Tag Archives: help

Traversing A Tornado – When Life Seems Like A Whirlwind

Standard

This past week, I cannot count the number of times I heard that it just felt like we were being caught up in a whirlwind. I can relate. 

You see, my big brother died last week. There are still more questions than there are answers. The pain associated with his death seems unbearable some moments.

 

When I look at this picture, and one I’ll share in a few moments, I’m a mixture of emotions. I smile, and I cry. You see, he was just 40 years old. He’s supposed to still be here. My big brother. 

I wrote, and had the honor of reading a eulogy at his funeral. It was not without tears, but it was also not without giggles. Fitting for the dichotomy that walks alongside losing someone you love. The following words are my hearts voice: 

Steven was a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, he was my big brother. He is a son, a grandchild, a nephew, husband, daddy, an uncle, and a friend. He was my friend. 

If you knew him, you’d know he wasn’t any cookie cutter mold of what society thinks of as normal. But, that’s what made him, well, him. He could be out there at times, but he was passionate. He had such a tremendous heart. He loved his family deeply, and he valued himself as a protector. He would do just about anything for those he loved. 

I know that many of us feel like this is a nightmare, one we wish we could simply wake up from. It feels so surreal, and it’s hard to even believe at this point. 

In his honor and memory, I would like to ask and challenge each person here to live life on purpose. Be intentional with your time. Love people like tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell them you love them. Make sure you know what they mean to you. Treat people with compassion and kindness, and make sure people know their value. 

None of us know how much we mean to others. But when I looked around the room last night at the visitation, and I look around the room right now, I see love. I see people who my big brother touched in some way, shape or form. He had a tremendous impact on this earth, and his absence this side of Heaven leaves a giant Steven shaped hole in a lot of hearts. Nothing can or ever will take his place. And it shouldn’t. 

One of the last things I want to leave you with is a reminder. It’s okay to not always be okay. It’s okay to hurt, and to mourn a loss of someone pretty incredible. Just don’t stay in that place forever. Connect with other people, and connect with hope. Celebrate that he lived, don’t only mourn that he died. 

Please, do not ever forget my big brother. Let’s always strive to remember all the good, or even downright amusing moments that bring joy and make us smile or laugh. Those same moments may also bring tears at times, and that’s okay. 

Heaven welcomed an incredible person, and I’m proud to be his little sis. I know we’ll all miss him greatly, but we’ll be okay somehow, because we have each other, and none of us will carry his loss alone. Thank you.

I meant every word. Though miles apart, we knew love. He often joked that I was his little big sister, because he was able to come to me with “some really big shit” and he knew I would be honest, and I would help him in any way I could. He also knew he could trust me to tell him the truth, even if he didn’t really want to hear it. 

That’s what love is. Love does. It’s an action word. My brother walked through hell on earth, but he wasn’t alone as he traversed his tornados. Even literal tornados – just ask me about his treehouse one day. 

Just as he wasn’t alone, none of us traverse life’s most difficult whirlwinds alone. 

I won’t lie though; right now, life feels really heavy. It hurts. I think of Heaven, and I long for the reunion(s) that will one day happen there. But, reality then sets in, the here and now reminds me that life isn’t always fair, fun, or even good – and sometimes I’m just sad, really sad. And, I know that’s okay too. 

I will echo something I’ve said a lot of times. I firmly believe we were created as community people. To know others, and to be known. To love, and to be loved. The key here is: not alone. I’ve been reminded a great deal very recently – it’s okay to not always be okay. 

Grief needs to happen, and what grief looks like is very individual. If you’re sad, know that it’s okay. If you’re hurting, know that the pain won’t always feel as intense as it does in these moments. I’m there. I get it. These words are as much for me as the next person reading this. 

With that all in mind, let me share an open invitation: please walk with me. Don’t greet my pain with silence. Give my heart a voice, even if that voice may be a little shaky. I need you. 

And let me offer that same hand of friendship – If you need someone who won’t ever give up on you, and who will simply sit with you in your pain- allow me that honor. 

Spiritual Recovery Group – Who Needs That!? 

Standard

I want to share this opportunity with you. Before you shut down at the word opportunity, please keep reading. Give me a couple minutes of your time. YOU are worth it. 

