Maria Yeager

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God Works in Mysterious Ways

Have you ever gone through something horrible and thought “Why me?” Have you ever wondered why God allows us to walk through the “valley of death”?

I’ve certainly been there. And I’m quite sure you have too.

But I have also learned that no matter what we go through, somehow good always seems to come from it. One example in my life is my ordeal with adenomyosis. While I cried my way through some of the most painful nights of my life, I questioned why God was putting me through it. But today, I can look back and see why He put me through it – to help other women who are suffering through adenomyosis today. I have written one book on the subject and am working on a second book. I sell about one book per day, and I get constant “thank you” messages from women desperate to find help for this terrible medical disorder.

As many of my readers know, I don’t like Trump. Since Trump took office, I have heard over and over again from some on the far-right that “God put Trump in office”. I don’t believe this. Why? Because God gave us free will. He doesn’t dictate what we are to do in this life. He invites us to follow Him, but He doesn’t dictate. If he put Trump into office, then He also put Obama in office, and those on the far-right aren’t going to like that much…haha! Also, if God puts someone in office, why would we have elections? The truth is that we, the American people, voted Trump into office, and God ALLOWED it to happen.

Now, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. But what I have witnessed this year personally is that those on the far-right are not nearly as Christian as they say. I see a lot of people (not all, but some) point their fingers at the left and calling them evil. However, the behavior of these same far-righters is not at all Christian. In fact, some of these far-righters turn around and do exactly what they tell others not to do. Hypocrisy has become blatantly clear in some on the far-right.

So, what if God allowed Trump to get into office in order to shine a light onto the hypocrisy in the far-right evangelical movement? What if He allowed Trump to become President in order to show the hypocrisy and non-Christian behavior in the Republican party? Like I said, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. What I do know is that God works in mysterious ways, and many times, he will use something meant to hurt us for good. After all, in the Bible, it says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

I used to be Republican, but I am now just completely embarrassed and disgusted by the Republicans. What I now see is some on the far-right that loves to point fingers at other while acting in a non-Christian manner. I see white-washed tombs. Jesus said “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” This means some love to talk all about Jesus but they live in continual sin, and this is hypocritical. These people are all talk, but there is nothing Christian inside them. That’s why I have always said that words aren’t enough. You have to truly believe in Jesus in your heart, and your actions will follow. If you truly believe in Jesus, you will turn away from sin…not to say that you won’t ever sin again (we are all human), but you won’t live in continual sin.

I don’t agree with some of what the Democrats believe, but I now see that the Democrats actually act on helping the poor and welcoming the stranger. The Democratic party welcomes immigrants and is outraged when Trump and his administration didn’t adequately respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico. The Democrats are ACTING in a Christian manner regarding these issues. Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” meaning that by ACTIONS, you will know them. I see more Christian actions this year from Democrats than Republicans.

For me, God opened my eyes this year. He opened my eyes to hypocrisy. I now understand the meaning of “white-washed tombs”. I now know that I can’t vote for a candidate based only on one issue – by doing that, we can end up in the situation we are in today. I have learned that pro-life addresses life at ALL stages, not just the unborn. Those who voted for Trump based solely on the abortion issue are knee-deep in hypocrisy as well. Why? Because they fight for the unborn, but once they are born (and many will have disabilities because a lot of abortions are done because of medical issues), they want to take healthcare away, specifically by cutting coverage for pre-existing conditions. So, we bring these children into the world, but the Republicans don’t want to take care of them once they get here. See the hypocrisy?

I think we should look back on this rough year and listen to what God is trying to show us. I listened and learned. Will you?

Walking the Labyrinth

Several months ago, my aunt recommended that I read three books by the author Paula D’Arcy that had really impacted her. The Gift of the Red Bird: Story of a Divine Encounter really spoke to me as I recently had what I believed was a divine encounter with some finches (see my previous blog). She described how she was able to feel closer to God by being alone in nature, and this made me think. How could I feel closer to God while living in the city? Where could I go?

I remembered a special place that my friend Sharon had taken me several years ago…a Benedictine monastery. It was so peaceful there, and it seemed like the perfect place to go for meditation and prayer in this busy area. At this particular monastery, there was a labyrinth. Sharon told me a little bit about the background of a labyrinth as I knew nothing about it. Basically, it is a place to go to spend some quiet time with God away from all the hustle and bustle of the day and to get clarity for any problems through prayer and meditation.

