Category Archives: Faith

Hold Them Tight

What a crazy weekend. It all started on Wednesday. I have a family member that isn’t doing too well, and my brother asked if we could go see him this weekend.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. How am I going to pay for gas? How am I going to get out of work? How am I going to do this? How am I going to do that?

Surrounded by some close friends, they help guided me.

I called my boss and essentially told him what was going on. I felt bad because ever since I got the job it’s been one thing after another and I was worried about what he would think.

So we left Wednesday night and got here Thursday morning. It’s about a 5 hour drive from where I live to where my uncle lives. We got to see him today (Friday). And I’m glad we did. I made the right choice.

My boss will get over it. It’s not like I took the weekend off to go gamble, drink, and drug. No.

Family is important to me and I refuse to make the same mistake I did with my piano teacher.

I will never let my job come before my family.

Time is free, but we’re limited. We all have our own personal hourglass. We may think we have time, but God has our times planned.

Hold your loved ones close, make amends with those you care about, and spend as much time with them as you possibly can. We don’t have forever. We aren’t invincible and we aren’t immortal.

Pray. Live. Laugh. Love. Cherish.

God has a plan for everyone, do you know what yours is?

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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How Paul Listened and Trusted God

So, we left off when Paul stood in front of King Agrippa and shared his story. Now, Paul is setting sail for Rome to go in front of Nero. Since that is what he appealed for.

On his journey to Rome, they had come across a storm. Paul even predicted the storm in Acts 27:10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” However, nobody wanted to listen to Paul and they set sail directly into the storm.

However, what happens next is pretty awesome.

Paul tells them that they should have listened to him, but lives would be spared. “But now I urge you to keep your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I serve stood beside me and said Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” (Acts 27:22-25).

The ship does wreck, but everyone does reach land safely. Only because Paul trusted the Lord, and he listened.

He trusted. 

I want to take a moment to acknowledge that trusting in God is a lot easier said than done. As humans, we want proof that something exists. We want immediate answers, and some of us (myself included) wants direct communication with God like the angel coming to Paul.

Prayer is communication, but we don’t always get an immediate response. It’s like playing phone tag with someone for about a week before you actually get a hold of that person.

However, prayer is essential. Trusting in God is essential. Without faith, we are nothing. Trusting in the unseen is basically what defines faith. I’ve made this argument before, and I’ll make it again.

We can’t see the wind, but we can feel it. We can see the effects wind has on the trees, us, the leaves.

We can’t see our internal organs, but we know they’re there. We know that they are functioning to keep us alive and breathing.

Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there and that we shouldn’t trust in it.

Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

 

Paul and his crew were in a crisis. But Paul knew what to do like it was second nature, because he trusted in God. Paul was walking by faith. I can honestly say that with prayer, and reading the word, knowing what to do when life gets you down will become second nature.

God doesn’t create our downfalls, he uses them for the better. He uses them so that we can know Him and trust Him. In the midst of tragedy, there is always something beautiful that can be taken from it. However, our eyes have to be open and we have to be awake if we want to take that beauty from the tragedy.

Are your eyes open? Do you trust in Him?

Photo by Nathan Pirkle on Unsplash

 

What Paul Can Teach Us About Reflections

I finally bought a planner yesterday and have my week planned out until Sunday. How refreshing it is to have something that helps me to stay on task.

Today, we are going to be looking at Acts 26 where Paul is standing in front of King Agrippa over some charges in which Paul was innocent. The charge basically boils down to spreading the news of Jesus and the Gospel.

Acts 26:9-11 is probably one of my favorite verses.

“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.”

Reading this passage almost makes me think of a bounty hunter. Except with a bounty hunter, they are hunting for people that haven’t paid off their bail bonds. Not their faith.

However, one of the many reasons why I love Paul is that he’s not afraid to admit what kind of person he was before his conversation with Jesus. It’s almost like he’s not ashamed. He admits that this was the kind of person that he was. However, if you read on, Paul tells King Agrippa about his encounter with Jesus. What happened, and the person that he became after his encounter with Jesus.

I think it’s important that we reflect on who we were before coming to Christ every once in awhile. It’s a reminder of who we were before and what we don’t want to be like. I think it’s important that we compare who we were to who we are now as a way to see how much we’ve grown.

People say we should forget our old selves because that’s not who we are anymore, but if we do that, we won’t know what we don’t want to be.

I’m still early in recovery, and I get these thoughts daily. “You’re not an alcoholic. You’re just fine.” If I want to keep my sobriety, then I have to analyze how I drank in the past.

Not only that, but constantly remembering who we were and comparing it to who we are now helps make for a great testimony. We can record what we were like, and what we are like now.

