Sunday, June 29, 2014

What is your dream?

Today Bro. Brad preached on a familiar passage.  I'd heard it a hundred times.  Today I heard it again and in the context of what we studied this morning in Sunday School- I saw this story again with new eyes.

The passage was Mark 10:17. It is the story of the Rich Young Ruler.  I'll paste it in and tell you how I've always imagined it.  Then I'll tell you how God showed me something completely different. 

I borrowed this from

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Misconception #1
Now, in my imagination Jesus and this rich young guy was at some social function.  Hanging out at somebody's backyard party.  I always think about it as a "cocktail party scenario" (I'm going to offend my Baptist friends, but hang with me.) perhaps he had invited the new preacher to come over to his place, sort of show out a bit.  After all, Jesus was the talk of the town.    I always imagine a lot of people milling around and this guy asks his question.  I've always made him out to be a bit of a self righteous kind of person.  I've always imagined him getting the attention of all his guests and then asking Jesus:  "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

But then God showed me that my imagination had it all wrong.  Jesus was leaving town and this guy ran out to meet him.  He ran to Jesus!  He fell down on his knees in the middle of the road. 

He ran. 

I hate to run.  I'd only run if it were a matter of life and death.  I've done it before, on occasion, but never in robes.  Do you know how hard it is to run in robes?  Yeah, neither do I, but I've ran in a dress once and it wasn't fun. 

Also, it's undignified.  Robes are not made for running as I've discussed above, but here he comes; running to catch Jesus.  He's out in the middle of the dusty road where everyone can see him and if he's not degraded himself enough he falls down at his feet to ask Jesus: "“what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Then Jesus looks down and tells him: the only One that's good- is God.  So in effect if this guy was looking to have a good enough life, Jesus just told him he's out of luck.  
Then Jesus goes through the commandments with him. 
The kid tells him he's done all these things his whole life.  But something is lacking, obviously or he wouldn't be here in the dirt at Jesus' feet. 

Misconception #2

In my "cocktail party scenario" from above the rich young man tells him snootily.  "I've already done all of that stuff."  Then he looks down his nose at Jesus.  A challenge: "Do you think you're better than me, preacher? Look at all I've done."  Or perhaps he wants to show out a bit:  "Look at how good I am." 

But he's not.  He's down on his knees in the middle of the street begging Jesus.  He's done all these things but it's not enough.  He's not secure. 

21 (A) Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Misconception #3
In my "cocktail party" idea Jesus glared at him righteously and brought him down a peg or two with his next statement. 

But Jesus didn't do that at all.  He looked at him, and loved him. 
This guy wasn't showing out or being haughty as I'd let myself believe.  He was sincere.   If he was being a hypocrite Jesus would have called him out on it.  Jesus wasn't afraid to call things as he saw them.   But it says He loved him. 

21 (B) "One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Misconception #4
If your rich, you don't go to Heaven.  I didn't grow up rich, and having been raised without a lot of money has colored my perception about this passage.  Up until a certain age I thought rich people don't go to Heaven.  Then I figured: we don't have much money, we must be okay.  We get to go- you don't.  Nana nana boo-boo rich kids.  You may have a pool but I'm going to Heaven!
Misconception #5
I also thought it was a warning about becoming rich.  You shouldn't get too rich.  You'll forget God.  If you do get rich you better be careful.  Money ruins folks.  Money is the root of all evil.  

But that's not true at all. 
The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.  (Which is where my Sunday School lesson comes in.) 

Let's go back to verse 21 and look at it again. 
21 (B) "One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Today God spoke to me and said instead of "Go, sell everything you have..." insert "Go.  Stop what you've been doing.  Stop chasing that dream.  All those plans you've been making... just throw them to the wayside and follow me." 

OooOoohhh!  That's a bit harder to take.  Because God knows I've dreamed of a lot of things.  A swimming pool, a pony, a treehouse.  Then later I wanted a good job, a wonderful husband, children, a nice home.

