Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

There is a story untold. I am not sure why. To be fair, I don’t think about it often, but today I did. I have made a promise that I will tell my stories with the hope and prayer to bring others freedom and solidarity. So here it goes…

Growing up, I had some quirky things about me. Odd, I would venture to say. For example, for a period of time this thing would happen where everything around me sped up. The television, conversations, noise around me, and music. Music was the worst. I will tell you the same thing that I told my pastor, when my mother brought me to see him, “I was not taking drugs.” I had every test done. It wasn’t seizure activity. What is was… was very scary and I am blessed to say that it no longer happens. It just stopped happening.

I was also pretty particular about neatness. I loved to do things like organize the cabinets. I was given my own bedroom, as a teenager, because I couldn’t handle the mess my sisters made. If you asked my college roommate what my dorm room looked like, she would tell you that I had a place for everything, especially 0n my desk. I color coordinated my clothes in the closet, my bed was always made and I was the only one, on my floor, that owned a vacuum… which I used daily. So what? I liked being neat. Did I feel that my life was in order if my room was spotless, yes. Do I still feel that all is right with the world if my kitchen floor is clean? Yeah, what about it? Is this Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Not sure.

In my 20s, I was married and things may have gotten a little worse in this department. I found myself re-bleaching things over and over. I hired a cleaning lady who actually told me that she felt guilty taking money to clean my house. Bless her heart. Haley was barely able to play with her toys and I was obsessed with having vacuum lines on my carpet. You know what I am taking about. Is this OCD? Never could tell.

I went to see a therapist because I promised my husband I would. She suggested that I start taking a drug called Luvox, which I did.  She further suggested that I sit on a chair and allow others to make a mess around me, to which I wouldn’t clean up. OK, CRAZY LADY!! Who needs the help? You or me? I broke up with that lunatic and considered cleanliness next to godliness and carried on. I also stopped taking my meds.

Fast forward to having my sons. I began having (what I know now to be) irrational thinking and imagery. I would have awful thoughts that I would harm my baby. Not the kind that comes from sleep deprivation and non-stop newborn cries, but the kind that would come out of nowhere and scare the crap out of you. The kind that you wondered if you should be left alone with your child? Thank God for my mother and other people who could speak into this horrifying time of my life. Back to the therapist I went. Thankfully, she didn’t call protective services, she diagnosed me with OCD. I also started to do research about others who suffered from OCD and their stories both encouraged me and tore my heart into pieces. One gentleman left his family, that he loved with all of his heart, in fear that he may hurt them. I also learned that no one ever carried through with their irrational thinking. It is a chemical imbalance and torturous for those that suffer with it, but harmless to others. So, if you are reading this and have carried this fear with you, it’s time to lay it down.

I would have to say that although annoying, I got used to getting out of bed a million times to make sure Haley was still breathing, the stove was off, I didn’t leave any candles on, there wasn’t any sharp objects left out for a murderer to kill my family with (because they don’t bring their own weapons), the doors were locked, etc. But the irrational thinking was a tough one to deal with. After Ben was born, I had to have the cleaning supplies removed from my house because as I was feeding my baby his bottle, I was sure I had somehow put Mr. Clean in it. There was a period of time that my mother would prepare Ben’s bottles for me, so I could be assured that I wasn’t poisoning my sweet baby.

In my 30s, I decided that enough was enough and I wanted to be healed, set free. I found a scripture that said… “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of SOUND MIND.” (2 Timothy 1:7). This scripture became my war cry. Every time I wanted to double or triple check something, I spoke these words. Every time, I wanted to retrace the road I drove on, to make sure I hadn’t run someone over (yup, welcome to the world of OCD), I spoke these words. Every time, I had irrational thinking, I spoke these words. And guess what? I was delivered. Thank you, Jesus. Healed. Set Free.

I have done a lot of research about OCD and it is genetic. It plaques my family and I pray for their freedom as well. I believe in the power of prayer and that God’s words can and will transform your mind, if you allow them to. We have the mind of Christ, we are not meant to suffer with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Does it mean that all followers of Jesus are free from those things? No. I also believe that God has provided us with medications to help our chemical imbalances. I have a prescription for Prozac, for my depression, to prove it. He has provided doctors and therapists with knowledge and wisdom to help us. He has provided us with family and friends who understand and support and love us unconditionally. People who pray for us. Most importantly, he has provided us with a promise that he will walk through this valley with us and his steadfast love can be trusted.

