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Posts Tagged ‘hope for the future’

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By my early-40’s I’d earned a few certificates and degrees, four children, two dogs–and the unenviable position of being diagnosed with several disorders. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. PMDD. Even a penchant toward dissociation.

As a young woman, I’d been certain I could shed the shame of my childhood and embrace happiness. Peace. Living. But I didn’t realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach. That anxiety wasn’t something I could dust off like a farmer’s pair of worn cowboy boots.

I didn't realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach.That anxiety wasn't something I could dust off like a farmer's pair of worn cowboy boots.#mentalillness#hope#letsgetrealseries Click To Tweet

Time clicked by and, ever so gently, God nurtured and healed. Provided wise counsel and tools to help manage the tumult of soul-sucking pain. Gifted me with a husband who loved through it all. Sustained me when I wanted nothing more than to inhale the last of earth and the first of heaven.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Or, does a loved one bear the burden of mental illness?

I know the pain and I'm sorry you're hurting.#depression#ptsd#hope Click To Tweet

I know the pain and I’m sorry you’re hurting, friend. I’m sorry you don’t share openly because you fear being judged. I’m sorry you weep, cry, and grieve for the person you thought you’d become. I’m sorry that just getting out of bed or making it through one more day makes you feel as though you’re an overloaded cargo ship sinking beneath the weight of its cargo.

Whether you are the one desperate for relief, a mama longing to take her child’s struggle, or a wife desperate for the husband she once knew, you are not alone.

One in five adults understand.

One in five women with successful careers. One in five stay-at-home moms with dinners made by scratch and dessert in the oven. One in five grandmothers living the golden years. One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand.

One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand. #mentalillness#1in5#hope Click To Tweet

Not only are you surrounded by others who empathize, but there is something even better. It’s the four-letter word we forget in the midst of the hard.

Hope.

We have hope because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ.

We have hope because the end of our story was rewritten on the cross. Sin exchanged for restoration, tears for celebration, and death for liberation. Neither depression, anxiety, or any other illness can wrest these from your grasp because you are held tightly in His.

When you’re tempted to believe there is nothing better than what is right now, remind yourself of what you know to be true. There will be more to your story.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 MSG)

 Peace and grace, Tammy

Mental Health Pain Hack Image

Mental Health Pain Hack Printable

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I know that you can do all things- no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

It’s been a year of quiet and I’m reminded of the calm that hovers over the earth after the winds of a mid-summer hurricane. I heave a deep spirit-sigh, breathing out stored up soul poison; releasing fear and bitterness. God-directed anger and doubt. I inhale God’s truth scribed by man, but formed by the mind of I Am.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

My heart responds in rhythmic worship. Thank you, Lord. I believe.

Yet, a few years ago the howling winds sent me reeling. Loosing me in dark storms of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness. I questioned the Maker. Why, how, and when cluttered my heart and left little room for praise.

One evening, overwhelmed by the struggle, I knelt in prayer and begged God for the slightest hope of restoration. In that moment, His presence grew thick around me like a blanket just pulled from the warmth of a dryer. Comforted, my weeping slowed and then stopped.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

The words weren’t audible, but my spirit understood. He saw me.

In that moment, my faith was forever altered. I surrendered the pain. Surrendered the broken bits of my heart. Surrendered those I most loved into His care. Surrendered the woman I’d been for the one He was re-shaping to more clearly reflect His redemption, restoration, and reformation.

Opening arms wide to receive the fullness of grace, I cried out for more and waited expectantly. There were no sudden changes in the converging of difficult circumstances, great revelations of knowledge, or immediate answers to pray. But, God was working in the midst all along.

Through the challenge of it all, I thought often of Job–a man whose suffering is renowned. Everything Job ever esteemed or cared about was ripped from his life. Beloved children. Prosperity. Health. Until finally, Job sits in a pile of ashes, scraping boils from his flesh with sharp-edged pottery as his wife mocks his faith.

Job’s circumstances aren’t mine, but I do understand what it is to lose hope. To live with heartache and sadness. To question Him.

Why? When? How?

In the midst of those recent, painful years, I looked to Job for encouragement. While my faith danced on the edge of a thread, the man called ‘blameless’ turned from his overwhelming reality to humble submission and his relationship with the Father stretched larger than Job’s restored fortune.

Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1)

You, too, may be living Job moments. If so, I’m truly sorry for your hurt and struggle, Friend. My own experience has taught me that God is in the business of restoration.

Won’t you surrender your brokenness to Him today?

You may not know why. 

When may seem too long.

How may be unexpected.

But, our Who is greater than all of it and He is faithful to His children, true to His promises, and with you from beginning to end.

