“I want to end my life. How should I do this?”

“I want to end my life. How should I do this?”
You’re still alive. You still care about others. Others still care about you. Maybe you can’t see that right now because the hole you’re in is so dark.

I care. I don’t know you so I don’t know how to help you see your worth. But you are worth more than you realize right now. There are people out there who would die for you so that you could live.

Sometimes it’s dark and terrifying in this life, but there is hope.

You are not alone and you are worth more than you realize right now. Maybe someone or something is hurting you and you want a way out. Ending your life is not the answer. If the people around you are not showing you that you are loved and worthy of love, ask God to show you a way to find what you need in this life. We all need to feel safe. We all need love.

God answers us when we really want to know him. And we can’t know him unless we talk with him ourselves. Other people can’t “know” him for us. He is a person. He wants to get to know you right where you are right now. He wants you to talk to him about why and how you got to this place of desperation. And he wants to help.

I have been where you are several times in my life. I wanted to and was ready to take my life many years ago, but God told me that I didn’t have to live my life alone anymore and that he would be with me, that he would live in me if I wanted him to.

So I told God that I couldn’t do it anymore on my own and that I needed him. After that, I was never alone again and I wasn’t so afraid of living anymore.

Someone I love ended his earthly life in 2016. I know if he could take it back he would. He was looking right into my eyes when he shot himself and he was beyond horrified at what he had done. But then I saw a beautiful presence hold his spirit and give him peace before he left this world. God held him and let him know that he was forgiven and loved no matter what he had done. He was worthy of love.

You are worthy of love. You are important and special, just the way you are, no matter what you have done. No matter what has been done to you, you are loved by the most powerful force in the universe.

There are people on this earth who would die to save you.

There was one on this earth who did.

His name is Jesus. I know because he saved me from myself. I am here on this earth knowing that I am worth something ONLY because God answered me when I was in a tub with a sharp knife years ago.

Jesus pulled me from a dark place and brought me into the light of knowing I mattered and that I am important to him and to others. The truth is that you are not alone. The truth is that you matter. The truth is that you are loved.

Feeling Judged? There is a Way Out.

Feeling Judged? There is a Way Out.

We all deserve respect as human beings with our own unique perspectives and feelings and issues and yet, most of us don’t feel respected. We feel the eyes of judgment; the accusing voices reside in our heads and at our places of worship, our schools, and our workplaces.

We may go to the grocery store and see someone giving us a once over with their eyes or get a formal evaluation at work that tells us exactly where we are going wrong. We check out social media and see a comment directed at our lack of empathy or our lack of style or perhaps someone comes right out and tells us that we have major issues. We may have a conversation that doesn’t go the way we thought it would, so we re-evaluate every word thinking about how we messed up.

If we grew up in church, we were taught that grace covers our sin. What we probably were not taught is that grace covers the sin so completely that we do not have to go around worrying constantly about whether we have messed up or not! God is not looking down on us and trying to see which sins we have committed and judge us. He doesn’t even SEE our sin when we trust Jesus! As soon as we trust him, ALL of our sins are forgiven and God casts them into a sea of forgetfulness. They are further from him than east is from west! Why would he want us focused on our sin when he doesn’t even look at it??

We waste time feeling guilty thinking about something that God never tells us to look at. He says to believe him, trust him, and follow him. He says to come to him with all of our burdens and give them to him. When we talk with Him about what we have done that we feel guilty about, he frees us from judgment and condemnation! He doesn’t want us to dwell on our mistakes, but instead be free from the fear and condemnation that our mistakes cause!

An addiction cycle is when we mess up and feel guilty and then mess up again BECAUSE we feel guilty and unworthy. God doesn’t want us to live there in a place of defeat chained to our habitual mess-ups. He wants us to have the freedom to walk away from whatever is not good for us and others.

Living out of agreement with our conscience is not good for us. We have the ability to know what is right and wrong because of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Before humanity ate of the tree, we lived in perfect connection with God. There was no guilt or condemnation or fear between us! But after the eating of the fruit, the connection was broken.

