Friday, June 9, 2017

I am A Warrior (I think I hear Rocky music.....)

I was born to a 15 year old girl and an unknown father. I know what it feels like to be a mistake.
My mother would grow up to practice witchcraft and her grandparents were devil worshipers. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.”
I was adopted into the family that raised me. I know what if feels like to not really fit in.
A lot of bad things happened to me as I grew up. I know what it feels like to be insecure.
We didn’t always have food growing up. I know what hunger feels like.
I was molested by a family friend. I know what it feels like to be a victim.
I got pregnant my senior year in high school. I know what shame feels like.
I married my child’s father and ended up being abused. I know what being hit feels like.
I got a divorce and spent three years as a single mom. I know what loneliness feels like.
I searched for and found my birth mother. I know what rejection feels like.
I married a man who was controlling. I know what it feels like to be a prisoner in your own home.
My dad died. I know what grief feels like.
I sunk into my first depression. I know what it feels like to be without hope.
I started going to church. I know what that first spark of hope feels like.
I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I know what salvation feels like.
I have spent years battling Satan’s attacks. I know what the valley feels like.
I got my second divorce. I know what it feels like to be free, yet alone.
I sunk into a pit of depression. I know what it feels like to not be able to hear God’s voice.
I became suicidal. I know what it feels like to want to die.
I started the path to healing in Celebrate Recovery. I know what second chances feels like.
I learned to forgive others and most importantly, myself. I know what forgiveness feels like.
I learned to accept friendship when offered. I know what it feels like to be loved.
I started to like the person I saw in the mirror. I know what acceptance feels like.
I can do a lot of things I never thought I could. I know what pride feels like.
I have traveled and seen many things. I know what determination feels like.
I have had people share their deep, dark struggles with me. I know what trust feels like.
I have felt the presence of God so strongly at my darkest hours. I know what faith is.
When I wanted to give up I asked God to help me hold on. I know what perseverance is.
God is putting people in my life to help me and for me to help. I know what healing feels like.
Over my life I have felt nearly every emotion there is, both good and bad. I know hunger, and I know gluttony. I know the pain of emptiness and I know the joy of a cup that overflows. I know what it feels like to be surrounded by people that love me and I know what it feels like to feel like no one else cares. I know peace, I know torment, I know happiness, I know bitterness. I know what it’s like to hold Satan’s hand and I know what it’s like to be cradled in the arms of God. I know what Angel whispers sound like, when they are helping to save your life. I know regret, when you make decisions that destroy your life.
I believe that God never wastes a hurt, and that every path, right or wrong, has a reason, a lesson and that God means it all for good. If I had never known pain, how would I know to appreciate pleasure? If I never saw the valley, how would I know how precious the mountain was? If I had never experienced hardship, how would I know the comfort of the good times.

If I had never been in the fire, how would I know what it feels like to be burned, and know that my sole purpose in life is to stand at the edge of the flames and reach in to help pull others to safety. God gave me these hurts so that I in turn can help others who are hurting. There was a purpose for every pain, and for the first time in my life, I thank God for them. Because now I understand why I was created. To rise up out of the ashes and shine the light of God on those who are still in the darkness. To show that a broken life can still have meaning. To be a warrior, and to thank God for every battle. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Your Body is a Temple, Show it Some Love

I just love it when the Bible just jumps out and hits you with something. I am working through a section in my theology book called the Knowledge of God. It says that God initiates our knowledge of Him, otherwise we would have no way TO know Him; That only true truth comes from God, and that we try to create our own truth; and that God sent the Holy Spirit to teach us about Him. I was reading in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19-20. I have heard these verses numbers of times, quoted by people and used to argue several points. But tonight God revealed it to me in another way. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" and "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, who you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body." Most people look at the "Your body is a temple" part of the verse as a way to warn to take care of your health, don't get tattoos or piercings and to not be overweight. But tonight I see it a little more clearly.

Temples are not to be taken lightly. There were times in the Bible that temples were destroyed. Jesus overturned tables because of sin going on in the temple. The temple was holy because people went there to worship God. Now, because of salvation, the Holy Spirit lives within us. That is what makes our bodies a temple. God looked at us, knowing our worst, and called us to salvation. He cleansed our sins, gave us a new heart, and the Holy Spirit promptly moved into that heart to guide us, if we are willing, to a closer relationship with God. We attend church, we pray, we read our Bible, all in the attempt to both worship God and to learn to know Him better. The Holy Spirit teaches us, convicts us, and shows us in many ways, the things God wants us to know. Not an all out dump of information, but gradually, each at their own pace. Those of us that the Spirit indwells, are a constant work in progress, and we should be growing until we take our last breath. If we aren't growing, does the Spirit dwell inside? Because I don't think that God saves us to sit. But back to the temple.

