Category Archives: Thoughts to Ponder

Love – An Unrelenting Anchor

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Love is an anchor

Anchors have one job – but they often do so much more.

Love, unlike anything else in the entire universe, is capable of being an anchor – the very anchor that does so much more than keeps us in place. It goes further. It keeps us safe. It keeps us stable. Put plainly, it keeps us alive. Love is an unrelenting anchor. It does it’s job, whether we want it to or not.

Let me get up close and personal with this train of thought. What you are about to read won’t be comfortable, and will (hopefully) make you pause and think. And, it should. Here we go…

It is no secret (nor should it be) that I struggle. With a wide variety of things. Hope, or often times – the seeming lack thereof. Brokenness. Shattered hearts and broken dreams. Pain that intensifies as time goes on. My health (physical and mental) needs help sometimes. Help I sometimes wonder if actually exists.

When grief, depression and a variety of pain conspire together – the results are nearly impossible to put into words. Together, the result is blinding. It renders me unable to see or believe in hope. I won’t lie. There are more times than I want to think about – let alone admit – that I wish I weren’t still breathing, with a heart that beats. I sometimes wish I weren’t alive. This doesn’t mean I am actively going to seek a way out of this pain in the way that ends my beating heart – it just means that I so, so very wish that I felt something more than pain.

In reality, suicide is an option many people turn to. I don’t condemn them. I don’t even say I can’t understand how they could do that. The sad truth is, I do get it. I may not be at that place right now, but I can absolutely understand what can take a person to that depth. I have empathy, and I have compassion.

In those moments where the darkness threatens to encapsulate every aspect of life, for me – let me explain a little of my own experience walking through these moments in time. Though they are only moments in time, they can seem like an eternity when moments turn to hours that turn to days, weeks and months…but, I digress. I want you to hear about the anchor that sustains me.

That anchor is love. When I feel weak, pain, and like I couldn’t possibly continue to even figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other – love holds me. Sometimes this actually makes me mad. I even said to a trusted friend that I wished they didn’t care – didn’t show love, cause it would make exiting this earth an easier option. However, it is so much more.

Love doesn’t stop there.

I look around, through the lens of my own shattered heart. I feel the pain of losing people I love. My own daughter. My brother. My cousin. My friend. A previous colleague. And, the list goes on. Most recently, my heart hurt as I walked through the crowd at a visitation – talking and sharing LIFE with friends and family. Talking about life amongst the newly departed. The pain was intense. But, the love – it was more intense.

What I realized was this. And a thousand other things. Love is the anchor that grounds us. When all we see is pain, love holds us. Love keeps the grieving mother’s heart beating. Love keeps us sharing the stories of more than just that person laying in a coffin. Love shares LIFE…even in the shadow of death.

I will take it even deeper and share something pretty personal. I love my family. The family I was born into, the family I married into, the family I’ve given birth to, and the family I’ve chosen as family over the course of time. All family. All love. I look at my parents. They’ve had to bury one child. I know that pain. I look at my grandmother. She’s had to watch two of her grandchildren die, and even a great grandchild. That’s pain I can’t comprehend, and I hope never to. I watch my own children as they grieve – as their sister breathed her last breath here on earth. Losing a sibling is a pain I wish I didn’t understand. Watching and holding my child as she took her final breaths this side of Heaven – not a pain I wish anyone else could relate to.

I see the pain on the faces of those at any number of the recent history’s visitations and funerals – the pain of those grieving those who they love, and have departed earth before they or we were ready. Pain lines the faces of those who hurt.

The flip side of that pain, is love. The pain wouldn’t be as intense as it is, if not for having love as an anchor. Put plainly, we wouldn’t hurt deeply if we didn’t love deeply.

With that as my train of thought, I will circle back to suicide. More specifically, why suicide is an option I’ve taken off the table in my own life. Yes, prematurely leaving the earth would mean an escape of the pain for me. It doesn’t, however, erase the pain. It transfers it to all those who know me, love me, or otherwise would be affected by my death. It is because of love that I couldn’t do that to my family, and to those I welcome alongside me in this journey of life AS family. I know it isn’t and won’t always be easy – but I’ll pray to always be able to hold onto this love in such a life-giving way. I’ll pray you can do the same.

There are days that I really don’t want to take another footstep, to walk another mile, to breath another breath – because, some days, I just feel entirely too much. However, love – it is and forever will be the most powerful force on the planet. More powerful than pain. More powerful than racism and hatred. It acts as a healing balm shattered hearts and broken dreams.  More powerful than all that seeks to destroy us. I’m learning that I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay.

