Better Than Lipstick 

  
I am not a lipstick wearer. Very rarely do I pull out the lipstick. I am more of a Chapstick or tinted lip balm kind of girlie. I used to have an obsession with having to have it everywhere and constantly putting it on my lips. 

My sister says a funny phrase 

“A little lipstick and paint will make a woman what she ain’t.”
 

Although I love that phrase, there is only One thing that can do that plus many more amazing things when it is on our lips… 

Praise! 

 You can never praise God enough.  

Praise is always better than lipstick. 
When you keep praise on your lips, your lips will not only be beautiful, your whole life will be transformed.  
Try it! 
Put it on today! 

No need to stress over color matching, it is always the perfect shade.  

                     ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

“Ever Be” Bethel 
Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold 

Like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old 

Your love is enduring through the winter rain 

And beyond the horizon with mercy for today


Faithful You have been and faithful you will be

You pledge yourself to me and it’s why I sing


Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips 

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips


You Father the orphan

Your kindness makes us whole

You shoulder our weakness

And Your strength becomes our own

You’re making me like you

Clothing me in white

Bringing beauty from ashes

For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame

And known by her true name and it’s why I sing


You will be praised You will be praised

With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord 

You will be praised You will be praised

With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord

 

Unvoiced 

  
Buildings layered upon the ground
In rows outnumbered
People walking, their feet trampling
The original painting
Orchestrated perfectly in tune
But now broken
Forever reused 
By ignorance, for applause 
And we only know what else
Disfigured in view by all
Those who’ve blistered the face 
Again and again
In case they missed something
From the last time
Their hands wrung out the weary place
In the eyes of a wrecked child
Bruised
Internally: masked outwardly
Of identity once owned
The very thing once possessed
But now stranded in other’s vomit
Which isn’t their fault
But blamed for it
As if it were their choice to be unvoiced
Of the awakening of rebirth within 
Blinded ignorance disguised as Compassion
A cause worth laying down another’s life for
But all a scheme of hell to never be helped
Forced out of the dark curtains clothing
The fragmented flesh screaming out
For some affection, attention to be noticed
But all is in effect of the movement
Music that’s only heard through the heart
Beating, pulsing within every fiber owned
In unison of the last breath plugged into now 
Times are gone before, but begging for more
Reasoning with realities apologies doesn’t cut
Breadcrumbs on the dirt floor of victims tears
Reminiscing in last nights fierce encounter
With the enemy, against all odds in war
That battle within one fights all alone
Without backup from love
Compassion, or understanding
Catching moonlit sky in a cracked jar
Pushing back the cosmos of tomorrow’s threats
To kill ones corpse in anger
If the victim tells a stranger 
Of the cold war fought 
Children being mocked and stripped of identity
Forced and manipulated 
To do favors for enemies
Deceived within
That they are nothing more
Than that dirty sand
One walks on from time to time
That binds the earth into affect
Of today’s plan

        ~Bethany Anne 

That None Should Perish 

  
This is the desire of my heart

Every Single Second!

This one thing I know

And Believe

With every fiber of my being

Jesus loves

All of us

The same

With an exuberant

Passionate

Astounding

Fanatical

Sweet 

Precious

Abba Father 

Love

That powerful

Run after you

No matter what!!!!!

Where????

Or how……

Can snatch anyone

From hell’s pit

Rescuing them

Forever

His Saving Grace

Bleeding out 

Till His death do us part

Then

His RESURRECTION

Ensuring our safety

Announcing

Our names

And seating us with 

Him

It is His heart

And will 

And plan

That none should perish

Krystal Lynne ❤ 

Serving Idols 

  
Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.~ 2 Kings 17:41 NIV 

May that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, possess our hearts, and influence our conduct, that we may be ready for every change. ~Matthew Henry Commentary                                             

Heavenly Father, I am so ready for every change in my life You need to make. Forgive me for serving my idols even while worshipping You. Break the generational curses of my ancestors in my life and in the lives of my children.  Help me to raise up a new generation to serve and worship only You. Possess my heart and influence my conduct. Help me to recognize anything or anyone that is becoming an idol so I can remove and lay them down at Your Altar. May I seek You and Your presence above all. Make me into Your Glorious image Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
                    ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

My pieces For His Peace 

  
After all the kids were dropped off at school this morning, I walked in the door and plopped my rear on the couch, hoping it would take me to Nowhereville. I was already feeling exhausted and it was only 8:30 a.m.. All morning I had had a knot in my chest. You know that feeling when you’ve been suppressing anxiety, sadness, and anger? It’s that moment when you are at risk of cascading a waterfall of tears with just one kind word from a stranger.

