Miracles Do Happen!

“Mama, I think you should go.”  These were the words spoken by my eight year old daughter and the only reason why I even considered going.  I had already made up my mind I was not going.

I had been able to fake happiness my whole life but the charade had gotten harder as my children began to grow older and wiser.  Their little voices on the other side of my bedroom door asking if I was okay made the anguish I was feeling much harder to bear.  I tried to muffle the crying noises as best I could but they knew their mama was not okay.  I needed help.

When my husband asked me what was wrong, I couldn’t answer.  I didn’t know.  I was just very sad.  I managed to work a full time job but would come home each afternoon, take some cold medicine because it made me drowsy and go to sleep.  I did have a headache almost every day but sleep was my best friend.

My husband didn’t know how to help me.  He encouraged me to see a doctor.  After all it could be hormonal and maybe if they prescribed medication I would feel better.

I was the oldest of seven children.  From an early age there was a lot of responsibility put on me from both my parents.  At twelve years old they would leave me in charge of my younger siblings.  If anything went wrong while they were gone it was my fault.  One day two of my brothers got in a scuffle and broke a lamp.  Sure enough when they got home dad scolded me because after all I was in charge.  Their was a problem however, I was not in charge because my younger siblings didn’t think they needed to listen to me, let alone mind me.

Some of my earliest memories were ones of being whipped with a belt by my dad and I never knew why.  He would tell me to lie across the bed and I would start begging and crying because I knew what was coming.  If I didn’t he said it would only be much worse on me.  He would then remove his leather belt and whip me leaving belt marks on my back.

My mother would come to the door begging him to stop but he would remind her if she didn’t leave he was going to whip her too.  I was left alone screaming, writhing and crying on the bed.  I don’t know if he was drunk.  I never knew why I was getting a beating.

Besides the physical abuse, I suffered mental and emotional abuse also.  Neither one of my parents ever hugged me, kissed me, praised me or told me they loved me…never.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  My dad loved to remind me almost on a daily basis that they just had me to clean the house.  He would say it with a grin on his face.  He would also say things like…”you’re not worth the salt that goes in your bread” or “can’t you do anything right?”  My Saturdays consisted of always cleaning house.  We never played family games together, went on a family picnic or outing together.

I was a smart kid.  I always made the honor roll and the teacher displayed my papers on the bulletin board with a large sticker because of my handwriting.  I was chosen to be in Student Council in the third grade but I’m not sure my parents even knew that.  If they were, they never said anything about it.  My third grade teacher stood at our classroom door each morning and gave me a hug before I entered the room.  She may have hugged every student but that was the only hug I ever received as a child.

One afternoon I came home with a Parent letter about the Bluebird Club.  I wanted to be a Bluebird.  I didn’t know exactly what they did but I wanted to join.  My mother glanced quickly at the letter and then let me know I couldn’t join because it was on Wednesday afternoons and we had church that night.  I begged a little but she said I couldn’t join, end of discussion.

I couldn’t wait to leave home.  I thought when I got out on my own I would be happy.

I got married and left home but my problems went with me.  I was sad and didn’t know how to enjoy life.  I wasn’t happy unless I was busy working.  I didn’t know how to relax and have fun.  I felt responsible for everyone else’s happiness.  If I saw other women with their mothers shopping or eating lunch together, I was jealous.  I longed to have that kind of relationship with my mother.  I felt isolated and alone.

After marriage I also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and graduated with honors.  My husband and two children attended my graduation ceremony but neither one of my Parents came.  My husband and children were very proud of me and we celebrated with dinner after the ceremony at a nice restaurant.  My family was very supportive of me and I knew they loved me.  I felt so blessed to have them and was proud of them also.

After I landed a teaching position my life became very stressful  I worked a full time job, took care of two children, did all the household chores, helped take care of my husband’s elderly mother, plus we Pastored a small church in another county.