I don't think it is necessarily just about the exterior of our temple that God is concerned with. Yes, He wants us healthy so we can do His work. But, He saves people covered in tattoos and piercings the same as He saves those who have none. He saves overweight people the same as He does those who are physically fit. He saves vegetarians, baconators, and bacon haters. Those aren't the important things. Our body is a temple because God said so. Because the Spirit lives inside us. So it's not only about how we treat our OWN temple but let us consider how we treat the temples of others? If I attend Solid Rock, which I do, that is my exterior temple, where God called me to serve. Would I be wrong to talk badly about Wheaton Southern? Yes. Even though that is not MY temple, it's also a temple of God. Would I be wrong to talk bad about New Hope? Yes, because that is also a temple of God, even if it's not MY temple. So when we talk badly about other Christians, we are also demeaning God's temple. If we treat another Christian badly, we are trashing God's temple the same as if we spraypainted graffiti on the side of the church building. If we gossip about a Christain, we are defaming a temple of God. If we see a fellow Christian downtrodden and refuse to offer to help, we are telling God that His temple doesn't matter to us. If we are all temples of God, then we should treat each other better. We should love each other even if we don't agree. We should help each other every chance we get. We should see Jesus every time we look at each other, and remember that the Spirit of God lives in them, so how we treat them is a reflection of how we treat the Spirit. We were all bought with a price, the blood of Christ, so we are all part of one Body, one church, and one God. We need to remember that it's not just about OUR own temple, but the temple of every Christian and we can't pick and choose. Because to reject the person, you are also rejecting the Spirit that lives with them. And since we have to give an account of everything we say and do, at the judgment, we need to be more mindful of how we treat each other. We need to spend less time worrying about the exterior of our temple, and more time worrying about the internal part. God doesn't care what our clothes look like, about our hair and makeup, if we are skinny or heavy, He cares about our heart, our soul, and our attitude. He cares about how we treat His children, and how much we love Him and His Son. The exterior of the temple falls away, in the end, and it's the inside that counts. Jesus gave us two commandments to follow: Love God and love each other. I don't think He said we could pick and choose who we feel is deserving, He just said to do it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Christians vs Pharisees

not speaking of anything in particular, just making an observation.... Sometimes we really need to think about the things we say, because even though we are stating our opinion and beliefs, we can be condemning someone without realizing it. We need to realize that a sin is a sin, and there is no greater or lesser of sins. Other than denying God. But that's not my point. We tend to demonize some sins while sweeping others under the carpet as not being such a big deal. But remember, the murderer who accepts Christ will be heaven, while the gossiper who does not will be in hell. If we as Christians truly want to see people saved, we need to quit judging and condemning people by making their sins seem unforgivable. In OUR eyes, they may seem unforgivable but God is willing to forgive all. IF we are supposed to be like Christ, we need to guard our words. Or are we acting like the Pharisee's and saying "Wow, I am not as bad of a sinner as THAT person, look what THEY did." We all sin, and none is greater or lesser than others. I have been judged and cut deeply by the words of people who profess to love me, but because they don't understand where I come from, they say things that hurt. We are told to confess our sins, one to another so we can pray for each other and be healed. But how can we do that if we constantly fear judgement, gossip and condemnation because our sins are outside of what is an "acceptable sin." I say this to myself, because I am guilty of this at times. but as I spend more time with the people Jesus hung out with, I have had my eyes opened. It doesn't matter what you USED to be, it matters what you are now, through Christ. But as long as we as Christians continue to make cutting comments about the sins of others, we are not practicing "Love the sinner, hate the sin," because while we are saying that with our mouth, we are showing something exactly oppositve with our actions. IF we want sinners to come to church and find forgiveness, we need to stop acting like we have the right to cast stones. We need to show the love that Christ showed. We need to reach our hand out and help up the ones who have fallen. We need to love, and try to see people for what they are, not what they WERE. Watch our words, and stop killing people with the things that come out of our mouths. THOU SHALT NOT KILL does not mean simply spilling the blood of another, to gossip is to murder their reputation and integrity. To judge without knowing is to murder their self esteem and self worth. To be unforgiving is to murder their sense of hope. We kill people daily by thoughts, words and deeds, not just with guns and knives. If we want to be like Christ, then look at the example He left. Love, accept, forgive, help, uplift, encourage. Don't be a Pharisee....Don't destroy someone whose struggle you have no idea about.... "Forgive us Father, for we know not what we do".....

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fighting The Infection Within

Lately, I have been doing zero writing. I'm not sure if it's because I feel like I have other things I need to be doing, or if I feel like I don't deserve to get to do the one thing that brings me the most pleasure. I claim writer's block, but really, I haven't even attempted it. But tonight, after a very powerful Celebrate Recovery, I decided that I needed to write out the things I am figuring out so that I can deal with it. Also, God has laid it on me that someone needs to hear this. Not sure who, but I pray that the right one reads this. 

My name is Beckie, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, who struggles with depression and feelings of low self-worth. I have many character defects, but these are the two that I struggle with most and the ones that I want to overcome first. I feel the others will come in time. I have been told much of my life that depression is a disease, an illness, and needs to be treated with medication. While I will agree that some cases are caused by a chemical imbalance, and am by no means downplaying that type of depression, I also believe that in many cases, depression is a byproduct of a severe case of "Life-sucks-itis". At one time in my life, I was heavily medicated for depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I changed my life situation and it improved, at least until my life took another downward spiral. 