If you can relate or if you feel connected at all to any of my words here, I want to encourage you to hold on. It won’t always be easy. It certainly won’t be pain free. I ask you to remember the love. I ask you to allow love to be your anchor – even during the times that hope seems elusive. I can’t and won’t promise that it won’t hurt, and that the pain won’t be intense at times. I will, however, promise this – that I will try alongside you – I will continue to hold onto that love, and allow it to breed hope. When hope seems to be on an extended vacation, I’ll allow the anchor that love is keep me stable – as stable as anyone can be in a broken world. Will you join me in that?

I gently ask you to take my hand, and to do the same. Extend your hand of friendship. You are needed here. Allow me to sit with you in your pain. Together, we can traverse the ups and downs, and ride the roller coaster ride that is life. Together being the operative word. People need other people, and we do not walk these paths alone. Not you. Not me. Not that unassuming soul you’ve yet to meet. They need our smiles. They need our love. We need each other. Instead of focusing on all of our collective differences, let’s focus on one thing that unites us unlike any other anchor possibly could – love. Let’s learn to operate with empathy and compassion, backed by love. Let’s let love lead the way.

If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA as well.

 

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Are You Aware? Let’s Talk About It!

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Many months, or many individual days come with awareness titles. Each day, or month respectively, seek to bring awareness to a cause. Something near and dear to someone’s heart. Well, this month – and specifically also this day is no different. Before I get to that, I would like to say something though. I almost wish I could go back to the brand of naivety where I simply didn’t know or understand these things. But, I can’t. And, my prayer is that, after reading this post, you won’t be able to either. I want you to be aware of these things, as nothing will change until we start to talk about them. No stigmas will be removed by remaining silent.

September is awareness month for multiple things. But, near and dear to my heart are two very intensely painful and “special” ones.

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First, September is childhood cancer awareness month. The month we bring awareness to something so rampant, and so widespread – but yet so many people think it is rare. Kids get cancer too. So many children, my daughter included, have fought and died as a result of this monster. So many children fighting this fight every single day. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Cancer knows no race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  If you are interested in standing with us to raise awareness for all those who have, or who continue to battle this monster, we’d love it if you’d consider ordering a special t-shirt – created actually by my daughter and I while she was still alive, this side of Heaven.

Children need hope – especially those who have to fight for their lives in a battle with childhood cancer. What they need is awareness, funding, research, hope and a cure. It all starts with you being aware. No amount of awareness will bring my daughter back, but hopefully fundraising that provides research will provide the potential of new medications and therapies. My heart hurts, and it is my desire that no other parent know this kind of pain. The cold hard fact is this though – there have been no new childhood cancer protocols to save our babies lives in multiple decades. DECADES. the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) plays a pivotal role in research, yet only approximately 4% percent of its annual budget is dedicated to childhood cancer. The result is that children are dying every day waiting for promising new treatments that lack funding. Our children deserve more than 4%.

There are multiple organizations (locally, and nationwide) where funds go directly to research and finding a cure. There are also several organizations that directly help the families with a child fighting cancer. If you need help finding a reputable place to make donations to, please ask – either here in comments, or via my contact me page. I’d be happy to help you find what makes sense for you – and will gladly share my own experience in those places who made a difference during our journey fighting childhood cancer alongside my daughter for the three years she fought.

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As we open our hearts, and fight for these little fighters all across the globe, we also need to open our hearts and fight for some other fighters. They don’t fight cancer – but, they fight other demons. You see, September is also suicide prevention and awareness month – with September 10th being Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. This is a day where the entire world locks arms and stands together, fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. It is this day and month, that we are more vocal. Talking about it. Giving a voice to those who feel they have none. I have personally been affected by suicide as well. I have lost people I love as a result of their taking their own lives, and have struggled with my own inability to see anything other than the intensely painful moments that just hurt. I have had suicidal thoughts, and I know that I was made for more than just the pain.

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If I were to take (or have taken) my own life when I couldn’t see beyond the pain, I wouldn’t be here to ask you to please stay. I’m here today, asking you to stay. Please stay to be surprised. Please stay for love – to love, and to BE loved. Please stay to know others, but to also be known. Please stay and know that you are loved – that your life matters, and that your life is a story – with chapters, yet to be written. Please don’t take a beautiful story away from those who need to hear it. You are not alone. Not now, not ever. I join my friends at To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) in asking you to stay, and find what you were made for.