A labyrinth is a type of maze that only has a single track, so you can’t get lost in it. It has been around for thousands of years and is present in many churches around the world. The belief is that if you walk the labyrinth, you will go through three stages:

1. Purgation – you are released from all the worries of the world while walking through the winding paths

2. Illumination – a divine revelation as a result of meditation and prayer. This occurs at the center

3. Union – reflection on what you have learned as you make your way out of the labyrinth.

Well, I thought about the labyrinth while reading Paula’s book, but I didn’t go immediately as life got in the way. I was so busy writing and working on my house that I just couldn’t find the time. Then, one night, I started to read the next book by Paula D’Arcy – Seeking With All My Heart: Encountering God’s Presence Today. Amazingly, early in the book she had an entire chapter on the labyrinth! I knew at that moment that I had to make the time to visit the Benedictine Monastery.

Several days ago, I finally went and spent quite a bit of time by myself in that quiet place. No one else was around. There were many things on my mind at the time, but mostly I thought about how my life had changed since my divorce. Five years ago, I had this life of lab work, dance, and a twenty-year marriage. Now, all of that had been taken from me. Why did that happen? I had been plagued by that thought over the years.

As I started to walk the labyrinth, the first thing that I noticed was that my mind quieted. I felt God telling me to be quiet and just listen. Just listen to the birds and crickets. Just feel the slight breeze blowing on my face. Just be still and listen.

As I walked, I began to think about how the labyrinth mirrors life. We walk straight ahead in one direction, and then suddenly we are forced to turn in the opposite direction, just like what happened to me five years ago. Do the curves in the labyrinth represent our difficult/challenging times? Was this God telling me that sometimes the path we walked previously is no longer to our benefit? Is there something on that path that could hurt us, so He is taking us in a different direction?

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

As I continued to walk, I noticed that some of the bends in the labyrinth were hard to maneuver without falling a little off the path. I noticed that my momentum brought me one direction while the path directed me another way. This made me think about easy it is to lose our way in difficult times. It is easy to get discouraged, depressed, or fall into a sinful life when challenges arise. I was intrigued.

The next thing I noticed is that the stones around the curves are very small in relation to the stones in the straight areas. This made me think about how, in difficult times, we have to take “baby steps” to get through it. For example, during the divorce, my strength was sapped and I just couldn’t do as much as I did when I was married. We talked at length about this exact thing in my divorce support group. We were told that some days, we would find it hard to even get out of bed. For me, these small stones so accurately depicted what happens to us, physically and mentally, during difficult times. We have to be patient with ourselves and take “baby steps” until we eventually get back to our normal lives (the larger stones).

Other ideas came to me as I continued on the journey. Some areas of the labyrinth have longer areas without bends while other areas are shorter. This also mirrors life as some times we will have longer periods of peace and stability while at other times, it comes in short spurts. Also, some of the bends are a complete 180 degrees (lots of change) while other bends are 90 degrees (some small change). Finally, I realized that some of the bends could actually represent good times that are also stressful (marriage, a move, etc).

But the biggest lesson I learned that day is when I walked into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that no matter what we go through, if we stay on the path to God, it will lead us to salvation. The little bends in that labyrinth cannot even be compared to the beauty of walking into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that if I stay on that path, even through the difficult times, it will ultimately lead me to God. Straying off the path into a sinful life is not an option. I just have to trust in Him, keep my eyes on Him, and walk through that narrow door.

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

 

 

 

Hearing God’s Voice

When I pray, I always ask God to speak to me through His Word. When I open the Bible, I assume that God has me open it to whatever I am supposed to read that day. I have always done this, and I usually read something that really speaks to me that day. This is just the way I do it, and it works for me.

Today as I prayed, I felt like God was asking me to be silent. To just sit in His presence and listen to His still small voice. I have read some books recently which taught me this concept, and today, I felt like I just needed to listen to Him. Well, something came to my mind almost immediately. This had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but today, I felt as if God wanted me to delve in and understand this event in my life on a deeper level.

In 2011, just months before I found out that my husband had been having an affair, I began to have dreams that I was divorced. If you have read any of my past blogs, you will know that I had occasions of premonitions through dreams. My dad had this happen to him too – he dreamed that his brother was killed in a car accident, and a week later, it actually happened.

The first time I dreamed I was divorced, I just blew it off. I woke up thinking how ridiculous the dream was as I had no intention of ever getting divorced. When the second dream happened, I was a little bothered and wondered why in the world I would dream about something so crazy. When it happened a third time, I woke up confused and worried. I told my husband about the dream, and I asked him point-blank if he was going to divorce me. Although he denied that he would ever divorce me, his response was anything but convincing.

If that isn’t strange enough, around that same time, another amazing thing happened (although I didn’t understand it at the time). On at least three occasions while falling asleep, I audibly heard a voice say “Maria!” I opened my eyes, sure someone was calling my name, but no one was there. My husband was asleep next to me, and he didn’t move at all so I thought I had dreamed it. When it happened again, I thought that maybe it was an angel or even God trying to say something to me. Each time, I heard “Maria!”, clear as day, and when I opened my eyes, no one was there. My husband never moved, so clearly, he never heard it.