 

Spiritual Strategy to Help Navigate Through Job Moments

  1. Stop asking ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. You and I will likely never know the answers this side of heaven. This fallen world lends itself to heartache, but God is actively restoring now and will one day restore all.
  2. Turn to God when the enemy slings his fiery arrows your direction. Our emotions, doubts, and pain have a way of narrowing our perception and threatening that which we know to be true. Copy favorite Bible verses on notecards and hang them around your house where you’ll see them frequently (i.e. bathroom mirrors, refrigerator, etc.)
  3. Pray with expectation. Keep a journal of prayer requests and mark off those God has answered. This practice will remind us of His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Enemy may destroy what he can, but he cannot touch the soul of saint.

Throwbacks to an era of the past, small towns exemplify life’s experiences in microcosm. Simple stick-built homes of varied colors stand testimony to the men, women and children whose families have forged a living from blue-collar industry or the fragility of seed and soil for more than a century.

The gnarled, callused hands of old men gathered in the local coffee shop curve around steaming mugs of liquid and some tip their heads back in laughter at a one-liner. Friends since youth, they share a brotherhood of unspoken bonds that traces itself through the towns’ past like the purple veins intertwined beneath thin, worn skin.

Women mingle in the honey-colored community center to celebrate the blossoming of a young woman’s stomach; her cheeks stained pink as generations–both children she babysat just a few years ago and friends of her grandmother–congratulate, tease, and praise. Blue and pink paper streamers drape from the ceiling as she carefully peels tape and wrapping paper from the package resting in her shrinking lap to reveal a delicately crocheted blanket. Tears gather on her lashes as she thanks someone dear for stitching love into each tiny loop and chain.

Still, the Enemy plots ill-will against those whom he hates and the lives within small towns are no less an object of his wrath than those without. One awful day, he marshals evil and sends it ricocheting among God’s people–stealing breath from infants with souls fresh from heaven and aging saints raising hands in worship.

He is like a lion devouring and destroying wherever he roams. His roar reverberates through small towns like Sutherland Springs, Texas as he claws and maims the innocent. The powerless. The defenseless.

But, God is the great Lion of Judah. His rule and reign are eternal while the Enemy belongs to a temporary coalition of spirit rebels who will bow a knee in submission to the Defender. The One who pronounces guilt and brings justice. The One who swallowed up the little lion by His revolutionary resurrection and assurance of eternal life for His children.

Our Enemy may destroy what he can, but he cannot touch the soul of saint.

 

Father, 

Our hearts ache for the lives of those lost and for their friends and families. We know the Enemy thinks he has had his way with your people, but You are the Mighty One who saves and we thank you for being with your children even in that last moment before they stepped into the throne room of heaven. Not one has been lost. (John 17:12) We pray for mercy and healing in the broken lives of families and a community ravaged by evil. Reveal yourself to the people of Sutherland Springs and heal our land.

In the powerful name of the Lion of Judah,

Amen

 

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This is a Christian–one who dares to act as if God tells the truth.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.

His life reads like a Hollywood movie–the culmination of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, forced to seek refuge in a distant land, and then offering his life in place of the soldiers who pierced his hands and feet…suffering for the sins of those who pressed a crown of thorns on his head…pronouncing words of forgiveness to a discarded, frightened man bearing the shame of Golgotha.

But, this is not a child’s fairy tale or a superstitious myth dreamed up to explain the unexplainable.  This is Biblical truth; the great love story of God rescuing His people from that great enemy, Sin. The beautiful giving of His life for those willing to risk belief.

Yet the world threatens to overcome…to overwhelm…to overpower belief.

A young man just beginning to live takes his own life–desperate for relief from consuming depression, a child’s small bones ache from arthritis, a next-door neighbor submits to another round of chemo and hopes she’ll have enough energy to play with her children tomorrow.

But there is a story much bigger than our smaller stories–these lives of struggle and prayer, tears and hope.  It is His story–one recorded for us–that tells of the Lion and the Lamb…the Beginning and the End….the Resurrection and the Life.

And while the world threatens, He promises to give abundant life (John 10:10)

…to provide freedom (John 8:36)

…and to love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

I dare to believe–to act as if what God says is true. Won’t you? Let us encourage one another to hold to our faith, dear Friend, even when we doubt.

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Anzac DayPhotos flashed across the large, mounted screen as people slid somberly into their seats. A copper-headed toddler pretending to fish…a lanky teen posing for a Kodak moment with his family…a soldier with his young wife and newborn child.

A brave, broken-hearted father stepped up to the podium to share stories from the young man’s life. And between tears and laughter, he spoke of the moments that made his son. Casting a line into the icy waters of a shimmering, Colorado river. Sharing the gift of laughter with family and friends. Contending with the relentless enemy–Depression.

The father’s pain—palpable and raw—struck at my core as I considered the struggles my own dear ones have battled. The what if’s invaded my thoughts and I shuddered in understanding. Two weeks later, the reality haunts me and I pray God will protect those in His care from the pain of the dark.

Depression is real. Depression steals. Depression debilitates.

If you’ve lived in its shadow—you know. If you’ve seen a loved one experience the dark—you know.

But, there is always hope in Jesus. Consider these words, Friend.