 
                I knew God was knocking on my door. As I fell into the safe haven of the sofa, I sarcastically asked, “OK, what is it now, God?” I wanted to be sure He understood I had plenty on my plate already. Didn’t He know how hard I was trying? Didn’t He understand the discipline I was exercising by being patient in letting Him call the shots, when part of me was reining back the human instinct to take the bull by the horns? I pointed out, this was an instinct HE gave me, (by the way)! Yep, I was pretty much feeling sorry for myself when I answered His call to prayer.

 

                As I heaved a sigh, I asked Him, “What do you want me to do?” He gently, and ever so patiently replied, “Nothing. Let it go. Talk to Me, I’m listening. Let Me give you a hug.” There was that one word of kindness that released the flood gates, but it didn’t come from a stranger. It came from the One who knows me best.

 

                To say the past few months have been challenging is a gross understatement. From losing my home, my dogs, my mountain, my marriage, to releasing my son out into the world for the first time, and staring an uncertain future in the eye, there have been times when it’s been overwhelming. The one kindness our unkind predicament has bestowed is that it has come in doses. Not everything has happened all at once, but in phases. Those phases have occurred at a rapid pace, one right after another, but God has walked both Sam and I through each one before we were hit with the next. It has been amazing to experience the expedition of healing and grace.

 

                There is no denying that God has had His hand on us. I have seen Him work so mightily these past few months. I sincerely give HIM all the glory and praise for provision, favor, opening (and closing) doors, and even the unbounding grace He has shown us. Allowing Him to do that hasn’t always been easy. It gets easier, the longer you walk in faith, but God isn’t one to sit back and let you idly remain dormant. He’s going to stretch you. He’s going to call you up higher. He’s going to push you to depend on Him more and more. However, He doesn’t require we do it alone. He’s always there to lend a hand …. or give a hug.

 

                I have noticed an emotional pattern develop within me. Dealing with separation and divorce, losing everything, not knowing what the future holds (do any of us know anyway?), these things have been relatively easy for me to handle. It has come to my attention that my emotions get stoved up and knots form in my chest when Sam is being affected by the situation. For the most part, he has been a trooper! God has worked in him just as much as He has in me. But when I see Sam struggle, that which has lain quietly, camouflaged beneath the gentleness of a Godly woman, suddenly lunges forth as the lioness of motherhood. You can strip me of everything I own, you can blame me, hurt my feelings, call me names, but you do not, under ANY circumstances, mess with my boy.

 

                Now I’m not saying there has been direct affliction on Sam. I’m speaking indirectly. When I see him face difficult situations that he wouldn’t otherwise be experiencing, it makes me angry. I want to blame, blame, blame! I want to lash out and rip the face off the one who brought us here. Instead, I stuff it down. I encourage Sam, I stand tall and strong for Sam. Eventually however, I must face the demons of my inner thoughts. They have to be dealt with, lest they lead to bitterness and unforgiveness.

 

                This is what God and I talked about this morning. He asked, so I spilled it.

                This is how He replied.

 

                Be angry but do not sin. He told me there is no one to blame. He reminded me I have depended on HIM to lead and I am here in obedience and by choice. He prompted me to release bitterness and unforgiveness because ‘that other guy’ is also His child. He told me to protect, but there would be no “ripping off of faces,” except the face of unrighteousness and unholiness which is masked in the deceit of justification. He encouraged me and showed me how far He has brought me. He showed me how He has my son in the palm of His hand, with mercy, grace, wisdom and strength round about him. Then He gave me a daddy hug, patted me on the back, and sent me back out here to do His will.