As I thought about these events this morning, I wondered if this was some kind of warning about what was going to happen to me later in 2011 when I found out about the affair. Was that God’s voice speaking to me?

I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:

“Listen to me in silence…” Isaiah 41:1

This was interesting enough. But it went on:

“Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced….For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-13

When I look back on these events, I now know that God was right there. I believe He was telling me that He was watching everything, and he knew every detail of the affair even when I had no idea what was happening. I believe this was His way of telling me that He never left my side during that time, and that even though I was going to be divorced, He would bring me through it. Even though I was about to go through hell and be yanked out of the life I knew, He would ensure that I would get through it and would end up in a much better place.

Always know that God sees EVERYTHING. He sees everything that is done in secret. He knows every insult, every lie, every betrayal….everything. Nothing can be hidden from God. On the other hand, He feels every single pain of betrayal. He sees every teardrop, feels every hurt, and goes through all the suffering with us. Remember – God was betrayed by Judas. He knows full well the pain of betrayal of someone who He believed loved Him.

He will always be with you, even when you think He isn’t there. God never leaves our side…EVER! As it is written in Isaiah 41:13, “Do not fear. I will help you.”

Taking on Andrew Wommack….Again!

 

Yesterday morning, as I was channel surfing while eating breakfast, I once again stumbled across Andrew Wommack’s show. This time, he was teaching about prayer. I listened for a few minutes but was so disgusted by his remarks that I quickly turned off the television. Just now, I decided to listen to a little bit more of speech on prayer online because I wanted to address his remarks in this blog.

I was raised Catholic. Although I currently attend a non-denominational church, Catholicism is near and dear to my heart. I personally don’t believe there is any one “right” religion – I believe it depends upon what is truly in your heart and soul. Some of the finest people I have ever known were Catholic, so I’m sure you will understand when this man insulted Catholics during his show on Monday. No, he didn’t actually say the word “Catholic” – he actually said that he didn’t want to point out any one group, but he talked about how some Christians would use beads and say the Hail Mary repeatedly and how this wasn’t real prayer. Clearly, he is referring to Catholics. His attempt at saying he didn’t want to point out any one group was pathetic and just plain mean. We all know who he is talking about. He went on to say that some prayer is bad if it isn’t done “correctly”. He talked about how prayers aren’t answered because we aren’t praying the right way.

My rebuttal:

First and foremost, I would like to point out that Andrew Wommack isn’t God! He cannot say at all if someone’s prayers are right or wrong. Only GOD know what is in someone’s heart. Only GOD knows how someone was raised and what they were taught. Only GOD decides if a prayer is genuine or not. Andrew Wommack doesn’t get to decide how you must pray. If you reach out to God with all your heart and soul, He will respond. He doesn’t need anyone’s permission here on earth. Don’t be deceived by this man.

Second, it is of utmost importance to not compartmentalize religious groups – any group, really. I have been very active in the Catholic church, especially in my youth. Yes, there are some bad people, but there are many, many wonderful people in this denomination who believe in Jesus with their whole heart, mind, and soul. What about Mother Teresa? What about Padre Pio? Andrew – are you really saying that these two people, both of them Catholic and both who prayed the rosary constantly, were not really praying? Are you saying that their prayers weren’t heard by God? You’ve got to be kidding! And there are so many other examples! There are bad and good people in every religion. Judging an entire group of people based on the actions of a few is very dangerous. Remember, Andrew – the Bible also says “Do not judge lest ye be judged”.

Third, it is extremely important to realize that prayer will not always be answered according to how you think it should be answered. Sometimes what you are asking for is not God’s will for you. Andrew leads you to believe that if you pray a certain way, your prayers will be answered according to how you want them answered, and that is just not true. The key is that you pray, just as God taught us to, and then you submit to His will. His will may not be the same as your will, but you have to trust in Him.

I believe it is a very dangerous teaching to tell others that they must pray in a certain way or God won’t hear their prayers. If the prayer is truly coming from your heart and you believe in Him with all your heart and soul, He will listen, no matter how you pray.  Remember – Jesus himself taught us how to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. He wants us to pray – listen to Jesus, not Andrew.

Finally, Andrew tells of a story where a woman asks him to pray for her husband. Andrew said “no” because in his mind, this lady wasn’t praying the right way. This is horrible. We should all pray for one another, no matter what. It is not up to us to judge how someone else talks to God. Shame on you, Andrew Wommack!

