Posted in Change, Cinderella Released, Encouraging Stories, Faith, Inspirational Stories, Mental-Health, Transition, True Stories

I Now Can See The Colors in A Crystal

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I recently met for brunch with a highschool friend.  A couple of times during the past ten years she has felt compelled to reach out to me and we were finally able to connect. Once you read her story you will understand like I do now, that she is a product of our God who is so merciful to those who are in capivitiy and His desire is for our freedom.

She was rescued and released from a life full of heartache and torment.  God, has released her to a very happy ending… Below is her Cinderella Released story:

I Now Can See The Colors In A Crystal – Janice Conley
shared with her permission

Sharing my story with others is something I always hoped I would do. When I felt like I was losing control of my mind, ending up in ICU from an overdose and ending up in a psychiatric unit twice at two different hospitals, I could not imagine anyone being encouraged by my testimony!

As we all know there is a stigma attached to mental illness. 19 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This brain disorder causes severe mood changes, elevated activity and extreme anxiety. People with this condition experience episodes of heightened energy followed by low energy and depression. The depression can last for weeks, months or even years. This is part of who I am today. I am not ashamed of it and I don’t let it define me or get in the way of living life. With the help of God, my husband, my family, my therapist, my psychiatrist and my close friends, I have learned to manage this illness. It takes a village!

I grew up in Sanford, Florida and accepted a job with a family owned business at the age of 22. This company was exactly where I needed to be. I received support and understanding from the owners and my co-workers during my difficult days. Early on, no one including myself, understood my illness.  Being in a supportive environment and feeling accepted and loved is critical to healing. I worked 30 years for this company. 22 of those years I was in a management position. I have always believed in God, however, during my teenage years and career I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Looking back, I see His hand in everything.

Due to manic highs and depressive lows, life can be chaotic with bipolar disorder. Often times relationships and careers are destroyed because of the irrational behavior that is displayed. This illness is often misunderstood by family, friends and co-workers. It is common for those who suffer to deny they have it or to resist treatment. I desperately wanted to feel mentally healthy and it took 11 years of determination and persistence to find the right help. My life is so different now that I have learned to manage it with correct medications and occasional therapy.

At the age of 32, during my first marriage, we built a house. During the construction process I became stressed, not sleeping and filled with anxiety. I felt like I was losing control of my mind. I made an appointment with my family physician who referred me to my first psychiatrist.

She diagnosed me with anxiety and depression and prescribed an antidepressant. When there was no improvement she prescribed another set of medications. These medications didn’t work so I quit taking them. For the next 11 years I felt anxious, depressed and empty, I knew there was something terribly wrong with me. My world was black and my spirit was dark. In sharing my concerns with family and friends, no one understood.

During this difficult time a friend invited me to church. Worshipping in a Pentecostal church was very different from my Lutheran background. It was there at the age of 34 that I walked the aisle to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. However, I did not grow as a Christian at that time. Due to the nature of my illness, I struggled with sadness, negative thoughts and difficulty focusing. “Negative thoughts deplete your faith, your energy and your enjoyment for life.” (Joel Osteen) It took all of my energy to just get by day to day.

At the age of 37 I divorced my first husband. I continued seeking counseling, hoping with each therapist my quality of life would improve. I was on and off medications during this time and nothing seemed to take away the depressed, anxioius empty feelings. Some days were more tolerable than others but I knew that people were not supposed to feel this way. I became frustrated. I was persistent in searching for help but couldn’t find the help that I needed.

One of my best friends, Cheryl, asked me if I could see the colors in a crystal. I explained to her that I could not see the colors in a crystal. Everything in my life was dull. She had never had a depressed day in her life so she could not understand the feelings that come with depression. I explained that in the morning when I opened my eyes I felt a gray cloud over me. This gray cloud followed me throughout the day. I would smile and laugh on the outside but I was dying on the inside. My only relief was sleeping. This was not the way I wanted to live my life.

At the age of 42 my life became intolerable. I felt alone and desperate. I did something totally out of character. I went to dinner at a diner by myself and sat on a stool at the counter hoping to meet someone. The only person who acknowledge my presence was the server. I left feeling more alone and desperate. That evening I made a very serious attempt to take my life with pain pills (prescribed for dental work) and alcohol. Fortunately, when I did not show up for work the next day a friend/co-worker had a concern and dame to my home. I was rushed to the emergency room. I spent nine days in the hospital. Four of those days in ICU in a coma. Three days in a regular room and two days in the psychiatric unit.

