Tag Archives: jesus

A Story of Suicide and Hope

In September of 1986 my life took an unexpected turn that started me spiraling downward until one night in 1989 that would change my life. That night I sat on my couch and looked at my wrists and thought “I wonder which would hurt worse, cutting my wrists or pain of emptiness in my heart.” You see, in the two and a half years before I had lost everything. All hope was gone. Here only a few highlights that drove me to consider suicide:

  • September 1986 – I had left my home and my job in Dallas and moved to Daleville, Indiana, my husband’s hometown, in hopes of a better life. Within a week he abandoned me and my 13-month old twin daughters. Adding to my loss he also left us with no home or belongings. We stayed with his mother for a few months.
  • November 1986 – I was in an auto accident and lost my car. I finally moved into a place, a rundown trailer. It took two months for the owner to put in a front door. The place was so roach infested you couldn’t walk around in the dark and I had to wash my clean dishes before using them. This infestation came through a “new” stove – a stove with only one working burner and no working oven. And for the eight months we lived there the toilet didn’t work. Night after night I cried over the hopelessness of my situation.
  • January 1987 – my dad had a series of small strokes. He was in the hospital for weeks. I had no phone and my husband’s family wasn’t cooperative in contacting me about his illness.
  • Valentine’s Day 1987 – he asked me for a divorce so he could marry Diane.
  • June 1987 – We moved back in with his mom but would move again a couple of months later because his dad would get drunk and come on to me.
  • October 10, 1987 – I’m now living in a small trailer with my ex-sister-in-law and her daughter. We have no phone and live more than mile from any pay phones. I had called my mom in August for her birthday and she seemed very angry when I told her about the divorce. In my soul I knew something was wrong, I just couldn’t get her off my mind so I arranged for a babysitter and I was going to walk to the phone and call her Sunday morning, October 11th. Saturday evening my ex-mother-in-law came over and said “I’m so sorry”, she was crying. All I could think was my ex-husband was dead and I would have to pretend to feel bad. Then those fateful words came, “your mother died this morning.” That horrible phone call in August was the last conversation I had with my mom.
  • October 12, 1987 – I was able to fly home to Massachusetts for the funeral. My aunt’s, my dad’s sisters, jumped all over me for not having called my mom sooner – guilt I would live with for 15 years.
  • March 1988 – My grandmother called and told me my dad had an aneurism and needed surgery which had only five percent chance of success. My nightly crying over my mom dried up as I prepared for an extended stay back in Massachusetts. The surgery was a success and we returned to Indiana in May.
  • July 19, 1988 – I became an orphan. My father died and I was even more desperately alone. Both mom and dad gone in less than a year.
  • September 1988 – I suffered a knee injury and was barely able to walk.
  • October 1988 – still living in Indiana, away from everything and everyone I knew I became desperately in need of replenishing my family so I became pregnant – no husband – just wanted a baby.
  • January 1, 1989 – a new year and a new start? No. The pregnancy was ectopic. After nearly three months of the worst pain I ever experienced l lost my son and any chance of restoring my family or replacing my parents.
  • February 1989 – my knee had become so bad that I was unable to walk or care for my girls. I had lost so much and so little had been restored. I had nothing but responsibility and heartache. I couldn’t care for myself let alone my daughters.

I had lost everything – all I owned, my job, my financial security, my health, my husband, my mother, my father, and the baby I was so desperately putting my hope in. But that’s the problem. I was putting my hope in sinking sand when I needed to put in upon the rock – Jesus.

As I was contemplating suicide I walked to the back of the trailer to the bathroom. On my way I passed my girls room. I looked at those sleeping little beauties and thought, “they already have an absentee dad, what will happen to them if I die?”

It was 11:00pm but I was determined to find help, anything to get me through the night. I called a friend long distance (this was back when it cost a lot for long distance and I was destitute). We talked and prayed for four hours. This was the best $45.00 I’ve ever spent. That was a lot in 1989.