 

                As I pondered all that He had said, I realized that He was telling me I had a right to be angry, but when I hold on to it and let it turn into bitterness and unforgiveness, this is where I sin. Just because I am justified in how I feel, doesn’t mean I am justified in denying forgiveness.

 

                It became clear to me that many in my situation would be falling apart, aimlessly wandering, clinging to bitterness, and maybe even hopelessness. It is by His direction and grace that the whole of my life I have dwelled in His peace. Because of that, right now, my life is not in pieces. He is the author and finisher of my faith.

                        ~Sandra K. Yates

Mature Audiences Only 

  
         warning for mature audiences only

    I got a lightening bolt revelation today!! 

It was as if both of my ears were crystal clear and open for any oncoming sounds to slip right in quickly and reverberate truth into my head of reasoning. 
There were no roadblocks of earwax or distraction today. 
It was almost like the Liberty Bell was ringing in my head back and forth with lingering chimes of new revelation. 
    Okay, here’s a better example…..you go to a loud concert and come home and lay down to go to sleep and you still hear the loud rumble of the concert vibrating in your ears. It is as if you are still at the concert listening to their encore again and again. 

    My ears rung over and over these words that I had read in a book by Anna Rountree called, “Heaven Awaits the Bride”. 
Ding Dong, here it goes….
Jesus says to me, ” I don’t want you to use me.”  
That was the main point of the passage. 
The author goes on to explain that a true friend desires company from one who is not trying to gain something from them. 

Honestly, I’m reflecting back on my quiet times and prayer times. What motivates me during these times? It might be a desire to ask for help, gain understanding and wisdom, perform a promise (making it a daily routine), reflect or journal. 

     Those are ALL good motives and noble causes. The Bible asks us to do all those things. So why am I so bent out of shape about wondering if I’m just using Jesus to get what I want. 

So I ask Him what do you want from me? This is coming from me. I am your daughter who desires to serve You and walk in Your steps. 

I silently hear. 
“I desire relationship with you!” 

What does relationship mean? I can ask Webster and then ask the Word. 
One Dictionary: 

Relationship: 

:the state of being related or interrelated <studied the relationship between the variables>

2:the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as kinship 
kinship:

: the state of being related to the people in your family

: a feeling of being close or connected to other people

The Word has much but only picked three verses. 


Proverbs 18:24. . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

1 John 1:3-4  That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

There are different relationship types when dealing with the Trinity. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Those of us brought up in the church know the obvious comparisons. God is our Father. Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. 

Those are only three of a multitude of roles that the Godhead plays in our lives as Christians and non Christians. After all He created us all and desires to draw all men unto salvation. 

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

I’m just focusing on Jesus now with this revelatory thought towards Him. 
Here it reverberates again in my ears.  

Kelley, I don’t want you to USE me.”

Do I use my family and friends for what I want? 

Do I only go to them when I need something? Do I seek what I can gain by knowing them?

 How can they advance me? 

What can they do for me?

Yikes!!! I sure hope not!!
We all know or have acted like the above if we are really honest with ourselves. 

Gee Wilikers, I would be sad if my kids, friends, or family thought that way towards me. 
So how must Jesus feel if He is treated like a Santa Claus with a “been good” list or treated as someone who doesn’t merit a close relationship or connection? 
I DON’T want to use Jesus just for my prayer list or worthy campaigns. 

Jesus knows my heart and He is patient and waits for me to get to the next level of understanding. 
Trust me, He has been waiting a long time. 

Like Super Mario Brothers I just passed through one level to get to the next and and stopped at the red flagpole. It’s name is New Understanding. 

At this new level I want to have my quiet times and prayer moments start off with the satisfaction of just BEING with Him. 

I told you this was for a mature audience only. 
You have to desire to grow up in your faith and understanding of how relationship works. 

I can almost see Jesus smiling at me with outstretched arms in the midst of a happy dance shouting, 

“It’s about time you hung out with me just for the fun of it!”.
This is just beginning, 

Kelley Allison 
Psalm 42:1  As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

Character 

  

 

Define

Character can be defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

 

Affirm

Romans 5:4 “And endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”

 

Recall

Last week my girlfriend and I were conversing about GOD’s gift in our lives and the gifts of others. In our conversation we realized that character plays a significant role in our growth in life. Why is this important? I am curious.  