 

 

Daily Prompt: Cheat

This morning, I checked my phone and saw that today’s word prompt on WordPress was “cheat”. I have never taken part in these word prompts as I usually have something to write about, but I have to admit, I’ve been running out of ideas lately. When I saw this word prompt, I knew I wouldn’t take part in it today as the word brings back some bad memories for me. However, throughout the day, I have been bombarded with reminders of this word, and I believe I am being called to write about this topic. So, I am giving in…haha!

The word “cheat” can refer to so many things – cheating on a test, cheating on taxes, cheating at a game. But for me, the word “cheat” brings back memories of a horrible time in my life – a time when I though my life was over. Almost five years ago, I found out that my spouse of almost twenty years was cheating on me.

Those few months right after I found out about the affair were some of the worst and most painful of my entire life. This man, who just months before the affair told me that I was the most wonderful wife in the world, was messing around with a co-worker. This is the same man who, for almost the entire length of the marriage, condemned anyone who stepped out on his/her spouse. This is also the same man who supposedly was a Christian and who clearly knew that infidelity was wrong.

I was stunned at his attempt to shirk responsibility for his actions. He blamed everyone else for his actions, including me. I have since learned all about narcissism and now realize that this played a role in how he failed to deal with his infidelity in a healthy manner. He refused counseling which is also a hallmark sign of narcissism. Through my own counseling, I began to realize that narcissism played a huge role in the demise of our marriage, but not just his narcissism. It was also quite prevalent in other members of his family as well – members that had a huge influence over the entire family dynamic.

I remember certain details about those terrible months. I remember how I found him at her townhouse ordering pizza on a Friday night. I remember walking up to the door and confronting him. I thought for sure that since I caught him, he would return home and talk to me about what had happened. I was, after all, his wife. I just caught him at another woman’s house. However, he didn’t return as I had expected. He didn’t come home for four hours. I remember crying myself to sleep. I remember waking up and looking at the clock, realizing he still wasn’t home, and knowing what was probably going on at her house. I remember feeling like someone was just stabbing right in my heart, feeling so sick to my stomach, and having a pounding headache. I remember never getting an apology for that behavior – instead all I heard were excuses and justifications.

I remember waking up one morning the week after finding out about the affair and walking down to the kitchen right after he left for work. The overwhelming scent of cologne just about knocked me down as I walked into the kitchen. It followed me throughout the house as I thought about the fact that he was probably with her on the train right at that moment – the train that took the two of them to work. He had never put on that much cologne before, but he was doing it for her.

I remember how thoughts haunted me day and night. What caused him to treat me like this? How could this happen? On those days when he left to play golf or go to the casino, was he with her? On the days he had to “work late”, was he with her? Did he lie to me the entire marriage? Did I ever truly know this person? Was she in my home when I was visiting my parents? A never ending stream of horrible confusion and terrorizing realizations kept me from sleeping for months.

I remember how, in a divorce support group at church, they described divorce as a “tearing of the flesh”. They explained that when a couple marries, God joins the two and they “become one”, so when a divorce occurs, it means that the two are being torn apart. Believe me, it felt like this. It was awful.

I remember how, within the time period of just about a month, he went from this loving husband who couldn’t seem to keep his hands off me to a complete stranger who didn’t seem to care about me at all. He didn’t care about all the hurt he was inflicting, not only on me, but my entire family. It didn’t seem to bother him one bit that he was walking out on almost twenty years of his life. It’s like he went to bed as one person and woke up as a complete stranger.

It was hell. A complete uprooting of everything I knew to be true. A time where I didn’t think I would make it. But I did make it, and I am so much better for it.

I went through years of counseling. In addition to learning all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned who I truly was – a knowledge of my own self. I realized that I had not been true to myself as I let others control what I did and thought. I became self-aware, and I learned to love myself and accept myself just as I am.

I also spent a lot of time with God – time in prayer, time in church, and time alone with Him. My spiritual life grew by leaps and bounds, and today I have the closest relationship of my life with God. I spend a lot of time reading the Bible and other spiritual books, and I have learned to lean on Him all the time, not just some of the time. But the biggest lesson of all is that I now know that He always has a plan for me – a purpose that at times I cannot see because of all the darkness on this earth. I thought I was surrounded by that darkness five years ago, but little did I know, the light was still shining. Today, I know that the light is always there no matter how bad the circumstances. God never leaves us.