At Celebrate Recovery tonight, the study leader stated that Depression is NOT an illness. It is a symptom. This resonated in my head and it was like a light switched on. I had heard this before, but for the first time it really REALLY sank in. When you get a cold, you get a cough, sneezing, headache, sore throat, etc. So, you have a sore throat. But a sore throat is NOT your disease, even though it may be the worst sore throat you ever had. The problem is, you have a COLD. The core issue is a germ that gave you a cold. But no one really considers the core issue, a germ. They discuss the symptoms. So here are my symptoms, (remember, not my disease) I have depression, experienced with bouts of melancholy, sadness, crying, isolation, and at times in the past, suicidal thoughts. I have anxiety, experienced with bouts of racing thoughts, running scenarios of things that will never EVER happen, stress, insomnia, sadness and feelings of abandonment. I have low self-esteem, experienced with sadness, feelings of  being unloved, unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary, and worthlessness. These are all symptoms. There is a CORE ISSUE, that causes these things. So my depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are like an infection, not an ailment. There is something inside me causing this infection. 

In my case, its damaged relationships, the abuse I have suffered, both physical and emotional, and a lot of  issues cause by my adoption, finding my birth mother, and two failed marriages. Because I was never taught ways to cope with things, I buried them. I dealt with things by not dealing with them. I poked those hurts in a box and put it on a shelf and tried to move on with my life. But they just sat there, on that shelf, festering, dripping poison onto the healthy parts of my life until those also became infected. 

I didn't feel like I deserved good things, happiness or success, so I never strove to be all I was created to be. I would turn down good opportunities, rather than put myself out on a limb and face disappointment, I would sabotage relationships because I was afraid they would hurt me. I put walls up between myself and virtually everyone else so that they couldn't get close enough to see that I was hurting, or to hurt me. 

So, now I am a mess. Even with God in my life, I still struggle with depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. People say that's not possible. That a saved person cannot be depressed. But, if you never dealt with the junk from before God, how can you ever be clear of it? I turned my life fully over to God, and asked Him into my heart, but there was always that little closet in the back of my mind that I kept locked up from Him. 
"Sure God, you can have access to all of me, my heart, my head, my decisions. What? That little closet in the back of my mind? Oh, that's nothing, just a bunch of boxes of stuff I never dealt with. I was just going to deal with it later. Now? Ummm, kinda busy now, so I was thinking later, much later, you know, like LATER later. And maybe You will forget about it and we can leave it alone. See me serving You? Praising and worshiping and working for You? See me being all busy and stuff working in the church? Yeah, I don't have time for boxes of issues." And life goes on. I serve God to the best of my ability, I serve my church. I give great advice to my friends who deal with the same issues, I read my Bible, but not nearly enough, I pray regularly. And I have a raging infection brewing inside me that sidelines me when I least expect it. I can be having just the greatest day, and BOOM, a negative thought hits me and I start spiraling. It cycles, the scenarios start, the emotions snowball, the tears begin. I isolate, I cry, I sit up half the night going over things I said or didn't say. I reread texts to see if I said something wrong. Morning comes, I struggle to get out of bed. I don't want to see people, I don't want to go anywhere, but I have to. So I plaster a fake smile on my face and greet the day. I can fool most people, except the ones who are where I am, because they recognize the signs, and the ones closest to me, because they know me. 

The symptoms are killing me slowly. The depression keeps me down, the anxiety keeps my mind occupied with junk and the negative voices fill my thoughts with lies that keep me from fighting. 

But that was then. This is now. I take the key and turn the lock on the closet door. I step inside and look at the boxes. The number is daunting. I sigh deeply, and reach for the first box. I open it, and with the help of God, and my Celebrate Recovery family, and my church family, I start going through the painful reminders of my past. I look at the lies I believed for so many years and exchange them for truths. I shake out the wrinkled tattered rags of my childhood and replace them with pure white garments of truth that God has given me. I am not unwanted, I am a child of God. I am adopted, TWICE! I am adopted into my earthly family, but also into the family of God. I am not unloved, John 3:16 tells me I am the Whosoever! Jesus died for ME! I am not unneeded, I am shown this every day when someone asks me something, or needs help, or comes up needing a hug, or encouragement. I am not a mistake. God planned for me before the earth began. Slowly the lies are exchanged for the truth. and the TRUTH is setting me FREE. 

Satan sends demons to whisper those negative thoughts in my ears. The Bible says we don't struggle with flesh and blood but powers and principalities. Every time I make great strides for God, or am about to, these negative thoughts get so strong it's hard to drown them out. But I have to continue to fight. 
I found this saying once, and it's really coming true:
God has a plan for your life.
Satan also has a plan for your life. 
You have to figure out which one to battle and which one to embrace.

I look at the people that I see at CR each week. They are just like me. They are struggling with demons. My demons are depression and negativity. Theirs might be drugs or alcohol. But even those are simply symptoms. There is still a core issue that they have to face, and deal with to ever be free from it. CR is giving me the tools I need to do so. And with God's help, I will be successful. Because somewhere out there, is peace and happiness. I thought I could settle for contentment, but I can't. I need happiness. And true happiness will only come when I free my body from the poisons that are eating me from the inside out. One day at at time, one box at a time. I didn't get to this point overnight and I won't heal overnight. But I feel like I am finally on the right path. 