When you read a title about spiritual recovery, you might have laughed to yourself like I did when I was told about the group. That all changed when I took the time to dig deeper, and really understand the value of what was being offered. I will share briefly why this is so, SO very important to me. 

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, it should come as no surprise that I am hurting – in about a billion places, for nearly as many reasons. My heart is shattered, and I feel disconnected and broken in too many areas. I often feel as if I don’t even know who I am anymore – especially when it comes to being a Christ follower, a Christian. 

My daughter passed away five months ago after a three year battle with a one of a kind brain cancer. That does something to your soul. To every aspect of your life, if we’re being honest. To say that I’ve lost faith is inaccurate. To say that I have completely unwavering faith – also somewhat inaccurate. To say there are days I’d kinda like to punch God in the face – accurate! To say I have so many questions, and no clue how to navigate them – completely accurate. 

I am at a place that I recognize the need for clarity. I grew up around church my whole life. I had, and still have faith. However, recently, I became aware that my faith want built on a very strong foundation. I have realized the need to own my own faith. I no longer desire to follow blindly. As such, I’m finding the desperate need for digging deeper, researching more, and not only knowing that I have faith – but the why behind my faith. 

Enter this spiritual recovery group. 

This group offers an incredible amount of hope to me personally. I joined this group, and would like to offer you the same opportunity. 

Because the life and legacy my seven year old daughter leaves – one of hope, grace and especially love – I wanted to also share that there are now two partial scholarships available. The cost of the course is $149, but two people are now able to attend for just $75. Would you be one of these two people to join me? 

From the website offering this online group:

As a former  youth pastor and worship leader, I know how deep the words of well-meaning people can cut. Even after Bible college and ten years of traditional ministry, I was secretly addicted to pornography. And when all of my mess became public, it seemed my family was too messy for the church. My desire for this recovery group is to help people take off the mask of performance-based Christianity, find healing for their wounds, and move forward.

Here’s a sad fact: the church is often too scared or ill-prepared to tackle the hard topics.But our lack of engagement with broken people is literally killing God’s children. The good news? I have been re engaging my faith and the local church for the past four years, and I can tell you that refusing to live like a victim has changed my life. Recovery isn’t easy, but second chances are possible for you…and the church.

Who is this group for?

  • Someone longing to engage their faith after years of being disconnected from the local church.
  • A person wanting to engage the local church again but in need of clear boundaries.
  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness and is scared of what the church will say.
  • A member of the LGBTQ community who fears they can no longer belong to a faith community.
  • Someone in a crisis of faith.
  • Anybody who feels “soul confusion” and is longing for clarity, belonging, and hope that God is still listening.



For me, I personally fit into multiple categories listed above in the “who is this group for” section. 

I know this is a group beneficial to not only me, but countless others who may be lost, hurt, broken, unsure, or any number of other emotions. Would you like to join me? I’d love to walk through this experience with you. If you are unable to afford the full price, please don’t let that be your stopping point. 

You can reach out here in comments, email me directly via the contract me page. Or, you can reach out to Steve Austin, on the blog post he shares about the group, and also scholarship opportunity

No matter if you join this group, or where you are in your faith journey, please don’t do it alone. You aren’t alone. Allow others to walk with you. You deserve it, as do those you’ll do life with! 

Community Challenge – In Three Sentences Or Less

Standard

Challenge time

image

It’s about community – it’s importance, and how it makes a difference.

Here’s your challenge. Think of a person you respect. Tell them in three sentences or less things you love about them, and remind them of things they may struggle to remember on their own.

I welcome you to post your answers here in the comments – or feel free to connect via my contact me page and I’ll update this post with all of our community of answers. Comment or message me with as many people as you’d like. This is all about love.

The first person who came to mind is To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) founder, Jamie Tworkowski. Here are the things I wish he knew and could always hang onto:

image

Jamie is a kind hearted person who encourages, shares hope and compassion, and loves people well. He is tremendously loved as a son, brother, uncle, friend, comrade, and one day a lifelong companion. He lives life authentically, but with vulnerability as he tells his own story of brokenness and triumph, pain mixed with hope, and sees value in all people – all the while reminding everyone that it’s okay to not be okay, to be honest, and that everyone has a story worth telling, and one that is full of love and hope, while also remembering that rescue is possible.