So, on this day – and throughout this entire month, will you join me in talking about the topics hard to discuss? Will you reach out to anyone you might see that is hurting? Know that any small act of love, of compassion, of kindness – it might just save a life. If you see someone in pain – for whatever reason, be present. Care enough to not greet their pain with silence. You may not have the right words to say, and it’s alright.

If you are reading this right now, and find yourself feeling hopeless, please know that you are not alone. You don’t have to do this journey alone. Please reach out for help. You are worth it. Your story is worth it. The world needs you to be here. If you need help finding resources, feel free to post here in comments or contact me directly via my “contact me” page. Also, you can find helpful resources on TWLOHA’s page.

If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA.

I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I tell myself this often. I ask you to join me in raising awareness for these two causes this month. Let’s take it beyond just this month – and make it something we talk about regularly. It is only with open and honest communication that we even stand a chance at making a difference, and erasing the stigma(s) that keep us from talking about it – that same stigma that takes lives, and keeps people from seeking help. Let’s be the change our world needs. Let’s talk about it. Let’s do something. Let’s let love lead the way. Always, Remember The Love.

Sleeping: I Was Paralyzed And Unable To Breathe

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I believe it was the first time I’ve watched myself fading, all from outside my body. I’ve felt similarly scary moments – but this took things a new level. 

As the title suggests, something disconcerting happened.  From a vantage point outside my body, I saw myself sleeping. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. While this plays out before me like a tv show, I watched as I seemed to wake up, and tried to prop myself up with my elbows. As I watched, though, I noticed that I was unable to do anything, including breathe. I saw myself fading, and falling over – my head back onto the pillow. But. I could not breathe. My chest was not rising and falling. There weren’t breaths happening. At all. From just outside my body, I was frantically telling myself to breathe, while the me drifting out of consciousness almost was trying to move, scream for help, or just breathe. Instead, I could do nothing. 

Paralyzed, I fairly frantically said, “God, help me breathe. I just, I NEED to take a breath. Will you just help me breathe?” A split second later, I inhaled, saw and felt something impossible to put into words (pretty colors, light, warmth, etc.), and then was back in my body. Forcing myself to breathe. I woke up, and continued breathing, with no real troubles after that.

What happened? I don’t know. But, what I do know is this. I was not supposed to die. Not then, and not like that. No one knows their time, but I just knew that wasn’t it. 

This experience has done something else also. It has opened my eyes. As a result, I have drawn parallels to life. More specifically, mental health and illness. Living. Not just living, but also death and dying. Those things, in connection with the Creator of the entire universe. God. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. Him. How they all relate and connect. 

Just as I cried out to Him for physical help, to help the breath in my lungs keep flowing – to help me just catch a breath — just as I asked Him for that help, He’s just as available and just as willing to help me through other struggles. Through life’s toughest seasons. Through crisis. Through not wanting to live. Through feeling swallowed whole; feeling empty and heavy. He’s still there. Waiting. He needs an invitation to help us. 

I know that I have felt more pain than I care to admit. And, there have been times I’ve questioned so much about even the very presence of God. I couldn’t feel Him anymore than the knight in shining armor of some fairy tale. Unlike in a fairy tale, that doesn’t negate His existence. He’s God. He isn’t the one who changes. We do. I know I do. 

As I make conscious decisions to ask Him to help me breathe a little more often, I’m already feeling a lot less like I was having to learn to breathe again – sometimes grasping to have breath in my lungs. As I learn to trust Him in these desperate times, I feel less paralyzed and overwhelmed by talon like grips of depression. I am learning to take my own thoughts captive, instead of allowing the opposite to happen. As I retrain myself to change perspective, reframe my thinking, and keep my eyes on Him, I’m finding hope and healing in a way I had given up thinking even possible. 

I’m not where I want to be yet, and I  haven’t put it all into practice, but I will try. And I will keep trying. I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I welcome your thoughts and prayers, and your love and support – in whatever way, and in whatever picture that looks like. I need you, and I want to think you need me too. Let’s continue to do this thing called life together. Never alone.  

Hopeful Expectancy – It’s Time To Start Dreaming Again

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It is no secret that I have struggled with the idea that hope, often times, seems elusive. Pain from trauma, brokenness, grief, mental illness, etc – that pain can be so intense it’s blinding. It removes hope as a word in our vocabulary. It insists that hope for anything beyond the pain isn’t a thing – that it never really was. It ensures we cannot remember what hope even feels like. It says hope isn’t real, at least not for me. I’ve also come to realize that this is dangerous, and false thinking – simply put: hope never goes anywhere. Yes, our life’s experiences that allow for that temporary blindness that makes hope appear to play a mean game of hide and seek – with us consistently losing. I urge you, however, to remember that hope is still real, and it always will be. Yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as the next person reading.

