#98 Four Hours Alone with God

 Photo by Laura Wilkerson Photography

I was 23 years old and I had “known” God my whole life but I hadn’t really committed or surrendered my life to Him. I went on a prayer retreat with 20 guys at Land Between the Lakes. My pastor told us to go out for four hours and pray by ourselves. I was thinking to myself, “What am I going to do for four hours? How am I going to pray for that long?” For the first hour I was just trying to get into prayer and trying to get the distractions of the world out of my head. I was still thinking about what I needed to do at home and all the things I could be doing. I was trying to break away from the world, but I was just in my head. I spent the second hour just feeling a little conflicted. I was both embarrassed and convicted that I had been thinking about myself and my life only for the past hour. I hadn’t been thinking about anyone else; I was just thinking about me. Then, in the third hour, I walked to the water and began to pray. During this time, God moved in a powerful way and gave me a Bible verse, 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” When I thought about this verse, I realized that anxiety had been killing me.

This verse resonated with me so much because there are no other verses in the Bible that directly say, “He cares for you.” I remember saying it out loud over and over. I was walking around the lake yelling that verse—shouting it! After saying it several times, the verse changed to something much more personal. I could hear in my spirit God saying to me, “Matthew, cast your anxiety on me because I care for you right now, because I love you right now.” I began to really understand all these different attributes of God—that He loved me and cared about me.

I began to walk around the lake taking in the beauty of everything. I was looking at the lake and suddenly realized that there were so many waves in the water. There was no wind and no reason that the water should’ve been so rough and restless. As I watched the waves, I thought to myself, “That restless water is like my spirit.” I saw that there was a rock by the water that never got covered by the waves coming in and out. It should’ve been covered, but somehow it was the only rock that wasn’t getting wet or getting swept away. Finally, a wave came and water covered the rock. At that moment, I knew I needed to be baptized. I wanted to be covered in water just like that rock, so I ran to my pastor and told him I wanted to get baptized.


The other guys on the trip gathered around me and prayed for me and I felt the overwhelming presence to bow down before the Lord and pray. After we prayed, we ate lunch and all went down to the shoreline and I was baptized at the lake. It was the perfect moment.

A few hours later we had dinner by the lake where I was baptized. I felt such a peace in that time, and there are two events that happened then that I will always cherish. One man said to me, “It was great having those six guys praying over you.” When he said that, the only thing on my mind was that I had felt seven hands when they were praying over me. I had six guys huddled around me and I could feel everyone’s hands on me, but ten to fifteen seconds into the prayer, a hand came from nowhere on my back—a hand that was so powerful and strong. It was warm and firm, yet soft and tender at the same time. And the placement of the hand was right in the center of my back. I honestly believe that extra hand I felt was the hand of God.

The second thing that happened that I will cherish forever is looking out at the lake and seeing that the once restless lake full of choppy waves was now the stillest, most peaceful lake I have ever seen. I felt like the stillness of the lake reflected my renewed and peaceful spirit after being baptized. I kept thinking, “God, I love you.” From that moment, I have been dedicating every day of my life to Him.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#80 Trying To Take God’s Job From Him


Photo by Erin E. Photography

It’s about two in the morning. I’m sound asleep, and my phone rings. Tired and confused, I look at my phone and see that my older brother is calling me. I pick up the phone and he frantically says, “I need you to go check on Dad; I don’t think he’s okay.” So I spring out of bed and run downstairs to find that the door to my dad’s workshop is locked with hard rock music blasting from the inside. I bang on the door, preparing to knock it down, when he opens it and is intoxicated to the point he can’t stand by himself or hold a conversation. I immediately rush my dad to the hospital, where I sit with him for six hours as he cries and begs the doctors to let him die. They were able to save him and kept him for an extra two days to ensure he wouldn’t try it again.