After I was released from the hospital my mind and body were fragile. Every aspect of my life was rocky, however I knew I had to walk back into my life. I had to face family, friends and co-workers and try to put the pieces back together. It was not easy but I knew this had to be done. Most everyone was understanding and supportive which allowed me to begin to heal.

I finally realized to have a good life I needed to be mentally healthy. To manage mental illness there are two types of doctors needed. A psychologist for counseling and a psychiatrist to prescribe medications. At this point, a team was crucial for me so I found a team that I felt comfortable with. As a signle working girl, I knew this was going to be expensive. My insurance plan covered medication but not therapy sessions. I also realized it was important for me to establish a relationship with these doctors early on so that they will be readily available to me when I needed them. Even though it was expensive, I comitted to weekly therapy sessions. This was an important step to getting my life back on track.

A manic or depressive episode can occur without warning at any time and at any age. Sometimes during an episode I need the help of my doctors. It is important to have a relatlionship established to get an immediate appointment. One could wait up to a month to get in to see a doctor. Even in my later years I will need to keep a relatlionship with my doctors current.

A year after my suicide attempt, I had a manic episode that left me feeling totally out of control. I believed I was making a movie about my life. This movie was to help others with bipolar disorder. My friend, Hamp who is now my husband, came over for an early morning jog. I suggested we have coffee and visit instead of jogging. I had a sleepless night and my energy level was heightened so he knew something was wrong. When he left my home, he called Cheryl and asked her to check on me. As soon as she saw me she knew something was terribly wrong. My behavior was totally out of character. Hamp returned to my home. My conversation that morning was focused on the movie that was to be made. I had not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder so this conversation alarmed them. They called my family in. While we were all together, Hamp called my therapist. She said that I was not the person she had counseled the past year and I needed to go immediately to the psychiatric unit of the hospital. She said if I would not agree to go call the police to escort me. It was imperative that I be admitted that day. This was my second stay in a psychiatric unit.

This manic episode was the turning point which allowed my therapist and psychiatrist to correctly diagnose me with bipoloar disorder. It is not uncommon for a correct diagnosis to take many years, sometimes decades. For 11 years I was diagnosed incorrectly and was prescribed wrong medication. It was a relief to finally get a diagnosis. I currently take two medications. The combination works well for me.  I have been on these now for 19 years. In the beginning I had a few side effects but they went away after a little while. The only lasting side effect was some weight gain. Correct medications have made a huge difference for me. I realized early on how important it is to take my pills daily. I accept that I will be on medication for the rest of my life. The pills help balance my moods and provide me with a mentally healthy lifestyle.

Even though I am on the right medications, I will occasionally get out of balance. It is important to have a good support system. When I begin to experience a manic episode, my husband can see a change in my eyes. Once I recognize my elevated mood, I meediately adjust my medications before my life spins out of control. To his day, when I am in a manic state my sense of urgency to help others by sharing my story becomes my main focus. Together Hamp and I have learned to manage these episodes. He is always there to watch my back when my world gets rocky. My life will continue to get rocky at times and it is comforting to know he is always looking out for my best interest.

Mos of us have famlily members or friends who suffer from a mental illness. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness be sympathetic and understanding and know that it is challenging for them. Signs of the illness can occur at any time and without warning. With each episode I experience, I learn more about how to manage my change in moods and stay in control.

With therapy, prayer and reading books on healing I have been able to work through most of my issues, including child sexual abuse. I finally feel whole! I have seen God’s goodness in amazing ways. He has richly blessed my life with a loving, supportive husband and family.

In 2010 we became part of a wonderful church family. This is when I began my relationship with Jesus. I now look back on my life and see God’s hand in everything. He brought me out of the dark days into the brighter days. When your life is dark, know that it is temporary. In His time, He will bring you back into the light. The sun will shine bright again for you someday. Do not lose hope. Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow wearly, they will walk and not faint”.

God is a God of second chances and it is by His grace that I am alive today. My life is rich and full of His many blessings. This awareness is new to me and I feel like I have been born again! I am trusting God to lead my path. Proverbs 3:6 “In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” My part is learning to trust Him.

I love sharing my story because I believe God will use it so that others ………..can see the colors in a crystal.

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Janice Conley

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Janice Conley

Janice has a program and visits churches with others who have been rescued from bi-polar disorder. If you would like to connect with her please email me at CinderellaReleased@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Posted in Change, Cinderella Released, Encouraging Stories, Faith, Overcoming Fear, Teaching, True Stories

It’s In The Process

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What makes, clay pottery,
cow’s milk buttery,
butterflies fluttery?
It’s something in the process.