We began to look at what separated us from God instead of trusting him and wanting to walk and talk with him. Instead, our natural instinct when we mess up is to run from God because we are afraid of condemnation. However, as humans living in the 2020’s, our focus does not need to be sin. We need to put the focus where it belongs – on God himself and his solution to the problem: Jesus. Jesus came to rescue us from the knowledge of good and evil and from the judgments we make about ourselves and others!

Jesus is the one we are following. Did he ever once ask his disciples to look at what they had done and be ashamed? Did he ask them to overthink their clothes, their habits, their food and drink? Did he make everything legalistic and about doing the “right” thing? No.

Jesus made life about following Him. And HE followed His Father’s heart. God the Father led Jesus where he needed to be, all the way to the cross where Jesus showed us the meaning of sacrificial love. He fulfilled the law precisely because WE COULD NOT. He fulfilled the law in his own perfection so that we could be at peace with the fact that we will never be perfect as a human here on this earth. We don’t have to try to be perfect and sit around feeling bad about where we mess up.

God created us for perfect connection with him. When we ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we began to judge good and evil for ourselves instead of trusting God by walking and talking with him daily. Jesus came to change all of that! We can once again have perfect connection with our Creator, but we don’t get there by being perfect. We get there because we trust that Jesus was perfect and he sacrificed his perfection for us. So we can stop judging ourselves and others continually. Instead, we rely on his voice and trust him to define good and evil once again.

We can once again have perfect connection with our Creator, but we don’t get there by being perfect.

We need to keep our relationship with Jesus at the forefront of who we are. When our conscience tells us we have screwed up, we can acknowledge it and run to our Father and tell him how disappointed we are with ourselves. And HE tells us that he loves us anyway because of Jesus. When we realize what Jesus did to set us free from fear and condemnation, we see how much He loves us and we accept the gift of that freedom.

We step into our purpose each time we follow his voice. And when we run to him and not from him, we find that he is always there loving us. We step into our purpose when we ignore the stares and whispers of those that sit in judgment, when we change our thoughts to loving affirmations rather than condemning and harsh judgments of ourselves and others.

So let them look. Let them judge. When our own mind condemns us, let God have those struggles and let them go. We are free from condemnation in Christ Jesus. We follow Jesus. Judgments of our person are not something we need to pay attention to. It is not their business to judge us. It is not OUR business to judge ourselves! It IS God’s business to judge us, but he DIED so that he wouldn’t have to judge us! Instead, he judged Jesus in our place. God chooses love. Perhaps we should think about doing the same for ourselves and others

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

Galatians 3:2 ESV

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2 ESV

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:11-12 ESV

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved

Acts 16:31 ESV

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 10:8-10 ESV

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 ESV

And the Verdict Is…

And the Verdict Is…

My daughter made and presented this jar to me after church one Sunday. She demanded that I immediately take out one of the questions she had placed inside and answer it out loud for her. I laughed, “These are personal questions that you can talk to God about”. Her face deflated and she declared, “But I don’t want to talk to God”.

Truth is, it is HARD to be truthful with God…partly because we don’t even talk truth to ourselves. We convince ourselves that our stomachache is from heartburn, when the truth is that we REALLY overate at Thanksgiving dinner. We lie to ourselves about how we spend our time, what we spend our money on, and what we really believe. We lie about whether we cheated in a relationship or on our taxes or talked negatively about a good friend to another. If the stakes are high enough, we lie. We even lie about whether we lie!

It is hard to be honest with ourselves and each other, but honest with God? That can be even harder because we know that God is perfect and in the Old Testament, He comes across as a bit judgmental! Anything we say could be used against us in a court of law! At least that is how it feels. Get your Bible out and put your hand on it. Promise to tell the whole truth and only the truth.

