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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

dark places

Life is hard. Sin is everywhere we look. I see so many broken people around me. Even people that seem "ok" Nearly everyone has some hidden scar or brokenness that needs to be healed.

I once got my Private Investigator's license. I was always interested in, what I thought, was the pursuit of truth. But now that I have become a Christian, I am learning that the definition of truth is different than I once believed. Jesus showed me that the truth of certain situations are not in what they appear to be, but in what they have the potential of becoming. For example, most private investigators are hired to determine whether or not there is cheating in a marriage. They want to expose the truth of infidelity. Fair enough. But Jesus showed me that no matter what the situation may be, anything can be turned around. With the hand of Jesus, so many lives and situations can be altered for good.

I have been in those dark and hopeless areas of life. I have been repeatedly treated horribly by certain people in my life. Even after doing good to certain people, I have been treated horrendously. I have been taken advantage of so many times in life. I remember one night in particular. My best friend had died in a tragic accident. We were very close. His name was Andy. We had dated for about 3 years. I remember how lost and utterly hopeless I felt after his death. I couldn't explain it. He died a senseless and horrible death. I remember thinking that I was worthless because I felt that I could have prevented this accident.

I sought solace in the first man that made me laugh. I was desperate for that means of escape. My mind was haunted by memories. I was a shell. I thought that because my friend chose death over me, I was worthless. every action of others only confirmed my belief that no one cared. I know that they did, but I was blinded. There was no light in my life.

I turned to the one thing that I found solace in...affirmation from a male figure. I sought to be loved. To be accepted. I remember as a child, I would often get teased in school. I would hide behind that mask. I let that hurt consume me and define my life for many years. I didn't have the bond of communication with my family. I was living inside a shell. We were trapped in these shells. Only recently, has that begun to heal. Only through Christ Jesus. But I so longed for affirmation and acceptance that I would turn to men who were not right for me. Men who preyed upon my kindness and good nature. Men who must have sensed how lost I was.

That's how I met my husband. I became involved with him as a means of escape. While we were dating, I knew that there were "violations". I would often resort to my private investigation skills to uncover the "truth" of what was really happening. I would confront him and he would lie. Continual lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies nearly destroyed my life.

I remember one night in particular, I looked back on my life. I saw how my life had been a downhill spiral. It has started when I began to look to these men and relationships for comfort and consolation. I thought I had always been a good person. I was in such a state of depression that I felt like a terrible mother to my child. I was on antidepressants and anti anxiety medication. One night I took a few more pills than I should have. I thought that I wanted to die. I could see no hope. No way out. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. How I could've used a ray of light during this time. Some kindess. Anything. But it seemed that I was surrounded by sin. By dark deeds. The hand of darkness was around me.

I knew that I was living in a sinful situation. I was practically living with this man who was continually disrespecting and degrading me. I look back and think. Wow. I can sing. I have a beautiful voice. Jesus gave me talent. Jesus gave a mind. Jesus gave me a pure heart of love. I have an education. I have been to other countries and seen beautiful places. I used to have wonderful friends. What happened? How did I allow myself to reach this dark corridor of life?

The answer is simple. I was made for Jesus. My life can only be whole and complete through Him. I was always meant to belong to Him and any other path for me, would be a path that would lead to heartbreak and despair. He was there when I was bullied. He was there when I didn't know how to form a close relationship with my family. He was there, waiting for me to turn towards Him. Waiting with love, hoping that I would fall into His arms. The place I was always meant to be.

He had shown me His love when I was about 18 years old. This guest preacher came to our church and called me to alter. I was shy and a little embarrassed (he was very cute) so I didn't answer the call. But I remember that night, I was lying in bed and all of sudden , tears filled my eyes and I was in the presense of the Greatest Love that I had Ever Felt. There was a sense of surrealness and completeness to it. It was beautiful, supernatural, and very real.

There is something that a lot of people don't realize. Jesus is alive. He is a very powerful force. He is a beautiful light. He is love. That night I felt that power and love for the first time.

I remember throughout my teen years, I would sometimes talk to Him on my drive to work. There were a few occasions when I would look at another person, a total stranger, and feel a complete and intense love for them. I couldn't really explain it when I was younger. It was very overwhelming. I would look at someone and begin to cry because I felt this surreal and amazing love. I now know and understand.

Jesus was letting his love for others, flow through me. He was showing me a fraction, a very small portion of His love for others.