 
Do you feel like you are in a situation and you feel that you can’t move? Do you ever feel that you are being tested in the same area over and over again? Does someone anger you so deeply that you consistently explode? Are you experiencing disappointment over and over and over again? Do you ever feel like you progress in life and then feel like you are regressing?  

 

GOD is trying to take you to new levels that your character cannot maintain. If you find yourself moving up and then moving back down, it is time to switch into your character building season. It is time to make different choices.  

 

God has given all of us gifts; however, we become refined when we endure life’s circumstances, life’s circumstances help us depend on GOD. The more we depend on GOD- the more Christ-like we become, and our capacity for life increases.  

 
Every day we have the opportunity to build our character. Our character is what others see on the outside of us (based on what we’ve developed on the inside). This week, identify those areas of your life in which GOD might be trying to build your character and respond GOD’s way- not your way! Enjoy your week!

 

 

Exercise:

Dear God,

Thank you for showing me that this is my character building season. Please help me make choices that are GOD centered in all areas of my life. I truly desire a Christ-like character and I know this can only be built through enduring life and depending on you. Thank you for your love and grace. I love you.
              ~LerecaMonik 

 

#lerecamonik #restoredministries #itstimeforachange #anewyou #mydearestsister #Idareyou #LiveRestored #BecomingAltarD 

Demolition Day 

  
Before each beginning


There must be an ending


The longer and the tighter that we hold


Only makes it harder to let go


Only when we’re broken, are we whole
The beauty in the breaking


Had to lose myself


To find out who You are

I love this song!  

How many times have we laid up those stones and built altars of things or people? 

We worshipped those and thought that they would define us and make us who we are.  

WRONG! 

This is demolition day-embrace the unmaking. 
Let God make you into His image and what He has envisioned for you. We don’t need to build altars, instead we lay it all down at His altar. There’s beauty in the breaking! Let God decide what goes and what stays. 
                       ~ XXOO Michelle Bollom 

The Unmaking – Nichole Nordeman

Lyrics:
This is where the walls gave way
This is demolition day
All the debris, and all this dust
What is left of what once was
Sorting through what goes and what should stay

Every stone I laid for You
As if You had asked me to
A monument to Holy things
Empty talk and circling
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do

What happens now
When all I’ve made is torn down
What happens next
When all of You, is all that’s left

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking

The longer and the tighter that we hold
Only makes it harder to let go
But love will not stay locked inside
A steeple or a tower high
Only when we’re broken, are we whole

What happens now
When all I’ve made is torn down

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking

I’ll gather the same stones where
Everything came crashing down
I’ll build You an altar there
On the same ground

‘Cause what stood before
Was never Yours

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking
Oh, this is the unmaking

Had to lose myself
To find out who You are

Restoration Stories – Carol Johnson 

  
I was born in 1956, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was the second of three children. My mother and father both came from troubled, impoverished families and were determined to make a better life for themselves and their children. Mental illness, sexual abuse, alcoholism, poverty and domestic violence plagued their childhoods. Unfortunately, as much as they tried to shield themselves and us kids from the horrors of their backgrounds, some of the above mentioned issues manifested themselves in my parents and onto us children.                                                                                                                                   

 My dad, was the oldest of 7 children and had an alcoholic father who was absent from the home for long periods of time. He quit school and worked full time to provide for his mother and younger siblings. At 17, he enlisted in the Air Force and learned airplane mechanics. He had acquired a skill and the discipline he needed to provide for his family. He also carried a lot of anger, anxiety and perfectionism that thwarted his ability to have healthy, supportive relationships with my mother and us children. He was a driven man, haunted by his father’s failures to provide any kind of support for him and his family.

My mother, was the youngest of 8. She had 7 older brothers, one who passed in his teen years. Her family was plagued with mental illness, suicide, and alcoholism. My mother was sexually abused by another brother and his friends starting at age 12. Her parents fought frequently, often over finances. She told me that her father would frequently beat her brothers for misbehavior, but she was spared the physical abuse. In spite of their backgrounds, my parents were determined to leave their problems behind and begin a new life for themselves. They were both blessed with intelligence and good moral values. They moved from their small, rural Wisconsin hometown, to Michigan, and my story began.