Looking back to where I was five years ago, I can truly say that I am thankful that my husband had the affair. I actually want to thank him, believe it or not. If he hadn’t had the affair, I would still be stuck on a path that led nowhere. I do not believe in divorce, and I would have never left the marriage had he not had the affair. I have grown by leaps and bounds since the end of my marriage – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I remember several years ago when my therapist suggested that the affair might have been a blessing – a good thing because it allowed me to grow. In fact, my own grandmother made this same remark several years ago. I didn’t want to accept it at the time. I wasn’t ready. But today, I can truly say that some great changes have occurred as a result of that affair. I recall how it has been said that God can take bad things and turn them to good if you trust in Him. This is so true, and it certainly happened in my case. I truly believe that He reached down, yanked me out of a terrible situation, and placed me on solid ground where I could grow. God sees everything. I believe He gave me the “out” that I needed so I would be able to reach new heights. I wouldn’t be at this place today if I hadn’t been released from this marriage. Being in that marriage and family was truly holding me back from my destiny – a destiny full of hope and happiness. A destiny centered around the one true God. A destiny of true self-awareness.

Although bad things do happen in this life, hold onto hope. There is always a reason that is bigger than any of us, and most of the time we can’t see it at the time. You just have to trust. Hold onto the hand of God. Get a good counselor. God will get you through it and will bring you out on the other side in such a better place. He has bigger plans for you. All you have to do is trust in Him.

My blog address: http://www.yeagerm193.wordpress.com

Stop on by and check it out!

 

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Cheat

I Am A Survivor…And You Can Be One Too!

You know, strength is not just physical. Someone can be physically strong but emotionally and mentally weak. I know people who fall in to this category. However, today I am going to talk about emotional and mental strength…something that is not recognized very often. Going through rough times make people beautiful by strengthening their resolve. You know you can rely on these individuals as nothing will bring them down. I have been through it myself, and I have persevered due to the love and help of God. I want you to know that you can persevere as well.

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, and there is good reason for that. I have been dealing with some medical issues again. After receiving some disturbing news yesterday regarding my health, I thought back on everything that I have been through in my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, so I decided to write this blog to let all those who are suffering know that there is always hope.

My health story begins in 1986 when I suddenly came down with an acute case of appendicitis. I was brought into emergency surgery in the middle of the night, and it turned out that my appendix had ruptured. I stayed in the hospital for six days and was told that I was lucky to be alive.

Around 1990, my whole ordeal with adenomyosis began. The severe pain and extremely heavy bleeding lasted for seventeen years before I was finally diagnosed at hysterectomy. You can read my other blogs for more details on my adenomyosis journey.

In 2009, I woke up and was unable to stand as my right leg gave out from underneath me. It turns out that I had a herniated disc in my lower back and a broken vertebrae. This led to my first spinal fusion. Five months after surgery, I learned that two of the screws broke, and I needed a second surgery.

In 2010, I had my second spinal fusion. Sadly, this fusion also failed, and a third surgery was done in 2012.

In between my second and third back surgeries, just by chance, I learned that I had a brain aneurysm. I had no symptoms. The aneurysm was picked up when I had a head CT scan that was needed prior to a CT myelogram for my back. I was stunned! I had surgery, and the doctor placed a coil and stent to block flow to the aneurysm. Thankfully, the aneurysm is now stable.

While recovering from the coil and stent surgery, I found out that my husband was having an affair. I was an emotional wreck as we had been married for almost twenty years. One month before my third back surgery, we separated and he moved out. We are now divorced.

After my third spinal fusion, my left hip began to hurt. I was unable to sleep on my left side at night. This was the beginning of hip bursitis which plagues me to this day. I get occasional cortisone injections to help ease the discomfort.

Although the third surgery resulted in a fusion (yay!), I still live with chronic daily pain in my lower back. The pain still sometimes radiates down my right leg. Not a day goes by now that I’m not is some degree of pain.

In the last year, I began to have severe upper back pain. An MRI showed four bulging discs in my neck along with a couple of pinched nerves. I haven’t had surgery for this yet. I decided to go to a pain management doctor, and I have had many shots – epidural, facet joint, medial branch nerve blocks, etc. These have all given me minimal relief, so my doctor suggested I try radio-frequency. This procedure deadens the nerves that go from the spinal cord to the brain which block the pain signals. I had this procedure done, but it deadened the feeling in the middle of my back while the pain continued in my shoulders and upper neck. I actually am in more pain now than before the procedure. Sigh…

In the meantime, I have had knee, shoulder, and ankle pain, and at times, my knee and hip lock up and give out. Since so many of my joints were hurting, my family doctor suggested I see a rheumatologist. On my first visit with the rheumatologist, they took eight tubes of blood from my arm.

Several weeks later, I had my follow-up. I was shocked to learn that I had a positive ANA test. This test detects autoantibodies which means that there is an autoimmune process of some sort occurring in my body. I couldn’t believe it. So, the doctor ordered more tests, and I had eight more tubes of blood drawn.