I loved singing, art and theatre throughout my life but the one thing that I love most is writing.  I've always loved telling stories and I've always loved writing down ideas in notebooks.  It's my passion.  Sometimes I'd rather write than do anything. 

But it's not practical and I never stepped out on it until now.  I stuffed my desire for writing in a box under my bed for twenty years or so.  I never told anyone that I liked to write because I never studied that. I made decent grades in English class but I never was the best. Who am I to want to write?  Besides, writers and artists don't make any money till they're dead.  Who's got time for that? 

But I always, always dreamed about it.  I thought it was an impossibility until one day I was driving home.  I heard a guy on the radio telling about this book he wrote and I thought to myself: Lord, how great would that be?  I wish I could do something like that!  Then the Lord said back to me: One day you will, child.  

I've never told anyone that before.  

I tried to make excuses:  No, Lord.  Not me.  I can't write.  I haven't even taken a writing class in college. 

God was offended (As well He should  have been.) and said: Am I a man that I should lie?  Do you think I have nothing better to do than to give my children false hope?  If I say something is going to happen.  It is going to happen. 

Wow.  So that's my dream.  I'm stepping out on faith a little more now and at least I'm trying to use this gift God gave me. 

But anyway... Back to Verse 21.  What if God asked me today: "Leslie, stop writing.  Stop making up stories.   Throw all those notebooks away. Stop hoping for that bestseller.  Stop wasting time on all that.  Come on.  Follow me." 

Well that would be considerably harder for me to take.  Because I'd rather give up things.. money... time...whatever.  I'd rather give God any of those... I could sell my possessions to the poor...but try to take my notebook or my zip drive away... see what kind of a fight you have on your hands. 

So what's your dream?  To land that dream job?  To make that team?  To become a famous actor or musician? To have wealth?    What is it?  Is it a grand dream or is it a small one?  Is it to retire in a couple years?  Is it to live a simple life with your family? Is it to not be sick anymore? To find that person? To have a child? Not be lonely anymore? 

Whatever it is.  You know it.  So, what if, like the rich young ruler Jesus demanded that you give it up? 

"Don't play that sport.  Don't pursue that promotion.  Keep working past your retirement.  Stay in that place that you don't like very much, I need you there.  Give up your music.  Sell that house.  Forget your dream and follow me.  Make me your dream and come on." 

In 2011 Phil Vischer (The creator of Veggie Tales- or as my kids call him "Bob the Tomato's daddy") said at the Liberty University convocation that "anything you are not willing to let go of is an idol."  Wow.  

So, do I love God more than my dream?  Am I willing to put away my dream to follow Him?

It's the same question he asked the rich young ruler, and after today I understand a little better why he went away sad.  Because it's hard to give up your dream...whether it be selling all your possessions or putting away all your notebooks or giving up on that thing you've prayed about for so long.   

Our dreams are part of us.  Having a dream in itself is not a bad thing but like everything else in the believer's life they have to come under the Lordship of Jesus.

And that's hard. It's hard to hand over something you really, really want to the One who can make it happen or not.  I've struggled with it before, and I suppose I'll struggle with it again before it's all over.  I pray each day to make Him my dream, and make His dream for me- my dream as well.  I go back to Jeremiah 29:11-13 (11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.)  I  hold that verse to my heart when things in this life don't go like I planned and I hear Jesus whisper.  "I got this.  Make ME your dream and come, follow me.  Let me show you the plans I have for you!" 


Friday, June 27, 2014

New Chapter of Come to Me Like Rain Book 2

A sample chapter that I've been working on from Come to Me Like Rain Book 2
Nicole has just learned that Alexander has been injured in the war and will be returning to Nine Run. 

          When I learned he would be coming home, my first response was that of fear.  I was afraid, terribly and unreasonably afraid.   I had no ill-conceived notions of Alexander Bradshaw’s heroism on the field of battle. I had no fantasies as to his goodness and valor.  I alone knew the depths of his hatred for my husband and I alone had been the one to bear the brunt of his unbridled fury. I knew what he was capable of doing. 

