Yes, Kylie, There Is A God

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Dear editor:

I am 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I grew up in the church and believed in God, but now, I am not so sure. I see what is going on in this world, this country, and my hometown and I have to wonder if there is a God, where is he? I have friends whose parents both work full-time jobs and just barely have food on the table. She told me yesterday that they couldn’t even afford a single Christmas present this year. I see people starving not only all over the world but right here in my town. I read about human trafficking and people doing opioids to escape their pain.

I see people in my school that are so stressed out and have such low self-esteem that they hurt themselves or do whatever it takes to be liked. I see Instagram and Snapchat pictures of smiles on their faces but I look in their eyes and see nothing but hurt. I know I am loved, but there are so many people my age who do not feel loved or do not know who they are.

I have friends I  go to church and Wildlife and now Younglife with that are having these same issues and are leaving the church or just quit believing. I want to believe there is a God, I want to believe there is hope and love in this world, but I am struggling.

Mr. editor, I am 14 years old, I should not have to worry if today is the day I go to school and someone will shoot me and my friends.

So, is there a God and if so, where is he?

Dear Kylie,

First, thank you for your letter. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It does not matter if you are four or fourteen or forty-four, we are all frustrated with the world we live in.

I am not a theologian, simply a writer, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

A simple answer to your question, where is God, would be that we, or some people, asked him to leave our schools, we told him we didn’t need him and we stopped praying, we told him we could do it on our own. So, he simply left.

But like I said, that is a simple answer and also the wrong answer because I do not believe he left at all. I see teenagers every day that are making a difference. You probably see them, and maybe you are one of them, that take a stand against bullying, that reaches out to someone who is hurting, even if that person is not in their “circle.” They are the ones that will do what is right, not what is popular, no matter what others will think about them. Kylie, that is where you will find God.

I know our church collects gifts to give to those in need and can’t afford Christmas presents. Not only our church but churches and communities and individuals that give to the needy, like your friend’s family, so that they can have a Christmas. I know this time of year is hard for families with financial hardships, but when you see others giving and volunteering to help those in need, that is where God is.

I see the same news and social media you see about the evil in this world, such as human trafficking and drug overdoses. That’s what the news wants you to see, but they do not show the good that is out there. You truly have to search for it to know that for every bad news story, there is a good one. The Bible says seek and you will find.

I ask you to do that Kylie, turn away from the news feeds and search for good. Organizations like ECPAT-USA, ecoatusa.org, who are also international, or Polaris Project, polarisproject.org. Even right here in central Ohio there is Out Of Darkness Columbus Ohio, outofdarknesscolmbusoh.org and Live United Delaware County, liveuniteddelawarecounty.org.

There are thousands and thousands of other organizations and individuals that are fighting against evil in this world. That is where God is Kylie.

How do I know  God exists? Take a look at our planet Earth. If it were positioned just a few inches from where it is located, it would not exist. Think about that Kylie. If the earth was located less than half the size of your iPhone, it would not be able to support human life. Scientists can’t even disagree with that.

How else do I know God exists? Well, it is you and me and every other human in this world. None of us are exactly the same. Who could make billions of people and not one of them is the same? How could billions of people exist that are all unique down to the tiniest DNA in their bodies if they were not created by God? Do you think that could happen by chance? I do not.

I did not always feel this way. Unlike you, Kylie, who grew up in church and knew about God and his love from the moment you were born, I did not. I did things my own way and ran my own life and was desperate to change the way I was living and one day I just stopped and turned around. I let God, who was pursuing me my entire life, catch me. And when he caught me, my life changed. I fell to my knees and I wept. Which was strange to me because I was raised to not show my feelings. To keep it all inside and be tough like a man. But that very moment God caught me, I was overwhelmed with love. As I learned about God, I learned about who he made me to be and what my identity is in Him. Not what everyone else thinks of me, but what God thinks of me. That changed my life.