Today, however, something pretty interesting happened. I will explain more specific details in a future post, but I will say this. I was at a very low point today, and – if I’m being honest – the same can be said for plenty of the time recently. I have been questioning the meaning of life, in combination with the actual desire to keep on walking. To keep breathing. It’s been a struggle, trying to simply be, and live with the intensity of the pain. Instead of getting easier to navigate and deal with over the course of time, it’s been getting intensely more difficult. I have questioned my ability to keep fighting. Life shouldn’t be a fight.

Today, I was feeling really very overwhelmed, like giving up – and just, hurting. Instead of forcing myself to deal with it on my own, I reached out to a trusted friend. I will write more about this friend in time, but it became a moment, inspired by God Himself. That is not something I say lightly. But, it is something I say absolutely, with no doubt, was orchestrated by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Grace took on the form of human connection, and reminded me of hope. And smiles. And laughter. Even tears. But, more than that, reminded me of the life saving grace and love that God offers.

This day especially, I needed this reminder. Had I forgotten who God was, or all He’s done in countless lives, mine included? Absolutely not. Had I been blinded by the pain, so I was unable to see or focus on Him at all? Yes, more than I care to admit.

But, the beauty of it all? Hope arrived. Though it never actually left, it did become real again. I would be lying if I said all was now a bed of roses, and all my thoughts and feelings are suddenly all totally better. I would be telling a tall tale if I told you that I now have it all figured out, due to this magical conversation with a friend. Though, I will say that the conversation was absolutely a tool God used to penetrate some dark places – to shine light on hope again; to allow for hope to arrive. What did happen, was beautiful indeed. I dared to allow myself to hope again.

Then, like a healing balm applied to a painful wound, a word was beginning to take form, and be etched in my heart. Expectancy. More than that, to live with hopeful expectancy. That is a change from where I am right now. It became a moment of deciding to choose not to live life comfortably – a moment where I chose (and will continue to choose) to dismiss the status quo. I realized, I really do want more than just the pain that life has offered. I know there has to be more out there. I will not give up on it.

You see, just last night, I was listening to this same  previously mentioned friend talk about dreaming. That our dreams are possible. While he was speaking, something broke inside me though. It was at that moment that I realized that I do not really have a lot of dreams – big or small. I haven’t been dreaming anymore. This really bothered me. But, I didn’t have the answer – the “how to” on dealing with it.

During my conversation today, though, That word, expectancy – it became real again. It is taking up residence in my heart, and is helping me grow my thinking.  It is helping me believe that not only is hope real, but also that dreaming is possible again. I haven’t really dissected this all that much yet. I haven’t sat down and really put much more thought into it, but I am going to.  I need to be in a different place than I am right now, and I can already tell it will require re-framing of my own thoughts. Re-framing reality even.

So, even though I don’t have it all figured out – I say that’s okay. I have something much greater: hopeful expectancy. That, in combination with my faith in a God who loves – that, is where I believe life change will begin to happen. That is where I see hope growing and thriving. That is where redemptive grace takes hold, and doesn’t let go. For this, I am grateful.

With this, I say, let’s get to dreaming. Never let your dream(s) die. If you aren’t dreaming, it’s time to rekindle the fire that says to not give up, and to never stop dreaming. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. Together, we can change the world. Maybe not the entire world (maybe so though) but we can change our individual world. That is worth hopeful expectation.

Dream big.

When Depression Partners With Grief

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If you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, you’ll recognize that I’m generally encouraging, or at least positive and pretty upbeat. I apologize in advance, because this is not going to be that. The words that follow will be fairly unfiltered and mostly unedited.

I’m tired, y’all. (Yes, I said y’all! I was born and raised in the south, so it’s allowed!) So jokes aside, I’m just exhausted in pretty much every sense of the word.

Before I go any further, I should warn you that what you’re going to read isn’t comfortable, and may frighten you as you question how I’m doing. That isn’t my intent. And, know this – I am safe, just need a space to process all this. I normally wouldn’t so openly, but ours is a world in pain. If just one person feels less alone, then there is purpose in the sharing.