Now that I had a son to protect and a husband who meant the world to me… would Alexander’s return be a new beginning or would it mean the end to everything that I’d come to love?

            Bryan assured me that all we needed to do was ‘trust God and everything would be fine.  I had to believe that Bryan could (And would) protect his family.  He was, until one of his elder brothers returned ‘the man of the house’ and most certainly as my husband ‘the head of our family’ and he assured me that all I needed to do was concern myself with being a wife and mother. 

            That kind of blind trust is hard to achieve; even with a husband as honorable as mine.

            As much as I loved Bryan; I hated Alexander with equal intensity.  I could not wait placidly by for the return of a man whom I had built up in my mind to be the very devil. 

             I heard--well-- overheard Doc speaking quietly to Bryan on the front porch after we received the letter from Stephen Thornhill.  I was intentionally eavesdropping from through the kitchen window as I pretended to clean up after our supper.    

             “Men are never the same after they go off to war.” I heard Doc say before he took a draw from one of the stinky cigars that he smoked.

Lord, I hope not.  I thought to myself and I strained to hear as I wiped down the table.

 I heard Bryan cough. Doc’s cigars made his eyes water and his nose stuffy.  He moved to another position upwind. 

“War only seems that it only brings out the worst in some men.” Doc finished the cigar and I saw the flash of the embers as he threw it off the porch.  “You should be careful.”

            For a moment my heart forgot to beat.  My hands became rubber as this new thought struck.

  Alex could be worse?

Holy Moses! Was that possible? He was bad enough already, how could he possibly be worse?

He could finish what he started that night.”  A voice whispered in my head and I dropped the plate I was holding.  It shattered at my feet and made enough noise to bring every adult in the house running.

Bryan and Doc came tumbling through the door and I suppose the look on my face told it all. 

“What happened?”  Doc wheezed past a new cigar.  Bryan’s eyes were red from the smoke of the first one. 

“I’m clumsy.”  I shot back as I hurriedly tried to clean my mess. 

Bryan dropped to his knees beside me and helped me drop large chunks of porcelain into my outstretched apron. 

“You heard that,” He said under his breath.  “Always eavesdropping.  I’m gonna put a cowbell on you.” 

I ignored him and mumbled something about tripping. He glared at me through his red rimmed eyes and told me we’d talk tonight.


Mother toted a wide-eyed David on her hip.  He leaned out and studied me thoughtfully, that wisp of hair that always stood up on his crown fluttered as he craned his neck to watch me work. 

“Its fine dear,” she assured me.    I wondered if this had been any of her ‘good chinaware’ that I had just shattered into a thousand pieces.  She seemed hardly affected by it at all if it was; her mood had improved a hundred fold since learning that her firstborn would soon return.  “Just don’t cut yourself,” she said as she went back into the parlor.

“Or get a sliver,” Bryan warned.  “I’ll have to test my doctorin’ skills.” He looked up at me impishly.  “It will hurt.” 

I wasn’t sure if he was stating the facts about the proficiency of his doctoring skills or if that was some sort of veiled threat. 

It was after that when I excused myself to rock the baby.  Even then I couldn’t take my mind off Doc’s words.  I sat and held David close, listening to the soft sound of his breathing until Bryan came to take him to his bed.

By that time I had been considering it for a full hour.

Bryan returned and shut the door behind him.  He glared at me when he turned around.

“What does the word ‘private’ mean, Nicole?”

I shrugged because I knew he was angry and I didn’t have the resolve for a snappy comeback.

“Well, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean,” he stalked toward me, “it doesn’t mean that you eavesdrop from the window! We went out there to talk for a reason.  Backyard talk isn’t intended for a lady’s ears!”

“Then you should have gone out to the back fence,” I replied under my breath. 

Bryan’s dark brows rose together then down again.  “You’d have followed us out there and listened from behind the azalea bush!”

Probably.  I ducked my head and my face burned with shame.

He was right.  Now I wished I hadn’t heard it.