The next day I scheduled the needed knee surgery and began to spend every quiet moment with God. Suicide has never been an option since. That was 25 years ago and so much has happened. I’ve had a few deep lows but over all I’ve had a wonderfully blessed life. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my family, my daughters and all the people I’ve helped since had I decided to take my life that night. I would have need seen my girls grow into such beautiful young women, I would have never influenced so many students, I would have never gone on my Jubilee Journey and met my father’s family and I would have never been at the birth of my grandson, never known that beautiful little boy. All I lost has been restored to the full and overflowing (John 10:10). And don’t think too negatively about my ex-husband. All is forgiven and I can say we are friends. To this day I count his mom and sister as my dearest friends. And he never did marry Diane.

No matter what the circumstance there is ALWAYS hope in Jesus. Find a way to the ROCK and there you will find hope. If you’re still alive it’s because God isn’t done with you yet, there is still a purpose and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11)

“No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late”
~ ~  Jubilee Journey, Day 542

 

Next week: A Humble Attitude

Advertisements

A Hopeful Attitude

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Psalm 130:5-8 (NIV)

Hope is a basic necessity of life because without hope there is no life. Hope gives us strength and joy. It fuels all the attitudes we’ve covered this year.

  • We can’t be positive without hope.
  • We won’t have confidence without hope.
  • We can’t live contented without hope.
  • Where is our patience with others when hope is gone?
  • There is definitely no joy where there’s no hope.
  • It’s hard to be kind to others with no hope in our hearts.
  • All courage is lost when there is no hope.
  • What do we have to be determined for when there is nothing to hope for.

But life here on planet Earth is often overwrought with problems which steal our joy and ultimately our hope…hope in life and hope in God. Everyone at one time or another will feel that urge to give up; like all hope is gone. Live long enough without hope and you may feel there is nothing left to live for. We either find hope, find a way to live without it, or take our own lives because the pain of giving up is far less than the pain of living one more day without hope. Perhaps you’re going through a trial or a season of trials that has drained your hope and strength.  We all have unique challenges but everyone longs for hope, that light at the end of the tunnel; the promise that “it” will get better.

One example of hope is found in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations, a book of mourning, during the darkest times of Judah’s history. During Jerusalem’s destruction though Jeremiah wrote these words of hope and expectation that God would come through on his promises.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;  
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,  
to those who search for him.

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NLT)

Another example is found in the New Testament. The disciples were full of hope that their savior had come; that Jesus was the Messiah, so when he died so did their hope. What were they to do now that they had witnessed hope itself die on a cross. And can you imagine being Peter, having betrayed your best friend and king? Where do you go from there? These men lived an extraordinary life; how then do you go back to ordinary?

Jesus also experienced deep grief and sorrow, despair beyond belief. The words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” grip my heart with despair and loss of hope. Anyone who has experienced the “dark knight of the soul” can attest to a spiritual loss of hope. Financial loss, loss of health, loss of a dream, divorce, loss of a friend or family member or in my opinion, the most horrific loss – the loss of a child can all rip hope right out of our hearts. Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” seem to frustrate rather than to give hope.

So often put our hope in the wrong places – in the world, in other people, in our abilities or finances – but all of that is like sinking sand. The only place we can find hope is in Jesus Christ. These words by Kutless tell us just where we need to go to find hope.

I lift my eyes up, unto the mountains
where does my help come from?
My help comes from You, maker of heaven
creator of the earth
oh how I need you Lord
You are my only hope
You’re my only prayer
so I will wait for You
to come and rescue me
to come and give me life
Lyrics from “I Lift My Eyes Up”

God is always hopeful; he never gives up on us even at our worst.

A Prayer for Hope

Thank you Jesus for being our inspiration and our source of hope. We thank you now for giving us the courage to see you and trust you in our most difficult times.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

More Posts on a hopeful attitude:
How to Have a Hopeful Attitude
Quotes for an Attitude of Hope

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Links to other Attitudes in this series
Introduction to Attitudes

Attitudes of the mind:
A Positive Attitude (negativity)
A Confident Attitude (insecurity)
A Contented Attitude (anxious)
A Patient Attitude (impatient)

Attitudes of the heart:
A Joyful Attitude (discouraged)
A Kind and Caring Attitude (unforgiving, self-centered)
A Courageous Attitude (fearful)
A Determined Attitude (quitting, distracted)

Attitudes of the spirit:
A Hopeful Attitude (hopelessness)
A Humble Attitude (proud)
A Trusting Attitude (doubt, double minded)
A Peaceful Attitude (frustrated, anxious)

A Kind and Caring Attitude

Learning to live deeper, living for others is just one character of a mature Christian. When we act in selfishness the enemy can use this to hurt others but we can overcome selfishness by learning how Christ cared for people. We will always be disappointed if we make others responsible for our own happiness so do things for people who can’t pay you back. This is our gift to God.