(See what I did there? I made about six sentences into three – all with the magic of breaking all sorts of grammar rules – so I beg you now — don’t think it necessary to remind me of this.)

I may share and highlight others as well – but wanted to give everyone a chance to #RememberTheLove.

Life Is A Giant Roller Coaster Ride

Standard

image

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like roller coaster rides? I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junkie. However, I do love a good roller coaster ride. The ups are thrilling, the downs are scary. Together, they equal fun.

Thinking of roller coasters, I have come to realize that life is quite like a roller coaster ride – one we can’t get off of at will. If you’re anything like me, the thought is initially a good one. However, the ups and downs can be terrifying when you recognize that they are essentially never ending.

This is the trap I find myself in at the moment. I just want a breather. I want to do more than just pretend life will ever be any different.

The trouble with this, right now, is that I am finding it more and more difficult to grab a hold to those good times – for fear that the crushing and depressing times are just around the next bend. I recognize that it’s a function of embracing the moment – of loving life, right where I am. Truth be told, I do that. And at times, I am not able to.

Right now, I find that I am in the part of this eternal ride that is scary and feels almost like the cart will jump the rails, and crash. Sigh. I just want to break the cycle – and I’ve pretty much given up hope of even that possibility.

Is it too hard to ask – to just be able to raise my hands, yell with glee as I enjoy the ride? I think it is.

I’m not going to lie. I have come to really dislike the familiarity and predictability that the roller coaster ride brings. The highs and the lows – the ups and downs. The emotions and feelings that refuse to give up their grip.

So, here I sit – looking for the exit. There has to be one somewhere. So far, I haven’t found that elusive escape route.

Please, someone – please tell me this life still has the potential of love, hope, compassion and even freedom. Freedom to just live.

For anyone who will point me towards faith, counseling / therapy, talking it out, friends, is any other great coping mechanism – proceed with caution. I do stand on faith, seek help through counseling / therapy, I clearly ramble too much as it is – but I do talk when I can find friends to talk to. See, in theory, a great support system is in place. But, frankly, that system is broken. See my previous post. People sometimes don’t say what they mean, mean what they say – and their actions most certainly don’t match their words. Please don’t be that person.

So, as I sit here today, I just pray for the strength to keep going. Taking that a step further – I also pray that I continue to WANT to keep going. My fear, if I’m being honest, is that the voice of depression and grief that clouds my thoughts will grow louder than that of hope.

So, for better or for worse, that’s where I am today. Here. Breathing. With my heart still beating. Yes, there’s life yet to live.

When Perpetually Suicidal Thoughts Become More

Standard

image

Take a good look at that picture. You can’t see everything there – but what I want you to see is what a potentially lethal dose of medication looks like. Let that sink in. The meds are legal, and for in the palm of your hand. They are common meds – when used properly, save lives. When not – well the opposite is true. This one small handful of meds could take your life.

You might wonder how I have stumbled upon such information!? Simple. I looked it up. I asked the knowledge whale known as google for a little guidance. I was curious what completed suicides were as a result of specific medications. Medications I have easily within my disposal. I honestly wondered what that looked like. Why the picture/meme then!?  Again, a picture tells a story, and this one tells so many people’s story. As I looked at the picture, I realized two things – 1) it scared me and 2) the thought of “how easy it would be” made entirely too much sense. The next morning, I created that meme. I recognized the need to seek help was very real.

I may circle back around to that whole “seeking help” thought process in a moment. However, I’m going to just tell it like it is. Open up the window called transparency and let you see a glimpse inside.

Let’s talk about suicide and suicidal thoughts. You do know there’s a difference, right!? See, a person can have suicidal thoughts and not actually be suicidal. A person walks over the line between the two when a plan starts being concocted. People think about suicide all the time. People think about the meaning of life every day and wish it weren’t so painful. Neither thought makes them suicidal.