“Why do you have to talk privately anyway?”  I wanted to know.  I had been the one that had been hurt the most by Alex before he left.  It seemed correct that I should have some say in his returning.

“Why do we have to talk privately?”  Bryan  repeated and turned away from me, unbuttoning his shirt.  “Perhaps one of us might feel the need to curse.” 

I laughed and he paused and took the opportunity to glare at me again.  I had never heard Bryan use an ill word since I had known him.  The prospect of him cursing was positively shocking but also a bit comical.

He strode over to where I was sitting in the rocking chair and put his hands on the handles, pinning me in place. 

“You don’t think I could curse skilfully?”  He tried to act offended but the corners of his mouth turned up playfully.  “Well, well.  I don’t know whether to be insulted or flattered by your skepticism. You forget, Mrs. Bradshaw that I spent several months on a cattle ranch out west where I learned words that would curl your toes.  Would you like me to teach you a few?”


“And spit as well, now that you can throw a punch like a Bradshaw I suppose you should learn to curse like one!”  It was true, William had made it a point to show me how to punch correctly before he left.  I think perhaps he was worried that it would be needed skill if Alexander ever returned. 

I threw a mock punch at Bryans jaw.  He rolled his eyes like it dazed him and I laughed then he kissed me.  His lips lingered on mine for several seconds and I trace the line of his jaw with my fingers. 

Lord, I loved that man.  I loved the way he kissed me and the way his lips tasted on mine.  He gathered me up in his arms and deposited me on the bed where he kissed me until I had to push him away and gasp for air. I could think of nothing but him when he held me that way. 

But when he let me go the troubles came rushing back in on me.

“What if…” I started to say but he never let me finish.  He covered my lips with his finger and shook his head. 

“If…” He lay back in the bed beside me and I felt it give with his weight.  “We don’t know how badly he’s hurt.  It’s been almost two years since we’ve seen him, Nicole and we’ve been praying all this time.  Maybe he’s changed for the better.  If not…”  He sighed looked up at the ceiling.  “Let me worry about it.  I promised to take care of you both and I will.  Trust me, but give God a chance.” 

His mother shared Bryan’s optimism- or perhaps his faith.  “I’m going to have my son back.” She told us that night when we prayed together.  “I don’t know what it will take or how long, but God is going to bring him back to us.”  She spoke with determination in her dark eyes each time we gathered for prayer. 

Bryan tried to bolster my courage.  He found the story in his Bible of the reunion of Jacob and his brother Esau.  He explained how Jacob had stolen his birthright from Esau before their father’s death and Esau had promised to kill his brother if he ever saw them again.  In my mind one brother was dark and the other was light.  Jacob had fled his brother and feared for his life when he returned but all those years brought forgiveness from Esau. 

Maybe that would happen for the Bradshaw’s.  The only problem was… Alexander wasn’t Esau.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

All Things Work To the Good

I promised I'd post this when I got to it in my editing.  It's one of my favorite chapters.  It's called All Things Work to the Good and it's from Tied To The Draw.

In this chapter Joe and Alexis have had a break up, but Joe refuses to give up on her. 

Happy reading!

It had been weeks and still he came…  Every night and that particular night was no different.  He was waiting for her outside the bar as she stepped out onto the sidewalk and saw him; she could recognize him anywhere- even in the dark.  She could make out his silhouette, the cowboy hat, his hulking frame, arms crossed over his chest leaning against the shiny pickup truck. 

Any other man she could possibly consider a stalker at this point, but not Joe.  There was a part of her that wanted to run to him every single night and throw herself into his arms and beg him to take her back.  He was making this break up terribly hard on her.  It had been two weeks.  Any other man would have given up by now.  She ducked her head and realized that he had positioned himself so that she would have to walk past him on her way home.

“What are you doing here?”  She snapped as soon as she saw him. 

“The Lord sent me.” He said and when she ignored him he decided to continue.  “I told you I don’t like you walking home alone this late at night.”  He growled as she trudged past him. 