Don’t just care for people like you’d like to be cared for, they may have different needs. Don’t care for people how they want to be cared for, they may have low self-esteem and expect to be treated badly. Instead, care for people how Christ cares for them:

In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
– even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

Good relationships are impossible without forgiveness and humility. Pride acts out vengeance and unforgiveness, a humble heart lays the offense in God’s hands.  If you’re concerned that people who hurt you or offend you will get away with it – don’t be! God will take care of it. Unforgiveness will not only affect our relationship with the offender but also taint your relationship with others as well as our relationship with God. God can’t be in relationship with us if we aren’t willing to forgive.

How does the Lord show is kindness to us?

  • Through his grace he shows kindness toward us in Jesus (Ephesians 2:7)
  • His kindness isn’t based on what we do but on his mercy (Titus :5)
  • His love is poured out into our hearts, enabling us to show kindness (Romans 5:5)
  • His kindness is seen in his provision (Acts 14:17)

How are we to show kindness to others?

  • Be affectionate and kind, showing no preference of one over another (Romans 12:10)
  • Be compassionate and kind, showing forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Show tolerance with other’s weaknesses and build them up (Romans 15:1-2)

Jesus said it best:

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:35-40  (NLT)

This is how we show kindness to others and therefore show kindness to Jesus. When our depth of loving kindness increases we draw closer to God and become more like him.

A Prayer to be more Caring

Lord Jesus, help me daily to live out your words “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More Posts on a caring & kind attitude:

How to Have a kind and Caring Attitude
Quotes for a Caring & Kind Attitude

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Links to other Attitudes in this series
Introduction to Attitudes

Attitudes of the mind:
A Positive Attitude (negativity)
A Confident Attitude (insecurity)
A Contented Attitude (anxious)
A Patient Attitude (impatient)

Attitudes of the Heart:
A Joyful Attitude (depression)
A Kind and Caring Attitude (selfishness)
A Courageous Attitude (fearful)
A Determined Attitude (quitting, distracted)

Attitudes of the spirit:
A Hopeful Attitude (hopelessness)
A Humble Attitude (proud)
A Trusting Attitude (doubt, double minded)
A Peaceful Attitude (frustrated, anxious)

An Attitude of Patience

Be careful what you ask for…you may just get it.

Ask for patience and you won’t be instantly transformed into a patient person, no, you’ll be given opportunities to grow your patience. Opportunities for the transformation of our minds into better working machines will abound. Learning patience isn’t easy, it isn’t supposed to be. Patience is suffering – long suffering. Thank God that he’s given us the tools needed to overcome our impatience…his word and his spirit. But these only work if we’re willing to do our part: make the choice to be patient and work with the Holy Spirit to change.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

Today’s culture doesn’t encourage a patient attitude, only that we pursue, pursue, pursue relentlessly. It says “don’t wait for anything”. We live in a drive-through culture availing ourselves to only the quickest way to the life we only think we want. But our impatience only prevents us from enjoying the present moment by trying to get what we want so in the end you don’t enjoy where you’re at.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.    
Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT)

Don’t wait to feel patient, choose to be patient. Patience is the ability to control ourselves and to temper our short fuses. It’s being calm in the storm. Its being satisfied with what we have and where we are while were waiting for change.

Patience builds character:

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4 (NIV)

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) 

God is our example of unbelievable patience. Throughout the Old Testament – for decades, even centuries, God held back his wrath against Israel, waiting patiently for their turning back.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

100_4101

A Prayer for Patience

Lord, help me to have grace in the wait.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More posts on a patient attitude:
How to gain patience without the pain
Quotes on Patience

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Attitude links
Introduction to Attitudes

Attitudes of the mind:
A Positive Attitude (negativity)
A Confident Attitude (insecurity)
A Content Attitude (anxious)
An Attitude of Patience (impatience)

Attitudes of the heart:
A Joyful Attitude (discouraged)
A Kind and Caring Attitude (selfishness)
A Courageous Attitude (fearful)
A Determined Attitude (quitting, distracted)

Attitudes of the spirit:
A Hopeful Attitude (hopelessness)
A Humble Attitude (proud)
A Trusting Attitude (doubt, double minded)
A Peaceful Attitude (frustrated, anxious)

How to live contented and worry free

100_8318

Living a long life may include a lifestyle of faith, moderation, keeping busy and enjoying life but the key element to living a long life is living worry free. That doesn’t mean you don’t have problems is just means as Paul says to “be content in all things”.