I have been incredibly blessed to walk along side of so many people suffering from OCD (including my son), not as an outsider, but as someone who gets it. I know that God is capable of healing and I also know that he doesn’t always do that. Why has he healed me from having OCD, but I continue to fight depression? There are somethings, this side of heaven, that we won’t understand, but God is still good. I also know that there are worse things than needing my house to be clean. I am working on my priorities, but a spotless kitchen floor is still gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warrior Boots

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

As Christians, we walk through many seasons. Maybe you are being called into a season of rest and restoration. What a sweet season, where Jesus calls you into his presence to be healed and refreshed. Lovely Psalm 23:2, “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” Maybe you have broken places that need to be healed in Jesus’ loving arms. Do that. Rest. Be still.

Maybe you are in a season of confession, repentance and getting right with the Lord. Acts 3:19 instructs us, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that the times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Be encouraged, correction comes from the love of your Heavenly Father. He loves you far too much to let you stay in sin. Sin leads to death…every time. Death of relationships, death to your sound mind and health, death of peace and freedom.  Mind you, this is not a fun season. Honestly confessing and turning away from your sin is difficult, but necessary. You were created for greater things to waste your life living in sin and ungodliness. You were called to be set apart for the Glory of God. I have walked in this season. Being held to the fire feels torturous, but in the end, you walk closer with Jesus in freedom. Closer to who you are created to be. We are called to be mothers, fathers, husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, leaders, workers, friends and role-models. These are important roles. If you are walking in sin, you are not going to honor the Lord in these areas in your life. This season requires you to ask the Holy spirit to search your heart. Psalm 139: 23-24.

Maybe you are in a season that requires putting on your warrior boots. This is the season the Lord has called me into. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) So, my friends, I am in the season of the battle. I have replied to the Lord, “send me.” My weapons… the armor of God.

If you are in this season and feel that the battle is against another person, it is not. It never was. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). Fighting this battle means praying for those who hurt you. It’s about dying to yourself and feelings and being obedient to what the Lord has called you to do. We are not going to hate anyone into the kingdom. Did you hear that? We are NOT going to hate anyone into the kingdom. God calls us to forgive and pray for our enemies. NOT easy or my favorite. Hence the battle. When Jesus commands us to love the Lord God with all of our heart, souls and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves, he is not making a suggestion or referring to only the neighbors who are our friends. This dying world needs a Savior and you know Him. Who are you sharing him with?

So, this is the battle… to fight against the lies of Satan. The battle may begin within ourselves. The tools to win that battle are the truths of God’s Word. Spend time searching what the bible says about who you are in Christ and his everlasting love for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to seal those truths in your heart. Let the truth of who you are in Christ replace every lie that Satan has spoken to you. Then spread those truths like it’s your job. Because it is. Spread the Gospel and what Jesus did at the cross to this dying and deceived world. They need to know what Jesus told the woman at the well, they need to know that he is the Great I Am. Saturate yourself in his word and then ask him for opportunities to share his chain breaking, life transforming truth with others.

BE PREPARED. Satan does not like to be exposed. He will try and come against you. He always does. Satan knows that Jesus alone is the answer so when you tighten your warrior boots he will be watching. DON’T BE AFRAID. You know the truth, you have been in training. You know what 1 John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the on who is in the world.” Amen!

Some battle tactics. Pray. Battles are won on our knees. Seek wisdom. Share the Gospel. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” Luke 4:18.

Give testimony to what the Lord has done in your life. Share your story. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Psalm 107:1-2.  Ask the Lord to be used to further his kingdom. To spread the Good News. Ask for opportunities to share your testimony for his glory.

Every season is preparation for the next. If you are in the battle, put on your armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-18), grab onto Jesus’ hand, and march on. The God of Angel-Armies is with you.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Head up Soldier! Tighten your boots. You are fighting from the victory of the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle

John 10:10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

How is that going for you? Are you taking hurtful things said about you and to you as truth, or are you seeing them as the lies, spewed from the pit of hell, that they truly are?

This is what Satan does. He doesn’t have to be creative. He knows how precious you are and he comes to steal that away, kill your confidence in Christ and destroy the very person you were created to be.