On the flip side, people also create plans to carry out suicides – to find a way to escape whatever painful reality they desperately seek relief from – every day as well. This, though, is a game changer. This is that moment where reaching out is vital. The suicidal person cannot see beyond the here and now. They cannot grasp the concept or even possibility of hope being real. People sometimes experience whatever makes up their own personal hell, and simply feel as if they cannot take the pain any longer.

At this point – or perhaps immediately upon reading the title – you might be wondering where this is coming from, or why now. My next question is why NOT now. Suicide is not a pretty word. It conjures up some (quite likely) painful thoughts. The stigma that surrounds mental health topics (suicide being only one in a vast ocean of others) cannot diminish if we cannot talk about it. It may be hard, but the conversation will be worth it.

Ask me how I know.

I want you to know something. First and foremost, I want you to know that I am not suicidal. Note my language again. I’m not suicidal. I do, however, have suicidal thoughts. I think much of the population would – if they’re being honest – admit having had suicidal thoughts at one point or another. I want to circle back to stigma again. What’s sad is that someone currently having, or having had suicidal thoughts IS NOT a secret needing to be hidden. It’s not something people should have to ADMIT TO, as if it’s a dirty little sin.

Okay, so back to my breaking the silence about my own suicidal thoughts. Yes, they happen. Yes, they’re real. No, they’re not happy. No, they’re not fun. They’re scary at times. However, I am able to separate myself from the thoughts. I can look at the thoughts, and I can know they exist. There have been moments where it’s been difficult to grasp onto the reality that things will ever be okay again – let alone good. In those moments, it is vital to remember that, though currently elusive, hope is most definitely real. Though the clouds in a dark and gloomy sky may hide that hope, all hope is not lost. I have to remember that the sun will break through the clouds, and it will shine again. Maybe not today, but tomorrow brings with it the potential of sunshine – of hope.

There are times where I feel like my heart is shattered. Times where I feel broken, almost beyond repair. I’m not though.

And neither are you.

Now, let me take a moment and address you. Yes, you. That person who knows nothing other than how to hide behind a mask. That person who believes that hope is a good theoretical topic, but isn’t for them. That person who looks I’m the mirror and doesn’t know or like the person starting back.

That person. I want to talk to them. And so should you. Take a moment and look for signs. I know you’re busy, but someone’s life is worth it.

If you ARE that person, welcome. Welcome to the conversation you never saw yourself having, but are going to be grateful that someone cared enough to have. Buckle up, and hold on. I will tell you things that you need to hear, but may not be inclined to believe. Your eyes may be clouded by the depression that catches your gaze instead. In that case, I simply want you to hear my words. You’re listening – really listening, yes?

Okay, these things I need you to hear. You are a living, breathing story. The Storm you are walking through will not last forever. It may be painful, even seemingly unbearable, as you walk the path. Though, soon, the eye of the storm will pass by. It’ll be scary, and it’ll teach you the meaning of living through pain. However, you’ll soon just look around and realize that you made it. You’re still alive. As time and distance come between you and the storm, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that you’re actually GRATEFUL that you made it – that you’re alive. You’ll look down at your scars, and you’ll immediately think of that scary storm – but, much to your surprise – you’ll see the scars for what they are. Your scars tell a story. They tell your story. They show the very real pain associated with your storm. They’ll also remind you that where there is a scar, there is some form of healing also present. You’ll look at those scars and see that they represent healing and strength. You’ll be able to see them for what they are – a reminder of that storm, but also a reminder of the strength and healing.

You know, you might have just laughed as you kept reading. I know that you may chuckle when someone is amusing enough to actually write out such words. You believe that those words might be great for other people, but can’t hold onto them as truth for yourself. You see, I understand how you think. I AM you.

However, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that you can take a break from your thoughts, and be gentle with yourself. Know that your story matters. Know that YOU matter. It may hurt right now, but it won’t hurt forever. You may not be able to see beyond the pain, but please allow me to be a voice that speaks hope. Let that hope be fueled by love and wrap itself around you like a hug.

You and I. Maybe we are broken, but no one is telling us we can’t be broken together. Take my hand. Look me in the eye and see the hope in mine. When you can’t find yours, please borrow some of mine. I guarantee there will be times I will return the favor. Please know how much you mean to me. Please don’t go anywhere. Please stay. I need you to be my voice of hope during the moments I feel like I can’t hold on.

