#189 I Shouldn’t Be Here


Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. I am a twin, born on Christmas Day with Christine; the youngest of four children, along with eldest sister Janet and older brother Billy. My dad was a New York City police officer. When I was 8 years old, my father told our family he would no longer be living with us. He left my mother for another woman. That was the day our world changed. My mother was a devout Catholic and never dated or remarried. She spent her time working to provide for and take care of us. She had a really rough time, and we kids took full advantage of her having to be away from the house. I lost my virginity when I was 14 years old and really could have been raped. My brother was in the next room when it happened. I was under the influence of barbiturates. My brother tore into and hit me all the way home because of what happened. I had no self-worth or confidence because of my dad leaving us. I felt total rejection, as if he had walked out on me.

When I was 17, I dropped out of high school and started working in the women’s sportswear buying department for J.C. Penney’s corporate office in Manhattan. I was the sample size, so I was always the model to try on clothes vendors would bring to show to buyers. I received a lot of attention and found myself extremely vulnerable to the desires of the corporate executives. Lots of wining and dining back then, and I slept with a few. I drank a lot to self-medicate and deal with life. I got engaged when I was 17, then broke it off. I got married when I was 23, which didn’t last. It was abusive. All the while I was drinking, smoking weed, and snorting cocaine.

Prior to my divorce, I left J.C. Penney in 1983 and started working for American Airlines in New York. I went to Dallas for five weeks training, where I had an affair. I brought home a letter from the man with whom I’d had the affair. My husband found the letter, then filed for divorce. I transferred to Los Angeles thinking maybe things would change for the better. My first six months in LA, I got arrested for drunk driving. Whenever I found myself feeling guilty about bad choices and having low self-esteem, I would go to church, and sit and talk to God. I had three abortions. I couldn’t even think of having a child after having the abortions. I was young and selfish. Over the years the guilt weighed heavily. In LA, I felt the need to go back to the Catholic church where I grew up on Long Island and confess my sins. I flew back to New York, went to confession and unloaded on the priest. I will never forget the impact of what he said to me. It did not make me feel absolved of my sins or forgiven. It drove me deeper into despair. He made me feel worthless and condemned. I got on the plane back to LA and drank so much I passed out. I remember waking up in the galley in the back of the aircraft. They had an ambulance meet me plane-side to take me to the hospital when we landed.

I met my second husband in LA, who also worked for American. We got married in 1988. In 1990, we transferred to Nashville, Tennessee. I was his fourth wife. He was older with two grown kids, so we were not going to have children. When his second grandchild was born, I had a yearning for a child and that brought back the guilt and grief of what I had done. I felt I was being punished by God. My second husband was not affectionate and often showed no compassion. That was appealing in the beginning, as it made him appear to be strong and manly, but after time that didn’t work. I was extremely unhappy in this marriage and really wanted to just die. I didn’t even want to go home after work. I would pull into the garage and just wanted to leave the car running. It was yet another dark time in my life. I wound up having another affair. I was scared to death when my husband almost caught me with the other man in our own home. I was still intoxicated from the night before. I was scared and couldn’t face him or myself. I knew where he kept his gun and wanted to kill myself. I was about to take the gun, but my husband took it from me. I went outside to smoke, pacing, wondering what was I going to do. I went back inside, and my husband had just hung up with Baptist Hospital about rehab. I was really remorseful, stopped the affair, and went to rehab. Yet, I still knew I needed to do something about my marriage. After rehab I became a dry drunk. I was sober but miserable and, after three years, I started drinking again and the cycle continued.

On July 11, 2001, we were at a float party with friends. People were jumping off a cliff into the water all afternoon. I wasn’t drunk but had been drinking. I decided to jump off the cliff for the thrill of it. I closed my eyes as I jumped, and as my back-side hit the water I knew something bad had happened. My L1 vertebrae was crushed on impact. I couldn’t move. Thank God there were people there to get me to our boat. There was a young man on our boat studying to be a paramedic. He told them not to lift me, but to get the chaise lounge and put it under me to get me out of the water. If they had lifted me under my arms, I would have been paralyzed. I was airlifted to a trauma hospital. The next day, I had a seven-hour surgery and spinal fusion. While I was recuperating, 9/11 hit. Nine days later, I lost my job. I had been with the airline for 19 years.

