has also been the most blessed and rewarding experience I could have ever imagined.  I have also experienced many growing pains through this journey and because the growing will continue, so will the pain that comes with it.  But it has all been more than worth it.  My spiritual growth is incredible.  Life on this earth will always be challenging.  There will always be many trials.  Jesus told us so.  But I can’t imagine going through them without the Him on my side…without Him carrying me through.  Not ever again.  I do all I can to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  The Lord continues to do His part as He has promised, and I believe that’s because I have kept my promise and I continue to do my part.  No matter how hard or what the cost may be.

Today I have the privilege of encouraging others to do the same.  I can only hope that the way I live my life is a good example for them to follow.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see the fruit of my labor, but whether I do or not, it doesn’t really matter.  That is not why I do what I do.  I will keep sowing the seeds and leave the rest to God.  That has been a difficult lesson, but I am learning.  People sowed seeds into my life and the Lord has made them grow in amazing ways.  Because I am blessed to still have these amazing people of faith in my life, for whom I am so eternally grateful for, I work hard to pay it forward.  I will keep serving the Lord in faith and try to reach as many as I can while I am still here.  I continue to pray that through my life, God will reach people and draw them near to Him.  This is why I am alive today.  I was given a second chance at life and I am not going to waste it this time.

God has given me so much and I want to share it with the world.  I pray someone who is where I once was, will see this and start seeking God with their whole heart right now.  Not just when it’s convenient, not just on Sundays, but every single day.  He’s waiting and if you open your heart and mind to Him and allow Him to have control, you too will see incredible breakthroughs and miracles start to happen in your own life.  You will know joy, peace, and love like you’ve never known before.  Even during the most difficult times of your life.  Who doesn’t want that?!  God will never be more real to you.  I don’t want you to live another day without Him, there is so much more to life than what you’re seeing right now and God will open your eyes to see things that you’ve never seen before.   Get ready for some hard work, but also get ready for the best days of your life to come.

I hope that in time, you too will pay it forward.  May God bless you richly. ♥

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. ♥