The truth is that so many of us get freaked out when we want to pray because we think that God is up there with a gavel just waiting to hand out His next verdict. Truth is that He already decided the verdict about you. He deliberated about your past, your lies, your drama, your inability to see past your own nose, your dislike of everyone different from you, your desire to overeat, overindulge, and over-evaluate everyone. And He found you……

NOT guilty. (More on that in a sec)

There was a woman back in the 1st century who had a bleeding problem for years. YEARS! 12 of them in fact! She was part of the Jewish culture that Jesus was born into and because of this culture, she was considered unclean. She would not have been in close relationships with anyone considered worthy or upstanding in their society. She would never have anyone or be anyone in that culture.

She had heard about Jesus and how he healed people so she came to where a crowd was around Him. She said to herself that if she could just reach out and touch the hem on his clothing, he would heal her. So she reached out and he did heal her! She could feel the healing. But he could feel the power of the healing also! And then he did something terrifying.

He asked who had touched his clothes and the whole crowd stopped and waited for someone to speak up. She had been willing to reach out to him, but then he posed this question to the entire crowd! What could she do?Would she speak with him? Would she let him know what she was thinking and feeling? Would she trust him enough to let him get to know her?

He wanted more than just to heal her. He wanted a relationship with her. He wanted to hear from her mouth what she had done and why. And even though she was afraid, so afraid that she was shaking, she came and told Jesus the whole truth. She let him in on what was going on inside her mind and heart and body!

When she chose to answer Him with the whole truth despite her trembling and fear, He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” When we do choose to tell Jesus our whole truth, He answers us with the same love and affirmation. We bring the diseases of our body and soul to Him and He listens and tells us that our faith has healed us and that we can go in peace.

I want the kind of healing that comes from laying it all out in prayer with my God. I want the kind of healing that touches body AND soul. And to get there, I just reach out to God and tell Him the whole truth. The truth is that I can’t do good or be good on my own. I can’t stop lying or cheating or calling names without His help. The truth is that I need HIM!

Only Jesus can listen to that level of truthfulness and still call me “Healed”, because He is the only one who can call me “NOT GUILTY”.

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Mark 5:25‭-‬34 MSG
https://bible.com/bible/97/mrk.5.25-34.MSG

Out of Control

Out of Control

Yesterday, getting ready to leave the house on an errand that my preteen daughter did not want to go on, I told her that the HUGE stuffed animal she was planning to bring had to stay home. I was tired of her leaving it and retracing our steps to find it. I took the squashable stuffed mint green owl and plopped it onto the couch and watched it fall off. She said that she hated me and that I was mean. “You threw my stuffed animal on the ground and it landed on it’s FACE and you don’t EVEN CARE!”

As we got in the car and began our journey, I tried to reason with her. I tried to help her see logic. I then tried to help her see that I am the Mom and she is not. She, in turn, let me know repeatedly that I was not measuring up to her standard of what it means to be in a relationship with her. In her mind, I was not the Mom I was supposed to be. In my mind, I was talking to God while she raged on. “Why God? Why is she saying this? Am I not good to her? Do I not love her enough? I need You to show me what to do. I’m in over my head with this parenting business. How am supposed to be a mother and a father to this child?! What do I say back to her? I am at a loss.”

As a mother with a fourth child, I have finally learned the importance of taking a break from an upset child who is looking for a reaction. So after my errands, I drove toward my sister’s house 5 minutes away, planning to take a walk there. I deposited my child on the couch at her house with a requirement that she not move until she was done making a ruckus. I made a cup of coffee while the wailing continued. In my head, I continued my conversation with God. “She is testing every boundary I have, God! I need a break. I don’t have answers here! Why aren’t You giving me answers?! Don’t you even CARE about me?!!” My sister came out of her room wearing a sleeping bag. I laughed and snapped a pic. She slumped to the kitchen floor to relax and chat with me as my coffee brewed.

We discussed the situation at hand…the wailing child on her couch, my desire to take a walk. She told me about an article she read that said to tune into what a child is feeling when they are upset. The child is no longer capable of logic and must have their feelings understood so they can reach a point of lucidity and step out of the tantrum. So, taking her advice, I went to my squalling child and tried to use understanding words. I quickly gave up and let her know that if she wanted to continue to fuss, it was her choice. My sister urged me to go walk, so I set out the door determined to get into a better frame of mind.