Satan doesn’t wait until you are an adult. This destruction often begins when you are a child. Satan uses the very people who are supposed to edify and protect you to destroy you. It can be a careless comment made out of frustration by a loved one. Unfortunately, that same person can say a million words of love and encouragement, but the words spoken that were hurtful are placed in the file of truth in your heart and mind. Those very words are the repeat button that has been pressed over and over. I am convinced that the only way to shut those words up are by allowing Jesus to literally come and shut that button off.

I have needed that healing. I know the authority I have, in Christ, to rebuke the lies of Satan. I know that God has loved me and cherished me from the beginning of time. I am his daughter. Yet, there are still words that haunt me. I will not rest until I am truly set free, but the fight to believe that I am who God says I am is a battle.

10 years ago, I was told that “I was useless.” That “I always had been.”  The person who spoke this to me was an addict and not of sound mind. Do you think that mattered? Not at all. I was crushed. If I allow them to, the words can still rattle me. Why do we allow this? Why is it somehow easier to believe that the lies are truth?

When we allow the lies to be the fabric of our thinking, we miss out on being who God created us to be. We no longer have the confidence in Christ to step out and live a life in victory and to help others do the same. Satan’s plan all along.

If Satan can steal the very essence of who you are in Christ, then he can put you on a path of destruction. He takes you, carves out the truth and then you begin to fill that space with anyone and anything that temporally makes you feel whole again… or in the least, temporarily shuts the button off. I have filled this space with wrong thinking, bad relationships, self-pity and poor decisions. What are you filling your space with? What or who are you putting your hope in, to shut that voice of lies up? More of Satan’s plan. Do you see it? Satan knows the only answer is Christ. HE KNOWS. So, he is going to work very hard to make sure that  you don’t know.

Freedom. The closer I get to Jesus the more I hear his voice of truth over the lies of Satan. Nothing else works. Jesus came so that we may have life, and have it to the full. That’s the life I want. Get out there. Find a church that teaches from God’s word. Join bible studies. Read your bible. Talk to other believers. Don’t let Satan win. He’s a liar.

Ephesians 6: 10-17 tells us:

Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

Would God give us instructions for battle if there wasn’t one? The closer you walk with Jesus and the more you are equipped with God’s word, the better prepared you are to dress for battle. To stand against the lies of the devil. To live a full life in Christ. Let’s do this and then, let’s teach others. I want to be part of the story of leading others to truth and watching them be set free from the lies and the life of destruction. What lies are you believing? What lies are stealing your life from you? Are you ready to be set free?

Ben

Ben. The love of my life, my joy, my sweetness… my rules Nazi. My son is 10-years-old with rigid thinking. Let me do my best to describe what rigid thinking means. Simply put, in Ben’s world, there is only black and white, right and wrong, fair and unfair. Gray area, flexibility, greater understanding that there is a bigger picture when decisions are made… what’s that?

Looking for a judge to sit on the Supreme Court, Ben’s your man. Need a lawyer to defend the Constitution of the United States of America? I know a guy. However, when it comes to playing any sport… well, let me explain. Organized sports require referees to make calls on a variety of plays. That’s their job. We have all had moments of agreeing and disagreeing with those calls. Because we understand that the referees are not robots, we move on despite our feelings. Moving on is very difficult for Ben. He can’t get passed it and if the call, he disagrees with, is against him… Jesus come quickly.  Backyard games… don’t get me started.

Ben had a basketball game today. On the way to the game, we reviewed the coping skills that Ben has been working on. I am pretty sure that everything he says is lip service to my desperate need to believe that counseling and my parenting are making a difference. As other parents are watching the game with a sense of excitement, I am praying… begging the Lord. “Lord, please let Ben feel a sense of peace. Don’t let him yell at the refs, have a nervous breakdown or punch a child in the face. Let him remember the thousands of conversations we have had about respect and self-control.” I used to want my child to shine God’s light on the court, now I settle for a game absent of poor sportsmanship and violence.