 

 

Tips to living contented

  • Fill your mind with faith and you’ll break worry habit because faith overcomes fear. When you are challenged with fear repeat three times “I believe”.
  • Cut off problems in smaller bits one at a time. Don’t try to attack too much at one time. Get some small victories behind you.
  • Pray “Today is yours Lord, me, my day, and my family. As long as I’m in your hands all will be good”.
  • Allow only positive conversation and don’t participate in any negative or worrying conversation.
  • Think good thought and allow no room for worry. Philippians 4:8 – think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence and what is worthy of praise.
  • Surround yourself with positive, hopeful people and contented people.
  • The imagination is powerful. Visualize an image of yourself free from self-defeating thoughts.

Tips to end worry

  • Start your day: spend fifteen minutes first thing in the morning filling your mind with God. See yourself living in partnership and friendship with Jesus.
  • Throughout the day: when you find worries creeping in say “he is with me” and think on the beautiful things with faith.
  • End your day: empty your mind of accumulated thoughts, worries and fears that obstruct mental flow and spiritual power. Believe your mind is free and thank God for freeing you from worry and fear.

100_7865

Attitude Challenge:

Make a list of things that challenge your contented attitude. Pray over these and ask the Holy Spirit to help you give them to Him. Now that you’re aware of what can disturb your contentment you can keep an eye on those things and avoid them.

Books on contented living

Enjoy Where You Are on the Way to Where You are Going, Joyce Meyer
Strait Talk on Stress, Joyce Meyer
Peaceful Living in a Stressful World, Ronald Hutchcraft
Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach
The Secret of Contentment, William B Barcley

Bible verses to meditate on

Philippians 4:11 – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. (NLT)

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (NLT)

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:10 – For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (ESV)

1 Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (NIV)

Philippians 4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (NIV)

Back to: A Contented Attitude
Next: Quotes on a contented attitude

Soul Blockers: Evil Forebodings

You might think the antithesis of this month’s topic, a positive attitude, would be negative but I’ve decided to address one form of negativity…evil forebodings. Evil forebodings will zap any amount of positivity as well as mental and physical energy. So why do I address this instead? …I had to deal with it, not once but twice this week.

100_5007

As a young girl I would have imaginings of my ailing mother dying. I’d hear sirens and cry for fear something had happened to her. As an adult I transferred some of these irrational thoughts to my husband and then to my children. I would sit and imagine what seemed to be for hours, thoughts of some catastrophe that would take them from me.

103_8967This may stem from my own abandonment from my father leaving then learning my mother was dying when I was ten. But I believe there is more to this. My (step) dad was very negative and as much as I tried to not be like him, what was on him got on me. Many years ago I dealt with my negative attitudes in all its forms so when I had an attack this week I found it odd…and debilitating. I spent the day imagining some horrible catastrophe was going to happen and with nothing to prompt these thoughts. Often when we teach something we will experience the same issue, the enemy likes to challenge us. It happened again today but through the grace of God I overcame it quickly.

Evil foreboding goes beyond a negative attitude and engulfs the sufferer in imaginations of catastrophe. And there isn’t necessarily any precursor to such thoughts. The individual doesn’t choose to sit and think the worst. What is the root of evil foreboding, and many negative thoughts? John Eldredge in Waking the Dead explains it perfectly

100_4083“…most of the time we don’t recognize it as an attack. At first it tends to be vague – not voices in the head, not an obvious assault, but more of a “sense” we have, an impression, a feeling that comes over us. The power of suggestion. Now, if some demon were standing in front of us, telling us, ‘Here, drink this rat poison,’ we’d tell him where to go. But because we do not live as though we are at war, well, we just assume these impressions are our own, and we accept them, agree with them, live under them like slaves under a task master. Listen carefully: any movement toward freedom and life, any movement toward God or others, will be opposed.”