What makes, bologna lunchmeat,
a cane of sugar so sweet
a loaf of bread from whole wheat?
It’s something in the process.

What makes, dark clouds roll away,
the rooster crow at dawn each day,
us doubt and turn to God to pray?
It’s something in the process.

What makes, us lift our eyes toward the sky,
an eagle soar so high,
laugh aloud – when we want to cry?
It’s something in the process.

What makes us want to cleave to earth,
wonder how God planned our birth,
see the world in such a dearth?
It’s something in the process.

Why then, do we question the Potter’s plan,
the turn of His wheel,
the choice of His sand,
His pressure applied,
the crush of His hand?
It’s something in the process.

So then,
How can we look at all God’s done,
understand the truth,
yet feel so alone,
after all,
Isn’t the battle won?
It’s in the process.

Searching for God’s Treasures,

Marlene Hoenig
from ashes to beauty…
Cinderella Released for such a time as this!

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God’s Treasures Last Forever!

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Posted in Cinderella Released, Faith, Overcoming Fear, True Stories

A Life Lesson from A Single Mom!

Mav Amy Colt Jona Me

from ashes to beauty ~ Cinderella Released
Lessons in Life from the World’s Wealthiest Single Mom!

“The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22

God has a purpose when it comes to the resources He provides in my life. Wealth is viewed very differently in every culture.  I’ve had the blessing to visit other countries and places in the United States and to really realize how blessed I am and surrounded by such wealth.   This post is about God’s provision for  me. For many years, I felt being a single mom was one of the most difficult professions on the planet. But, today I am so thankful for all that God has provided for me and my family.

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PaPa Baggs, Colt, Christopher, Maverick & Gary Jr. (My Boys)

Life’s Lesson # 1 – Provision

“But My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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Colt & Maverick 1986

In 1991 after a financial crisis, my husband and I separated and my two youngest boys and I went to Tallahassee, Florida to live with my older brother, his wife and my nieces Dena and Adrienne. After a few weeks, the Lord provided me with a good job and a one bedroom apartment. My sister-in-law helped me figure out a weekly budget and so I would cash my check and put money aside each week in an envelope, one for each of my bills.  10% of my gross income went directly into the offering plate and $35 per week was our food budget.  It seemed I always had more envelopes than money at the end of the end of the week but I knew God would provide.

Angels Colt & Maverick
“Touched by Two Angels”

Then our first month’s electric bill arrived and I went to get my envelope for the electric.

To my dismay, I had only put away $6. I thought to myself, “How did that happen?”

Holding my breath, I opened the bill and a big cry of relief came when I saw the charge of only $6. But, I did call the electric company immediately. They said the bill was correct and it was probably because it was just the first month’s bill.

I promised myself to put away more the next month. When the next month came, and I opened the electric  bill it was only $12 this time. As you can imagine, I didn’t waste any time calling the electric company.

Their response was,

“Mrs. Hoenig, yes there is a problem. We never got your payment from last month!  This is why it’s $12.”

I said, no, you don’t understand, “This has been the coldest winter in Tallahassee and I run my heat all the time.” The operator said, “I will check the meter and get back with you.”

Well, the fact is I never got a bill that went over $6 a month for the first nine months (the entire time we were in this little apartment).  Our God supplied for our needs abundantly and above anything I could dream or imagine at the time.

God also supplied us with friends and family who provided food, fellowship and lots of fun! We opened up our home each week for dinner on Saturday nights where the boys and I provided the main course. Usually I got the BOGO which always provided a great meal and our friends brought side dishes, desserts and drinks. We always had plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. Another way we saved money and had fun was going to a local restaurant which had a “Kids Eat Free” night on Wednesday nights. It was a hot food buffet and salad bar. My boys loaded their bellies with plenty of good food and we also had fellowship with many of the families we knew would eat there also.

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Colt and Maverick

 

 

This Life Lesson on Provision helped me become the World’s Wealthiest Single Mom!

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That’s what I think….

 

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I second that!

** Blog post inspired from the series Uncommon Cents  – The Church on the Rock in Wasilla, Alaska

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Posted in Change, Cinderella Released, Crisis, Encouraging Stories, Faith, Overcoming Fear, Trauma, True Stories

Choices… we all have to make them

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CHOICES – People may often misunderstand your goals, your vision, your mission ~ but keep going, keep striving and continue to push, having faith in the specific calling you have been given! (While at the same time being open for Godly accountability and constructive criticism) FB Post by Maverick Hoenig June 3, 2017.

CHOICES

When I read this today the Holy Spirit quickened my spirit. In the area of crisis and trauma care, I see every day where hurting individuals are faced with choices that they weren’t expecting to make or having to live with choices that were made for them.