I have always been the type to not want to do anything alone. I wanted someone to go with me and hold my hand. God has put distance between me and the ones I usually go to. Because this is a journey I have to make on my own. Because if someone is with me, I rely on them and not on God. God has put me in a labyrinth. People can watch me over the top of the walls, and cheer me on, or give me advice, but they can't go with me. I have to find my way through this maze on my own. I have to listen for God's voice to tell me which way to turn. I truly hope it's a small maze because we all know my sense of direction sucks. I don't want to spend years in here. But I am making my way. And I can shout encouragement to the other people in their own mazes, trying to find their way to the treasure box that is at the end. A treasure box full of what all of us are searching for. Healing and peace. 

So that's my journey. It's where I am right now. Sometimes I look down and lose sight of God. But I don't give up and I won't. Because God did not create me to be a quitter. He is right there in front of me waiting for me to look up and take the next step. To rip the lid off the next box so we can go through it, and He can exchange the rags for something much better. 

If you have read this far, this isn't the same as the blogs I usually write. It's deep and emotional, and hard. But it is also truth, and as I said before, it's something that someone needs to see. 

Life isn't fair, and it isn't easy. Being a Christian doesn't mean life gets easier, it just means I no longer have to go this road alone. and I will make it to the end because God's word says so. I can do ALL things, through Christ who gives me strength. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

I'm Not God

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and what I have figured out, is I'm not God. God has been here forever. He has done a lot of miraculous things, and He did it all without me! He created the universe from nothing and didn't even need to ask me how. He created every animal, without my input, and they turned out just fine. He created every person who would ever be on the face of the earth, including ME, and really, without asking my advice, did a great job. 

So why is it, when God wants to do some work on me, in me or using me, do I feel the need to tell Him how to do His job?
God: Beckie, you need to work on some things, I would like you to study My word more often than you do. 
Me: Okay God, but...... how about if I listen to the guy read the Bible on the app on my phone. That technically qualifies, right?
God: No. Listening is not the same as reading. I want you to read. 
Me: Okay. (Read two verses) There ya go, God, took care of that for ya. 
God: (sigh)That isn't what I had in mind. I want you to pray more. The more you talk to Me, the closer we will become. 
Me: I can do that. I will just pray when I think about it. I will pray in the car going to work, and when I eat, and when I am going to sleep. 
God: NO, Beckie, I want real prayer time with you. Not when you are rushed, or busy or distracted. I want you to talk to ME about your problems, 
Me: Oh, well I already talked those over with one of my friends, so I am good now, but thanks! If I have a problem I can't manage on my own tho, I will be sure to holler. 
God: (sigh) This depression, it's getting out of hand. I never created you to be sad all the time. You listen to satan when you should listen to Me. I would never say things to make you feel bad, I would never make you feel worthless. 
Me: I'm sorry God, what were you saying? I wasn't listening. I was busy listening to the voices that tell me I am junk. 
God: (sigh) 
Me: God, I have an idea. How about You work things out, so I can write full-time and not have to have a regular job. Then I can stay home, and just write. 
God: Beckie, you write to bring glory to My name, yes, and I want you to write, but I also want you to work at your job because I put people in your path that I need you to talk to. I put people in front of you so that you can tell them about Me, so you can encourage and uplift them, make them laugh with the sense of humor that I gave you. 
Me: well, yeah, But I just think that it would be easier to just do it my way. 
God: but your ways are not My ways. 
Me: I KNOW God, but..... Your ways are not easy. 
God: I never promised easy. See that person over there? The sad one. I want you to go and talk to them. 
Me: (sigh) I don't want to. I mean, I will, but I don't want to. Maybe you should send someone else to go talk to them. Someone that knows what to say, someone, that knows how to talk to them in ways I can't. I'm not good at that. 
God: When I send you to talk to someone I give you the words. 
Me: But, what if I mess up? 
God: You won't mess up. 
Me: (sigh)
God: I want you to slow down, Beckie, you are too busy, you don't rest enough, you don't spend enough time doing the things I want you to do, just being still and knowing that I am your God. 
Me: Hey, look! Another project! I can serve You, God, by doing more at church! 
God: Beckie, you serve Me, yes, but you are so busy serving Me, that you never have time to spend with Me, to worship Me, to grow in Me, to pray to Me. You stay so busy, that you end up farther away from Me than if you did nothing at all. 
Me: But God, I need to be busy, so I can't hear the negative voices that tell me I am junk. 
God: You wouldn't hear the voices if you would spend that busy time praying to Me, or reading the Bible. 
Me: yeah but....
God: (sigh) Read the Bible Beckie, Jeremiah 29:11. Know the plans I have for you. The plans "I" have. It doesn't say the plans Beckie has. 
Me: I know God. And I think they are good plans. But I just think sometimes that my plans are better, surely easier, and...less painful. 
God: You "think". But your thoughts are not My thoughts. I see the whole picture, you just see the tiny piece you are in. All I ask of you Beckie is obedience. To trust Me, that I have things under control. That I know what is best for you. 
Me: sigh.
God: I love you, Beckie, I loved you before the earth even began. when I formed the plan for you. When I worked out your story, and how you would come to be. I knew the mistakes you would make. I knew the wrong paths you would take. I knew you would reject My Son, many, many times before you would accept Him. 
Me: But... why couldn't I just have a normal life? Why did I have to be adopted? Why did I have to have the hard life, so full of pain?
God: I needed you to come to earth in a different way because I needed you to learn lessons differently, so I could use you to help people in ways that others couldn't. Life was hard because you kept making the wrong decision. Because you kept going off the path I had for you, and it took Me time to get you back on the path, just in time for you to get off of it again. You are stubborn, and willful, like the Israelites who had to wander in the desert for 40 years. You spent a lot of years wasted and lost when you could have had things easier. But I knew this, and I kept working things around so that you would eventually find Me. But in those years, you listened to the voice of Satan telling you how worthless you were, until you let his voice soak in, drowning out My voice. 
Me: (sigh) I'm sorry God. You are right, and I am wrong. But...
God: No Beckie, no "buts". Be still, and know that I am God. Listen to My voice, soak in the words I tell you. When I tell you that you are Good, that you are Worthy, that you are Special. Because to Me, you are all of this and more. I created you to be just the person that you are. People love you, even if you can't see it. People think you are as wonderful as I do, even if you can't accept it. People see how special I created you to be, I just wish you could see yourself through My eyes. 
Me: but I keep messing up. I forget to pray, and forget to read my Bible, and I sin. A lot. I get angry, and I sometimes say bad words. I get jealous, and I want more than You have given me. I struggle, and I let life get me down. Some days I don't want to live, and I take my eyes off of You, and then the depression gets so bad. 
God: Because you try to do My job. Beckie, I am God, I am the Master, you are the servant. I am the teacher, you are the student. I am the potter, you are the clay. Quit trying to do My job, and just be the person I created you to be. Let Me be God, and you just be Beckie. 
Me: (sigh) I will try harder God. 
God: I know you will. and we will have this same conversation tomorrow. And the next day. But you know what? I love you Beckie, and no matter how difficult you are, I am glad I made you. 
Me: I love you too God. I just want you to be proud of me. 
God: Child, I already am. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Depression: The Monster Within