Life was becoming more and more difficult and I spent more and more time alone in my bedroom crying.  The depression was closing in on me.  I began to have headaches, stomach problems, back aches, high blood pressure, joint pain and significant weight gain.  I was going to the doctor and chiropractor more and more often for medication and relief.

One day my husband sat me down and told me I couldn’t change what happened to me as a child.  He told me I couldn’t change my Parents either.  He told me I would just have to accept things the way they were.  He told me I couldn’t change my situation but I could change my reaction to it.

I knew he was right.  I was wishing and longing for something that would never be and I was meditating on that fact.  This was the root problem of my depression and I knew it.  I needed to see my worth as a person and that I was valuable and lovable in God’s eyes.

I didn’t know it at the time but a phone call came one afternoon that would literally change my life!  A friend of mine called inviting me to attend a Ladies Conference with her.  Within minutes of our conversation I had already mentally decided I was not going but I told her I would thing about it and call her back.

I had no intentions of going until my daughter spoke those words, “Mama, I think you should go.”  Somehow, I knew she was right.  I didn’t know why but I knew it.  I later  called my friend back and told her I would go.

I did go and when I got there imagine my surprise when I found out the guest speaker was a licensed Clinical Psychologist who spoke that evening about the symptoms of depression.  I identified with everything she was saying.  She had my undivided attention.

That weekend proved to be a major turning point in my life!  I learned by listening to her talk and through prayer that it was possible to be free from the debilitating grip of that demon called, depression.

The last day of that Conference, the Director came down off the stage touched my head and immediately I felt that dark cloud of depression lift off me.  I felt free for the first time since I was a child.  I began to laugh with uncontrollable joy.  It bubbled like a fountain from deep with my belly.  I laughed all the way home.

When my husband and children saw me they knew there was a difference in my demeanor.  I hugged them with joy.  Our home was now a happy home!

I was now able to function and be with my family instead of hiding in my bedroom from them and the rest of the world.  I was no longer a prisoner to sadness.  I was no longer captive but was like a prisoner set free!  Jesus set me free!

I’m so happy to this day that I listened to my little daughter and went to this conference even though I didn’t want to go.

Sometimes miracles happen when we least expect them!  I know!

My Quiet Time

The Voice of One Crying From Cyber Space

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This morning I ate my usual breakfast…a boiled egg with a little fresh ground black pepper, crackers, a little mayo on the side and a small glass of orange juice.  I never get bored eating this same breakfast every morning because you see…I’m basically a creature of habit.  I like the same routine and if that routine changes I get a little upset.  I know!  All of you adventurous souls are cringing and thinking I’m boring but I like simplicity, routine and the basics of life.  I tell my husband…it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

I actually like sitting on our enclosed deck  watching my neighbors work in their yards, the blue birds flying by and the hummingbirds sipping sweet nectar from the feeder.  I like watching my roses grow, listening to the turtle doves coo and the aroma of fresh mowed grass.  I enjoy drinking my iced coffee, writing my blog, listening…

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My Quiet Time

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This morning I ate my usual breakfast…a boiled egg with a little fresh ground black pepper, crackers, a little mayo on the side and a small glass of orange juice.  I never get bored eating this same breakfast every morning because you see…I’m basically a creature of habit.  I like the same routine and if that routine changes I get a little upset.  I know!  All of you adventurous souls are cringing and thinking I’m boring but I like simplicity, routine and the basics of life.  I tell my husband…it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

I actually like sitting on our enclosed deck  watching my neighbors work in their yards, the blue birds flying by and the hummingbirds sipping sweet nectar from the feeder.  I like watching my roses grow, listening to the turtle doves coo and the aroma of fresh mowed grass.  I enjoy drinking my iced coffee, writing my blog, listening to my favorite song or reading a book on my Kindle App.  Yes, I admit it…I’m a simple soul who likes the simple things of life.  Simple makes me happy.