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Kylie, I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been divorced twice and tore apart my family because I was selfish and did things my way. Christians are humans and like all humans, we all make mistakes. After I accepted God into my life, seven years ago the unthinkable happened. My wife had an affair. It started around this time of year and I kept hearing a voice, or having a sixth sense if you will, to check her emails. Call it God trying to get involved before it got too far or call it the devil trying to tell me to look at what I helped your wife do, I do not know, but I ignored it because I trusted her. Until I could not ignore it and I found out the truth. In my anger, rage, hurting, and how could you, I wanted a divorce. Then on January 17th, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning and crying and at 2:37 am, I felt the need to bundle up and take a walk. I remember the exact day and time because it is the first time I heard God speak to me. As I walked outside and tears streamed down my face and I yelled at God why, how could he let this happen, I looked up and saw the many many stars. In the stillness of the cold night,  I heard him say stay, this is not about you, it’s about her and I need you to stay and be strong and help me help her come back to us. Over the next few weeks, a peace came over me and instead of yelling and saying hurtful things, I spoke words I never thought I could speak. They were not my words but God’s. Seven years later, even though not all is perfect, no marriage is, we are still proof of God’s grace, forgiveness,  mercy, and love.

Kylie, Only God can heal a man like me, a marriage torn apart by an affair, and the brokenness of the people in this world.

We only have to be still and ask for him to help us and tell us what to do.

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My dad did not believe in God. Thankfully, to his wonderful wife, my mother, who had a heart of gold and to his caretakers over the last few months of his life, and maybe to the way I lived my life after I accepted God, he accepted that Jesus is his lord and savior and invited him into his life shortly before he passed. I wish he could have had more time to know how much God loves him but in my grieving, I also knew that I would see him again. Only God can heal the grieving and the hurting Kylie.

Kylie, I wish everyone your age, or any age, knew what their true identity in Christ is. I believe that if everyone knew how much they were loved, how they were chosen to be born and that there is a plan for their life that there would less hurt in this world. I wish that they defined themselves as God defines them. That they would understand that false identity comes from the brokenness in this world. Trust that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that they were forgiven and that there is a better way to live this thing we call life. I wish that they would find their plan and purpose for what God has for them, not what this world tells them they should be.

Kylie, do not choose happiness. It is an emotion like sadness or anger or excitement. It comes and goes with circumstances. Choose joy and love Kylie. No matter what you are going through choose to love, choose to be joyful. That is where you will find God.

You can choose what your heart will follow, Kylie, and what your heart follows is where you will be. Choose goodness, compassion, empathy. Choose to follow the good in the world and people will follow you because they will see how you live. Kylie, that is where God will be.

I recently saw the movie Overcomer. I could tell you a million quotes that I wish every teenager would know in this social media world where everything is based on smiles and likes but one I would like to share is this: people always try to tell you to look like this person or do something this way because it is popular but knowing that God loves you and he made you, why would you want to be anyone else.

Be yourself. Kylie, When you realize and accept that, your self-image and your identity and your view of the world will change. Filter out the negatives and live in the positives.

You, Kylie, are a child of God and you are here for a reason.

Kylie, I wish this world was not what it is. I wish and pray today when you go to school that it won’t be your last day on this earth. But, I beg you Kylie, do not live in fear. God does not live in fear. Live with hope Kylie, go out today and change the world. Be the one who shows the world that God is alive and well and that he lives in you.

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Kylie, even in the bad I see all around me, I choose to see the good more. From the morning sunrise to the evening stars, from the leafless trees of winter to the first flower that blooms in the spring. From the first breath a baby takes to the last breath someone breathes. There is a shell that covers this unseen world and people choose to believe in what only they can see but there are mysteries in the unseen that we will never fully understand but it is as real as the next breath you take. You must have faith, hope and love, Kylie. That is where God resides and that is where you will find him. From the beginning to the end, I choose to see God in all of it and that is how I know God was here yesterday, he is here today, and he will be here tomorrow.

Kylie, God is alive and well and he is in you. He made you and he saved you, he loves you, he blesses you, he protects you, you are chosen and he died for you, Kylie. If you will find it in your heart to believe how much you are loved and chosen then you, too, will see him everywhere for he will be with you everywhere you go.