She didn’t answer.  Maybe if she ignored him he’d go away.  Instead, he fell into step beside her.  Joe decided to push the issue while he was at it.  “I’ve also told you I don’t like you working at this bar.  It’s too dangerous.” 

“Joe…”  She whined, exasperated by his patience.  She’d been mean, she’d cursed him, she’d done everything short of having him arrested and he was still here.  Whining was her last resort.  “How many times have I told you… we’re not together…I’m not the girl for you.”

“Looks like you’d know by now that I don’t give up so easily.  I told you I would pursue you.  I wouldn’t give up until you agreed to marry me. You knew that going into the game.”

“This…”  She stopped long enough to turn to him and give him a deadly look in the dim light.  “Is not a game, Joe!  This is real life!  And in real life, you’re a preacher and I’m a bartender and we can’t…” Her voice cracked, and the tears threatened to come.  “There’s no happily ever after for us! I can not marry you Joe!”

Even though she’d like to; she wanted to.  If he’d had a different kind of life she would have already been his wife but what would marrying a woman like her do to him?  She had been around long enough to figure out that people at his church considered her a harlot, and there were quite a few who disapproved enough of their being together that if he pursued her they would ask for his resignation.  Why couldn’t he see that?  She was doing it for him!  

“Please… Joe… go home… forget me.”  She pleaded.

“Look me in the eyes and tell me that.”  He said calmly and put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. 

Her face twisted with anger and frustration.  “GO! HOME! AND! FORGET! ME!”  She screamed in his face.

He sighed, and he didn’t move his hands from her shoulders.  “I can’t.”  He said almost plaintively.  “I love you.” 

She looked away.  She loved him too.

“And you love me too.  Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t and I’ll leave you alone.” 

She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, she had to be strong.  Maybe she’d break his heart, but it was far better. She opened her mouth to tell the biggest and hardest lie of her whole life but then someone said something behind Joe and the words stuck in her mouth.

A man stood on the street behind them.  Joe turned and held up his hand.  “It’s okay buddy.”  He said and then turned his attention back to Alexis who had a shocked and confused look on her face.   There was a thrill of excitement as Joe considered that perhaps he had gotten through to her at last. 

The man spoke in Spanish again and again Joe waved him off.  “Yeah, yeah whatever Pedro.  Just walking the little lady home.”

He looked back down at Alexis, angry for this intrusion.  She was removing her earrings, her eyes fixed on the man behind him. 

“What are you doing?”  He snapped. 

“Give him your wallet, Joe,”  she said weakly but calmly.


“Because…”  she said slowly.  “He has a knife and he wants it.” 

Joe spun around and pushed Alexis behind him and mentally he sized the man up.  He realized he wasn’t a man at all; he was just a kid who probably didn’t weigh more than a buck fifty.  His clothes were too big like the kids liked to wear them these days.   He produced a rather large knife but Joe thought to himself that he had one bigger than that in his tackle box in the back of his truck. 

“He’s just a kid.  It’s okay. I can take him.” He whispered and she stared at him in disbelief.  “Buddy, you need to turn around right now ‘afore you get hurt.  Just go on...” 

“He says to give him your wallet and whatever is in your pockets or he’ll cut you.” Alexis’ voice trembled with fear. 

She spoke to him holding her trembling hands in front of her holding her purse with whatever tips she had made from that night.  She waved the money at him.

 “Give him everything in your pockets.”  She told him.

“Tell him he ain’t gettin’ it.  Ain’t gettin’ yours either so put it back up.” 

The kid spoke again. 

“He said he’ll kill you!”  Alexis’ voice rose to a scream. 


 Alexis jabbered and he caught one word- loco- and the kid laughed and started in their direction. “I’m warning you kid…”  He growled and he reached into his front pocket and Alexis let out a sigh of relief.  Finally, he was coming to his senses but instead he pressed something into her hands.

“Take my keys, and when I tell you…run to my truck… Lock yourself in and call the police.” 

“Joe!”  She protested.  “Just give him your wallet!”