In the wake of this disaster, I was left depressed, confused, filled with anxiety, and unable to sleep—for every time I closed my eyes, all I could hear was my father crying. I tried drowning my problems with food, with counseling, and even with staying so busy I had no time to think. Not even blasting music through my headphones at night helped me to escape. The worst part of all of it is that I couldn’t drive past my parents’ neighborhood, let alone hug my own mother, without having a panic attack. I also blamed myself for all the madness my little brother had to witness, because I was no longer there to shelter him from it.

After months of depression, I started to forget who I was and what my purpose in life was, and I found myself sitting in my car late at night, questioning whether or not anyone would notice if I was gone, and thinking to myself about how easy it would be to simply leave the car on, fall asleep, and never wake up. Instead of deciding to go through with it, I called one of my friends, Keith, who offered to let me stay on his couch for a few days to help me get past it. He helped me to get over my depression and taught me how to rely on God more than I ever thought I could. He taught me how to give my depression over to Him.

But no matter how hard I tried, the anxiety that came from seeing or talking to my parents just wouldn’t go away. I was so torn. I tried giving my parents more and more tries by spending time with them, hopefully convincing them that their drinking was a problem, but they would only get offended and continue drinking. The worst part of it was that I still felt anxious being around them, so I felt guilty for not wanting to help or see them. My other option was to just avoid them entirely and pray for them, but this seemed to only do harm because they would constantly call me to tell me they were angry at me for avoiding them.

For months I went back and forth between these two options, only to discover that neither would work. I eventually had a conversation with my mentor who told me that a lot of my anxiety was coming from the fact that I was not fully trusting in the power of the Gospel to move in my parents’ lives and that I was taking their salvation in my own hands, not realizing that all I can do is preach the Gospel to them when they are willing to listen, knowing that salvation rests in God’s hands. He also told me that I was being the parent, when God is calling me to be the child. I prayed to God, asking for forgiveness for trying to take His job from Him, and I asked Him to take it back. I prayed that God would work a miracle in my family and that He would bring us together again.

I got a call from my dad not too long afterwards, telling me that he and my mother were waking up early every morning to read the Bible together, and that he threw all of the alcohol out of his house to get over his addiction. Finally, I no longer get anxious at the sight or thought of my parents, and I no longer daydream about what it would be like to no longer be alive. God has healed my family and He has healed me.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#68 Breaking Chains Of Generational Dysfunction

Photo by Ashely Brown, Shining Light Photography 

When you’re little, you’re usually oblivious to all the things that have happened around you or within your family. You don’t understand why some family members don’t come around on holidays anymore or why family fallouts happen.

Growing up, I felt like I was the mediator for my entire family. I saw the brokenness that was passed down from generation to generation, along with the drug use, anxiety, psychological disorders, OCD, verbal abuse, depression, and mental illnesses that flooded my family tree. Suicide completion and attempts made its way into my family on multiple occasions. I loved my family so much and enjoyed holidays spent together. I hated to see so much selfish conflict separate a powerhouse genealogy such as mine, when I had faith in each of their potential.

After many years of watching hate and true dysfunction divide my family into bitterness, I decided I no longer wanted this awful family curse to have an effect on my life or have the possibility of being passed down to my kids. When you make a bold decision to follow Christ and be the chain-breaker, the devil keeps up and does everything in his might to distract you, knock you off track, and feed you with lies.

From seventh grade to the end of my junior year in high school, I struggled with spiritual warfare. The thing is, I didn’t know it was spiritual warfare. It was hard to fight a battle blinded by Satan’s schemes. It was hard to find joy in my trials and confidently take up my cross daily when I didn’t realize I was being attacked by the devil; I thought that all the lies flooding my mind were genetic and I was just a depressed member of the family like everyone else. I fought loneliness, self-worth, and had an identity crisis. It was true that you could be surrounded by people and still feel lonely.