In the good and the bad, in the laughter and the tragedy, seek him, Kylie. He is there.

And that my dearest Kylie, is how I know that God exists and that he is here today.

Your friend,

Rob

You Say by Lauren Daigle –

Enough by Koryn Hawthorne –

Who You Say I Am by Hillsong –

What Mercy Did For Me by Micah Tyler –

Father by Jeremy Camp –

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Hiding In The Dark

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I don’t mean to give you a fright

But did you hear that  tonight

The moon will be hidden from view

And you will feel them coming for you

You may think it is no big deal

In fact you might even say they are not real

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But they are and deep inside

You know there is no place to hide

Right there hidden in the dark

You will find your true heart

You will walk by that computer aglow

Temptation to look at porn will be your foe

But you will find the strength to walk on by

Knowing there is no pleasure, it’s all a lie

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Then on your phone you click on Facebook

Find an old friend, just for one look

After all, what could it hurt

But then you start to flirt

But you say you can’t do this

Your marriage is at risk

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So you take a drive right by that old bar

You slow down and park your car

What could it hurt, just one beer

But you’ve been sober two years

And you know alcohol is just a thief

You know you have to get in your car and leave

But then from the alley some people catch your eye

You see the homeless and decide to change a life

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You talk to them like the people they are

Listen to their stories, for we all have scars

Buy them something to eat and go back home tonight

Yes, the demons are close, they might even be in sight

You might say they aren’t real but we both know

That’s not the truth because I’ve been to that bottom so low

I’ve got those demons and they can be hidden from view

You see, I am really no different than you

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But like the moon when the clouds part

There’s a light that shines in the dark

That’s where I go when the demons come

I don’t believe the lies that I’m worthless, scum

I’ve made mistakes but I know I’m forgiven

My sins paid for by the one who has risen

The liar has been defeated, victory won

The blood shed for me by God’s begotten son

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Truth Be Told by Matthew West –

Keep Me In The Moment by Jeremy Camp –

The Hope Song by Citizen Way –

Nobody by Casting Crowns –

Hope In Front Of Me by Danny Gokey –

Maybe It’s Ok by We Are Messengers –

No Valentine’s Day

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There will be no Valentine’s Day today

For those whose life you took away

I’ve been at a loss on what to say

How could you be so void of love?

Why would you kill those here to protect us?

Prison time for you is just not enough

A 911 call and they went running

They had no idea what was coming

A knock on the door and you started gunning

You have a history of being a crook

Did your multiple times, then off the hook

But that’s no excuse for the lives you took

You’ve left children without a dad

Wives, trying to be strong when they are sad

It breaks my heart, I am more than mad

Your senseless act of violence

Now there is nothing but silence

But I pray they find God in the quietness

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I wish I could say tomorrow they will be alright

I wish I could say tomorrow the sun will shine bright

I just pray they know our love will surround them tonight

So many lives were changed that day

I pray for strength for the families to make it through today

I pray that  God will show them the way

I pray our community will be stronger

I pray that hate will be no longer

I pray we will remember these heroes of honor

They were husbands, fathers, and friends

Someday, maybe someday, our hearts will mend

Tomorrow their brothers will answer the call again

Today, thank a policeman, who willingly puts his/her life on the line

Today, thank all first responders as they do a lot more than just fight crime

Today, pray for the families whose loved ones won’t be coming home this time

We see it all over America, seven times this past week alone a police officer killed in the line of duty. As a reporter said, it feels completely different when it happens in your neighborhood. I will second that. Westerville has a strong police presence. Everywhere I go, it seems like I see a police officer. I tend to take it for granted. I cannot, we cannot, take them for granted anymore.

Thank you for being at our schools, protecting our children.

Thank you for being at the library I visit so often.

Thank you for being at our church, protecting our congregation.

Thank you for patrolling our streets,  protecting our families and our neighbors.

We do not show it enough but know that you are loved, respected, and appreciated.

Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for sacrificing your lives everyday. Thank you to your families.