Last week, I had yet another follow-up with the rheumatologist. This time, the blood work showed that I had high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein. This means that I have a clotting disorder! She told me to start taking an aspirin a day for now, and I have to repeat the blood work in several months to see if the levels are still elevated. If they are, I will be diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome.

The most shocking thing about antiphospholipid syndrome/high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein has to do with pregnancy complications. Apparently high levels are associated with a high incidence of miscarriage. While I was married, there were times when I was quite sure I miscarried. Until now, I thought it was a result of adenomyosis, but now I wonder if these high levels played a role also. By the way, I have no children. I wish I had this information thirty years ago! It doesn’t really apply to me now as I have had a hysterectomy. However, these levels put me at an increased risk of stroke or heart attack, so I definitely need to address it, and the rheumatologist needs to keep an eye on it.

My rheumatologist believes that my aches and pains may be due to fibromyalgia, and I have been put on Lyrica. So, for now, I live with chronic pain…pain in my lower back, pain in my upper back, pain in my shoulders, pain in my hip, and sporadic pain in my knees and ankles. I hope the Lyrica will help.

So…I know what it is like to hurt physically. I know what it is like to hurt emotionally. I know. I get it. I’ve been at that place where you think there is no way things are going to work out. I’ve been at that place where I ask God, “Why me?” But I’ve made it this far with God’s help, so I know I will make it in the future. No matter how bad things get, you will make it. Ask God for His hand, and He will guide you. With His help, you can move mountains. Nothing is impossible with God!

 

God is Holding Our Hand – A Message of Hope

This morning, I woke up to pain in my hip, leg, shoulder, and neck. This is a regular occurrence for me now. This pain has been happening for years, but I wrote it off for a long time as a result of either stress, bad posture, or side effects of my back surgeries (I’ve had three spinal fusions). Recently, the pain has become almost intolerable at times, and I began to notice that it was affecting too many of my joints to just write it off anymore. I decided to visit a rheumatologist after my family physician recommended it.

After my first visit, I had eight tubes of blood drawn from my arm. Yes – eight! To my shock, some of the results came back abnormal, one of them being the ANA test. This tests looks for autoantibodies in the body, and if it is positive, it means that there may be an autoimmune disorder present.

I went back for a second visit, and eight more tubes of blood were taken from my arm. So, I’ve had sixteen tubes of blood drawn in the course of about a month. These new tests are more specific tests for an array of autoimmune diseases, one of which is lupus. I don’t have the results yet but should get them by the end of this week.

So…back to this morning. I woke up in pain. It is really hard to get up out of bed with a smile on my face when I feel pain all over my body from the moment I open my eyes. Today was a struggle, so I picked up my the Bible on my dresser – the Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible. Before opening it, I sat down in a chair, closed my eyes and prayed.

I first praised God for allowing Jesus to die on the cross for me, and then I asked for forgiveness of my sins. I then became a little emotional asking him for help to get through the day. Suddenly, I felt the strong sensation that Jesus was by my side trying to comfort me. I sat in silence for a few moments and then just poured my struggles out to Him. I told Him that I just wanted some peace. I felt Him say to me, “Hold out your hand.” I know that may sound strange to some people, but I felt like he wanted me to hold out my hand so that He could just hold my hand. I didn’t understand this, but I did what I felt like He wanted me to do. Right at that moment, my cat, who is quite stand-offish, came up to me, rubbed repeatedly against my foot and purred really loud. This was unusual behavior for her, and I just wondered if she could sense something. Anyway, I petted her, and then closed my eyes again. I told Jesus that I always feel like He speaks to me through His Word, so I asked Him to help me to open my Bible to what He wanted me to read today.

Well, I opened it to Lamentations 3. As I read it, I was so comforted. Here are a few verses that really struck me today:

“He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation….he has put heavy chains on me…” Lamentations 3: 4-5, 7 (NRSV)

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him…It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it.” Lamentations 3:25, 28 (NRSV)

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!’ You came near when I called on you; you said ‘Do not fear’!” Lamentations 3:55-57 (NRSV). This verse in particular comforted me because I went through probably the roughest time in my life back in 2012. I literally cried out to Him many, many times, and He brought me through that terrible time to a much better place. I was reminded of this as I read this passage, and I knew that even though I am hurting, He will bring me through it just as He has done in the past.

But the most amazing thing that I saw after I read these passages in Lamentations was the title of the devotional on that same page – “God, Hold My Hand”! Right as I saw it, I felt like Jesus was smiling at me, and I was stunned! This devotional was written by Barbara Vogel and talks about a very tough time in her life. However, she found comfort in Lamentations 3. She states at the end of her devotional:

“Lamentations 3 has indeed been the very hand of God holding ours.”