I’m not flashy.  I’m a quiet person who is really an introvert.  I don’t like to be around people for very long at time.  Don’t get me wrong… I love people but it wears me out mentally to smile and make pleasant conversation for very long at a time.  I’m constantly looking at my watch to see if I’ve stayed long enough at a social gathering so I can make the usual pleasantries, give my excuse for leaving early and then excitedly looking for the nearest exit.  Am I the only one like this?

People mistakenly think introverts are snobs.  I know because I’ve been accused of that before but seriously, I’m not.  Sometimes I wish I were an extrovert but I’m just not wired that way.  To act otherwise feels odd…I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t feel natural.

Being an introvert I enjoy my quiet time where I can recharge my batteries and face life in the fast lane once again.  Believe me, it’s totally necessary for my mental state of mind!

My favorite time is in the morning after breakfast.  I gather my big King James Bible, my Prayer Journal, my favorite pen, my water and settle down into my big comfy chair in the living room.  I’m alone but I’m not alone.  You see, the Holy Spirit is with me. It’s my quiet time with Him.   He helps me understand God’s Holy Word.  I greatly treasure this time alone with God listening to His voice.  He speaks to me, not in an audible voice but through my spirit.  He gives me encouragement and revelation about the scriptures I am reading.  He tells me things I’ve repeated to no one else.  He talks and I listen and I write.  I eagerly hang onto each word He speaks.

Most people never take the time to be alone with God and if they do take the time they’re doing all the talking.  They never shut up long enough or are still long enough to listen to what He has to say.  Listening is a lost art these days.

During this morning’s quiet time, I read about the Apostle Paul when he and 276 men were shipwrecked on the island of Melita.  The barbarous people were so kind to him and the crew.  They built a fire because it was raining and cold.  Paul helped by gathering a bundle of sticks and when he laid them on the fire a venomous snake came out and fastened itself to his hand.  The island people watched him closely expecting Paul’s hand to swell and him to die suddenly, but when Paul suffered no harm they changed their mind about him being a murderer and said that he was a god.  The Apostle prayed for the chief’s father who had a fever.  Paul laid his hands on him and as he prayed the man was healed.  When the other islanders heard about this they also came to be prayed for and were healed of their diseases too.

The Apostle finally made it to Rome and though he was a prisoner he was allowed to dwell two whole years in his own hired house and received all that came to him to hear him preach the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul was a simple man and he preached the simple truth of the gospel.  I’m not comparing myself to the great Apostle Paul by no means but I too love the simple truth of the gospel.

Look at this scripture,  “Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10  It’s okay to be adventurous but we must take time out of our busy lives and schedules to just be still and listen to God’s voice.  Take the time to be alone with Him.  He wants to talk to you.

 

The Voice

 

Are You Image Obsessed?

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What is our obsession with image?  We love to post pictures on social media that capture the very best of our lives and then anxiously look to see how many “Likes” we get.  Some people toot their own horns constantly and they are a drag to be around.  News Flash…no one likes a selfish person.  We all know the “ones” who post a selfie of themselves several times a day.  They become a joke.

This image obsession is rooted in pride.  We all have pride to a degree and a little pride is a good thing.   Pride is what motivates you to take a bath, use deodorant, brush your teeth, comb your hair and believe me we’re all proud you do that!  It’s excessive pride that is a bad thing.

I’m thinking right now of an example of excessive pride portrayed so humorously by the character of Fonzie on the TV show Happy Days.  Fonzie was image possessed.  Every time he walked by a mirror he would stop to check himself out.  He would then whip out his black plastic comb and swipe it quickly through his oily slicked back hair.  Fonzie was all about image, but he could barely talk or read a book.

When you are image obsessed, you are looking for approval from others.  Your true identity and image can be found only in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is to be number one in our life.  If you don’t know who you are in Christ, you will look to find yourself or approval in another person or career, in the clothes you wear, the car you drive, clothes size, Instagram likes and being better than everyone else because that makes you feel like you matter…that you are important.  It’s okay to have nice things and try to improve yourself, but if your motivation is to exalt yourself, then your motivation is rooted in pride.