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand. (Isaiah 42:3-6)

Rest in this truth…find freedom from the emotions…rely on His promise. He will hold your hand every step of the way.

livefreethursday-smFriday Link Up

 

 

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woman-570883_1920I vividly remember standing beneath the wooden doorframe of my bedroom–terrified of the imagined evil lurking in the five inches of space beneath mattress and covers. I stood motionless…weighing the options. The risks? Certain punishment if I refused to quickly locate myself beneath the warmth of sleep-inducing blankets or—to my impressionable mind—possible capture by whatever monster or boogie man lurked beneath the confines of a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

At the tender age of four or five, Shadow had become a thing of nightmares and illusory power.

Too often, though, it seems our fear of Shadow follows us into adulthood. While disguised in more grown-up form, we still tremble at its existence and our thoughts are filled with untrue or unfulfilled imagery that leads us from a place of comfort into the obscure illusion of “What If?”

The “What If’s” come in many shapes and may be different for each of us.

What if…my husband leaves me?

 What if…my child dies?

 What if…I’m really never happy?

 What if…this wound refuses to heal?

 What if? What if? What if?

 

Oh, dear One, the Shadow of What If is—and always has been—a robber of joy and imitator of truth designed to obscure the Light of Hope. We fight each dark pursuer—out of breath and in need of relief. Somehow, we’re certain a jab or swing in the Shadow’s direction will ensure some sort of relief. So we listen to Oprah…read books by Dr. Oz…try the newest diet trend…anything to help us battle the dark, elusive threat that is our greatest Fear.

But in so much of the struggle we rely on ourselves—forgetting the promises of scripture. Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we’re surrounded by a darkness so deep it casts death’s shadow, He is there! Even in the most frightening of times or the loneliest moments he guides…protects…comforts. He is the one who will manage our struggles and wage our battles.

Our futile attempts at Shadow boxing can cease. No more useless jabbing or dodging. Let’s give the battle to the Champion of hearts and souls—the giver of life, conqueror of death, and victor over sin and its effects.

 Suggested Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Read Psalm 23.

What dark valleys has God guided you through already? If your journey is taking you through a place filled with Shadows are you relying upon the Shepherd—or self? I know I struggle with this–vacillating back and forth.

As a gentle reminder to yourself about God’s abounding faithfulness and protection, reread Psalm 23. This time, replace each “me” with your name and “my” with the pronoun “her”.

A David Psalm (MSG)

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

 

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Standing on the outside, looking in…the screen joins bold color with life as sharp as glass.  I can’t bear the pain in the cries of women mourning over bleeding children as smoke from the rockets spreads across cities.  Still,  the truth of those lives…that reality…that brokenness cannot be hidden in the grey and black of destruction.

And then, I turn the channel.  My stomach recoils at the world’s mess and I wonder when He will make it right.

Standing on the outside, looking in…the familiar sound of her voice travels from one tower to another and I smile at her German practicality.  My dear auntie has cancer–again–and I feel heat and tears mingle as I glance into the corners of her life.  I can see them, though she has quietly swept them into a forgotten corner–fear of the unknown…a sense of aloneness…the looming question of  ‘Why’?

In a moment, there is only the hum of the dial tone and my heart aches for the trial she–and so many others–battle until they fade away.

Standing on the inside, looking out…I begin to feel the hard edges of the day tear at the tender places of hope, joy, and peace.  And  I am reminded that this world, this reality, and these trials are temporary.

Dear one, He is doing more than we can know or even imagine.  One glorious day, Christ will return and this world will know the true Peace Maker.

And even now, when we can no longer rely on our bodies for health or our loved ones for understanding, He is with us.  He never leaves us.  He always understands the ‘Why’.  And His strength remains forever..even as we fade.

If the hidden places in your life and mine are full of grief, emotional or physical pain, or misgivings about the shattered world around us then let them shout for His mercy and restoration in a “thirsty and weary land” that we might see His boundless glory displayed in our small lives.

 

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It’s been a challenging, up-and-down, I-don’t-think-we-can-get-through-this sort of year.  As I read through my blog posts, notes, and emails my heart rate increases and a sense of apprehension settles over me.  remind myself–aloud–God has been with you through it all.

God was with me when I learned one child had been abused.

God was with me when another child was diagnosed with a life-long illness.

And before that?

God was with me when my husband was deployed in Afghanistan and I was raising four children at home.

God was with me when my daughter was born prematurely and then had to be resuscitated.

One heart wrenching, faith growing, I-don’t-like-this-plan-Lord sort of year.  Before that?  One year of struggle…another of joy.  Time kept moving, bringing with it moments of joy, celebration, grief, and sadness.  And through it all I was never alone.  

Maybe you are experiencing a challenging, up-and-down, I-don’t-think-I-can-get-through-this sort of year…or month…or moment.

Friend, remember!  “I (God) will never leave you nor forsake you, for (He) is with you always even unto the end of the age.  (Matthew 28:20)

 

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