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Heal (Find A Way) by Brian Courtney Wilson- 

Officer Down by Hannah Ellis – 

You Still Put The Uniform On by Holly Cahill- 

Hold The Light by Dierks Bentley – 

Last Call by Dave Bray – 

Even Then by Micah Tyler- 

Shelter by Carrollton-  

Sleeping In The Stars by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill-  

If I Had Only Known by Reba McEntire –  

I Miss You Daddy –  

A Town Called Hope

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I currently live in a town called Despair.  It’s not my permanent residence. I’ll stay here for awhile then move on to another town.  A wandering soul but I always find my way back to Despair.

I choose to stay in Despair. By myself. Everyone else left but I stayed.  The only things left are an old saloon, a hotel and a general store. Everything else is gone. The only visitors I have are the sins of my past.  Visitors that I choose to live with.

I get used to the buildings. Some are crumbling down now but they are familiar. Some have paint chipping off the walls but I have come to know the patterns.  A few doors are hanging off the hinges but I don’t mind.

I don’t see many visitors and when they do come, they don’t stay long. I have a way of running everyone off when they get close. Not that many people want to get close to me. I am a non-talker who is usually self-absorbed and selfish.  There isn’t much time for other people when I am busy trying to keep this town in order.

I sat on an old broken bar stool and ordered a drink of faith but the bartender laughed at me. I was the bartender.  There is no hope, no faith here. He gave me a shot of depression instead. Followed that with a chaser of anxiety. After a few more drinks of sadness, disappointment and fear and I wasn’t lonely anymore.

Behind the bartender was an old broken mirror that reflected what was left of my life.  Broken, scarred, pieces of what was once a beautiful life.  I destroyed that life and never looked back. Yet, it still reaches out to me saying here I am. You are never too far gone. You can have that life again. The man in the mirror laughs at me and tosses back another drink.

In a rage of anger, I grabbed the bottle and slammed it into the mirror. As the glass was shattering on the floor a stranger walked into the saloon.

He about scared me to death the way he looked at me. No one had ever looked at me like that before. There was no condemnation.  There was no disappointment or disapproval. There was only love.

“Hello.  Just wanted to let you know there is a road leading out of this town. It may be hard for you to find right now but it’s there. It leads to a town called Hope.  You’ll pass through Trust,  Faith, Joy, and Love along the way and you will want to spend some time in each of them.  Keep on going until you reach Hope. You will see me again but I will always be with you as you travel. I have never left you nor will I ever leave you.

I stayed in Despair a little longer but his eyes kept reaching into my heart, into my soul.  I looked around the town one last time and I said goodbye to the guilt and shame of my past mistakes.  I said goodbye to the fear that was keeping me here.

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You Don’t Know by Katelyn Tarver – 

Inner Demons by Julia Brennan – 

All My Hope by Crowder (feat Tauren Wells)  –  

Hope Floats by Amanda McBroom – 

I Forgive Me by James Fortune – 

Old Church Choir by Zach Williams – 

She Smiled

She was born into a home that didn’t want her. She was neglected and mistreated. She was told she wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t wanted. One day they proved that to be true and they  gave her away. Through it all she smiled.

She was adopted a short time later by parents that wanted her. Parents that loved her. She had nightmares. She was comforted by her new parents. She was told how much she was loved. She was taught about God. She was told how much she was wanted. Through it all she  smiled.

As she continued to grow and get older people would ask what is wrong with her. How can she always be smiling?  She must be hiding something. She would tell them all is good, nothing to hide. She just loves life and is so happy to be here. They would tease her but through it all she smiled.

She met a guy. She fell head over heels. Everything in her life was perfect. Until it wasn’t. He started to yell at her all the time. He started to abuse her. She tried to leave but he would convince her to stay. She would believe him when he said he would change. Slowly her smile started to fade.

She became pregnant. He didn’t change. She knew she had to leave him, not only for her but for the baby. She could remember how her biological parents treated her. She didn’t want her baby growing up the same. She moved back to her adopted parents, her real parents. Slowly her smile came back.

She read her bible and raised her little girl on her own. She knew who she was and why she was here. She taught her little girl about God. She was told she was loved and wanted. She told her about her dad and about her Father in Heaven. It wasn’t always easy but through  it all, they smiled.