Ben is blessed. He has had amazing, understanding coaches in the past, and his current basketball coaches are sent from heaven. I want to hug them or buy them a drink after every game. They are patient and knowledgeable and kind. They know when to correct and when to encourage and I am so thankful for them. At the game today, I was sitting behind the bench (willing calmness and reason into my son’s attitude) and this is what I observed… a team. Ben was struggling with an infraction of justice. He was shaking and crying. His teammates either gave him a tap on the back or offered a fist pump. My heart swelled. I am positive that they don’t understand Ben, I struggle to understand him. What they did understand was that he needed them.

I chose to write this tonight, because I see this act of love as an amazing lesson for the entire world. We may not understand others, but what we do understand is that others need us and we need them. We aren’t meant to do life, parenting, school, relationships, anything… alone.

Parents, all of you, but in this moment, those who have children with rigid thinking, this is my heart of solidarity to you. My tap on your back, my fist pump. You’ve got this.

To Ben’s people, (his teachers, coaches, teammates, friends) thank you. I truly believe, that one day, Ben will be part of the fight to defend what is right in this world. But for now, he will be keeping me on the edge of my seat, bargaining with God, until the game is over.

 

 

Friendships

Proverbs 27:17 As Iron Sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

 I truly believe that we are meant to go without in life, so when God blesses us with the very thing we were missing, we understand the grandiosity of it’s presence. Friendship is that “very thing” for me.

I am going to tell you a deep dark secret. Not even kidding. I don’t talk about it, ever, and have hidden it away in a box labeled “the past.” Here it goes… college was a huge heartbreak for me in the friend department. Let me summarize it this way… the girls, that I came to know as my people, all rented a house together their junior year. All of them… but me. I wasn’t asked. I had to apply for housing with the hopes of having somewhere to live my junior year. Seriously just took my breath away to write that down.

Here’s the good news. I am now blessed a thousand-fold with the most incredible friendships. A day doesn’t go by, that I am not moved by this very fact. I get to go to work every day with loving, fun and thoughtful women that make my day a joy. They are loyal and all beautifully unique in their own way.  I love them dearly. I can’t begin to explain what they have come to mean to me over the years. We have conversations and group texting that inspire, support and provide the comic relief that is needed constantly. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

My tribe. I spent my day with them today. I am not sure if I can explain what this group of friendship is like. Our commonality… our heart for Jesus and each other.  The day began with a text. Can you come over for coffee?  I was already on the road.  I made a quick phone call to my husband, explaining that I would not be long. Lies. And was the first to arrive. I was not showered. I was wearing sweats and a baseball hat and I knew it wouldn’t matter. This is how we gathered. One by one, my tribe arrived. All apologizing for their appearance, knowing no one cared. All we cared about was that we were together.

This was our time. Our time to share our hearts, encourage each other, and speak into each other’s lives. We eat, laugh and sometimes cry. We are safe. 6 hours later, I head home. My cup filled back up.

In addition, to these amazing friends, I have individuals who have been woven into the fabric of my life. I am so grateful for them. God has brought them into my life as a sweet gift.

I share this because maybe you are experiencing a lonely time in your life. A time when you are feeling disconnected and on the outside…don’t despair! God has the perfect friendships for you. Talk to him about it. Ask him to bring you to your tribe. Ask for God to introduce you to the very people who will become part of your story and in return, you will become part of theirs. God did not intend you to do this thing alone. Do life…Jesus first always, as he is steadfast, and then with others. They are waiting for you.

 

 

Merry Christmas

Dearest Friends,

Christmas time brings wonderful reflection of the story of Jesus’ birth. However, that miraculous night should be told with consideration of the entire story. Jesus’ birth is our salvation story. It is the story of our Savior’s birth. The story of our redemption.

Jesus came to Earth to fulfill God’s promise of redemption (1 Peter 1:20) He came to speak truth to the Nations, heal our ruined world and die in our place. Jesus came so that our sins could be forgiven and we could live with his peace and joy as children of God. Promised eternity, for those who believe, we are saved from the grave.  He came to show us our Heavenly Father’s heart. This mission began at his birth and continued to the cross… and the entire time, he was thinking of you.

Jesus came to make all things new! This is my favorite. Anyone, besides me, need all things made new? Your marriage? A relationship? Your faith? Your strength? Your dreams? Your peace? Your joy? Your sanity? Can I get an “AMEN?”  This truth brings a new prayer to my heart. This life is so difficult. Daily, I hear of despair, heartbreak, loss, poverty, strife, death, illness, fear, sadness. Then I remember…Jesus! and God’s promises made true through him, so I pray, “Lord, make all things new.”