Having depression is like having a monster living inside you. Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde at its worst. Life can be moving along at a normal pace and then something triggers it. Sometimes it can be an event, sometimes it can be a memory, or sometimes it can be just having been too strong too long, and getting worn down. But it hits, and you are down. Again. And sometimes it's fleeting, a sadness, a few tears; sometimes is longer, a few days in bed, or having to seek counseling and medication, because it goes on and on and on. And sometimes, it ends suddenly, in a suicide. But it's always there.  
Sometimes you want to talk about things because you know that will help. Sometimes you want to internalize things, because you don't want to talk about it, again. Because you have been down this road, your friends have been down this road with you a thousand times and you don't want to feel like you failed them again. So you try to vanquish the monster alone. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But you always have scars. The scars are on your soul. On your heart. You might look normal on the outside, but inside you have a thousand battle scars from the fighting within your heart, your mind, battles that no one sees. 
Some people never battle depression or even have the blues. I know, because they tell me. They tell me that I need to suck it up. They tell me I need to shake it off. I need to give it to God, I need to pray more. They don't know that I have had more depression issues since I got saved than I ever had when I was lost. They don't know that Satan sends the demon of depression after me every time I make great strides for God, to knock me back down. They battle other demons I am sure, and maybe don't even realize it. All of God's children battle Satan if they are growing in their faith. Satan knows our weaknesses. He knows how to attack. 
When you think you are fortified, and prayed up and strong, then Satan attacks your family, and that drags a parent down faster than an attack on themselves. Our kids are our Achilles tendon or main weakness. And I faced a full frontal attack a few weeks back, and it left me weak. And vulnerable. So attacks have come pretty regularly.  I envision an army of demons surrounding me, big ones and small ones, each with their mission to bring me down. The demons have names. Discouragement. Sickness. Nightmares. Calamity. Woe. And lurking around at the back is Suicide. Because there have been times over the past few days when that has attacked as well. That this life is so hard, it's not worth living. Death would be easier than this daily onslaught of attacks. No one cares. No one would miss me. The kids would be better off without a crazy mom. These are all lies, lies of Satan, but they are the whispers that come at your weakest point. 
Why try? why bother? Why waste your time putting one foot in front of the other? I have had family that committed suicide. For a long time, I couldn't imagine what would cause them to make that decision. I thought it was selfishness. They never thought about what it would do to the ones left behind. But I realize now that they did it to shut up the demons. They weren't strong enough to keep fighting. They had been too strong for too long. Even the fiercest warriors can only fight for so long. They have to have someone to take over the fight so they can rest. But if no one is there, then what? If no one is there to catch them. Or if they don't want to go to the ones they usually go to because they are tired of feeling like a burden. Because it's the same fight over and over. 
I know I am loved. I know I am valued. I know I have people that loved me and want me and need me. I know I am a good person, a strong Christian. But, when that hits, I am worthless. I am unlovable. I am unwanted, unneeded, un.... un-anything that I know I really am. I am weak. I can't do anything right. I can never make it on my own. A black cloud goes over the sun and I am in a darkness that is as thick as tar. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I just lay and look at the wall for hours. But this last time, I got angry. Filled with hate at the unfairness of life. I lashed out at people. Mr. Hyde had a heyday. I shut the door on my usual support system. I get tired of being needy. This time, I didn't care if the monster won. I truly did not care. Because I am tired of fighting. I am so tired. 
But God always has a plan. And He has people in place. He sent a couple of new warriors to battle through the darkness. To beat the demons off of me, and drag me back into the light. Not to replace the warriors that have fought for me before, but allies. 
So here I am. Bruised and bloody, but healing. Weak but breathing. I have always used a lot of symbolism with walls. I had walls built up around me to keep people out. People broke down those walls so they could love me and be with me. Hurt comes in those broken walls too. So maybe the key is building the walls back, but handing out keys. So the ones who love me can come in, but I can keep out some of the painful stuff. I don't know, but trust God to help me find a balance. He must still have things for me to do because He hasn't let me go yet. So it's time to dust myself off. Be like Elijah. Eat, sleep and start the fight again. Because I know there are more monsters over the horizon. But I have a lot of work to do for God before I get there. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mercy and Grace..... and Bacon.