The kid yelled again and Alexis tried to hand him her purse she spoke to him in Spanish and Joe had no idea what she was saying.  Joe stepped between the two of them and he pushed her out of the way as the kid lunged at the two of them. 

He could see the streetlight glimmer on the blade of the knife as he pushed Alexis out of the way; he felt it slice through his shirt and across his chest as he jumped away. 

“Alexis…RUN!”  He screamed and she did, as fast as her heels could carry her.

Joe and his assailant circled each other in the dimly lit street.  “All right buddy…”  He warned.   “Let’s see what you got…” 

The boy laughed.  “You’re crazy, old man.” 

Joe’s eyes narrowed.  “So you do speak English.”  He growled. “Good. ‘Cause I got a couple of things to say to you…”

Alexis made it to the truck and realized she didn’t know what key to use.  Oh God, she prayed why does he have so many keys?  Her hands were shaking so badly she could hardly hold them still much less push the key into the lock but finally it slid inside and she turned it.  She jumped inside and pushed the locks down. 

“Call the police.”  A voice told her. 

She groped in the darkness for her purse and that was when she realized that she had dropped her purse with the cell phone inside on the sidewalk behind Joe. 

She screamed out in frustration and then she knew what she needed to do.   She put the key into the ignition and started the truck.  It was a stick and she couldn’t drive a stick but somehow she got it into reverse and the tires screamed as she backed up.  Please, God, help me!  She begged the empty truck cab. Help me and I’ll do whatever you want me to do!   She had no idea how to get it into gear and she pulled on the gearstick like a madwoman and almost by luck it lurched forward and she gunned it in the direction of Joe and his attacker. 

Joe heard his truck hit the curb as it roared to life and barreled down the street in his direction.  He wondered what on earth she could be doing and but then he heard the roar of the engine and the sickening sound of tires as she hit the median. 

“Good Lord! She’s going to run us over!”  He grabbed the kid and screamed at him and the look of sheer terror on Joe’s face must have been enough to convince him that she would do it.  They both ran for their lives as the truck hit the curb and bounced up on the sidewalk.  She missed a tree and the two men by a couple inches and almost drove it right into a bookstore window but she slammed on the brakes in the nick of time. Both men looked over at her in amazement before looking back at each other and resuming their struggle. Though she didn’t run over the mugger, almost hitting him with Joe’s truck distracted him just long enough for Joe to knock the knife out of his hands and twist his arm behind his back. 

“Better be still.”  He warned but the kid was stubborn and he fought him. It was a bad idea to fight a guy who’d grown up roping calves and riding bulls. 

Joe felt a crack as he twisted the kid’s arm and pushed him to the ground and he hoped that Alexis had enough sense about her not to run them over.

Joe pinned the kid to the ground, his knee in the kid’s back. His good arm, the one that wasn’t broken he held behind his back. 

Alexis was beside him, a screaming, crying mess. 

“Get a rope out ‘a my truck.  It’s under the seat!”  He gasped. 

“What are you going to do with it?”  Alexis screamed.

“I’m going to tie him up dummy!”  He shot back at her.  “Do it!”

 Alexis scurried away and groped under his seat, after what seemed like an eternity she brought him the rope. 

“I’m gonna… tie you up…  This arm’s… broken… so if you don’t want the other one… broken… then you need to be still… till the cops get here… Okay?”  He told the kid calmly between ragged breaths. He looked back down at the kid underneath him as he wrapped the rope around him. He had a captive audience, literally.  What else would a preacher do? 
“Has anyone ever told you that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?”

“Something something something” in Spanish.  The kid said and then added:  “You’re both crazy.”

“You have no idea Pedro.  Besides, you started it.” Joe winced as he looked at the gash.  “And you had the good sense to try to rob a preacher instead of someone who would have killed you.  You know where you’d been if I’d pulled out a gun or let my crazy girlfriend run you over?” 

Pedro didn’t answer.  At least he assumed his name was Pedro since he hadn’t told him otherwise. 