I was bullied in seventh grade, so I felt like a burden to everyone around me. I soon gained interests in things that would only leave me empty and confused. I spent many months hiding things from people because I thought they would think I was a hypocrite and not a true follower of Christ. My life was a sinful cycle of doing certain things to find happiness and then seeking help in the wrong people (who didn’t have my best interests at heart), and then being paranoid that they would let my secrets out and expose my actions. It was exhausting keeping up this persona and realizing that what I thought was “freedom” was actually self-imprisonment that held me in chains and created a life of despair.

My depression got so bad my junior year that I would cry for no reason. I thought, “What is wrong with me? Why am I so crazy? Why can’t all this just stop?” My “hunky dory” personality became altered and I was very short-tempered and unintentional; I hated who I had become. My life changed radically when I hit rock bottom at a NeedToBreathe concert. I was with my friends and my sister, and everyone was having a good time, including myself—and then I had an anxiety attack. I cried in the middle of the concert for reasons I couldn’t explain. I felt dazed and was wondering why an awesome night was being ruined by my craziness. I wanted to go home; I did not want to be there. I wanted the unexplained pain to stop. Redemption abounded when my sister pulled over the car on the way home and prayed over me. She told the devil to flee from me and to stop attacking me so I could live for Christ. She yelled at Satan for all the years of personality and heart deterioration he did in my life.

It wasn’t but maybe a week later and I felt completely fine! I could breathe again. I felt like all my past worries and anxieties and living a counterfeit lifestyle were washed away. I felt restored after just that one prayer. The devil lost his battle with me when he was finally exposed. Even though that time was spent in oceans of manipulation, along with chasing vacant desires, I wouldn’t trade those hardships for anything.

The Lord has promised good to me and He will never steer me the wrong direction. He allowed me to share my testimony with a girl who was battling depression in my small group at church. I prayed over her like my sister did and exposed the devil of his awful attacks. My five-year battle reminds me of Psalm 23 when God left the herd of sheep to go find that single lost one. He didn’t acknowledge my brokenness and leave me there, but picked me up, called me His daughter, and restored my faith. He led me beside still waters and refreshed my soul because He knew I was worthy of redemption. Not only that, but He knew my story would be able to be used for His glory and to have my pain used as a megaphone to announce His faithfulness.

I am not ashamed of what I went through because that’s not who I am. I see my struggles as a place where I was lost, and where God came and found me. It’s not a story of what I’ve done, but about where I was and what HE did for me. It’s been about two years since I struggled with depression and internal mental conflict. I still have problems from time to time—like all humans—but I certainly am not in the darkest of places where I was before. I am now working on two applications to become an R.A. for the resident halls and to become a counselor for a camp in North Carolina so I can love on people and share my testimony with those searching for help. I want to share with them the One who rescued me from the situations I got myself in. His name is Jesus, and He alone can restore and fulfill a rebellious heart that was totally shattered. I truly believe that day by day I am breaking the chains of generational family depression and dysfunction and will use the power of the Holy Spirit to mend my family’s brokenness.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#21 He Heard Me! He Answered Me!

Photo by Killian Rose Photography 

My freshman year of college I went to Naples, Florida, with my boyfriend (who is now my handsome husband) and his parents for spring break. To give a little background, it is important to know I struggled with severe and at times crippling anxiety for years prior to this event, really since I was in middle school. I grew up in a Christian home and and went to a Christian school my whole life, so I knew about God and that He sent His only Son Jesus to die for our sins. I had heard scripture and the truths within it my whole life, but I struggled to believe real grace applied to me. I struggled to understand that no matter what I did or thought, His blood and sacrifice was truly more than enough to cover it all. For me. I had no trouble believing it for everyone else, but why for myself?

This struggle and inability to feel truly forgiven and saved caused me to put God on the back burner toward the end of high school and into my freshman year of college. I invested my heart and time into my friends, school, and my social life, to try and distract myself from not feeling forgiven or that I was enough for Jesus. I continued down this path and started to feel farther and farther away from God. Friends and school weren’t enough to keep me distracted. I wanted more; I needed more. I needed to be reassured God was with me and loved me and I was enough. 