There is nothing that God cannot restore and make new. This Christmas season, let that settle in your hearts and souls and celebrate!

This is my Christmas prayer for all of you:

May the remembrance of Jesus’ birth stir up a renewed sense of joy and hope in your life. Through Christ, may the areas of your life that need healing and restoration be made new this season. During the trials in your life, may you remember Jesus. 

Merry Christmas!

Love, Shelley

Gods promises are made true in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the Glory of God.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)

“See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19) WRITE THAT ONE DOWN. WRITE IT ON THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Through Christ, believers become sons of Gods (Romans 8:14)

 

More Good News

Have you ever thought that something you have done or the way you live your life now, disqualifies you from what the bible tells us in Romans? –

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8 38-39.

Maybe you are believing the lies that the saving Grace of Jesus is not for you. If this is the case, my friend, pull up a chair… there is a man I would like to tell you about. His name is Saul. Schooled as a Pharisee, Saul made it his job to persecute Christians in the early church. Believing that the teachings of Jesus violated the Mosaic Law, he jailed those who followed these teachings. Basically, he hated Christians and Acts 7:58 tells us that he was present when St. Stephen (the first Christian Martyr) was stoned to death. At the end of Acts, Chapter 7, it reads “And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.”

After the death of Stephen, Saul launched a war against the Church. He entered homes, scattering believers, sending many to prison. He brought terror to those who loved and followed Jesus…Men. Women. Children.

Pretty horrific, right? So, what was it that you did again? What disqualifies you? Why could God never love you or use you? Why could it never be possible that God has good plans for your future? (Jeremiah 29:11)

Back to Saul. On a journey to Damascus, to carry out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples and hoping to imprison those who belong to Jesus, Saul met the very man he was persecuting…Jesus. It was here that Jesus proclaims “Go! This man is a chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles, and their kings and before the people of Israel.” 9:15 (Read about Saul’s conversion in Acts chapter 9).

So, who is this Saul? Get ready…. He is The Apostle Paul. You know the guy who wrote 8, possibly 13, of the books of the New Testament. Saul was transformed by God from a persecutor of Christians to the apostle Paul, preacher for Christ. Murderer to messenger. He preached for Christ through the Roman empire. Remember the scripture, from Romans, that I opened this writing with? He wrote that. The man who hated and persecuted the Gentiles, became known as the apostle to the Gentiles. He lead people to Jesus.

Friends, there is nothing that you have done or are currently doing that is too much for Jesus. He came for us, to invite us into relationship with Him and to show us a better way. Once you welcome Him into your heart and life you become a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold new things have come.” Old things passed away… sounds like more good news to me.

 

 

Ogunquit

Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”, and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10

Dearest Ogunquit,

You had my heart at our first introduction. I have found myself over and over again in your presence. I have walked with Jesus and shared my fears and dreams with Him on your sands. My children have known you for most of their lives. Everyone of your beaches, streets and paths holds a memory of them for me. I can hear their laughter there. My babies have fallen asleep by the lullaby of your waves.

Because of you, I know the joy of singing with strangers and dancing in the street. I have met a thousand people, momentarily being forever friends with them, sharing the stories of our lives and then quietly moving on.

Because of you, I know where to find the best Cuban toast, chowder, lobster, fish and chips and pizza.

Your seasons enchant me with your lazy summers, crisp autumns, magical winters and breathtaking springs. Everything is prettier and more mesmerizing with you. Your beauty and kindness inspire me.

The day after I buried my father, I ran to you to weep in your arms and you comforted me. Your ocean has given me refreshment, revival and hypothermia… just that one time, and I forgive you.

Your waves have been the hand of God’s Majesty pulling me like the tide back to my childhood, where my father is teaching me and my siblings to ride the waves. I have seen him there in the spirit of my brother.

You have brought endless memories to my entire family. You are sweetness and a calm for my mother.

I am always filled with sadness when I leave you but fear that moving to be with you will somehow diminish my joy of running to you. You are a gift from God, Ogunquit, and I will be forever grateful. Don’t ever change.