If you surrender your image obsession to Jesus, you can learn to live a life free from fear.  When the Apostle Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he conquered pride.  Although the Apostle was a man of great intellect and an eloquent speaker, listen to what he writes,

When I came to you, brother, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.  I Corinthians 2:1-5 KJV

Before Paul met Jesus, he was a man full of pride because of his education, religion and position in the church but when he met Jesus he was completely changed by the power of the gospel.  We now see a forgiven man…an humble man who has let the idol of his image obsession die on the cross with Jesus and who is now obsessed with the image and person of Jesus Christ.

You can rely on the Holy Spirit of God to help you find your true image in His power and presence to heal you from your past, to receive forgiveness, forgive those who have hurt you, so that pride does not rule your life.

Ask yourself:  Am I image obsessed?  Is the spirit of pride keeping me more focused on my image than on Christ?

The Voice

 

 

 

 

There Is Hope And Healing

 

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 Do you feel hopeless today?  Is your heart heavy and your pain more than you can bear?  Have you tried and failed again and again?  Is your life full of darkness and despair?  Do you ever ponder if maybe everyone would be better off without you?  If so, then read on.

If you have asked yourself these questions and relate, then you’re right where you need to be to experience hope and healing beyond your wildest expectations.  That’s right…there is hope and there is healing.

You see, you’re at the end of your rope, so to speak.  You are at the point now where you realize you are facing the power of sin and the hold it has on your life.  It has you bound and you are helpless to free yourself.  You don’t even understand what’s happening to you and that’s why I am writing this blog…it’s to help you know there is a place you can go where you can find a way to heal your wounded soul.

That place of hope and healing is found in the man, Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He said that you could come boldly into His presence without fear.  It’s a holy place where His mercy is found and all you have to do is come to Him.

Kneel down and give it all to Jesus.  Run to Him.  His arms are open wide and waiting for you to come.  He’s waiting.  He’s calling.  That’s the pull you’re feeling.  You know something is dreadfully wrong in your life.  You feel it.  Something is missing.  Something is definitely lacking.  You’ve tried it all, done it all but still there is no satisfaction or lasting joy or peace.  You need Jesus.  He is calling and He said His grace would cover you.  His blood will wash away your sin and make you white as snow.  Come running to the mercy seat.  Only there will you find mercy and forgiveness.  Only there will you find wholeness and lasting joy.

You’re living right now where there’s no hope.  You’re lost in the curse of a lifetime of sin.  You keep looking for love but never find it.  There’s a place of mercy for you.  Jesus said you could come into His presence and He would never deny you.  He will never cast you out.  He will never turn you away.  He’s longing for you to come.  His Holy Spirit is drawing you.  You know there’s more to life than you’ve been experiencing and you’re absolutely right…there is more and it’s only found in Jesus Christ.

Come to Jesus.  Come running to Him.  He’s waiting.  Why are you waiting?  Experience hope and healing today.

Come to Him today!

 

 

Be Good For No Reason

Ever had a complete stranger do a kind deed for you? I certainly have and it always restores my belief that there are still good people in this world. Being good to people for no reason…what a novel idea! No, wait a minute! Jesus said this over 2,000 years ago. “These things I command you, that he love one another.” John 15:17 KJV. You know He sounds pretty serious about this love thing. Notice it’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment. 

There’s a lot of bad in our world today but good always outweighs the bad. Light always dispels darkness and good always  trumps over hate. 

Decide to do good today for no reason. Spread some love around. Make this world a better place to live because you’re in it.

Do good.

The Voice

What Are You Waiting For?