In 2004 I asked my husband for a divorce. I moved into an apartment in the complex where my mom was living in Nashville. I had been seeing another man who was also married. This man’s wife called my husband and told him I was having an affair. It was not good. She and my ex-husband ended up together later. I was at wits end and again in a very dark place. I truly didn’t want to live anymore. I drank a lot of bourbon and took about half a bottle of the prescription meds I had for my back. I laid down to let death take me. I woke up around 3:30 in the morning and thought, “Wait…I’m not supposed to be here.” I stumbled into the living room and I called the suicide hotline. They wanted me to go to the hospital, but I told them I was okay. I went to work that morning, called my mom and asked if she could meet at the Cathedral so we could talk. I wanted to confess to her what I had done. We cried. I said, “Mom, there is a reason God didn’t take me. I don’t know what it is, but I shouldn’t be alive.”

A month later, I met Steve. He became a part of my life and started me on a journey out of darkness. He was unlike anybody I had ever met. He was a complete gentleman. God placed him in my life. I always felt it was divine intervention. I started to feel more secure about myself with him. I still had a drinking problem, but he never said anything about my drinking. My best friend, Karen, said, “Doesn’t it bother it you that Steve doesn’t accept invitations anymore because of your drinking?” That was the brick that hit me over the head. I had my last drink that night. My first day of sobriety was October 30, 2007. I didn’t realize my drinking was hurting him. I got sober and he was with me every step of the way. I regularly attended AA meetings. I had been hired back with American and got my old job back in the Admirals Club. I had really wanted my job back. It was all God. Things were going well with Steve, I had stopped drinking, I was attending AA and my relationship with God was growing.

God was always with me. God was always on my mind. But I didn’t feel worthy of Him because of all of the bad things I had done. God put people in my life help me, to speak life and truth to me. Steve believed in God. He said I needed that “deep water, foot-washing, believing kind of faith.” I had no idea what he was talking about at the time. My AA sponsor said, “You just have to trust in God.” Then the light went on and I knew what Steve meant. That was the kind of deep trust I needed in God. But I needed more. I needed forgiveness.

In 2009, I went to a three-day retreat with the church. The first night was confessing our sins to God. Dying to self. I wrote down all my sins and nailed them to the cross. It was a very powerful night. It did something to me. God was working in me, drawing me to Him. That started my journey of wanting more of God. I found myself going to daily mass. I had community but longed to have that deep intimate love and relationship with God. It was still the fear of God that held me back. It could also be that I never forgave myself for all the wrong I’d done.

In 2012, my twin sister, Christine, suffered a massive heart attack. She was on life support and Steve and I were able to get the last two seats on a plane to New York. When I was with her, I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew she was going to be okay. I knew she was safe and was going to be in the arms of Jesus. I was with her when she took her last breath. I had my head nestled next to her ear. We came into the world together and we were together at her death. As sad as it was, it was beautiful and I was at peace.

In September 2014, I retired from American and Steve and I moved to Kingsport, Tennessee, where he was originally from. I took a new job as a travel agent. On November 21st, I came home from work to find Steve slumped over in his truck at our house. He’d had a heart attack. They pronounced him dead at the hospital. Then my mom got sick. I lost her five weeks to the day after I lost Steve, and two years to the day after I lost my twin sister. But in all this sadness and grief, I remained sober and had peace. I was still on my journey, learning to know God and reading His word. I would pray the AA Third Step Prayer over and over again. This prayer spoke to me the first time I read it, and it still does:

God, I offer myself to You, to build with me and to do with me as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life. May I do Your will always!  