It’s like we made a copy of ourselves. Same features. Same eyes. Same hair. We’re looking at the copy of ourselves, and they look back at us. We look at our old self and see the suffering on their face. It’s a reminder of what led us to the suffering and what brought us out. What led is to God.

“After they left the room, they began saying to one another: This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment. Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Ceaser.” Acts 26:31-32

I’m not sure why Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Ceaser, but one thing I do know. Paul wasn’t imprisoned at that moment. Paul didn’t die. Paul was doing the same thing other people were doing when Paul was persecuting them.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 

Paul wanted to appeal to Ceaser. Paul used to work for Ceaser, persecuting people in Ceaser’s name. Do you see how this could have gone so wrong?

Instead, he was sentenced back to Rome, which I guess is more like a parole/house arrest type thing. I’m not 100% sure but we will get more into that next time.

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Let’s Talk Emotions

I’m a little over a month in my journey with sobriety. And I can honestly say that this has been the most emotional month I’ve had in a while..probably because I’m sober. I feel things, I feel things on a deep level. That’s one of the many reasons why I drank.

I’m going to be honest, it sucks. It sucks so hard. One minute I’m crying at a table and an hour later I’m smiling, laughing, and nobody would have guessed I had a mental breakdown that hour beforehand.

However, the more people I talk to in recovery, the more I realize this is normal. Our emotions are going to be over the place. We’re going to be sensitive at first, we’re going to get irritated more easily than others because we aren’t drinking our feelings away.

All I can say is don’t give up.

I feel like I’m walking on an earthquake about to slip through the cracks. I’m hanging on to one tiny piece of rope. That rope is everything I want to be. Everything I’m striving to be. That rope is what is saving my life right now and I can’t let go of it, not yet. If I let go, then I fall to my death. That’s not what I want.

Sobriety isn’t easy. Giving in to a power greater than yourself isn’t easy. But things that we’re destined for aren’t meant to be easy. People can’t progress if they don’t want to put in the work.

My parents worry about me-alot. It irritates me because I am an adult. I have freedoms I didn’t have when I was 16. Them worrying is annoying. But it’s their job as a parent. One parent is 300 miles away and worries. It’s frustrating, I don’t like it. I work afternoons. So I’m most active at night and in the late afternoon. I have to be careful to not wake my Dad up when I’m coming home at 2-3 in the morning.

He gets irritated because I’m coming home so late. He works a 9 to 5 monday-friday type job, gets up earlier, and goes to bed earlier. I don’t have that right now so my schedule is backwards.

Little things like that make me so mad. But someone said to me “How would you feel if you guys didn’t fight over what time you were coming home? How would you feel if they couldn’t worry anymore?” and honestly, that changed my perspective and I became less irritated.

In our journey in sobriety advances, our emotions are going to be scattered and we’re not going to know how to deal. The beautiful thing is we don’t have to deal with it all at once. The key to it though is perspective. There are so many different outlooks on life, and it’s our choice to choose which outlook we want. We can choose to live positively, or we can choose to live negatively. It’s up to us.

If you feel like me, you aren’t alone. It’s normal, but don’t ever give up. Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens.

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Burning Out

I feel like I keep coming up with excuses on my blog as to why I’m not blogging.

Truth is, I’m burning out. Between meetings, trying to maintain my social life, and work, my days are becoming harder and harder to manage.

Some days I don’t even wanna get out of bed. Some days, finding the strength to get out of bed is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

I pray every night, but I’m not reading my books as often as I should. I feel like I’m a terrible blogger.

I’ve been running on about 5 hours of sleep today. I requested the wrong day off of work (which was nice surprisingly because I had a Saturday off) but I had to be in Detroit by 8 AM this morning to take an exam for a job that I’m going to school for (and I think I did ok). However, I didn’t get home from work until about 11:30 PM on Sunday night.

Gave myself an hour, and was up by 5:45. Running non stop. Car had to go into the shop, went to a meeting, pick up said car and go to work.

Truth is, I’m depressed. I’m worried. I’m scared. Trying not to overwhelm myself (I have no reason to be afraid because God IS on my side whether it feels like it or not).

Ever since I got sober, all of these feelings of regret, resentment, sadness, and anger have been bubbling to the surface. I’m not sure how to deal with them. If I’m being honest, I thought about checking myself into a mental hospital to get help. But I have bills to pay.

I see my therapist Wednesday, but I’m thinking about switching therapists because I feel like nothing is getting resolved at this point. I’ve had the same woman ever since my parents got divorced, which was roughly 8 years ago.

Ever since I got sober, I realized I had no idea who I am. I drank those years away. All because I wanted to feel numb, but here I am again. I’m 21 years old, but mentally, I feel like I’m that same scared 16 year old girl.

Thinking about going on antidepressant/anxiety medication again, because I don’t know what else to do. I need to be productive, I need to help around the house, and I need to stay motivated. How do I do that?