I am named Carol Lynn, after my father’s sister Carol Jean, who died from polio when she was 12. My dad picked my first name, but due to her tragic , early death, my mother chose a different middle name.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and devoted her life to us. She was kind, loving and very attentive. My dad was the provider and disciplinarian. He was very distant emotionally, cold, and at times could be verbally abusive. My mother was always over-compensating for his lack of support and would often lean on us for her emotional needs. By the time I came into my late adolescent years, 11 or 12, my mother became more and more withdrawn, often staying in bed for days at a time. My parents started to fight frequently at her inability to function. My father was very angry at her for not keeping the house clean, or doing any of her daily chores. I would cry hysterically at night, as I would hear their shouting and arguing. My mother seemed to slip further and further into a deep abyss of paranoia and depression. I felt totally helpless and lost. I was grieving the loss of my sweet mother’s companionship and frightened by this cold, non-responsive person she had become. At one time, she went to the doctor and came back with a prescription for some kind of barbiturate, but it only seemed to make her fall deeper into depression. The stigma of mental illness was even more horrendous then, than it is now. She would sometimes rant about being afraid of being institutionalized like several of her brothers had been. It was a horrifying time for all of us. It was around that time, that I began having nightmares and started my own fearful journey with depression and anxiety.

I spent my teen years in Wausau, WI. My dad took a position as an Engineer at a manufacturing company in Wausau. We stayed there until I was 18. I severely struggled with self-esteem. Not ever feeling like I fit in with the other kids. My troubles at home were so overwhelming, that it was hard to join in with the activities of late elementary school and junior high. I , mostly kept to myself and would lose myself in music and books. I begged my dad to buy me a guitar when I was 12, and he did. He loved country music, and he paid for me to have weekly lessons. I have fond memories of learning some of his favorite songs and playing them for him. It was the only connection that we had and I craved his approval. My mother was still at home, and would go in and out of lucidity. Some days, she would be normal and others she would be paranoid and suspicious. I was never sure which personality would be there to greet me after school. Divorce was extremely uncommon in those days, so my parents never parted.

My life as a teenager, became not unlike so many of my peers of the 1970’s. We lost ourselves in sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I found a group of troubled youth that I could relate to and fit in with. I had my niche as the folk singer of the group and would entertain my friends with covers of popular songs. Those of us who wrestled with depression, medicated ourselves with alcohol and street drugs and for awhile our pain was suppressed. Marijuana, amphetamines, tobacco, and alcohol were my drugs of choice. Cigarettes made us look cool, (or so we thought), marijuana kept us calm, but when we got the munchies, we gained weight. We retained our figures with amphetamines and enjoyed the mood highs they provided. One of the members of our group, OD’d when she was 15. We all grieved her death and vowed to quit using, but it wasn’t long and our false sense of invincibility took over and we were all back at it. 

My grades plummeted in high school and I never completed my senior year. In Wisconsin, the legal drinking age was 18. I turned 18 in March, of my senior high and began hitting the bars nightly. I worked part-time at a gas station and stole money from my mother’s purse to fund my partying. The tremendous amount of guilt and shame I felt over my rebellious lifestyle would frequently haunt me but could easily be numbed by another night of drinking and doing drugs. I was definitely the prodigal child or black sheep of my family. My brother, who is 3 years older, was your typical first-born. He was driven to succeed like my father. He had no time for me or my loser friends. He was continually striving to gain my father’s approval by getting straight A’s, holding down multiple jobs and doing well at whatever he set out to do. Due to my father’s perfectionism, it wasn’t ever enough and he too, became a bitter, angry young person.. He set for himself high standards for education and career goals and has accomplished many of them. I have a sister also, who is 12 years younger than me. The tremendous age difference kept us from being very close until recent years.                                                                          

In January, of 1975, my dad took a new position in Minneapolis, MN, and since I still lived at home at age 18, I made the move with them. The next 6 years consisted of me working various jobs, getting my high school GED, taking secretarial classes, living with an abusive, alcoholic college student, ending up back home, having two unwanted pregnancies and two abortions, many one-night stands and becoming more and more cynical and hopelessly lost.                                                                                                          