After my mom died, I left the Catholic church and started going to a non-denominational church. I felt totally connected at the new church. After Steve died, I still needed to clean out our home in Nashville and move it all to Kingsport. To say the least, it was mentally overwhelming and more than I could handle.  There was a guy I had worked with at American in Nashville who is a Christian, very service-oriented. He offered to help me. Frank was really good company and I couldn’t have done it without him. I invited him to go to church with me. His godliness really attracted me to him. His love for God is a beautiful thing. After a year of being friends, we became really good friends! I moved back to Nashville and Frank and I were married in March 2017. God is number one in my life, and I’m the happiest I have ever been. We go to Cornerstone Nashville church and are part of the PrimeLife senior care ministry.  

I have learned that God is all-forgiving and merciful. He is love and just wants us to love Him. I love to love and I love to be loved. All my life I had been looking for love in the wrong places as the song goes. I didn’t know what true love was until I met Jesus Christ. I have learned, as painful as it is, you must get real with yourself, confess your sins and surrender your heart to God’s will in total obedience. You will be amazed at how your life will change when you fully surrender to the King. You must give up all your secret sins. When I nailed my sins to the cross that was a turning point for me. There is nothing quite like the peace that comes from Christ, and I know that is the power of God. Now I stretch out my hands to Him in prayer and give thanks to Him in all circumstances. My main focus now is on eternity and not on the things of this world. There is so much freedom in that.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).

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.

#165 He is Our Source


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

He is our Source. Genesis, the book of beginnings, tells us that our almighty, loving, powerful, and sovereign God spoke all creation into existence, and after seeing it, declared: “This is good.” After speaking creation into being, He created man and woman in His image. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” He created us with our five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. I think one important reason He blessed us with our five senses is to enable us to recognize His mighty power and absolute authority.


A breathtaking sunset; a stunning sunrise; walking on the beach with your feet sinking in the warm sand and feeling the warm salty breezes ushered off ocean waves that pound the infinite shoreline reaching as far as the eye can see; a clear night sky; scattered stars twinkling brightly against a pitch-black background—again, as far as the eye can see; and this past year, we all witnessed a blood moon, a super moon, I could go on and on. All these examples of  breathtaking Creation  come and go, some each and every day—but,  just as our Creator spoke all creation into being, Creation speaks His Truth, and the Truth points to our almighty, loving, powerful, and sovereign God, our Creator, the Source.

This past summer, while tending my little flower garden, our Creative Creator met and blessed me there and whispered truths in my ear—how He is the Gardener of Life, for after all, He began life in the Garden of Eden and laid down His life in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:42 says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup (of divine wrath) from me; yet not my will, but [always] yours be done.”

John 15:1-8 says, “Jesus is the true vine, God is the gardener and we are the branches.”


Little did I know how sweating and getting my hands dirty would yield far more than beautiful flowers, climbing vines, and two small palm trees that gently swayed in the summer breezes of long summer days. For the first time, I took cuttings from my little garden. When I first cut/pruned the vines away from their comfort zone—the moist, rich, mineral-infused soil they were thriving in—they wilted and were not “happy” in their new environment, a tall glass vase filled with water. To my surprise and delight after just a few days, almost supernaturally, these same wilted, unhappy cuttings seemed to latch onto the life-giving water before my very eyes! Isn’t it funny how something so seemingly small, like vine cuttings sitting on your kitchen counter, can speak to you? I almost felt Him asking me, “Aletia, do you thirst for me?” He promises in John 4:14, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal. life.” Ephesians 3:17–19 says, “I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the Lord’s people to grasp how wide, and how long and how deep is the love of Christ” (emphasis added). The Holy Spirit reminded me of the times God has pruned me or cut me out of or away from my comfort zone. I don’t like it one bit. I wilt, I’m uncomfortable, I struggle, and I focus on my old comfortable, comfort zone. I don’t like this new, uncomfortable place I find myself in. Until God, my Gardener, reminds me to focus on Him, who is my life-giving, living Water, and who is cutting, pruning, and growing me to be rooted in Him who has a new direction and purpose in store for me. I read a great quote: “Our daily need for water acts as our reminder to drink deeply of Jesus every day. He doesn’t just have what we need—He is what we need.”