Epiphany! I no longer had to work on my “problem”, I didn’t need to focus on “self-help” formulas; but I was entering the fight of my life. I was at war in a battle for my mind, my peace and my joy.

Trouble mind = no renewal, no restoration (Ephesians 4:23)

No peace = troubled hearts (John 14:27)

No joy = no strength (Nehemiah 8:10)

Evil foreboding will steal your positive attitude so how do we protect ourselves? Recite Romans 12.2 – be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Be in continual contact with the one who heals, restores and renews. By keeping such verses in the forefront of your mind you will break the strongholds in your life. As John further explains…

“…a believer can have a stronghold of Satan in his life. It’s not just about anger; it can happen through all sorts of issues. The Devil will try to use your wounds and unresolved emotional issues to pin down your heart under a spiritual stronghold.”

aquarium-busch gardens 571Fight, fight hard. You’re at war and you are the prize. Identify the areas where you’re the weakest. What routinely steals your peace? Ask yourself, what is the root of the problem? For me evil forebodings are rooted in abandonment issues and that is where I needed to go for healing. Not just once, as you read above. Even areas once conquered and long gone can come back to haunt you…be aware and be on the lookout for the enemy roams like a roaring lion seeking to someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

“If it doesn’t bring freedom and it doesn’t bring life, its’ not Christianity. If it doesn’t restore the image of God and rejoice in the heart, it’s not Christianity.”
~ John Eldredge ~

103_1541

Related posts
Soul Blockers: Negativity, the secret sin

New Year’s Resolutions: Three Steps to Transformation

Dingman's Falls area, Delaware Watergap, PAWe often focus on outward changes for the New Year; exercise, diet, quitting smoking, spending less, etc. But how many of us continue these transformative efforts throughout the year. The problem lies with what’s underneath. We cannot achieve outward behavior change without changing our heart.

If we hope to tackle self improvement that leads to lifelong transformation we much do it God’s way. Here are three simple steps to gaining an understanding of what needs to change in your life to really get the changes you desire.

1. Ask God what HE wants you to do this year. Only the Holy Spirit can lead you to an understanding of what changes need you need to make to transform your inner heart. Ask god how he plans to work in your life. What resolutions do you think he’d have you make.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:18 – ESV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12, ESV)

2. Become like our teacher fully trained in Jesus ways. To achieve inner transformation we must participle in his training program. What does this training program include? We are to get to know our teacher intimately, learn to pray his will through study of scripture, practice of disciplines, serving and loving.

Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. (Luke 6:40, NLT)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV)

3. Reflective and honest self-evaluation. Don’t be self-deceived; be willing to discover the truth. True transformation is internal. Before changing your behavior you must deal with destructive thoughts, attitudes and desires.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  (1 John 1:8, ESV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, NIV)

Follow God’s ways toward transformation and you’ll discover what truly needs reformed in your life.

Christmas freedom: Jesus in blessings and loss

Thank you for coming on this little journey into Christmas miracles. At the end of the last post I asked “So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate?” Well first let me tell you a little about the nature of miracles. There is no time frame for a miracle it can happen in an instant or seem to happen in an instant when in fact it comes from an evolution over a period of time like my instantaneous Christmas miracle which was actually more than 45 years in the making. But then there are other miracles that happen so gradually and we don’t really know when the miracle took place we just realize one day it’s happened. It is often like that with issues of the mind and heart. These may take more time because we are holding them back.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 084

Such is the case with the healing of my wounded heart. About a year ago I was reading my bible, I couldn’t even tell you what verse but I remember thinking “I can’t remember the last time I had a negative thought, the last time I thought I was unworthy, unlovable, second best or mediocre. During the first several months after my journey I was still facing those issues. Then fourteen months of homelessness tended to distract me from any thoughts of myself. My concern became for my daughters and the new life we were welcoming into our lives if not our home as we didn’t have one yet.

P1290620

I did eventually overcome the depression and was able to regain the relationship with God which had dried up along with my heart with the end of my journey. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, or who I was after such an exciting adventure. But the fact remains, during those lean months of mind, body and spirit God did a wondrous work in me and healed my wounded heart, my feelings low self worth and set me free – from me.

lights log

Once the words to “Beautiful” by MercyMe touched my heart, as if they were meant for me, now it’s just a beautiful song. I realized I no longer feel that way.