Hear my words. I need you and you need me. We need each other, you and I. As we walk along this path called life, take my hand. Help me walk – one for in front of the other – when I’m not even sure I can breathe. Let me do the same for you.

Together.

Let’s be broken together.

September Is _______ Awareness Month!!

Standard

If you turn on your computer, do a random search about causes, you’ll find it’s an awareness month for different things. This month, September is known to be a month to bring awareness to two very important things. You see, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

I wrote the following on Facebook last night:

What’s on my mind. Awareness. As you all know, or have come to read from my cover photo, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Clearly, this is a cause near but not so dear to my heart. It affects so many people, our family included. I never, in a million years, saw myself making that statement. Let’s remember all those affected in some way, shape or form by this. Do what you can to raise awareness, and also to take action on behalf/honor of those who have lost battles, but also for those fighting, and those yet to fight this battle. Each child is precious.

Something else on my mind is awareness for something else. Suicide. As you may know from previous cover photos and many status updates – suicide is also something not unfamiliar to me. Did you know that September is also Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is something else that holds way too many statistics. As you know, this is another topic that is near but again, not so dear to my heart. What I can tell you is that suicide is a real problem, and is a problem needing to be talked about. We need to do our parts as individuals and as groups to erase the stigma attached to this. Mental illness is very real, and is no laughing matter. Again, something I’m familiar with. If you know someone who is struggling, do NOT let them struggle in silence. Don’t let them tell you they’re okay when you know they’re not. Don’t let that fake smile be enough to say they’re okay. Dig deeper. Grow friendships more than skin deep. Be the friend you need in others.

No matter what your battle, or what you are struggling with, please KNOW that you are NOT alone. There is not a human being alive that needs to walk through life alone – through cancer, depression, etc. Don’t do it. Let others in. You are loved. Hope is real.

That is EXACTLY how I feel. This life is full of so many uncertainties. Nothing is guaranteed, and tomorrow isn’t promised. However, no matter WHAT curveballs life throws your way – NEVER lose hope. You are absolutely NOT alone!

If you’d like to connect and discuss either of these topics, you can feel free to contact me directly via “contact me” page, or you can post in comments. I look forward to continued dialog.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful For Beremedy

Standard

Have you heard of Beremedy? Beremedy is an organization that exists to helping others…at the speed of social media. It connects those who are in need with those who can help. The mission of beremedy:

Our Mission
beremedy connects those in need with the individuals who have the means to fulfill them.

So often, community and social service organizations have no expedient outlet for their clients’ requests. They spend countless hours tracking down resources to fulfill basic human necessities. Those in need suffer because there is no quick or efficient manner to replay their message.

On the other hand, so many individuals and organizations want to help, but don’t know how. beremedy provides them with a reputable source for their resources and efforts. People give knowing their donation is going directly to those who need it most!
By taking all these needs and matching them with people who can help, we’re streamlining the process and making it easy for both sides to benefit.

This is an organization that I believe in. They are currently in the midst of an Indiegogo (non-profit) campaign raising funds to try and take beremedy from an Atlanta-based organization to a platform which will make it have a much larger footprint – a nationwide impact. They are working on a technology which will make this dream into a reality. A nationwide platform where you can see the need, and be the remedy. How can you help? Would you consider supporting beremedy? Any and all amounts will go a long way in making a difference and sharing hope in real, practical ways all across this nation. You can find more information about this effort by visiting their fundraising campaign.

What is beautiful about Beremedy is the selfless heart and passion that drive it. No matter who you are, the view is that you are important. Whether it is a pair of shoes, a bed, toys for Christmas, clothing — when there is a tangible need, the opportunity is available to be the remedy. They harness the power of social media and reach people in more places with whatever the need is. You will often see strangers from across the area responding in support, to show hope and help in practical ways.

One thing I believe to be true is that people need people – no matter who you are. I do, and you do too. You do not need to walk through life alone. If you need help, reach out. If you are able to help, be the remedy. Will you join me today in being the remedy? Even if you cannot financially support Beremedy at this time, I know they would value the prayer support and spreading the word about what they are doing.

Please spread the word.