In Hebrews 4:12, He promises us, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God, our Source, is all we need, and His creation speaks to and points us to Him, reminding us each and every day of this truth.

I saved the best “gift” for last. I started noticing several hummingbirds visiting my little garden. They were particularly fond of the Mandevilla Tropical Breeze “Velvet Red” flowers, visiting several times each day to feed. I was reminded of how my mother loved setting out her hummingbird feeder and filling it with the sweet nectar that kept these beautiful, tiny, speedy birds coming back for more. You see, it was her walk with the Lord and her faith that I watched and witnessed throughout my life—a sweet nectar, a wholesome fragrance that cultivated and nurtured in me the desire to want to walk with the Lord like my precious mother did. She was a vessel for Him and reflected His love, grace, and mercy every day in my life; it was her walk with God that pointed me to Him and that He is what I needed as I walk through this life “garden” with all its beauty, color, thorns, choking weeds, flowers, and fragrance. Mom was a living example to me of 2 Corinthians 2:14–16: “Wherever you go, I use you to tell others about me and to spread the gospel like a sweet perfume. There is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in your life. It is the fragrance of Christ within you.”

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.

#106. Missionaries in the Mountains: A Rushing Wave of Love


Photo by Amy Wallen Photography

I grew up in an abusive home and I thought I deserved all the abuse. As an adult, I went from relationship to relationship, choosing the wrong men and looking for love in all the wrong places. Because of my history of abuse, my definition of love was skewed. I didn’t understand what it was. I accepted things I shouldn’t have and was in relationships that were not real love.

After my four children were grown, I went through the Experiencing God Bible study. Then I discipled someone else through this same Bible study. Not long after, I moved in with my daughter and began going to church with her. Her church was doing the Experiencing God Bible study and I did the study again. God took me through this Bible study three times with a purpose. He knew what I needed. The first time grounded me and helped me dedicate time to prayer and study. I was taught how to hear God. The second time taught me to share and teach, preparing me for missions. The third time taught me to rejoice and lean into God even closer. It also ignited a deep longing for missions. 

I decided to go on a mission trip with a church group to the mountains of Kentucky. Before I left, a lady told me she felt I would be used by God to minister to the missionaries. I am a licensed massage therapist and when I arrived in the mountains with my massage table, the director of the ministry said, “I have been praying for you for eight years!” The director had experienced unrelenting pain for many years and my massage therapy was very helpful to him. God did use me to help . . . but He wasn’t finished. 

I ended up staying longer in the mountains than the rest of our group. I felt God was calling me to missionary work but I didn’t know what that meant. The director and his wife took me to a beautiful farm which was part of the ministry. I felt God’s presence so strongly there. The moment I stood overlooking the stables at the ministry’s farm, I remembered a vision God had given me three and a half years before. It was in that moment that a rushing wave of love washed over me. I knew without a doubt that God loved me. His love shone through powerfully in this moment. When you experience a love like this, it is unexplainable. The only thing you can do is to give it back to Him and share it with others.

I moved to the mountains, opened a Christian wellness and massage center, and became the director of the ministry’s gym. 

God led me from abuse—“dysfunctional love”—to Divine Love, and gave me a sincere heart to love others. It is all because of Him that I know what real love is and want to extend it to others. I am so thankful for His love.  

 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Ephesians 3:18

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.

#92 A Life of Kindness

 Photo by Erin E. Photography

This is my friend Joanie. She carries the kindness of God with such depth that one encounter with her will leave you changed. When I was about 10 years old, Joanie came into my life as a friend of my mom. Their friendship is a story for another day. For the first few years of their friendship, I would see Joanie periodically, but I did not know her well. Joanie was a single mom of four children, a student at Asbury, and had a full-time job. As you can imagine, she was a busy woman. But, she was never too busy. Never too busy to love. Never to busy serve. Never too busy for an encounter with God or His people.

When I was around 12, there was a day that I stayed home from school because of strep throat. This is certainly very common, and not something that I would expect anyone to think twice about. This particular case of strep throat taught me an important lesson about caring for others. Joanie showed up at our door that day with tea and limes and honey, a Haitian remedy for a sore throat. The way that she served me that day made me feel so cared for, even though I really didn’t believe my little case of strep throat was worth stopping for.