 When I was 24, I started working for my dad at his office, and began a friendship with his secretary. Her name was Marge, and she was a Christian. Now Marge wasn’t a goody-goody type Christian. She had had some major crisis’ in her marriage and family and knew all about depending totally on Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to share her struggles, her fears and sometimes her inability to even pray. That’s why I found her so approachable and her faith so appealing. We would go out to dinner and she would share with me her pain and her faith. At this point, my own life was slowly falling apart and my depression was consuming me more and more. I would be haunted during the night by guilt and nightmares and even the sex and drugs couldn’t numb the pain effectively for long. I knew I was seriously in need of help. I would share my pain with Marge and she would listen. Never once did she condemn me, shame me, or offer advice… she just listened. I know now, that she was praying for me.

 One night in March of 1980, after bolting up from a nightmarish sleep, I began to talk to the Jesus she spoke of. I asked Him, “if Your are really alive, would You please do something for me!” An incredible peace settled upon me, and I fell into a beautiful sleep. On my way to work the next morning, the song, “You’ve Got a Friend”, by James Taylor, came on the radio. I began to cry like I had never cried in years. It was like a dam holding back years of pain and shame had burst. I wasn’t sure what had happened to me, but I knew I had been changed. Several days later, as I was rifling through an old box of books in our basement, I came across Billy Graham’s book, “How To Be Born Again”. Apparently at one time, my mom gave money to his organization and received the book. I poured over it and began to understand what had happened to me. I started asking Jesus to forgive me for all of my sins, and I pictured a toilet being flushed over and over again and filling up with clean water. I shared my new found faith with Marge and she was excited to hear my news! She went to a Lutheran Church in our area and they were hosting a weekly Wednesday video series on the Holy Spirit. She invited me to come with her and I did. I was scared to go, and didn’t understand much of the teaching, but I liked the peace and love I felt in the room. I realized that it was the peace and love of Jesus, that I had been trying to find in the bars, the drugs and the one-night stands. 

I wish I could tell you that my life has been a bed of roses since that wonderful day. That it has been nothing but success upon success, but that would be a lie. It would also make those of you reading this, who still struggle with life as a Christian, feel guilty and inadequate. My life, in the 34 years since I received Jesus, has been marked by joy, pain, disappointment, success, sickness and healing.  

A little after a year of my being born again, I married a young man named Steve. I met him at a Christian coffeehouse in downtown Minneapolis. He was playing drums in a band called “Potter’s Clay”. I had begun to go to the numerous Christian coffeehouses in the area for entertainment on the week-ends. It was a rough time for me in my social life, as the Christian kids didn’t want anything to do with me, because I still smoked cigarettes and had a tough background, and my old party friends didn’t want to hang out with me, because I just wanted to talk about Jesus. It was a lonely time and the pain of rejection from the church kids taught me a life-long lesson about accepting people right where they are.   

                                                                                             Steve’s adult life was also affected by his upbringing. Unlike me, he was raised in a Christian home, but one that was taught and modeled a performance-based faith. He was raised to believe that your acceptance by Christ, was fully based on your actions. You screw up, condemnation was readily dispensed and God’s favor removed. You do the list of right things and don’t do the list of bad things, (determined by your denomination), and you might have a chance at earning God’s love. His faith yo-yo’d, depending on whether he felt good enough to approach God. What an interesting combination of belief systems we brought to our marriage! It is indeed a miracle that we have made it 34 years! 
We got married in a Baptist Church, on August 15, 1981. Our first major trial occurred in our tenth month of marriage. Steve was working in a fiberglass factory and suffered an over-exposure to acetone. He was working in a small booth with an open container of acetone. He was inhaling it 8 hours a day and it was slowly poisoning the frontal lobe of his brain and liver. He began exhibiting symptoms of jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), mental confusion and paranoia, massive diarrhea, and weight loss. He was hospitalized for 2 weeks with heavy-metal poisoning and began a life-long struggle and rehabilitation. He was finally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, secondary to 30% frontal lobe damage. He has had many ups and downs, years of stability and years of disability. He has felt at times, that the Lord had abandoned him, but over the years he has seen God mold him into a deeply, humble, compassionate and gracious man. He currently works full-time with juveniles at a residential treatment facility and has for almost 5 years. He is passionate about his work and has a special amount of empathy for the kids who struggle with mental health issues. 