No matter how bad things are in our lives – physical, mental or emotional pain – God is ALWAYS by our side. Even when things seem disastrous, just hold onto God’s hand – He will get you through it. Trust in Him!

“When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted – does the Lord not see it?” Lamentations 3:34-36 (NRSV)

*Devotional by Barbara Vogel taken from The Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible (NRSV), (1989), Zondervan, pg. 1084.

 

 

 

Once Saved, Always Saved? Part 2

 

This question is certainly a hot topic of debate. After writing my previous post on this same topic, I was contacted by a friend of mine who didn’t agree that our salvation can be lost. She talked with her pastor about this issue since my post made her think a little more about this subject. His explanation was good. He said that if someone turns against God after becoming a Christian, they were never Christian. There is truth to this statement. According to 1 John 2:19:

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

I am glad that my friend enlightened me in this way. That makes a little more sense to me. However, I was still troubled by a few things.

First of all, God gave us free will. If, once we are saved, we are always saved, then doesn’t that take away our free will? Also, the way that some preachers are passing on the message of “once saved, always saved” sounds to me like they are saying that sin isn’t a factor since our works have nothing to do with our salvation. I do know of people who truly believe that you don’t have to do anything except to say “Jesus is my Savior”. They truly believe that they can lie, steal, cheat, or do whatever they want, but as long as they say “Jesus is my Savior”, they are guaranteed salvation because salvation is a gift, and our works have nothing to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe that our salvation is a gift and that Jesus died on the cross to save us. There is no doubt in my mind. What I worry about is that people are getting an incomplete and twisted message. I believe the error occurs when one or two passages in the Bible are the main focus, and the rest of the Bible is ignored. Let me explain further.

There are many passages in the Bible that point to the fact that you can turn away from God and possibly lose your salvation. First and foremost is a passage that I referred to in my last post:

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” 2 Peter 2: 20

Peter also refers to Proverbs in making his point:

“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:22

As per the book of Hebrews:

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift….if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 6:4-6

“We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:14

“See that no one is…godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.” Hebrews 12:16-17

As per the book of Timothy:

“If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.” 2 Timothy 2:12

From 1 John 2:

“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF IT DOES, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24

But the one that stands out most to me is from 2 John:

“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9.

As far as the teaching of current pastors regarding the fact that our actions (works) have nothing to do with our salvation, the most important passage comes from James:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14

“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not be faith alone.” James 2:24

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

There are also many different places in the Bible where Jesus Himself states that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. One such verse can be found in the gospel of John:

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:21

Another one can be found in 1 John 3:

“Those who obey His command live in Him, and He in them.” 1 John 3:24

Now, regarding the idea that people can just say “Jesus is my Savior” and still lie, steal, cheat, etc., the Bible specifically warns against this behavior. In fact, the warning are stern:

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessolonians 2:8-10.

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22

So, here is my opinion on this subject. Based on the above scripture, I believe that if you are a true Christian and endure to the end, staying true to God’s Word, you cannot lose your salvation. As it says in John 10:28, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.” 

Is it possible to be a true Christian and then turn away from God? Yes, I believe it is possible based on the above scripture. If it wasn’t possible, why would there be so many warnings? Remember, Judas was once an apostle but then later betrayed Jesus. Is that because he was never a true Christian? Was it because he was Christian and then turned his back on God? We will never know as only God knows what is truly in someone’s heart and soul.

As far as being a true Christian, I believe that actions will show what it truly in someone’s heart. I do not believe that you can say the words “Jesus is my Savior” and you are guaranteed to enter heaven while continuing to live in sin. I believe that you have to truly give your life over to God, truly believe in your heart that Jesus died for us, and live by His commandments. I think that so many people want to believe that actions don’t matter because it’s easier that way. I also believe that people are being led astray by focusing on one, two or three verses in the Bible. If you truly want to learn the teachings of God, you must read and accept all of it, not just some of it. The Bible can easily be twisted into what you want it to say if you only focus on a few verses. I challenge all who read this post to open up a Bible and read it – not just the gospels, not just the New Testament. Read all of it. Only then will you have the true knowledge of what it takes to be a true Christian.

And that’s my opinion 🙂

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up

There have been two suicides that I have had to deal with in my life. One was a family member, and the other was a friend. In both situation, the stresses of life were just too much for them, and they clearly felt like there was no other way out.

All of us have had difficult events in our lives. But have you ever felt like your life was completely falling apart? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like there was no way out?