This brings me to spring break in Naples my freshman year. I remember so vividly sitting by myself down by the pool, trying to read my Bible and seek hope that He was still there with me. I randomly thought about Gideon and the sign he asked God to give him in making the fleece wet but the ground dry, and then to make the fleece dry and the ground wet. This was to reassure him that God would use him to save Israel (see Judges 6:36–40).

I thought to myself, God answered Gideon—maybe He would answer me if I asked him to give me a sign to reassure me He was with me. I thought of a butterfly in my mind; specifically, a picture of a yellow butterfly popped into my head. So I took the leap of faith. As I sat there beside the pool by myself I prayed, “Lord, if You are truly real and really here with me now, please send me a butterfly as a sign that You love me and are with me.” I sat there quietly for a few minutes, staring at the water in the pool and wondering if it was wrong what I had asked God to do, not having enough faith on my own.

As a stared at the water, a beautiful yellow butterfly flew right in the line of my vision, almost as if God was saying, “This is too good; you can’t miss this!” I thought my heart was going to explode. He heard me! He answered me. He was with me and loved me so much that He would send me not just any butterfly, but a yellow butterfly, just like I saw in my mind!! It was the sweetest, most affirming and faith-building moment in my life.

This was five years ago and every time I think back to it, it still reminds me of God’s amazing goodness and loving patience in so clearly reaffirming His love and presence in my life. Today I walk in so much more confidence, knowing our Father’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice in becoming sin on the cross for us is and forever will be more than enough for me and for all of His children

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#11. Diamonds In The Dark

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

 We all go through difficult times. Sickness, stress, pain, financial challenges, relational difficulties, loss, sadness, loneliness, grief, heartache—the list goes on. We struggle through these difficulties, crying out to the Lord for help. Out of His great loving kindness and mercy He hears us and sends us the help we need, rescuing us from our distress.

Most of our challenges are short-lived. But there are times when the Lord allows us to go through an extended season of difficulty or suffering. We cry out to the Lord like always, but this time there are no answers, no comforting presence, no immediate rescue or joyful deliverance. God seems hidden and painfully silent. Time slows down. Doubts creep in. The Holy Spirit seems far and the Enemy seems near.

It is very dark.

Having gone through numerous seasons of debilitating anxiety and depression, I am well acquainted with times of darkness. During these seasons of crushing despair, I would often cry out to God: “What is going on? Have you completely forgotten about me? Why won’t You answer my prayer? How can good possibly come out of this intense pain? Is there purpose in this darkness?”

Recently the Lord spoke to me about this dilemma of darkness. Fond as He is of using parables, He used a story to bring the message home to me. It was my story—one about a lost diamond—that had occurred over a year ago.

I was sitting on my couch that day when I happened to glance down at my hand and see that my engagement ring was empty. After searching carefully through my entire house to no avail, I decided to google “How do I find a lost diamond in my house?” There was one suggestion that kept coming up again and again: Turn off all the lights in the house and get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight and shine the flashlight across the floor. If it shines on the diamond, it will sparkle brightly and you will easily be able to spot it.

This made sense to me, and with renewed hope, I found a flashlight, turned off all the lights and started in the laundry room. Incredulously, within one minute I was holding my diamond in my hand, after seeing it sparkle vividly from underneath the dryer.

As I pondered this amazing story, I felt the Lord speak clearly to me:

“Kelly, it was the darkness that enabled the diamond to be found.”

As I let the truth of that statement soak in, I realized that indeed, I never would have found the diamond in the daylight. It was the darkness that revealed it.

Darkness, in the life of a child of God, does have purpose. Sometimes the most valuable lessons and insights the Lord wants to teach us can only be learned in the dark. Our faith—of greater worth than gold and diamonds—is being refined and strengthened during these trying times as we are conformed into the image of Jesus. Though the process is painful, God doesn’t want us to be afraid of the dark.

There are diamonds to be found in it.