I remember one time I was at my little sister's t-ball game. I saw the mom's of one of the players. Her name was Mrs. Joanne. I remember the day was normal, just like any other day. I think I was eating something from the concession stand. All of a sudden, this Love came over me. I looked at this woman, who I didn't even really know, and felt the Love of Jesus. He was showing me His great love for her. It was so Big. A few weeks later, Mrs. Joanne passed away. I wonder why He allowed me to feel that supernatural love, but I believe it is because He wanted me to share it with her daughter. To give her daughter some hope. To let her know that her mother is with Jesus. That her mother was loved in a greater way that she could ever imagine.

....i digressed....

Back to the dark place :(

I knew I was living in sin, so I thought that marrying the man I was involved with would somehow change things. It would give a rightness to the overwhelming sense of wrong. So we married. The first few months, I could honestly say that i was happy. I was praying again and I was married. I had always longed to be in a marriage. But not any marriage. I always wanted a marriage made in Heaven. One in which God was the orchestrator. I believe that a couple that is serving the Lord is a very powerful force. I had always long for that kind of marriage. One where the love of Jesus brought light into everything. A marriage of no lies. No deceptions. No greed. No worry. , That is what Jesus wants our marriages to be...whole and beautiful.

Well, the beginning of the marriage brought it's disappointments. I could see myself trying to find God but wresting with anger and bitterness over the way I was being treated. I could tell of every violation and misfortune that I endured, but I'll skip all of that. I'll fast forward. I found myself consumed with anger and hatred. Tempted to walk down dark paths of anger. But I decided to trust my life with Jesus . And that has made all the difference. I chose right according to the Bible, as opposed to what felt right. As I sought Jesus, I could see began showing me how we are all sinners. It is only through his grace that we are saved. He showed me the image of that beautiful flower. Even though my life, my marriage, seemed like nothing, If I would let Him water it, then it would grow from a tiny seed into something full and beautiful. His Light would shine upon it, and it would flourish. Lately, my husband and I have begun praying together and seeking Him together. I know that he is genuinely sorry for all that he has put me through. I am believing God that things will blossom. I have prayed for his complete transfomation, for patience, guidance, and changes that need to take place within myself for things to work.

Because Jesus showed me that He wants families to work. He wants healing where people will allow his touch. He wants His Light to shine upon everyone. He wants us all to flourish in Love and Beauty.

Too many times we blame God for problems in our life. But there is a horrible darkness out there. I have seen this darkness. I will soon post my experiences in that dreadful realm. So often times we are stubborn and choose sin. We choose evil over good and curse God for the consequences of our own actions. But He loves us anyway. He is there waiting for you still.

The truth of the matter is that no matter what things seem, if we let Jesus water our lives, things can turn around in unexpected and beautiful ways. Never give up on hope.

I remember years ago I would look at the Bible and wouldn't really derive much meaning from it. I would see words on a page but couldn't really comprehend the true value of the messages. But once, I truly devoted myself to following this Great Book, the words came together in very meaningful ways. I can see how faith brings the words to life. Now when I read the Bible, it shines to me because I am seeing it as a reflection of my own life. So for those of you who do not understand the power of the Bible, commit yourselves to following it's message and soon the missing pieces of the puzzle will fit together. You will find fulfillment and hope.

I can see why they call it the Book of Life. I didn't truly start living until I immersed myself to following the Word of God. Now I can see past the dark corridors and the world has expanded. I can see and understand God's plan. I can now see what truly matters in life.

As a society, we all too often place a value on our "things." We are a country driven by our things. Many judge us according to what we have or don't have. We judge ourselves based on what we do or don't have. Jesus is teaching me that we don't need much in order to find true peace. At the very root of Christianity is giving. Giving and sacrifice. Even now Jesus is dealing with me about giving up many of the things I own. Because He is showing me that He will take care of me. The other day I was thinking about the lesson of the feeding of the five thousand. One boy shared what he had. Jesus fed all those that sought him and the boy had more than he started out with.

I look at the people of Japan. My heart goes out to them. I could never even begin to imagine what they are going through. One image that really stuck out in my mind was seeing all of thier things, everything they had worked for their entire lives had been washed away with a giant wave.

