What You’re NOT Responsible For

You are not responsible for the way people treat you.

You are not responsible for what other people say about you, or any lies they might tell about you.

You are NOT responsible for your abuse.

You are not responsible for the things that were done to you in dark and quiet places, or for the scars you carry or for the heaviness that lays over your heart like damp, heavy blanket.

Listen to me. There are plenty of things in this life that you are responsible for…but there are also plenty that aren’t yours to shoulder.

You ARE responsible for your response. For your actions. For the words that escape from your lips. For your thoughts…

And that’s all.

Own what is yours to own.

And let the rest go.

I Will Thrive Anyway

One of the most devastating side effects of abuse is self doubt. Honestly, I struggle to put into words the heartache that physical and emotional and verbal abuse have on a child’s sense of self…and how we carry a longing to know who we are and to be known into adulthood. Continue reading I Will Thrive Anyway

When You’re a Christian Who Struggles With Depression

In 2008 I had just finished up my first senior semester with a 3.6 GPA. I had worked my butt off to get those grades. 6 classes. 4 senior level. 2 Theology classes. 4 English classes.

It literally took everything in me to finish strong . And by the end of the semester, with Christmas just days away, I found myself depressed beyond what words could even describe. It didn’t matter that I loved God or what I told myself…I could not get better.

I was living in daily abuse and lies. I simply could not cope.

Honestly, I knew that I had to make a choice: visit my doctor or die. I wouldn’t have made it through another two weeks…and the small pill she prescribed me changed everything.

I think of depression so differently now than ever before.

To Depress – to lower in force, vigor, or activity; to weaken; to make dull; to press down; to lower in amount or value.

Now, bear with me for a moment…when you take a verb and change it into a noun it is called “a nominalization”.

When you take the action of “depress” and apply it to a subject so repeatedly that the subject takes on the behavior of the action we say, “She has depression.” The verb becomes a noun. The action of the verb becomes a thing.

See it?

Now here’s the thing…depression is so multifaceted that there can be any number of causes. Those causes can be either SELF-inflicted or ENVIRONMENTAL.

An example of “self-inflicted” depression might be lack of proper nutrition, lack of exercise…etc. These are actions YOU have some control over.

But there are also ENVIRONMENTAL causes, actions or events you have zero control over.

This might be death, disease, a traumatic event, lack of proper care as a child…etc.

No one is surprised when a rape victim struggles with depression. No one is surprised when a solider struggles with PTSD. No one is surprised when an overwhelming life event causes anxiety or fear.

There is such a thing as being able to control your depression. But there is also such a thing as not being able to control your depression.

In a lot of ways, depression is a natural response to sin and brokenness.

We were never intended to live in a world with rape or slavery or brutality or childhood abuse or manipulation. God didn’t create the world that way…he created this world perfect and sin destroys perfection.

Is it any surprise that our bodies might have a physiological response to sin?

Is it?

Our bodies respond physiologically to sin every single day simply by the mere FACT that we AGE. Why are Christians so surprised when the very cells of our bodies respond and cry out against brokenness?

C. S. Lewis said, “You are not a body. You are a soul. You have a body.”

We are not mere mortals. We are souls designed to live in perfect community with our Heavenly Father. Sin breaks that communion in ways deeper than we usually care to reflect on.

Here me, and hear my heart. If you are a Christian who struggles with depression I GET IT. In a lot of ways, I have had to take hard inspection of myself to see the places in which my depression has been environmental or has been as a result of my own actions…or lack of action. I am not gonna lie…it’s hard to do this. But it is so worth it. It is also fully possible for depression to be lengthy and lifelong depending on its causes and roots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still glorify God in and through it.

We are not victims even if we have been victimized. That is not our identity. Our worth is in the simple and beautiful fact that we are created. That’s it. Value of personhood is not earned or gained. It is thrust upon you by your creator. Value…is…intrinsic.

Ask yourself these three questions to test your motivation behind your actions.

1. Is this good for my soul?

2. Is this good for my relationship with Jesus Christ?

3. Is this good for my most intimate relationship?

It is OK if you struggle. It is OK if your body struggles to regain healthy function after trauma. There is no shame. God knows and he sees and he is not surprised by your body responding in a way that he designed. He’s not. Depression does not scare or intimidate God. He is a whole lot bigger than that. And he waits with wide open arms to receive you and receive your pain…

…and he has beautiful things ahead for you.

All That Matters Most

After awhile

you start to see

that beauty

isn’t always obvious

and that fast-paced

is no real way to make do.