My life, as a Jesus follower, has also been marked with highs and lows. Steve and I have been blessed with three beautiful, healthy children, and blessed with a daughter, Jesi Marie, who only stayed with us for 11 hours. Our oldest daughter, Valissa, is 30, a wife, a mother of 2, and a family therapist. Megan, our middle daughter, is 27, engaged to be married next fall, a software billing specialist, and our son, Luke, is 24, and is a wild land firefighter for the United States Forest Service, stationed in Silver Lake, Oregon. Our children were all born when Steve was working as a Computer Support Analyst and his mental and physical condition were under control. The kids have been exposed to years when their dad worked full-time and provided well and years when he was not doing well and money was scarce. I stayed home with them, the majority of their childhoods. After Valissa was born, I had a terrible time with post-partum depression and sought medical treatment . Due to my family history of depression, I was started on an anti-depressant and an anti-psychotic. This was the beginning of a nightmare of many psychiatric medications that almost led to my mental and physical destruction.  

For those of you who are currently on medications, I will only say a few things. The pharmaceutical industry is still very naive on how these medications work and the horrible side effects. Many of the drugs are addicting even though they use the term ‘tolerance’. You will go through a horrendous withdrawal, when stopping and switching medications. You may think that the medications are safe, because your Doctor prescribes them, but they are not. I will not list ALL of the prescriptions I was given over the years, but Klonopin, an anti-anxiety was the worst. I became addicted to it, and it stole many years from me and my family. It is just like any street drug and just as nasty. I was prescribed it in 1995, after having a panic attack. I was told that is was an anti-seizure med that they realized had a calming effect on patients and began to use it to treat anxiety. I battled this addiction for 13 years. Not unlike any other drug-user, I became a different person under its influence. My children saw their self-less, caring mother become a selfish and self-absorbed person. I was up to a very high dose in 2008, and barely able to function. My depression and anxiety were still at a devastating level and I was told by my doctor that I was no longer treatable with medications. That my only option was Electric Shock Treatment. I refused this route of treatment. He began to take me off of all my medications and I plunged into Hell itself.  

Many months of black depression, intense anxiety, sleepless nights, uncontrollable tremors, itching and minor seizures. I had lost all hope and was wishing I would just die. My faith in Jesus, had become only a memory by this time. But in the pit of my darkness, I began to read the Old Testament book of Job. I could relate to Job’s pain and agony, and began to pray again. As much as I would like to tell you that I was healed and restored overnight, it was a 4 to 5 year process. 23 years of medications, had clouded my brain, poisoned my liver and severely impaired my judgment, I have been medication free now for years and am still healing and catching up on the normal maturation process. My liver functions have returned to normal. I sleep peacefully most nights, my children and I are in the process of being restored, and I have been employed part-time for over 3 years. 

                                                        


Most important today, is my relationship with Jesus. He has been my healer, restorer, and faithful companion. I have cried out to Him daily and He has been faithful to hear and answer my prayers. I have poured over His Word and promises and clung to them for sanity.

 I have many, many favorite verses, but my two favorites today are:  

Job 22:21Submit to God, live at peace with Him. And in this way, prosperity will come to you” 

and 1 Thessalonians. 4:11“And make it your every effort to live a quiet and peaceful life: minding your own business, working well with your hands, so that your daily life may win the respect of others and that you will not be dependent on anyone”.  

It is still very painful and shameful for me to talk about these horrible years, but if my story helps someone or gives them hope, it will have been worth it. God bless you. 

                                   ~ Carol Johnson 
Carol has been married to Steve for 34 years and a follower of Jesus for 35 years. She is the mother of 3 beautiful adult children and grandmother to 2 wonderful grandbabies. She works as a leasing agent at an apartment complex in St. Louis Park, MN. She loves music and has had the privilege to be a part of several worship ministries over the years singing and playing guitar.