I think the world would be a much better place if we extended the same grace and mercy to others that God extends to us. 

Face it. We all mess up. No one is perfect, I don't care how much you think you are. News flash, You Are NOT. We all screw-up, we all sin and we all have to pay the price. Now granted, some screw ups are worse than others, at least by OUR standards. God does not label sins by the degree of bad to worse. Any sin is punishable by death. From the little kid stealing a cookie to the mass murderer to the gossipy little old lady. But.... imagine the world where, when we turned our lives over to God, and He forgives us and remembers our sins no more if we did the same for each other. 

What if we looked at the guy who used to be the town drunk, but did an extensive rehabilitation program, cleaned his life up, and tried to start life anew, following the God that he found in rehab. What if we didn't always refer to him as the ex-drunk. Or question his every motive, wondering every time we saw his car parked at the convenience store if he was in there buying beer. 

What if we looked at the woman who was wild in high school, and had a baby before she graduated, and didn't think of her as having loose morals. Because she gave her life to the Lord in her 20's, got married and lived a respectable life, or at least she tried to, despite everyone constantly reminding her how bad she used to be. 

What if we spent our time lifting each other up, instead of tearing each other down. What if we didn't try to judge people based on who they are related to. Grouping someone in according to how bad of a reputation others with the same last name have. What if we remembered the Golden Rule, that even nonbelievers learned in school. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is Biblical, but even those who never have been to church know this. 

Christians are told that there are two main laws that they are to follow. Love God, and love your neighbor. And who is your neighbor? Everyone. Not just the guy next door. Or the sweet lady across the street. Your neighbor is every single person you know. And we are to love them. 

I struggle with this sometimes. Some people are just hard to love. And as  a reformed hater and grudge holder, I struggle to love people that are just not good people. But I work on it. I try to see life from their point of view. I try to extend grace and mercy when they are mean to me. Instead of being hateful back, which is very tempting, I smile and try to think of something pleasant to say. I don't always succeed, but I TRY. 

Because I know I am not always easy to love, and God always loves me. I know that I can be impossible and that I have done a lot of stuff wrong, but God is always there, with grace and mercy. But as Christians, and even as non-Christians who profess to be "good people", shouldn't we treat each other that same way? There is so much hate in the world. So much name calling. If you look on any national story on facebook and just read through the comments, or on local news reports that are posted, the comments can just get mean and ugly. As good people, why do we feel the need to attack those who don't agree with us? I may not agree with who you want to vote for, but I love you regardless. I may not agree with the baseball team or football team you like but I love you anyway. I may not agree with the life you lead, but I choose not to call you mean names. I might tell you that I think you are not making good life choices, but I will do it with love, and not say hateful things. Life is so short. Why make it harder than it already is by withholding love, and mercy, grace and forgiveness. This was a long lesson learned. I hated people for decades. But God forgave me, so I in return have forgiven others. God extended grace and mercy toward me, so how can I not extend it to others. God does not hold my past against me, so how can I hold someone else's past against them. 

Hey, YOU, remember when....... if you look at someone and want to bring up a "Remember when" make it a good one. Hey, remember when we helped that guy out of the ditch? Remember when we all chipped together to help that guy fix his car? Remember when you gave me flowers because you knew I liked them? Remember the good deeds that people do, let the bad things go, Just like God does, as far as the east is from the west. Forgive. Love. Eat more bacon, because that will definitely make you happier. But for crying out loud! Love each other people! Life sucks bad enough, don't make someone's life harder than it already is. And smile. Life is always better if you smile. oh, and I really meant that about eating more bacon. Try it. Nitrates are good for the soul. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Parable of the Uncle