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  Psalms 62:5

I’m the eldest of seven children and when I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money and sometimes we didn’t have any money at all.  After my grandfather would leave our house I’d dig behind the sofa cushions and collect all the change that fell out of his pockets while he was visiting with my mother (his daughter).  It was a treat to walk the short distance to the corner grocery store and buy a little paper bag filled with  penny candy…Kit Kats, wax coke bottles filled with a sweet, fruity liquid and chocolate, shaped like coins, wrapped in gold foil paper.

We didn’t eat out either.  I didn’t eat at a McDonald’s until after I was married.  Mom cooked all our meals, which was usually a big pot of homemade vegetable soup or vegetables from the Farmer’s Market, since she was a vegetarian.  Dad liked his meat, so fairly often we had pork chops, hamburgers, meatloaf or fried chicken and Spam…there was always Spam (the too salty, mystery meat).

My husband thought is was funny when I told him my dream as a child was to one day be able to buy a whole box of ice cream sandwiches and eat them all myself without having to share a single one.

I had three brothers and if you didn’t get to the table right when Mom called us there might not be anything left to eat!  I had that happen a few times, so if I was hungry, I made sure I went to the table right away.  I was pretty skinny back in those days.

I do remember walking home for lunch one day (we lived right across the street from the elementary school) and all I had to eat was a watery little bowl of soup.  Dad worked at a factory and he was the only one working in our family.  If it hadn’t been for my Mom’s parents, we would have went without more often than we did.

I believe there are kids today that go to school hungry.  As a Teacher I have provided snacks for my students who I knew didn’t have the means to buy or bring a snack to school.  I have also provided weekend snacks for them to take home.  It bothers me that school lunch programs have cut back on the food it provides to our children.  This is a whole other subject that really pulls at my heart strings.  I believe there are hungry children in America and something needs to be done about it.

I wore hand me down clothes and shoes that my older cousins had worn.  I didn’t know what it was like to wear a new dress until I was nine years old.

One afternoon the phone rang and I overheard my mother telling someone what size dress she thought I would wear.  My older cousin was working at a five and dime store and she had bought me three new dresses.  I still remember opening that bag and seeing three brand new dresses with the tissue paper still on them.  They were different styles and colors and I didn’t know which one to wear first!  I still faintly remember the butterscotch colored one with tiny roses on the border.  I felt like a Princess with all those dresses.  My cousin was very good to me and I’ve never forgot her acts of kindness.

Christmas was just a few weeks away and we didn’t have our tree up yet.  I was probably about seven years old at that time so I finally asked my Mom when we were going to put up our tree.  After all, there was a tree in everyone’s window on our block, but not in ours.  She told me to ask dad that afternoon when he got home.

Winters in Indiana can get quite cold.  It was beginning to get dark and daddy still wasn’t home.  I was so anxious to get our tree.  I loved putting on the string of colored lights, shiny glass ornaments and then standing back and tossing clumps of silvery, shimmering icicles on the top and all around.  After decorating, we would turn off all the lights and sit around the tree enjoying it’s magnificent splendor while singing “Silent Night”.  It was as glorious and beautiful as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my opinion.

This particular afternoon, I thought daddy would never come home!  Why was he so late?  It was growing darker and darker and big snowflakes had started to fall.  The ground was becoming whiter and whiter with the new fallen snow.  My despondency was  growing as well.  I was getting more and more depressed with each passing minute because I was thinking…we’re not going to get our tree up today!  I was tired, bored and very sad.  My hope was quickly fading.  I stretched out on the sofa and soon I was fast asleep.

I felt a cold rush of air and voices.  What’s going on?  I opened my eyes and I saw my dad and my grandfather struggling to get a huge, fresh evergreen through the front door of our little house.  I could smell the evergreen scent as the boughs were squeezed through the tiny frame doorway.  My heart was thrilled!  Tears filled my eyes!  We had a Christmas tree…a big, beautiful, live, green tree!  I jumped up off the sofa and we all began to decorate our tree.  My sorrow had turned to joyous rapture.