The days will come when you don’t have the strength
When all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they’d see too much

You are made so much more than all of this
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Jesus came to bring life; he came to reconcile us with the father, to restore us and make us free. I hope you enjoyed my tale of a life restored and the miracles that come through Christmas, that is, the birth of our redeemer.

Joyce Meyer says “turn your mess into your message” and this is why I tell my story because…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Christ came to set prisoners free, free from ourselves, free from all bondage. I have been set free, free indeed. (Luke 4:18, John 8:36)

Week 1 – A haunting of Christmas Past
Week 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Week 3 – Christmas Restored
Week 4 – Christmas Reconciliation

Christmas Reconciliation: A Hallmark Christmas revisited

The last three episodes in my little Christmas story were all a build up to this post, my very own Hallmark Christmas. Yesterday, December 23rd, was the third anniversary of my very own Hallmark Christmas.

The summer of 1964 was the last time I saw my father and all I remember is that he didn’t want me. For the next 46 years I would struggle with feeling worthless, unlovable and second best. Oh, you’d never know it if you met me but every once in a while these demons would rear their ugly heads. This wasn’t a conscience effort but like any internal infection it found a way to seep out. If life didn’t arrange for mediocrity then I would somehow sabotage myself. Deep inside I didn’t feel I was worthy.

In 2001, a friend confronted me about my negative attitude. It hurt and as usual I denied it. But it did serve as a wakeup call to my damaged mind and I would spend the next eight years letting Jesus transform my mind. Dealing with these self defeating emotions allowed me to the adventure of a life time.

P1390284 (2)

If you recall in part two, after the death of my parents I became obsessed with finding my father and experiencing my own Hallmark Christmas with the reconciliation of my long lost family. Then the summer of 2010 I learned my father had died two years before thus putting an end to any hope of my Hallmark Christmas. By November of that year, a dark cloud covered my spirit and again I became obsessed. His death may have provided closure to my mind but my heart was anything but settled.

In a series of coincidences, or what I refer to as “God sightings”, my numb heart and the prospect of a dismal Christmas, God moved mountains for my restoration and reconciliation.

December 23, 2010 I drove seven hours out of my way to find some closure. I found my father’s grave and I talked to him for some time but in me was a growing need to know more. I set out to find someone who could tell me something about him. My first stop was the cemetery office, after that I intended to visit the mortician and the pastor mentioned in his obituary. But I wouldn’t have to look any further than the office. Through tears I told the woman my story and by the grace of God she took pity on me. She contacted his wife who lived in the next town a conversation that would change my heart and life forever.

Was I really unlovable, unworthy? What I learned was an overwhelming NO. They had looked for me for 40 years until his death. I met my sisters and a brother and talked another brother, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Christmas is no longer lonely. I have a family. God took a dead situation and used it to his glory. He brought back a dead childhood dream and brought it back to life and at the perfect time for everyone.

Is this the way I wouldn’t have wanted my Hallmark Christmas? Well, meeting my father would have made it perfect for me but everything is in Jesus’ timing and that is perfect. And I know someday I will meet him again. I received the gift of reconciliation that year just as the birth of our savior is the ultimate gift of reconciliation to the Father.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate? Tune in next week…

Check out A Hallmark Movie Christmas to read the original story.

Next week – Christmas Freedom

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas Past
Part 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Part 3 – Christmas Restored

Christmas Restored: Jubilee Journey and Christmas movies

If you recall in part 2­ I wrote about a series of losses leading to the challenge of my Christmas spirit. One thing that ministered to my spirit was Christmas movies. I would dream of having my own “Hallmark” Christmas, of the day I would be reconciled with my family – if they still existed.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 187 (3)All of life is a story, the bible is a story and we are all living in our own stories as well as being part of a larger story. Fairy tales, novels, even movies tell stories that reflect the story of life and the connection with the larger story. What we can learn from Christmas movies? What do they teach about the human heart and the heart of God towards his children? Stories that touch our heart often reflect the heart of the father.

We’re going to look at four movies that have held special meaning to me but also reflect the heart of the father. My heart restored, I found hope even while my heart was breaking and I believed in something more.