Around the twenty minute mark, I looked out over a pond and saw the sunset. The thought entered my mind, “Did I just yell at God and tell Him that He doesn’t care about me?” I was struck by the resemblance my daughter had to me. Do I blame God, my Father, when my day or even my LIFE is not turning out like I think it should? When I struggle, I just want God to make life feel good again. I want Him to do everything to make me happy. It is easy for my daughter to blame me when she is upset, but it is just as easy for me to place blame on my Father in heaven.

Our lives are not easy and we just want things to be easy so badly! We want our life to make sense. We want simple equations like “If I do good things, then I will get good things.” But as we live life, we meet people who defy that logic. I have a friend who worked hard to be good at basketball and then ended up paralyzed from the neck down. I know another man whose little daughter died while he was a Pastor trying hard to help others with their daily lives. I developed lead poisoning at 21 years of age from scraping paint on the apartment I was preparing to live in as a newlywed. We were all working hard to achieve something good and trying not to hurt others in the process. We all ended up in a dark place where we felt abandoned and rejected by God. Was this a “good” place to be? Would any of us have chosen this path at the time?

During our darkness, we felt like God was letting our hearts burn into a pile of ashes. How could this ever cause anything “good”? There was nothing left to salvage and none of us could see any good in the suffering at the time, but each of us came to a place where we realized that we could choose to trust God anyway. Decades later, we can all see that these dark times were a period of life where God was doing something “good” in each of us. We each chose to live life accepting that we are not in charge. Not being in control of our life is a good thing because the One in charge is worthy of our trust. He is the God who raises the dead to life and turns ashes into beauty!

Last night, my sister talked with my daughter while I was on that walk. She used her God-given ability to tune into the emotions of others and reach my daughter in that dark emotional place she inhabited. When I returned from my walk, this child, the one I could not reach, was laughing and playing a game with my sister. I can’t even describe how grateful I felt in that moment…toward my sister, but also toward my God who listens to my cries and answers my prayers. He may not answer in the exact moment I want and He may not always have the answer I want, but I can always trust Him to have the answer I need.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him.

Job 13:15

 

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-10

 

 

to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

It’s Time to Give Your Heart Away

We’ve all heard that it is more blessed to give than receive. But do we realize that when we live generously, we develop a new kind of heart?

My kids make me the most proud when I see them being kind to others who don’t give them anything back except gratitude. This is my youngest daughter at the park making sure that all the younger kids have a good time as she pushes the equipment and is careful that no one falls off or gets left behind.

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In this world, it sometimes feels as if the rich and powerful get there by ruthless determination and manipulation. I love how God shows us another way in the book of Ruth. In this book, there was a man named Boaz who was rich and powerful but talked to his field laborers with kindness even though he was an upper-class Israelite. He treated others like they mattered.

One day a poor woman from another culture that Israelites looked down upon, came to his grain field to pick up the leftovers. Because Boaz was in the habit of being kind to others, he immediately asked about her and quickly realized that she was also in the habit of practicing kindness to others. She had given up her own culture and country to follow and care for her mother-in-law in a foreign country.

Neither Boaz nor Ruth were kind in order to receive something back in return, but because of their generosity of heart, Boaz and Ruth found one another and were married. Their great-grandson was King David and their line produced the Savior of the entire world, Jesus Christ, who blesses us with the most generous gift of all….His own life.

As I watch my kids grow and mature into adults, my prayer is always that they learn that having a giving heart is part of having God’s heart. That’s who God is. In love, He laid down His life. Because of love, He gave everything He had to every single person in this entire world who has ever lived. He gave because we needed Him. He gave because He heard our prayers. He gave because no one else had what we needed.

King David would grow up to ask God to give him a clean heart. And even in the pain of giving His own life to save others, Jesus knew the power of giving. With His last breath He said “It is Finished” because He had given the whole world what we needed more than anything…

a new heart…a clean heart…HIS Heart

a heart that is free to know the power of living generously