I’ll get right down to it. I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I said, exhausted. I feel like I am just barely managing to keep the tears at bay some moments. No, I’m not a walking waterfall of tears, but I’m finding that they have a mind of their own. They want out more than I try to prevent them.

This whole grief thing – it sucks. Yes, the sun does still shine from behind the darkest clouds, and there is tremendous beauty all around us – even when depression makes everything bleak and dreary. Even though I know depression lies, it’s hard to hold onto that when is talons claw deeper.

My parents watched as we said goodbye this side of Heaven to my 7 year old daughter. I watched my parents bury my brother a year later. Days before my daughters death (she knew she was dying) she remarked how this just isn’t natural. And she was right. It isn’t. Parents shouldn’t watch their kids die. It sucks.

Depression, especially when partnered with grief, is a dangerous thing. It robs you of the ability to see or feel the beauty everywhere. It encourages statements like, “I just can’t do this anymore,” or simply, “I’m done.” I feel that way often.

But, here’s the thing. So far, I’ve managed to hold onto the idea that depression lies, and grief won’t always be painfully intense. The problem I struggle with is this. It’s hope. For me, hope seems about as easy to hold onto as wet soap in the shower.

I don’t like living like this. I genuinely wonder how it’ll be possible to keep going another day, let alone decades. Yes, I have sporadic suicidal thoughts. More than I care to admit. They’re painful and annoying, but no – I don’t entertain them either. They come, and I let them go. I try my best not to dwell in those moments. I choose not to act on them.

Let me reiterate – I really am okay. Well, a better description would be safe. I’m not particularly okay right now, but I am safe. Like I said, I won’t take unsafe action when those bad thoughts invade.

I guess I just need to hear the same words I share with hurting people all over the globe. It truly is okay to not be okay. It won’t always be this intensely painful always. Hope is real, and it always will be. I am a living, breathing story – one with chapters still being written. My story matters. I matter. I need to hold onto these things, rather than the lies depression partnered with grief tell me.

If you need to hear these things, or you know sometime who does, please tell them. You may be the lifeline they need in whatever crisis moments they’re walking through. If you hear nothing else I’ve said, please hear this. You are not now, and not ever, alone. I know the storms will still rage, and can be damaging – but one thing is for sure. You aren’t on your own, and neither am I. Take my hand if you need a friend…and please also offer yours. As I wrote last week, there is power in an outstretched hand; healing happens in friendship.

Pain And Healing – The Value Of An Outstretched Hand

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Pain And Healing – The Value Of An Outstretched Hand

Every human being alive knows the definition of pain. For some, it’s chronic illness – physical, or mental. Life has a habit of launching some curve balls aimed at destroying the status quo. Our action, inaction, or reaction to reality altering events is what sets the tone of our journeys and lives.

When the pain is unbearable, it is easy to lose sight of hope – hope for anything other than pain. In the intensity of a crisis or painful episode, the shaded sunglasses are fastened tightly. Through them, we only see darkness. The brightest sunny day, with birds chirping and life happening can appear dark and dreary as we wear these glasses. It’s being sight impaired to beauty for fear of the pain.

That is what pain does. It blocks our vision. It keeps us from enjoying the okay or good times because there is a paranoid expectancy of the demons and darkness lurking around the corner.

On the converse, those moments where we’re feeling those unexpectedly beautiful moments, and we are able to take joy in them — it’s more crushing when the pain returns. There is no denying that good and beautiful things happened. There are sometimes undeniable miracles at work. Even with those, it’s hard to hang onto what feels like fleeting beauty. Sunglasses continue to darken the world around us. 

We all have pasts. The collective pain and brokenness that each individual brings into a crowded room is unfathomable. Hidden scars. Brokenness. Some have walked through addiction, sexual abuse or rape, traumas of all kinds, physical or mental illnesses, bullying, crisis moments, losses of small and great magnitudes – just pain that is unimaginable.

We all need to recognize the FACT that every single person in there is a living, breathing story. Each comes with their own story – what brought them to where they are today.

Let’s talk about healing. And taking off those sunglasses. 

Healing is a term that people throw around when things hurt. Physical or mental. When life hurts, I can almost guarantee that you will hear that time heals all wounds. Whoever tells you that is lying. They may not intentionally be liars, but time doesn’t heal everything that hurts. Some things, time does allow you to better get a grip of, or to carry a little easier…but take away the pain? Nope, not so much.

However, there are  things in life that help heal. 