On her last day here she thanked God for everything in her life. The good and the bad. She thanked Him for giving her a thankful heart. For giving her a smile through everything attitude. For giving her life lessons to teach her daughter. For giving her parents that didn’t want her, and for giving her parents that did. For giving her  a home to grow up in that taught her about Him.  She thanked Him for helping her forgive, her parents and her ex- husband. She took her last few breaths and as she left this world she smiled.

Think of these songs as a soundtrack to the reading.

Alyssa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll – 

When Love Takes You In by Steven Curtis Chapman – 

Orphan by John Waller – 

Everything To Me by Mark Schultz – 

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile by Sia – 

Smile by Nat King Cole- 

Bubbly by Colbie Caillat – 

Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – 

That Don’t Sound Like You by Lee Brice – 

I Smile by Kirk Franklin –  

Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina –  

There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp- 

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe – 

She Doesn’t 

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She doesn’t step on a crack

Afraid it’ll break her mother’s back

She doesn’t open an umbrella in the house

Doesn’t need more bad luck than she has now

She doesn’t make any funny faces

Afraid it’ll get stuck that way

She doesn’t walk in a black cat’s path

She’ll turn around, walk all the way back

She doesn’t walk under a ladder

She doesn’t think she can be any sadder

She doesn’t believe her wishes will come true

But she’ll throw a penny in a wishing well, sometimes two

 

She doesn’t care if others think she is deceived

She carries around a four leaf clover and some rabbits feet

She doesn’t cross her fingers or knock on wood

Seen so much bad she doesn’t believe in good

She doesn’t smile very much

Does her best not to judge

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She doesn’t know about the man who died to save her

I saw her one day and told her about her maker

She didn’t want to hear any part

I prayer for her, prayed for her heart

A few weeks passed until I saw her again

She didn’t want to hear about Jesus, my friend

I asked her if we could just talk

She agreed and we started to walk

We talked about little things, like our jobs and the weather

She seemed to enjoy our walks together

She doesn’t trust most of those she meets

She slowly let her walls down over the weeks

I told her how I was once like her

Then someone told me about our savior

It wasn’t much longer until she said she wanted to hear more

More about this man I had mentioned before

I told of the words I knew

Gave her a Bible so she could read too

She doesn’t live like she did

She has a new way to live

She doesn’t believe in all that superstition

She has taken a new direction, a new mission

She doesn’t care about her past mistakes

She doesn’t remember her heartbreaks

She doesn’t live like she’s unloved

She knows she’s forgiven, she knows of grace from above

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Dmitri’s Song (Jesus Is Alive) by Todd Smith – 

Tell Somebody by Unspoken – 

Learning To Be Found by Jason Gray – 

I’ve Seen What He Can Do by Aaron and Amanda Crabb – 

What I Know by Tricia Brock – 

Echo by Blanca – 

 

A Father’s Gift

 

The second of three poems I am sharing this week that I wrote a long time ago.

If you missed the first one here it is:  A Mother’s Gift

I also posted another poem on Monday about spending time with your significant other, you can find it here :  If It’s Only An Hour

A Father’s Gift
It’s just you and me now

We will get by somehow

I promise to give you all my love

You’ll always be who I’m thinking of

I know you’re sad, I am too

Oh no baby , I don’t regret you

I know that we lost your mother

So you may never have a sister or a brother

I know no one will ever take her place

Someday, you may be asked to let another be that face

Until then, it will be just you and I

So we must remember, even when we don’t know why

Everything happens for a reason

Good and bad, in every season

We’ll both make mistakes, but nothing you ever do

Could ever, ever , take away my love for you 

A Fathers Love For His Daughter (commercial) – 

Don’t Take The Girl by Tim McGraw – 

Car In Front Of Me by Luke Bryan – 

Save A Place For Me by Matthew West – 

Without You by For King & Country – 

Sissy’s Song by Alan Jackson – 

One More Day by Diamond Rio – 

If I Had Only Known by Reba McEntire – 

Say Hello To Heaven by Collin Raye –