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I recently talked to one of my spiritual sons who was in an accident where a semi-truck made too close a turn and drug him and his motorcycle down the road. It not only caused him to literally being run over and left critically injured and badly broken. He now has to walk with a cane and has severe health issues. He said to me,

“Mom” I can either choose to give up, gripe and B**** about my life. I’ve got to get up and live life to the fullest.”

Throughout his life, I’ve watched this young man battle through many obstacles, some self inflicted and we have had many conversations about his walk with God. He’s still sorting through his life’s purpose and I have no doubt that God is already using him in ways even he can’t see or understand. But, even through his difficult times he has been there for me when I felt like giving up.  He has walked with me through crisis, trauma and hopelessness.

Today happened to be one of those days where I was questioning why things happen and if I should have made different choices.

Our conversation helped steer me and get my mind back to where it should be… on choosing to living and loving myself & others “God’s Way” – not my own.

I’ve got so much to be thankful for. Looking back I see the hard choices I had to make at times, especially when I wondered at the time if they were the right ones.  God has always redeemed even my poor choices into life giving miracles….

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CHOICE – **Note – FB Post from 12/19/2015 –  Maverick Hoenig, Father

Wow! Jonah David Hoenig has arrived!!! 7.12 lbs! God is great and the miracle of life astounds me today!

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” John 16:12

Amy did such an amazing job in labor and I am so proud of her!!

Life isnt waiting for the storm to pass

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Blessings on your day,
Choose Wisely…

Marlene
from ashes to beauty…

P. S.  If you or someone you know is battling with their choices, or is suffering from crisis and trauma in their life. I am available 24/7.  Please check out my website for ways to contact me. Website Link Continue reading “Choices… we all have to make them”

Posted in Cinderella Released, True Stories

Seeing God’s Face

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36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

 

Hi, there…. (squinching at the lights) I’m so happy to be here tonight! I’ve been asked to tell you about the day my ministry really took off…

You see it is never too late…for us old timers. I’ve put in a lot hours…(fastin’ and prayin) before I got my big break…

 

It didn’t happen like I thought it would. All that work, fasting, praying, why I was a churcha, I mean workaholic for the church…I mean I was a faithful, trustworthy, God fearing Jewish woman who followed all the rules! I was even known as a prophetess, one who could forsee the future.

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Wait a minute… I forgot my introduction… let me start over….”

My name is, Evangelist Anna. Anna is the Greek Version but actually came from Hanna, which means favor and grace. I’m from the tribe of Asher, which means happy.

In Deuteronomy, Moses prophesies that for the tribe of Asher, (my tribe), “your strength will equal your days” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

My life shows evidence of that!

With all that being said you would think my life would be perfect! I am Jewish and I go to the Temple regularly, even 24/7 to pray and I’m usually ALWAYS fasting too. I love to serve Yeshua in the temple…

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It is my life… L_I_F_E -! Aah Life! LIVING_ IN_ FAITH_ EVERY DAY!

Why, Serving Him is what I was created to do. I come, I pray and I meditate on the Holy Scriptures… You see they are here and sometimes when no one is here but me, I will unroll them and hide them in my heart.

My father was Phanuel. His name meant Face of God. You will understand in a moment why that’s important.

When others talk about that day, my age is always mentioned! It’s even suggested that I was ancient! It has been of great discussion throughout the centuries. You see it is written that I was a widow of 84 years…. I was married for seven years before my husband passed…. And of course everyone tries to guess how old I was when I got married…. So, If I got married at 14, I could be maybe…105? Or some just think I was 84! What do you think? I think it really doesn’t matter, but what does matter is I had been around a long time and I had and continue to see a lot.

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There were many times the enemy tried to distract me from what I was really doing and from purpose and plan God had ordained for me from the beginning. I realize that listening is more important than talking. You just need to listen to God’s voice.

Along with listening, I was waiting…. Waiting for the day that God had promised to me. As a forseer I knew the day would come when I would realize my purpose for serving God would be revealed. It took a long time for me. Maybe it’s taking a long time for some of you too.

Is it taking a long time?

My husband died seven years after we were married. That’s when I started spending a lot of time alone with Yeshua. After he passed, God spoke to me and told me He would provide. And He has. It’s actually an honor and custom to take care of widows and orphans in the Jewish faith. I was blessed to have a family of believers at my side. I’d go to the Temple every day. To Fast, To Pray, To Read the Holy Scriptures! Yes, I was a woman who could read, and very highly regarded by my community.