“Well you’d have been dead Pedro.  What then genius? Huh?  You know what happens to you when you die?”

“I don’t have to listen to your sermon, Preacher!”  The boy snapped.  “I want my lawyer.”

“Well tough.  You tried to mug a preacher and you’re gonna sit through the sermon, at least till the cops get here and throw you in jail!” 


Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Friend's Testimony

I received this testimony from a long time friend and it was so powerful that I asked if I could share it.  My friend graciously agreed.  I think that anyone who deals with, has dealt with or knows someone who is going through depression needs to read this.... I knew when I read it that there is someone out there that needs to hear this and that's why God brought this across my path.  Thank you my friend for allowing me to add this to my blog.  

For He performs what is appointed for me...I was not cut off from the darkness, and He did not hide deep darkness from my face.  Job 23:14,17

     On January 22, 2012, I went missing. I went missing because I had awakened that morning

with a sense of dread. I thought something terrible was going to occur so I had to get to a safe

place. I left my house and literally ran for my life. I came across a building where a side door had

been left opened. I went down a hall, turned right and came upon a room where its door had been

left opened. I entered the room and shut the door behind me. I stayed there until I was discovered

by a worker the next morning. When he found me, he thought I was dead because I was dead still

on the floor. I woke up and found that I was surrounded by law enforcement and EMT. I was in

such a confused mental state, I did not even know my own name. I was transported to the

hospital where tests were run. I was fed breakfast and one of the nurses was a member of

Calvary Baptist Church where I was a member at the time and she prayed for me. I stayed at the

hospital until I told them I was ready to go home. After leaving the hospital, I made the decision

to go to Alabama with my Daddy. I knew I would be safe there. What was to be a short visit

turned into a nine month stay. I was hospitalized at Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan

Alabama for seven days. I was diagnosed with Major Depression with Psychotic Features. The

word “depressed” literally means “pressed down”, that is, not up to your usual bounce. Psychotic

has always been a scary word to me because I always associate it with criminals. The word

“psychotic” means I was affected by psychosis and that word means a loss of touch with reality.

I had some false beliefs about what was happening around me. Now, you may wondering how

did I get to such a state of mind. Modern day science has discovered that some people’s brains

simply do not have the capacity to recover from the biological effects of stress and crisis. This in

turn literally shrinks a part of the brain that controls feelings.

      The cause of depression is rooted in brain chemistry. The chemicals necessary to maintain

this particular area of the brain are not sufficient. As a result, one’s mood is affected, and de-

pression eventually can set in. Genetics has a strong impact on a person’s tendency to become


     I was placed on medication and started acting like my old self. It looked to be that I was on

the road to recovery. Not so. In March, I had a relapse, was hospitalized again for seven days.

This time I was placed on two different medications but I did not return to my old self. I would

have to wait twenty-one months for that to happen. It would be three months before I could even

laugh or smile. You see, I could not just “snap out of” depression.

     One night before my relapse, I had looked into the mirror and told myself I did not belong to

God. Suddenly, everything spiritual had no meaning in my life. I could no longer pray or so I

thought. If I don’t belong to God then His Word is not for me so it would be many months before

I read the Bible again. How in the world was I going to make it in life if I didn’t belong to God?

Looking back, I now see that God had a plan all along. He would make sure I would hear His

Word. One particular week my aunt invited me to Neighbor Night at her place of worship. Her

place of worship is a Jewish synagogue-Temple Emanu-el. I decided to go because I had always

wanted to go to a Jewish synagogue. When I entered the sanctuary, it looked to me like the inside

of a church. There were pews set up like they are here at New Bethel except they have three

sections and the building is larger. Up on the stage was a pulpit off to the right. On the left was a

table with candles. And in the middle, at the back, was a cabinet. I would out later that they call it

an ark, where the Torah is kept. Needless to say, I was intrigued and little did I know Temple

Emanu-el would be my “spiritual home” for several months. I find it ironic that I had told myself