P.S. Time management is clearly not my expertise. So if any of you beautiful readers has any suggestions, please throw them my way. I have 3 sections to maintain, and I want this blog to flourish.

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In the Midst of Persecution, God Was Still There

There are many events that have occurred in history where people were persecuted for their faith, skin color, and even culture.

Jewish people were killed during the holocaust because of the fact they were jewish. People who tried to save them from Hitler’s concentration camps could get severely punished if they were caught.

Back when slavery was (unfortunately) a thing, the Underground Railroad had developed. The brave men and women who escaped their “owners” could get persecuted if they were caught, and those involved with the Underground Railroad and helping to free these men and women could get persecuted just by helping them.

Note: I am not trying to undermine these events, or the people who had to endure the tremendous suffering they had to go through. I am not trying to undermine their feelings when I talk about those horrific events. 

Even today in some countries, people can get persecuted just for reading this blog post. It’s a sad thing that happens.

Those are just a few examples. It’s sad that both events happened because NOBODY should be punished for their faith, skin color, culture, etc.

When Paul was preaching, Caeser was king. What Caeser said, went. There were no ways around it and if Caeser wasn’t pleased, you were punished. This is what happened when Paul went to Thessolonica.

Paul started preaching about Jesus and His resurrection. Some people believed him, others didn’t. Others got mad because Paul was defying Caeser.

Paul and his friends found refuge in a man named Jason. Jason opened his doors to Paul, Timothy, and Silas. Knowing that Jason could get in huge trouble for harboring Christians in the name of Caeser.

When authorities found out about this from those who were angry at Paul for preaching the Gospel, they were irritated. “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have no come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caeser’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” Acts 17:6-7.

They were arrested. Bond was posted, and other believers helped Paul, Silas, and Timothy to flee to Berea to continue to share the Gospel.

They were persecuted for sharing the truth!

Jason risked persecution just by helping a fellow Christian.

However, God never left Paul and his friends. God provided a way out through Jason. They were released on bond, and they fled.

Even though you may be feeling alone right now, know that God doesn’t leave you, forsake you, or abandon you. In the times when I feel like I can’t feel him, I pray. He WILL make Himself known, if you open your eyes and your ears and LISTEN.

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

The Motivation (Or Lack Thereof)

I’ve been blogging less and less. I’ve written for the Odyssey online, I have written for puckermob, and I started this. Odyssey and Puckermob just fell apart. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let this blog become one of those things that I’d start and forget about a month later.

I’ve been enjoying writing these blogs. It gives people inspiration and hope. My words have the ability to impact people in ways that I would have never imagined.

I’ve been thinking about putting myself on a schedule throughout the week. Getting a planner and writing out everything I have to do for the day. Word for word. Bills I have to pay, meetings I should attend to, days I have to work, days I have classes, what time I should be up by, etc etc.

I don’t have a planner yet. So everything I’ve been doing is from mental memory. Yesterday I got up at 8 A.M. I felt really accomplished (anyone who knows me knows that I am typically NOT a morning person). I got my car cleaned out and my room cleaned. Went to two AA meetings back to back and went to school to take my exam. I felt really productive and proud.

Today I woke up at around noon and barely got anything done. I got my budget worked out (bye bye internet streaming services *cough cough Netflix cough cough*) and my student loan paperwork completed, however I wasn’t able to turn in it to my schools financial aid office.

But today, I found out I am closer to getting my degree than I thought I was. I have about a year and a half left. That’s because I kept pushing, I kept striving, and I didn’t let the fear of student loans get to me. Even though I have changed my major roughly three times (which isn’t uncommon; if you are in the same boat, DO NOT feel guilty). I am so close to being done.

None of this would have happened if I didn’t sober up. If I was still out drinking, I wouldn’t have come to know God. I wouldn’t have been able to continuously share my story with people. I wouldn’t have been able to come as far as I have and that’s really important.

I’ve been watching a movie called 5 to 7 a lot lately, and one of my favorite quotes from that movie is “Progress is not linear.”

It’s not. Life is just a giant course of trial and error. If something doesn’t work, we try it again in a different way and make the same errors.

I feel like we have to hit a certain bottom before we rise to the surface. My charge was my bottom. This is why Paul is one of my favorite characters in the bible because Paul PERSECUTED Christians in his time. He had a specific encounter with God. In Acts 9:4, the Lord asks “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

That conversation that Paul had with the Lord changed his life. It changed his life so much that even his name was changed. To learn more of the story please read my blog post From Saul to Paul: The Beginning.

Do I want to do things other than sit for an hour and read the Word? Absolutely. I’m sure every Christian feels that way at some point. However, it’s a really bad habit to get into because when we should be studying the Word is when we aren’t feeling motivated.

 

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