As Americans, it's easy for us to feel entitled to things. I went to Jamaica in the not too distant past. I went on a cruise. I couldn't help but feel somewhat guilty. I saw all of these struggling people on that island. Children with no shoes on thier feet. Tiny houses. People walking from village to village because they had no car. When I got back to the cruise ship, the enviroment changed 180 degrees. Don't get me wrong, I loved my cruise. But there was so much self indulgence that I honestly felt a guilty. How much we take for granted!

I am learning that there is a joy in giving. Each of us has a soul. To give is to nurture another human being. To plant a seed. As a society, we have been trained to hold on to what we have. But remember that God will provide us with what we need. And even more left over.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty for having things. But I think that it is important to put things in perspective. To learn to give. To learn to share. To begin reaching out to those who have little or nothing at all. It's so easy to judge these people.

yes, there are people who take advantage of the system. People who choose not to work. People who choose not to contribute. But there are so many people out there that have stories that we can't see. The lady at the homeless shelter who was abused her entire life. The man in prison who never really had anyone to care about him. Who never knew the love of Jesus. The people in the nursing homes who have been forgotten and have no one to visit them. The children who have lost thier parents to AIDS. It's these people that need us, as Christians.

I digress....

I remember the story by the Russian author, can't remember his name...The story was called How much Land Does a Man Need? I vaguely remember the story but I think the main character was very greedy and would try to hoard land. But in the end all he needed was a hole 6 feet deep. I guess the point I'm trying to make is, so many things we think are important simply aren't. In the end, all that matters is how we lived our lives. How much we gave. The Bible says to be do doers of the word, and not hearers only. My journey has just begun. I am hoping to do much because If there is one thing that I truly believe thing that I is that Jesus is Real and God is Good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The pain of the wrong relationship

If i could turn back the hands of time, I would like to think that I would have done many things differently. But I can see how, from my many wrongs, I can teach others to do what is right. My one weakness has always been in the relationship department. I haven't had many serious relationships, but the ones that I have had, left scars that have only closed recently. I once thought that I could find true happiness in another person. And I believe that a right relationship can be very fulfilling..but it's so easy to get caught in a trap and think that you have found THE ONE.

I remember my first relationship. I was very lonely and allowed myself to become close friends with a man I met at a coffee shop. I happened to work with his sister. He would often invite me to dinner at his apartment. I was very innocent when we met. I was a Christian but I was a bit naive. I thought that everyone was essentially a good person. Don't get me wrong, I believe that Jesus loves everyone and everyone has the potential for great and wonderful things, but I believed that I could change this man by being an example.

There were a few warning signs that things weren't right. I had this feeling in my gut. I couldn't quite explain it, but I knew that something didn't quite sit well. A long time ago I had gone to a church retreat and a man came out of the blue and told me that I would one day meet a man with dark hair. He said when I was with this man, I wouldn't have to wear a mask anymore.

I remember sitting on the couch with my friend one day, and he looked at me and started talking about this mask- the same mask that the guy at the retreat told me about. He told me that I didn't have to wear a mask. He then began to speak of God and Love and I ignored all of those gut feelings and took this as some sort of sign that we were "meant to be together."

I ended up compromising many of the things I believed in, however. I thought we were going to be together forever. We had discussed marriage and children so I thought that I could justify sleeping with him. Shortly after we were engaged, I conceived his child. Shortly after that, I began to discover things that he was doing. I'm not even going to post it. But it was so horrible. There was so much darkness in our apartment. I pleaded with him to stop doing what he was doing, but he refused. So I was forced to leave.

I have a beautiful ten year old boy now. He is a tremendous blessing to my life. But there is a void in his life of not knowing his father. It wasn't until recently that I truly truly forgave my son's dad. Horrible things happened to him when he was younger. Things that no child should ever have to face. Even now, I am praying for him and believing that his life will be transformed.

But I just want to warn everyone to be careful who they date. That gut feeling that I described was God, trying to tell me something. I ignored it and have faced much pain because of it. Even when it seemed right, it wasn't. Men can talk about God until they are blue in the face. Many will use Jesus as a way to manipulate. But girls, you will know a true Christian by his Light. If he is pressuring you into a sexual relationship, then He isn't light. His light will be known by the words from his mouth, by his deeds.

I know in the times we live in, it is sooooo easy to fall into the trap of premarital sex. It is a tempation that is everywhere. But I will tell you this. Wait, and you will be blessed. I have friends that waited and I can honestly say that I have more respect for them than any Hollywood figure, any Lady Gaga, symbols are a dime a dozen, but a woman or a man that can stay pure until marriage is a rare treasure.