I’ve been there. Let me give you a little background information about me. I danced for over twenty years. I started dancing at the age of four when my mom put me in ballet classes. In my teenage years, I became the captain of my high school flag team and began to take jazz classes. Eventually I moved onto modern, pointe, and even ballroom dancing while I was in college. After college, I tried ice skating and tap. Needless to say, I absolutely loved to dance!

In high school, I really became interested in science and performed quite well in science fairs. This interest propelled me into getting a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and eventually I ended up working in the field of genetics for about twenty years. I loved this work even though most people don’t understand why…lol…as I sat behind a microscope for eight hours of the day. The passion for this work was just something I was born with, I guess!

I met my husband when I was 25, and we married a year later. I thought I had found the love of my life. We lived in three different states – South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas – and I worked in the laboratory in all three states, sometimes teaching aerobic classes after work. We had a beautiful home and plenty of great friends. I thought my life was perfect…until…

It all began when I woke up one morning and my right leg gave out. I had a herniated disc in my lower back, and a few months later, I had my first spinal fusion. During the surgery, the doctor discovered that my back was actually broken. About five months later, we learned that two of the screws broke, and the fusion had failed. A few months later, a second spinal fusion was performed. This second surgery also failed. I began to worry that I would never be able to dance again. Also, I had to leave my job due to these ongoing issues with my back. So, at this point, I had lost my favorite hobby, and I had lost the ability to work.

Around this same time, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. He began chemotherapy about a month later but had a very bad reaction to it and ended up in the hospital for about 9 weeks. During that time, he almost went into respiratory arrest due to an infection in his lungs. Fortunately, he was able to recover and eventually went into remission.

While preparing for my third surgery, an imaging test revealed that I had a brain aneurysm. I was shocked and frustrated at that point. Two days later, I woke up and realized that the right side of my face was paralyzed. Terrified that I had a stroke as a result of the aneurysm, I rushed to the hospital along with my husband and parents. Luckily, I only had Bell’s Palsy, and it cleared up within a couple of months. But the experience was awful!

About a month later, I underwent surgery for the brain aneurysm. The doctor placed a coil and stent in the affected blood vessel, and thankfully, it has remained stable to this day. However, I had to take a blood thinner for several months to make sure a deadly blood clot didn’t form near the aneurysm. This meant that I couldn’t have back surgery until I was taken off the blood thinner. Eventually, I was able to plan for the third back surgery.

One month before the surgery, I found out that my husband had been having an affair. We separated almost immediately. The next few weeks were the worst of my life as I had to obtain an attorney, fill out mounds of paperwork, make sure evidence of the affair was secured, have pre-surgery testing while crying and venting to the nurse (who was incredibly supportive, btw),  and make sure I was prepared for surgery (food, transportation, etc). During this month, I endured many phone calls from my husband who wanted to sell the house prior to my surgery, believe it or not! Thankfully, I had an excellent attorney who squashed that idea rather quickly.

This was definitely the lowest point of my life. I had lost my favorite hobby, my career, and my husband. I felt like there was no way out and that my life was over. I can’t even describe the feelings of anger and desperation that I felt. But, I chose to turn to God.

After recovering from my third spinal fusion, I made plans to move from my house into a smaller home. The day of the move was long and tedious, and I was exhausted when the movers left at around 11 p.m. The next morning, I woke up to a house full of boxes, but before I could start the unpacking process, I had to return to my former home for its final cleaning. On my way there, I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad was in bad shape. He passed away later that day. Thankfully, a close friend stepped up and offered to help me. She and her family cleaned my old home and began to unpack boxes for me while I was with my mom planning my dad’s funeral. Two weeks later, my divorce was finalized. So…in a period of about three weeks, I had a major move, a death, and the finalization of my divorce.

In my previous blogs, I describe numerous times when God sent me signs during this deep valley in my life…from dreams to rainbows. I hung onto Him and His Word for dear life, and He pulled me through. Through prayer and counseling, I have recovered and am living a peaceful life. I now write books as much as my back will allow me to do so, and I have the most incredibly supportive friends and family around me. I enjoy watching dance shows and listening to old music as it brings back so many great memories. My life has definitely changed, but I’ve never been happier. I not only survived, but I am a much better and incredibly stronger person than I ever was before. I am here to tell others that suicide and/or giving up should never be an option. God can pull you through anything…and I mean anything!

I thought about writing this blog after I read a passage in Psalms yesterday. This particular passage really touched my heart, and I want to share it with you today 🙂 When times are tough, really tough, reach out to God. Cry out to Him and NEVER GIVE UP!

“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears…He reached down from on high, He took  me; He drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” Psalms 6, 16-19

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Day

 

A great quote to start 2016! You are strong, you are courageous, you are a WARRIOR!!

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