Fast forward a few years. I am 20, and I am sitting across the breakfast table from Joanie, chatting about life. I ask her to tell me a story, and she begins to tell me about a young girl named Holly. When Joanie was around 12, living in Haiti where she grew up, a young girl named Holly captured her attention. Holly was younger than Joanie, and was always dirty with torn clothes. Over the years, Joanie and Holly began to talk, and Joanie decided to start sharing her food with Holly. Joanie didn’t have much, but she did have a mom and a dad and she felt privileged. Holly had no mom and no dad, but she did have plenty of chores and responsibilities. Joanie thought it was too much for a young girl, and she continued to give her food or spare coins whenever she could. In Joanie’s words, “It’s just what you do. You have food and you share.” Eventually, Joanie went to college and got married and moved on. She didn’t see Holly again. Many years later, Joanie had moved to America and was at a thrift store in Florida. Another woman in the store recognized Joanie and asked if she knew her. It was Holly! It was only after they exchanged numbers and talked on the phone that Joanie realized who it was, and began to remember how she had helped her back in Haiti. Holly had found a way to the United States and to college! All these years, Holly had thought of Joanie as someone she couldn’t have made it without. Joanie was so moved by seeing Holly and hearing how her life had turned out. She couldn’t believe that her kindness to her so many years ago had such an impact! In her words, seeing Holly “reminded me of my real story. It was a teaching moment. That’s how God works, people to people.”

As I sit across the table listening to Joanie tell of this story, I can’t help but think of my own story about Joanie bringing me tea. I ask her if she remembers it. She doesn’t really. I am like Holly. Joanie’s kindness to me burns in my memory and continues to inspire me. But to Joanie, these moments are just her life. According to her, it’s just what you do.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” Ephesians 5:2

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.

#90 Lifted Out of Darkness


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In January of 2016, I was diagnosed with bipolar depression after being admitted to the Behavioral Health Unit at a local hospital for an almost-suicide attempt. After being diagnosed and put on medication, my moods started to level out and I began to feel “okay” again. 

Fast-forward to mid-June of last year: My moods suddenly shifted again, darkness surrounded my mind and heart, and I was having a lot of suicidal thoughts and had even planned my death and had begun to write a few letters that I was going to mail before I killed myself. I didn’t tell anyone that I was struggling again (though I’m sure my mood change might have been obvious to some friends) because I had been doing so well and was ashamed that I had fallen again. 

One day before I had planned to commit suicide, I was texting a friend. Almost out of nowhere, she responds to a text that I sent and says, “Look, I JUST got back from a funeral and I really don’t want to have to go to yours.” I hadn’t even hinted to her (at least I don’t think I did) that I was planning on taking my life the next day; and needless to say, I didn’t. 

Several weeks later, I asked her why she said what she did and her response was that God had told her to say it right then. She doesn’t know it, nor does anyone else for that matter, but her obedience to God in that moment saved my life. God used her words to break through deepest darkness that I had ever found myself trapped in and set me free. It’s clear as day that God placed her in my life for that moment so that He could bring glory to Himself through her obedience to Him and faithfulness to me as a friend. If He hadn’t shown Himself in that moment, I wouldn’t be alive to tell you how high, deep, wide, and strong His love is for us. 

Life has not been easy since then and, admittedly, I’ve still occasionally had suicidal thoughts. Instead of allowing the darkness to consume me, I think back to that moment and remember that there are people here on earth that love me deeply and that I have a Father that loves me immeasurably more than that. Thanks to a friend who showed friendship and obedience to that same Father, that moment, those words, that feeling of the deepest love has made all the difference in my life. 

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.

#89 That is True Love


Photo by Lucas Wiman

One day back in November I was in a pretty sour mood for most of the day. I was having bitter feelings toward a person who really had done me no wrong. These feelings kept attacking me throughout the day because I felt hurt by the person. 