Knoop, M.; An Old Woman Reading

My ministry took off after one long eternal look that changed my life forever…

It set my feet to dancin’! I know what you are thinking. She’s way too old… she’s probably a grandma… Grandma’s sit on the porch and baby sit. Let the young people do the dancin’ and preachin! Well, I’m living proof you are never too old! There is great debate over my age…. At the time… Is she 84 or 105? If she got married at 12 she could be 107!

BUT SHE DOESN’T LOOK THAT OLD!

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But that’s not the only reason I’m a little shocking! I’m quite infamous you know! Why in some churches today I would be considered eccentric, outlandish, out of place and even shameful! Being one of the first New Testament women evangelists! My name went down along with some others like Martha, Mary, oh and that Samaritan woman!

She was almost good as me, just kidding!

But one thing I know that my redeemer was alive, and continues to live…now and forever! No one is going to seal these lips…. I know who and what I saw that day!

You know some say women aren’t supposed to speak out, much less be one of the first to lay eyes on the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the Creator of the Universe! Why that was shocking! But the truth is everyone was electrified that day.

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When I looked down into those beautiful little eyes, and touched those rosy red cheeks, I knew, yes I knew what, where, whom and why this little baby boy was here! Emmanuel the prince of peace… God was finally with us! Thousands of years of prophecy fulfilled in a little tiny baby boy.

Imagine this! My heart nearly exploded in my chest! Yes, it was mixed with great joy, and great sorrow at the same time. I knew my life purpose had just been fulfilled and my service was nearly over. But, I was ready! Ready to go home, because God had just unleashed every promise He had ever made me right then before my very eyes!

Joseph and Mary brought that baby in and when they entered the temple the atmosphere changed. It was if I had heard a clap of thunder break the sound barrier. Simeon saw, felt and heard it too… and most likely everyone else.

And then I watched and listened in wonder to Simeon. Simeon and I had been waiting, waiting a long time for the consolation of Israel.

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Simeon was full of the Holy Ghost and told me God had promised him, like me, that we would not see death before we saw the LORD’s Christ.

It was dedication day at the temple…. And when the young parents handed the baby to Simeon, Simeon began to bless God! Why he could barely contain himself! I thought to myself, well I’m the prophetess, but we were all blessing God! It was his jumping up and down that made me a little nervous….

Simeon was ancient like me, I was afraid he’d drop that baby! But he didn’t but I will never forget his words….

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33 And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

35Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

God himself spoke that day through Simeon and in one look from this Holy Child to us. I saw the Face of God! Praise God! My father Phanuel, that was what his name means Face of God!

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My Father, My Redeemer , My Husband was right before us all! What a glorious day!

Seeking God’s Treasure,

Marlene Hoenig
Cinderella Released from ashes to beauty to declare His Glory!

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Posted in True Stories

You Are Beautiful And Who You Are Is Quite Enough

I’ve been studying to become a Crisis Counselor and also a trainer to teach TRE – Trauma Release Exercises.  Little did I realize two years ago that I would be putting these skills to personal use.  Over the past two and a half years I have been to three funerals, married and annulled, assaulted and abandoned, moved four times and have reoccurring bouts of chronic fatigue, and lymph system shut-downs! 

Statistically, I should be in a mental hospital or the grave!  Can I just say that I am so thankful that I serve  a risen Savior who has pulled me out of the darkness into the light.

For any of you out there that are depressed, sick and tired of being sick and tired, I can relate.  But, I have found in my 57 years of living on this planet that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. He will take the past hurts, traumas and trials and turn them into beautiful times.

Tonight, He reminded me who I was in Him and how beautiful I am to Him.  The words to a Song, Beautiful I read once is “Beautiful is who you are and who you are is quite enough!”  Isn’t it awesome that whether we are in a mansion on the highest hill or in a shack in the valley filled with dung, that the Creator of the universe thinks about us and cares what happens to us!

I watched a beautiful family pitch in to give a young man and his beautiful bride a beautiful barn wedding in the country. Her daddy spent several sleepless nights at the location to insure his “beautiful” daughter’s dream wedding would come true. Here she is taking that last walk as a single woman with her daddy! Isn’t she beautiful?Image“Beautiful”
Bethany Dillon

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it’s killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I’m dying for new life

[Chorus]
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won’t you help me back to glory

[Chorus]

You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful

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Jesus makes all things beautiful in HIS time.

Posted in True Stories

Senseless Shootings in Colorado – Is God Still Merciful?


SO YOU STILL THINK GOD IS A MERCIFUL GOD?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.

Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise.  

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie

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