This reminds me of God’s promises.  He says in His Word exactly what He will do and we begin to wait in earnest expectation for a certain thing.  Most of the time the answer doesn’t come right away or as quickly as we’d like.  It usually involves a process of time and sometimes it can be a long time of patiently waiting.  If we’re not careful we can get despondent and begin to lose our hope but just when we’re about to give up, here it comes!  The promise we’ve been waiting for is there coming right through the door!  We see it, we smell it and we can touch it!  Our hope is renewed and our cup is filled to overflowing.  That’s God!  He raises our spirits to new heights of faith and belief in Him.

The thing is…it happened just like He promised.  God always comes through.  He is faithful and true to His Word every time.  If He said He would do it, then you can count on it!  He is always, always, always true to His Word.

Trust God,

The Voice

 

A Memorable Day

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Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  Psalms 2:1 KJV

Today is June 14 , 2017 which is Flag Day.  According to Wikipedia, Flag Day is celebrated in the United States on June 14.  It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.  Flag Day is not an official federal holiday and now you know.

Today would also have been my dad’s 85th birthday were he still alive.  My dad died suddenly at the age of 58, which was way too early.  I wish he were still with us.

Today was also President Donald J. Trump’s 71st birthday.  I wish him a very Happy Birthday and pray he has many more.

Today we also had another tragedy happen in our country.  The man who opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Virginia this morning has been identified by the FBI as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois.

Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip, Matt Mika, lobbyist, Crystal Griner, Special Agent, and Zack Barth, a staffer to Rep. Roger Williams, were shot in this morning’s shooting spree by Hodgkinson.  Rep. Roger Williams and Special Agent David Bailey were also injured.   The shooter, Hodgkinson later died at a hospital after he was shot multiple times in the torso.

The FBI believes he had been living out of his white cargo van in the Alexandria area since March, and his wife told ABC he had been gone for months.  His Facebook pages showed multiple posts critical of President Trump and supportive of Bernie Sanders.  To his credit Bernie Sanders said he had been informed that Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign and issued this statement in response, “I am sickened by this despicable act.  Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

This is one thing every true red, white and blue American should agree with…Violence is never acceptable.    We may not agree, but we should never resort to violence.

More people in political circles should be speaking up and taking a stand against violence instead of inciting violence.  This saddens me that leaders in our country are not speaking up more.  We are still one Nation under God, indivisible with justice and liberty for all.  Just because I don’t agree with your stance on political or religious issues does not give me the right to harm you.   Just the opposite…I’m to still treat you with respect and honor your right to your opinion.  These are the very principles upon which our country was founded…freedom of religion and free speech.

Since the shooting, leftists and so-called “progressives” were blaming conservatives, Republicans and the NRA for taking things away from people and undermining our democracy.  A group called Terminate the Republican Party posted on its Facebook page this morning, “And its one, two, three shots you’re out at the old ball game!”

It’s routine for Republican members of Congress to get death threats.  Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) told Laura Ingraham that his wife gets death threats and even his six and a half month old daughter.  He said people call into the office or write anonymous letters saying they would like her to die.

It is utterly pathetic the rage and hatred that resides in the hearts of people. Where does this rage come from?  The Huffington Post, a mainstream liberal publication, recently ran a column calling on progressives to “escalate the expression of our outrage and anger in a massive way.”  The articles further declared that no Republican “should be able to sit down for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner…even in their own homes.”

This is a disturbing trend that has the undertones of extreme hatred and suggesting that violence is okay.  Violence is never okay!

I’m so proud of President Trump today who called for unity, urging Americans to work together for the common good and to “cherish those you love.”  I agree.  Let us band together in unity and love our brothers and sisters.  We should be united as one for the common good of all people.

Let us pray for Steve Scalise and his family.  Let us pray also for the family of James Hodgkins.  Pray for our nation to be united in love and brotherhood.

It has truly been a memorable day.

Bless our Nation, Lord!

The Voice