 

It’s a Wonderful life & A Christmas Carol

“No matter how dead…”

cmas2013-busch.gardens 266You may think it odd that I pair these two movies but there are similarities and both have touched my heart in similar ways: answering the question, do I matter. Both men are blessed with seeing their world in different ways, one a world where he had a positive impact and the other a world he negatively impacted. The angel and the ghosts set out to show the men that their lives do matter and this is what I longed for.

Like Scrooge I needed a spirit adjustment but unlike scrooge I longed for it. More than anything I wanted my heart restored, my spirit restored but I just couldn’t seem to find the way and I just couldn’t find my way out of the fog. I thank God he never gave up on me and protected my throughout all those dark years.

Then there is George Bailey, a man who mattered so much to so many, believed he was better off dead. He is given the magnificent gift of seeing what the world would be like if he never existed. Like George I struggled to hang on to the little hope I had left and that I did matter, somehow.

God wants us to know that we do matter and that it’s never too late. We are put here on this earth for a reason and even if we don’t know what that reason is we must have hope it’s there. George believed his circumstances were dead, Ebenezer believed he couldn’t change and I believed I would never matter. No matter how bad we think our lives are now, no matter how bad we’ve wasted what God has given us, there is still hope. We can still change and we do matter to God, our creator.

 

White Christmas

“No matter how impossible…”

P1080458I always cry at the end of this movie, and not just because of the miracle of snow, but because of the restoration of hope. General Waverly was losing everything, he was alone in his heart and he was becoming hopeless. His situation had gone from difficult to impossible. Bob and Phil cook up a scheme to restore the old man’s heart and faith by giving him a surprise to lighten his heart. When all the generals men come marching into the old, vacant inn, I cry right along with him. The love these men had for their general restores hope and showed him that nothing is impossible

Again we go back to the issue of “mattering”, of being important to someone. I had lost hope that I mattered so movies gave me a brief moment in the dark nights of my living room that I would matter. White Christmas shows me that with love nothing is impossible. Jesus wants us to believe in him, that the story is written and there’s a beauty to be revealed. We just have to have patience and wait for his revelation and restoration of hope.

 

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

“No matter how hopeless…”

P1080666This sweet little movie starring Dolly Parton shows a famous country singer in desperate need of rest, for peace, quiet and time from ridiculous demands on her life. She returns to her family cottage in the mountains to find a group of young orphaned boys and girls who had run away from brutal conditions at the orphanage.

Lorna (Dolly) finds room in her heart for these hopeless children and not only comes to their rescue from the orphanages’ director but takes them into her heart and home as her own children. The character demonstrates true sacrifice by caring for the needs of those who can’t possible return the favor. These little ones had no hope of relief, no hope of a family.

God too sacrificed for the protection, restoration and reconciliation of his little ones. Remember this season, Jesus isn’t just the gift of eternal life, he is the gift of all life, he is life. And while we celebrate the wonder of his birth, the joy and peace of this new beginning let’s not forget where this birth leads; to his ultimate sacrifice for us, to bring us back to him, to gives us as orphans a home in him, a life in him.

 

If parts one and two left you sad, don’t be…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Joy always comes in the morning. Come back Monday, December 23 for Part 4 – A Hallmark Christmas Revisited, an anniversary of reconciliation.

 

Do you have a Christmas story or movie that’s moved or encouraged you? I would love for you to share these experiences.

 

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas past

Part 2 – The fall: Spirit of Christmas loss

Healing Hearts

video2 594

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3).

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)

But for you who revere my name,
the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.
(Malachi 4:2)

He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God,
and healed those who needed healing. (Luke 9:11)

For some reason this has been lost in the recent offerings of the church. Perhaps it has been our pride, which has kept us from admitting that we are broken. Lord knows I’ve done that for years – probably am still doing it now. Perhaps it is our fear of getting our hopes up; it seems too good to be true. Perhaps it’s been the church’s almost total focus on sin and the cross. But the Scripture is abundant and clear: Christ came not only to pardon us, but to heal us. He wants the glory restored. So, put the book down for just a moment, and let this sink in: Jesus can, and wants, to heal your heart. What does that rouse in you?

John Eldredge – Waking The Dead

Photo taken at Swallow Falls State Park, Maryland

I See His Blood upon the Rose

Leu Gardens etc 5.12.13 091

I See His Blood upon the Rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice – and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Photo taken at the Rose Garden at Liu Gardens, Orlando, Florida