When life hurts, love heals. It doesn’t make the wounds automatically go away, but it dulls the sharpness of the pain. When someone offers an outstretched hand, and doesn’t greet pain with silence, healing can happen in unimaginable ways. Hope that we were temporarily blind to – that hope holds your hand and sits with you in the pain. That place is where healing happens.

It’s important to note that it’s okay to not be okay. But, when you’re not, please reach out – and allow someone else the honor of your taking their outstretched hand. No, reaching out doesn’t erase the pain. It won’t, and it can’t. Even when you feel that you’re walking through hell on earth, it’s heartwarming to know that you don’t have to do it alone.

Even not being alone doesn’t mean the storms aren’t damaging.

It is what we choose to do in these moments that define us. For me, it’s accepting the gift of friendship. When there is an outstretched hand, it’s taking it and allowing myself to just be. To just feel. To cry the tears that I want to suppress. A friend recently reminded me that I needed to feel what I was feeling, and that it was okay. Even the brokenness and tears. That is a reminder I have shared with many people over the course of time – but, hearing the words said to me – did something in my heart.

No, healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage is no longer permitted to control our lives.

I know it’s sometimes easier said than done. I’ve walked through hell on earth. I’ve known deep pain. But, I’ve also come to know hope and healing.

If you are or were a kid who was picked on and bullied, know that you don’t have to be defined by that. Healing is possible, and you are more. Your life is valuable, and you matter more than the words of any written language could express. There are many who may feel their pain is a result of their own doing. If you feel like you’ve messed up, always remember that you are not a sum of your past mistakes. You can make choices that enact positive change. You don’t hold all the keys to the universe, but you do hold some to your own world. We can’t control everything, but we can control our own actions.

Yes, bad things happen. Yes, it sucks. But, no, it doesn’t have to define your entire life. Brokenness can be exchanged for healing. It may not happen immediately, but it can happen. Sometimes love and friendship is like a healing salve applied to intensely painful wounds to aid in the healing process.

In case no one has told you this, please hear me. I believe in you. I believe in your story. I believe in the power of a shared story. So, let me offer this. If you have a story to tell, or just want to talk – reach out. I’m here, and others are as well. You can post in comments or send me a message via my “contact me” page. Just never give up on your story. Yours is a beautiful story, with chapters yet to be written. Never, ever give up. 

A Grateful Nation Remembers

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Take a look around you. What do you see? In neighborhoods, and on lawns across these beautiful United States, you might see grills fired up, parties happening, and celebrations going strong. This is a day off work, a day to celebrate, a day for BBQs and fun. But, it is a day for so much more.

This day is a day we link arms, and we remember. We remember the fallen – the brave heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to allow for the freedoms you and I take for granted each and every day. On this Memorial Day, let’s continue the beauty and celebrations of this day – but, let’s also honor and remember those who gave their all.

Having served our Country on active duty in the military, I walked through hell on earth at times. However, I got to come home. My heart is heavy, on this day especially, as I remember (I could never forget) my friends who did not come home. Some of my friends died as a result of military conflict, and some at their own hand. Either way, they never came home. Suicide isn’t the ultimate sacrifice that includes bravery in the way that we celebrate, but these beautiful people, my friends, never came home. They weren’t a direct result of war, but they were an indirect result of the affects of war.

This article isn’t about suicide, but I would be amiss if I didn’t mention it in the scope of people who have died in the service of our country. The intense darkness that people in the military face at times – it can seem unbearable. The mental health system in the military and all across the world, is so very broken. I know. I was in the military, and I faced unspeakable things. Thankfully, I got help, and I came home when the time came and I was able. For some, this isn’t their reality.

To all my brothers and sisters in arms – to those who still fight today, and to those who did make it home, I say thank you. To those who took their final breaths in support of our Country, and also to those who saw no end to the pain you endured and took your own life – you are, and never will be forgotten. I love you.

As you celebrate this day, I encourage you to also remember. Remember the fallen. Remember the heroes. Remember those whose lives were painful in a way they couldn’t escape and took their own lives. Let’s remember them all.

If you’d like to talk about this or anything, please feel free to comment below, or send me a message via my “contact me” page.

Suicide-Hotline

Side note. If you are a veteran or service member who has lost someone you love, and you are hurting – please know you are not alone. You are not ever alone. I feel your pain, and I see your hurting. Know this. There is help. There is hope. And, rescue is possible. I urge you to seek help. I hope you will reach out and connect with others. There are people, myself included, who love you. You can feel free to post in comments below, or connect via my “contact me” page. I am here. Others are available as well.
If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA.

#RememberTheLove