Angel of Light (Part 2)

Angel of Light (Part 2)

In part one of this story, I left off when I threw the man out, I will call “abuser” that had been living with me, who I was allowing to ruin my testimony, my peace of mind and keeping me from a relationship with the Lord. I had discovered that you cannot serve Jesus and the devil or another way to put it is, ungodly/sinful desires, at the same time.

He had threatened me as I told him to leave so I worried that he would retaliate, having seen him do it to others who crossed him. But I had turned a corner and began to trust in the Lord again so I was resolved. Although I knew I had done the right thing, I was so unsure of my future. And in spite of feeling so broken and vulnerable, I trusted the Lord and moved towards Him. I asked for forgiveness for leaving the path He had so firmly planted me on and asked him to restore me to Himself.

Through the tears and the shame, I began my journey back to my Lord, one step, one day at a time. I began attending church again and as I sat in the services, I felt numb and unable to respond. I just took it all in and allowed the Lord to begin the healing process on my heart, mind and my sick body. I got back into the bible and read everyday and slowly returned to fellowship with other believers which was so good for me! It took five plus years to be restored to the closeness that I once had with the Lord and to feel confident in my role as His child.

I still had a deep longing to be married but this time I was leaving it up to the Lord. I learned that I could not make it happen on my own, not the way God would have it for me! I knew I wanted to be with a devoted follower of Christ, a man who would put Jesus first in all things and cherish me the way God intended.

After a couple of years no men of this caliber had come into my life so, I assumed that the Lord intended for me to be single. And shortly after I accepted this and began to settle on the idea that God would use me in my singleness, He sent me a godly, ethical, gracious man who would eventually become my husband! The way we met could only have come from the Lord! We lived in different countries and found one another on a

Christian dating website. So after 42 years, I married my soul mate. It has been 17 wonderful years that we’ve been together. He is perfect for me!

If you ask me, would I want to go through that horrible relationship with the abuser again to get where I am today, I would say NO. But having experienced it, I can appreciate how God provides and does it so much better than we can imagine! Praise Him for His faithfulness!

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

There Will Be Bad Days…

There Will Be Bad Days…

This past week was a battle. From disturbing images to extremely unsettling thoughts, OCD was going right for the jugular. Up until that point, it had been a good period of time since I had to be on high alert against mentally obtrusive thoughts. Thanks to the miracle of Fluvoxamine (my medication of choice), these kinds of thoughts have been less frequent and easier to find my way out of. Not this time, though. It all came to a head on Monday night when I found myself in the emergency room with sharp chest and arm pains. It has yet to be determined if the pains were completely anxiety related. However, I will tell you that all my exams in the hospital came back normal. (I will continue with this part of the story in an upcoming post regarding other health issues I will be testing for, including all tick-borne diseases. Side note: For those of you who don’t live in the northeastern part of the United States, consider yourselves truly blessed when it comes to the issue of ticks. One day I hope to be able to spend at least part of my summers away from this region of the country for the sole purpose of avoiding those tiny life-ruiners). In any event, after my visit to the ER, I had an impromptu session with my psychiatrist. After our conversation and careful consideration, we decided it would be best to add a small dosage of an anti-depressant to my daily regimen. Four days later, I am feeling worlds better. Praise God for the wisdom He has given my doctor.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have been taught and believe that there is a whole other world I cannot see. This plane, or spiritual realm, is filled with powers and spirits I am blind to, or really, protected from. With that said, there is a spiritual element to my OCD and depression struggles. I want to be clear that this belief does not downplay or take away credence from the fact that anxiety disorders like OCD are also biological and physical. I am against the idea that mental health issues are completely spiritually driven. Have you ever seen a brain scan of someone with OCD versus someone with a “healthy” brain? Search for that on the internet and then try to convince yourself that OCD is not also a physical issue. The point I’m trying to make is that my OCD has a personality. It distorts everything and everyone I love, and even how I view myself. It feels evil, sounds evil, and is based on lies. In the dark moments, when I can’t get myself out of a mind-ditch, there is only one thing to do: pray. While the terrifying thoughts may not be instantly removed while praying, there is instant safety and freedom in the presence of God. In the arms of Jesus, there is safety knowing that I cannot be harmed by my thoughts and neither can the ones I love. In the arms of Jesus, there is freedom in sharing my thoughts no matter how dark or disturbing. The arms of Jesus are a place where I am known for who I am and not who my thoughts say I am. There is no place like this on earth, nor medicine that can truly recreate the stability and deep underlying peace of this place.

It is important to note that after my trip to the ER, I felt an enormous amount of discouragement. How could I be back at this place with my mental health? I’ve put in so much effort to be “OK” over the last six years. From counselors, to psychiatrists, to medications, to books, to research, to behavioral exercises…am I really back here? The answer was both yes and no. Yes, I was in a bad state of mental health, but no, I was not back to where I was in the beginning of this journey. I am older, wiser, and stronger because of all that I have been through with this disorder. If I can get through what I have been through in the past, I can most certainly step forward now with the abilities God has given me and enables me to use everyday thanks to the hellish roads He and I have walked down together. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience is the most brutal of teachers, but you learn, my God, do you learn.” Praise God for His wisdom and amazing love. Keep fighting, friend.

Love,

Jackie

God’s Grace

God’s Grace

God’s Grace can be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. (Enni, Paul. Moody Handbook of Theology)

Verses Romans 3:19-28, Ephesians 1:7, 2:4-9

Grace was not something I witnessed growing up and I didn’t see it displayed at the church or school I attended as a young child. Instead, I saw students hit with rulers when they disobeyed. I began to believe that my faith was based on my good works: if I was good, I would be loved and accepted. But that was a lie.

The Bible says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) According to this and other verses, I could never be, “good enough” to be accepted into God’s family. Instead, by having faith in Jesus Christ and believing his death on the cross was the payment for my sins, I would be welcomed into God’s family. I didn’t have to strive to be perfect; all I needed to do was believe.

Faith in Jesus and being a Christian is not about following rules. It’s about having a relationship with God, acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died on the cross for our sins. He paid our sin debt. We are saved by grace through faith. It is a gift of God, not of works.

  • Grace is a gift from God; it cannot be earned.
  • Grace is overlooking someone else’s faults and loving them where they are.
  • Grace compels me to love others, to extend mercy, and to be kind to all people.
  • Grace humbles me when I think about what Jesus did for me on the cross: a gift I can never repay.

Have you truly received this gift of grace in your heart?

Do you extend grace to others?

 

In His love and service,

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Freedom from Shame

Freedom from Shame

I define shame as a heavy, black wool cloak that covers my head and weighs me down.

Under it, my head and body are bent over, my eyes are cast down and my spirits are down.

I have feelings of despair, regret and weakness.

I feel all alone and isolated in this dark place.

I feel hopelessness and powerless to change this situation.

Shame tells me from my youth, “It’s all your fault.”

I suffer with an over-developed sense of responsibility; perfectionism and people-pleasing have made me vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks in this area.

I now recognize I don’t have to listen to those old tapes in my head anymore.

God has given me a new identity, a new purpose and a new life.

Discovering who I am in Christ changed everything.

God showed me that shame is a choice. I can have power over it and I can decide not to take it on.

The enemy may try to get me to take on shame, but I have the final say.

Christ in me helps me to make better choices.

I am not a victim of my circumstances. I am victorious in Christ

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

I am loved by God.

I have been adopted; I am not abandoned.

I am accepted; I am not rejected.

I am His child.

 

Dear One, you are loved by God.

Have you received His love?

How does God see you?

How do you see yourself?

In His love and service,

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!