See you soon,

Shelley

 

The Real Good News

Salvation

There is a coffee place in town that I go to once in a while. Ok… Every.Single.Day for the last 13 years.  I walked in recently and overheard a conversation between a customer and two employees. The customer was telling the employees that being a Christian and going to heaven really just comes down to being “a good person.” I sat quietly as she spoke and waited patiently for her to leave. As soon as the door closed behind her, I leaned against the counter and very firmly said, “Don’t believe her!” When the employees, whom I love as family, reenact this they pretend to leap over the counter and scream. It’s a crack up and actually I may have indeed looked that passionate… AKA crazy.

It sounds like good news… you just have to be a good person, when actually that would be the worst news ever. Can you imagine? Your behavior determines where you spend eternity. I would be in trouble, for sure! We all would. One way ticket south.

So here’s the truth… the real Good News! (Brought to you through The Roman Road) This Good News is the best gift you will ever receive. Thankfully, we cannot earn it, buy it, or be good enough to receive it.

  • God is perfect and Holy. For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)
  • For the wages of sin is death (hell people), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Jesus died in our place.
  • For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:10&11)
  • For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Salvation is a personal relationship with Jesus. It is believing that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. He is knocking on the door of your heart. Jesus will not force himself on you but He is there with the invitation of a lifetime. He invites you to ask Him into your life. He invites you to receive the gift of eternal life. He invites you into a personal relationship where He is Lord over your life, your Savior, your Peace, your Healer, your best friend. You will never be the same.

I have shared this with people who feel that they have lived a life so terrible that somehow, they are disqualified for this gift. Here is the truth, ANYONE and EVERYONE who trusts in Him will not be put to shame. Jesus came and died for everyone. You can’t be good enough to earn this gift. Jesus took your sins to the cross with Him. Once you confess your sins and ask Jesus into your heart and life, your sins are wiped away and you are made clean. Now that’s Good News!!

If you want to ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive your sins, and begin your new life, you can say this prayer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I confess that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins, please forgive me. Jesus please come into my life. Thank you for my salvation. Amen

And now the angels in Heaven celebrate. I am celebrating. In this life, that can be so dark, Jesus will be your light and joy.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or to simply celebrate with you. The book of John is a great place to start in this new journey. I love you and I am so proud of you!

I want to Thank Pastor Bob Howard for inspiring me to write this as many of these words are his words. Thank you for being a faithful man of God and a Shephard to so many.

 

 

The Love of Jesus and a Credit Card

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4

Monday. August 21, 2017. 7:27 pm. A dear friend, Marybeth, posted a need for help ASAP. A homeless woman had been dropped off at a local church. She was in need of shelter that night.

7:32. I reply, “working on this right now.” No clue how I was going to “work on this” but I know my God and that I have a church who walks the walk. I called my Pastor’s Wife and told her what was happening. Within 5 minutes, we had a room secured at a local motel and I was on my way to the church to meet the woman in need.

Victoria. Victoria was sitting at the table. God would have it that there was a meeting happening at the time Victoria was dropped off at the church. At that meeting, there was a man that I have admired for most of my life. His name is Ray and he is a blessing to all people. Ray and I brought Victoria to the motel. The conversation flowed easily and I liked her instantly. Before checking in, the three of us prayed and I felt sad leaving her there. It is important to note that the motel had 4 nights available and no amount of begging or bribing (I tried) was going to change this fact.

Tuesday. August 22, 2017. I spoke to Victoria on the phone several times… from the Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, ME. Ray was on the job, making calls and exhausting all resources. By the end of the day, every door had been closed. Shelters were turning people away or only taking adults with children. Both Ray and I knew that a shelter was not the answer but she was looking at living on the streets again in 3 days.

Wednesday. August 23, 2017. More phone calls pleading Victoria’s case. No progress. Ray made an appointment with Catholic Charities. Local counseling resources were also called. Victoria and I spoke throughout the day.

Thursday Morning. August 24, 2017. I picked Victoria up early to spend the morning at my house. I wanted to get to know her better. I wanted to know how I could help. We laughed (belly laughed). We cried. We shared stories and talked about our children. I was once again reminded that we are all one step away from being in Victoria’s shoes.