Once upon a time, there was a wise old uncle who had two nieces. One niece, he had known for her entire life, and even though she had always known him as her uncle, she did not love him. He wanted to be loved and respected by the girl, but instead she turned her back on him. She hated his ways, and decided that she did not want to be his niece, but would rather spend her days happily alone, without a loving uncle to call her own. The uncle was angry at her, because he wanted her to choose him, but he would not force her to love him, to respect or obey him. So he sadly watched her walk out of his life.
But far away lived another little girl, who was lonely, and wished for a family to call her own. One day, she discovered that she had a wise old uncle, and she sought him out. She had not known him her whole life, but she loved him, and when he called her his beloved niece she was happy. She wanted to please him, so she did as he asked, and loved him, and respected him, which is all he ever really wanted. Sometimes when the niece would stray off of the path that the uncle wanted her to stay on, he would chastise her, and she would turn from the things she did that displeased him, not out of fear of what he could do to her, but out of love, because she wanted him to love her, and want her in his life.
Now the Uncle had the power to send her away at any moment, but he didn’t because he loved her. And even though she did the things he wanted, and showed him love and respect, she sometimes still felt sad, because she had missed out on so many years that she could have been with him. She tried to do more and more to please him, wanting him to love her more and more. But his heart was already so full of love for her, that it would never have mattered what she did, he could not love her any more than he did.
But deep down, his heart still hurt for the other niece. The one who had turned her back on him. The one who screamed mean things at him, and walked out of his life. The uncle had two nieces, but only one that wanted to be in his life.

This parable is much like our relationship with God. Some of us have known God from when we were very young. We were born into Christian families, went to church all of our lives and always knew who God was. But we never accepted Him. Or perhaps we did, but as we got older, we turned our back on Him, deciding to go our own way, and do our own thing, away from the loving kindness and forgiveness that He offers us. Perhaps we lost a loved one, and couldn’t understand why God would take someone we loved and needed so much away from us. We got angry. We were hurt, so we blamed the One that we felt was responsible. And we hated Him.
But then supposed someone was not raised in a church, but only came to know God years later. Joyfully we gave our lives and our hearts to Him, wanting only to please Him, and to serve Him with all that we have. Not because we understand that He saved us from hell, but because we love that He chose us to save. We want to do whatever makes Him happy and to obey and respect and love Him, at all times good and bad. We feel bad when we do wrong and disappoint Him, and we want to do better and please Him.
God loves the ones who choose Him, but He also loves the ones who don’t and feels sorrow for the ones who turned their back on all He has to offer. He sits patiently waiting for the one who turned away to turn back, to ask for forgiveness and to want a loving relationship with Him. It doesn’t matter when you were introduced to God. Whether you were nine or ninety. It doesn’t matter how far you got from Him when you were rebelling, or what sins you committed before you knew Him, or after you knew Him. He is patiently waiting for you to come back to Him.
If a loving uncle loves his niece unconditionally, and only wants the best for her, how much more does God love us unconditionally and want only the best for our lives as well.

I pray that all would know the love that God has for them. Regardless to the things you have done. Regardless to how angry you have been at God. Or for your disbelief. I know that people think that the world could not be this messed up if God really existed, but this world is not the realm of God. He is so much better than this place, and He wants us to focus our thoughts and minds on Him, and on heavenly things, rather than the worldly things here below that Satan loves to cause chaos with. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Power of Discouragement

Dear Discourager, 

It is well known that words have a great power. They have the power to uplift or tear down. They have the power to help or to hurt. So we need to choose our words carefully. Why do some people feel the need to constantly tear people down, to discourage them from following their dreams or making a choice that can better their life? 

I have spent most of my adult years being discouraged and put down. Quite frankly, until a couple of years ago my self-esteem was in the toilet. I felt I was stupid, worthless, and any other negative term you could imagine. I had dreams, but not the confidence to follow them, and I was discouraged from even trying. I was smart, college education, even though I never completed my degree, but I was forever discouraged from doing anything to better my life. When I changed my situation and changed the people in my life I started seeing that people wanted what was best for me, even when I, myself didn't know what that was. I had people who knew I had writing ability encourage me to start writing, first this blog, and secondly freelance writing for local publications. It is so thrilling to see my name in a magazine. But still bittersweet, because, if not for the discouragement for so many years, how much farther could I possibly have been by now? And I know that not everyone cares for my style of writing and that is their business, but why spend their life raining on my parade? My brother, who is NOT a reader, faithfully reads my articles every issue they are in and is proud of me. He encourages me and has faith and confidence in me to follow my dreams. He could just as easily ignore what I am doing, and it wouldn't hurt me. He could also tell me I am wasting my time because I will never amount to anything but a small town magazine that no one really cares about anyway. And that would break my heart. His words and opinion have the power to hurt or help his baby sister and he uses them to lift me up. 

I am not saying that I always make the right decisions in life, and granted, I have made a lot of mistakes, but that is no reason to belittle me. The ones who seem to make it their mission in life to tear down those around them who are trying to improve their lives. It makes me wonder if they feel so badly about their own lives that they need to tear down those around them to make themselves feel better. The Negative Nancy's and Negative Norman's in life who want others to be as miserable as they are. They find fault in everyone and love nothing more than putting others down. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV 

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

we are supposed to encourage each other, to show love, and to always want the best for each other, even if it is not what we ourselves would do. I have a friend who wants to go skydiving. This is something I, myself would never do. But it isn't MY dream, so why would I discourage him from following HIS dream? I am proud that he wants to do it. But I certainly wouldn't spend hours telling him scenarios that I have heard that happened to others who did it, and I wouldn't tell him he is wrong to want to do it. My job as his friend is to cheer him on, encourage him, and pray for his safety. To be excited for him, and when he has successfully completed it, to be proud of his accomplishment. That is what friends do. 