If a parent is reading this,,,, it says to train your child in the ways that he should go. To me, that means instruction on such matters as these. Matters that we often don't discuss. I know in my own personal life, I could have avoided so much pain if I had "those" discussions......

i dreamt of a beautiful Light, and It was Real

I'll be honest. I haven't always lived a Christian lifestyle, but I have seen way too many things to deny Jesus. I was raised in church, but there was a time when I had many doubts and questions. I am an educated woman. I have heard the arguments of science and "reason" but I have seen things that science and reason cannot explain. Now I find that the more I get to know Jesus, and yes, He is real, the more I love Him. There is a beauty and a peace to my life that I haven't discovered until recently. I am finding that the more I seek the more I find.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences and hope that others can grow, in Christ, with me. I am finding that being a Christian isn't the easist path. Jesus is teaching me humility and sacrifice. But above all, being a Christian is about Love.

I am finding more joy and peace than I have ever known. My sorrow has turned to happiness. My despair has turned to hope. I was once a very small seed. I thought I was nothing. I was lost, I had been in dark places. But Jesus showed me that I am a beautiful flower. Worth something. So are you! Whoever you are, I don't know you but I love you. You are worth so much. Be encouaged. Know that you are loved. No matter how dark and dismal things may seem, there are people out there that will be willing to wash your feet. Trust me, I don't have a foot fetish...I was just so moved by the story of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus. I asked Him if I could wash His feet and He told me that I could wash the feet of others. It sounds silly. But what greater act of love than to wash the feet of a stranger. So I pray that my words are like water. I am going to post a letter that I wrote to Christians and non Christians everywhere...and hope and pray that one life can be touched..transformed, the way the mine has.

Here is a copy of the letter: This letter may seem strange to some people, but Jesus has been showing me many things lately and I truly feel as if I must share it with others. I began truly seeking Jesus for the first time about eight months ago. I have had some very supernatural experiences in the past, but I used God for my own convenience, and didn't truly seek Him out until recently. I was in a horrible situation and almost found myself beginning to walk down a very dark path. There were nights that I woke up and felt like Jesus were gone from me. It was a horrifying feeling. I was being treated horrendously by someone I cared for and I almost found myself waslking into a very dark path.. I truly thought that I could justify an "eye for an eye." I was lying to everyone around me. I could see that I wasn't spending quality time with my children. But I have had so many experiences with darkness. I could feel it all around me. It wanted to claim my life. But one night, Jesus, literally picked me and said, No, I have a plan and a purpose for you. I will not let you walk down this path. So I made a difficult choice and let go of something that I really didn't want to. But it was something that had to happen in order for me to grow as a Christian. I didn't see how anything in my life or marriage could ever be resolved. I began praying and seeking God around this time.

I remember one day I was praying and Jesus showed me this image of a beautiful flower. He showed me how things often look small and insignificant, like my marriage. But He has the power to turn anything into a beautiful flower. My marriage was a tiny seed, but if He would let me water it, He would transform it, by His grace, into something beautiful. I didn't really want to hear that from Him at the time. But I found that the more I trusted Him, so much anger and hatred left my heart. I began to truly feel peace for the first time in my life. Not a superficial peace, but that peace that the Bible describes, A peace that surpasses all understanding. I began to spend more time at church. One Sunday a guest preacher came and told me that Jesus wanted joy for my life. He told me that my dark days were over. A few weeks later, a differnent guest preacher came and told me the same thing. The Holy Spirit wanted me to know that there was hope. Slowly, I began to trust in these promises.

I began to turn off the radio and the televsion and truly seek Him. Slowly, I began to sacrifice some of my daily habits in hopes of hearing that still small voice. He showed me that He wanted my time first and foremost. He showed me that if I have time to make a run to Starbucks or watch television for an hour, then I had time to write a letter of encouragement to someone. I remember years ago I was sitting in church wondering what my purpose was. I know that there are many Christians out there that feel as if they don't know what God has called them to do. But I remember God spoke to me about ten years ago. He spoke it plain as day. Rachelle, I have called you to Love. To spread His beautiful Love. In the Bible, He gives us instructions. We are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, help the poor, pray for the sick, take care of orphans and widows. We are to act in love and spread His message. I believe that each of us has a talent, something that we can give. Even if we don't have a talent, many of us have hands to help or time to pray.