I was feeling miserable by the time my campus ministry meeting started that night. The message spoke to my heart because it talked about how desperately we needed God to perform surgery on our hearts to free us from our sinful nature and habits. I went back to my dorm and felt drawn to my knees. I started to pray, “Father, show me what true forgiveness looks like.” He cut me off halfway through the word “forgiveness” and put an image in my head of Jesus on the cross. He was beaten and had blood pouring down from him. He was bruised and in great agony yet He called out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” God told me, “This is true forgiveness.” 

Then the vision in my head went back to just before Jesus was crucified. I was on the platform with Jesus; one of us was about to be set free, the other was going to the cross. I knew my sin and that I was deserving of the punishment, but in my selfishness I thought to myself, “I hope that they send Jesus to the cross, because if Jesus goes to the cross then I can be free.” Jesus looked over at me and says, “That is why I came; go and sin no more.” God said to me, “That is true love.” 

With that vision I was finally able to really grasp Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He taught me love and forgiveness in a very powerful way that left me in awe. How awesome our God is!

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.

#86 Gradual Change

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

My first outing after I was released from the hospital as a baby was to go to church. Fitting, as my dad is a pastor. 

I have grown up in the church, reciting Bible stories since I can remember, and I have always been deemed the “good child” of my five siblings. I came to college with a good foundation, ready to take on a broken campus. The devil had every intention of wrecking that plan and taking me down a different path. 

My freshman year I was simply lost. I was seeking approval in a long-time boyfriend, in the social scene of college, through my GPA, and just about every place that I knew I was going to be let down—that was where I was searching. 

My story does not have an earth-shattering moment where I turned my life around, but that is okay. Jesus wants to change your heart gradually over time, just like He wants to change it in a drop of a hat. That same year, I interviewed for a camp for the upcoming summer. I received the job and that summer changed my whole view on life. My heart was being renewed and God was showing me the “dirt” that was buried in my heart that I needed to remove. I learned that I no longer needed approval from a boy; I no longer needed the partying and drinking phase of college; I no longer needed a good GPA. What I needed was Jesus. That summer I learned how to solely depend on Him and fully trust Him with His plan for my life. That summer taught me that I am enough and I have all I need in Him. 

My second year of college has looked totally different. My life is so free! And it is my own! I am no longer bound by a boy, and I am no longer bound by the stereotypes of what college “should” be like, because Jesus tells me I am loved. And Jesus tells me that I am known by Him. How wonderful is it that the God of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE knows exactly what we need?! He knows the inmost part of our heart, He knows what we like for breakfast, He knows if we prefer coffee or tea, He knows what makes us happy, and He knows us better than anyone else. There is no boy, drink, party, grade, etc., that will ever compare to the love and freedom you can find in Jesus! And the amazing thing is that He wants to give it to you. He wants you to turn from whatever is holding you back, and He wants to wrap you in His arms tell you that you are loved and that you are enough. 

I have found my hope and it is in Christ and in Him alone. No one/nothing else will bring you the eternal hope that we have when we fully surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. And when you do, you will feel that freedom.

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.

#78 Just Four Words, “I Love You, Child.”


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In 2011, between high school graduation and moving onto campus at a private university in Louisville, I handed my life over to Jesus during one summer week with my church in Florida. And that made all the difference. I’d known a lot about God from a lifetime of Sunday school, but doubted He could be trusted; I had a thing for expecting everyone to harm me if I let them get close enough. So, choosing Christ would be “all things new”—or it would be nothing new. 

That fall, a few months into my newly-surrendered life, my life fell apart. Not that it was perfect before—but disordered eating and self-loathing were old habits and a well-hidden way of daily life. They were my miserable lot, I assumed, for being myself—however long I lasted. As tradition, my 18th birthday in September brought a visit from my grandpa. He understood me. He just did. He was proud of me, and if I close my eyes I can still see his crinkly, smiling blue eyes, and hear him humming “You are my Sunshine.”