.

And after awhile

you begin to notice

the ripple of a rain drop

over the sound

of admiration.

.

And you start to see,

Oh, you start to see,

how glass-frail breath is

and how air in your lungs

is really the most

valuable thing

in existence.

.

After awhile,

you start to treasure

the way your lover

holds your hand

when life deals death,

because pain is frequent

and too weighty

to be carried alone.

.

And you start to

finally understand

that real love

is more than two words

and a cake:

it is more like

two lifetimes

given selflessly

over and over

and over and over

until you leave

a legacy.

.

And you stop

caring so much,

about the noise

of opinions –

because actually, an opinion

without kindness

is just hate.

.

And after awhile,

you start to value,

the way your children

laugh with their eyes,

love with their heart,

find God with their souls,

over any other

dreams for them

you might have had.

.

But mostly, you learn,

that life is always shorter

than you hope, and

that the only things

you’ll ever really leave behind

are memories.

And This is How He Heals

 

Have you ever heard someone tell their story without a hint of shame?

In my senior year at Northwest University, we had a guest speaker; a man who had lived a wild life of parties and dark sexual pleasures. There he stood, with so much humility and joy and theatrical storytelling it was almost like he was telling someone else’s story. But he wasn’t. He lived every second of the heartache, the brokenness, the shame. And yet here he was: healed and thriving and generous and vulnerable. Continue reading And This is How He Heals

Practical Tips For Addressing Everyday Anxiety in Children

My son Bear used to throw terrible fits in public. One time, he screamed to high heaven while pulling every article of clothing in sight as I attempted to leave a department store. I was mortified!

And then in the parking lot…he bit me.

Lord Jesus, save us all…for reals, I almost transformed into the Hulk.

I cried all the way home and then took so many deep breaths I gave myself hiccups.

I sent Bear straight to bed and he slept for THREE HOURS. He had been exhausted.

 

A New Perspective

After that day, I started realizing that the majority of Bear’s “fits” were actually just him reacting to stress.

He was overwhelmed. He was experiencing ANXIETY.

Ah! A word most of us know all too well.

 

Our Little Ones Have So Much Thrown at Them 

Listen. Our kids have far too much thrown at them each day. They are surrounded by toys and all those toys make noise and are painted 117 colors. They have sports and preschool and extracurricular activities and expectations galore. Even their shampoo has more ingredients than a salad bar, and at every. single. moment. we offer them stimulation.

Enough!

I am realizing that I don’t have to “parent like everyone else”. And you know what? I’m loving the freedom in that.

 

Simplify 

Get rid of HALF your toys. This might sound totally insane, but I promise you won’t miss not picking them up anymore. Let’s be crazy together. Donate them!

Strive to stay home 4 nights a weeks. More is GREAT. Less isn’t.

Eliminate three small stressors in YOUR life. For me this means, not matching socks, turning off all the noise, and getting outside. (I know…I live on the wild side.)

 

Live the Life YOU Want

You don’t have to do life like everyone else. Your kids have their own unique struggles and triggers and stressors and STRENGTHS, and so do you. And parents, we are the PERFECT people to help our kids, because we love them most and know them best.

Living With ALL The Intention

Listen. You don’t have to be famous to be successful. You don’t.

Living a Well-Lived life might not be easy but it is SIMPLE. Really…you only need TWO things: Willingness & Intention.

Willingness – Cheerfully consenting or ready.

Intention – an act of determining mentally upon some action or result.

Take some time to brew yourself a cup of coffee and sit with a blank sheet of paper and write down all the hopes and dreams and visions for your life. Just write. If you should live to be 100, what do you want to look back on and be proud of? WHO do you want to be? WHAT do you want to do?

Me? I want a PHENOMENAL marriage. I want a home full of joy and peace. I want to be healthy in body, mind, and soul. I want my children to grow to love others and love God and I want them to find joy in life. I want to help impoverished people locally and globally in practical and sustainable ways.

What do you want from this one, beautiful life you get? What do you need to surrender? to change?

It takes absolute bravery to step into a life you love, especially if you come from brokenness or a place of abuse. It might actually be the hardest and most scary thing you’ve ever done. You might shake. Hear me when I say, that it’s ok to step forward unsteady. If we waited for fear to leave before we chose to act, we’d be stuck in the muck of indifference indefinitely.

Be brave, dear one! Step into the sun. Pull that foot out of the muck. Turn your eyes toward Jesus and look FULLY.

I promise you will be changed.