There is so much negativity in the world, we need to strive to be a positive force. We need to lift up the fallen. Hug the hurting. Encourage the ones who struggle. 

Think before you speak, are your words positive, encouraging, enlightening, spoken with love, for the benefit of the hearer, are they truth, or opinion. Will they help, or hurt? Are they necessary, or would it be more beneficial to step back and stay silent? 

So dear discourager, please, PLEASE if you are part of my life, just know that I spent 20 years being put down and discouraged. I spent 20 years being made to feel worthless and stupid. I spent 20 years being told what to do, and how to do it. I am now my own boss. I make my own decisions, and I might ask for advice, but at the end of the day, the only One who's opinion of me really matters is God. If I am headed down a wrong path He convicts me and turns me around. Be a positive part of my life. Be happy for what I am doing. Even if you don't agree. Even if you "heard" it wasn't a good situation. Even if you don't think I can do it. And if this isn't possible for you to do, then PLEASE keep your opinions to yourself, because what I need in my life is lovers, not haters. 


PS. And if you don't like bacon, I am afraid it might SERIOUSLY impact our friendship. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who's Your Daddy?

At church tonight, we were having a discussion over the book of Romans. Carroll was teaching out of the 8th chapter and we got to the 15th verse which says:

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

We went on to discuss this and he talked about how the word Abba, is the equivalent of the word Daddy. And that we are supposed to have such a close relationship with our Heavenly Father that we think of Him as our Daddy. While we are reverent and call Him Father, we should look at Him as Daddy. Carroll went on to say that how our relationship with our earthly father was, can also be a basis of our relationship with God. This has really put me to thinking. 

I loved my dad. He was a hard man at times to love, but I did. Dad didn't tolerate a lot of nonsense and he had a firecracker temper. If you were good and did well, then love and acceptance came easily, but if you messed up, it was a more conditional love, and disapproval was very common. When I was a little girl, I really seemed to do what was pleasing to him. I made good grades, rarely got in trouble in school, and was seldom disciplined, outside of being sent to my room. 

But as I reached my teenage years, and twenties, I made several bad decisions. My relationship with my dad became strained, and there were times we went long periods of time without speaking to each other, sometimes while still living in the same house. I made a lot of mistakes, made bad decisions, and his displeasure and disappointment were very well known. I felt loved less, not unloved, but less than I had known before. And at times, I wondered if he regretted getting me. (adopted kids sometimes struggle more with things because they don't have the security of knowing they were meant to be in the family. 

This is the same as my relationship with God. It is invalid, but it is how I have felt at times. I feel like when I don't do something He has called me to do, that He is disappointed in me, and that sometimes I am just one screw up away from God turning His back on me. I know this is not realistic, but I also know the thoughts and feelings that run through my mind. God is extremely patient, and the Bible refers to is as longsuffering. I am sure He shakes His head a lot and sighs deeply, but I know that His love for me never wavers. The verse states the while I am adopted into the Block family, even more importantly, I have been adopted into the God family as well. God is my Father, I am joint heirs with Jesus. Jesus, knowing that I would screw up, loved me enough to die for me. If I am valuable enough to die for, then God is not going to turn His back on me. Because I am redeemed, I am holy and perfect in His eyes. He may shake His head, but He is also proud of me, despite my mistakes. 

This wayward thinking also transfers itself to my friendships. I have had lots of friends turn their backs on me when things get tough. They see my mistakes, make judgements on me and decide I am not worth the hassle. So in the back of my mind all the time, are those feelings, of what do I have to do to reach the point that my friends will walk away from me. And I reach that point at times, but then I have friends in my life also that tell me it doesn't matter how crabby I can be, how down I get, or how impossible I can be, they are not going to leave me. They, like God, are in for the long haul. God gives us the ability to love each other. But it's up to us to decide if we are going to love as God calls us to love, which is unconditionally, or if we are going to leave that the first sign of trouble. 

I regret not having a close and stable relationship with my Dad. and I know that it affects my relationships with others, and with God. But I want to always remember that while I had an earthly dad that I loved, that God is the ultimate Daddy. my Father. And that Jesus is the Big Brother that is always going to have my back. He died to save me, and He loves me. My earthly brothers love me as well, but not the same as Jesus. 

My dad loved me, but not the same as God. And my friends love me, more unconditionally than I ever deserved. And I have gotten to the point with several of them to finally trust in the fact that they are not going anywhere, they are in my life to stay, now and through eternity. Because we are all part of the family of God, and as a child of God that I am worthy of that love. 

I am very thankful for Carroll to point out that fact so that I have the opportunity to lean more on my Father, my Heavenly Daddy. Because His love never changes. And that thought brings my heart a great peace.