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.

Isaiah 45:3

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#7 He Sees the One

Photo Nicole Tarpoff

When I was in college, I went through a season of rebelling against the Lord, but He brought me back around. I felt like the first thing He wanted me to do was to switch from music school to nursing school. Nursing school was a lot harder than my music major. I began to realize that I had some real problems with anxiety. I got so anxious that I would throw up before exams and sometimes had to leave the exams because I felt so ill. I couldn’t focus on the questions; I couldn’t even process them. Other students would be finished and turning their exams in, and I would be on question number two.

Pharmacology was a particularly difficult course for me. The teacher was kind and let me take the exams in a private room by myself to help my anxiety—but even so, I made a D- on the first exam and an F on the second. After this, my teacher met with me and told me that I would have to get A’s on the rest of the exams to pass pharmacology and that I had to pass pharmacology to stay in nursing school. This was so confusing to me because I truly felt God called me to nursing school.

This was a Friday night and I really just wanted to stay home by myself. I was broken. But my friend insisted that I go to church with her that night. I cried all through worship. There was a guest speaker and in the middle of his sermon he just stopped and said, “If I don’t share this now the rest of what I say won’t be anointed. Is there someone here who wants to be a nurse but feels like they can’t? Raise your hand.”

My friend said, “That’s you!” 

Now, there were close to 1,000 people in attendance and someone else raised their hand before me. I wasn’t sure about it. I was raised Baptist and we just didn’t do that kind of thing. I hadn’t really been to a church before that didn’t follow the bulletin. I halfway raised my hand while the other person was already sprinting toward the front. I made my way to the front as well, but much more timidly. 

The speaker prayed for her and it seemed harmless, so I let him pray for me too. He looked intently at me—right into my eyes—and said, “Oh, honey—it’s you. The enemy has been telling you that you are dumb since you were little and the Lord wants you to know this isn’t true.”

I hadn’t said a word up to this point, but he knew and said, “Do you want all this anxiety to leave?”

I said, “Yes.”

He prayed for the anxiety to leave me and I felt something very heavy lift off of me. He said, “The Lord has called you to be a nurse and the enemy is doing everything he can to stop it but it’s not going to work. The Lord is going to use you in miraculous ways as a nurse.”

After this I had no more anxiety. I made A’s on the rest of my pharmacology exams. It was such a big difference that my teacher pulled me over to the side and asked me how I was cheating! I gave my testimony and she said, “I need that person to pray for me!” 

While I was still in nursing school, I had a dream that I would be working as a nurse at a specific university in their children’s hospital. In my dream, I was in scrubs walking down the hallway of this hospital. When I graduated from college with my degree in nursing, there were no job openings in the university children’s hospital that I had dreamed about. So I applied for a job at Shriners Hospital for Children in the same town.

While I was there on my interview, the manager said she didn’t think Shiners was a good fit for me and thought the university children’s hospital would be better since I had pediatric experience at Vanderbilt and had a passion for working with kids who have cancer. After our interview, the manager already had a walk scheduled with the head of the university children’s hospital. They were friends and regularly met to walk together, and the Shriners manager said she would tell the director at the university hospital to make a position for me and hire me—the university wasn’t hiring at that time. 

Soon after this I was called in for an interview at the university children’s hospital. When I was on my interview there, the hallways looked exactly as I had dreamed about them. I have been working there nearly 10 years now. I started a Bible study on my unit and 40 nurses attended; five gave their lives to Christ and got baptized. God has miraculously healed two children whom I have prayed with.

I came away from this experience seeing how real the enemy is and how he works against God’s plan for us from the time we are children. I also saw how in a room of 1,000 people, God saw the one—He saw me. He knows everything about me and cares about me. There is a freedom available in God that I didn’t know existed before this happened. God set me free of anxiety in a moment. Only God can do that and only God can bring about the plans He has for us. They are always too big for us. That’s why He is the One to be glorified!

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.