But two weeks later, an afternoon brought a missed call and voicemail. I still hate voicemails. A family friend had accidentally called me instead of my dad. The only words I heard were, “David, I’m real sorry to hear about your dad”… Something, something, “sudden.” … Something, something, “if you need anything, let us know.” My world went dark. I remember making frantic calls to my mom and dad, and making a grief-stricken spectacle of myself on campus main. 

Grandpa. A violent stroke and tiny chance. An early morning drive to North Carolina—but no, he was gone already. Like Grandma four years before. Like Poppy two years before. Something broke in me. I lost it. In the weeks that followed, my barely-managed depression took control. Any efforts to keep college friends ceased; my vision blurred; everything happened to me from a mile away, like people tapping on exhibit glass. I was achingly lonely. I was terribly afraid. Nothing could break into my dark cloud; I couldn’t break out. And the enemy ramped up the old accusations, “No one even sees you and life would be better off without you.” I already believed that; the sharp, new grief made me desperate. Yet, just months before I’d stood on the ocean shore and told God I’d give Him my whole life, if He’d have me. The Bible said He would, so I’d begun reading every day and now kept on, fighting to catch a glimpse of Him—in case life with Him could save me. It’s not hyperbole when I tell you I whispered Isaiah 41:10 under my breath wherever I went those days, over and over: “So do not be afraid, for I Am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I Am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My mighty right hand.”

But fear filled me; dismay wracked my body with sobs when I was alone. I fled to my room whenever class let out, barely interacted with roomie and friends, rarely ate but did so alone, beat my body into submission at the gym with music drowning out the people. Alone. Alone. Alone. Better that way. Safer that way. “Help me, God.” Out of control. But I’ll remember this forever, and my life has turned into a shout of “My Abba is trustworthy,” because of this: Yahweh keeps His promises. He is with us and He holds us. 

I was stumbling to a late-semester exam on medical Latin and Greek roots, no thought in my mind but dully flipping my notecards, when I stepped foot onto the crosswalk between buildings, almost to class. Suddenly—no, a car didn’t hit me—a voice tore through the heaviness drowning me. Four words. While the world just mumbled and roared in the distance, the voice split the static like a trumpet blast, calm and matter-of-fact, softly like a wedding vow. Out of the blue; out of the blackness. I can’t say it was audible. No one else was in sight. But I heard it. I stopped. My cards dropped. And tears filled my eyes. I actually saw the sun shining. My fog cleared the tiniest bit. Rescue. Belonging. Hope. Just four words. “I love you, child.” That wasn’t my study material talking. It wasn’t self-talk (goodness knows I used a cruder vocabulary for myself). No, the Father’s voice broke in like the voice of a friend: I knew it, though that was the first time I’d heard it. “I love you, child.” Each one of those words meant a world within itself to me: All that He is. Loving. Me. His child. He saw me; He sees me. He loved me; He loves me. 

That day on the crosswalk, He began a process of healing wounds and growing courage in me that still carries me through daily life. His love changed me utterly, and changes me still. Simply, I found someone I could trust. Profoundly, His faithfulness meant that my old fear-driven patterns of playing small, starving myself, and putting up walls were not for me anymore (even if the process of laying those down is a marathon and sometimes feels impossible). In the following months and years, He kept calling me to leap out in faith and catching me when I jumped with arms outstretched. I transferred to Asbury University at His nudging, stepped into worship ministry in front of crowds, moved to the Dominican Republic for a summer, worked with middle-school kids, learned to be a leader on campus, and made friends who called out the courage in me and fought for me in prayer. The Father did that. I handed Him my life almost six years ago, and I have to laugh in awe and thanksgiving at the difference Jesus makes in a broken soul (and the way He continues to heal me of daily fear, and calls me “whole”). I stand here a new creation—all things are new.