There is so much that we can do and so much that, as Christians, we should be doing. I have started making "TO DO" lists for Jesus. Writing letters of encouragement, finding ways to act in love...I think if Christians everywhere would take a more active role, so many LIVES WOULD BE CHANGED!

When I look around, I see hurting everywhere. Marriages destroyed. Lives torn apart by horrible circumstances. People are corrupt, but mainly it is because they are lost. They have no light. No one has ever shown them the way. I often wonder when I read the news, Could that crime have been stopped if someone had only reached out in love towards that person. Could that murder have been prevented? could that child have been saved from neglect and abuse if someone only had reached out in a simple act of love through faith in Jesus? I see kids dying everyday at the hand of an abusive parent. I read it about constantly. It makes me wonder. Some serious food for thought.

I have had so many experiences with darkness. In the Bible, it mentions that there we battle not against flesh and blood but against unseen forces. I have seen these forces. I Know that there is a darkness that aims to destroy lives. I can see how it nearly destroyed my own. I will post my experiences with this darkness soon, but for now I just wish people would recognize it. It is all around us.

Jesus showed me something. So many of the problems of this world are rooted in Lies. You see, the brilliance of a lie is that it seems so innocent. We have "white" lies. Many people think that a lie is o.k because it can be covered up. But the chaos of the world started with a lie, "eat this fruit, nothing will happen." When we lie, people stop trusting. When people stop trusting, people begin to hate. Hatred leads to crimes, atrocities. Soon the world is in chaos and everything started with that simple "it isn't going to hurt anyone" lie. Lies are dangerous. If I hadn't had so many experiences, I might harm done...but I've seen dark things. I've experienced darkness, so all I can say is that if you are lying, PLease stop. As a concern for my fellow man, please don't do it.

As I sought Jesus, I began giving some things up for Him. He told me that if I would sell something specific, will mention later, and give the money to help others, then He would give me knowledge. So it was very difficult for me, but I committed to doing what He asked. A few nights later, I began to have these very real dreams that were almost like experiences. In one of my dreams, Jesus showed me this beautiful light. It was glowing white and gold. It was about the size of a bowling ball. While in the prescence of this beautiful, glowing light, there was a peace like none that I have EVER known. It radiated pure happiness. I sometimes get tears in my eyes just thinking of it. When I awoke, I asked Jesus what this light was, He told me that, As Christians, each of us has some of that light within us, and it is up to us to share it with others. He then told me that God is often described as Light. He then reminded me of the beauty and the peace and joy I felt in the presence of such a small light. He told to multiply that feeling times millions, and that is the feeling of Heaven. It was so real and so beautiful that all I want to do now is to tell others about it.

I just want everyone to know that He/She is special. That no matter what you may have done in your life, that Light can be yours. There is a Hope in Jesus. There is peace. There is joy. So please know that No matter what your situation may seem, things can always turn around. You may be the small seed, but with Jesus you can grow into something big and beautiful and with a full purpose. Turn to Jesus and to the Bible. It is our tool for finding strength. I discovered this about 15 years ago and will blog that experience soon. I hope and pray that this reaches the right people. People that may be lost, hurting, suffering.

If you have lost a child, Know that there is a Heaven. I can't imagine that kind of suffering, but I know beyond anything that Heaven is real.

On another note, I have learned that many people will disappoint, some “Christians” will disappoint. But He is there for us. I have this vision that, as Christians, we can begin to spread this beautiful Light. First, as small sparks, But then the Love of this Light will grow into a huge fire that will cannot be quenched or put out. It will spread, first inside our community, then it will grow through the nation, and spread to other parts of the world.

I know that there are many different Christian religions. I have respect for many. I often see how there is hatred and antagonism between religions. But if we could learn to see our one similarity, the one thing that unites us, then great things could happen. That one thing is Christ. The very root of the word Christian. I love my Catholic friends and in laws. I love my non-denominational family and church. I love the Baptists. The Pentecostals. I love people that are gay, straight, all religions, all colors, I love people despite thier pasts because even though we have all done wrong, each of us has a story. Each of us has a scar. But I love because Jesus has planted that love inside my heart. Jesus wants us all to succeed. To find Him. To listen to His Word. Jesus is there, waiting for each one of us. I hope that you will find him and allow Him to show you His great Love.

Please note that even though Jesus wants families to often we overlook people who are going through divorces. I was very close to divorce. Often, there is a partner who doesn't want to work it don't feel guilty if you are divorced. Just know, that Jesus loves you.