10:30. Meeting at Catholic Charities. Although this organization is amazing, it was not what Victoria needed. We left with a list of other resources and people to call. Back in the car, I felt the Lord prompt me to ask Victoria what she wanted. I could tell by her body language that it had been a very long time since anyone had asked her that. After a long pause, she responded “to be back with my mom and help her and to have relationships with my children.” We talked about God being an expert in restoration and then she added “and McDonalds.” Kindred spirits.

After stuffing our faces with double cheeseburgers, nuggets and milkshakes, I brought Victoria back to the motel. I worked the phones, alongside of Ray, and turned up empty. My daughter suggested Teen Challenge in Providence. Brilliant. What could be better? Teen challenge is a faith based program. My church, as well as my family, has supported this program for years. I called them and was hopeful this was the answer. I scheduled an intake appointment for the next morning, when I would be with Victoria again. Perfect timing as Victoria had to be out of the motel by 11 the next morning.

Friday. August 25, 2017. 11:00. Victoria interviewed with Teen Challenge and was told she needed to detox prior to entering the program. She asked me to drive her to a hospital in Woonsocket RI. After she was admitted, I asked to speak to the social worker. I was informed that there wasn’t one. I broke. Just starting weeping. What do you mean? Taking pity on me, they sent a nurse to talk to me. I gave her all of the contact info at Teen Challenge and reviewed the plan with her. I cried the entire way home. I am still not entirely sure why.

Today. 7:45 am. Victoria called me and informed me that she was being discharged. Not wanting to upset her, I didn’t challenge her. I drive to the hospital, pretty sure that she had misunderstood. I was wrong. It was true. Victoria had been “medically cleared” and because she has Mass Health Insurance they “couldn’t” treat her for a detox. However, they did give us a very handy discharge sheet on the symptoms of alcoholism. Seriously? I couldn’t even make eye contact with Victoria. As we turned to walk away, the nurse yelled out “You’re a Saint.” I knew instantly what she meant and was offended for my newest friend. Victoria is not a burden nor someone whom I should be thanked for walking alongside of… she is my sister in Christ.

At this point, one would think I would be panicked. I wasn’t, and let me tell you why. GOD KNOWS ALL. He knew I was in over my head so He sent me Melissa. Melissa knew the situation and knew she had the information and grit to help. Victoria and I were headed to her house. To summarize the remainder of the day, thanks to Melissa and to God for sending her, we got an intake at a crisis counseling center. Victoria, who is very medically sick, is at a Massachusetts Hospital while others are working to put a long-term plan in place for her. Melissa was hand-picked for this assignment because without her perseverance and knowledge, we would have walked out of the crisis center today with a printed out copy of detox centers to look into. Instead, Melissa may have saved Victoria’s life. She confidently laid out the plan and they got on board.

As we speak, Victoria is at the hospital detoxing. I wonder how she is feeling and will call her soon. Maybe I will bring her some McDonalds.

Thank you Marybeth for stepping out in faith for Victoria. Thank you to all the warriors who have been faithful to pray. Please continue to pray. This is Victoria’s journey that she can quit at any time. I pray she doesn’t. Thank you Lord for going after the one. Thank you God for continuing to pursue her. Thank you Ray for tirelessly advocating for Victoria and for so many others. Also, thank you for talking me off of the ledge, especially when I was outraged by the lack of knowledge and help available. Thank you, mom and friends, for worrying about my heart. Thank you Haley (my daughter) for checking on me to assure that I wasn’t over my head. I was… all week long.

Friends, please remember that when you are feeling unequipped, God will still call you into action. Go. Hold His hand and run into someone’s story. God will provide everything you need. I felt the Hosts of Heaven this entire week. I told Melissa and I will tell you… I have the love of Jesus and a credit card. My skills end there.

Additional Notes

1.Spread the Gospel. Although timing is important. Victoria was curled up in my passenger seat, pale, nauseous and clueless to where she was going to sleep that night. I turned to her and asked her “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” I am laughing as I write this. It’s an important question but pretty sure she would have gotten out to walk if she could have. Trust me friends, I poured Jesus into her every chance I had. I may have added to her need for a drink.

2.For anyone questioning where I rate on the Saint scale. During the meeting at the crisis center today, I was texting Tom and asking him to make me an appointment for a massage and to make plans to take me to dinner… I am not suffering. 😉

3. GOD IS FAITHFUL AND WILL NOT FORSAKE US