I cried again writing this, feeling the pang of loss again. Pain is real (and we know that even Jesus wept). But these promises are just as real: The Lord is strong enough to hold you up and hold you together. You will not drown in grief or fear or rejection forever. When you receive His grace, the only thing that will last for eternity is His limitless love. And You are loved. Your hope for healing and freedom is well founded in Christ. Joy comes. In this life. I promise. I pray over these words as I scribble them down, that the Spirit weighs them down with mercy so you believe them now if you don’t already: The God who left heaven for earth to love us in person, who died to give us life, who conquered the grave once and for all, and who still scatters all darkness to shine resurrection light on tear-stained faces… He has loved you forever, and will love you forever, and He can be trusted. He does not rip the rug out from under you. He sees you and calls you by a better name than the painful ones seared onto your heart, by others or yourself. He hears you and He is at work bringing about what is good—that you would know Him and live fully in His love. He is right here, closer than breath, ready to speak if you ask Him (and sometimes if you don’t). 

This isn’t fluff. These aren’t platitudes to tide you over. This is reality. You can lean your whole weight on Christ; He will not give way beneath you. You can show Him everything about you; He will not walk away, but run to you. You can kneel at His feet, and hand over everything you have and all you think you are into His hands; He will not dash you to pieces. He will redeem your life from the pit. He will crown you with gladness, remove your despair. He will sing over you. He is who He says He is and does what He says He’ll do. He is good. The Word promises that. And He lives it out. Life is unpredictable and broken sometimes. Jesus is not. His love for you is sure and it is wholehearted. Take my word for it, sure—please do—but take His word for it. He is good. Draw close to Him. He draws close to you. Trust Him. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

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.

#67 From A Pit Of Darkness To Glorious Life

Photo by Erin E Photography

I had always been the good girl. The one who never went out, got good grades, and loved the Lord. When I came to college I found myself a little lost. I began partying and seeking attention from any boy that walked my way. After drunken nights and horrible mornings, I thought maybe I needed to stop doing this and go back to Jesus. I transferred schools and thought that every temptation and sin would be left behind. I got back into the party scene, and one weekend found myself drugged at a party. I woke up the next morning unclothed, unaware of where I was, and ashamed. I had been raped that night. My world came tumbling down. My heart became hard toward Jesus and I lost sight of who He really was. After months of not dealing with the pain of that night, I finally broke down. My walls crashed to the ground and on the other side was Jesus. My Savior, my Comforter, my Redeemer was there all along. He reminded me that I am loved, sought after, and clean. My brokenness led me to see Jesus in a way I never had before. At the moment of absolute despair, my Savior saved me. I was in a pit of darkness, but by His grace I was brought to glorious life.

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.

#63 God Is Closer Than Our Breath

 Photo by Ashely Brown, Shining Light Photography

In 2007 I was a college student living in Indiana. For some time I had struggled with seasonal affective disorder. I was in a relationship that didn’t work out and I spiraled into depression. It was a very dark time. I was exhausted, sleeping all the time, failing classes and late to important commitments. I even had suicidal thoughts. I feared that this oppressive darkness might never leave me.

During this time I was invited to a church service where a team from Bethel Church in Redding, CA was visiting my church, leading a healing meeting. I prayed, “God, if it’s Your time to heal me, please do it.” One of the leaders at the church said, “If you need healing, stand up.” I stood up and a woman came to me and prayed over me. She powerfully declared God’s love over me and I felt the love of God shattering through the darkness. It is difficult to describe but it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from me.

The next day I was driving home for Thanksgiving and listening to a message from one of the Bethel leaders. It was a sermon about being a child in God’s kingdom. I felt God’s presence so strongly, as if He had stepped into my car. I started weeping as I felt a tingle on my head and heard God say, “I’m healing you; I’m healing the chemical imbalance in your brain.” I had never experienced God in that way.

That same day I had an appointment with my doctor about changing my depression medication. He changed my medication and I got the new prescription filled. But I truly felt I had been healed of my depression. About a month later, I stopped taking the depression medication and the Lord took me on a journey of inner healing. I began to pursue God more than ever before. I learned that I am not powerless or a victim. I know that Jesus is right there with me when hard times come. Depression is not a part of who I am at all anymore. God has completely delivered me from it.

God is more good and loving than we know, and so willing and ready to show His love. He is not a distant God. He is closer than our breath; He is right next to us.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11–12

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.