I did not belong to Godl, but as I sat in that Jewish house of worship, I could see Jesus in their

symbols of faith. God knew what I needed. I needed to hear His Word. During those precious

nights of worship, by the way Jews worship on Friday nights, God’s Word was a balm to my

hurting soul. He knew I would enjoy hearing it read in the original language of Hebrew. He knew

the music would eventually lift my spirit. I grew to appreciate the kindness I was shown. I was

a stranger and they welcomed me in

     In October 2012 I was ready to return to Jesup. Before I left I attended temple for the last time

and one of the precious ladies I had grown to know-Roberta-told me I should stay and become

one of them. She wanted me to be a part of her Jewish family. I will always treasure those nights

of worship.

     I returned home to Jesup late October 2012. Only a handful of people knew I had returned.

I stayed away from church because I still believed I did not belong to God and I wasn’t going to

attend church and pretend I did. But, as we know, God has His mysterious ways and His timing

is always right. A few days before Christmas 2013, I went to the Post Office. Before I got out of

the car I saw a familiar face and realized he was a member of Calvary. I almost left the parking

lot because I was afraid to see him. I assumed I would get a lecture for being out of church. I

went in and fell in line behind the man and his wife. He turned around and spoke to me. I told

I had been back a while but had not been back to church yet. All he said was, “We miss you”.

I pondered those words for a couple of days and realized it wasn’t church I missed. It was God

I missed. A scripture was brought to my mind and as I pondered it, I slowly began to realize that

only the Holy Spirit brings scripture to remembrance and if the Holy Spirit has brought scripture

to my mind that means I do in fact belong to God! Just a couple of nights later I cried out to God

in prayer that I needed Him and the veil of darkness was removed from my mind. The Lord re-

turned my understanding back to me. You see, Jesus had been by my side the whole time. He sits

at the right hand of God the Father interceding for me. Romans 8:26 tells us, “Likewise the Spirit

also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the

Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” During those

dark days, when I could not pray for myself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were praying on my be-

half. Also, a special group of faithful prayer warriors never forgot me for those twenty-one

months. When I reconnected with them it was a grand reunion. The interesting fact is we haven’t

met face to face. We all participate on an online Bible study and we are connected on Facebook.

     I began making plans to return to Calvary Baptist Church and was looking forward to seeing

everyone after being away for two years. But, one afternoon, a thought came to me, “Go to New

Bethel”. I knew that was clear direction from the Lord for I had never considered attending

New Bethel. Tammy saw my post on Facebook and told me to call them so I did. Janie invited

me to the New Year Eve Service and I accepted the invitation. I’ve been at New Bethel ever


     I no longer concern myself with why I had a mental breakdown. I remember what Job said

 after his ordeal, “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared

that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3)

God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals Himself. (Frederick Buechner Wishful Thinking)

After I emerged from the cave of darkness and depression, I realized I had learned four things:

1. I am dependent upon the One True Living God.

    I was created for dependence, not independence.

2.God was with me in that deep dark cave of depression

    No matter what a child of God goes through, they have the assurance that Jesus is always with

them. Hebrews 13:5 tells us, “...I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

3. I am loved.

    But God demonstrated His own love toward Tammy, in that while she was still a sinner, Christ

died for her. Romans 5:8

If there is anyone here who does not know Jesus, He died for you too. If you will confess with

your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will

be saved. (Romans 10:9)

4. I am wanted.

    Ephesians 1:4-6 tells me, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that

we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as

sons and daughters by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will to the

praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Jesus told his disciples in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you...”

     I want to speak to those who live with depression. Listen to the words of a pastor who faced

 his own battle with depression. Jesus understands our dark feelings, our doubt, our discourage-

 ment, and yes, even our depression; and his desire is to help us. Sometimes, the help we need

 might include professional counseling and antidepressant medications. After all, God created

 the minds that created these medications, and it is not a sin take them if you truly need them.

     If you are depressed, there is help for you. It is okay to admit it, and it is okay to get help. Life

will still have its ups and downs, but there are options for if the “downs” last for a long, long